Ask Tia Juana

Dear Tia,

I am really worried and at my wits end about my son.  He is a loner with few friends, and is bullied at school and occasionally acts out when he has had enough.  He is loved by his stepfather, who also is the disciplinarian in the family and who accepts him as his own, but my son has had a rough time since my divorce.  Although my husband and I try to maintain a united front to avoid making it seem like we disagree on how we raise him, my mother will often contradict us, essentially undermining our authority.  I love my son and my husband and my mother, and don’t want to cause any hard feelings in my family.  What should I do?

Caught in the middle

Dear Caught,

It’s time to have a chat with your mom, who may not see that her disagreeing with you or your husband is undermining your authority and ultimately causing your son to lose respect for you.  This is human nature since we all tend to bond with our “protectors.”  As hard as it may be for your mom to see her grandson be disciplined, she has to bow to your authority and your husband’s as well.  No one is suggesting that she should not love or spoil her grandchildren, as grandmothers tend to do, discipline is the parents’ prerogative.   As for your child being a loner and the victim of bullying, please get him some counseling to get to the source of his depression and lack of friends.  At the same time, encourage your husband to make a greater attempt to bond with him, maybe going on some father – son outings, to make him feel special and to understand that his stepfather is more than a disciplinarian.  Ask your counselor to suggest ways to approach the subject with your mom so that she does not resent your concern.

     Tia Juana will cheerfully provide advice for anyone that asks.  Just mail your questions to “Ask Tia Juana” at PO Box 8, Van Horn, Texas 79855.  All questions will remain anonymous unless there is a chance for extortion.  Disclaimer:  Tia Juana is not a licensed counselor or therapist and none of the advice should be considered professional.