Question: I am the mother of 4 children ages 14 to 2, with my son being the oldest and the only boy. His father and I are divorced (he was mentally, emotionally and verbally abusive and sometimes physical) and I am remarried now with 2 children from this marriage and my husband has been around my son since he was about 3 1/2 yrs old.
My son has always been a incredibly good child, honor roll student, loving, and respectful....until NOW. The past year and half has been a nightmare. He has become very rude,arrogant, disrespectful, and abusive with his sisters (pushing, threatening, verbally abusive).
He is very pessimistic is always putting others down and really doesn't ever have anything nice to say about anything. I have tried taking away things from him, cell phone, xbox etc... when he displays this behavior. He has also started making not so great grades, I check everything he does school wise, constant communication with his teachers to make sure he doesn't come home with D's or F's because he just doesn't care anymore. He has also been caught looking at porn on the computer and he and my husband sat down and talked about it.
The manner in which he treats me, his sisters (ages 11, 4, 2)my husband and other adults with such disrespect and disregard is extremely disturbing to me and I am scared he is going to be an abuser like his father and fail at relationships and in life. We talk very openly around our house about domestic violence, and my children know the differences in right and wrong, good and bad.
My husband and I have tried many different things, talking, family time, one on one time, church. Nothing really seems to be getting thru to him. I love my son and he is an awesome kid when he wants to be which here lately is not often at all. He knows when he has done wrong or been disrespectful and will often come and apologize and hug me and kiss me and tell me he loves me...however I also know this to be a pattern of an abuser. I am scared for him, for me and for our family. I am not sure where to turn, what to say or what to do. Please any and all advice will be greatly appreciated.
Answer: Dear Melissa;
From what you describe you son is not about to become abusive he is abusive. He was exposed to this behavior of what a man is suppose to be during his formative years. Talking to him about his behavior is not going to do the trick. He most likely also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as do most people who have been exposed and/or experienced domestic violence and emotional abuse.
He needs as do you all, family counseling. I suggest you get to a qualified, experienced and successful Marriage and Family Therapist who can work with your son one on one and with him and the family together. It is imperative.
Also, taking things away from him is only going to increase this negative cycle. You need to focus on rewards rather than punishments. Make sure you praise his behavior when he does do something right. It is very easier to become engaged in a negative relationship and become a participant rather than encourage him to do better.
It is great you wrote me and your son will one day appreciate how you are in his corner.
M Kay Keller