From a man in the U.S.: I am a single father that is trying to co-parent my son.  last night he slapped his mother in the face and then punched her. He is mostly a great kid, good grades As and Bs, plays sports, etc. When he is with me he is mostly good. When he is with his mother is when there are issues.

I don’t even know the full story honestly because his mother feels I am taking his side. I don’t condone violence in any way. I try to do what i can to help her, but she either blames me or pushes me away. I told her I thought we should research and come to an informed decision. She wants me to do it.

Now here i go. I tend to feel for my son because she is stubborn and narrow minded. when i was with his mother she was mentally and verbally abusive i don’t see her ever be that way towards him, but why else would he flip out like that… and like i said i don’t have the full story.  just got a call from her sobbing and yelling.

my Son was crying too  now she wants me to fix it and I want to. i think we need family and parenting counseling and help. I want to know the best way to help both of them  punishment to make her satisfied and happy and him to understand why violence is never the answer. What do you suggest?

What I suggest is that you follow your own excellent instincts. If you could have solved your wife’s problems with relationships, you wouldn’t be divorced. Your son is now in the same abusive situation you were in that led you to leave. Your son, being a kid, doesn’t have the same impulse control that you do. If your wife is violent with him, chances are he will respond in kind. Punishment from you will only verify for him that violence is an appropriate way to deal with conflict. What is hopeful in this situation is that no one likes what is going on.

I encourage you to find a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT). MFTs are trained and experienced in seeing the multiple layers of family dynamics. They don’t take sides. They work to understand everyone’s point of view and to make recommendations to make the situation better for all. If one or more of the people who are involved have mental health issues, they address that as well.

Start by going by yourself. You and the therapist will discuss how to bring in your ex-wife and your son. Please listen to yourself — and to me. You cannot solve this alone. If you could, you wouldn’t be writing to me. You have nothing to lose by talking to someone who has helped other families like yours find a happier way to live.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie