Posted by: Concerned Aunt | 2009/01/27

Worried about InLaws volatile marriage

Hi Doc, my brother and sister-in-law have a very volatile marriage. They' ve both had affairs, have split up a few times, but keep getting back together. They fight constantly and are verbally abusive to each other. Last week, my niece (11) phoned in tears, asking me to fetch her and her sister (6) because mom and dad were fighting and it became physical. I did fetch them and tried to not get too involved other than that (It' s come back to bite us on previous occasions).
My husband and I are very concerned for the children. They are clearly being traumatised by their parents'  behaviour. We' ve asked the parents to go for counselling, but they refuse. We don' t want to come across as judging them, but want them to get help for the sake of the kids. What can we do without estranging them?

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Our expert says:
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It is abusive for paents to fight in front of their children, and to refuse to accept their so obvious need for marriage counselling is not only stupid but damaging to their children. Maybe a discrete word to the Child Welfare authorities might bring pressure on them to stop acting more childishly than their children, and start learning how to be adults. Don't worry so much about estranging them ( a close relationship with them otherwise risks supporting their bad behaviours and worsenning the situation ) and concentrate on helping the children to get rescued from these two big kids squabbles

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