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Kristin, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 11+ years specialist in mental health. Expertise and insight!
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family dispute

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My brother in law snapped at my 12 year old son. In his words he was F**** ballistic because his 4 year old daughter saw my son's video game. My son said he was so scared he almost wet himself. He was unable to fall asleep at night for about a week and had trouble concentrating at school. He never wants to see this uncle again. I was upset about it. I cried a lot that I did not protect my son. My blood pressure went up to the point I had to be put on medication. I thought I would let my sister know that coming into my home and scaring my son was not appreciated. Now they are mad at me because I am upset. How do I move forward? My son says he is ok now but does not want to see his relatives again. The dispute is that my brother in law believes he told my son not to let her see the game (because it was violent) My son says he does not remember if he was told or not. Usually, if you ask him something and let him know how important it is he does not go against it.  I don't think the message got through the first time.

Hello and thank you for your question.


Do you know exactly what your brother in law said or did to your son? Also, is the first time he has been scared of your brother in law or have there been other incidents as well? I'm asking this because your son's reaction was quite severe with not being able to sleep etc and never wanting to see them again. So, I'm thinking maybe this either was not the first time or it was quite serious what did happen. Do you know the details and what does the Uncle and his wife say to you about what happened. Thank you for the additional info...

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He said to my son something like "give your head a shake she's only 4" in a very stern manner. My son equated that with him being called stupid. He stood over him and continued to talk to him in a raised voice about how "pissed off" he was. He paced back and forth and kept giving my son dirty looks until he shut the game off and left the room. He hid out (in his own home) from his uncle after that. I believe this was the first time he has spoken to my 12 year old like that. He had barked at my other son once before for not stopping my niece from stepping off the curb. My husband and I are gentle people. My kids are loving and sensitive. I don't think anyone has ever spoken to them like that before.
My sister agrees that her daughter should not have been exposed to the violent video game. I agree that in a perfect world there would be no violent video games. My 12 year old has one bad game in his collection. Knowing that other kids were around he adjusted the filters on the game so there was no blood or swearing. In his mind he was being responsible. He is in his own home playing a game that has been approved of by my husband and I. Maybe this is a bad parenting choice but I don't think the poor kid should have bore the brunt of it. My comment to my sister was that my 12 year old is not in charge of her 4 year old. I have decent children with good hearts and mean well. My son would not intentionally harm his cousin. He spent time playing games with her that weekend they were visiting. All 3 of my kids had to play school with her and mini hockey. To be F**** ballistic I would think my son was trying to murder her or something. Do you think people are allowed to "discipline" your kids in your home when they are doing something that you have approved of? I think he should have brought it to me first.

Okay thank you for the additional information.


I think that it would have been okay for the Uncle to simply have asked your son nicely to turn off the game, as the little girl might hear it or see it. I'm sure your son would have obliged that request. So, the Uncle did not need to talk to him in a stern tone and say insulting type things to him, etc. as I'm sure like you said, your son was trying to play his game responsibly. If you were also at home at that time, then the Uncle could have come to you first and that would have been better. If you weren't there, then he could have (as I mentioned) asked your son in a nice and respectful way to perhaps turn off the game or play another one.


I don't know if this is worth however, never seeing these relatives again, as it sounds like the kids might like being around one another and this isn't a regular occurrence. I would ask the Uncle to not speak to your kids in an aggressive way or discipline them, that is your role. And that if there is an issue in the future, to discuss it with you first and that you will handle the discipline of your own children. Please click ACCEPT button for this answer. Feel free to continue the discussion, even after clicking accept. Thank you.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I am still not sure how to move forward. They do not live in the same city. I am afraid if I phone my sister it I will just end up crying like an idiot. I cry when I am frustrated. I am not sure I can hold my composure during what will most likely be a very difficult conversation. I am happy with your response. I feel validated that my kids should not endure such harsh "discipline" from their Uncle in their own home, while I am there! My husband was working that day and was unaware of the incident until after they had left town.

I would probably let some time pass then, without having this conversation on the phone. It's not like they are going to be around your kids soon, as they are not in the same town. Or, you could also email and say, I just want to move past what happened, and put it behind us. I would ask however that Uncle simply just let me know if there is an issue with the kids, and I will handle it as I see appropriate towards my own kids.


And then let it go.... and hopefully it won't happen again. You could privately tell the uncle or your sister that your kids are not used to that kind of tone, and it scared them. so to just leave any issue that is about your kids, for you to manage. That's it!


You don't need to cry about this or get all stressed out. just communicate simply and firmly. email is good for this and then be done with it and move forward. all the best!

thank you