Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Dysfunctional son, daughter-in-law would benefit from counseling

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dysfunctional family will benefit from counseling

Q: Just spent weekend with Son and Daughter-in-Law. Son behaved horribly toward Wife, to the point that I had to get between them and, concerned for safety of all, I told him to leave.

Daughter-in-Law, however, lit into me for "placating" son, not seeing the "real" him, creating a monster, and she started all over again in the morning. I saw a completely different side of her as she verbally attacked me. This is the side Son has only recently shared with me.

Please hear me: He was over-the-top angry and wrong. Made it clear to him.

But she also was berating him, over and over, went to bed and got up an hour later to scream at him out of the blue ... I could see the emotionally destructive dance. They are in counseling now, but there is a 4-month-old baby involved. How do I offer help, but also create appropriate space for self and them?

Son and Daughter-in-Law Fury

Carolyn: Wow. Poor kid. Poor everybody.

There's one thing you can do immediately, and that is to urge your son to supplement the (I assume) couple's counseling with his-and-hers individual counseling — and if you can, offer to pay for it. Solo therapy is in his best interests regardless, whether she turns out to be an emotional abuser, he does, or both. That's because emotional abusers don't just hit pause on their abuse when they enter a therapist's office; they are known to manipulate the proceedings to their advantage.

If you live near enough to them (doesn't sound as if that's the case, given the all-weekend visit), then you can offer to babysit on a regular basis, a "shift" that's on the calendar every week. It could be an oasis for this child, while also alleviating some of the caregiving pressure on the parents — which in turn could help them deal with other pressures a little better. It also gives you a vantage point from which you can discern the truth.

If you're not local, then try to visit often, even if you have to stay off-site to avoid crowding them.

Anonymous: The daughter-in-law could be experiencing postpartum depression. One of the signs of depression — way down on the list — is anger. Maybe she should be screened for that. Unless she's always been this way, in which case it could be general depression or something more serious like bipolar disorder.

Carolyn: Yes, PPD is a possibility, thanks. She also might have gone off meds to have and nurse the baby; maybe, too, she's abusive and the baby cemented her control, freeing her to let loose.

If the son is forthcoming, the parents can get a decent idea of the context from his wife's background and the timing of any behavior change. If it came with the baby, then PPD is likely; if it started when they shacked up/got engaged, escalated at marriage and spiked at Baby, then abuse is the strong candidate. Of course he'd be able to speak to any diagnosed conditions, and they'd know whether he has abusive traits of his own.

There's a limit to how much is a parent's business, obviously. However, informed parents can provide extra hands, plus the kind of clarity that only distance allows.

Comments

Tell Me About It: She suspects her boyfriend is in the closet

She suspects her boyfriend is in the closetQ: I have been dating my boyfriend since I was 17, and we’ve been together three years. He was raised in a fairly strict Catholic household, and when his brother came out as gay, it was ugly. The situation r...
Published: 01/23/18
This year’s Florida State Fair food oddities include catfish ‘sundae’ and chicken and waffles pizza

This year’s Florida State Fair food oddities include catfish ‘sundae’ and chicken and waffles pizza

Being the first in the country on the fair-going calendar, the Florida State Fair is also the first to roll out the outrageous, deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, cheese-covered foods on a stick that perfume the midway. While cotton candy, corn dogs and funn...
Published: 01/22/18

Tell Me About It: Guest list exclusion puts wedding at risk

Q: Our wedding is falling apart. My fiance and I were set up by our friend Julia. Julia can be a bit of a firecracker and holds a grudge worse than anyone I know, but she’s a loyal friend.My fiance and I are also close friends with a woman named Sara...
Published: 01/22/18

Tell Me About It: Opening up on the residual effects of abuse

Q: I’m in my mid-thirties and in a relatively new, but so far amazing, relationship. I really can see myself with this person long-term.I’ve been in a couple of abusive relationships before that have taken their emotional toll (occasional nightmares ...
Published: 01/21/18
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: FaceTime offense lands sister on the outs

FaceTime offense lands sister on the outsQ: When does FaceTime become an intrusion?My sister-in-law recently relocated to our area. We invited her to join us for our traditionally quiet New Year’s Eve celebration. About two hours before midnight, she...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: Cousin’s husband pursues young sisters

Cousin’s husband pursues young sisters Q: I just found out that my niece’s husband has made inappropriate comments/propositions to both of my daughters, one still a minor (17). I have to tell my niece, right? I don’t want to hurt her.Broken HeartA: Y...
Published: 01/18/18
Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend   Gasparilla Children’s Parade: A week before the more raucous pirate invasion, the G-rated version hits the streets. The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and Parade kicks off Gasparilla season with a bicycle safety...
Published: 01/17/18
Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Children’s Parade

Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Children’s Parade

PICKING AND GRINNING: Steve Martin and Martin ShortThere wasn’t a lot of bluegrass being played around Hamilton, Ontario, when Martin Short was a kid. But his decades-long friendship with Steve Martin has made him a fan, which brings An Evening With ...
Published: 01/17/18