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Blended Families and Anger Issues

answered 06:18 PM EST, Fri April 26, 2013
anonymous anonymous
I am hot headed. Moved in with my only true love to start a family. She had a 14 year old son. He is a good boy but hard to take. Disrespectful. Typical teenage stuff. After a while I kept losing my temper at him. Couldn’t control myself. In the end I hit him. Girlfriend had to choose between son and me and what could she do? She knew I was provoked but she asked me to leave. I would have done the same thing. I tell her I am sorry but she won’t have me back because of her son. Don’t know how to make it right? Want to show her I can change. But first not sure how to change my temper and second not sure how to show her that I can be different. Can you offer any advice please?

E W Says...

Wow - several issues rolled into one!  I'm sorry that you are having this set of difficulties right now.  Anger issues can be difficult to get under control and often cause grief in life when not under control.  Teenagers often do display a range of behaviors, many of which push the buttons of even the most patient people.  Blending a family - mom with teenage son, and mom with boyfriend - can be far more difficult than most people ever imagine.  Having said all that, I don't want you to give up hope.  There are many reasons to have hope, and many ways things can work out well for all if you, whether or not this is the family that forms into a lasting unit.

First lets talk about anger.  You freely state that you are a "hot head" so kudos to you for recognizing that trait. That you have already assaulted another person is a huge red flag - a warning to get it under control now before there are any more unacceptable behaviors.  And although we can change our situations in life to minimize our possibilities for anger, in the long run, getting our anger under control is the best bet for maximizing our life choices and minimizing regret.  This is the first issue to tackle.  The only thing in life we can even have a tiny hope of controlling is our own person, so if we can make the most of that we can deal with everything else in life with that much more confidence, calmness, and hope.  

There are many ways to begin taking control of one's anger.  Self-help books, groups, counseling, and programs are among the popular methods.  Be sure to get a thorough medical check-up as even if this has been a life-long pattern, there are plenty of medical conditions that can contribute to feelings of anger/angry behaviors.  Your family doctor, local crisis center and local churches may be able to offer referrals.  If your employer has an employee assistance program, some help may be available through that resource.

However, be aware that no amount of self-change can guarantee your girlfriend will take you back.  Some partners do, some never will - but with or without this particular partner, if you can get your anger under control, your life can have more peace and prosperity.

The second issue is that of blending a family.  There are so many potential areas for conflict, even though there is only one child involved.  Ideally, she is responsible for parenting, and it is her responsibility to ensure that her son does not act disrespectfully towards you.  It is her job to establish that although her teen may have his own opinions and feelings, he must treat other people with respect.  Likewise, you must be respectful that the son is hers, not yours, to parent.  Now, placing the "ideal" aside, it does take communication and cooperation to find a way to make it work.  All of the responsibility to change should not fall on you alone - couples counseling could help, and family counseling could help.  Many families find they are overwhelmed with the challenges of "blending" and they just call it quits.  However, many families adjust and adapt, and find their own way to make it all work.  It takes time - lots of time - and emotional and practical investment in your present and future.  

Third, teenager years can be full of their own conflict and issues, with or without the original family unit.  Teenagers can push, push, push the buttons of even the most calm and centered parents - and the challenge for all parents is to not react emotionally, but to establish limits of acceptable and not acceptable behavior.  Ideally, as the teenager shows he/she can follow these limits, they can earn privileges with responsibilities - increasing in freedom on into adulthood.  When even more potential areas of conflict exist - do the mother and son have issues related to the absent father? - does the son have attachment or resentment or anxiety issues related to the absent father? - the problems and solutions can become more complex.  While changing one part of a family (you) can change how the other parts (mom and son and you) interact, that doesn't mean that change or examination of issues isn't needed for the mom and son to have healthier relationships as well.  

One last word on relationships - changing for the sake of a relationship is useful, but changing for you to have healthier relationships with all people and things in your life is potentially key to lifelong satisfaction.  Although it may seem that this person is your "one true love,"  there are many people who have thought that, only to find out later there was another relationship to be found with even better qualities.  I am not saying you are incorrect, just asking you to keep your mind open to this possibility.

So, get a good medical check-up, find a good program, get you and your life under control in a way that makes you feel good about you, and then seek healthy relationships!  Education not only about anger, but also about family issues can help as well.  Good for you that you are willing to work and seek help (few things in life that are really worthwhile come without hard work!).  Best wishes to you! 

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Page last updated Apr 27, 2013

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