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’m sorry you’re having problems with them. We all expect parenting to be fun and rewarding, at least most of the time.
First, stop blaming yourself as it won’t accomplish a thing. Just like anyone else, you have most likely made lots of bad decisions. It doesn’t matter. The big question is what do you do now, to make the best of what you have?
Remember too that your daughter is fine, so your mothering skills must be on the right track.
Also on the plus side, is the fact that your younger boy is doing well in school. Even with learning problems, he can settle down and do his school work. Talk with his teachers though, he may be finding it so hard at school that he brings all 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.