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Worried about 14 y/o in bad family situation

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Hi Dr. Laura,
My 14 year old lives in a household with no communication. He has a stepdad that doesn't talk to him and his biological mother tries to if she's not working so much. He shares a room with his stepbrother that is hardly ever home. He has a stepsister that barely talks to him, if she's ever home.

My son is half black and hispanic. His step siblings are half white and hispanic. The step dad is fully hispanic. My son has no privileges on the computer, t.v and in his room, He has nothing, that shows a reflection of who they think he is.

How long does this last before something happens to change it? Thank you for your time.


Dear Lisa,
I hear your deep pain for your son. It sounds like a bad situation for him, because a fourteen year old desperately needs the support of those around him. It is natural for you to worry, and to be angry on his behalf.

The most important thing you can do to help your son is to stay in constant touch with him. Do you speak with him on the phone every day? See him a couple of times a week? That would make a huge difference to him. Even kids in bad circumstances can come through ok if they know that one person loves them and believes in them. You can be his lifeline.

The second thing you can do for your son is be his advocate. Can you speak with his biological mother? It sounds like she does care about your son, and connects with him when she is not working. If you tell her that you are worried about him, without blaming her, she may be able to hear you. She is in the best position to change things in the home.

Finally, maybe it is possible for your son to live with you? I don't know your circumstances, but his biological mother may be willing to let him live with you if she sees that as a better situation for your son. A fourteen year old really needs daily support from those around him.

I wish you and your son every blessing.
Dr. Laura

Dr. Markham:
I think you misunderstood. I'm his real mother. Let me give you some history.

My name is Lisa I have raised my two children, ever since they were born. I was a single parent, but very happy with my children.

Then I got married to a man named Robert. My children and I have known Robert for 15 years. I dated him for 8 years and got married.

When we got married, all hell broke loose . I'm still very much unhappy. The people that were living in the home in 2005 was his 21 year old daughter, his 16 year old son and of course myself , my husband and my son. Then his 21 year old daughter moved out in 2007. Then my husband , myself, my son, his son who is now 18 years old, his other daughter that's 19 years old, her husband and their baby moved in with us. This is what my life consisted of.

My husband wants to get my son emancipated when he turns 16. I'm outraged about my whole life. I regret getting married to this man and its really hard to deal with things. My husband is a problem solver, so he has a hard time listening. I'm stuck in the middle between him and my son. I hate my life with a passion and I really don't know what to do.

Am I damaging my son to live like this? I worry about him soooooooooooooo much. How do you stay sane in a household, where I have to be a single parent concerning my son, instead of having my husbands support? My husband's excuse is that I get mad if he has to pass sentencing on my son ,when he does something wrong; so wash his hands of him. What would be your advice????

Dear Lisa,
Thanks for clarifying the situation. I was indeed confused by your first letter.

I am hearing that you and your son are both miserable in the house where you live with your husband, that your son is not treated as part of the family, and that your husband wants to kick your son out when he turns 16.

You ask if this is damaging your son. I can say with certainty that it is damaging your son. I can also say that it is damaging you. Further, your son is being hurt by the fact that you see his pain and aren't addressing it. I think you know that you are letting your son be damaged, which is why you worry so.

Is this your husband's fault? Maybe, but this is not his son, and you can't control your husband. Is it your responsibility? Absolutely. This is your child. It is your responsibility to protect him and provide circumstances where he can thrive. I don't see you doing that here.

You ask my advice? I think you know what it will be. Why on earth would you sacrifice your child? Why are you staying in this situation?

My advice is that you save your son while you still can. I assume that means leaving and getting your own place, and a divorce. This is a big step for you to take, but something you are ready to do, I think. I will add that 14 is on the cusp of manhood. If you don't act now, the damage to your son may be too much for him to handle, and you are likely to lose him forever.

There are many organizations that offer free counseling and assistance to women in your situation. I applaud you for reaching out, and hope that you will get the help you need to take action on behalf of yourself and your son.

Dr. Laura

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