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Ask Dr. Shirley Schaye Your Own Question
Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience:  PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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My son Cory has a 7 year old son Logan, Cory and Logans mother,

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My son Cory has a 7 year old son Logan, Cory and Logan's mother, Lisa have been separated since Logan was about 4 months old. Lisa is living with a man, Shawn since Logan was about a year and a half. Lisa is now pregnant with Shawn's baby girl and for Christmas she had Logan ask Cory if he could change his last name to Shawn's last name because: Lisa and Shawn are suppose to marry in the next year and Lisa will have Shawn's last name, the baby girl will have Shawn's name so he would be left out of the new family. I cannot believe a mother could be so very cruel to her son as she is. Logan does not understand what he is asking of his father. Lisa has told Cory she wants him to legally give up all rights to his son Logan.She actually has Logan convinced that if Cory refuses to allow Logan to change his last name to Shawn's name, then he would be an outsider to this new family. My son's heart broke when Logan asked this of him. He said Logan is convinced he needs to change his last name before the baby is born (in March I think) then he cannot be part of this new family. How can Cory explain to Logan that he doesn't want Logan to change his name to Shawn's name without destroying this little boy's dream of being part of this new family. Lisa has made it very clear that she wants all of us out of Logan's life. We have since found out that she and Shawn are having serious problems between them and Shawn almost walked out on Lisa before she became pregnant. We were told by a family member, a cousin of Lisa's that as soon as Shawn said he was going to leave, by the next month, she was pregnant. She did the same thing when she was with Cory. At the time she was 17 years old and now she is 24 years old . When things went bad between she and Cory she got pregnant telling everyone that now Cory can't leave me because I'm carrying his baby. She is doing the same thing now apparently telling everyone that Shawn won't leave her now because she is carrying his baby. So how does Cory approach this very serious problem without breaking his son's heart. I have told Cory that Logan is too young to understand what's going on and when he's older he will hate Cory for not fighting for him. I told him one day Logan will come up to him and say that he was too young to understand the ramifications of all this and he will tell Cory he was the adult and he understood that he was abandoning him without a fight. So how can Cory tell Logan he wants him to keep his family name without destroying his son?
Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I had to read and reread what you wrote several times. I couldn't believe what this woman was doing. Bad enough if she directly went to cory to ask him but to involve a little boy is preposterous!!!!!!! I gather they were never married so that there is no divorce lawyer involved. Am I correct about this? Was there a lawyer involved about shared custody? Or did they just decide on their own about parental custody? These questions are important to be answered so we know which avenue to proceed.
How wise, intelligent and thoughtful you are. I am most impressed with what you are telling your son re: what will happen when Logan gets older and what he will tell his father about not standing up to his mother. He absolutely SHOULD NOT give over rights to name change. It is unfortunate that this crazy mother is doing what she is doing --- you, nor I, nor your son have any power over this. There is nothing you can do about what she is doing. However, what your son can do is not go along with it. This is what he should do.
First tell him that he could tell his son not to worry that he will still be part of the other family as he is now. He is with mommy and Shawn now and he has Daddy's (Logan's) last name now and that has not changed things. Because mommy and daddy have separated, he now lives in two homes like lots of other kids who come from divorced families. He has two families now and he will have two families when the baby is born. Your son should contact the local social services agency and ask them for help because what Lisa is doing is profoundly inappropriate to discuss with Logan and to tell Logan he won't be part of that family. If she wanted to accomplish this --- changing the name, it should only be discussed between Cory and Lisa and between Lisa and Shawn. Logan should absolutely not been part of this discussion.
So, first step is social services --- tell all --- that mother is creating all this anxiety in the child when she should not have been discussing it with Logan. If need be, your son should also speak to a child therapist because of what the mother is doing and last to a custody attorney. But first to have the documentation from social services and the documentation from a child therapist. UNDER NO CONDITIONS MUST A MOTHER SAY WHAT SHE DID TO LOGAN. It is grossly, grossly inappropriate and very detrimental to the child.
Your son should feel free to show what I have written to the child social service person he contacts. This mother deserves to lose her right to this child.
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Just checking to see if you have entered anything in this chat for me to respond to.
I don't know if you will be coming back to continue our chat but I wanted to say one more time that I am glad that you spoke to your son about not giving up his legal rights to his son and allowing his son's name to be changed.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
If you have no more questions please click on ACCEPT and please leave feedback. Even if you are a subscription or trial member you need to click "Accept" for me to be paid.





Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr Shirley Schaye; I am sorry about the lapse in time but I had to leave home for a few hours. You are right, there never was any legal custody arrangements. Because my son, even though he is only 26 years old, is a foreman for a construction company in this area and because of this, he is often away from home for weeks at a time, Therefore, he thought it best for Logan to live with his mother. We never dreamed she would completely loose her mind and use emotional blackmail against her own son. What I am afraid of is the mental anguish Logan is suffering at his mother's hands. I need concrete words as to how Cory will handle this when he next sees Logan(if she allows Cory to see him). Your advice is sound but not enough. I know we have to be very careful as to how we all will handle this because a wrong step at this time could very well destroy this child. So please, could you expand a little more on what to tell Logan about the name change? She has also denied us(the rest of the family)any communication with our grandson, nephew. Our third son is also Logan's godfather.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
When I wrote to you I thought you might be a child therapist. Could you please explain all the abbreviations representing your credentials? I am curious as to what they represent. I know Logan will be very disappointed with Cory for a while, but I told my son to be patient because his son will come around especially as he gets older and fully understands what his mother has done to him. I am very worried this will crush our little boy. How do I find a good child therapist in my area? Are there specific questions I should ask about his or her credentials? We just want what's best for Logan. Should we try to and tape such kind of conversations between Lisa and Cory and Cory and his son? I know we probably would not be able to use it in court especially if she is not aware she is being taped.Several people have to come to us lately to tell us Lisa seems to be going off her rocker but we have no control on what she says or does and Cory is afraid if he brings her to court to get custody of his son, it will devestate him because she has always kept him extremely close to her(a bit too much I believe). He has never slept overnight anywhere in the last 3 years(since Cory has not taken his son for the weekend because he has been working away from home). She is the one who told me this in the past couple of months and she seemed proud of this. He cannot sleep over his only aunt on her mom's side, nor his other grandparents. He will call home crying and Lisa has to go get him.
Sorry, let me start over, I just wrote a huge long piece and it was all deleted. I'll try again.
I have extensive training in Child, adolescent and adult.I have an MSW in psychiatric social work, a PhD in clinical Psychology, two certificates in post graduate psychoanalytic training from New York Freudian Society and the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis ( another plus10 years of training). I'm a member of the International Psychoanalyic Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association --- one can only become a member with the post graduate psychoanalytic education that I have.
First, let me reiterate what I had written before about Piaget and Child cognitive development so that you can see where Logan falls and what at his age he will understand.

Jean Piaget,described the mechanism by which the mind processes new information. He said that a person understands whatever information fits into his established view of the world. When information does not fit, the person must reexamine and adjust his thinking to accommodate the new information. Piaget described four stages of cognitive development and relates them to a person's ability to understand and assimilate new information.


  1. Sensorimotor: (birth to about age 2)

    During this stage, the child learns about himself and his environment through motor and reflex actions. Thought derives from sensation and movement. The child learns that he is separate from his environment and that aspects of his environment -- his parents or favorite toy -- continue to exist even though they may be outside the reach of his senses. Teaching for a child in this stage should be geared to the sensorimotor system. You can modify behavior by using the senses: a frown, a stern or soothing voice -- all serve as appropriate techniques.


  2. Preoperational: (begins about the time the child starts to talk to about age 7)

    Applying his new knowledge of language, the child begins to use symbols to represent objects. Early in this stage he also personifies objects. He is now better able to think about things and events that aren't immediately present. Oriented to the present, the child has difficulty conceptualizing time. His thinking is influenced by fantasy -- the way he'd like things to be -- and he assumes that others see situations from his viewpoint. He takes in information and then changes it in his mind to fit his ideas. Teaching must take into account the child's vivid fantasies and undeveloped sense of time. Using neutral words, body outlines and equipment a child can touch gives him an active role in learning.


  3. Concrete: (about first grade to early adolescence) This is where Logan would be.

    During this stage, accommodation increases. The child develops an ability to think abstractly and to make rational judgements about concrete or observable phenomena, which in the past he needed to manipulate physically to understand. In teaching this child, giving him the opportunity to ask questions and to explain things back to you allows him to mentally manipulate information.


  4. Formal Operations: (adolescence)

    This stage brings cognition to its final form. This person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. At his point, he is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. Teaching for the adolescent may be wideranging because he'll be able to consider many possibilities from several perspectives.

So it is important to understand this so that you could understand where Logan's cognitive development is.
Sorry, I am sending this peacemeal before everything gets deleted again.
So, the important issue here is that Logan is at a leve of cognitive development whereby he has the ability to think abstractly. Since he can think abstractly he can hear what his father says to him and understand --- i.e., he has lived with Shawn and Mom for many years and has been totally part of that family so that there is no reason why now all of a sudden he wouldn't be just because he has a different last name.
The other issue to add is to tell him, if you do know of kids who come from divorced families to share with him that that's what happens when kids come from families where mommys and daddys separate --- they form new families. The children of a different daddy have a different name but that doesn't mean because they have a different name that they are not part of BOTH families.
If you don't know of kids who come from divorced families and even if you do, I think it would be a really great idea to read him children's stories about blended families and then sit and talk about the book and then expand it to Logan's situation.
If you tell me where you live --- city, state, zip code, I will help you find a child therapist ho is well credentialed.
I think your son ought to discuss this with a custody attorney --- he doesn't need to file a law suit but just to get a legal opinion from a judge to see what s/he recommends.
Apropos what you said about his not sleeping away from home
Let me explain. When a child of Logan's age cries when he is away from home and has to have his mother pick him up you are talking about a serious separation individuation problem. When that happens, it is clear that the mother has not spent enough time with the child in the first three years of life --- which means that the child has not been able to attain a level of object constancy. What that means is if a child's mother has been there adequately for a child's first three years of life the child has internalized the mother's presence and knows she exists even when the child is not in her presence.
There is a book that you might want to read written by Margaret S. Mahler, MD and Manuel Furer, MD. --- "On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation". Margaret Mahler is the definitive researcher on early childhood ego development. It might be of interest to you to read this book. It will really help you understand why he is behaving the way he is when he has to be separated from mommy. A child is in the Symbiotic phase of early ego development until 4-5 months old. They are just beginning to learn the difference between themselves and mommy. At 1 1/2 years old the child is still not able to separate. They could walk away from mommy but need to turn around and see that mommy is there. This is the separation-individuation stage.A child cannot separate from it's mother until age 3. A age 3, a child has developed object constancy. What that means is that at age 3, when a child is away from it's mother it can understand that it's mother is coming back. Before age 3 a child has no object constancy and does not know that mother will come back.
If mother has not been there enough during the first three years of it's ego development, the child will show the kinds of problems that Logan shows. He is making it loud and clear, letting everybody know if he is not in mommy's presence, he will lose mommy.
I know there is an awful lot of input there so I'll await your response so that I give you some time to read and digest what I have written. Do send me where Logan lives so that I may help find a child therapist.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you so much for your attention and for your answer. There is so much I want to tell you but I just received a call from my cousin and her father just had a stroke and he is asking for me. I will contact you tonight if I'm not too late or too tired or I will contact you tomorrow. I don't want to press accept just yet because I fear I will loose communication with you and yes, I will definately accept.(even though it will cause big problems with my overbearing husband of 34 years. I will tell you more about this tomorrow, from one woman to another, if you are interested.




Oh my, I am very sorry to hear about your cousin's dad. I hope everything works out well.
You don't need to worry. Let me post what happens in Q& A format so even if you did click ACCEPT you can still respond to me by asking for me.

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I'll be here, not to worry. In the meantime tell me where Logan lives so that I may look for a child therapist for him --- city, state and zip code.

Dr. Shirley Schaye and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi again Shirley: We live in Canada so I will find a good child psychologist for Logan. If I want to continue speaking with you about other matters, no necessarily advice, would this be possible? I have a B.A with a double concentration in Psychology and Sociology and a B.ED in Education. As you were explaining Piaget's theories, everything made sense to me because I studied his work and others. There is so much I would like to discuss with you about Sociology and Psychology and different theories, that I think we could talk for hours and never run out of things to talk about. Where are you from? Where do you live? Thank you so much for such good advice. I will definitely discuss this advice with Cory. As

I began to tell you before I had to leave in a hurry, I have been married for 34 years but it has not been a happy one(not on my part anyway).Unfortunately, I married at 16 years old and had my first child at 3 months shy of 18 and kept having kids every 2 years or so for 10 years. My husband is a very selfish, immature man, He has controlled me all my life until I started taking my university courses from 1983 until 1992. He will throw another one of his infantile tantrums and accuse me of wasting money. I have heard it so many times now it goes into one ear and out the other. How can we communicate other than this site?How about you contact me at [email protected].


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I totally forgot to ask you how much I am paying for your advice. I hope its not $83 everytime we have been chatting back and forth. If so, I am really going to be facing one heck of a temper tantrum from my husband which will last for several days.
No,the way Just Answer works is you could keep asking questions during your time allotment. So, it's not, unless you come back and ask a different question. If you want me to help you find a child psychologist, I'd be glad to. Where in Canada are you? What province? What's your zip code.
I live in New York City. I am from Montreal, Quebec.
Just checking to see if you responded.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr irley Schaye: Thank you for the positive feedback.
You are most welcome! I really meant it.