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How can I help my husband and daughter build a relationship and achieve peace in my home?

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  • StrawberryloonStrawberryloon Member Posts: 2
    My daughter, 17, is diagnosed with Oppositional defiance disorder and my husband displays strong Asperger syndrome symptoms. They fight constantly and find it impossible to relate to each other in a calm way. Our home is like a war zone. Both also have depression. How can I help them build a relationship and achieve peace in my home?
  • ParentingAdvisorParentingAdvisor Member Posts: 16
    I'm so glad you've contacted me. The good news is that there is a lot that you can do to improve the situation at home between your daughter and your husband.

    * Because your home situation is so stressful, you need to take care of yourself so that your own health and emotional state don't suffer. You need to arrange to spend time with people whose company you enjoy and who treat you well. You may feel too stressed or busy to schedule this, but with some careful thought and planning, it can be done. You also need to carve out a bit of time every day for yourself, even if it's only 20 minutes.

    * Self-help groups for family members dealing with Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Asperger Syndrome can be very helpful. These groups can break down the isolation you may be feeling, and they can help you with practical strategies.

    * Practise modelling calmness. Over time this is likely to rub off on the rest of your family, although of course there is no guarantee. But you will feel better anyway if you make the effort to stay calm on the outside even when you're feeling upset or agitated on the inside.

    * Even though your daughter at 17 may think of herself as an adult and may resist your authority, you need to establish clear rules that you follow through on consistently, even if your husband does not.

    * Make sure to spend some relaxed enjoyable time alone with your husband every day if possible, even if only for 20 or 30 minutes. You may feel too tired or too resentful to do this, but it is worth pushing yourself. It will improve your relationship with your husband and enable him, over time, to listen to your suggestions with a more open mind. It may even help with his depression.

    * Similarly, make sure to spend some time just with your daughter, every day if possible, doing something you both enjoy. As before, push yourself to do this even if on some days you don't feel like it. This special time together will gradually influence her to want to please you more and more, and it will improve her self-esteem. This will gradually reduce her oppositional reactions.

    * Descriptive Praise is a way of appreciating people that is much more effective than the usual superlatives such as "Well done, terrific, fantastic etc". With Descriptive Praise you will leave out the superlatives that your daughter probably doesn't believe anyway and you focus on noticing and mentioning the small things she does right, or even almost right. Descriptively Praise your daughter at least 10 times a day. It takes self-discipline on the part of any parent raising a teen with Oppositional Defiance Disorder to force yourself to praise when you are quite understandably exasperated. But Descriptive Praise is worth it because it will help her to feel better about herself and to behave better.

    * There is a lot more that I could say about the difficult situation you find yourself in. But I suggest that you start by putting the above recommendations into practice for at least a couple of weeks. You will start to see improvements at home. If you then post on this forum again, I will be glad to give you some additional ideas.


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