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When I tell 3son that he does nothing but argue he retorts that I brought him up be be independent, to think for himself and to ask questions. So it’s all my fault.

He’s also self-centred, arrogant, argumentative, lazy and considers that he knows it all.

More importantly he’s the child of mine I just find the most difficult to handle. He opens his mouth and I just want to smack him for being a pain. I don’t do it but I seethe inwardly. At times I try to just be honest and tell him I find it difficult having a conversation with him when all he does is argue. That’s my problem he tells me, nothing to do with him.

He often accuses me of preferring 4son to him and to giving him preferential treatment. I try very hard not to as I do realise that 4son is a lot easier to get on with and therefore it’s easy to favour him. I know this so I try and bend over backwards to not favour him and if anything am harder on 4son than I need to be.

I am rude about 3son to the others. It’s appalling to me but when 2son or 4son say, as they often do, “why is 3son such a pain” or words to that effect I don’t say “don’t talk about your brother that way” but I agree with them. Part of 2son’s parting words were “Do try and not kill 3son”.

He reminds me of my father which doesn’t help. My father thinks 3son is the one who has the potential to be prime minister while the others are just ordinary. He did single out 3son for a while until I had very strong words with him. 3son doesn’t particularly want to be prime minister but whenever he does tell me what he wants to be I always remind him that while he has the brains to do so, he needs to put some effort into his school work. Being intelligent isn’t enough if you don’t use your brain.

He doesn’t always think. He often gets it wrong because he assumes that he knows without checking or thinking.

He rarely has a slight temper that has increased recently (since before 2son went away). He had a game disc that wouldn’t work properly. I said I would return it and try and get a replacement. He then broke the disc so that I couldn’t. He’s careless and never apologises when he breaks things but expects me to replace them immediately.

He broke my Wii sensor and didn’t tell me. When I pointed it out to him after discovering it this morning he just said that it was all right because he didn’t play the Wii.

I find him really difficult because we never have the chance to connect for more than a sentence or two he infuriates me. 1son came visiting last weekend and said to me “You know, if you put aside all the arrogance and the way he says it, 3son does occasionally say some interesting things.” That’s a big if sometimes.

I am quite proud of him for being independent minded and standing up for what he believes in, right or wrong. I think much of his confidence will stand him in good stead. I do think he’s at risked of being punched by someone who doesn’t like his attitude but it hasn’t happened yet.

In the meantime though, I struggle to be fair with him and to not shout my head off.