Emotional Abuse and Family Violence
Why Does He Pick on Our Little Boy?

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

I often hear battered women talk about the abuse they witness between their intimate partners and their minor children. Many of these women blame themselves for the ongoing emotional abuse that they observe. Itís as though the children cannot do anything right in their fatherís eyes. And the mother senses her partnerís jealousy...and faults herself for him feeling it.

Her claim is that if she only reassured him more of her love for him, then he would not pick on the child as much. My belief is that this thinking keeps her in a dangerous loop and is far from her truth, much less his.

Why the Ongoing Emotional Abuse, Anyway

The little boy cannot sit right at the dinner table. He holds his eating utensils improperly. He makes unnecessary noise when he chews his food. He does not chew his food long enough, or maybe he chews it too long.

His hair is a mess...and his t-shirt is stained with signs of earlier outdoor play. He talks too loudÖor too fast. He may even stutter. He knows whatever he does, or whatever he is in the moment, it will not be right in his fatherís eyes.

His mother takes him in as though he is perfect and well deserving of her unconditional love. As he gets this love from her, the ďpickingĒ begins...from father to son.

It appears to have more to do with the fatherís experience of the child receiving his motherís love unconditionally. There is an envy there that goes well beyond his outward jealously of the child having more of mommyís affections than he.

It feels more like an envy that this little child is getting what the father failed to receive as a little boy. The jealousy is over the unconditional love from the past, not in the present. And this is why the mother cannot impact her partnerís experience.

It is between the father and his memory of the mothering he received growing up. The vulnerability this grown man feels is triggered by the defenselessness he felt as a little boy at the mercy of his abusive parent. And this vulnerability in turn triggers his picking on his innocent vulnerable son.

Who Is Responsible for Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Abuse

The only person that can break this cycle of abuse between father and son is the father. The child certainly canít, and the mother is unable to control this dynamic, as well.

If you are at the dinner table with your abusive partner and catch him constantly picking on your child, see this dynamic for what it is. Itís probably not about you, or your relationship with your partner. It is also not about your little boy. More likely it is about the little boy that remains in your partnerís psyche today.

For information on breaking the cycle of domestic abuse in your relationship, visit www.domesticabusetreatment.com and find freedom from abuse. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Jeanne King, Ph.D. ó Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.