Susan is a young mother so things are going to be a bit harder on her because she just does not understand what to do and now she could end up having feelings of inadequacy, not being a good enough mother. She will have thoughts that she has done something wrong to make her son feel this way so Susan should seek help for herself along with her son Thomas. He could be being bullied at school and kids may be picking on him because he does not have a father and they are saying mean things to him about his father being gone. Thomas needs someone to blame for his father being gone so naturally he is going to blame the one other person that knew his father, which is his mother. With that being said Susan should start off by speaking to the schools guidance counselor, principal, and even his teachers so maybe they can figure out what is going on at Thomas’s school that is making him not what to go to school. Once they have compared notes they may be able to figure out what has Thomas so upset that he does not want to go to school.
They let Thomas know that if he is having a hard time with someone in school or is just feeling bad he can go talk to the school counselor at any time as long as he has permission from his teacher to let him go. Susan is going to want to take her son to see a family counselor. She needs to figure out why he is so angry at her and why he is not listening to her. They can start out with just Thomas seeing the counselor for the first have of the visit then Susan coming in during the second half of the visit if Thomas approves so they can work out their issues together. Susan needs to figure out why Thomas blames her for his father being gone, deep down he knows it is not her fault but it is something that Thomas has to figure out on his own.
I would also have Susan talk to someone to see what forms of punishment she is using on Thomas. Maybe she just has not found a form of punishment that is adequate for his age. I would search for a program where Thomas could be subjected to a positive male role model such as the Big Brother Big Sister program or the Boys and Girls Club of America. Getting Thomas involved with programs such as these he will have positive role models in his life and may not be so upset about not having his father in his life. Nothing will replace his father being in his life but you can lessen the sting by keeping him busy with positive activities.