Parenting Advice: Single Mums Having Problems With Sons

By: Dr. Noel Swanson

Q. "I am a single mother with three children; Caitlin 7, Tom 9, and Liam 11. While Cait is fine, the two boys are causing me problems. Tom behaves well in school, but has learning difficulties. After school though, he turns into a monster, and throws temper tantrums. Liam is rude, not affectionate and just generally hates me. His dad never visits, and Tom's dad died when he was a baby. I'm going crazy and want to know what I'm doing wrong."

A. I am sorry to hear you are having such a difficult time with them. Parenting is supposed to be fun! Well, most of the time, anyway.

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.

Both sons are probably feeling the lack of their dads. It is very difficult to work on this. In some ways it is probably easier for the younger one. "A dead dad is better than an uncaring dad" since there is no ongoing rejection involved. Obviously there is not much you can do about the absent dad. All you can do is be matter of fact about it. Don't try to defend him, nor overly criticise him - if you do the former, your son will feel you are taking the "loser dad's " side instead of his. If you criticise him, your son will rush to defend him, after all, he is his dad.

You can only change yourself, not the children. Think about how you could be different in order to make your life more peaceful. It may surprise you to know that if you appear more positive, it will rub off on them. If you keep things the way they are, nothing will ever change.

Above all, believe in yourself and your children. Look to the future instead of the past, and decide how you want to be. Think only of the positive, rather than of what you don't want. Instead of worrying, think about the happy outcomes to come. You won't get there in a day, but watch those baby steps. They will add up and take you to your destination. Improvement will take some effort, but so does your present life. You will get there if you remain determined.

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Dr. Noel Swanson is a leading expert on child behaviour. He has a fascinating website with lots of expert parenting advice that is well worth a visit. More of his articles can be found here: free articles on parenting

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