Group Therapy is here for you, gang! Rock-A-Holics unite! Together, we can DO THIS!
Okay, maybe I’ve had a bit too much sugar. Let’s move on: John is a faithful friend of the show, and he needs a little guidance. He’s been with his girlfriend for about 4 years, and he loves her dearly…but John’s relationship with her 12-year-old son isn’t going so well.
The kid’s father was recently released from prison, and he doesn’t play a role in his son’s upbringing. Not surprisingly, the kid is tough to manage: He steals from his mother and John, entering their room and taking things, lies constantly, and acts like the world owes him a favor. John and his girlfriend are finding themselves facing some kind of disciplinary issue almost daily at this point, and John doesn’t know what to do. He cares about the kid, and wants to help him grow up right, but it’s an uphill battle.
Being in a relationship with someone who has their own kids is an incredibly difficult thing to do, even without the added issues that an absentee parent situation can create. I usually advise against these relationships, as a general rule; I’ve heard the stories a thousand times, and it’s a rare case that ends successfully.
Unfortunately, John is already in this situation. When we turned the question over to the Rock-A-Holics, we heard a lot of feedback that centered on serious discipline, and consequences. Personally, it sounds to me like things have moved out of the realm of the usual threats being effective.
One listener suggested some family counseling, and I think that might be the best idea, if John plans to stick it out. With a dad in prison, the kid comes by his problems naturally, no doubt; the solution to those problems won’t be so easy to pinpoint. Sitting down with a therapist as a family – and maybe some solo sessions for the kid – could be the way to get to the heart of the matter. You can’t cure a disease by simply treating the symptoms; find out what you’re fighting against, and you have a better chance of working together to find a solution.