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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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My step is 89 and very difficult he is always screaming at

Customer Question

My step is 89 and very difficult he is always screaming at me and is very insulting to me because I am woman. How can I deal with him?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.

Hello, and thanks for visiting JA.

I think it is time for parenting in reverse!

We humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do. Like a child, he is going to have to learn to accept boundaries, and you have to give him reason to change

Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give him choices, and make sure he understands the consequences of his choice – and always follow through.

Your step needs to be confronted with unacceptability of his behavior, and made to understand while you care for him, his behaviour towards you is unacceptable and has to change. Make that very clear to him.

He also needs to understand that any continuation of offensive or dismissive behavior will have unpleasant consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. These could be, for example, from no more cooking or washing done to getting out.

Stay calm, remain objective and avoid drama, but stick to your guns.

Secondly, your self esteem could do with a boost, so I’d like you to use this tool:

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you.

Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I do, say, think or feel.

2. It is O. K. for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologise or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

Best wishes,


Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Now he has banned me, and my husband from going to see my 81-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, Sunday and Monday (of this labor day weekend and has done this before and is always telling me that he is going to get me out of the house for good). This year I handled paperwork to have them approved for medical and in-home supportive services. We have 2 caretakers that share hours during the week and week ends, plus I go there every evening Including most of the day every weekend) after work 7 days a week (I have been doing this since July 6, 2011 including having taken a leave of absence for 3 months starting April 18, 2011). I go in the evenings because I know it is hard for him to deal with my Mother by himself. And there have been times where my mother knowing I am her daughter gets very difficult and it is hard for me to handle her (to get her to cooperate me during the evenings). My mother has told me that I am the most important person in her life (even before the alz). I come out of service to both of them. Even my husband who fluctuating work hours goes there before his job stars or after he leaves work...99% of the time. No matter what I do it is NOT good enough. I know he is hurting because of my mother (the have been married 51 years) but so am I. He has always been quite verbally and emotionally abusive to my mother too. His anger is constant and I am the target and the only person he does this too. He is very disrespectful to me. I am actually scared of him because of all the crap he dished out. No one wants to talk to him because of his temper. This is awful.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Can you give me more advise over this?
Expert:  Norman M. replied 5 years ago.
Basically, he does this because he has been allowed to get away with it - there have been no unpleasant consequences for him to make him change.

It is time for 'tough love'.

Tell him that his anger and agression frighten and hurt you, and that you are not prepared to accept it, that if he starts to shout, be aggressive or demeaning you will simply leave at that point, no matter what you are in the middle of doing.

Tell him too that it is a choice he has to make - behave civilly, or accept the result of not doing so - and make sure your husband backs you up 100% on this, else he will try to play one off against the other.

There really is no other way to handle it - appealing to reason will go nowhere!

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