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Ask Dr. SchwartzAsk Dr. Schwartz:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Help or Do Nothing?

Tue, Apr 28th 2009

My 22 year old son has a 10 month old baby with his same age girlfriend. They were together about 6 months before she became pregnant. They have had so many problems right from the start. We have tried to be considerate and encouraging to them both throughout all of it, but she seems to think all their problems have to do with our family. They live with her family, and we are hardly involved in their life at all. Her own family thinks she's being unreasonable. She says she wants our family to be part of the baby's life, but her actions prove otherwise. My son wants nothing more than for all of us to be one big happy family, but it really is her causing all the problems. She seems to be on the defensive all the time. Some of the most innocent conversations we have with her turn into major arguments between her and my son after they leave. We are afraid to say anything to her that might set her off. If she asks my advice about something having to do with the baby, I now ask her what the doctor thinks she should do? I feel like if I give her my advice, even though she's asking me, she's going to use that to start an argument with my son later. My son says she gets angry frequently and for almost any reason. Sometimes she goes to bed fine and wakes up in the morning angry about something. He never knows what's going to set her off. He's tired of walking on eggshells. My once very happy son seems depressed and very stressed. She tries to control him using their baby. I don't think she realizes the damage she is causing in their relationship by using their child against him. We are very hurt by her actions but for my son's sake, we are always pleasant to her and treat her with respect. At first, I thought maybe it was postpartum depression, but my son says she was angry and controlling before the pregnancy and now it's worse. He had been thinking of breaking up with her before he found out she was pregnant. He wants this relationship to work because of his child. He has been there for them both from the very beginning and does not want to leave his child. He is a loving and supportive boyfriend and father. He (as do we) believes that it is best for two parents to be together to raise their child. I don't know what kind of advice to give him. He cannot afford counseling at this time and won't take any money from us for it either. We are a very close family and want to be there for him. What can we do to help our son and grandchild or do we just do nothing?

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