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Parenting Issues Message Board

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Sorry this is long, just wanted to provide some background info...

My sister has 2 children (5 year old girl and 8 year old boy) from her ex-boyfriend. The relationship with her Ex was always volatile, and only got worse when she was pregnant with the second (he became physically abusive). While pregnant she ended the relationship and kicked him out of the house, telling him that he should seek professional help and call her. He moved several hours away and would only call or visit a few times a year.
In that time, my nephew started to develop a lot of anger and resentment towards my sister, and began to blame her for his father leaving. This started with general talking-back, then escalated to writing on walls, urinating on things, setting small things on fire, etc. He has seen a counsellor who assessed him as being of "higher than everage" intelligence (which corresponds with his "teenager-like" behaviour most of the time).

About a year ago, my sister and her Ex tried having a relationship again, and although the Ex had gone to anger management and counselling classes, they were still maintaining the relationship at a distance. The last time her Ex came to town this past summer for a few weeks, he told the kids that he was moving back and marrying their Mom, and they were going to be a family again. Shortly after, he told my sister over the phone that he was not ready for this "parenting thing" and promptly left the province, not to be heard of since then.

Now the children are even worse off than before... My nephew is extremelly angry with his father but only takes it out on his mother. He puts his father up on this tall pedestal - always talking about how great his Dad is, and how much he hates living with his "mean" Mom. (She is not at all mean, but has set rules and does not let them get away with anything). My niece is confused and in denial that her father has left them for good. She talks about him like he is still around.

Although many of us in the family have tried explaining to my nephew that his father leaving was neither his mother's fault or his own (the 8 year old), he cannot get past his hostility towards his mother.

What is the best course of action for my nephew? Even more counselling? (he already attends weekly sessions)
How can I help my sister through this emotionally - she is tired of always arguing with a son who resents her so much. I try to take my nephew on alternate weekends to give her a break, and he is absolutely wonderful at my house (all manners and politeness - probably due to the fact that my husband is there or will be there later) once he is back at home though, it's like night and day - he is almost instantly giving his mom a hard time...(Throwing [U]HUGE[/U] tantrums like a 2 year old when asked to do something simple like "let the dog out" or "time to get dressed")

I know this is probably a common problem for single mothers and boys with no dad present, but does anyone have any advice?

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