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#1 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:06 AM
 
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First of all, I want to say I can't even imagine how sad/freaked out you are over this, as I would be as well. I think you have handled it very well.

I was told by a therapist one time that studies have shown that it is not sexual abuse/molestation in and of itself that causes long term damage to a person, but rather how it is handled or how they are treated. Children who are not believed, children who are in a situation of being scared to tell, children who are threatened and manipulated for a long time, children who are made to feel ashamed - these are the ones who end up dealing with serious repurcussions. Children who experienced a one time, non violent incident, and were immediately believed and protected by their parents (or adults in charge) go on to have no discernable effects from the situation.

Now, I don't have any personal experience with this, but it made sense to me. As scary as this is for you, it sounds like he will be fine.

My main question is: What is happening in regards to future contact with his cousin? I'm not insinuating that they should never see each other again, although that may be one answer, but how you and your sister feel about it and agree to deal with it, and how it's explained to your son. This kind of stuff can really put a strain on family relationships.
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#3 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:15 AM
 
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no advice here... i just wanted to give s!

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#4 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:25 AM
 
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I'm so sorry about what happened to your DS. However, I am wondering if possibly something happened to this 11-year-old to make HIM think that that was ok behavior.

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#5 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:53 AM
 
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I'm so sorry about what happened to your DS. However, I am wondering if possibly something happened to this 11-year-old to make HIM think that that was ok behavior.
That was my first thought too. I think some therapy is in order for this little boy. I'm sorry that this happened. And what oceanbaby said makes a lot of sense, honestly. I can't really offer up any other advice. I would, however, make a plan of action with your sister with regards to how you're boys are going to spend time together from now on, if they are. How is your sister treating this??


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#6 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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Here is where I need advice. My son never acted upset or scared. In fact when he initially described what happened he acted like it was funny. He idolizes his cousin so I'm sure no intimidation was necessary to convince him to participate. My son has always been comfortable with his body and shows no shame, he is only 3 1/2 afterall. He is a completely innocent little boy. I am not sure how much more to talk with him about this.

I plan in a few days to read him an age appropriate book about good touching/bad touching etc. and will encourage him, if he brings anything up, to talk about it. I don't want to turn what may have been (for him) nothing more than experimental play into something scary. By the same token I don't want him to think that it is OK for someone to do this to him or have him think he can now do this to another child. I have to add that he has a little sister. I want to educate him but I don't want him to feel bad either or focus too much on the incident. I would really like to purge his memory but I know I can't. Do you think this could possibly be something that he forgets? What would you do? I am so sad for my little boy. I feel like his innocence was stolen.
Your son is still innocent. That's why he wasn't upset or embarrassed. It must be so heart-wrenching for you, but I hope you can take some comfort in that.

As the pp said, the nephew needs serious help, because this wasn't a peer/mutual experimentation thing. Sadly, there's a good chance he was abused in some way. I wouldn't have them together again at all.

The way I have approached this subject with my kids is that their bodies are wonderful gifts from God, and they're not ready to be unwrapped yet. That's why it's not okay for others to ask to touch or see our private parts, unless they need help in the bathroom or have an ouchie that they need help with. This metaphor seems to make sense, because they don't really get the notion of privacy yet. (And obviously if you don't believe in God you can just leave that part off and it still holds.)

I'm so, so sorry.

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#7 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 04:24 AM
 
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I hope your nephew gets counseling.
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#8 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 05:44 AM
 
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I recommend the book "Your Body Belongs to You" by Cornelia Spelman. I read this to my kids. My 2nd DD was 3 1/2 when we purchased this book, and I think it's appropriate for that age-range.
So sorry this has happened, mama.
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#9 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 09:10 AM
 
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I cannot imagine this. What does your sister plan to do about this from her end? I hope that she is as concerned as you are. I don't have any advice, but lots of hugs and prayers.
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#10 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 09:34 AM
 
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*hugs* Mama, I am SO sorry. That is the worst kind of feeling in the world.
Your son will be okay, but he can never play with your nephew again. This already happened with adults in the room.

Your nephew NEEDS for this not to be swept under the rug. If your sister does not take your nephew to counseling and find out what's going on here, I would seriously consider calling CPS. This was not a boy your nephew's age, this was a power situation. Your nephew knew it was wrong, tried to prevent you from discovering, and then blamed his victim. He took time setting up a deliberate situation to give privacy (building the fort), and took risks doing the activity that close to supervising adults. This is serious, and needs to be dealt with seriously.

Last year, I found out about a man I know who is now 30 and is married and has two small boys -- wonderful, easygoing, well-liked, well-trusted, great guy according to everyone's standards. Turns out he'd been hiding urges and activities like this since he was 12. Not good.
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#11 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 12:49 PM
 
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First off it seems to me you handled the situation WONDERFULLY. You let your son know he'd done nothing wrong, you didn't do all the questioning in front of him... it sounds like you did all the right things to not have him be negatively affected by the aftermath of this event.

My advice re: your son is to just do what you're already planning to do. Talk to him about "good touch/bad touch" in an age appropriate way, and really emphasize with him that it's fine for him to touch himself but that it's private and no one - NO ONE else can touch him and he can't touch anyone else on their privates. And while it's totally understandable that you feel your son's "innocence was stolen", as inappropriate as what happened was, it sounds like your son didn't experience any pain or wasn't upset about it and doesn't feel like he did anything wrong, so his innocence is indeed intact. Thanks to you and how you handled this!

But what about your nephew? Did I miss it or did you say how your sister reacted? The fact that your nephew objected to you pulling the covers off and got so upset shows that he KNOWS he was doing something he shouldn't have. Has anyone asked him why he did it, where he learned it or when was the first time anyone touched him there, and how many other kids he's touched? And who touched your nephew, where did he learn this? There's very likely a child molester out there who needs to be identified and stopped.

Because your nephew is 11 and is himself a child, I'd handle his questioning gently too, although if I were you I'd make darn sure he was clear that he'd be in major major MAJOR trouble if he ever touched anyone again - especially my kids. (And then of course I'd never leave my kids alone with him again!). But someone needs to talk to him and find out where he got this stuff from and how many other kids he's touched and who. And WHO is touching your nephew!

What was your sister's reaction?

What do you think your next steps are going to be?
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#12 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 01:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I was told by a therapist one time that studies have shown that it is not sexual abuse/molestation in and of itself that causes long term damage to a person, but rather how it is handled or how they are treated. Children who are not believed, children who are in a situation of being scared to tell, children who are threatened and manipulated for a long time, children who are made to feel ashamed - these are the ones who end up dealing with serious repurcussions. Children who experienced a one time, non violent incident, and were immediately believed and protected by their parents (or adults in charge) go on to have no discernable effects from the situation.
Most of what that therapist said is true, but just to be clear a lot of child abuse is actually painful in and of itself. If a child is raped or tortured obviously there is physical pain involved in that abuse and it is awful. And even when a child is not physically pained but is old enough to understand that what is being done to them is wrong, then the abuse itself can be very traumatic there too. And in many cases sexual abuse is accompanied by other kinds of physical abuse and to the child they are not separate incidents, so that is also traumatic for the child.

But sadly, by and large, as if it wasn't awful enough that the abuse itself happens, like the therapist said it is often how the child is treated after that that further traumatizes the child. It's why in a lot of sexual abuse cases children are more angry at their mothers than the known abuser because as awful as the abuser is, they thought their mothers would protect them.
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#13 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 01:05 PM
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry!

I'm curious to know how your sister reacted too. I hope she's taking this very seriously and plans to make a fairly big deal of it with her son to make the impression that this cannot happen ever again, with any child.

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#14 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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It's why in a lot of sexual abuse cases children are more angry at their mothers than the known abuser because as awful as the abuser is, they thought their mothers would protect them.
My situation involved my grandparents. I've never been angry at my mom about it (it was her parents). I hated my grandmother's guts until the day she died. I mostly just felt sorry for my grandfather. He had a brain hemorrhage when I was a baby, and from everything I've been able to put together about him, including conversations with him when he was actually making sense, the man he was before the hemorrhage would have been absolutely horrified by the things he did afterwards. However, my abuse wasn't physically painful, which would obviously change my reactions/feelings in certain ways.

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#15 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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I don't want to turn what may have been (for him) nothing more than experimental play into something scary. By the same token I don't want him to think that it is OK for someone to do this to him or have him think he can now do this to another child. I have to add that he has a little sister. I want to educate him but I don't want him to feel bad either or focus too much on the incident. I would really like to purge his memory but I know I can't. Do you think this could possibly be something that he forgets? What would you do? I am so sad for my little boy. I feel like his innocence was stolen.
Well, to me, and many will disagree I am sure, it is just that- experimental play. I think you see this too. I wouldn't go as far as to say your nephew was ABUSING your son, especially if your son seems to be handling it openly and well. This is often how children explore their sexuality, and it seems that is what your nephew was doing. It's just that 3.5 is a little young of an exploration parter, but he may not have even realized this. I remember being about 10 or 11 and playing with a handful of kids in the neighborhood and there was a lot of jokes/experimental touching/general fascination with sex organs that was going on amongst us. I think as long as your nephew's mother explains proper behavior to her son and you explain to your son about privacy, no one will be scarred for life. In fact, I happen to think it is better to not make such a big deal out of it. He will be fine, mama! He probably won't even remember it at all in a couple of months. You did good.

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#16 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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I respect your opinion, but there is a MAJOR red flag in her nephew's reaction.

Harmless exploratory play carries no guilt or sense of wrongdoing with it. Her nephew clearly knew he was doing something he shouldn't do.

AND... 11 and 3 1/2 is too large an age difference for "healthy exploration". If this family knew that was going on and child welfare found out about it, a case would absolutely be opened because it is not age appropriate at all in this case.

We all have a right to our opinions (and it seems like we all agree that OP was right not to make it a big deal with her own son) but my opinion continues to be that if no one questions the nephew on who/what/where/when re: his behavior, it's very very possible a child molester is out there that won't get caught because no one said anything.

The newphew's guilt/sense of wrongdoing is not to be ignored.
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#17 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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I respect your opinion, but there is a MAJOR red flag in her nephew's reaction.

Harmless exploratory play carries no guilt or sense of wrongdoing with it. Her nephew clearly knew he was doing something he shouldn't do.

AND... 11 and 3 1/2 is too large an age difference for "healthy exploration".
I completely agree. I think he knew he was doing something wrong, but what is worth exploring is WHY he feels the need to do it. He could be being abused himself OR he could have no outlet for his natural curiosity. Now, with that said, I think the fact that he put his mouth on the OP's son tells me that he has either seen this or experienced it. That's the red flag for me.

I guess what I mean to say is that it seems like the nephew is also a victim here and telling the OP's DS that he is the bad guy and it is the nephews fault may have a negative effect on their relationship. The nephew may be acting something out that he is a victim of. I don't see him as the abuser here.

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#18 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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Your nephew needs to be seen NOW by someone. I would absolutely make it a condition of seeing the child again that he get counseling. This child is not safe to leave around other children right now, and someone needs to get to the bottom of this. A 3 year old and a 5 year old experimenting, oh well. An 11 year old playing 'pee pee kissing' - HUGE red flag for abuse. HUGE.

AND you need someone trained to talk to your son just to make sure he wasn't traumatized (it doesn't sound like it, but you never know). And YOU need help in processing this. I had a relative who was abused by her babysitter, and it was the mom, not the daughter, who needed the most help in getting over it. It was a horrible summer for them when they found out, but it didn't affect the child long term. It was handled well, she saw a counselor a couple of times and her mom for a couple of months. Because her daughter was so young (3 1/2) and it was handled well, it didn't have any lasting effect. She's a happy, confident, lovely young adult now.

If your sister doesn't take steps to get your nephew in to see someone NOW, I would report this to your doctor, who is a mandated reporter. (FWIW, the boy who molested my relative was never removed from his home, but was required to do counseling and community service. So reporting this if the parents aren't doing the right thing doesn't mean that the family will be ripped apart.)

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#19 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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I agree with Beene. Your nephew should see a properly trained counselor, but I think the most likely explanation is that he heard something about oral sex and was curious about it and made a VERY INAPPROPRIATE choice about how to explore that curiosity. I was 11 when I first heard of oral sex, and I thought the whole idea was appallingly gross, but it was clear from the way some of my classmates were talking that they were extremely curious. The fact that your nephew did this does not automatically mean he ever did it before or anyone ever did it to him.

I think you handled it very well. I hope everything gets resolved safely and happily for your whole family. While I think that never letting your son play with this cousin ever again is too harsh, I'd say no tents, no playing alone, and no sleeping in the same room until your son is an adult.

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#20 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#21 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 08:59 PM
 
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I wouldn't go that far mama. If you do, know that it will be YOU messing things up in the family, and not your nephew. He needs help, for sure. But you could still do birthdays and holidays and just make sure that they are never alone together. No need to go all out with what you have proposed. And it SERIOUSLY bothers me that you say that "everything they poured into him has been ruined". What a horrible thing to say.

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#22 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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While we all knew my nephew has issues we never expected this. I never let my son be alone with his cousin not because I thought he would get molested but simply because I didn't want him picking up gross habits or bad words (my nephew has a penchant for bathroom humor). I NEVER saw this coming. I feel so guilty because I think I should have known. I always wanted the best for my nephew and always gave him the benefit of the doubt because he had such a crappy beginning. We all wanted him to know we loved him and believed in him. I've known him over 7 years and never thought this was in him. I feel like a fool and that I let my son down.

My sister is beside herself and is making no excuses whatsoever. She herself contacted social services to let them know and is having an emergency meeting with his psychiatrist. She is disgusted by this and crushed. Everything that has been poured into my nephew has been a waste. I feel horrible for my sister. She simultaeously loves him and is so tired and repulsed by him. I don't know what this is going to do to our family. Nothing is ever going to be the same. I never want to look at my nephew again and my children will never be around him. I have no idea how I'm going to explain to my son why he never sees his cousin anymore. He is used to seeing him at least once a week. He still asks for his cat that ran away over a year ago! What do I tell him? I think of holidays, birthdays etc., what the hell do we do now? Everything is ruined. Even if I get my son past the actual act how do I explain everything else? A death would be easier to explain than this. I'm at a loss.
Oh darling, I really hope that in the very near future you see it differently and realize everything is *not* ruined. Not at all.

1st off, you are a fantastic mom. You caught this situation right when it happened because you were being vigilant! That is being a great mom. It would be different if you found out it had been going on for years and you hadn't n oticed the signs, but you caught this right away. That is really impressive.

And your nephew... I understand there's no "history" of sexual abuse, but one of the messed up things that often happens to kids when their parents are on drugs is sexual abuse. It is very very very possible that your nephew was molested when he was very young. Even though he was adopted when he was your son's age, if the abuse was traumatic he would have memory of it and it's not unusual for him to act out now.

That's different from your son, who hopefully/seemingly was NOT traumatized by what happened. He may not remember at all when he's older, because you guys handled it so well.

It's great that your sister is so on top of this, but it breaks my heart - truly breaks my heart - to read that you feel like all those years of investment in your nephew were wasted. Trust me I know from working with abused kids: a healthy, loving family is NEVER EVER a waste of time for that child. However bad things get... just keep in mind they could be a million times WORSE if he hadn't been in a good home like your sister's. I hope you and your sister come to appreciate that even with this upsetting incident, your nephew has still made incredible progress and he's living testament that a good home can really save a child. The fact that he did this - he's a child himself. While you need to protect your son and not leave him alone with your nephew, your nephew is hardly beyond hope. It's amazing that he's made the progress he's made over the years. That poor child was destined for an awful life, and now even though he's still got his awkward character and he's acting out inappropriately, he's still doing so so much better than he would have been.

Great that your sister is taking him to a psychiatrist & notified his caseworker.

Maybe to alleviate some of your worry, you might take your son to a counselor too. In my humble opinion I think you're overreacting to "never" let your son see his cousin again, especially if he really likes his cousin. I think in totally supervised situations your son could still be allowed to see his cousin since your son doesn't seem to feel negatively about him & you think it will upset him not to see him. But that's just my opinion.

I'm just so sad you feel like everything's ruined, you don't want to look at your nephew ever again and your kids will never see him. Those are totally understandable and natural feelings. But it also seems a little extreme... maybe with a little time it won't seem like you have to keep your whole family away from him? And maybe talk to a counselor yourself about how you feel like a bad mom, since you seem to actually be a fantastic mom and you successfully protected your son from further harm?
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#23 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 09:50 PM
 
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I know this is a terrible thing to have to deal with, and I can only imagine the emotions that you're going through.

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I don't know what this is going to do to our family. Nothing is ever going to be the same. I never want to look at my nephew again and my children will never be around him. I have no idea how I'm going to explain to my son why he never sees his cousin anymore. He is used to seeing him at least once a week. He still asks for his cat that ran away over a year ago! What do I tell him? I think of holidays, birthdays etc., what the hell do we do now? Everything is ruined. Even if I get my son past the actual act how do I explain everything else? A death would be easier to explain than this. I'm at a loss.
This is why I suggest that YOU also seek out a counselor. I haven't a clue as to how to handle the family things. The good news is that you don't have to explain everything to your son right away. You've got time to find a counselor for YOU (since your sister is connected to the agencies in town, maybe her son's psychiatrist can recommend someone for you too).

If your son asks, for a couple of weeks, you can say "we're busy" and/or "your cousin needs to go to the doctor, and the doctor needs figures out how to help him." True, but not too detailed. After you've been with a counselor, you and your sister can work out a plan that will keep everyone safe. I think that you and your sister might want to have a few sessions together to work this out.

Just remember that you don't know what happened to your nephew in his early years. He's not a lost cause. He is going to require the patience of Job and a heck of a lot of supervision (past an age where most kids can be trusted). But he's only 11. I know 11 seems really old when your baby is 3. But in the grand scheme of things, it's young. And for your nephew he's probably younger than his age in terms of judgment and impulse control.

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#24 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 10:01 PM
 
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Everything that has been poured into my nephew has been a waste.
Your sisters dedication and love will be a waste if you all give up on him now.
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#25 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#26 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#27 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 11:06 PM
 
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I have been following this thread and I will try to be very sensitive in my response. I cannot imagine being in your shoes. I am sure that you are very upset and heartbroken. I do think it might be a good idea for you to seek counseling about this situation. It might help you work through your feelings without doing permanent damage to your familial relationships.

While I understand your need to protect your son, I feel that you need to open your eyes and see that your nephew is also a child. A child that may have been horribly abused for all you know and who right now needs the strength and love of his family to help him learn better ways of expressing these experiences. You keep saying that your sons innocence was stolen but what about your nephew? I mean you are there for your child and are able to help him to process this experience and he will probably not even be affected by it. I understand that an 11 year old can seem quite mature but ultimately they are still children.

I wish you peace.

"Breastfeeding is a robust, biologically stable activity so central to our evolutionary identity that it names the class of animals to which we belong" (Breastfeeding Atlas, Third Edition)
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#28 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 11:09 PM
 
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Thank you for your compassion, it is appreciated. I understand what you are saying, it is just so fresh and raw. I truly am having a hard time ever imagining wanting to look at my nephew again. Wrong or right these are my honest feelings. This was my baby for God's sake.
your feelings are your feelings. right or wrong. you're allowed to feel however you feel.

it might be really beneficial though for you to see a counselor - to get some help in supporting your son through this, and also having some support for yourself. maybe in time you will be able to see a way to have this part of your family back in your life, but it is very understandable that it is far too much for right now. give yourself time. make sure you have support. good job and good luck!

Katie
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#29 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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I think you're too hard on yourself and on your nephew. There is no reason that with proper attention, love, and supervision that the two children can't have a relationship. I think it would actually be more traumatic to both to be torn apart. I mean, the nephew is going to feel like a bad kid and will see this as a harsh punishment and your son will also see your nephew as the ultimate evil nd bad guy. That's just too much for kids to understand I think. Go easy.

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#30 of 131 Old 08-17-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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Thank you for your compassion, it is appreciated. I understand what you are saying, it is just so fresh and raw. I truly am having a hard time ever imagining wanting to look at my nephew again. Wrong or right these are my honest feelings. This was my baby for God's sake.
You know what? It's okay to feel the way you do. You love your little boy very much and you don't ever want anything bad to happen to him. He is very lucky to have such a wonderful mama. And I'm sure that it makes the hurt that much worse for you that it was someone you love. That's a very intense thing to deal with. And it sounds like your sister is dealing with a lot of intense emotions surrounding this whole incident.

I think for the time being, it's okay if you don't want to imagine being around your nephew again. You don't have to. But that also doesn't mean that you need to make any definite decisions about whether or not you'll ever see him again for the rest of your life. So don't worry about that right now. Right now, just do what you need to do to make it through this. I think definitely talking with a counselor. Healing takes time and sometimes a little help. Once you can get started on that road and feel like you're in a better position, then you can think about whether or not to see your nephew. But for now, try not to write him off completely. Just turn your focus on your son and the healing that needs to take place for you. One step at a time.

hugs and peace to you

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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