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This is over the top - Page 7

post #121 of 205
Since this family does not, as far as I can tell, live close to you, please at least reach out to give someone in their home community a heads up to watch the situation. If not CPS, a school principal, a pastor (that would be a good source if available), the children's pediatrician... Someone who sees them on a regular basis. You don't have to say "the kids are abused", you can say "I saw some things that caused me concern while they were visiting and I'd breath easier if I knew someone were watching the situation in case things escalate."

Can you get them to take a parenting class in their home community? DH and I (and our kid's guardians) all did this when DS was little and it really helped us all be on the same page. In this family's case, it might help him see that there are alternatives and provide some good info on child development. Even if you lie and say you took such a class as it was so helpful, yadda yadda, would they maybe consider it?
post #122 of 205
Good for you blessed for calling! It is so frustrating that, as you predicted, the screener "screened out" the situation. Document, document, because the screener is the type of idiot who enables abusive situations to continue and ultimately end up in tragedy. I have personally gone over the head of the screeners to supervisors to press a case, and have been clear about documentation all around if I felt a kid was really in trouble. I almost always did this in conjunction with a kids pediatrician.

The abuse continues with a second potential "dunking"--mom seems unavailable to keep the kids safe. Please consider a call to the kids pedi for a heads up. It is far better to be safe than sorry, and you don't have to hold all of this knowledge yourself.

And again, the weight of this seems to be falling on you, which must just be so difficult.
post #123 of 205
I'm glad you called. If for no other reason than you don't have to feel guilty that you never called.

And I'm really glad that you stood up to BIL and told him NOT to dunk that poor kid. If it were me (and thank goodness its not) I would confront him and his wife about dunking and explain that it is DANGEROUS and MEAN and he better never do it again. I would tell him that if he were my husband and he did that to one of my kids, he would never see that child again, ever. I'm not saying this is the way to go, but I do think the point needs to be made to him one way or another. That's just what I would do with my hot temper and big mouth.
post #124 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
The abuse continues with a second potential "dunking"....
This is what jprompted me to call.

It was so disturbing. I didn't see the first dunking. On this occasion the boy purposefully tried to put pool water in his dad's drink, which was on the edge of the pool. Dad saw it, grabbed him and tried to push his head underwater. They were in shallow water that the boy could touch bottom on, so dad couldn't quite overcome the boy's push back, and he was able to slip out from under his hand. That's when I yelled to stop.

Dad grabbed the boy around the waist and held him tightly in anger. Everyone had stopped and all of us were staring at him. You could tell he was just fighting his anger and trying to keep control. The boy was trembling in fear and looking at his mother. He started saying 'Mama...mama...mama.." in this quivering, pleading voice. You could just see that this was a familiar situation for them.

Mom started talking to the boy, chiding him for what he'd done in this quiet, sensible voice that seemed like it was probably more for dad's benefit than anyones. Dad then shoved the boy out of the pool and told him to go sit in time out.

He went off and cried for several minutes. Then came over and stood very meekly in front of his dad. I was sitting nearby at this point or I couldn't have heard because he was talking so softly. He said that dad had hurt his feelings. Dad demanded loudly "Oh and how did I hurt YOUR feelings?" Boy said in this anguished voice 'because you tried to hurt me daddy'. Dad laughed and said 'you were mean to me, so I was mean to you.'

It's making me tearful to write this and I have company to tend to. More later.
post #125 of 205
Blessed I am so sorry you are having to bear witness to this abuse. I understand how hard it is to come to a decision to call CPS, only to have them tell you that if there is a protective parent in the home, they will do nothing.

I bet your SIL has played the scenario of leaving him out in her head and has also come away with the conclusion that noone would grant her custody over a husband that appears perfect in public. It's a hard, hard place to be and so very easy for people on the outside to say "just leave". I bet your SIL has weighed the risks of staying and being able to run interference for her children against the risk of leaving and possibly losing custody of her children and therefore being unable to protect them at all.

I think the best you can do is to take your SIL aside before she leaves and tell her that if she needs you, you are there. Any time, any place. Give her a key to your house. Tell her she is welcome to show up with kids in tow whenever, if ever, she needs to, no questions, no judgments. Then, I would write down notes about all the interactions you personally witnessed during the BIL stay with you. Put them in a safe place in case they are ever needed.
post #126 of 205
This is so sad. Maybe you could print out this thread and have your SIL read it.

I still think you need to talk about this and somehow let BIL know in no uncertain terms that everyone there thinks what he is doing is awful. Otherwise, he may just think that you are the weird one of the group and that everyone agrees with him and are just trying to be polite in your home.
post #127 of 205
Sorry, I don't agree with Blessed being responsible for telling the BIL that he is out of line. There are other adults present, and this kind of stress needs to be shared. On top of that, anything that feels confrontational to the dad may make the children less safe, as it may trigger in him a need for retaliation. He said it himself "You were mean to me, so I was mean to you". It's not a hidden agenda.

Blessed you are walking an exquisitely fine line here. I don't use the term vicarious traumatization lightly here-this is awful stuff, and you are managing, it seems, to be there for your family, advocate for for children at risk, and model your own values. Is anyone supporting you?
post #128 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
On top of that, anything that feels confrontational to the dad may make the children less safe, as it may trigger in him a need for retaliation..
I am worried about this.

Yesterday we had gone on a long steep hike, about a mile in and a mile back. Dad insisted that the 2 yo walk. Pretty soon he was exhausted, hungry, past his nap time, and was just melting down. Dad screamed in his face and threatened to spank him if he didn't go.

Other SIL (not his wife) and I went over and tried to pick him up. Dad wouldn't let us, saying that he was just 'trying to get his own way' and 'being stubborn'. Other SIL pointed out that her dh was carrying their 2 yo and said he would act the same way if they tried to make him walk. I told BIL that dd never could have made that hike at age 2, and in fact I was sure we'd be carrying her as well before too much longer.

Other SIL went over and tried to talk to SIL, who was on the verge of crying. She was agreeing that the baby was having a hard time because he'd missed his nap, etc, but stopped short of saying that it was wrong for her dh to expect him to walk (BIL was within hearing distance). At that point I just firmly said don't worry, I'll carry him, it's no big deal, he's upset, blah blah blah, picked up the 2 yo and walked away before BIL could really do anything. Of course the baby was exhausted and fell asleep in my arms before I'd gone 100 feet. All of the kids, including my 4.5 yo ended up needing to be carried by the time we finished.

Later on the trail BIL was criticizing everything that the 5 yo did, and ended up spanking him in front of a big crowd of people. Then when we stopped for lunch BIL got mad at 2 yo for getting out of his chair, swatted him, and dragged him over to a corner of the room. He made him stand in the corner with his nose pressed against the wall. Of course everyone in the restaurant was just horrifed.

I felt like he might have been being harder on the boys because of the way we had challenged his parenting earlier on. Like he was showing everyone that he was going to reinstate his role as dictator over the kids. It seemed almost like we'd actually made things worse for the kids.
post #129 of 205
I'm so sorry CPS was unwilling to help in this awful situation. I don't think they should have just taken the kids away, but court ordered anger management classes and such would be a good idea. Definitely let SIL know that if she is mostly staying for financial reasons, that she has a place in your home if she and the boys need it.
post #130 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Yesterday we had gone on a long steep hike, about a mile in and a mile back. Dad insisted that the 2 yo walk. Pretty soon he was exhausted, hungry, past his nap time, and was just melting down. Dad screamed in his face and threatened to spank him if he didn't go.

[snip]

Later on the trail BIL was criticizing everything that the 5 yo did, and ended up spanking him in front of a big crowd of people. Then when we stopped for lunch BIL got mad at 2 yo for getting out of his chair, swatted him, and dragged him over to a corner of the room. He made him stand in the corner with his nose pressed against the wall. Of course everyone in the restaurant was just horrifed.
So much for them not spanking...

This time though, I think everyone needs to take a little responsibility for the situation. I think everyone (MDC in general) here agrees that prevention is a large part of the battle with toddlers, yet your group took several small children on a strenous hike, during nap time, and then expected them to behave in a restaurant!?!?!?

One concrete, easy, non-confrontational thing you can do for the remainder of this event is to set up situations that the children can succeed in. This was bound to fail. Naps, meal schedules, healthy but child-friendly food, activities that are child-friendly (or two groups doing two activities) would seem key to everyone getting through your re-union with a minimum of problems.
post #131 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post


Later on the trail BIL was criticizing everything that the 5 yo did, and ended up spanking him in front of a big crowd of people. Then when we stopped for lunch BIL got mad at 2 yo for getting out of his chair, swatted him, and dragged him over to a corner of the room. He made him stand in the corner with his nose pressed against the wall. Of course everyone in the restaurant was just horrifed.

I felt like he might have been being harder on the boys because of the way we had challenged his parenting earlier on. Like he was showing everyone that he was going to reinstate his role as dictator over the kids. It seemed almost like we'd actually made things worse for the kids.
call CPS and pretend to be an anonymous person who saw a man hitting his child in a public place and then give them BIL's description and license plate number.
post #132 of 205
None of this behavior is illegal, or abnormal in our society. It is condoned and conventional parenting.

I too was that child.


Change happens slowly, from within.


I would step in and say "Please do not hit that child. Hitting hurts." I have. It makes a difference, to the child. Confrontation leads to escalation, ime. Connection leads to compassion. I always have the choice to choose the peaceful path.


Pat
post #133 of 205
Okay-trust your gut here. If you feel that BIL is feeling threatened, and showing his control by becoming increasingly abusive to the kids, get into safety mode. As pp said, activites that will be child-centered, low stress, etc. A routine that allows for periods of rest. It is sounding like BIL has the whole group terrorized, which is not surprising. Personally, I would watch the alcohol consumption-it could add fuel to the fire.

I don't know how long this get together is for, but you guys need a plan. The children are being abused in front of you. Mom is unable to prevent or stop the behavior. How many of you are there? You might think of getting your group together, getting really honest about what is happening, and together decide how you will manage the rest of the vacation together. Get together on the low stress piece, on the primary need for safety for the kids. It would be most helpful if everyone was together in their awarness of what is going on, and a plan for how to deal with it. Where are the men? Sorry to sound sexist, but where is another guy to say-hey buddy, you can't do that?

I get the sense that it would feel better if the family didn't end up leaving the gathering in crisis. I am not sure if you can prevent this, in fact I think it's beyond your control. Just like the 2 y/o being out of his element, stressed, etc., your BIL is in the same place. He may be slowly simmering to a boil because he is completely out of his element, he doesn't have total control and he is stressed. It's potentially dangerous. Know what you will do in advance when the situation reaches the boiling point-a plan is better than a reaction. For me, I would have called the police when the child was dunked under water. What is the end point for you and your family?

And know that someone needs to be told who is in a posistion to help these kids.

Oh, and be aware of how scary it is for children to see other children being abused, especially in a sadistic way, like standing in front of a group facing the wall. I don't know what the other children are seeing, but ptentially it's quite scary-adults are supposed to protect kids right? Are the children getting that mesasage?
post #134 of 205


I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. We have non-gentle family members (who really like the nose in the corner thing... : but nothing to this extent.

Please, no matter what else you do, record all you've seen. Journal it. Write it down. Date it. Include as much detail as you can.

It may be needed in the future.

-Angela
post #135 of 205
blessed, OMG, I'm so sorry you're having to witness this. I wish I had some good advice but I have no clue what to tell you to do. I hope you are getting some support for yourself - having to watch all of what you described would absolutley traumatize me, I'm sure.
post #136 of 205
Thread Starter 
The 2 yo was acting like a two year old - whiney, asking for things and then not wanting them. Dad took him off to bed and was yelling at him to 'shut up'. Then he slapped his face. Other SIL saw it happen (I was on the other side of the house putting dd down) and she went out to talk to SIL.

They had kind of a blow up, arguing in whispered voices. Other SIL was saying that it was inappropriate how BIL treated the boys and that she was concerned. SIL was saying how difficult the 2 yo is to cope with (he really is an exceptionally anxious and whiney child - gee, imagine that). SIL got kind of teary and said that she couldn't take care of him all the time, sometimes she had to turn him over to BIL because she just couldn't take any more.

The 2 yo was crying in the room (with dad), so SIL broke off to go get him at this point. She cuddled him and sang him to sleep.

Later I asked SIL if everything was okay. She was kind of defensive and said that when she went to get 2 yo he was snuggled in his dad's arms, and that of course everything was okay.

It's really hard. There's just never a good time to talk. There are always kids or spouses coming and going, lots of interruptions. And trying to get SIL alone is tough because that essentially leave the kids with dad. The ILs might be here too, but if dad is present, he's in charge.

But things seem to be slowly coming to a head of sorts.
post #137 of 205
Thread Starter 
Well, it turns out that I didn't quite have the story right last night.

It was actually 5 yo nephew that saw the incident with the 2 yo, not his mother. He then went and asked his mother, other SIL, about why BIL slapped the baby's face, which prompted her to go confront SIL. This morning SIL is saying that it never happened that way, and nephew isn't really mature or mentally with it enough that any of us are confident about what he says or what he saw. While none of us would doubt that BIL slapped the baby, nephew is sort of a fantastical thinker who likes to fabricate things, so if BIL/SIL are denying it we are probably stuck with that. Of course the baby doesn't have a mark on him.

I think that's unfortunate because it took some of wind out of the sails of the whole encounter between the SILs. BIL/SIL's stance is that nothing ever happened, so there's no issue. It's a lot harder to get them to step back and look at the broader picture now.
post #138 of 205
Can you send the guys out to do some guy things, for a whole day, like I don't know, just get them off for a few hours to have fun, play golf, whatever...., keep the women and kids together, and then find some time to offer SIL support? Get one of your husbands to rally the men to some kind of activity that gives you at least a few hours if not a whole day.

I think your SIL needs a break from him and some safe space if she wants to share without feeling intimidated or afraid.
post #139 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by felix23 View Post
She may be an oustanding mother, but she is watching her children be abused without defending them.
This is not an outstanding mother, she's not protecting her children! Take it from someone who was that baby & 5 year old child, let me tell you that the kids already know that their mother doesn't care enough to keep them safe, and that no one else does either. Those children will spend their lives watching other children be loved and treated as if they are special & precious people, while they themselves will always question what is wrong with them, why NO ONE cares what happens to them.

I often wonder how much different our lives would have been had someone in the extended family stepped in to protect us.

Blessed - you are showing your nephews that you care each time you step in. Letting them know they do matter. Please continue to protect those children, and understand that living in a household of fear, is no family life. Trust me when I tell you that even on days that everything seems to be going well, they're wondering when the ugly will start again & who/what will be the trigger
post #140 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by KBecks View Post
Can you send the guys out to do some guy things, for a whole day, like I don't know, just get them off for a few hours to have fun, play golf, whatever...., keep the women and kids together, and then find some time to offer SIL support? Get one of your husbands to rally the men to some kind of activity that gives you at least a few hours if not a whole day.

I think your SIL needs a break from him and some safe space if she wants to share without feeling intimidated or afraid.

I think this is a great idea.

Blessed, I am sorry if I seemed harsh in my last response. Good for you for intervening. That is really incredibly brave.

And thank you for calling the screener. That really just sucks that they screened it out. I really didn't think they would. I really don't think they would here.

But now you know, and you know you tried that route.

I want to echo everything that has been said wrt being a strong supportive witness for the nephews and for SIL. There has been much documentation of how that can help children living in traumatic environments.

I'm so sorry your family is witnessing this. How is your dd holding up? I know how sensitive she is.
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