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Parenting Advice: The Difficulties Single Mums Can Have With Sons

Feb 25, 2008
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 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.

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.

Undoubtedly, both boys are feeling the lack of their fathers. This is a tough situation. It most likely is easier for the youngest one. At least his dad died, and didn't purposely leave him. As for the absent dad, there isn't much you can do except be up-front about it. Don't defend or berate him. If you take his side then your son will feel that you are siding with his "loser dad" and not him. If you say anything negative about him, your son will want to defend 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.

The most important thing for you is to believe in yourself and your children. Look ahead instead of back, and make a decision as to how you want to be. Keep that vision positive. In other words, don't think about what you don't want and don't keep worrying. Imagine all the things you do want to happen. Remember too that changes come in baby steps, so you won't be completely happy overnight. Just keep making small advances and know that how you're living now takes a lot of work. Read parenting books, talk to other parents. As long as you keep focused on improving your lives, you will get there.
About the Author
For more articles full of parenting advice by author Dr. Noel Swanson, why not check out his parenting advice website and get his free newsletter?
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