PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) affect every aspect of family life.  Let’s be honest for
a moment here.  Let’s analyze “typical male behavior”.  Here are some completely
stereotypical examples of male behavior you might recognize from your own spouse:

  • You begin to think the ideal trash bin would have legs to walk it outside because he
    never takes it out.
  • The concept of a personal shopper/assistant is ideal because no matter WHAT you
    assign him to complete in one day, it NEVER happens.
  • He forgets your anniversary, birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. and is on
    a roll if he remembers more than one of these in a row.
  • You know you are talking but you’re pretty certain the walls are learning more than
    your spouse. (the 100 yard stare)
  • You are absolutely convinced he is incapable of removing the cardboard roll and
    putting a new roll of toilet paper on a spool, placing a sliver of soap in the trash and
    replacing it with a new bar, and/or rinsing out the sink after shaving, brushing his
    teeth, or washing his grimy “I just changed the oil on your car for the first time in a
    year” hands.

All of these typical stereotypes are ACTUALLY symptoms of PTSD and TBI!  Think about it:
forgetfulness, lack of intimacy, “zoning out”, and “distancing”.  So perhaps every man in
America should be examined.  C’mon, you’ve watched boys play and I might be onto
something here with the TBI connection!

Seriously, you need coping skills when it comes to parenting a PTSD/TBI family.  Here are
some real life, real world coping skills to help you sort through the chaos that has become
your daily routine.

  1. To prevent bills being paid late, set as much as possible on auto payments.  Most
    utility companies, mortgage companies, credit card companies, and even some
    landlords will take payments right out of your account ON payday so those critical
    bills don’t get missed.  Your credit score will thank you.
  2. Becoming a list maker makes you a task master!  Make lists.  Your spouse’s
    forgetfulness can be catching.  Put a magnetic pad on your fridge to make a grocery
    list as you empty things.  Have a memo board in an area of your home where
    everyone can see it and post lists of tasks from chores for the kids to where
    everyone belongs on any given day.  
  3. Keep a calendar in your car and when someone is doing something out of the
    ordinary, such as Jimmy going to camp for a week, write down what time to pick him
    up.  At the beginning of the week, set the alarm on your watch for 30 minutes ahead
    of time so Jimmy doesn’t think he’s been forgotten.
  4. Take time at the beginning of the week to go over your calendar and your lists and
    schedule things accordingly.  The 10 minutes you spend doing this will be priceless
    later this week.  While you’re at it, schedule yourself some “me time”.
  5. Set up a “slush fund” account.  This way when money “disappears” you have
    something to cover the immediate bills.  Make certain this money is NOT stored in a
    CD or long-term investment.  It must be liquid is a savings or checking account.  Try
    to make it so you wouldn’t be penalized for removing money before a certain date or
    need to maintain a high minimum balance.
  6. Find a reliable friend who lives nearby.  If you need groceries in a pinch and can’t
    leave home, call her before you call your spouse.  You may have just saved your
    brain cells and the dinner for 10 you’re preparing.
  7. Find an hourly drop in babysitter.  Many daycares offer this as an option to full time
    or part time care.  This is essential to giving you “me time” without relying on your
    spouse.  It’s also a nice perk if your 3 year old doesn’t have to attend your “women’s
    appointment” with you.
  8. Be sure to take the time to thank those who are helping you out.  An email thank you
    card is often found free at several websites (check out for some
    that have fun games too!).  Homemade goodies, an offer to babysit their kids, or
    even some tastefully “repurposed” gifts can mean to world to someone who is
    helping you.  Even just the words “thank you” can take you MILES.
  9. Find something to laugh about.  Whatever it is, when you cool down from what has
    happened, find something to laugh about.  When the car breaks down and
    everything goes to hell in a hand basket, let yourself laugh.  Don’t wait until later to
    find the humor in the situation.  Find it now.  Life will be much easier to handle if you
    find the laughter in the current moment.  And do me a favor…not just a little
    chuckle.  Make it a big belly laugh.  Your elevated blood pressure will drop, the
    impending migraine will recede, and it’s contagious!

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient.  If you would like to contact Heather directly, you can e-mail her at
Heather -at- or

If you would like to help us build this site and reach out to other Veterans, their spouses,
and children, please e-mail us at Info -at- or

Day-to-Day Skills for PTSD/TBI Households

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