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Question from K, November 17, 2017  (edited, names changed)

My 7 yr old grandson, James, has a father who continually bullies and berates him in front of others, and I believe the father’s treatment is causing James emotional harm.  While my grandson is intelligent, he fails to finish his class work and does poorly, but is not disruptive in class.

During a visit, I once gave James and his brother juice after they’d been playing hard. I stepped away for a minute and when I returned, Dad had both glasses in his hand and said “oh that must be good juice huh?” and proceeded to drink it in front them.

James was crying and pleading for him to stop, but Dad finished both of their juices while laughing. He then berated James for crying over it. Later, I tried to make light of the situation by saying Dad was just trying to be funny. The 8 1/2 yr old brother laughed and looked at me incredulously and said no, he was just being mean.

Please tell me I have nothing to worry about. If there is something here, what can I do? My heart is breaking for them. They have a 4 yr old daughter that will not hug or kiss daddy, and he makes her feel badly about that because his feelings are hurt. Incidentally, she does not show affection for her grandfathers either, and gets very anxious when there is another male around.  Her mother was very shy but with her Dad or her Grandpas.

Reply

This is indeed heartbreaking and concerning.  Take a deep breath.  My opinion is a strong “yes;” you have much to worry about.  Dad is a narcissist, and his treatment of his children is child abuse.  My sense is that his mistreatment will get worse over time, and become physically assaultive if it hasn’t already.  Your comment about the young daughter is especially worrisome given the likelihood of molestation.  What’s curious is you didn’t mention anything about the mother except that she was shy.  Why not?  What does she think?  Is she concerned about her children or too afraid to stand up to the father?  Does he abuse her too?

Sadly, I’ve been part of 5 situations exactly like this as a counselor or caseworker. This is the scenario:  one parent is a narcissist (mother or father) who abuses everyone and they all suffer mental health problems.  Next, the good parent or family members (like yourself) try to remove the children from the abuser’s care for their protection, and the abuser makes everyone’s life a living hell for several years.  This can be scary, and has sometimes required restraining orders.

This being said, there is reason for hope.  In each one of these 5 families, the parent or other family members were able to remove parental rights from the abuser and gain full custody of the children.  It took 3-5 years, and during that time the children and parent (family members) were more traumatized and all needed mental health treatment to cope.  After a 2-3 more years, the children and parent (family members) became closer and stronger and happier, and the narcissistic parent self-destructed—like literally self-destructed!  Of the 5 cases this meant one or more: addiction, unemployed, criminal charges, large financial loss.

Ask yourself these questions:  Are you up to this?  Can you involve other members in the extended family to help?  You’ll need help with court appearances, child care, appointments, and love and encouragement—positive family time together.  Are you willing to contact outside authorities repeatedly with your concerns until they listen?  These would be school counselors, teachers, principals, social workers, and possibly child abuse advocates and attorneys.

Take another deep breath.  Don’t panic.  Give yourself time to think.  Have hope, and receive many many blessings.

–Margaret


Question from TS, October 17, 2017

I have a daughter that stole a phone from a friend and took nude pictures and videos of herself and sent them to guys she does not know on the internet.  I told her she could have sent them to a sex offender and could be endangering the whole family and the neighbors. Then she started to get mad and throw things at me and became very mouthy, and we called the cops. She told the cops I hit her when I didn’t.  I was found not guilty but I still haven’t got my foster kids back. I was going for adoption, and now I have to write a letter saying what I would have done different, and I have tried everything for her.

Reply

This must be very frustrating for you.  I know other parents who were reported for abuse, including me by my own very angry daughter!  In another family I know, the daughter accused her father of sexual abuse when he called the police on her.  He too was found innocent, but it took 2 years and cost 1000’s of dollars in legal fees.

You meant the best for your daughter by warning her she was endangering everyone.  Us other parents got in trouble for the same thing–being good parents, but children like ours hurt us very much.  In fact, the parent they hurt most is the one they care about the most.

I can tell you this:  you have to stick it out and be the best person you can be.  Things can turn around.  I suggest writing the best letter you can.  Show the people working with your daughter (social workers?) that you are sincere and intend the best.  Caring parents lose it now and then, we scream and threaten because of our terrible stress.  This does not help the situation at all, but we must still try to be our best next time.

–Margaret


 

 

Parent to Parent Guidance

Parent to Parent Guidance

Margaret Puckette is a Certified Parent Support Provider, and assists parents on how to effectively raise their troubled child. She believes parents need realistic practical guidance for family life and school, not just information about disorders. Margaret has mentored families for over 20 years. She is an author & speaker, and knows from personal experience there is reason for hope.

You Can Handle This.

You Can Handle This.

You are not alone. It's no one's fault. Behavior disorders are disabilities! Troubled children need a very different parenting approach than 'normal' kids.

Care for yourself first, then set new goals:
1. Physical and emotional safety for all
2. Acceptance of the way things are
3. Family balance, meet the needs of all
4. One step at a time, one day at a time

Practical Guide for Parents

Practical Guide for Parents

A guide with practical steps for reducing stress at home and successfully raising a troubled child. You use the same proven techniques as mental health and other professionals. It starts by taking care of your wellbeing first, then taking an entirely different approach to parenting.
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