Threats of havoc, how do I react?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Origami, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    So GFG17 is mad at his sister (age 20) because she had a conversation with his girlfriend while they were broken up a couple of weeks ago. Girlfriend told my daughter that difficult child had hit her on the back once when they were fighting. Daughter told difficult child to cut it out and work on his anger. So now difficult child is pulling out all the stops to get "revenge" on his sister for talking to the girlfriend and "getting in his business." He and girlfriend are back together, by the way. They've been dating off and on for two years. She's a lovely but naive girl who always takes him back although he is very jealous, controlling, etc. (when he's not being nice and charming).

    So for the last couple of days he's been threatening to do various things to his sister. He said he's going to put all her things (clothes, etc.) on the back porch or in the alley. They're currently in boxes in his closet, as she lives in a college dorm. I put everything in there because he doesn't even use the closet, but now he wants to put all her things outside.

    Then he said he was going to contact his sister's former boyfriend and tell him her new phone number and which guys she's been dating. She has been to court twice to get a restraining order against this jerk, who has been threatening and harassing her for a long time. She's had her phone number changed twice and has finally succeeded in no contact with him for over a month. This guy also calls, texts, and harasses anybody that he finds out she's been dating. Fortunately, the ex-boyfriend lives in another state, but that still won't stop him from possibly doing the stalking thing again if he gets her new phone number.

    I told difficult child to just stop it, don't be a jerk, and why can't he just let it go if he was upset with his sister. He said, "That' s not how it works, Mom. She's gonna pay for being a dumb ****. I'm not going to tell you everything I have planned because I can't afford for you to call the police." He still wants to join the military so wants to not jeopardize those plans.

    My daughter is relatively stable but has some issues herself, has been in therapy for over a year dealing with the toxic ex-boyfriend, and doesn't hold her anger very well with difficult child. She's the one with the rather superior attitude toward difficult child, so they've already got some negative history. They're my two youngest, so although can be very close and supportive to each other at times, they always have an underlying tension.

    Opinions, please? Should I just ignore difficult child and let him do whatever and let daughter deal with it? I don't know if he's serious or just popping off. But he's capable of doing some mean and stupid things. Should I warn my daughter that difficult child has something up his sleeve? Should I wait and see if he actually follows through with anything and just react as I see fit? I told him this morning that if he does anything hurtful or damages any property, I'll call the police. I considered even renting a storage unit for my daughter's things so he can't use that as a threat. Not really in the budget, but might be worth it.
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I say no. You could tell difficult child these kinds of things are going to come up throughout his life, and that now is a good time for him to learn how to understand his own reactions, and to learn a better way than revenge to cope with feelings of betrayal. Maybe help him see where the pain is coming from...that it isn't the specific thing his sister did, but that she's betrayed him, that is making him angry.

    And that betrayal piece...Maya Angelou writes that when someone tells us who they are?

    We need to believe them the first time.

    I think "no." If your son wants her things out of his closet, try to find somewhere else for them, but other than to help your son learn how to understand the hurt beneath the anger at his sister's betrayal, I would stay out of it.

    I think that was very good, for you to have done that.

  3. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    Origami -- I think SoC nailed it. I agree on all counts. Honesty matters. Safety matters. Bouondaries matter. Following through on boundaries (calling police, if necessary) matters. Ignoring threats never helps anyone -- not the threatener, not the threatened, not the bystanders (sometimes much harmful collateral damage can happen in unexpected ways).

    You've been doing a great job with implementing safe and sane boundaries -- finding your own voice and your own strength. You've got this, Origami!
  4. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Thanks, Cedar and HLM. I think he gets a kick out of talking tough, and he maintains this certain power by being unpredictable. I never know if he's going to follow through when he says things like this. For example, this morning he told me he had already put sister's things on the back porch. He said, "Don't believe me? Just look!" So I looked outside and there was nothing there. It's like a game with him. I guess maybe I have a little power too, since he doesn't know if I'll really call the police or not. I've called them twice in the past, though, so he knows I'm not afraid to.

    I really think he makes up ways to mess with people just because he's bored (and mean). He was saying bad things (name calling) about his sister this afternoon while in the kitchen with me, and I asked him to stop because I didn't want to hear it. Then I decided to help him out of his boredom by giving him some cleaning chores to do, which he surprisingly agreed to. He's also going to help me with grocery shopping this afternoon. Maybe if he was busier he wouldn't dwell on stupid things so much. He's driving me crazy since he quit his job.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oragami...he does not sound stable. He hit his girlfriend?

    I'm not going to give my normal advice because you are not ready. I do think it is a good idea to warn your daughter because people who "get revenge" can be dangerous. She probably needs to learn to leave him alone, not because she does wrong things, but because he is a loose cannon.

    It may help your entire family if you could all get into therapy. The dynamics are threatening to all and maybe a professional can get you working on things in the most constructive, realistic way. I do not think we, as posters, or yourselves, as parents, can handle this without professional help. So going to somebody with lots of knowledge is my suggestion. If your entire family refuses to go, which is common in dysfunctional families, YOU can still go and lay it all out and ask this professional what he thinks you should do. I recommend a psychologist, probably a woman (I really favor females as therapists). Do not try to do this yourself. It is too stressful and frankly you, and the rest of us, do not have the knowledge to know how to handle so many complicated relationships. Your son is a troubled young man and you don't know what he may or may do one day without help. You're right...he is mean. My son was mean too and he eventually followed through with his threats. I think this warrants outside support.

    I"m so sorry,

    Hugs and hope for the best. Hope you see that psychologist :)
  6. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    difficult child already sees a psychologist once a week, who he's been with for over almost two years. My husband and I have met with her before, also, but it's been quite a while. The last time we met with her as a family, difficult child walked out because he was upset at what was being discussed (ie his behavior). I think we should schedule an appointment with her soon to revisit some of these issues, though.

    You're right, MWM, loose cannon is a good description. It's the need for revenge that worries me, since to me that's the mark of someone who isn't thinking clearly or rationally. He's been better this afternoon and stopped talking like that, but I still don't know what he's up to.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hon, have you ever thought of therapy for yourself? Just you?
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I would remind him that it was his girlfriend who offered up the information to your daughter and because of that she was drawn into the situation. I would also have a talk with the girlfriend about what she said and if it's true that he hit her, she needs to be prepared if it happens again to call the police herself. You might also consider speaking with her parents. If it were my daughter and someone had knowledge that she was being hit and didn't tell me I would be very upset. Domestic violence should never be tolerated.

    To this, I would tell him you have already made threats and because of that I could call the police now to just to make sure it's documented, that way IF anything happens to your daughter or her belongings guess who they will look for first. If he really wants to join the military I would check to see if you can sign him up now at 17.

    You, your daughter and your home's safety come first.

    I agree with MWM about going to therapy. Since your difficult child has been going for two years and you are not seeing positive results, it may be time to find someone new that can offer a different perspective.

    Hoping you have a peaceful outcome.
  9. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Thanks, Tanya. I have talked to his girlfriend, who now says he pushed her a little and she told my daughter because she was mad at him. So I'm not sure of the extent of whatever happened. difficult child said that he knows he'd be immediately disqualified from military service if he had any kind of domestic abuse complaint or charge. I'm also acquainted with the girlfriend's mother, who is aware of the situation.

    I talked to difficult child's therapist yesterday, and she said they had spent most of their session talking about his issue with his sister and his need for revenge. She said they worked on finding some different strategies for him to deal with things when he feels upset or disrespected in some way and he agreed that he probably shouldn't continue in full revenge mode. Whether he can follow through on this idea remains to be seen.

    I wouldn't say I'm not seeing positive results from his therapy. He was actually much worse when he started, believe it or not! This is the third therapist he's seen, and the only one he would even talk to.
  10. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    This is exactly why I never had more children. Me and my brother had/have a very toxic relationship and I feel he is more loved and respected than I am, even though I am older and never did the things that he has done. He has been the bane of my existence since the day he has been born, all the way up into my 30's. When we were kids, we fought all the time. I never felt love for him, although, I remember I use to protect him all the time if a bully try to hurt him or something. Other than that, I couldn't stand him and he felt the same way about me. Anyway, because of that, and the millions of other stories that I hear all the time about sibling rivalry (only rarely do siblings get along and actually make each other happy, truly happy), is the reason I never had more kids. I never wanted my daughter to feel that way.

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand. My brother (he is very handsome and girls fall all over him) girlfriends also use to come to me when they were desperate enough to ask me what's going on ," is he cheating, he hit me, blah, blah, blah" and I totally crossed my boundaries a lot of times because I had so much anger towards him. I would talk sh*t about my own brother to his own girlfriends, A LOT. It wasn't until many years later, that even though I was justified in being angry at him for things he has done to me, however, that is no excuse for doing what I did to him. It's a boundary I should have never crossed, because actually it just brings me down too. I learned (at least for me) you never talk to your siblings romantic partners about them. That is a boundary one shouldn't cross. I actually feel very guilty for all the times I did that to my brother, even though I don't like him very much. I think this is the second time that I have agreed with your son so far, the other time was thanksgiving dinner. I think his anger is justified to be quite honest and maybe he wouldn't be so angry if you validated his feelings when he is in the right. I can tell you, being experienced in this situation, that your daughter was in the wrong , just as I was in the wrong. Think about it, how would you feel if one of your siblings did that to you Orgami? Would you like it if your brother or sister (who you have a rocky relationship with) talked to your husband behind your back about you or whatever the situation is at the time?

    Even if your daughter didn't talk smack about him, she should not have talk to her period, no matter how innocent her intentions might have been at the time. She is in the wrong, wrong, wrong (because look at all the damage it's doing). Not your son.

    One way for you to handle it is, tell him you are going to call your daughter and tell her it was wrong for her to do that and do it in front of him. Maybe that's all he needs to hear and see you do.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  11. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    One more thing I forgot to ask, did you think what your daughter did was wrong, and if so, did you tell her so? Did you tell your son that you thought she was wrong? Your daughter should have stopped girlfriend and said "No, I will not talk to you about your personal business with my brother. Talk to your friends, parents, whoever, but it would be a conflict of interest to speak to me about it. Thank you". I totally agree with your son being mad and I feel his feelings are not justified in his own family. You said it yourself that you think it was really stupid. It's not stupid when it's happening to you. His feelings are just important as anyone else's.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, there is no excuse for violence or threats of violence (which is a form of violence) no matter what the situation. Again, and this is just my opinion, there is no way to stop your kid, or spouse, or aunt or grandma from talking to anyone. Offering advice to a grown child often leads to more anger. People will talk. If you don't want that to happen, don't shove your girlfriend. That is also a form of violence. He knows it. Hopefully he learned from it.

    I think natural consequences work better for grown children than getting involved in their spats and taking sides. It prolongs the problem and doesn't solve it. I mean, we can speak our minds. Once and not with judgment, a tricky combination but it is actually possible. In general our grown kids don't appreciate meddlesome parents and run from parents who get too overly involved in their personal lives.

    I think Oragami handled it really well, it's done, and if I were her I would not bring it up again. JMO.
  13. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Sorry, love you MWM, but I completely disagree with you on this one. "In my opinion, there is no excuse for violence or threats of violence (which is a form of violence) no matter what the situation". We are not robots MWM, we are all humans. I'm sure you've done it, I done it, we all done it. Did he follow through on any of those threats? No he did not. Just because he said those things in reaction, doesn't automatically cast him into being 100% wrong with no way out. We all say and do things when we are angry, especially since our feelings are not being validated.

    About the shoving, no one knows the full truth about his girlfriend, only he and his girlfriend do. However, the last person that should be talking to girlfriend about it is the sister of the person who hit her (if that's indeed what happened). I was just pointing out that her son was technically right about sister medalling in with his personal business and relationships, you just said it yourself. It already seems Orgami is taking sides. So, I was pointing out to Orgami that it was a boundary that sister shouldn't have been crossed, so if she is going to be upset, be mad at daughter, not at son. He didn't do anything wrong in this situation and no one backs him up when he is right. You don't have to get involved in sibbling disputes, but you do have a duty as a parent to draw the line somewhere. You and I agreed on that on Orgamis thanksgiving thread.
  14. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Good debate, ladies, and I tend to agree with both points of view.

    As per MWM, I have stepped out of the situation now and feel like it has been discussed enough. I won't approach it again. difficult child is still mad at his sister, but seems to have taken his therapist's and my advice to try to not escalate anything. Sister came over last night for dinner, and he told me to let him know if she was coming so he could stay away from her and not have the opportunity for an argument. He stayed in his room and avoided her. I asked if he was sure he didn't want to come out with us (we were having a birthday dinner for my daughter-in-law) and he said no, he wasn't upset, but he didn't want to see his sister right then. He usually doesn't eat at the table with us, so it wasn't that unusual.

    GuideMe, maybe I didn't explain fully that I did talk to difficult child and let him know that I understand his anger and that I and his father agree that his sister can be meddlesome and harsh. In fact, sometimes I think she should receive a difficult child label also! She tends to see herself as better than everyone else (especially her little brother) and tries to "fix" things by injecting her worldly wisdom where it's not wanted. She does this with me and my husband, also, and gives us parenting advice. (really!) So difficult child does know, I think, that his father and I are on his side as far as understanding why he gets upset with her, but not on his side when it comes to him lashing out, taking "revenge" in hurtful ways, etc. I've tried not to "take sides" per se, but I think it's a situational thing of who's right and who's wrong at any given time.

    Just writing this last bit makes me feel like I'm a bit too entrenched in this drama and I need to stay out of it at this point. Which I had already decided, but am verifying this as the best attitude.

    As for the pushing, shoving, or whatever it was, difficult child claims it was an isolated incident and he and girlfriend have talked about it and put it behind them (he won't do it again, etc. "he says").
  15. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    I really know what you are going through. I just feel, from the previous post about the siblings at thanksgiving dinner, you told him how to react if he is attacked by going to his room (which we all thought he was being punished for something he didn't do) but you didn't mention (in the original post) how you were going tell the other siblings not to say anything to him. I can't remember the rest of the thread at all, so I apologize. I guess I carried all of that over to this question and believe me, I am not siding with your son. He needs to learn how to react better, no doubt about it! I get that, I really, really do. It's so hard to know anything when we can't really see what's going on, ya know?