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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Verbally Abusive Against Stepson

Written by  Arlette Simon

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor

Please help me in this matter. I am a divorced woman, and I have an eight years old son with me. This year he is not doing too well in school, The school already told us that if he is not doing well in the coming 6 weeks, he will probably remain in the third grade. My son who is a very bright individual, but a bit lazy at time. I feel that because I work a lot and I did not put enough time to teach him on his school work, and that is probably the main reason why he is not doing well in school.

At this moment, I have a fiancé who lives with us. I think he is too hard on my son. Sometimes my fiancé would put my son down, and say thing like you are so dumb that you will probably stay in the third grade until you turn 21 years old, and at that time, you will probably be kick out from school. He loves my son, but I think he is too rough at time, what can I do? I do not want negative words to my son, and I know that my fiancé is only trying to help.

Desperately seeking for subject of stepfather advice.

Thank you

ADear Seeking Advice for Stepfather,

I understand from your letter that your son is going through a crisis, and this crisis is expressed in school performance. This is a common phenomenon among children: poor performance at school often results from emotional difficulty.

I believe your son is not doing very well in school because a new element has entered his life and yours: your fiancé. A change like this has a very strong impact on a child's life: A man, a father figure is now present in his life. It is natural that your son feels that your fiancé takes you from him. You say that you work a lot, so there is not so much time left for him anyway, and now less because your attention is also taken by your fiancé?. All this is a complete reversal in your son's life, like an earthquake.

It could be that your son is afraid of your fiancé, who puts him down in a very unfair way. This is probably the reason for your son's poor performance in school. The fact that your fiancé lives with you, loves your son as you point out and only 'tries to help' doesn't give him any right to be hard on him and call him vicious things. As you can see, this treatment is very traumatic for your son.

It is very important to understand that if your fiancé hurts your son, he hurts you through your son, because your son is a part of you.

There should be no difference between a stepfather and a father in the way he treats a child. A child is a young, helpless and delicate soul, who deserves respect, consideration and kindness, especially since children are powerless to change their parents' decisions and behavior, even when those behaviors harm them.

Your fiancé's mode of interaction with your son definitely doesn't help you or your son.

My suggestions to you are:

  1. Talk immediately with your fiancé and make him STOP AT ONCE the negative remarks against your son.
  2. Talk with your son and reassure him that you love him and care about him more than anything. He has to feel and know that you are there to protect him.
  3. You should have a serious conversation with your fiancé about the way things are managed in the house: to what extent you let him interfere in your son's education. You are the mother so it is your responsibility and not your fiancé's. He and your son are still not close to each other. Their relationship will need to be built slowly.

Remember: your child deserves consideration and love, no matter if it is from a father or a stepfather.

It is very important to understand that if your fiancé hurts your son, he hurts you through your son, because your son is a part of you. Both you and your fiancé should be aware of that.

Arlette Simon, MSW

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 19:20
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Arlette Simon

Arlette Simon

Arlette Simon is a clinical social worker (MSW) and a licensed psychotherapist. She has more than 35 years experience in various fields of mental health, including work in welfare agencies, adoption services, general hospitals, and psychiatric hospitals. She has a private practice and is chief supervisor of a team of professionals in a rehabilitation community for the mentally ill. Her professional training also includes Jungian psychotherapy, transpersonal psychology, reincarnation therapy, guided imagery therapy, energy work as a Reiki practitioner and reflexology.

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