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KansasTherapist, LSCSW
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience:  17 years experience with depression, abuse, and borderline.
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I am losing my sanity. I have an incredible stepson and our

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I am losing my sanity. I have an incredible stepson and our relationship has always been very close and natural. He is 12 years old now and I've been the every other weekend parent for a little over 6 years now. His bio parents divorced shortly after his birth due to the mom's physical violence against my (now) husband. The mom has sole custody and in South Africa, the dad then has absolute no say in the upbringing of the son. She hates that we are the 'fun parents' and has said this on numerous occassions. I completely understand that it isn't nice for her, but have been actively involved in all his extra curricular activities and his studies. Lately this has become a bit much for me. She leaves absolutely all his homework and exam preparations for the two weekends a month for me to handle. She has given strict instructions that I have to sit with him and study. While we study, she sends up to 20 text messages to threaten us, that if we don't study the entire weekend, she will stop him from coming to us. If we don't answer the text messages, she sends it to my husband's phone. This past weekend, I just had enough and said to my son that it stops now. I can not get through the amount of work. If he doesn't get a distinction in all his subjects she gives him a hiding. He is an exceptional boy and has South African colours in chess and plays Cricket for the first team. A real all rounder.
I am being kept hostage in my house two weekends a month by her threats and my son is continously in tears and afraid to go home if we don't get through the work. If he cries, my heart breaks and although I feel like stopping my contribution to his studies, I feel guilty towards him. There is no way that we can discuss this with her. She has an extreme anger problem and loses her temper at the slightest provocation. We have seeked legal help from various sources, but they said if we can't prove physical abuse or drug addition, alcoholism or something like that, we have no case.
I am more than willing to contribute, but to what extent? Please give me solid and practical advise, because I want to run away.
KansasTherapist : Hello
KansasTherapist : If there was a pill for this problem, a lot of people would take it. Lol
KansasTherapist : My suggestion is actually pretty simple. Your son needs to take some responsibility to study while he is at his Mom's house. It isn't just her that is leaving all his work to do until he's at your house.
KansasTherapist : He is certainly getting to the age when no one should have to make him study. And when there is such a a harsh punishment for not getting his work done, the motivation should be his. Try telling him you want to see a substantial part of his work done before he get to your house, and if he does that you'll reward him by planning something fun to do.

He has to be in bed at 18:30 in the evenings. She doesn't allow him to study in the afternoons (he needs his rest and she wants to go to the movies, ice-scating or other fun stuff during the week. She says weekends are for homework and studying. She goes to bed at 19:00 and then the entire house has to be quiet.


She also says that there are no way that he is allowed to study on his own - a parent has to supervise.

KansasTherapist : I think he could find a way to do it if you gave him the idea. Most kids are clever at getting what they want. She is likely doing all this to punish you for being so close to her son. I'm sure there is a lot of work he could do on his own and you could check it over when you see him.

Ok, I hear you and I agree, he plays chess against adults and can totally cope with that (on his own). She has told us that she will ensure that there are no fun time for us over weekends. On a Saturday morning, she sends a text message of what we are allowed to do that day. She picks him up from school in the afternoons (our schools end at 14:00) and then they go home. I don't know how he will practically be able to do his work without her seeing. Sometimes he is told just to sit with her so she can look at him? Bath time is at 17:00, then dinner, then bed. But reading between your lines, it seems that the closeness is perhaps the problem? I wish him a good relationship with his mom, I don't want to compete.

KansasTherapist : Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a good relationship with your son, it's only her insecurity that is causing the problem. I'm guessing he has time at school that he spends chatting with his friends or playing that he could use for studying if he was motivated to do it. In the end it will have to learn to study on his own some day. As to the texts telling you what you can and can't do with your time, that is silly. There is no way she should be making that decision. Your only issues are that he gets his work done and not get in trouble with his mom.

Thanks I'll also think a bit more. South African schools are from 08:00 to 14:00 with two 15 minute reses's. So at school, no time. But we'll find a way...

KansasTherapist : Okay. I'm sure he can think of something.
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