Q. I’m a single mother. I have three children, Caitlin, 7, Tom, 9 and Liam aged 11. I don’t have problems with Cait, but the two boys are making life difficult. Tom apparently behaves well at school, but has learning problems. When he gets home he often throws temper tantrums. Liam acts as if he hates me. He doesn’t show me any affection and is extremely rude. Tom’s dad died when he was a baby, and Liam’s father doesn’t visit him. I need to find out what I’m doing wrong, since I’m so stressed all of the time.
A. I’m sorry you’re having problems with them. We all expect parenting to be fun and rewarding, at least most of the time.
The first thing you must do is to stop blaming yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, including you, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is the course of action you take from now on.
Your daughter is doing well, proving that you have some good mothering skills.
It is also good news that your younger son is doing well at school. If he is able to settle down and work, even though he has learning difficulties, that is very encouraging. However, you might want to check with the school about how much he is struggling there, as it may be that he is bringing his frustrations home.
It’s most likely that both boys miss having their dads around. This is a hard problem to tackle. The youngest probably finds life easier since “a dead dad is better than a non-caring one”. That’s because he isn’t actually being rejected. You can’t do anything about the other dad except to be honest with your son. It isn’t a good idea to either defend or criticize him. If you make excuses for him your boy will take it as you being on the dad’s side. If you say negative things about him then the child will want to defend him, since he is his dad.
Don’t forget that we can’t change anyone, including our children. You can however, change yourself. Think about behaviors you can change in yourself that would make your life more serene. It may surprise you to know that if you feel more positive, your children will also feel more positive. On the other hand, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will reap the same results.
Most of all, believe in yourself and your children. Don’t look back, look to the future and decide how you want it to be. Think in positive terms i.e. don’t think about what you don’t want, or what you worry about, think instead about what desired outcomes you do want. Don’t expect to get there in one day, but look for tiny little steps that will gradually take you there. And then do what it takes to get there. It will take a bit of effort at first, but then, living like you do now also takes effort. Read what you can. Talk to other parents. You will get there if you are prepared to make the effort.
About the Author
For more expert advice on child behavior problems and for his excellent book, why not visit Dr. Noel Swanson’s website https://www.good-child-guide.com ? You can also find many more of Dr. Noel Swanson free articles on parenting here.