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Mastering Anger/My Very Angry Husband Is Hurting Our Children


Hi.. my husband has always had an anger problem. We have been married for over 20 years and I always knew he "exploded" at times. He really has never exploded to me, in an argument etc.

However, he constantly will scream at the children.. call them names. He has called my son,who is 15 years old.. " a piece of shit".. "a little bitch" goes on to call the girls lazy MF's etc..

On the other hand, he is at every function they are in.. will buy anything they need and happily will put them in anything that they want.. select baseball clubs, volleyball clubs.. camps etc.. tells them he loves them and I believe him.

He comes from a very abusive family and is so against any form of abuse!! But, yet when he acts this way, he doesn't think it is wrong.. he feels as thought they deserve it because they didn't clean their room or they were arguing among themselves.

I am so done.. I can't do this anymore.. we never argue except for when I feel he has gone overboard. I believe in discipline etc but the name calling is just not acceptable. My daughters would love for me to leave him and have told me so.. 18 and 13 and they tell me to leave him. My son who is 15 wants us to get counseling. I just do not know what to do. Any advice and input would be so appreciated.

Hello Melissa

I am so sorry that your family is going through this very hard experience. The verbal abuse from your husband to your children is devastating to them and you, and I totally understand why your daughters would want you to leave him, and why you feel that you can't do this any more.

The only hope for your family to stay together, and for your children to be safe in your home is for your husband to get individual counseling, at his own initiative. It sounds like he's a good man, who loves his family...but there is no excuse for how he treats his children. If your husband does not seek help for himself, take responsibility for the verbal abuse, and begin making immediate progress toward creating a safer home for you and your children, then what you have now will continue...and probably get worse.

As your children get older, their own anger will grow, and it will manifest in different ways that could be detrimental to their development as healthy young adults. Your husband's anger toward them might grow, as they become more independent, and the abuse could worsen as a result.

The only help apart from individual counseling for your husband would be family counseling with a skilled and experienced family therapist. In an ideal outcome, your husband would begin to realize what he's doing to his children (and to you), and he would then seek individual counseling for himself. Again, that's an ideal outcome, not guaranteed.

You are in a situation personally, Melissa, that is untenable for a mother. You are seeing your children being hurt, and you're unable to protect them. I'm saying this because I want you to have empathy for yourself. There is no greater source of pain than to watch your children being hurt and feeling helpless to protect them.

If you feel so inclined, you might say to your husband something like, "Either you protect our children from the verbal abuse, or I will have to protect them from you." It might sound like a threat or an ultimatum, but in these circumstances that might be unavoidable.

Learn more about verbal abuse and what to do. That page is an overview of the problem, with solutions offered.

One final note, Melissa. When your adolescent daughters are both telling you to leave your husband, you may want to consider that it is time. If this were a borderline situation, I don't think they would be saying that. You have to be the one to make the decisions. It's your marriage, and your family.

I believe you'll do the right thing for yourself and your children.

My best,

Dr. DeFoore

Mastering Anger

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William DeFoore, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about: * How to deal with your own anger * How to deal with somebody else's anger * How to help an angry spouse * How to help an angry child or adolescent * How to let go of resentment and forgive * How to keep anger from ruining your life and your relationships * How to let go and get out of abusive relationships


I have been in practice as a counselor for over 38 years. I have published two books on anger and 10 audio CD programs on anger, health and building healthy relationships. I have helped thousands of people overcome their anger by healing the cause instead of just treating the symptoms. I have a positive approach, and believe in the basic goodness of each person. Anger is basically healthy, but when it is expressed in unhealthy ways it is very destructive, and that's why most people think anger is bad. Learning to understand and accept yourself for who you are is the first step to healing and recovery from anger issues.

I am the author of: Anger: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You. Health Communications, Inc. 2004. Anger Among Angels: Shedding Light On The Darkness Of The Human Soul. Health Communications, Inc. 2000. Serai: Bringing The Children Home. Wingspan Press, 2007.

B.A. Sociology; M.A. Clinical Psychology; Ph.D. Counselor Education; Licensed Professional Counselor. You can view my full resume here.

Awards and Honors
Adjunct Faculty with the Cooper Wellness Program, of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas Texas.

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