My critical husband constantly ridicules my son – should I end our marriage?
1st January 2021

DEAR DEIDRE: MY husband calls my son a “sissy” and a “wimp” and is threatening to leave if I don’t back him up.

I’m 38 and my husband is 40 – he’s my son’s stepfather. We have all lived together since my son was ten. His real dad left when he was just a toddler.

He isn’t a bad lad, but my husband constantly picks him up on minor details. He ridicules the way my son looks at himself in the mirror, calls him “a dirty slob” if there is one sock on his bedroom floor and over-rules me constantly.

My son felt attacked by the way my husband spoke to him last night and he ended up in tears, even though he’s 16. It stems from my husband being very judgmental. He kept telling my son that if he was going to make something of his life he would need to sort out his attitude.

The trigger was that my son had forgotten to empty the dishwasher that day. My husband then turned on me. After working himself up, he said: “If you don’t start backing me up, I’m leaving.”

I’m at my wits’ end. It’s hard to back him up when he is so overbearing and over-reacts the whole time. I feel like me and my son are walking on eggshells the whole time. Is the only solution to separate us all and end my marriage?

DEIDRE SAYS: My guess is that your husband had a difficult relationship with his own father and now the pattern is re-forming where your son is concerned.

Shouting and name-calling are doing nothing to improve their relationship. Find a moment to insist that working through these issues as a family is the way forward – make sure this is a calm conversation.

You’ll find great support through the National Family Mediation service, (, 0300 4000 636).

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