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This is over the top - Page 9

post #161 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Oh good god.

I've been completely consistent throughout the entire thread. I said that the children were being abused "by my standard and everyone else's on MDC, but not under the eyes of the law" before the CPS call. I said "It's not that any of us feel that these kids aren't suffering from certain types of abuse. We all agree that they are. But it was patently obvious to me that CPS would never consider this type of stuff as worthy of their attention" after the CPS call.

I still say that (and the CPS worker confirmed) dunking for punishment is called IN THE EYES OF THE LAW 'dunking', and is not against the law unless the child's life is in danger.

I never said, and still don't say, that it is right, tolerable, justifiable or anything else. I just don't have my head in magical thinking land where I believe I have powers that I don't really possess.The CPS screener didn't know what county this guys lives in when she decided not to investigate. You're the one that's in denial, sierra. This guy is simply not breaking the law.

When you originally posted the pool incident you did not make it seem like a dunking, you said he held him under the water until he came up choking and crying. Of course cps isn't going to do anything if you said he was dunked, but if you tell them that twice he has attempted to punish the child by holding his head under the water, I'm would be surprised if they didn't consider that abuse. When you called did you mention that they have already been investigated by cps before?
post #162 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by felix23 View Post
When you originally posted the pool incident you did not make it seem like a dunking, you said he held him under the water until he came up choking and crying. Of course cps isn't going to do anything if you said he was dunked, but if you tell them that twice he has attempted to punish the child by holding his head under the water, I'm would be surprised if they didn't consider that abuse. When you called did you mention that they have already been investigated by cps before?
Here's my original description of the incident:
Yesterday he didn't like the 5 yo splashing in the pool and ordered him to come over to him in the shallow end. The boy was tearful and trembling, saying he was afraid to come over. He ordered him to come and the child reluctantly did. When he got within reach BIL grabbed him and dunked him underwater, holding him there until he came up choking and crying. Then he ordered him out of the pool. Here's my description to the CPS worker:
I described to the screener how he had commanded the child to come to him. The child was shaking and crying with fear. When he got there dad pushed him under the water for a few seconds, and the boy was choking and crying when he came up. I told her that I had seen him do this on more than one occasion. Trust me, I left nothing out.

Also, you can see for yourself that my description of the event never changed from the beginning of the thread to the end. So you are wrong that I 'didn't make it seem' like what it was. I've been completely consistent.
post #163 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Oh good god.

I've been completely consistent throughout the entire thread. I said that the children were being abused "by my standard and everyone else's on MDC, but not under the eyes of the law" before the CPS call. I said "It's not that any of us feel that these kids aren't suffering from certain types of abuse. We all agree that they are. But it was patently obvious to me that CPS would never consider this type of stuff as worthy of their attention" after the CPS call.
Blessed, you have been less consistent than that. You would say things about what a wonderful father he is, and that he just is not into gentle discipline. Those were your words. They take abuse and frame it in the context of discipline style. Abuse isn't discipline. It is just abuse. You seemed on one hand to be in agreement that it was abuse, but on the other hand-- as would be the case with denial-- you seemed on some level not to be able to face that (that's where all the "he's a great dad, just a little rough and strict" type talk came in).

Whatever the case, if you treat abuse as a family dynamic that simply needs to be dealt with as such, I do think that is one sign of denial. Usually abuse can't be treated as just one more family dynamic. It has a very unique cycle and pattern and generally requires a greater level and different kind of intervention, not always-- but often-- outside help.

Quote:
I still say that (and the CPS worker confirmed) dunking for punishment is called IN THE EYES OF THE LAW 'dunking', and is not against the law unless the child's life is in danger.
Generally there are state specific regulations that determine what will be identified as abuse. As you mention, for example, many states require that marks are left after 30 minutes if a child has been beaten or hit. However, most states do take into account cumulative information, and also, sometimes screeners upon request will take into account detrimental emotional effects and will be willing to start a lower level intervention for an ongoing pattern such as mentioned here. I still think you need to make sure his own county is aware of the things going on in the home, if you have not already. I stick by my recommendation.

Quote:
I never said, and still don't say, that it is right, tolerable, justifiable or anything else. I just don't have my head in magical thinking land where I believe I have powers that I don't really possess.
Nor do I. Look, I am a reasonable person who has reported very real abuse. Some of that was screened in, some screened out, but I was always thanked for reporting, especially when there had been prior investigations but more information was needed.

I have had enough foster children in my home to know the horrors some of them endured before a CPS worker began to even investigate (let alone provide family supports, anger mangagement classes, etc....and then finally, when all else failed, remove the child from the abusive parents care while the parent was given opportunity and additional resources to correct the situation).

Quote:
The CPS screener didn't know what county this guys lives in when she decided not to investigate.
That's really my point. If you are calling your BIL's home county, and they know it is his home county, and they know there is a possibility of prior CPS involvement, they will most likely look for prior investigations before making a decision.

Without that information they are more likely to screen the call out.

Quote:
If you You're the one that's in denial, sierra.
Okay.

You can hurl that at me like it is an insult, Blessed, but it isn't insulting. Denial is a normal and necessary human response to witnessing something abhorent.

The neurological system can't take in lots of overwhelming stimuli at once, so it has to process it slowly. Denial is a function of that. It isn't bad. It just is. It would be surprising if you had witnessed the things you witnessed without any denial.

And likewise, watching this thread develop has been difficult for reasons similar/related (though clearly diffused) to reasons it is hard for you to watch what is going on in your family. It is hard to watch something abhorent going on and to feel so powerless and desperate. Not being able to help, at times because you push us away and even retaliate against/fight our best suggestions is hard work.

We do it because we care. All of us, you because you care about your family-- your precious nephews in particular-- and us because we care about children in general and can't stand the thought of any child suffering.

Denial makes sense. It isn't an insult.
post #164 of 205
Blessed.

I believe you have been consistent, and your really trying to do good with a bad situation. Just keep doing your best.
post #165 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
You would say things about what a wonderful father he is, and that he just is not into gentle discipline..
Show me where I contradict this. He is a wonderful father. His kids adore him. He spends more direct, one on one time with his kids than any father I've ever seen. He has way more interest in spending time with his kids than dh ever has.

He cuddles them, sings to them, plays with them, teaches them, feeds them, bathes them, laughs with them. He spends virtually every moment of his free time with his kids. He's a great dad.

A great dad who's dealing with anger problem.

Those things are not mutually exclusive.

And I never once said "he just is not into gentle discipline". I said that he was abusive by my standards and yours. But not by the justice systems. And that I could not have the man arrested for not believing in gentle discipline.
post #166 of 205
Thread Starter 
Things are winding down; tomorrow is departure day. There haven't been any major blow ups, but just the more minor yells, arm jerks, mean tempered time outs.

Interestingly, and disturbingly, I've noticed a counter effect in which BILs modeling of his aggressive parenting actually seems to be affecting how the rest of us parent. For instance, grandfather has always been a gentle parent - he was beaten as a child and vowed never to raise his children with the kind of abuse he saw. Yet, yesterday he angrily yelled at 5 yo nephew and pulled him roughly toward him. None of us had seen him act that way before. Dh took him aside and talked to him. He was very contrite, very apologetic, almost surprised at his own behavior.

The gentle ILs also have been raising their voices, speaking with impatience and exasperation. Not a big thing, but different than their usual.

Dh made dd cry by telling her that she was acting like a baby. Not his style, usually. She spent the rest of the afternoon in a crying jag, such as she hasn't done since she was a toddler. Nothing would soothe her. She kept saying "I want to go home", but of course she was home. I asked her 'do you mean our quiet home with just you and me and daddy?' and she sobbed 'yes'.

I'm ready to have our house back.
post #167 of 205
Quote:
His kids adore him.
Except when they're acting out their anger towards him for the way he treats them in a passive-aggressive manner such as this...

Quote:
the 5yo put pool water in his dad's drink. It wasn't done as a joke, or in play. He was quietly sneeking and doing it, and just happened to be caught.
It's all well and good to say this is a father who is struggling with anger (in fact I'm sure there are many people who would find your caring level of forgiveness towards him noble) and that these kids are acting "weird," but what's going on there isn't weird, it's a wounded child acting out his anger with what little resources he has... And it's heartbreaking to read about...

It's such a shame that no one in the family, besides the OP, is willing to "rock the boat" and maybe step on some toes and call "Father Knows Best" out on his clearly abusive behavior...
post #168 of 205
Quote:
Show me where I contradict this. He is a wonderful father. His kids adore him. He spends more direct, one on one time with his kids than any father I've ever seen. He has way more interest in spending time with his kids than dh ever has.

He cuddles them, sings to them, plays with them, teaches them, feeds them, bathes them, laughs with them. He spends virtually every moment of his free time with his kids. He's a great dad.

A great dad who's dealing with anger problem.

Those things are not mutually exclusive
.

Blessed, I have been following this thread and I have a lot of respect for how you have handled the situation. I disagree with you that he is a wonderful father. Maybe a "good enough" father, maybe not even that. He is consistently being abusive to his kids. It's this consistency, and the effect this must inevitably have on his children, that puts him out of the running for "wonderful father" category, imo.

If I was in your shoes, I would find it extremely hard to remember the awfulness of the moments of abuse when faced with the abundance of "happy" times.

I'm so glad the house will be yours again soon.
post #169 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Yes, they saw a father dunk his kid because he was frustrated that he wouldn't listen while playing in the pool. It wasn't water torture. It wasn't child abuse. It was pushing his head underwater and holding him for a few seconds. That's called dunking and every swimmer I've ever known has been dunked.

.
No it's not dunking, it's not play, it's horrendous. That was inexcusable. That was a father who is holding his child's head under water to teach him a lesson. I truly do not understand why you are defending this man. I feel so badly for those poor kids. That dad needs help. And if he won't seek it voluntarily then it is up to a family member to contact CPS so that he can at least get some anger management counseling and parenting classes. You speak of CPS as if it's certain that the children will be removed. You don't know that for sure. CPS in a lot of states is centered around family preservation and they utilize counseling as a first approach. In the end, your BIL has a serious problem and he needs to seek help. Voluntarily or otherwise it has got to happen before he kills one of those kids.

PS wanted to add that I just read that you called CPS and they refused the case. Unbelievable. Bad. Bad. Bad. I'm in shock. truly. I so hope that somehow someday that man gets help.
post #170 of 205
Blessed,

I'm not going through the whole thread.... But please PLEASE explain to me how it is possible to be "a great dad" and do things like dunk your child under water out of anger (not out of play). And how you can be a "great dad" but.... ya know occasionally throw things at your infant. This is not a rhetorical question. I would really like you to explain this to me.
post #171 of 205
Thread Starter 
We had a really great night last night.

BIL and I were talking on the back patio while the kids played in the yard. It was nonstop gentle modeling because both dd and his kids kept coming up to me, wanting to share some story, or asking me to watch something, the way kids do when they play.

At one point 5 yo nephew was at our table talking to me, then turned to run over and 'rescue' dd, calling out "There's no need to fear! Underdog is...". Just then his foot got caught in the cord to the sun umbrella and he pulled the entire table over - wine glasses, empty food plates, everything.

This was clearly the type of thing that would inspire BIL to go completely nutso. Whether it was a complete accident or not would have nothing to do with it. Poor nephew got up and turned to face us, his expression just wretched, just terrified. He moaned "I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to..."

Before BIL could react I laughed out loud and said "Of COURSE you didn't mean to, sweetheart!" I jumped up laughing and started picking up the mess, saying "I think we do have need to fear. Are you sure you're Underdog? Maybe we ought to be rescuing you!" Everyone just started laughing, including BIL and nephew. We cleaned up and the kids went back to playing, with nephew practically euphoric with relief.

Then later we all went swimming in the pool. We just got the pool last week. But because dd trusts me and dh, she lets us teach her things, and she has made huge gains in her swimming. So while all the kids started out at about the same level at the first of the week, dd can now swim long distances underwater, do flips underwater, and dive to the bottom of the pool for objects.

Nephew is still afraid to put his head underwater and so hasn't gained much this week. BIL had been working with him all week, but military style, forcing him, scaring him, shaming him, so forth, so it hadn't really worked. Last night I worked with nephew while BIL just watched. Once nephew figured out that I was good to my word - when I tell him we'll only go under for one second, I mean it; when I tell him I'll come up as soon as he tugs my arm, I do - then he just started to blossom.

Pretty soon nephew was proudly showing his new skills off for his parents, and SIL was out there with the camcorder. I elicited BIL to join us, making him the official 'counter' and 'referee' as we played a game about staying under the water to a certain time, or seeing who could go with me to the bottom of the pool.

Then BIL wanted nephew to do some of the games with him. I really think he was envious. He could see how much fun nephew was having with me, and also how much dd florished under our gentle guidance. He wanted to be a part of that. At first nephew refused, and I think that struck a chord with BIL. All of the kids loved working with their parents above all else, and he couldn't get his oldest son to even come over to him.

I just kept including BIL in our games until he was more or less a part of the action. For instance, I made a rule that the kids had to hold onto their parents' elbows to stay under water while they played Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. BIL was careful to not betray nephews trust. It grew from there and pretty soon we were all diving together, with the kids holding onto the parents shoulders.

So we went through the entire evening without any yelling or shaming or time outs or hitting. We had so much fun, BIL most of all, I think.

In a way I wish they lived closer so we could continue modeling for them. In a way I'm relieved that they live far enough away that we aren't regularly exposed to their parenting.
post #172 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
In a way I'm relieved that they live far enough away that we aren't regularly exposed to their parenting.
So, you and your family have basically chickened out and failed to have a direct, frank discussion with both BIL and SIL?

I really, really think someone needs to say, "BIL, you are abusive to your kids, and your water punishments could end up killing one of them. It's not OK to continually terrorize and shame children the way you do." And it's essential that someone take SIL aside and say, "SIL, we are all very worried about your children's safety. BIL is abusive to them. We've got to find a way to stop him from abusing them. We are here to help you."

WHY aren't you (or someone else in the family) doing this???

You need to be strong for those poor children. Someone has to be courageous and risk raising hackles in order to have a much-needed confrontation with BIL and SIL.

Please intervene. Please do something more than just modeling gentle parenting. That's not going to be enough to help these children. One good day at your pool is not going to be enough to erase a lifetime of abuse.
post #173 of 205
Rayo de sol-Ouch! How about a little gentleness here too?

I haven't followed every step of this thread/argument but I really think that relocating the children and bullying an adult is not the way to increase gentleness. It seems to me that he's had a couple frank conversations, some examples to follow and that he was already aware that he wasn't doing things the way he wanted to. I imagine back on his own turf he will either work more freely to change things or simply revert to his old ways. Time will tell.

Blessed- Sorry you got so beat up trying to talk about your situation. Hope he is able to work things out for himself so that it doesn't get worse.
post #174 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post
WHY aren't you (or someone else in the family) doing this???
Pretty simple, really. Because we choose to do things which help rather than make everything worse.

I imagine you think that BIL's reaction to telling him he's abusing and killing his children would be to pause thoughtfully and say "By god, I hadn't thought of it that way! Thanks for your honesty. Come children, let us bond!"

Yeah.

No.

We'd just never see the kids again. He'd feel isolated, angry and persecuted. Since he never practices physical abuse which meets legal criteria, our hands would remain tied and the children would simply be more alone in their sadness.

Gosh, if only life were a 30 minute sitcom. Then we'd all know what to do.
post #175 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post

I really, really think someone needs to say, "BIL, you are abusive to your kids, and your water punishments could end up killing one of them. It's not OK to continually terrorize and shame children the way you do." And it's essential that someone take SIL aside and say, "SIL, we are all very worried about your children's safety. BIL is abusive to them. We've got to find a way to stop him from abusing them. We are here to help you."

WHY aren't you (or someone else in the family) doing this???
Do you honestly think that would work? Or would that just make the BIL defensive, MORE strict with his kids to prove he is right, and just completely resistant to change?

I don't know what the answer is, and I don't know if much CAN make this family change their ways but I think we need to refrain from judging the OP harshly. NONE of us are in her situation. We can only react to the small pictures of a whole family's life. We hear the frustrated (rightfully so) description of a few minutes of a whole day. How is that enough for us to decide that kids need to be taken away, or to call the OP a chicken?

The OP HAS done something, she has done lots of things. In fact she has done more than most people would. She called CPS for advice and they said it didn't warrant an investigation. So she is working with the situation. She is practicing gentleness with the dad AND the kids.

I DO believe that harsh methods of discipline are abusive, but they are much closer to the norm for a lot of people than gentle discipline. Maybe seeing that other ways can work (and work well) will help BIL see there are better ways to do things, or maybe it won't help at all. At least the OP tried.
post #176 of 205
Your day at the pool sounds really wonderful and I hope that bil reflects on it often.
post #177 of 205
I'm so glad your last day went better and that you're getting a break. I do think your BIL is a case of -- when you know better you do better, and he just doesn't know any other way of working with his kids.

I do think that it's possible to address him about him and let him know it doesn't have to be so stressful and he doesn't have to be so hard on the kids to make things work. I do think that saying that in private and not embarassing him is a good approach. It's too bad that didn't happen at the reunion, but I'm so glad you had a successful day.

Anyway, I'll keep you and your BIL's family in my thoughts.
post #178 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Gosh, if only life were a 30 minute sitcom. Then we'd all know what to do.
This is where I have a huge problem with the way you're handling everything and frankly can't understand why I keep re-opening the thread. You're condescending to everyone who suggests something with which you disagree. If you'll read closely, most of the people who are suggesting something active in trying to deal with the problem either were abuse victims or are involved in the foster care system in some way. They're not "magical thinkers" or people who "live in a sitcom." You're using that language to justify inaction.

I talked about being abused without any adults - including mandated reporters - to stand up for me although they knew what was happening. (Just for the record, I absolutely despise those people now as an adult with distance from the situation. I've never once said, "Mrs. K was nice to me to make up for it." That's true, but it doesn't excuse her decision.) Here's a closer story to what you've described:

My uncle looked to all the world like a wonderful father. He, like your BIL, spent an abnormal amount of time playing with his children for the culture where I grew up. He would play games with them, go to their events, sit and snuggle in the recliner with them. He also had a horrendous "mean streak." He would explode at the drop of a hat. Also like your BIL, these explosions came because of nothing. One of the kids said something the wrong way, stepped on his toe, just annoyed him for no real reason.

And he would abuse them. He did a lot of the arm-jerking and throwing things at him. Eventually the abuse got so bad that he beat my cousin with a PVC pipe because my cousin got the wrong size from a pile of building supplies. He was 7. My cousin once fell and got hurt at my grandparents' house, but because his father had beaten him so severly, they couldn't take him to the hospital for fear of being called on the abuse. When my cousin was 11, his dad hit his arm with a hammer and broke it. My aunt took him to the hospital and said it was a bike accident. Clearly it wasn't (the breaks aren't the same), but the doctors didn't report it. No one reported it. The teachers who suspected strongly it was happening. My mother, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents didn't. They tried to make my cousin feel better by being overly loving to him. They made excuses because Dad and cousin are so close that it would be tragic to have them apart. Dad's really a good guy deep down.

While it would be more climatic to tell you my cousin eventually killed his dad or had a physical confrontation, it's not what happened. It rarely does. My cousin's 24 now and has worked really hard as an adult to process the abuse. He's all but cut off ties to our family - including his own mother who, like your SIL permitted the abuse to happen by running interference when possible (she wasn't home when any of the above incidents happened). He's pissed off at our family because no one had the courage to stand up for him when he was a defenseless child. His father was permanently injured in an accident last year, and Cousin told him he was tired of him and doesn't help care for him.

I know you're in the throes of this situation now, and it's clouding your judgment. Of course it is, and that's normal. I just hope you'll take time later to think about so that if you're in this situation again you're prepared. It's great to involve BIL, but I don't think it has any lasting effects. You said you barely see them and that he's already an involved father. So really you're just pushing him to be the "good guy" of the cycle when he's at your house, but that doesn't change the overall pattern. Situations like this one make me sad because my heart aches for those boys who are surrounded by generally loving adults who aren't doing anything to protect them.
post #179 of 205
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
This is where I have a huge problem with the way you're handling everything and frankly can't understand why I keep re-opening the thread. You're condescending to everyone who suggests something with which you disagree.

My uncle looked to all the world like a wonderful father...
And he would abuse them. He did a lot of the arm-jerking and throwing things at him. Eventually the abuse got so bad that he beat my cousin with a PVC pipe because my cousin got the wrong size from a pile of building supplies. He was 7. My cousin once fell and got hurt at my grandparents' house, but because his father had beaten him so severly, they couldn't take him to the hospital for fear of being called on the abuse. When my cousin was 11, his dad hit his arm with a hammer and broke it. My aunt took him to the hospital and said it was a bike accident. Clearly it wasn't (the breaks aren't the same), but the doctors didn't report it. No one reported it. The teachers who suspected strongly it was happening. My mother, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents didn't. They tried to make my cousin feel better by being overly loving to him. They made excuses because Dad and cousin are so close that it would be tragic to have them apart. Dad's really a good guy deep down..
I've wasted enormous and valuable time and effort countering again, and again, and again people who pop in and histrionically crow "Do something! Stop him!" Usually with an added slur thrown in about being chicken, or in denial, or selfish. The fact that their ideas (if indeed they even bother to offer any) about what to do are worse than useless, they are inflammatory and will make the situation worse, seems not to make any impression on you.

I tried explaining, I tried asking people not to keep interrupting and derailing my attempts to work reasonably on the problem, I thanked people for weighing in when they said they disagreed and were moving on. When people kept perseverating with the accusations and simple minded ideas that I had some other worldly ability to spout some indignant words, point my finger and change everything, it got pretty old.

My BIL's situation is not that of your uncle. No one is being beaten. Ever. That is a key point here.

If they were being beaten, the answers would actually be much, much simpler.
post #180 of 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
Show me where I contradict this. He is a wonderful father. His kids adore him. He spends more direct, one on one time with his kids than any father I've ever seen. He has way more interest in spending time with his kids than dh ever has.

He cuddles them, sings to them, plays with them, teaches them, feeds them, bathes them, laughs with them. He spends virtually every moment of his free time with his kids. He's a great dad.

A great dad who's dealing with anger problem.

Those things are not mutually exclusive.

And I never once said "he just is not into gentle discipline". I said that he was abusive by my standards and yours. But not by the justice systems. And that I could not have the man arrested for not believing in gentle discipline.
It looked like my father adored us as well. Everyone thought he was a great dad. But great dads aren't verbally and emotionally abusive bullies who have an unpredictable violent streak. And we didn't dare to not adore him.

Sure, we had fun together, and those times were really great. But we never knew when that would all come to a screeching halt and he would twist your arm or yank you around and scowl and growl at you. God forbid you actually rough-house too hard with *him* after he did the same with you.

Only once did my mother defend me, though she did try to run interference sometimes. And that was only after he threw me into the wall and I almost punched him. He jumped at her next.

She still excuses him to this say, saying he lacks "patience". She babysits my niece and nephew, and will not leave either or both of them alone with him. That's pretty telling to me that she doesn't trust him with his grandchildren. He's still a giant baby who throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way.

Would being removed from the home been the answer? Probably not, but running away was always in the back of my mind. It would have been nice for someone to step in and say anything.
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