I want to smack wild son

If I wasn’t so committed to my partner and her son, who’s now spending all week with his dad and stepmum because they live closer to his school, I’d give him a good hiding.

This boy, now 10, is just completely out of control. So why aren’t we allowed to smack them? How else do we teach them how to behave? I don’t want to argue too much with my new partner over this. We only moved in together six months ago, and I’m 41, 11 years older than her, so there’s a bit of a gap in our understanding of what’s unacceptable behaviour, and what’s just boys being boys. When I was a boy, I didn’t dare argue with my dad or mum. If I did, I got laid into. That taught me respect for my elders, and I knew exactly how far I could go before I’d get it. Now my partner tells me that her son is probably ADHD. What does that mean? It’s just a new name for a badly-behaved kid. I get on fine with my partner except when her boy comes to stay with us and then he just takes over the house. She never disciplines him. She says she feels very guilty for walking out on him and his dad. You know what? I’d have walked out on that kid. He’s a monster. He won’t take no for an answer. He’s loud, aggressive and destructive. He’s a disaster waiting to happen unless someone gets him sorted out soon. It can’t be me, because my partner would leave me if I ever laid a hand on him. But every time he comes to stay, he destroys everything in his path, throws things, has temper tantrums, and I don’t know how much more I can take before I explode.

Barbara says: Smacks don’t particularly work for kids who are in a mess, although they could relieve your stress, and if you try it, you can say goodbye to your relationship. What might help is if your partner got some advice. I’m not going to be worthy, and say that all he needs is love. I think all he needs is consistency, and he’s not getting much of that right now. Discipline, you know, doesn’t need to involve smacks. Get your head round that, and you’re away, and so is he! Work out a system of rewards as well as punishments. Make rules. Give rewards. Cut slack for a kid who’s trying to work out why his mum and dad are living apart with different people and he’s shunting between the two of them. Is it ADHD? Who knows?