What to Do When Dad is Out-of-Control

Creating Safety in Our Home

Portrait of a man screaming over black background and looking at camera

It has been amazing to me the number of women who have shared stories of out-of-control behavior from their spouses.  Their teen does something to upset dad and the war is on.

It makes me sad.

And I’m betting that if you are in that situation in your home, then your feelings are even more heavy than mine.  I’m so sorry for what you are going through.

Most women in these situations ask me what they can do to ease the strife and reduce the fear that plagues their home.  

These women love their husbands.  They know that they are good men.  It’s in the heat of the moment that something breaks inside these men.  They use their physical stance or words to show their power.  Thankfully the women I’ve spoken to haven’t experienced physical abuse in their homes, but they are fearful of what might happen someday.

These women also greatly love their children.  They want to make sure they are protecting them even though now the kids tower over them in stature at times.  As women most of us worry about the affect these outbursts will have on who their kids become.  Will they see out-of-control behavior as something that is acceptable?  Are they harboring anger and resentment that will keep them from returning home once they have the ability to move out?

So here are a few things that I share with women.  I’ve had several women tell me it has made a huge difference in their homes.  Others, not so much.  But either way, if you are a mom wanting to calm the wars between your husband and your teens, here’s a place to start.

  1. Pick a time when there is no strife and ask your husband’s permission to talk with him about a problem you are concerned with.
  2. Create a safe environment for him by letting him know what a great husband and dad he is.
  3. Let him know that you know he loves his kids and wants the best for them.
  4. Share your concerns in a non-threatening way.
  5. Try to get agreement on how the two of you can handle these outbursts in the future.

The conversation might go something like this:  “Honey, I know that you want to be a good dad and want relationship with the kids even after they leave our home.  One of the things I’m concerned about is when things like what happened the other night take place.  I know that you don’t mean to get so upset and I’m sure you probably regret it.  Can we talk about what you might be feeling during those moments? I wonder if there might be something I could do to help you during those interchanges?  I love you and want us to have great relationships with our kids.”

Obviously this is a simplified version of how the conversation might go–but I want to encourage you to step into the middle of what could be conflict.  Our kids are precious and worth the conversation, even if it goes poorly.

I would also like to encourage you to talk with your teens.  Let them share their feelings and struggle with you when these situations occur.  Strategize together on things they might try to de-escalate the situation. Perhaps you encourage them to have a similar dialogue like the one above with their dad.  If that isn’t safe, maybe you have the conversation first with your husband and encourage him to sit down with you and your teen to talk through the issues while you coach both of them in the conversation.

Another thing you might consider is asking your spouse to go to counseling or talk to someone at church about how to handle his emotion.  More times than not, these episodes stem from anger in other situations that have not been adequately resolved sometimes from childhood.

Ephesians 6:13-15

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

One of our roles as moms is to be relationship architects such that our home is a sanctuary of peace for our family.  Sometimes that means respectfully engaging in conflict so that others will understand appropriate boundaries and work on their issues.

Prayers to you who are engaged in the battle for your kids when dad is out-of-control.  And don’t be afraid to protect your children if respectful communication escalates the issues.

“Let go…and let God”,

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