If you're serious, you need to get your son, and then your family, into some counseling again right away. You need two kinds of counseling: individual counseling for your son and family counseling/parenting for you. Yeah, he's going to push back when he doesn't like the rules. Yeah, he's probably mad at you and your ex. This isn't something you can solve with a few parenting tips. It's going to take some serious hard work to help him feel good about himself and help him learn to express his emotions in a reasonable way.
Just the fact that you call his mother "birth giver" shows a severely dysfunctional relationship, either previously or now. If she's stable enough to have him for the summer, then you need to learn how to talk about her without disdain. How much negative stuff is your son hearing from you about your ex? He has had a very rocky road -- with his mom for 5 years, with you for 5 years. A mom with issues and a dad/step-mom to deal with. No matter how awful you think she is, she's still his mother.
How much one-on-one time does he get with you? A 10 year old boy needs a lot of one-on-one time even when they come from a family that's not had upheaval. He needs twice as much.
I would recommend the book "The Challenging Child" by Stanley Greenspan. It's got a chapter on the aggressive child.
Hi, Dave and welcome to MDC!!
One of my favorite discipline books/styles for older kids is based on a book called, "Parent Effectiveness Training". Look in your area and see if they organization offers classes - the one I took was wonderful.
Some of the best advice I got from PET is to look at each problem alone, as an isolated case. As much as I balked at this at first (cuz, sometimes it's annoying because it keeps happening, right??) I think this is a wonderful tool, way of looking and dealing with problems.
I suggest you give your family a clean slate -- and tell everyone that. As problems arise, deal with them carefully, gently, intentionally one by one. Come here with examples to get ideas.
I have a 10 year old and it's such an interesting age. I have found it a bit challenging because like one other stage (I think it was around 5), I found my expectations for my child were somewhat ahead of reasonable. I think 10 is when they are on the cusp of something - new abilities, development or something...but it's easy for us to get ahead of ourselves as far as reasonable expectations.
That said, being aggressive towards his sibling is not OK.
I'm also a fan of declaring a state of emergency. Get way back to basics - good food, good routine, healthy home environment. Get focused, slow down. Get clear on expectations - for everyone. Include your son. See what's wrong. Ask him how you can help. I agree that this would include working towards a better relationship with your son's mother. Include your 4 year old and her/his mother. Spend some time together. Find a way to make a nice day before you move forward. You can do it!!
I can really appreciate where you are coming from, but being a dad and the only parent he has, I don't think you or your son want you to give up on him. Besides the family situation he can have his own issues and poor coping skills. Your kid , like most kids would prefer to be adaptive and be successful so we have to try and find out what is getting in his way. The name of the game is cooperation trying to see his world through his eyes. Put the relationship first , this is the only tool of influence. There are lots of ' working with= collaborative problem solving ' books as opposed to ' doing to kids '= rewards, punishments, consequences. My favourite author is Ross Greene - the collaborative problem solving approach - see his site for plenty of info http://livesinthebalance.org . There is no magic bullet , cps is hard work , not easy but you are teaching life skills and building relationships. Older brother, buddy-tutors, mentors are great . Also mindfulness for children helps learn calming techniques and be more attentive. Try to relax the atmosphere , lower the rope , use lists and schedules which you and he make up , so it is not you telling him what to do but the list. The bottom line is building trust , try to work things out , get cooperation rather than obedience
Again not easy
It's hard not to be tired and angry enough to send him back to live with her. I understand what you are feeling. But, then, you'd have to pay child support to her...and she would use it to purchase more drugs. Not to house, feed, and clothe him.
Plus, how would this feel in 10 years? If you give up on him at age 10. It gets harder as they get older too. I'm not saying he won't get worse if you keep trying. He probably will get worse, this will get harder. So, if you can try to find a few different discipline techniques to start implementing now, it may be easier to get a handle on this. (not easy though)
Many people here dislike "Parenting teens with love and logic". But, I think it's the best thing I've ever read. It teaches you, to teach your teenager how do be personally responsible. You learn to say things like "What is your plan?" or "So, how are you going to handle this?" You offer help if they need it, but, you don't bail them out. If they are in trouble at school and have to stay after for detention, but that means they will miss practice somewhere else, you not only allow the punishment at school, you allow the consequence at practice too. He made the choice to get in trouble, causing himself to miss a practice. In this case, you support him, "Sorry about practice", but then you say "Will you have to sit out a game this week?" and you allow it to happen. You don't always have to create a consequence, or lecture, but you don't help fix anything he chose to do. If he can tell you what he needs, and it's reasonable to do, then you do that. You drive him to his court dates, but you don't speak for him. Let him speak.
Some parents can't understand why you would allow a child to speak for himself, but if you never let him handle things, he can't do it when he's 25 either. Plus, he'll be calling you when he's 30 asking you to come get him.
If you need to, you can explain to him that "You mom uses drugs, and I can't let you live with her right now". She loves him, but really, she loves the drugs more. So, while I wouldn't say THAT, I would explain that you have thought about it, and it would not be right to let him live with her. If he keeps acting like this, maybe it isn't going to be OK to let him spend the summer with her either.