Problem with father and son


Problem with father and son


your avatar   Rachel, 35-year-old woman

I have been married for the last 13 years. I have a son who was 2 when I married my husband and he has raised him as his own. We also have 3 children together. We've never been considered blended, as this is the only father my son has ever known.

We're having some issues with my son - there have been lies, sneaking treats. Recently he went on the computer without permission to look at "sexy pictures," watching some more adult movies ("American Pie") without permission, sneaking change here and there. This is a concern - from my perspective, but not all that unusual. My husband, however, feels there's something seriously wrong. He is talking of sending our son to live with my parents. I completely disagree. I don't think he's a bad kid, and the situation isn't that horrible. He's an honor student, well liked by his teachers. I can't say much about his friends, because he doesn't bring them home, and he doesn't go out. I do seem to recall being the same at his age - overly private.

I'm totally at a loss about what to do. How can we overcome the my son's deceptions? Am I going have to choose between them? I love my husband dearly, but I was a mother first.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Rachel,

You don't need to choose between them. All you need to do is to gently and respectfully educate your husband.

The issues you describe are normal developmental events that most boys undergo. It is a natural stage of his time in life to push against limits. This needs two kinds of responses: negotiating increased responsibility for himself with him, and firm but loving enforcement of rules.

If this boy was your husband's genetic descendant, then almost certainly he'd be doing much the same kinds of things. The details might be different, but the situation would be the same.

The three of you should have a meeting. The rules are: respect from all parties to everyone else; there need to be house rules and everyone needs to obey them; privileges need to be earned through taking on responsibility; if something is forbidden at this time, the reason needs to be explained, and the rule could be relaxed when he is older.

I also recommend that your husband start something that works beautifully in all families. You have 4 kids. At regular intervals, such as once a week or once every two weeks, he should spend time with one of the four. The child has the right to plan the time, and the two of them do it together, getting as much enjoyment out of it as they can. And of course the kids take turns. Over time, this will build a wonderful bond of friendship between the father and all the children, including the eldest boy.

It's a pity you didn't leave an email address. Let me know if you got this message, and if it helped you.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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