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This is over the top

post #1 of 205
Thread Starter 
(ETA: I x-posted in TAO, because with the search broken I didn't think this would get any replies here.
ETA again: that thread was closed as being off topic)

We're in the midst of dh's family reunion which we are hosting at our home. His parents and two sisters are here, with their spouses and kids.

One sister has 3 boys, ages 1, 2 and 5. We've all known that her dh is far from a gentle parent, and no one in the family likes how he disciplines the boys. On the other hand, he's a stereotypical 'dad' to them - lots of roughhouse play and teasing. He seems to genuinely love them and they him.

Tonight everyone was outside on the patio and he was inside with the 2 yo. Constantly, every few minutes he would scream - literally scream, you could hear it right through the walls of the house - and the baby would cry. Dad would yell "Shut UP!" over and over, threaten, yell, etc.

I was in the bedroom putting dd down. The dad went into this tirade and started screaming nonstop, carrying on about how the baby had 'ruined' his older brother's picture (some crayon drawing he'd done). It went on until I couldn't bear it any longer.

I went to the living room and my other SIL (not his wife) was standing in the hallway outside, just wide eyed and speechless, not knowing what to do. I stood in the doorway and the dad didn't see me yet. He was standing over the baby who was sitting on the floor sobbing hysterically. He was screaming "Look what you did! You ruined it! SHUT UP! I SAID SHUT UP!"

One of the moms had bought the kids some sun visors and had their names printed on them. The dad grabbed the baby's plastic sun visor that was layng close by, wadded it up into a ball, breaking it, and then hurled it straight into the baby's face - with tremendous force and anger, shouting "How does it feel? How does it feel to have your things ruined?"

At that point I walked into the room. He saw me and sat on the couch. He was red faced, sweaty, and trembling with anger. I sat down next to him and said in a very quiet voice "BIL, we simply cannot have that kind of anger in this house. Dd is very sensitive and she is extremely upset. I'm very upset."

He abruptly stood up before I could say anything more, stormed out of the house and told his wife they were leaving. They went off and argued for a long time and then went to bed in their room

I'm just...stunned.

Everyone had overheard the screaming and knew something had happened. We briefly talked about it. Everyone is upset but also feeling hopeless that there is anything to do about it.

For me, I don't have any delusions about changing this guy into a gentle parent. But I do have strong feelings about not wanting my daughter to be exposed to that kind of emotional and physical violence. She's never heard or seen anything like that before, and I don't want her to see it now. But no one wants this family reunion to become derailed. It took us a long time to bring this together.

What to do, what to do...

Open to suggestions.
post #2 of 205
As I was trying to formulate a coherent response to this, I just kept imagining the look of horror my (almost) 1-year-old would have on his face if someone were screaming at him like that. I am no perfect parent, and I have yelled at my older kids lots of times (although not to that extent, of course), but I can't even imagine being that angry at a 1-year-old baby. Or angry at all. He needs professional help. I don't know what I would do, though, because someone that can be that cruel to a 1-year-old would scare me to the point that I don't think I would want to say anything negative to him.
post #3 of 205
I think you handled it exactly right for that moment. I can't imagine being in that situation and staying calm. He needs serious help and I can't imagine that this moment is going to be the moment that he realizes it. I would talk or work on the SIL to get there! Sorry you and your family had to witness this but hope that it spurs him to examine his behavior.
post #4 of 205


I think you handled it extremely well. I think it is perfectly reasonable to not allow certain kinds of behavior in your house. Clearly this is over the top.

I would have dh speak to his sister in the morning and let her know it is not acceptable.

good luck - sounds wretched...

-Angela
post #5 of 205
I would be a lot more worried about this man's children and what they're experiencing on a day to day basis. He sounds abusive and terrifying.
I would boot him out of my house immediately (not sil and kids, though) and do what I could to help them.
post #6 of 205
If he would do this in front of everyone, he is probably worse when at home. I would be seriously concerned about abuse.
post #7 of 205
How sad! Tina~
post #8 of 205
He's 2??? OMG my heart is breaking for the little guy.

I started to write more, but coop mama said exactly what I was thinking. So I'll just quote her:

Quote:
I think you handled it exactly right for that moment. I can't imagine being in that situation and staying calm. He needs serious help and I can't imagine that this moment is going to be the moment that he realizes it. I would talk or work on the SIL to get there! Sorry you and your family had to witness this but hope that it spurs him to examine his behavior.
And add a :

I hope that this IS the wakeup call moment for him and that he gets help. Barring that, I hope your sil finds the courage to break the cycle now and leave with those precious boys.

Many, many for you all. I hope the rest of the weekend is peaceful.
post #9 of 205
This guy needs to understand that a one year old is a baby...a little, helpless, baby! Wow!



I'm not sure what to do about the reunion, but that little one needs extra love tommorow if you can manage it.
post #10 of 205
You handled it in the best way you knew how.

Now it is time to brainstorm ways to help that family. You must do this for the welfare of the children. The father may love his kids but he needs help before he does more damage to them.

I feel so, so sorry for that little child.

It is ABUSE, no doubt about it. He is abusing his children. And it has to stop NOW.
post #11 of 205
That is terrible. I feel sick thinking of that poor baby.

I agree with PPs that you did handle it well. But the whole family needs to take action to protect those children. Someone needs to talk to BIL about his abusive behavior and to SIL to help her keep her children safe.
post #12 of 205
wow. Yeah i wouldn't want someone like that around my son. And throwing his visor at the baby??? How childish is that! All i can say is i'm scared for that poor baby. You can keep him away from your daughter but that poor baby has to go home with him!
post #13 of 205
I went through almost the exact same thing with my brother at Easter time. I think you handled it exactly how you should have, and that's how I handled it as well. I told my brother is no uncertain terms that in my house we treat everyone with respect and without violence, and we handle any kind of disagreement in a peaceful manner. He didn't like it so he left. He is well aware that if I ever witness violence toward children in my presence again that I won't hesitate to intervene.

Everyone's concern is on the welfare of the children, and I think that needs to be addressed through some kind of family sit-down. Can you pull the mother aside and speak with her about how abusive this kind of behavior is to the children and that you are worried for their welfare? Perhaps she can talk him into some kind of counseling? She needs to know that it is also her responsibility to ensure that her children are safe, and that means doing something about a father who is abusive to them. It sounds like he is in desperate need of some counseling for his anger.
post #14 of 205
Oh man, I had to step away from the computer when I read this... of course, I'm pregnant and hormonal--but damn.

My first reaction would have been to throw something at your BIL (mention i'm preggo & hormonal??) and give him back his own words. But I know that's not feasible, I think you handled it the best way possible at the time. Perhaps in a calm moment you can introduce the concept of child development? Because truly, a child at one is capable--physically, mentally, and emotionally-- of less than a child at 2, and a two year old doesn't really have the capacity to act maliciously, and so forth. If someone he respects sits him down and explains how damaging his actions were to that baby, not you in this case (unless you have a good enough relationship there that he won't take it as you being judgemental and therefore become defensive) maybe that would help?

Maybe you could get other family members to help with this idea, if they're willing?
post #15 of 205
I would wait and see what happens in the morning- how he acts. It could be that a comment as gentle as yours is enough to get him looking inwardly- it could be that someone needs to reinforce the lesson you started- maybe your FIL?
post #16 of 205
I would have told him that I would not have that behaviour in my house whether my DD was there are not!!! I am truly shocked and me being me I would have waded in earlier with my size 6's and berated him(that's just me tho!).
It certainly does sound like he has anger management issues and needs professional help.
Talk to your SIL(his wife) as she probably feels exactly the same as the rest of you but can't tell him because of his anger.
post #17 of 205
That's really frightening and incredibly childish. I think you handled it about as well as you can handle something like that! I might have been tempted to call 911 on him.
post #18 of 205
At that point I walked into the room. He saw me and sat on the couch. He was red faced, sweaty, and trembling with anger. I sat down next to him and said in a very quiet voice "BIL, we simply cannot have that kind of anger in this house. Dd is very sensitive and she is extremely upset. I'm very upset."

. And throwing his visor at the baby??? How childish is that!

I am truly shocked and me being me I would have waded in earlier with my size 6's and berated him(that's just me tho!).


I think exactly the opposite. Here is a man who may be big and adult, but who doesn't seem to have coping skills any better or more mature than the child/baby he was berating. Clearly he too felt out of control and scared. Rather than embarass him further, since he seems to know that something is wrong, why not offer him some gentleness too? Why be so quick to attack a large person when I hear that we should be gentle with little people. Yes, he should know better. But it appears he doesn't know how. I think offering him some tools rather than a simple "get it together or get out you big meany" would be better.

When a toddler has a temper tantrum we understand that it doesn't feel good to him/her to feel that way and we offer alternative ways to show anger, frustration, sadness, etc. He is still in need of those alternatives.

Just my opinion. I know a mom's gut reaction is to protect the child but that big man is an out of control child on the inside and here is a chance to help him learn how to do better next time.
post #19 of 205
Omg, are your sister and her kids ok with this man? I mean, really now. That's far, far too violent for the situation. I would worry about all of their safety. Who goes off on a baby like that?

I would get my kids away from him, one way or another. And have a quiet talk with your sister to make sure she or her babies aren't getting the snot beaten out of them at home.
post #20 of 205
In my experience with big angry men, trying to reason with them or offer them a better way to handle it just results in them turning the anger on you. It comes across as condescending to them and gives them an "excuse" to continue their raging. It's fuel for the fire. I much prefer to do the reasoning afterward, when they aren't angry anymore and about an inch away from physical violence. If you can say or do something to get them to just go away until they are calmed down, like OP did, I think that's ideal. The alternative, imo, is to take yourself and anyone else in his path out of the way until he has cooled down.
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