Relationship My daughter (18) triggers my husband often. How do I empower her to set boundaries with him without making things worse?

Choosingjoy

New Here
90% of my husband’s triggers involves my now 18 yr old daughter (his step-daughter) who still lives with us. She’s a really good kid and never gets into trouble, doesn’t party, comes home at a decent hour, etc. She has always been a strong willed child though and can be vocal about her opinions (which sometimes varies from his). She especially doesn’t like people telling her what to do (who to date, life advice, etc,) and will sigh or roll her eyes when he sits her down for a lengthy lecture on these things - and that behavior sets him off frequently. A healthy adult handles her behavior with grace and love yet has a healthy conversation about how to better handle differences of opinions. My husband however loses his mind. He blames, accuses and verbalizes negative outlandish outcomes of her future on her during his fits of rage which she is made to sit and listen to because “he deserves her respect” because we pay for everything. This has been happening since she was 4 years old and has emotional trauma, low self esteem and anxiety now. She refuses to get counseling. Now that she’s 18, can she set her own boundaries with him (even though she lives with us and we pay for everything for her still)? Bow would that even look? He feels like she “owes” it to him to sit and listen to his lectures when he tells her to do so (usually when he’s triggered out of the blue because he’s been silently stewing for a few days about a comment she made). She wants to move out to protect herself from the emotional rollercoaster, but hasn’t finished her schooling and she works part time so she can’t afford to live on her own yet. If I say anything to him about how he is treating her, or try to explain a situation he only has part of the story about, or even try to show him her perspective (even using facts about her generation, psychology or medical science, etc), he turns on me too and says I think he’s an idiot and she has “manipulated me” against him, then it becomes my fault he’s angry, etc, etc. I just started counseling (and anxiety meds Lol) and I’m trying to learn how to cope with all of this. Even our son (who’s in middle school) has had anxiety for a few years due to all this. He only triggers on him occasionally, but our son is still observing this behavior and is picking up on it like it’s normal. My son adores him, but I don’t want my son to grow up treating his wife and kids this way too. How do I stop it?
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
You, as the parent should have set boundaries for her and your son while they were growing up.

She doesn't trigger hubby. Hubby gets triggered and it is HIS responsibility to control himself.

IMO, Years of being yelled at has changed the people your children were born to be.

Get the kids some therapy. It isn't their responsibility to fix your hubby.

Sorry if this is harsh but our entire community here is filled with people who didn't have people to stand up for them. Physically, verbally, mentally and sexually abused people make up our "family ". Your daughter is being emotionally and verbally abused at the very least.

Hugs to her. ✌️
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
I keep thinking about this post and your children.

You allowed your husband to verbally abuse your children so much so that you feel they have mental illness and anxiety. And now that daughter is 18 and technically an adult you want her to deal with a verbally abusive adult male?

Do I have that right?
 

Choosingjoy

New Here
I came here for advice, not shaming. I didn't know until last year his diagnoses to know what was going on. I thought he just had a bad temper or something and there was a personlity conflict between them. He has also started seeing a counselor and is better understanding how to manage his triggers, so these occurances has decreased in frequency and intensity but still happens occasionally. I have felt helpless up until recently when I began to see a counselor. I now understand what is happening and how I can manage my reactions when he is triggered. My counselor suggested we have have family counseling, which my husband was open to last I brought it up to him. My kids have not been diagnosed with a mental illness, but mild anxiety has been suggested when they were evaluated by previous behavioral theaprists in the past (no medications were suggested either). Like I mentioned before - the occurances of these episodes are occasional, most of the time he is a loving, attentive and engaged father.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
How do I stop it?
How do you stop someone else behaving in a way that is not right? You can’t. History shows you that. You have told him over the last 14 years. And he blames you for speaking out.
so, what do you want?

who has ptsd here, your husband? Is he in treatment for it?
you can only change you. You can change the environment. You can change your relationship by ending it. You can change the care arrangements by getting him to move out until he has sorted out his anger and emotional issues. You can put in a whole host of boundaires.
but you can only do those if you feel they are the boundaries you want and family life you want.
wishing for him to change hasn’t worked and won’t work.

**Just saw your second post when I posted mine. if you’re a supporter you might want this thread moved into the supporter section of this site. It has rules about us sufferers butting out and you are more likely to get responses from other supporters.
 
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Sweetpea76

Moderator
It doesn’t matter if it’s PTSD or a bad temper. That behavior towards kids is not OK. It’s not going to be “corrected” by your teenage daughter. It needs to be corrected by you honestly.

I’ve been with my sufferer for 10 years, and I have 2 children from a previous relationship who are young adults now. Him raging or being an ass towards them has always been one of my dealbreakers, and he knew it. It *still* is, even now that they’re adults. It’s MY boundary that he doesn’t treat my kids like crap or I will leave. He doesn’t get to do that. I disciplined them, and I talked to them when they needed it… not the guy with a temper who is not their actual biological parent.

It’s my responsibility because I brought the guy with PTSD into their lives. They didn’t have a choice.

You need to set boundaries on her behalf.
 
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joeylittle

Administrator
That's a complicated situation, @Choosingjoy - a couple of things come to mind.

One would be - have you considered family therapy, for all four of you? I'm bringing it up because often, it's an excellent way for an entire household to go through a learning curve together, on improving communication and setting boundaries.

The concept of boundaries is often misunderstood. People tend to think that boundaries are rules that should be shared with other people, to tell them where they can and cannot "go" with us (in conversation, or in actions, etc.). And that when someone crosses one of our boundaries, they are breaking our rules, and we need to tell them our boundaries again, just louder this time. This never works - because ultimately, we cannot control anyone's behavior except our own. So expecting that people will adjust to our own rules is just unrealistic.

Instead - we set boundaries so that WE know what we're going to do when things are going in the wrong direction.

Like the case with your daughter and husband. She has strong non-verbal communication that she uses to show her displeasure:
She especially doesn’t like people telling her what to do (who to date, life advice, etc,) and will sigh or roll her eyes when he sits her down for a lengthy lecture on these things
I'm gonna guess she thinks this is her best option to shut down or redirect the conversation - which means, she is assuming that she's got no other option...she can't NOT sit down for that lecture when he tells her to. But she isn't going to shut off her feelings about it, so she'll make sure he knows she's displeased/disagrees with whatever he's saying.

A healthy adult handles her behavior with grace and love yet has a healthy conversation about how to better handle differences of opinions.
That's just ONE way to go about this. By 'healthy adult' I think you mean 'loving parent' - because if your daughter did this to a manager at a job, or to a cop during a traffic stop, or any other scenario outside the family? She would not be owed any grace and love, not at the age of 18.

So, your way is to go gently with her. Nothing wrong with that - but can you see how the scenario is doomed from the outset?

There are plenty of ways to construct some guidelines - boundaries - around how parenting is going to work, between her, your husband, and you. But she would need to be willing to dig a bit more into what she'd like parenting to look like, now that she's older. I doubt she could place a boundary that neither you nor your husband is allowed to require her attention; that she will walk away whenever she doesn't want to hear what you're saying. But maybe, she wants some topics to be off-limits? Or maybe, she wants to know in advance and have a time set for the conversation, so she's not blindsided?

Your husband sees her sighing or rolling her eyes, and he thinks he needs to parent harder and louder. Which of course isn't working. But I don't think it's wrong for him to want her to be willing to listen. So, while you all are trying to sort this out - he may need a boundary for himself, that says "when she rolls her eyes at me, I'll end the conversation, instead of blowing up. I'll walk away from it - because I can't change that behavior of hers all on my own."

But still - there will need to be a place/time where you all can get help with the core issue, which is: How to relate to your kid when they've become a young adult, but are still under the roof, and under our care?"

PTSD will make things more challenging for your husband, because his reactivity will naturally be rather high. But it's still about parenting, not PTSD (IMO).
 
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