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How do I talk to a family member who is overly-aggressive to her son?

As a parent, I understand that there are sometimes that we get frustrated with our kids. My cousin has been going through a lot lately, and therefore, her 2 kids (2yr old girl and 4yr old boy) have also been through a lot. She is recently separated from her second husband of 6 months (who the kids call Dad). The kids have no idea what is going on..why they no longer see "Dad" and why they can't go home (they are living with her sister now). I am concerned about the way she treats her 4yr old son. She repeatedly loses her temper, slaps him across the face, and cusses at him. I don't know how to talk to her about the situation without making her defensive, and I'm afraid that if that happened she would isolate the kids from us and we wouldn't be able to check on them. I know she loves him, but her anger gets out of control. Just for clarification - she never "beats" him...but he is afraid of her. What should I do?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 2:34 AM on Sep. 27, 2009 in General Parenting

Answers (12)
  • First off, the kids are important, no matter what. You need to let her know that there is no excuse to do that. If she gets defensive, let her know that you only speak up because you care about her & her kids. If worse comes to worse, report her to CPS. Child abuse is everyone's problem. And I think you' d feel terribly guilty if any serious harm came to them, and you did nothing. Maybe you could offer to watch the kids for her for a couple hours now and then, to give her a break & blow off some steam..

    Answer by NightPhoenix at 2:39 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • find a number to a local parents anon group and tell her that you understand she is under stress and you found out about this great parents group and you will watch the kids if she ever wants to attend this group.
    or find info about the local crisis nursery and recommend it to her or just take the kids every now and then.

    being a friend is the most you can do at this time

    Answer by wheresthewayout at 2:43 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • keeps your mouth on mute and take the kids when you can,she's just going thru a hard time help her by taking the kids instead of adding more fuel to her fire.

    Answer by BUSYLOVINGHIM at 2:44 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • I would tell her that I was concerned for her and her child and that someone could report her to CPS. Then I would try to help her learn better ways of interacting with her children.

    Answer by Gailll at 3:31 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • slapping in the face I would call cps. It's just not right. It's not correct form of disapline to haul off and slap a kid.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:24 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • To me she sounds overly stressed from everything she's been going there .. And YES having a good friend would go alot father than adding even more stress her way. Try spending more time with both her and her children. This would help her to be able to have some one to vent (built of feelings with) and possibly help her have a role model in the right way to act and interact with her her children. Sometimes when alot of bad things are going on in ones lifes you do forget how you might be are coming across to other people .. just need to be reminded. Be a Friend sounds like she could use one. And if she countines to miss treat the children then you do what you feel is the best. But this way you will know that you did the right thing .

    Answer by Shaqbe4u at 6:31 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • I'd offer her more help like taking the kids and stuff and would try to be there for her to vent and let anger out. When you can catch her in a good minute I'd try to speak about it to her, maybe she is so stressed that she doesn't realize that she's so agressive against her son.

    Answer by stpalmsgirl at 6:41 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • I'd say two things, first take her out to a restaurant and speak to her. Not a comfort zone for her, have someone watch her children. Second, call a family therapist and tell her you need her to come along. Open up infront of this person, sure she will hate you but learn to understand what she's doing to her children. I'm sorry slapping a 4 year old or anyone in that matter is considered abuse. The boy will resent her and does she really want that. I'd video tape it and then show it to her and ask her if this is normal? Having a child being abused for no apparent reason is wrong. Hey, it only takes one phone and I'd do it, if you can't!

    Answer by happynewyorker at 7:41 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • Maybe I am overreacting on this but I would call CPS in a heartbeat if had seen this.  Needing a friend?  Nope, she needs a reality check.  Or maybe someone to slap her in her face and see what it feels like.  Sorry, I get worked up, I can't stand to hear about children being hit in the face.  My son is only a year younger than hers, if I ever got so stressed out that I was slapping him across the face I would want someone to step in and do something.  I'm sorry, I guess I'm not much help here.


    Answer by Katrina3016 at 7:48 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

  • Just for clarification - she never "beats" him...but he is afraid of her. What should I do?

    Sorry, I read that part again and had to say something yet again. He is afraid of her, thats not right. And I understand that she is your cousin and you want to take up for her but what is the definition of "beating"? SO, does she need to beat the hell out of him before anyone does anything? Maybe seriously injure him before CPS gets involved? I'm sorry but I think the whole situation is messed up. Thats just my opinion. I would have had sympathy for her if she was yelling a lot or not interacting as much with her children due to stress, but I have no sympathy now because she is taking out her frustrations on an innocent baby. She's lucky I don't know her.

    Answer by Katrina3016 at 7:52 AM on Sep. 27, 2009

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