What do you do when parenting your nephew drives you insane and takes a toll on your younger children? What about if your 21 year-old son is dating a 26 year-old, and you really don’t like her? These are the questions you asked, and Dr. Leman answers today.


Question #1 Denise:

One year ago I took custody of my nephew who was living with my uncle. My sister gave him to my uncle at about age 7 and he could not handle him and gave the option of someone else taking him or him going to the state. I took him and have been struggling ever since. I feel like I wake up angry at him… He doesn’t listen; I have to tell him the same things every single day.

I have gotten so tired of cleaning up after him that every time I talk to him I can hear the anger and frustration in my voice and actions… I know I need to change my approach but I am trying and failing constantly. The 2 younger kids in the house (my kids 7 &5) are watching his constant bad example. He also has an only child complex, He HAS to be first in everything! We ride our bikes to church and he will run one of the little kids off the sidewalk just to be first.

I have younger kids watching him and doing and saying things he does and says. I don’t know how to change my attitude toward him and I need help finding a way to stay calm, be nice and show him love. AND change his behavior because he is driving me insane.

Dr. Leman’s Answer:

You are stepping in quicksand when you bring a child older than your own into your home. You need to ask yourself the serious question: “Is this kid’s involvement in our home worth it?”

For the sake of this kid, you may be sacrificing your marriage and your relationship with your kids.
It is time for a tough conversation.

“Things are not working out with you here. I need to see some changes, or you’ll find yourself living somewhere else.”

He may say he doesn’t care, but he does. You may just see the changes you need to see in him.

One book that you would find helpful is The Way of the Shepherd.

Question #2 Mari-lyn:

Our 21 year-old son has been dating a girl 26 for the last year we have told him many times we do not approve of her. He told us he understands her and why she is the way she is (self centered/know it all). Months back we set major limits for her at our house. We thought this would run its course and end sooner than it has.

Again today I was very blunt with him and told him he was being used and he needed to kick her to the curb. He was sad at what I said, but hasn’t said anymore. How do I get him to see clearly and understand what we see and feel? Thanks.

Dr. Leman’s Answer:

You’ve said your piece, Mari-lyn. It is time to sit back and let the relationship ride.
Over the years, you have poured into this kid. Let that be his guide now.

There are a couple of things you can do:
1. Back off.
2. Invite them both over for a nice dinner, thereby lessening the friction between you.
3. Give your son lots of Vitamin E in the form of, “We trust you.”