To say something to my friend?(8 Posts)
I'm friends with a couple who are army veterans. I'm closer to the wife by far, but I would call them both friends. They have two daughters, age 12 and 10. I've known them for 8-9 years.
They've always been a bit different, but I like them and our kids get along. The husband has gone on two tours in the time I've known him. He was injured in the last, ending his army career. He's been left with a TBI and chronic back pain. (The wife was finished before I knew them, when she had her eldest. Her lingering issues have been psychological; she has a service dog for PTSD etc)
The DH has been (understandably) very different since his injuries. He's forgetful, short tempered, semi explosive. (Not physically violent.)
My worry is the way he treats his youngest daughter. He seems to constantly be yelling at her or blaming her for things. (He is not physical with her, I would report him if I had any inkling that he was.) She's a nice kid but he's always upset with her for something.
He clearly favors the older daughter. They are extremely close; she home schools and he is in charge of that so they spend a lot of time together. I'm sure he loves both of them but it's painfully clear that he LIKES the oldest better. The mother has told me that she prefers the youngest though she loves both of them (of course) and I know she must see it because I see her going out of her way to be kind to the youngest. Her favoritism isn't apparent, though.
I can't understand what he's going through and the effect that chronic pain would have on a person. It's not so much that he is short tempered but that it's so unequal. I feel like they're really setting up a golden child/scapegoat situation and I worry about the repercussions for both girls.
I was with them a few days ago and it was really uncomfortable. He was really upset with the youngest for something trivial and yelling at her. I said something light and smiled at the girl but I was really upset. The grandmother was there too and cuddled her close and said something to diffuse the situation.
Should I say something to the wife? I feel like he needs help (veteran services are a disgrace in this country). Whatever it is, it will have to be extremely subtle and gentle or she will cut me off. We're good friends but she's extremely protective of her husband. I just feel so bad for the poor kid...both girls, really. AND the DH. He was nothing like this before. Wwyd?
Is he/they involved with the VA - that's all I really know about from American TV. My cousins school had to speak with my Uncle for constant shouting, he didn't even realise he's just a very loud guy. He may not even realise esp. with the Army side, we had a teacher who was ex Army and came over more severe than the average.
Yes he is just very loud Songbird, definitely. And if he was equally strict with the girls I probably wouldn't think anything of it. It's just that it's the youngest always bearing the brunt It's mean really, he mimics her and things.
They are both involved with the VA but he doesn't see anyone for emotional/psychological stuff, won't do it. Just doctors to try to deal with his physical issues.
If you say something to your friend it might come across as an overt criticism of their qualities as parents, so if you do I'd be very careful how you phrase it or you could lose the friendship over seeming to interfere.
You're right. It will probably just make them defensive, as I'm sure I would if it were me!
It makes me feel terrible for both girls really (the oldest always "sides" with her dad, says she doesn't want to go back to school and leave him, etc) but as it's not out and out abuse there's really nothing to be done.
I remember talking with her once about how irritated I'd been generally with my oldest (he's at a particularly annoying stage) and how I worried that it seemed like I favored my younger two because of that. She did talk a little about the situation then. If I did say anything, it would be something like that.
I think you are wise to bring it up carefully but I think, maybe, for your own peace of mind you will need to do this.
The things that strike me are:
-It's not the dad's fault that this has occurred
-There is plenty of sympathy for dad, mum and both girls - you are not looking to make anyone feel bad about it
-You've noticed, which may well mean other people have too - the fact you are saying something is exactly because you care, not for any other reason
-There is help out there for just about every scenario under the sun, it's just a case of finding the right help... another story but there needs to be the will to find it
You know they may be defensive so you could google around for some advice on how to diffuse defensiveness!
This article has some useful tips
-Maintain a neutral face
-Maintain a level voice
-Feed back what you hear
-Change what the person is focused on -When people are angry and upset, one of the first things we want to do is change their emotional state. We can do this by interrupting their pattern and refocusing their attention. Ways to do this:
a. Say their name. When you do need to speak, start by saying the person’s name. When a person hears their name they will stop and change what they are focused on, if only for a moment. Next…
b. Say, "hold on a second". These words, said with extreme calm and relaxation, again stop the person for a moment and change what they have their attention fixed on.
-"......say things like, "I understand your feelings," or "I’m sure if I was in your place I would feel the same way."
-Get solution oriented.
Good luck and well done for being a friend who really cares.
Thanks Italian. I DO care but I don't want to come off as smug or judgy.
Just be yourself, maybe ask her how she perceives it, does she see a problem and how are they tackling it if she does? Put the ball in her court, let her do the talking as much as possible. Open body language, non-confrontational etc.
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