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Adult Son is a Verbal Bully - any ideas how to react?

(42 Posts)
AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 08:02:19

My son, 40, is, I've come to the conclusion, a verbal bully. He's married with a wife and family and he not only treats his wife with utter contempt, I'm suffering with his unkind and hurtful words as well.
Nothing I say is right and he constantly puts me down and tries to pick a fight. He twists every verbal situation to suit him and if I dare complain or stand up to him I'm told to "stop playing the victim card" etc.
Since the latest spat when I defended myself I've not heard a word. I live alone (a widow) and he lives ten minutes away. No offers of help re Corona self isolation etc, nothing at all. The previous time he tried this with me I didn't see or hear from him for almost a year, nor saw the grandchildren either.
I'm tired of making excuses (to myself) for his awful behaviour and I have to face up to what is happening. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

ArtySue Thu 26-Mar-20 08:13:42

Sorry, I don't know what to say but I don't want you to be alone in this so I'm sending a virtual hug.

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 08:16:17

Thanks Arty Sue 😀

Missfoodlove Thu 26-Mar-20 08:19:23

To have reached this conclusion must have been a long and painful journey.

You are right and must stick to your guns. I advise that you somehow try to maintain contact with his wife and your grandchildren but do not cave in.

Do you have other children and of so are they of the same opinion?
You need someone who knows your son to support you and perhaps speak to him.

Good luck.

Hetty58 Thu 26-Mar-20 08:34:38

Remember that you are not the cause of his behaviour. He obviously has issues.

Yes, as Missfoodlove says, keep in touch with his family - but refuse to be hurt by his remarks.

Your mother role is over (long ago) so he must work through his problems himself. (Let's hope he does.)

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 08:36:30

Missfoodlove, thank you. I have a daughter who lives hundreds of miles away but I know she won't stand up to him, despite feeling the same way. She won't rock the boat or interfere, and I have to respect that.

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 08:41:58

Hetty58 thank you. I've no idea what his issues are as he is more than financially secure with a fantastic career. He wants for absolutely nothing in the material sense. He has already had an affair with his wife's best friend, and felt no remorse about that either. His wife begged and pleaded to have him home again, forgave him, and is not prepared to stand up for herself as she fears he will leave her again.
Am I allowed to say that I don't actually like my son most of the time??!!

eazybee Thu 26-Mar-20 08:42:49

Do everything you can to maintain contact with your daughter in law and grandchildren and don't give up on them, but don't criticise your son to them.

I don't think he will change; there is an underlying contempt towards women which I recognise as he sounds exactly like my father in law; he liked to demean the females in his family as women's liberation threatened his imagined superiority. Something similar is happening with your son, but I don't think you can address it.

etheltbags1 Thu 26-Mar-20 08:50:27

I can relate to this post but cannot comment
Thinking of you x

sodapop Thu 26-Mar-20 08:52:56

I agree with Hetty your son is responsible for his own behaviour try to distance yourself from his comments. It's not easy AnnieOakley when our adult children are hurtful I sympathise with you. It's all too easy now we are all stuck at home to dwell on these things but try not to do that, you have done nothing wrong.

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 09:00:49

Easybee, thank you. I hadn't even considered your remark about contempt towards women, but you are absolutely right. Spot on!

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 09:01:25

Etheltbags, thank you

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 09:03:44

Soda pop, thank you. Yes, this isolation stuff brings everything to the fore, doesn't it. However, I so need to address this issue and I appreciate your help.

Hetty58 Thu 26-Mar-20 09:16:10

My eldest was entirely unlikeable for a while. He had a stressful, yet lucrative, sales job. He went on about how much he enjoyed it - and the money.

He'd arrive home wound up, loud, hyper-alert and bad tempered. He was verbally vicious to me and his siblings. He had no patience or empathy. We really didn't like him!

Of course, underneath all that bravado, he was deeply unhappy - but couldn't/wouldn't admit it.. He suddenly left the job and returned to study for a degree. It was just like he'd had a personality transplant. The old considerate, loving and thoughtful son returned. He told us he'd hated the job!

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 10:13:48

Hetty. I know he loves his job, so it's not that. I keep trying to find an excuse for his appalling behaviour, but I need to stop this and accept he is a bully. This hurts me deeply obviously as he's my son, but his actions and words are just too awful.

grannypiper Thu 26-Mar-20 10:54:33

I feel for you Annie, You will never change him, he sounds bloody awful. Personally i dont think he will ever learn until he has a virtual smack on the face. If i was you i would re write my will leaving his "share" to his children (40% each) and 20% to his wife on the condition she spends it on herself. I would leave a sentence for him in my will telling him the reason he is not getting a penny because he is a god awful bully. If he is never told he will never have the chance to change, it is the job of the parent to tell the truth no matter how old the offspring is

AnnieOaklea Thu 26-Mar-20 11:55:44

Grannypiper, I've told him he's a bully but his retort is "stop playing the victim". Whatever I say he twists it to suit him. I'm exhausted with it all. Thanks for your advice 😀

Welshwife Thu 26-Mar-20 11:59:35

granny piper I was going to write a very similar post myself.

Fennel Thu 26-Mar-20 12:01:08

Annie - very sad to have to admit this to yourself.
I agree with grannypiper.
I was going to suggest a technique I once tried with a verbally aggressive person, but it sounds too late now.
Each time he/she says some hurtful comment you look them in the eye and repeat their exact words right back to them. Persevere if necessary.
Keep a cool head when doing it.

Luckygirl Thu 26-Mar-20 12:12:09

I am sorry to hear this - you must be so disappointed in him. How painful for you. flowers

trisher Thu 26-Mar-20 12:21:14

Annie people often love the very thing which is bad for them. It may be that he is stressed but doesn't want to admit it. That said you can do very little about it, only hope. As well as repeating his words you could try doing "I'm sorry you think that" and then just walk away. Don't argue, don't interact, he obviously gets some kick out of denigrating people especially women. Maybe he hoped his affair would change things but he has finished up back with his wife and now behaves even worse than before. Good luck, stay strong and remember you are not the problem. One word about keeping in touch with your DIL always remember that he is controling her and if you seem some sort of threat he may force her to break contact. Be friendly but never criticise him.

Grannyjay Thu 26-Mar-20 12:30:33

Is he a narcissist because if he is you are going to lose the argument every time. My brother unfortunately is one and also misogynistic to and calls women loaves of bread, fresh but soon go stale. He has children all over the place but never has paid a penny in maintenance. He used to shout my mum down as she was a mere woman. Growing up with one helps in some ways as to how they work on people but THEY are never wrong, YOU are. They can be pretty nasty characters to you but to the people they need they are charming. He says he despises me to try and whip up an argument but I will not be intimidated and he hates it.

rosenoir Thu 26-Mar-20 12:46:17

Some people are just not nice people and being related does not mean you have to like them or have contact with them.

nanaK54 Thu 26-Mar-20 12:48:14

I have no advice but just wanted to say that I am so sorry that you are dealing with this and send some flowers
No help I know

Hithere Thu 26-Mar-20 12:50:04


If he starts verbally abusing you again, you can remove yourself from the situation or ask him to leave as you dont tolerate being treated like that

That is, if he apologizes for his behaviour before talking to you again.