My Kids Are Treating Me Disdainfully

Morning friends,

I want you to know how thankful I am for all of you. Your community and caring for one another continues to bless me. I know at times there can be different opinions or different approaches on how to handle various situations, but that only illustrates the messiness of real life and the value of real relationships and real community.  

I’m thankful that I hear those differences and disagreements expressed with humility and grace, staying in CORE as you are seeking to learn and understand one another. One of the most important values of this community is that we don’t squash our differences, however when we ask one another hard questions or speak up about something we do it with grace and truth.  

I’m out of town again this week and will be speaking at Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia on Saturday morning, December 1 from 9-12. The event is free for women to attend and I would love to see you there if you’re close by. Here is the link, check it out. 

Also, I’m doing a brand new free webinar next Tuesday, December 4th on Three Strategies to Move Beyond Victim Mindset into Owner Mindset. You will not want to miss that. To register, click here 

This Week’s Question: Three years ago I got divorced from my emotionally abusive husband. He was emotionally and physically abusive to our boys but not our girls. I am having trouble with my kids bullying me. I think they got permission for this behavior from watching him.

I am setting boundaries and taking care of myself and I find my kids having a kind of disdainful attitude toward me at times. The words they use toward me can be disrespectful and sometimes they push me physically out of the way.

This is not all the time but it is still unacceptable. I find myself paralyzed not knowing how to respond to some of their behavior. I have talked with them and taken privileges away. The youngest age 15 goes to counseling and I do too. Please give me any pointers on where to start. Thanks so much.

Answer: You didn’t say how old your other children are or whether or not they are living with you at home.

Adolescents tend to be more disrespectful towards their parents these days. It’s not a new phenomenon, but I do see it getting worse. For example, I hear kids dropping the F-bomb towards their parents, screaming in their face, blatantly disobeying their requests, and sadly this is usually directed more towards their mother than their father, even in homes where they haven’t witnessed abuse going on.

One of a parent’s main responsibilities in rearing children is teaching their children how to manage their own negative emotions in acceptable ways. When a kid throws a temper tantrum at two and starts hitting a parent, ideally a parent firmly but lovingly lets their little one know that his behavior is unacceptable. Yes, he may feel angry but he may not hit, or kick, or bite someone when he’s mad. Period. No exceptions. And there are firm consequences if he continues to behave in those ways.

Now at 15 or 17, it is much harder to enforce consequences that might have been easier to do when he or she was two.

So one question I want you to think through is have your children had trouble, in general, managing their own negative emotions and expressing them appropriately? Do they also have this problem in school, on sports teams, with their peers, when driving, etc.? If so, you may have to backtrack a bit and own your part in not teaching them these skills appropriately.  One woman I worked with said to her kids, “I thought it was the right thing to let you express your feelings freely because my parents always made me pretend everything was fine and to stuff my emotions. I didn’t want to do that to you. But in that, I also failed to teach you how to manage your negative emotions in appropriate and acceptable ways. It’s not okay to push me or yell at me or be disrespectful when you are upset. That is an immature way of handling your feelings and it will cost you big time in the real world. I love you and don’t want to see you ruin your relationships with people because you don’t know how to handle your own emotions. I’m just learning the same things now too because although I don’t explode, I implode and it’s just as damaging to me and my relationships to keep everything inside but to get resentful and bitter.”

This mother’s vulnerability and humility in a heart to heart talk with her children helped them think through a little bit more their actions and invited them to take responsibility for managing their own negative emotions in a more mature way.  

However, from what you indicate, you fear their behavior is more due to experiencing your husband’s abuse. You fear they got permission to act that way by watching their dad. But I’m wondering if they also got permission by watching how you handled or didn’t handle being treated that way? Did they learn “men act that way and women let them?” Or “husbands act that way and wives just submit?”

It’s true that kids learn how to treat people by watching how their parents interact with one another and with them. You indicate that your husband was physically and emotionally abusive with your boys when he got upset.

Sadly that’s what your boys learned about how a man handles his anger, frustration, fear, or hurt. They may not have liked seeing it as a boy, but as they are now becoming men they are emboldened to have the power that dad had. They learned that men have every right to bully someone or verbally abuse him or her because it’s “the other person’s fault and they made me mad.”

If your girls are also being disdainful and bullying towards you, they may have learned by watching you and thinking, “I don’t want to be passive like mom. Dad had all the power in the family and I’m not going to let myself be powerless like mom was.”

You say that even now you feel “paralyzed” on how to handle it, yet you are setting boundaries and implementing consequences. So when do you feel paralyzed and when do you not?  

You say your kids don’t act this way all the time. So when is it not happening?   

When do they treat you kindly? Respectfully? Lovingly? Or even just politely? Is it usually when they want something from you? Or is it when they want you to give up one of your boundaries?

Can you think of times when you interact like a normal family does and you observe positive behavior that isn’t just to manipulate you? Do they ever show concern for your well-being? Are they doing extra chores when you’re tired? Or do they offer to help you around the house? If so that’s a good sign and shows that they are capable of healthy interactions and care about you as a person.  

However, if their more positive or charming qualities are primarily used in the service of their own selfish agenda, I’d be concerned about that. Yes some of them are still teenagers which is an age of selfishness, but from what you said, most of them are older than 15 and therefore should be showing some signs of growing through that phase.

So your question is where do you start? You’re doing great by having boundaries and consequences around their abusive and disrespectful behavior but apparently, there aren’t severe enough consequences to motivate changes in their own behaviors.  

I’d also go back and try to figure out more about the times they don’t act like that? Identify what’s different about those times and try to maximize those family experiences (unless they are simply nicer because it works to manipulate you).

Third, I would be very firm and consistent in the consequences of their behavior. Do you turn off their cell phone for the day? Do you refuse to drive them to where they want to go when they treat you that way? Not just for the moment, but for the day?

Last, this is one of my own boundaries, and it may not be yours. But I said to both my children and my husband, “I was abused in my childhood and I decided that I would NEVER again live with another person who abused me.” They knew I meant it. If your other children are over 18 years old, you may consider that boundary for yourself. Or if they are under 18, require them to go live with their father if they continue to treat you this way.

There is no reason you should allow yourself to be victimized or bullied and pushed around by your own children. It is not good for you, but it is also not good for them for you to allow them to do that without serious consequences. Click To Tweet

Friends, when your children have adopted some of the abuser's tactics, how have you handled it as first a mother, and second as a person?


  1. JoAnn on November 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Leslie, I like the way you addressed the possibility that her behavior contributed to the kid’s learning to treat her disrespectfully. This is where she needs to take a firm stand against being treated badly, in CORE strength. I am thankful that my husband always stood up for me when one of our children gave me a bad time, and I believe this is what a proper husband/father should do. But what to do when the damage is done and now she has to live with the consequences?
    I am looking forward to reading what others have to say about this because we are helping a single mother who has children who learned to be disrespectful to their mother from their abusive father, and while my husband is firm with them about how wrong it is, before the Lord, it is taking a long time for them to change. We are helping her to set boundaries, but if there are some useful strategies that others have used successfully, I will be glad to learn them.

    • Aly on November 28, 2018 at 5:26 pm


      I also liked Leslie’s response.
      You said the writer should take a firm stance against being treated badly. I agree.
      I have experienced this change in myself (with other relationships not my children’s) and sadly taking a stance against bad behavior doesn’t ensure a positive outcome or even a more healthy relationship, sometimes it reveals just how bad things really are.
      Sometimes deep down we know some possible scary truth and when we do bravely take a stand, the person who prefers to behave or mistreat another isn’t interested in a relationship if the other person isn’t will to tolerate their garbage. Yes, often it’s misguided anger, sadly. But longterm behaviors take a long time to unravel and reprogram.

      I wish I had learned earlier the benefit of not tolerating being treated poorly and that family or husbands didn’t get a free pass or because I was the mature Christian who knew the Lord and that required more of my allowances.

  2. carrie on November 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    So that was my question and let me give some more details and updates. My kids are 22, 21, 19 and 15. Girl, boy, girl, boy. The two children with whom I have trouble are the 19 year old girl and the 15 year old boy. The other two have had significant struggles but we are in good places right now and they are out of the house. My 15 year old son has been physically abusive to me, punching me, breaking my windshield with his feet, cursing at me etc… I called the police and he went to juvenile detention. We have been in counseling together but he has not been invested and he now lives with his dad. It breaks my heart and I KNOW that it is the right thing to do. I am the only person with whom he acts this way. Everyone else LOVES this kid! Even now when I see him, he may become instantly angry and start cursing and becoming belligerent. If this happens, I will completely abort our plans even telling him that if he doesn’t get out of my car I will call the police. It is VERY hard but I am consistently standing up for myself in calm yet firm ways (even though my heart is beating through my chest!) . My 19 year old daughter on the other hand is quite disdainful at times, she may push me out of the way physically if she is angry. Before she went to college, I set firm boundaries causing quite a reaction from her but we got to a better place. When she returns from college some of the old behavior creeps in and she is quite angry and disrespectful about my finances and the fact that I don’t give her any money for college. (When I divorced we were 1 million dollars in debt and our home was going into foreclosure, I was left with next to nothing….). She is the golden child. Once again everyone, I mean everyone loves her. She acts this way with me only. There is a pattern here. With both of these kids I do find myself freezing and not knowing what to say or do with these behaviors of theirs. (“This can’t really be happening??!!!” is my thought) I do go to counseling and even though I freeze I follow through. I welcome any insights and thoughts?

    • Nancy on November 28, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Carrie,

      I understand your surprise at how things have changed in their behaviour towards you, but I think it’s important to not continue to ‘be surprised’ each time. It seems to me that this surprise is what is leading to your paralysis.

      Perhaps it’s important for you to grieve the loss of the relationships that you thought you had with these two. I think that will help you step into the reality and equip you to more firmly deal with these two manipulators.

      • JoAnn on November 28, 2018 at 5:05 pm

        Carrie, I agree with Nancy, and I would add that it will help if you keep in mind that their stories aren’t over yet. If the older ones have gotten through, you can hold onto hope that these younger ones will, too. Perhaps the older sibs can get involved with helping the younger ones to see things more clearly. With our adopted son, he would take out his anger and frustrations on me, and that’s when my h would step in. But I always felt that he was displacing the anger he had for his history of abandonment onto me. Years of therapy didn’t help much because they never got to his core issues.
        I sympathize with what you are going through. It is painful, but you can pray for them that the Lord will lead them into truth as they mature. Remind them that the choices they are making now will bear long term consequences, for good or bad.

        • carrie on November 28, 2018 at 10:36 pm

          JoAnn, my 15 year old son also happens to be adopted. He was adopted from overseas when he was 8 1/2 months old. Definitely some of his anger and issues stem from his attachment and identity issues.

          • JoAnn on November 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm

            Carrie, were you able to work on attachment with him? Our Son was 18 months old and we adopted him in 1969, before anyone talked about attachment. We thought that “love and prayers “ would take care of everything. NOT! He developed Reactive Attachment Disorder. Raising him was very challenging.

    • Dee on November 28, 2018 at 6:17 pm


      The only reason everyone else loves these two is that everyone else doesn’t have to tell them ‘No’ about anything. Other people aren’t getting the treatment you get. Other people likely don’t see this side of them. This behavior is manipulative and if allowed to continue, they’ll utilize it with other people in their lives when things don’t go their way.

      Stand strong in your boundaries. One day their spouses and children will be grateful you did. Hugs and prayers for wisdom and strength.

      • Carrie on December 3, 2018 at 9:57 pm

        JoAnn, My 15 year old adopted son has been in counseling for his issues off and on for years. First is was anxiety issues and he could barely leave my side when I was around. Then when things were really bad in our family about age 11 for him, he started acting out aggressively toward me. I took him to a therapist trained in Trust Based Relational Intervention but his behavior didn’t change. Most recently we were going to therapy together to work on the attachment and violence toward me. This is when he refused to participate in a meaningful way. This is what breaks my heart, that all sorts of healing tools have been offered and he is not having any of it.

        • JoAnn on December 4, 2018 at 12:06 pm

          Carrie, I am so sorry. It is heartbreaking to deal with attachment disorders, and the teenage years are especially hard. It is possible that as he matures, the bond that he does have with you can be resurrected, and we can pray for that. Meanwhile, pray that he doesn’t harm himself or others as he deals with his anger. Have you visited the Attachment Disorder Parents Network? That was a very helpful place for me when we were going through all this. I think they have a blog now; I used to be on their phone list and would get calls all the time from other distraught mothers who needed to talk about what it’s like to raise a RAD child. There is much more help out there now than when we were raising our son, and I’m glad for that.
          May the Lord grant you a rich supply of His all-sufficient grace.

  3. Kara-Lee on November 28, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I had to send my 13 year old foster son to live with my ex for similar reasons several months ago. The pain of doing this was intense, especially since I have worked so hard to build a bond with him since he was a baby. The mother guilt was also made worse because he suffers from type 1 diabetes, and I knew the care he would receive at the other home would not have been to a high standard. I also have a biological son of the same age, who has autism and was experiencing bullying from him too. My family, friends and counsellor all supported my decision, because he was increasingly verbally and physical abusive, like my ex husband, despite me trying many different approaches to discipline him.
    I am now at peace with the decision, and the time I have had with him has generally improved, however he still tries to push boundaries and I’m exhausted after his short weekend stays. He has mentioned he regrets the behaviour, but I am noticing a pattern where he is compliant when he wants something, and the tantrums recur when he doesn’t get his way.

  4. D on November 28, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    This is a very tough situation. I have 2 boys that were emotionally and physically abused. My husband at the time filed for divorce and then started manipulating them to believe lies that he would just make up to get them to do things. My youngest son would say things like,”No wonder Dad is divorcing you…you are pathetic…wish I had a rope to hang you…” I understand feeling paralyzed. I didn’t understand how my boys whom I was so close with, could turn on me and degrade me so badly. One day, I asked for help from my Dad when things escalated. He was that solid rock that was outside the situation but told them how things really were. He set strong boundaries to help assist me. I would encourage you to set strong boundaries for yourself and stick with them. I also catch behaviors that are similar to what they were shown and talk about why that behavior is not ok and why moving forward it will not be tolerated. My boys aren’t perfect, but 2 years after this life changing event, we are closer than ever. We talk about feelings and emotions and how to handle them. Don’t ignore the behaviors or over react…try to remain calm, set your boundaries and keep open communication with them. Hope this helps.

    • Maureen on November 28, 2018 at 8:52 pm

      Thank you, my daughter has said cruel things like your son has( about the rope) . I am still likely to react with anger or tears. She is 19 now.
      Usually her behavior is better . But when she’s under stress academically or socially this behavior shows up. The challenge now is – what consequences can I enforce as
      There’s no where for her to go during college breaks I doubt my husband will support her moving out.
      I thought about warning her that she will have to take out more school loans. But her dad will just swoop in and take more $$ out out the fund he set up. He does tell her she shouldn’t act that way.

      • Autumn on November 29, 2018 at 9:33 pm

        Look for what she is doing right. Surprise her with sincere encouragement. Look her in the eye when she speaks. Stop whatever you are doing and listen. Listen without judhging her. Listen long and hard and exude joy.

        What do you mean she will have no place to live for college break?

  5. JoAnn on November 28, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Great advice, D. Having your dad step in was pivotal. I’m so glad things are working out better now.

  6. JoAnn on November 28, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Maureen, maybe you need to set some boundaries with him! Or, does he model that behavior for her by treating you disrespectfully? Is there somewhere you could go when she misbehaves? I know that it hurts deeply to have your child speak to you that way, but you don’t have to take it. I think that having a talk with her, asking her how she would feel if someone said that to her…the Golden Rule? She needs to learn to be kind to others, or she will eventually find herself friendless and/or in an abusive relationship herself. Then you can tell her that when she speaks to you disrespectfully, you will leave the room, go to a motel, stop fixing her meals…in other words, stop doing for her. Whatever it is she expects from you is what you take away. It doesn’t have to be money. “I will not allow myself to be treated disrespectfully,” is the way to say it. You are guarding your heart.

    • Aly on November 29, 2018 at 10:07 am

      JoAnn, & Maureen.

      I have a different perspective on this, you may disagree or it may sound hard to enforce but it can make a huge difference.

      Maureen, you wrote:
      “But when she’s under stress academically or socially this behavior shows up. The challenge now is – what consequences can I enforce as
      There’s no where for her to go during college breaks I doubt my husband will support her moving out.”

      She’s 19 and you are the co-parent paying for college and giving her a home to live in during breaks.
      It would seem reasonable that she has been taught (by your h) that acting out when one is stressed is acceptable behavior and there are no real immediate consequences for these choices.

      A requirement can be that she see a professional for her pattern of thinking that she’s entitled to ‘blow’ or be cruel when she is having chaos inside. There could also be underlying non treated anxiety disorders etc that must be addressed for her to learn better coping skills.

      The professional counseling can be a requirement for more college tuition or her ability to come home during breaks.

      John Townsend has wrote lots of books about this type of teen or entitled behavior and he has a lot of good examples to offer.
      Especially as the co-parent financing her college and possible future stability financially. You have a lot of leverage here I believe.

      She sounds like such the common case (common not being normal) of a person who thinks they can mistreat another and spew misquided anger to the person Who they have probably seen tolerate bad behavior or chaos situations as a victim.
      She thinks you will adjust to her.

      JoAnn, I disagree with the person who is being treated this way, that they leave the house and incur more hotel expenses for any sanity to me this is just reinforcing the mindset in this 19 yr old.
      This is not her home where she dictates the environment.
      If she gets more belligerent and out of control -call the police and give her # to shelters etc.
      police don’t put up with this game of teens etc..especially when the parent is the one providing a safe and warm place to live.

      • JoAnn on November 29, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        Aly, in principle, I agree with you that leaving for the mother is not the best solution, but there may be times when walking out is going to be the best way to send a message, either just leaving the room, or saying to hubby, “Until you begin to teach this child how to treat me respectfully, I will stay with my sister (or wherever).” We don’t have to stay in a situation where we are being abused, and that applies to children, too. If the victim doesn’t have enough leverage to tell someone to get out, then she can leave and make a strong declaration about what she will not tolerate. Of course, she has to decide for herself what course of action to take, but in any case, the message is what counts.

        • Aly on November 30, 2018 at 6:43 am

          I can certainly agree on many of your points and especially -sending a message being what counts.

          So her is what can be a deeper problem. No one has control on how one will interpret a ‘message’. When dealing with a destructive and harming individual they often don’t have the level of connection or compassion for relationship as others might and be impacted by someone leaving the room or the home etc to give a message.

          My personal example is that I did this often with my husband, he didn’t care. In fact it emboldened his tactics and behavior because he felt validated and it gave him alone cozy space to sit and enjoy our home.

          My h had many attachment issues to work through.
          I left on many occasions thinking maybe he will see the message and want to have better ways of solving conflict rather than to get completely ‘ugly and verbally abusive’.

          It wasn’t until we were in professional counseling and had other interventions of accountability involved that I could tell him to leave and I would lock the door.
          This scenario only happened once where I locked the door and he had to figure it out.

          He preferred me the one to leave and he was a happy as a toddler to enjoy our home without having to deal with any of his junk or our marital issues.
          His conscience had serious holes and his coping skills of stubborn behavior-the professionals would highlight it was off the charts!

          In counseling, I was taught that some don’t get a message with out pain or uncomfortable consequences. The only one in our marriage at that time getting pain and consequences was myself. My husband would agree. He had a shield around him like Fort Knox. Sending a message and hoping he would interpret it with something fruitful and changing, was hopeless because of how he protected himself and how he felt entitled inside. He could go for weeks living in his silent treatment and operating at a disconnected level in some sort of way because of how he coped as a child and his home environment was.

          If the person who is acting out and causing chaos isn’t reaping any pain, often they continue with their patterns and their behavior worsens too.

          Discomfort sometimes is the only thing that helps them see their errors and want to have insight in how to treat others and also be treated well themselves.

          • Nancy on November 30, 2018 at 10:38 am

            Aly, JoAnn,

            There is an important distinction being made here. A great dialogue!

            In the moment, it’s really important to not tolerate the abusive behaviour – to protect ourselves.

            Our responses though, need to be prayerfully considered to take into account the specifics of the relational dynamic.

            Both Patrick Doyle and Leslie speak to this in their suggestions to take a lot of time and prayer, to identify specifics in a written letter.

            We need immediate strategies for the short term, but a prayerfully considered long term plan. Once those specific requirements have been identified ( and communicated to the abusive individual), then we can respond with the most effective boundaries – both for our protecting as well to create the most pain for the abuser.

          • JoAnn on November 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm

            There are some good points here, and Maureen will need to spend time with the Lord to get clear about which aspects of this fellowship will apply in her situation. I think that whatever behavior she chooses, she needs to make a verbal statement about what, specifically, she will not tolerate, and then back it up with a consequence. You can’t send unclear “messages” by just doing something. You have to say, “When you do X, I will do Y.” Also, labeling the abusive behavior is important: “your attitude here is disrespectful,” “what you just said is very hurtful.” “I will not tolerate this tone of voice. If you cannot speak to me with a respectful tone, then you need to rethink what you want to happen here.” These are messages our teenagers need to hear over and over again.

          • Maureen on December 4, 2018 at 1:38 pm

            Great comments -all. Last comment so true!

  7. Angela on November 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

    What do you do when your ex owns and controls the cell phone, and will come at your 15 year old daughter’s beckoned call if you refuse to drive her somewhere or deny her anything? He takes the “sting” out of most consequences I enforce when she is with me, which just makes her want to be with him. She is acting very much like him, and is only decent to me when she wants something…just like you mentioned. At this point, I hardly ever see her, because I don’t let her treat me that way, and I refuse to try and “compete” by acting as her best friend instead of her parent.

    Her dad is suing me to try and gain primary care status with absolutely no grounds for doing so, except that “that’s what she wants.” They are using each other, and she is being manipulated, …and I am spending thousands of dollars trying to fight this. There doesn’t seem to be any “good” way forward, as she just wants to stay at his house because she gets everything she wants. So the courts are likely to award him Primary Care because that is what is already happening. It doesn’t seem right to not “fight” for my daughter when she’s only 15. She and I are going to counseling, which I’m hopeful will continue and will help improve our relationship. Any thoughts?

    • JoAnn on November 29, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Angela, I know how this hurts, but please realize that part of what’s going on is that she is just 15. Lots of development and maturity to go through yet. You say that “it doesn’t seem right not to fight” for her, but if you win, what will you get? A daughter who resents you and will continue to mistreat you. Perhaps once she is “let go,” she will begin to appreciate you more. The counseling should help, too, to begin to build a better relationship with her. Try to learn what she needs and wants (not the same things) from you, so that you can build something between you that will last. She’s not going to want your advice or your efforts to change her. Let her see your heart of love, and if that means letting her go to her father, so be it. The important thing is that you don’t lose her.

    • Autumn on November 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      Have you tried an honest mother daughter talk? Can you tell her your story? What you liked about her Dad and then what you learned. Can you give some details? You can still parent but tell her what you thought and felt from teen years on. Step down just a bit from Mom and be Angela.

      • JoAnn on November 29, 2018 at 11:41 pm

        I think Autumn has a great idea. Let your daughter get to know you as a person, not just her mother. Someday, she will be a mother, too, and then it will hit her: how much sacrifice is involved in being a mother and how it hurts to be treated badly. The first baby I brought home from the hospital changed my view of my mother.

    • carrie on December 3, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Angela, Wow, what heartache! These 15 year olds are challenging! I think JoAnn and Autumn offer some good thoughts. I am wondering if it is time to stop fighting your ex in court and start focusing on taking care of yourself. I imagine that you have put yourself last by trying to do everything to put food on the table and deal with your daughter. Perhaps the thousands of dollars you are spending in lawyer’s fees need to be spent on taking care of you. If you are your best you, you will be the best mom to your daughter. I also wonder if your ex and daughter deserve each other and may have a reality check once the “fun” wears off. In the meantime you can get strong, healthy and clear on what you will and won’t tolerate. My suggestion is counseling! You may already be in it but the clarity that comes from it can be vital. I know because I have had some of these very issues! Take heart, you are not alone. thanks for sharing.

      • JoAnn on December 4, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        Great advice, Carrie, and I hope Angela follows through. We just can’t get through these things alone, and counseling can be so helpful.

  8. No one down here on November 29, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    having trouble with my children, also. ages 14, 9, 8

    14 year old is the best one. he’s lived with the issues for his entire life. he is on the spectrum, but a couple of years ago was saved – and his life has seen a major shift.

    9 year old is “daddy’s girl.” she always takes “his” side whenever there’s a dispute.

    8 year old is “my girl.” but she feels free to treat me however she wants to. if she’s happy, all is sunshine and hugs and helpfulness. if she doesn’t get her way, it’s terror time. I work with her and work with her and work with her.

    both girls tend to disobey me but not dad.

    Not sure how to nurture them and guide them and lead them in the things of the Lord in the current situations without being dishonoring to their father.

    • Nancy on November 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm


      What is your definition of ‘honouring to their father’ ?

      • No one down here on November 29, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        Nancy, I’m not comfortable with downplaying him or telling them “he is wrong” even if I believe he is wrong. I know he mocks me in front of them, but if I do the same, then I’m no better than he is. 🙁

        • Moon Beam on November 30, 2018 at 5:08 am

          In a healthy relationship you would talk to him in private and point out his disrespectful behavior. Then he would apologize to you. Chose to cease any and all such talk and point out to the children the error of his ways. You would forgive his poor judgement and he would make a concentrated effort to affirm, honor and love you better.

          Comparing an abusive situation to a normal situation always seems to help me figure out what to do. It gives me a quick reality check and helps me better address the sin against me.

          • Aly on November 30, 2018 at 6:26 am

            Such a good example! Agree here very much and I have had the opportunity to do this over many times with my husband, he also choses to apologize to our children and sees the mixed message he often sends can hurt & impact them. This is not what his heart ever wants.
            It would be dishonest and dishonoring of my husband to not talk with my husband privately.

    • Autumn on November 30, 2018 at 5:17 am

      NORH, the first thing you can do is work on yourself. Your counseling is very important.

      I think your chdrrn obey your husband out if fear, not respect. You be the one they respect. Respect lasts longer and has more value. No on loves someone they don’t respect.

      It would seen in your present situation, you are being treated as and portrayed as a person who doesn’t deserve to be respected in her thought, word or deed. There is much work to be done to change that. The first step is you treating yourself with respect and honoring and valuing yourself more highly.

      • Nancy on November 30, 2018 at 11:03 am

        Autumn, NODH,

        What you say about NODH respecting herself is so important.

        Personnally, I have been down a very long road of dealing with multiple relationships that have disrespect towards me, at their core. This process started about 7 years ago, and it seems to be ‘never ending’. Once I get one relationship sorted out and moving toward health, another relationship’s dysfunction comes to light.

        In talking to The Lord about this, I asked Him, “why do I keep having to ‘teach other people to respect me?” He answered that His purpose in this has nothing to do with them.

        All this time He has been giving me opportunities to excercise respect for myself.

        I am thanking God for all of these opportunities. He enables me to excercise these once atrophied muscles. I am discovering that in Him, I am strong 🙂

        • Autumn on November 30, 2018 at 11:08 pm

          Is it possible that your instinct to detect and evaluate unhealthy people is deficient? Are you drawn to those who disrespect you unknowingly? I have never heard of training people. Let them be who they are, just make better choices from the start.

          • Aly on December 1, 2018 at 9:44 am

            Autumn, Nancy,

            Megan Cox of Give her Wings just posted a new blog article this week: Why do I attract abusers?

            It was really good, because it can seem like the common denominator is the one person who seems to get repeatedly disrespected/used etc, but that isn’t a good definition overall especially when dealing with individuals who struggle with respecting another at a core level.
            (This is a growing Problem in our culture)

            I took Nancy’s comment to be more about her exercising her space of being respected to those who might otherwise walk all over her or take advantage of her accommodating qualities. They certainly are not naturally offering it in the relationship dynamic so she has to create that space and dynamic , rather than hope that it will just come into play without any intervention of her own.

            Maybe you can expand Nancy? But that’s how I understood what you were pointing to.

          • Aly on December 1, 2018 at 10:26 am

            You wrote:
            “Let them be who they are, just make better choices from the start.”

            I agree with Let them be who they are. Always!

            Letting them be who they are will determine a lot about the relationship. Sometimes not one at all.

            Those who want or are use to receiving ‘special treatment’ or allowances will realize quickly that they won’t be able to take what they are used to taking and move along quickly.

        • Nancy on December 1, 2018 at 10:10 am

          Hi Autumn, Aly,

          The unhealthy dynamics that are coming to light are all in my FOO and my h’s family. Long-standing relationships that need ‘cleansing’.

          6 years ago, The Lord transplanted me into a beautiful community of mature Christian women with whom I get to spend about 10 hours a week, serving and studying God’s word. He has used these healthy relationships to show me how unhealthy and dysfunctional my old relationships were.

          So, no, I have no ‘new’ dysfunctional relationships. I am pretty successful at sensing areas of unhealth and setting appropriate limits from the outset. I am able to take responsibility for my heart as well as let go of what is outside my control.

          This summer I had an experience that showed me that a particular new friend, although very well meaning, is not healthy enough in herself to be a safe person for me. I’m grateful for this insight because it allows me to love her ‘where she is at’. In other words I do not expect something from her that she is not capable of giving me. This ‘way of interacting’ is refreshing! God is so good ❤️

  9. Nancy on December 3, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Hi everyone,

    Would you please pray that The Lord’s will for our family this Christmas, be revealed?

    We have no extended family to get together with, and we are between churches – so no church family either.

    I am grieving these losses while trusting that The Lord will provide for us.

    • Aly on December 3, 2018 at 7:37 am

      Will pray for you! I’m sorry Nancy I didn’t realize you are also between church communities too. Praying for God’s care and healing for your heart Nancy. 💜

    • No one down here on December 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      I will pray for you, Nancy.

    • Nancy on December 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you sisters ❤️

    • JoAnn on December 3, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      In our community, the newspaper has sponsored a “Season for Caring” event every year, focusing on 12 families that have needs. The community is invited to contribute to the needs of these families, and some wonderful things happen. This can be a great time to find another less fortunate family and “adopt” them for the holidays.
      I pray that everyone on this blog will find joy and peace this holiday season.

  10. Connie on December 6, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    The way it was explained to me was this: children want really badly for the family to be intact, and to have a relationship with both parents. Down deep they know that dad is abusive and mom is not. So, they are safe with mom who they know will love them no matter what. But if they are honest about dad, they will have heck to pay, like mom always did, so they suck up to dad and blame mom. And then think, see? It works for me, dad is nice to me, why couldn’t mom have been nice to dad and kept us all together? Not realizing that dad is still playing games with mom to turn her children against her.

    My children are between 24 and 44, their dad and I have been apart for over 20 years, we are both remarried, and this is still going on. If I am honest with them, I get labelled as disrespectful, but if he lies about me, that’s just ‘helping them understand how difficult mom can be, you know?’. Lots of prayer and surrender that God in His time will make it right. Throwing yourself completely on His mercy is a good place to be. Then when it comes right, we know beyond a doubt the it’s all Him not me.

  11. Caroline Abbott on December 19, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I find this happens so often with my DV survivor clients. Their spouse treats them like crap for years. They finally kick them out, then the kids take over his place as the abuser.

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