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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Im at a total loss. My name is XXXXX XXXXX step mother and mother

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I'm at a total loss. My name is XXXXX XXXXX step mother and mother of 3 children, 2 very happy toddlers and stepson Raiden. My toddlers are typical toddlers, one is gifted and the other has a personality of 10 people. And then there is my step son. Ive known raiden since he was 2, he is now almost 8. Problems really started happening around 4/5. Talking back, rudeness, and lying about abuse etc. We have him half time between his mother and us, shes a well rounded woman with 4 kids. Raiden is very much complicated. But he doesn't seem to be acting like a normal 8 yr old- or maybe i'm over thinking it. When raiden was little he was very spoiled by his grandparents who gave him everything- please dont take the word lightly i do mean exactly that. It caused alot of problems with tantrums and screaming and was one of the worst struggles we had to endure. When Raiden was 4 he told us that his step father was beating him - he also apparently told his mother we were doing the same. It sent my husband into a rage that i was able to defuse. This apparently went on back and forth for 3 more years, i'm shocked dss wasnt called. Anyway, when raiden was five his brother, on his mothers side, and sister, on our side, were born. He had a very hard time adjusting to his sister being born, i'm not sure about his brother. He would take toys from her all the time, they werent even his old toys. the next year 2 more siblings were added (he was now 6.5/7), one on each side of the family. By now tattling has become a serious issue and the lying about what each home was doing was putting everyone at everyone elses throats. The houses despised each other. Me and my husband would argue every other night about him. He would order me around like a maid, walk away from me when i was talking to him, rolling his eyes, complained about everything- food ext., cried about homework, cried if he had to eat something he didnt want for dinner, cried if he didnt get his way when he wanted to do something, and told my husband i said things i didn't, told us his sister said things she didn't (shut up ext.), purposely ignored us and was acting out in school ( he ended up failing and repeating the grade). Last year in february Raiden confessed that he wanted to hang his sisters. This caught my husband off guard and he asked if raiden knew what that meant, he did. My husband then explained death, i dont know to what extent this was talked about- my husband hid it from me and let it slip out some time mid may. I lost all trust in the children being alone together. Then One day raiden had come home and was having another (yet again) off day. My husband confronted him about his behavior and asked him "do you act like this at mommys house?" he replied no. That promped my husband to ask why not? Raiden then told his father it was because his mom spanks him a lot and for no reason. By now i was on my last string of my husband giving raiden sympathy for something i doubt was to be true. So I called his mother. She was shocked and disturbed to here the accusation he had told. It turned out the punishment she normally gave him was a timeout in a corner because we were so hard on him all the time. He told her we never let him play with his sisters (this was false they played everyday we had him), That we punished him all the time (was also not true because he manipulated my husband into feeling bad for him), that he had no toys (5 toy bins a bike skate board and 2 scooters), and that we made him watch us play video games (he has a DSxl, a wii and xbox he has full access to, and i dont play video games- so that struck a nerve) and that we were mean and hit him (he had his hand smacked ONCE when he was 3). He also told his mother that his father liked him more than his sisters and he always gave him attention and why didnt she do that and that she doesn't love him. Which was comical because just days before he told his father he never spends time with him and his mom does. Anyway, this sent us into a fit. He lost all his toys and had to earn them back with good behavior and he gained 'chores' to teach him responsibility. This worked for some months. The lying stopped, communication between both houses got better, he started listening and grades picked up. Things were perfect. Then it started again. First white lies seem to be popping up gradually, the first few times i wasn't aware of- he was warned by my husband (who knows how many times). Then grades started to slip as well as chores and homework productivity. He started to whine again (about meals and being bored ext.)- Its all back. We started taking away toys again, not working, its now been 4 months since it started back up again. He's arguing about everything he can, just straight up ignoring our instructions and doing what he pleases. he lies at least once a week about little things (example: giving his dad trash from his room and saying he made it for him), and does things with minimal effort. help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

Wow! Is all I can say after reading this litany of issues with Raiden.

Dr. L :

Seems to me that the two houses are being pitted once against the other and that Raiden is pulling all the strings. It's time the adults all sit down at the table together and make a decision as to Raiden's future. He needs therapy NOW. If he has been in therapy...then I question the skills of the therapist. This young man has developed some habits that are unhealthy for him...and obviously unhealthy for every other member of these two households.

Dr. L :

Not only does Raiden need individual therapy...but also each family - singly and together - need family therapy. Enough is enough.

Dr. L :

I want to also encourage each household to get the following book and to read through this webpage:

Dr. L :

Parenting with Love and Logic by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Dr. L :

www.loveandlogic.com

Dr. L :

The four adults need to get on the same page with Raiden!

Dr. L :

You seem like a wonderful mother...and so does your husband. This young man is controlling each and every one of you.

Dr. L :

This needs to stop...now. The habits are becoming more and more entrenched and will be harder and harder to break as time goes on.

Customer:

Well thats the issue, i asked his mother if she sees these habbits in her home, she says no, that he only acts this way at our house (since she took a ction against his lying etc.) and will not let us put him in couseling claiming that it will make him feel like we are blaming him for these issues

Dr. L :

I'm sorry that is her attitude. What she is claiming is definately NOT true. This young man needs help...and, frankly, I don't believe that he is acting differently in the two households.

Customer:

we cant take him to therapy OR counseling or she'll take us to court saying we are damaging his "self esteem"

Dr. L :

What has the school said? Has he ever seen the school counselor?

Customer:

the school needs both parents consent they said because they share custody

Customer:

that and his mother is in good with his teacher and can pull strings -shes also very manipulative

Dr. L :

Would the mother agree to "family therapy"?

Customer:

no she said she doesnt feel the need.

Dr. L :

Meaning...that your family goes to therapy and since he is a member of your family that he is included?

Dr. L :

Oh brother! I'm so sorry. This is not a good situation at all. Does your husband believe that therapy is necessary?

Dr. L :

Have you ever talked to his pediatrician about his behavior?

Dr. L :

Or does she handle all the medical appointments?

Customer:

His mother pulled him from the pediatrician he had a couple months ago saying she liked hers better

Dr. L :

I'm wondering if his physician ordered it...if she would comply...

Dr. L :

And your husband allows this to happen?

Dr. L :

If they have joint custody...he should have a say in his son's medical care....

Dr. L :

So..have you any contact with this pediatrician?

Dr. L :

I suppose it wouldn't make any difference because she would insist on getting her way...right?

Dr. L :

Do you think your husband sees how manipulative Raiden is?

Customer:

No and yes. No he fights her on it- shes very stubborn. and then threatens us with court again. He never really went to the pediatrician often with us, usually when he gets "sick" its at her home

Customer:

i say it that way because she is the mom who jumps at a simple cough

Dr. L :

Got it!

Customer:

usually pulling him from school

Customer:

whch he loves

Dr. L :

So she's overprotective and unwilling to see the problems...and if you try to bring to light issues she defends him.

Dr. L :

Does your husband realize how destructive Raiden's behavior is?

Customer:

honestly im not so sure he does

Dr. L :

Does he understand that if he continues acting as he is, that the future is going to be very very rough.

Customer:

its his only boy and he makes it very apparent

Dr. L :

So..this is another reason that Raiden has so much control over everyone...

Customer:

he understands that raiden is very lazy, and that he cries a lot... i think thats all he sees

Dr. L :

And...is he accepting of this..or does he want Raiden to change?

Customer:

he wants raiden to stop giving me a hard time.

Customer:

thats... about as much as i see him saying. he lets him get away with alot when im not around

Customer:

saying im too strict

Customer:

i practice love logic and rules with my daughters- and very painfully with raiden

Dr. L :

Do you feel you are too strict?

Dr. L :

So..you know the book and the material?

Dr. L :

Tell me about the painful part...

Customer:

i dont, no not at all,

Customer:

and yes ive read on it very insightfully

Customer:

its works beautifully on my youngest

Dr. L :

There are wonderful parent tips on the webpage...I suggest you read this. Has your husband ever read the book?

Dr. L :

It is the best parenting program I've ever run across...and I've been a therapist for 30 years!

Dr. L :

It is my most recommended book on parenting.

Dr. L :

The thing with Raiden is that he feels entitled and he has been given tremendous power by the adults in his life - not you, but the others. He knows he can manipulate people. When it comes to you...it's a way different story. You don't put up with his crap and so you are standing in his way.

Dr. L :

Does this sound true to you?

Customer:

everytime i ask him to do his chores he rolls his eyes at me and parades away with the most disgust, does them all with the least amount of effort, and then barely completes them saying hes done, and when hes reprimanded by having a posesion taken away he cries for a bit and then its a circle. my husband usually is doing something else and i'm stuck disciplining.

Customer:

yes

Customer:

ooooh yes

Dr. L :

Okay...

Dr. L :

The two of you are locked into a battle. And...you are really all alone on your side of this thing.

Customer:

i never was good at being manipulated, ive got too much dignity as a parent and too much know how to deal. but its on and on and on

Dr. L :

He's got all these other adults bending over backwards afraid to upset his apple cart. So..

Dr. L :

instead of being locked in a battle with him...you need a new strategy.

Customer:

yea. he likes to pin my husband and i against each other, until recently...

Dr. L :

This kid is going to wear you out if you don't do something very different here.

Customer:

thats the problem, im stuck, nothing i do seems to work

Dr. L :

So...how about putting down the gloves...and accepting that this is a very confused boy who is going to have a heck of a time dealing with real life. You are not going to win with this kid no matter what you do.

Dr. L :

Can you accept that?

Dr. L :

I know it means swallowing your pride and seeing him very, very differently. But...this is not a healthy child. And...all the adults in his life and treating him in an unhealthy way as well.

Customer:

hes imprinting on my little girls all these nasty behaviors. I correct them while hes gone and BOOM they start up again, and while im trying to correct it all it seems that im only stuck fighting with him

Dr. L :

They are doing him absolutely no favors in life by giving in to him and allowing themselves to be controlled by him.

Dr. L :

I'm sorry about that....yikes! I think the best you can do with the girls is to be clear that mommy rules..not Raiden and follow the love and logic program.

Customer:

At my daughters 2nd birthday party was when i realized how stuck i was. I had all the children at the table eating and i told them to stay seated... my toddlers did and as soon as my husband walked by raiden, raiden stood up and stared at me and smiled while he yearned for his dads attention. My mouth just dropped. i was utterly speechless

Dr. L :

So...what I would like to suggest is that you take pity on Raidon. I don't mean the kind of pity these adults are throwing at him...I mean that you dig deep into your heart and see the broken kid he really is. He's not a happy kid...no matter what the other adults say...he is a confused kid who is trying to survive.

Dr. L :

So...what thoughts came to your mind when Raiden did that?

Customer:

hes starting to purposely antaginize me

Dr. L :

What did you say to yourself?

Dr. L :

Yes...he hates your authority and he is going to defy you every single chance he gets.

Dr. L :

Yup.

Customer:

i said "you serious?!" in my head

Dr. L :

Did you say anything to him? Or did you let the moment pass?

Customer:

i told him " i thought i asked you all to sit down? and your going to pull that little stunt and get away with it? No. You can stand alone by yourself in the corner without your much needed attention"

Customer:

and he did ans BAWLED

Dr. L :

Then what happened?

Customer:

ppl looked at me like the wicked step mother, i was almost embarrassed

Dr. L :

I'm going to suggest another way to have handled that...please bear with me:

Customer:

embarrased to disipline my own child- its laughable

Customer:

my husband looked at him and said "why didnt you listen to her" and he shrugged his shoulders and just kept bawling

Customer:

that was pretty much almost the end of the party, ppl started leaving before we even had cake because he was crying so loudly

Dr. L :

Raiden. I see you are standing and I see that you want your dad's attention. Your dad, and I, are happy to give you attention. Right now, I have asked that all of you sit at the table. When we are done eating, you can get up from the table and ask your dad for attention."

Dr. L :

I'm sorry you got embarrassed...but I assume you were so shocked and disappointed in his behavior that you could not hold back any longer.

Dr. L :

What I have suggested is another approach...an approach that recognizes what was going on...namely that he wanted his dad's attention and was willing to do anything to get it.

Customer:

Yea, i enjoyed trying the love and logic on him, the slamming of the fork and plate on the table, refusing to eat, was awful

Customer:

sorry for my hint of sarcasm - ive had a rough week

Dr. L :

So...what is needed is to listen and see what is going on...in this case...you saw that he wanted attention...so that's what you respond with...I see xyz.

Dr. L :

Then you affirm what you see...his dad does pay attention and will continue to pay attention...but this was not the right time for Raiden to be seeking attention. So...you affirm his need for attention and give him a timetable on when that will be appropriate.

Dr. L :

Not to worry about the sarcasm...but yes...slamming the fork and plate means you get no food!

Customer:

Then i get the joy of my husband telling me im crazy for taking a childs plate of food and how he'll starve or what not

Customer:

i can try love and logic again- i just have to decide who i want to battle with

Dr. L :

What Raiden needs is to be seen appropriately and responded to appropriately...and that is not happening when the adults just give him anything and everything without thinking about the lessons he is learning. For him to bawl like a baby was unreasonable. But...he is going to act out like that because he has not been really "seen" and "heard"....Do you get my point here?

Dr. L :

It might be hard for you to see my point...but in a way...everyone has given in to him...without really listening to him and seeing his true needs!

Customer:

not with the acting out- i dont understand that part

Dr. L :

The kid will not starve!!! Dr. Cline is famous for saying that love and logic is like basic dog training...kids need to know stop, come, go...love and logic is basic training....

Dr. L :

Okay...he is acting out because he doesn't know how to get his needs met in an honest and straightforward way. He's been taught to be manipulative, to be dishonest, to lie and cheat to get his way. As he was a small child...who really listened to him? Who honestly gave him the time he needed to be heard? Were the adults all busy with their own issues and was he just given all sorts of things to shut him up?

Dr. L :

It's like the road map he has of life is terribly distorted. I doubt that he knows how to come up to his dad and say, "Dad I feel scared inside because I don't think I know my math facts well enough to do a good job on the test tomorrow". Is this kid "real" with his feelings?

Dr. L :

In a way...I am asking you to see him with fresh eyes. The eyes of someone who is willing to see that he is a troubled child and in desperate need of an adult who will not pre-judge him as bad. I'm not saying his parents don't love him...but what I am saying is that he is terribly misunderstood and has learned how to survive by being a controlling monster.

Dr. L :

Is this making any sense to you?

Dr. L :

At the core of his being...he is not a bad kid...but his behaviors make it nearly impossible for you to see his core. He treats you terribly. He is teaching the girls bad habits. He is simply ugly to be around. But is that his fault? Or is it the way he has learned to be because no one has attempted to listen to him and see how much he needs to be loved for who he is ... not what he is.

Dr. L :

This kid needs a friend. If you cannot summon the strength to befriend him...that I encourage you to find someone that can. That's why I suggested therapy...so that he would have an advocate who would listen to his real needs and get the adults in his life to wake up to what is happening.

Dr. L :

His over-protective mother, over-indulgent grandparents, and your husband who is over the moon because he has a son...are not doing this kid any favors. They are missing the boat!

Dr. L :

I'm going to stop now and give you a chance to respond.

Customer:

yes i truely love the style - like i said it works beautifully on my toddlers- very well mannered when raidens not home. we started love and logic when raiden was about 5 1/2 when i told my husband i wont have his nonesense in my house. he took to it well- at first- then he started to do things on purpose. at first i informed my husband of the spiteful deeds he was doing, then explaining that it wasnt acceptable and that if he wanted something there would be a time and place. and this goes on for a year, slowly his behavior getting worse and worse and until he told us a lie i called him out on. then his mother and i had a long talk. We discussed all the terrible lies of abbuse and torture he told the houses he was going through and thats when we came down (my husband included) hard on him and things were nice. i went back to work a few months ago and am now a SAHM again. and i walked back into a fire. So once again trying the methods that first worked are no longer working. He makes ppl feel bad when theyve done well, pitys himself when he fails, refuses to put in any effort on things he doesnt think he has to do, hes rude, un epathetic to ppl who are actually in pain AND pretends to be hurt to gain the injured persons attention along with others, he lies to my husband about things i unless im sitting in the room to confront him. He dramatizes his feeling worst of all. i'm not so sure i can believe its not that we are listening, but everything this child says is so distorted we dont know what to believe

Dr. L :

What you have written is another reason that therapy is critical. If he is distorting reality...which seems possible...that then may be an indication of mental health issues. I'm not trying to scare you...but this is where an evaluation by a competent child psychologist would be needed.

Dr. L :

Is there any possibility that your husband would be willing to schedule such an appointment for the sheer reason of wanting to ensure that Raiden is a healthy child?

Dr. L :

Psychological speaking I mean.

Dr. L :

What you have written raises a series of questions in my mind about his mental state.

Dr. L :

I think using love and logic principles is good...but is it too little too late???

Customer:

we ask him how he feels when hes angry or sad... he shrugs, then we ask him more detailedly , what was it that upset you, and immediatly its you yelled at me (i'd like to note we dont allow yelling in our home) so we explain that. and he says you hurt my feelings, we ask what it was that we said that was hurtful and explain why we said it- this is a daily if bi daily occurrence- its almost... delusional that hes hurt by the littlest things. to the point i feel like im not so sure its true or if he's mad sad or upset someone else has the spot light or that i nearly asked him to remake his bed better.

Customer:

sorry im really slow at typing im trying to answer your previous statements

Dr. L :

The listening part may be compromised as Raiden may be incapable -at this point- of really talking to his dad or you or his mother because of how distorted he sees life. Again...this would be the role of a psychologist.

Dr. L :

Not a problem...you are doing fine. I know I'm asking a lot of questions.

Dr. L :

You may be absolutely right that he has no real ability to describe his feelings because they are so distorted by now. This is not uncommon in children. Partly...he lives in two homes with two different standards...that can be hard for any kid. If he is not good at transitions, then this could be a complicating factor.

Dr. L :

Still....the botXXXXX XXXXXne here is that Raiden needs therapy. I don't know how you can manage that...but it's a must in my book from what you have written. Keeping up with the love and logic is one way to have a defined method for how you approach parenting...and that's terrific. But...the ongoing battles, the frustration, the melt-downs, the impact on the girls...all of this screams for intervention by a child psychologist who can put some sense around all of this.

Dr. L :

I don't know if you want to show your husband our chat...but that might be a way to help open up this discussion further.

Dr. L :

Raiden is suffering. You are suffering. Likely everyone has some level of pain and discomfort here.

Dr. L :

Joint custody is a good solution on paper...but sometimes the practical aspects of living in two homes makes this very, very difficult.

Dr. L :

His mother's fears about therapy are really unwarranted. Raiden needs an advocate...someone whose sole job is to listen to him and help him navigate life. I don't see things improving dramatically unless he has such a person in his life. I'm sorry. I don't mean to make matters worse...

Dr. L :

But the adults in this picture need an outside person to help manage this situation.

Customer:

even when hes been in 2 different homes since day 1?

Dr. L :

Look at it this way...different rules, different personalities, different relationships, different people...

Customer:

i dont see therapy in our future. honestly, we could go but once raiden told jeanne, which he will, itd be all over

Dr. L :

I hear you. And..I have great sympathy for the situation. It likely will be up to your husband to insist and put his foot down.

Dr. L :

I don't know if he can wrangle her...but this is about the health of this child.

Dr. L :

I would hate to think that your husband does not have the power to do right by his son...

Customer:

there has to be another way- she thinks hes a crazy loon as it is. i know for sure 150%-because ive asked- that she will not let raiden go to counseling or she'll file for sole custody.

Dr. L :

If Raiden had fallen down and broken his leg...everyone would want him taken to a hospital to get that leg fixed. It's the same thing here...Raiden's mental health needs to be evaluated by a competent provider. That's the simplest way to put this...

Dr. L :

Maybe that's a gamble you and your husband will have to take. She can threaten. But the courts will not side with her. Seeing a therapist is considered healthy!!!

Customer:

then i guess i should be asking a lawyer will she win if we cant afford one eh?

Customer:

lol sorry but i got side traked

Customer:

tracked*

Dr. L :

It may be a matter of checking with your attorney to see what advice he/she has if Jeanne pushes custody. Depending on the state you live in...her threat may go no where.

Customer:

im almost worried if its not a mental health issue if the child is just messing with me for the sake of doing

Dr. L :

Not a problem. Yes...talking to a lawyer might be the first step. His academic performance may be one indication that he is having difficulties in life.

Dr. L :

You have every right to question what he's up to...but even if he is messing with you...that's not healthy behavior! And...a therapist would be able to work with him to stop that negative behavior.

Customer:

he wont bother to listen to his poor teacher, she says hes always too busy talking to kids in his class to do half his work...

Dr. L :

I don't see how you could lose here by going to therapy. Certainly...from the long list of things you point to ... things are not right with him.

Dr. L :

And that kind of feedback from his teacher is what can support why you are seeking therapy. You said his mother is very friendly with the teacher...but getting anything in writing from the teacher...along with his school grades...may be helpful.

Customer:

well thank you, XXXXX XXXXX appreciate everything and i guess im stuck until we can find an evauation point

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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