Destroying The Family
My fiance has two sons. One is 13 and the other is 15. When we met 16 months ago the 15 year old was basically a happy kid. Their mother was and is a crack addict with no rights to her kids and hasn't tried to have a relationship with them at all. Their Dad got custody of the boys about 5 years ago.
During the past 16 months the 15 year old has had increasing anger issues and has mostly taken it out on the 13 year old by trying to beat the heck out of him. When this occurs their Dad gets angry and punishes them by taking away privileges. CJ (15 yr old) is angry pretty much all the time, constantly arguing with his father on everything. Which then leads his Dad into a yelling match with CJ. The yelling has many times ended up in a physical war between the two of them. I have tried to discuss this with CJ but he blames everything on everyone else and will not take responsibility for his own actions.
After the past 3 months of constant angry, awful, heart wrenching matches of anger, their Dad had decided to send the boys to two separate grandparents' houses so that he and the boys can get away from the constant battles. I have disagreed with this because I do not feel it helpful unless while they are away, everyone is seeking some type of counseling.
SC (13 yr old) is not the problem, or should I say he has learned to conform to the battleground of a household. SC wants to come home very badly. He has been gone for a week and his Dad doesn't want them back as of yet. CJ has not responded to any of our calls or text messages and refuses to speak to his Dad.
Do we let SC come home? What do we do about CJ when he gets home or if he comes home? I do not want to see the family broken up but it is taking a huge toll on our relationship as I will not live through the aggression and anger and my fiance knows that if they don't try to clean it up and correct everyone's poor communication skills, I am done.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Thank you for telling your story on this site, where others can benefit. What you are facing is very challenging, as you know. Your thinking sounds clear and healthy. I totally agree that the boys and their dad need counseling, during their time apart and after they come back home.
You and your fiance need to discuss your thoughts and feelings about SC coming home, and make your decision together. It is very important as the "newcomer" on the scene, that you not step into a primary parenting role, even in your advice to your fiance. You've made it clear to him that he needs to straighten this situation out, or you're done, and that's good.
In other words, the solutions have to come primarily from your fiance. There are some things you can do, which I will recommend here:
1) Choose to believe in your fiance and his two sons. Picture them doing well and working out their problems. This will lower your stress, and prevent your fear from dominating your thoughts about them.
2) Tell your fiance how much you love him and want to be with him. And also tell him (as you probably have) that you can't and won't live in a home filled with fighting and chaos.
3) If you are religious or spiritual at all, pray for them to work things out.
4) Ask your fiance if he's willing to get some help. Refer him to this web page on teen anger, and see if he wants to follow up with any of the recommendations made there.
5) Consider getting a copy of this Anger In Teens CD program, which will offer you a lot of guidance and understanding.
I wish I could offer you more help with this. It is really a situation that requires counseling, ideally family counseling. Please let me know if I can be of further help.
My best to you,
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