Dear Dr. Romance:

I am writing to you for your professional opinion regarding my 15 year old son. His behavior overall is good but when he gets angry he throws things swears a lot and just a few minutes ago destroyed my vacuum cleaner in one blow to the floor.

I am a single parent about 9 months out of the year and my son is for the most part a big help to me. I have one daughter also. How can I help him see what he is doing and control his urge to break or throw something when he is upset? He does not do this every time, but it is very upsetting to me and his younger sister when it happens.

I am afraid to tell his father because he is so loud and I don't know for certain that he could contain himself once he started to discipline our son. We live in a small town and our son is an athlete at one of the two high schools. I do not want to hurt his future with everyone knowing this problem, but at the same time I want to help him.

I feel alone in this problem as my parents are in the same town but are 80 years old. I don't want them to know the every little thing that goes wrong. My father has been a very big part of my sons life and filled in the fatherly gaps while my husband is away. What can I do? Am I standing in the way? I have always been a good mom. I have disciplined with compassion, always been there to listen or lend a hand with homework, taken him to practice and games and most importantly made him feel loved. Please Help. Thank you.

Dear Reader:

It's so difficult to be both mother and father to your son, I know. I'm guessing, from what you said about his father being loud, that your son thinks it's "manly" to throw temper tantrums, which actually is childish, not manly. It's really important to nip this in the bud, before he learns from interacting with you that it's OK to be violent and angry with women. Although your son seems to be grown up in other ways, emotionally he has some maturing to do. It's really imperative to get the help of someone, his coach, perhaps, or a teacher, a pastor, a school counselor or other role model who can teach him how to control his temper. If he doesn't learn to do that, he'll have trouble all thorough his life because of it.

You have to tell some people who can help, even if it is embarrassing. A school counselor, pastor or therapist will keep it confidential. You have been a loving parent, but maybe not a strong enough one. You and your son need an objective, knowledgeable party who has the authority to convince your son he needs to change; not just for you, but for his own good.  "Anger Management" and "Anger: Cleansing Squall or Hurricane?" will give you some tools to use. But please don't try to do this all by yourself. If your son won't go for counseling, go by yourself to get an understanding about how to set limits and get him to want to control his temper.

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will show you how behavior is learned and give you tools for handling feelings.

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.