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Ask Eleanor
Ask Eleanor, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1517
Experience:  Marriage & Family Therapist/Prof. Counselor for 20 years
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I am finding it difficult to cope with my family. I have two

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I am finding it difficult to cope with my family. I have two teenage boys, 15 and 13, who have nothing in common and they basically don't talk to each other, don't exchange a word, it's been going on for weeks now. My partner while is a wonderful person is very moody and easily upset. He gets very upset with the boys being rude, disrespectful and such like. Sometimes I see it's justified, but a lot of the times I think it's exaggeration. His idea of dealing with conflict is to withdraw and stop talking to anybody. The older boy has adopted this method of behaving as well and at this stage hasn't spoken to his dad for two weeks going on three. His explanation is 'I don't like him as a person'. I am the only one everybody speaks to, and I always try to patch things up but I'm getting tired of being the only one trying. Is it better to just separate from my partner?
Hello, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked with families and blended families for 20 years. I know you are weary of all of this silent treatment amongst the men in your life and I am happy to help. Just so I am clear, is your partner also the boys' father?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, he is both boys' father and we have been together for 20 years.

Thank you. Having teenagers certainly add to family stress. I have worked with lots of teens and their families with issues like this and have seen them improve greatly. I would not separate from their father until you have sought the help of a family therapist. Do you believe your partner would be open to therapy with you and your sons?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, I don't think either him or the boys would be open to any therapy sessions. Doesn't make it easier.


I am very sorry to hear this. Sometimes people don't do things until they have to, you know. I would sit down with your partner and tell him that you are at the point where you cannot go on with the way things are between him and the boys. Tell him that unless he is willing to go to family therapy, you will have to separate. He may refuse, but at least you have tried everything. If the two of you agree to go, then the boys should have no choice in the matter. If you do end up separating, you will certainly have your hands full with your sons and may at some time in the future need to take them to family therapy with you. They, particularly your eldest, will feel very powerful, like you left because of them and you will need to assert you power as a parent. Teens will push and push and you must push back. That is probably why there is so much animosity with their father; he withdraws and does not push back. You are fortunate that there are many excellent family therapists in Australia. You are facing a difficult decision, which only you can ultimately make. I hope this helps you. Chat back if you need anything further. I wish you and your family all the best, XXXXX XXXXX Eleanor
PS: Here is the link to the Australian Association of Family Therapists:
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