Dear Dr. Bill,
I am very concerned about how my husband parents our 11-year-old son. Our son is currently having issues — acting very disrespectful to me, mocking me and arguing a lot.
Recently things got much worse. My son and I had been arguing and I asked my husband to intervene. He began berating our son, accusing him of creating problems for the whole family! He even blamed him for the fights we have in our marriage. I couldn’t believe it! As if our son doesn’t have enough problems without the extra guilt and shame being heaped on him! How do I fix this?
The short answer is that your husband needs to grow up. His blaming, defensiveness and critical spirit is only making things worse for your son.
Obviously your son has some significant behavioral issues, and these didn’t just “pop up” overnight. You also need to acknowledge your contribution to your son’s problems. Allowing him to mock you and speak disrespectfully is unacceptable.
You also need to understand that your marriage conflict is not a separate issue. Your son’s behavioral problems are likely being exacerbated by the stress in the family.
I’d encourage you to make an appointment with a family therapist in your area as soon as possible. I also want you to read two books, a parenting book by Dr. Todd Cartmell, called Respectful Kids, and a marriage book entitled “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerich.
Thanks for writing Michelle.
If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click on the Culture Connection link at WBCL.org.