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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5824
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am in desperate need of an answer! I have an adult

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Hello, I am in desperate need of an answer! I have an adult daughter who has been married to her childhood sweetheart for 14 years. They have 5 beautiful children, one is in heaven. She has always been an incredible mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Several months ago I started noitciing her behavior changing. The first thing I notice was that she was very short tempered with the children. I didn't think anything about it at first because it was when she started swearing at them, calling them names, and belittling them that I became really disturbed. Her children have always been her life! She would never allow them to even say the words shut up or stupid in the house. Now she was calling them bitches and other names I can't repeat. She lost a lot of weight even though she was already very thing. Her behavior has become increasingly strange and she has even put her children in danger. I'm running out of room to tell you the rest. Please help!!!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very odd for a person's behavior to outright change in such a drastic way without some type of trigger. Usually, the first step in a situation like this one is to have the person checked out thoroughly by their doctor. A medical checkup to rule out any possible disease or disorder that can cause a change in behavior is indicated. Medical should always be considered before mental health. Do you feel your daughter would be willing to go see her doctor?

If she is cleared medically, then there is either some life circumstance that has caused such a change, or it is personally within her that has caused her change in behavior. Is she willing to talk to a therapist? It is important that she does. She needs a full evaluation to determine what could be going on. Was the loss of her child recent? That could be one reason. Grief, especially with the loss of a child, can affect people in many different ways.

Has there been any other major change in her life recently? Has her husband had any problems? Could there be issues between them you are not aware of? Could drugs be involved? Answering some of these questions would help get to the bottom of the problem. Also, has anyone talked to her husband about what he has noticed? How he is acting is also a good indicator. Has his behavior changed as well, or is he just as confused by her behavior as everyone else is? If his behavior is different, it could indicate a problem between them.

Has anyone been able to take the kids for her to give her a break? You might try either taking the kids for a while or having someone else do it. Then spend some time with her and see what you can find out from her. Go with her to the doctor's if she will let you. Maybe offer to let your daughter and her husband get away for a few days and you keep the kids.

It is important that someone help the children as well. Depending on their ages, explain to them that their mom isn't feeling well and that you are trying to help. Let them express how they feel. If you feel that your daughter is verbally abusing them, you may need to speak to her husband and/or other family members who are involved to decide what to do. The last thing anyone wants is for the children to start developing problems because of what is going on.

If you have any further information that you can tell me, I will work with you to try to provide more input for you about this problem.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. Everything you've said we have also considered. This is so convoluted....She doesn't see anything wrong with her behavior which, in itself, is troublesome. She doesn't see the need to go to a doctor.

We did find out that she was having an affair with a man in the neighborhood which would explain a lot but it doesn't explain why she would turn on her precious children suddenly. As it turns out this man has a history with this sort of thing with other young women. He has taken pictures of the children in their bathing suits that, to me, are inappropriate. Further, we found out that he allegedly posed as a 16 year old girl in the internet and ultimately connected with an 18 year old friend of hers. As we are told, and we're not sure if this is true, he drugged her because she can't remember the whole evening. We are in the process of trying to find out if this is true.

Her child died the day before he was to be delivered back several years ago and I'm sure that there are residual affects from that!

Her husband is just as confused as any of us and has been trying to find ways to get her help. But he's been told that if she refuses to see anyone that there's not much he can do. And yes, he has issues of his own. He is so distraught over the fact that his wife is cheating but continues to believe that they "were just talking" as she tells him. He confides in the children about everything that goes on in regard to this affair. I have begged him to just let the children be children but he uses them as weapons just like their mother does. Their ages are 2, 7, 11, and 13. They are obviously traumatized because she has raised them to be totally dependent on her and now she has just abandoned them emotionally and physically! She goes out at night all the time and is staying out later and later. She is becoming more and more blatant about this man and has been seen around town with him but yet still maintains they are just talking - all night.

I have been a huge part of her life and the children's lives. She never allowed anyone to babysit them other than me. I have seen my grandchildren every day, several times a day since they were all born! I attend all their school events, doctor appointments, games, award ceremonies, recitals, etc. I have asked for them to get some kind of counseling but their mother refuses and their father doesn't want to make his wife any angrier. Every family member has tried helping but nothing!

How do we get her help if she doesn't want it. She allows this man near her 2 year old son while her husband is at work. My fear is that he is a pedophile! Please help!!


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Jan, thank you for the additional information.

It does sound like there is a lot going on in your daughter's life. If she is refusing to get help, then what your son in law was told is right. There is little you can do to force someone to get help, unless they threaten to hurt themselves or someone else. It is only then that they can be involuntarily committed. This is how the laws were set up to protect people from committing others for any reason except emergency related ones.

I think it's wonderful you are so involved with your grandchildren. You are a stabilizing force in their lives and they need it with all that is going on in their home. As I suggested before, talk with them and let them know you are there for them. Be careful to stick to being supportive. You don't want to say anything that their mother may feel is against her. Also allow the children to talk to you. They need someway to vent their feelings.

It would be ideal if the children could see a therapist. But if not, the support you and other family members offer will help. Children are resilient and if they have people to care for them and love them, they will respond to that support.

Contact the police and ask about the man your daughter is having the affair with. See if there is any way you can find out if he has a criminal history (most of this information is public). If he has ever been convicted of a crime, he may have a probation or parole officer, so you could also speak with them about your concerns. He may have been ordered to stay away from children if he has ever been convicted of a crime involving children. At the very least, let the police know you are concerned.

You could also contact your local Children and youth protection office. You do not have to tell them your name, but you could ask what you are allowed to do in this situation. They will be able to tell you how to handle this and protect the children.

Has your son in law considered leaving the situation and filing for custody of the children? He could talk with an attorney and let them know about his wife's behavior to see what kinds of actions he could take. I know this an extreme action, but if the children are being exposed to a possible pedophile and are being emotionally abused, your son in law needs to protect the kids at all cost.

It might also be a good idea to seek out counseling for yourself and anyone else involved. Counseling can help you cope with the stress of the situation and give you an outlet, as well as someone to help you see ways to handle this problem objectively. Consider it, especially if things continue the same or get worse. You can search for a therapist by looking on line at Maybe once your daughter sees you getting help, she may consider it as well.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Yes I am a stabilizing force in my grandchildren's lives when I'm allowed to be. In trying to find ways of helping her, she has taken my concern as interference and has kept the children from me. She is totally detached from everyone who has been closest to her and has set out to keep the children from them as well. She even seems to be detached from reality at times. The stories and lies keep getting bigger and bigger! She is blaming everyone else for what has happened.

As far as the man goes, we have done some investigating on him and have not found any criminal record. However, when I was able to see his Facebook page it was obvious that he was doing and saying the same things to several other women at the same time. He is new to the area so we are going to try and find more out about where he came from to see if there is anything there.

My son in law has become part of the problem, I'm afraid. He is so intent on keeping his marriage together at all costs that he is allowing her to do whatever she wants to do. She has been caught with this man several times yet he believes her when she tells him they weren't doing anything. As I said before, he tells the children way too much of what is going on and they are in constant turmoil over it. He will not listen to any of us who are trying to help. He has spoken to a lawyer but will never do anything other than that. My daughter brought this man to an event where her husband was being honored and still he did nothing. Her cold blooded attitude and extreme lack of any kind of empathy or sympathy is very alarming to me! It's so totally opposite from the way she has always been.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I am sorry to hear that. It sounds like you are doing every thing you can to help. It is a fine line you have to walk to still be able to help the kids, but it seems you are doing exactly what you need to do. Hopefully, your daughter will gain some insight into her problems sometime soon and get help.

Do you attend church? You can also turn to your pastor for help. They often can provide support when you have few options. Prayer is also a comfort, if you believe in God. Sometimes it is the only place to turn when things are difficult.

Hang in there. It is good that you are still reaching out for help and it's wonderful that you keep trying and not giving up. The kids will realize what you have done for them and it will help them.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I do believe in God and it's His strength and grace that gets me through the day. I pray continuously and I know that He is in control and He already knows the outcome. But it's hard to watch those precious little ones suffering and not be able to help them! Plus, I want my daughter back! We have always been so close and we shared everything!! One day we were looking at dresses for a renewal ceremony she was secretly planning for her husband in Aruba and the next day I was watching her abuse her husband and her children!
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

That is good. Belief will help you get through this. He will also help the kids. He already has by putting you in their lives!


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
One last question. Each time I have tried talking to her ends with her erupting in anger would it make sense to write her a letter? Thank you
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You can try that. It may or may not make a difference, you never know.The good side to writing a letter is that it would prevent her from blowing up in anger at you directly and shutting you out, and she may have more time to process what you say. She could always refer back to it too, if she finds the contents of the letter helpful. When you write it, use "I" statements. Try not to accuse, but instead offer help and assistance, at her discretion. Basically, tell her how important she is to you and offer to be there for her. Do not make it complicated or discuss any upsetting issues. If you try to do that, she may just become angry. Keep it simple, supportive and helpful. That may cut through some of her anger.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you I will try that.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You're welcome! I hope it all works out for you.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry I said that was the last question. How many more questions can I ask or how long is my "subscription"? Thank you, Jan
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

If you need information about your subscription, contact the Just Answer moderators. They should be able to help you with any questions you have regarding your rights and limitations as a JA customer.