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      My husband is not a Christian. He is a self-centered bully, and he is very verbally abusive with intensely foul language, insults, and a grizzly bear style voice and demeanor. (Although in public, he is a perfect gentleman, and in all other respects, he is an excellent father – my kids adore him most of the time.) He has been this way since about a month after we got married, and he has always been this way to our children. He is also like this to his parents and siblings – something that they never told me before we were married, and he hid well, because he was trying to impress me. He has not been physically abusive in a provable way, but he disciplines much too harshly and in anger many times.

      My teenager is on multiple medications for anxiety and depression, and he is constantly in fear of not pleasing people. He is in fear of getting “in trouble”, being yelled at, etc. He has panic attacks 2 to 6 times per month, calls himself names, puts himself down, and genuinely believes he IS all the things his dad has told him he is over the years. He says he can’t wait to leave home someday.

      I cannot scripturally leave my husband, and after talking with a Christian police officer, I know that reporting him will only make our lives much more difficult. The elders and every other Christian I have confided in have said the same, that there is nothing I can do other than pray. I have done all I can think to do to support my son, and he has a church full of adult role models who encourage him (almost none realize what happens behind the scenes at our home). My husband is 100% anti-God and wants nothing to do with anyone at church. He actively tries to keep us from worship when he finds something he would rather us be doing on Sunday. He has threatened to leave us 3 times in the past when the issue of his temper or our devotion to worship attendance came to a head. Money is the only reason he stayed each time. He cares more about money than anything else, and he knows it would be too expensive to leave us. I daily walk a fine line between being in subjection and protecting my children. Often, I don’t even see the line, and I’m walking blindly.

      How do I raise my son’s self-esteem? How do I keep his younger brother from developing the anger and bullying that I already see starting to flourish in his tween personality? I truly believe it will be an issue for the younger one throughout his life. My teenager wants to see a Christian counselor, not just an insurance-assigned psychiatrist for medication, but my husband will not pay for that, and I have no money. He controls all of the money.

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by 1235312353.

        I heard a counselor recently say that when we have voices speaking harm into our lives (whether from others or our own thoughts), the answer is the voice of God. We may not be able to remove or even lower the volume of those other voices, but we can choose to amplify the voice of God and to accept His voice as the ultimate authority on who we actually are – our identity, our value, our worth in His eyes. The Psalms can be a great resource for this, often speaking the things we are feeling in our own heart, but there might be other passages that resonate more for your son (maybe the people working in Nehemiah even in the face of discouragement and persecution, or David’s life full of personal ups/downs and attacks from others but rooted in a heart for God). He might already be good at approaching Scripture like this, but I know it is something I have always struggled with (knowing verses but not feeling their personal connection to me and my life) so it might be something he will need your help with. I know how deeply things like what he is hearing can get internalized, but your support is invaluable, even if you aren’t necessarily seeing the fruits of it right now.

        For your younger son, could you help him develop some better ways to cope with his anger? If it is already starting to manifest into bullying, it might be helpful to separate the anger from the resulting behavior when responding to him. My boys are younger, so I don’t know how it would work with older kids. But it often helps them if I show compassion for what they are feeling while still helping them see that lashing out at others is not the way to express it, to even let them see it modeled in my own life. It has helped them to see that anger does not have to lead directly to being mean, and that feeling angry is not wrong of itself. It has opened the door for them to pause and ask for help, instead of acting directly on their feelings. Sometimes, the most helpful thing has been to just be pragmatic about it and show them how going the bullying route doesn’t actually get them what they want in the long run or ends up making them feel awful inside. There are a lot of Bible examples that can help convey this, and I have also used some of the stories we have listened to together as illustrations to help them understand too, if it didn’t seem like they were getting it. Again, your son is a little bit older, but maybe there is something in this that could help with him too?

        I will be praying for you and your family. It doesn’t sound like you have much space for rest and refreshment, but I do pray that you have been (or will be) able to find hope and comfort in the care of our Lord (Mt.11:28-30; Ps.23). And I pray that you will be able to get some helpful advice and encouragement through this forum. Your love for your sons is evident, and your dedication to your Father as well. May His grace be a continued source of strength for you.

        • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by ToWalkWorthyToWalkWorthy.
        artadamsArt Adams

          It sounds like your son is seeing someone since he has medications for depression and anxiety. That person sounds like a natural support to you. Sounds like the whole family can benefit from counseling. The issues here will not be repaired quickly and certainly not on a blog. .If you will call me and talk directly, I’ll see what I can do to help. MY number is 574-229-7983. Thank you for turning to us.


            Thank you both. I will try to call sometime when I am alone outside the home. The whole house is covered in security cameras, and my husband routinely looks in on us or reviews footage. The psych doesn’t know about his behavior. I once mentioned anger management to my husband, and the conversation ended very badly. He’s held a grudge ever since. He’s definitely not open to any sort of counseling.

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