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Hello...I have two children with my very recent ex husband. A 13 y.o daughter and 10 y.o son. When the family was together which was 12 years, there was a fair amount of verbal abuse present in the home directed to me from my ex husband and at times directed to the children.
The children were in the home during a lot of our troubled times. I believe we all have been scarred from it. Over the last few years I've noticed my oldest daughter being more and more verbally aggressive and abusive to her younger brother. At times, she sounds just like her
father. Mind you the relationship between her and her father is not the best. She has not shielded the point from me that she is not very fond of her dad because of his behavior towards her.
He is/was a habitual nit picker, yeller and very abrasive towards other people and their feelings. She would constantly complain about how he made her feel bad. My son would have similar complaints but my son did not see all that my daughter did growing up. Also my daughter who has always been on Honor Roll in school has let her grades drop tremendously the last two quarters, to a 2.0.
She is not physically abusive to him but she yells at him for little things. She is bossy with him and she has cursed at him on several
occasions. I have addressed these issues with her and her dad. I don't believe he has taken any responsibility for exposing our children and me to this chaos.
I told my daughter she was being a bully to her brother and she denied being one. Am I possibly misreading her behavior? Is it just teenage issues that are common? Or are these possibly anger issues that are surfacing? It is difficult to tell what is really going on because she can shut down sometimes with me.
My daughter and I are close. She talks to me about almost everything. So what can I do to help her? I offered counseling before and she refused.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Taylor, and thanks for telling your story here. I think you should trust your judgment and your intuitive feeling about what is going on. Your perception sounds accurate to me.
I'm sure your daughter has some normal adolescent rebellion going on, but it also sounds like she has some significant issues with her father. Ultimately, they will have to work these out between them. You can't solve those problems for them.
I suggest you trust your daughter to figure out what she needs, and what is best for her. Tell her that you trust her, and that you're there for anything she needs. Encourage her to think about things, and to trust herself and her feelings. You might want to take a little trip with her, just the two of you--even a long weekend would be good. She needs to feel safe and settled enough to talk about what's going on, and this probably won't happen while she's around her father at this point.
Don't try to help her. Just listen, reflect what she's saying, and express empathy and understanding where you can. Avoid giving her advice or recommendations about what to do, unless she asks you.
One question I would ask is, do you protect her from your husband? Do you stand up for yourself and your children with him? Have you told him how you really feel about his behavior? I suggest that if you're not able to do this, that you seek marriage counseling so that you can.
If he would go, it would also be good for your whole family to get family counseling.
You are your daughter's role model. If she sees you as passive, then she may feel she needs to be the one to stand up to your husband for you. Set her free from that responsibility by standing up and speaking the truth with your husband in a safe and healthy way.
Every time you think of your daughter, focus on the best in her, and picture her making good choices in your mind.
You are a good person and a good mother, Taylor. That's why you took the time to ask for help here. Trust yourself, believe in yourself and take the next best step.
My very best to you,
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