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Monthly Archives: August 2012

I am having a real problem with my husband’s 7 year old son, Jack. We have been having issues with Jack’s Mom telling him lies about his father and me. For example, when our 10 month old daughter Julia was born, she told him that the baby wasn’t really his sister. Jack also tells me that it’s my fault his Mom and Dad are not together anymore.

When I ask him to do something for me, he usually responds, “My Mom told me I don’t have to do anything you tell me to do. You’re not my mother!” 
And, now is where the real problem starts. My husband and Jack’s Mom have 50/50 custody; 

we have Jack for 7 days and then he lives with his Mom for 7 days. Several months ago 

we noticed that Jack is lying to us. A lot! And he makes up elaborate stories that 

aren’t true. For example, he told his mother that I threatened to beat the cr*p out of him 

when he wouldn’t get into bed at bedtime. Of course I would never say this to Jack, but after he told his 

Mom she called my husband to scream at him about my threatening Jack. The next time he was at our 

house, my husband and I  asked why he would make up such stories.  Whenever we ask him why he 

is lying, he just insists that he is telling the truth and breaks down into tears.

Like I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. He is lying constantly now. 

What would cause a 7 year old boy to tell stories to his mom like this?

 Is he trying to please mommy because mommy has openly expressed her dislike of me to him?

Should I be worried? Should my husband be worried?  

I’d appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thank you!



Dear Joan,

I’m so sorry that you are going through this with your 7 year old step son. I wish I could say that this behavior is unusual for a child when he is in the midst of a cantankerous split between his parents. I agree with you. He may very well be trying to figure things out. In an effort to ensure

 he is not abandoned by Mom, Jack is trying to align with her against you. Children at this age frequently can’t make sense out of shades of gray and it’s preferable to distance himself from you rather than run the risk of losing his mother’s love all together.  In addition, he is testing you. If he is “bad” enough, will you reject him? Jack may also be engaging in a bit of magical

thinking. Like other children at this age, he believes his thoughts, feelings, and behavior

can influence the course of things. His behavior may be motivated by a wish for his parents 

to get back together to take care of him. Jack may not be able to comprehend why his parents split and you are the only thing different between “before” and “after”. Being a step-parent is such a challenging job. The rewards of which 

you may not see for many years to come.

Continue reading “Being a Step-Parent”

Posted in Blended Family, Dear Cathi | Comments off

“Have you finished your homework?” “It’s a school night. Time to get ready for bed.” “Mom, where is my assignment book?” “Drop-off is at 4:30. Pick-up is at 8:30.” “Save dinner for me. I’ll eat after practice.” “Hurry up. You’re going to be late for the bus.” “I need lunch money.” “Don’t forget to sign the emergency care forms.” “My teacher yelled at me today.” “My friends are all in the other class!”

And THAT was the dialogue in my house just YESTERDAY! What a change from the summer when everything is so much looser. No deadlines or early bedtimes. No extra-curricular activities interrupting family time. No nagging over homework and hurrying to turn in forms. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling blue. I’m not ready to let go of the ease of summer. I can feel the pressures and requirements of school ratcheting up the stress level at home.

This brings me to the critical question: How can I make this annual transition back to school easier for myself and my family? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Maintain the Illusion of Summer. We still have several more weeks of temperate weather ahead. Let’s enjoy it. Light up those BBQs. Eat outdoors. You may choose to follow the edict ‘no white after Labor Day,’ but nobody says you can’t hold on to a few more dog days of summer while it lasts. Get out there and enjoy!

2. Develop Strict Routines. Bedtime: All children need structure, predictability, and SLEEP. Now is the time to get back to your child’s basic routine. Set a bedtime and stick with it. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get ready for bed BEFORE bedtime. Some children need 45 minutes just to prepare for bed. Remember: You are in charge of making sure your child gets into bed and turns out the lights. After that, it’s up to your child to fall asleep.

Morning routine: Like many of us, you may struggle in getting your child out the door in the morning. There are a couple of things you might try that have helped me: 1) Wake up several minutes before your children do so that you have a few minutes to read the paper and have your first cup of coffee. This helps prepare you for what lies ahead. 2) Encourage the kids to have lunches made and backpacks by the door the night before so they are ready to walk out the door in the morning. 3) Avoid TV (or any other screen time) in the morning before school. 3) Help your child get in the habit of picking her/his clothes out the night before. 4) Refrain from last minute homework in the morning.

3. Family Dinners and Family Calendars. Family dinners are vital ways to reconnect with your children after hectic school days and after-school activities. Research says that teens who regularly have meals with their family are more likely to have better academic performance and less likely to get involved with drugs or become depressed. Make every effort to get together for family dinners despite crazy schedules.  Update and post a family calendar in a prominent place in your kitchen. Review the calendar on Sunday evening as part of a family meeting. The calendar will help you stay on track with family dinner times as expectations for participation are spelled out in advance.

Continue reading “Coping With Back-To-School Blues”

Posted in Parenting, School Anxiety | Comments off