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#181 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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..
Yes. These kids, especially the 5 yo, are clearly very angry at him and feel similarly trapped and manipulated in the ways you describe, I believe.

We were watching some kids movie and a scene came on in which the character, a little boy, is sad over something. His dad comes along, sits down with him and has a nice encouraging talk, leaving the boy feeling better. At the end of the scene the 5 yo said wistfully "I wish I had a dad like that."

I wish he did too.
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#182 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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I've been following this thread because like everyone else I'm concerned about your nephews, and also because I have a feeling I will be dealing with a similar situation if/when my sister and her boyfriend have kids.

Blessed, maybe you could send your SIL a book on discipline. Something gentle but also something that isn't too extreme, maybe the Elizabeth Pantley discipline book? I do go back and reread that book when I am feeling stressed out and frustrated by my 3 yo. I come away refreshed and more confident about dealing with my son's behavior. Maybe you could send her a book with a note about how hard the "terrible 2s" (or whatever age) are and you found this book helpful to get through that time.
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#183 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 05:51 PM
 
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I stand by my previous post.

To those posters who are dumping on me for what I said, I have a right to disagree with how the OP is handling the situation. And I disagree very strongly with her attitude. And I thought she came here to ask advice? Or is this just a very long rant?

To the OP, fine, do nothing, go ahead and think that one good day means that everything is all better, but don’t be surprised if these boys grow up to hate you for being too afraid to confront their parents.

Confrontation isn’t pleasant, but it’s what’s called for when someone is abusing or mistreating defenseless, helpless children. The parents need to know that their peers are not in agreement with how they’re treating their boys. They need to know that times and attitudes are changing, and it’s not the 19th century anymore. They need to know that a lot of people don’t find it acceptable to sadistically terrorize and constantly belittle children anymore.
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#184 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 05:57 PM
 
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And I still don’t understand why can’t the wife’s sister or brother (your DH) at least say to their sis: “We’re really worried about you and the children”???
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#185 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 06:24 PM
 
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I agree with the poster who suggested sending a disciplining book; or perhaps a personal letter just to the dad explaining that you hope he found the time there a learning experience and that if he feels overwhelmed by his anger that perhaps he should seek professional help and that you are always there for him and his family. It would be non-confrontational and hopefully would not embarass him

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#186 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 06:54 PM
 
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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.



Blessed I wonder what you hoped for when you started this thread, and if any way what you wished for was met? I am hard pressed to understand what would have felt like a good outcome here for you? I wonder if that was the problem with the thread? You had particular expectations or needs for yourself, but many of us went directly to the place of the children being abused and need to protect them via some sort of intervention. You have complained that there wern't concrete enough answers for you to work with, and seemed to be frustrated that posters haven't seen the shades of gray or subtleties in this situation. I will stand by my concrete answers 1. Notify a teacher or the children's doctor of what you have witnessed, 2. Document all that you have seen, including the call to CPS, 3. Recognize when you are in over your head and ask for help, ie a colleague, a mental health professional, you family pedi.

The reason you see such a concerted response by posters to your thread is that the issue here is not subtle, it's clear. The children need help, and you seemed to ask for help with the situation. There may be embedded shades of gray here, but that's life-there are always nuances. You work through those once safety has been achieved, and that's not seeming to be the case here.

I also stand by saying that approaching the BIL may put the kids more at risk. Especially if no one is going to follow up on the needs of the children.

Oh, and I don't know about wasting time here--I think posters, myself included, have really tried to be thoughtful, supportive and reasoned. It may not have felt that way because the suggestions didn't meet your needs, but again, I think the plight of the children has trumped all.
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#187 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 08:20 PM
 
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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.
FTR, I suggested that you not have an intervention when you were leaning that way. It only makes things worse in most situations. I did suggest you call CPS because there was a slight possibility they would investigate. You called, said it was a "dunking," and then said Mom is there to protect the kids. So they said they'd do nothing, which made you feel better. I think you've gotten excellent suggestions from people with first-hand experience of abuse, but you've ignored everything and think because you had one good day with him that it's all better now. They don't seem to make an impression because having experience what you're doing, I understand how futile the effort is.

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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.
Simple-minded ideas? I have little to say that wouldn't violate MDC's UA. You can call other people and/or their ideas names all you want. It just serves to reinforce the claims of several posters that you're being selfish, and condescending.

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My BIL's situation is not that of your uncle. No one is being beaten. Ever. That is a key point here.
You said earlier that there were questionable broken arms, which made me think of the issue with my cousin.

You actually have no idea whether he's hitting the kids. You don't live close enough to them, and judging from the behavior you've described, it wouldn't be surprising. You're assuming he doesn't hit them because you didn't see it at your house.

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#188 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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And I still don’t understand why can’t the wife’s sister or brother (your DH) at least say to their sis: “We’re really worried about you and the children”???
:

Since you haven't mentioned how everyone else in the family feels about this, including your dh, I'm guessing they're not owning up to the problem, which is really sad. I'm sorry you're dealing with this all on your own. It's not a problem any one outsider can solve by themselves, especially since they do live so far away and you don't have very much contact with them.

I think I would still reach out to SIL and make sure she knows you will be there for her if she ever needs anything: money, a place to stay, or whatever.

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#189 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 11:30 PM
 
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I've joined this thread rather late, but read the whole thing.

I am sorry that you have to deal with this. I understand your hesitation to do anything more than you've done. Abuse situations are difficult, especially when you are not close enough to the abusers to feel like you can make a difference.

I just wanted to ask if you've ever been held underwater by someone as a punishment? It is the most terrifying experience in the world. I would have reported the incident to CPS without sugar-coating it as a mere "dunking", but called it what it is - a cruel form of physical and psychological torture.

This whole thing makes me ill.
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#190 of 205 Old 07-07-2008, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And we end on the cacophony of replies from people who haven't bothered to actually read the thread.

'...you haven't mention how everyone else in the family feels...I'm guessing...'

'...you said earlier there were questionable broken arms...'

All answers that are found in the text.

karne, your reply was actually quite eloquent. I'm not being sarcastic at all. It was very well written. You got my attention.
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#191 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 12:14 AM
 
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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.
I just have to wonder how you know this. You don't live near them, you rarely see them. How can you say no one is being beaten ever?? Do you think BIL would tell you? Do you think SIL would tell you? Doubtful. I actually find the fact that two of his children have had broken arms and they're only 1,2, and 5 to be alarming based on the info you've provided about BIL's behavior. Yes, I'm aware that stuff happens and kids break bones etc. I know SIL said both incidents happened when he wasn't there but I don't think she'd tell you if her husband broke her son's arm. Maybe he didn't, but it definitely raises red flags for me. The fact the CPS investigated them at all also signifies something isn't right there. I know you called your local CPS, but I would definitely call and report the incidents you witnessed to THEIR local CPS office so that it might be placed in their file. I doubt they'll do much at this point about your claims, but if something does cause this family to be investigated in the future it may be useful info.

You said that your SIL and her family have been quite isolated from your DH's side of the family. Why? I'm just curious. Is there a reason that your husband's sister is avoiding her family? You seemed receptive to talking privately with your SIL to see if she's O.K. but that didn't happen. Would you consider doing this still or seeing if your DH would do it? It's his sister after all. I know that my brother would be very upset if he thought my husband wasn't treating me or my children well.

I hope that you are able to make some difference in the lives of this family. Please try to keep more of an open mind to the advice that all of these wise mamas are trying to give. Take care,

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#192 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 12:32 AM
 
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I think I would still reach out to SIL and make sure she knows you will be there for her if she ever needs anything: money, a place to stay, or whatever.
Ditto that. I understand that you don't want to split the family apart, but I do not think you have anything to lose (and SIL and her kids might have much to gain) if you say something along the lines of "I really enjoyed spending time with you this past week, and getting to know your ds's - they are sweet boys. I have to mention, though, that at times I was concerned about BIL's discipline style. I know everyone and every family is different, and I certainly fall more on the gentle discipline side of things myself. But his anger seemed like more than just a discipline issue at times. If you ever need any support or just want to talk about things I will always be here.... I can see that he is a great dad a lot of the time, but I was upset when I saw how he acts with the kids when he is angry about something...."

I think you did a great job of modeling, probably better than most of us would have in the circumstances. I am glad for you that you have your home and your family back. Once you have some time to recover and reflect further, I would encourage you to read through this thread again with an honest attempt to be open to what people have to say. Again, I respect that you don't want to tear the family apart, and I know that CPS is not the easy answer. But I think many posters had other valid and thoughtful things to offer - you may find, with time and some peace behind you, that there are things that may be helpful to you. I remain concerned about what I see as red flags in your BIL's behavior. You say he has never, ever beaten anyone, but I wonder how you know this with any certainty? You didn't think he spanked his kids until you saw it happen right in front of you. I think you owe it to SIL to talk with her about it - and her brother does, too. If I were in a dynamic like your SIL, and these things happened right under my own brother's nose, I would feel pretty lost and abandoned if he didn't say something to me - and it would probably make me question the validity of my own feelings (ie, "If brother, FIL, all my relatives don't think its a problem, maybe it really isn't a big deal. I just have to live with it....")
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#193 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ditto that. I understand that you don't want to split the family apart, but I do not think you have anything to lose (and SIL and her kids might have much to gain) if you say something along the lines of "I really enjoyed spending time with you this past week, and getting to know your ds's - they are sweet boys. I have to mention, though, that at times I was concerned about BIL's discipline style. I know everyone and every family is different, and I certainly fall more on the gentle discipline side of things myself. But his anger seemed like more than just a discipline issue at times. If you ever need any support or just want to talk about things I will always be here.... I can see that he is a great dad a lot of the time, but I was upset when I saw how he acts with the kids when he is angry about something...."
Yes, this sounds like along the lines of what I'm thinking as well.

I think the first and most necessary step is simply to establish a base of trust with this family. Having them here in our home, as part of this family, welcome, loved, appreciated, is the basis for all future intervention.

Approaching SIL would take a lot of groundwork, I think. Right now we live totally separate lives and have no communication. We'd have to establish common ground and a pattern of interaction before broaching such a sensitive topic would even begin to make sense.

I'm not sure if it's even doable.
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#194 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 01:11 AM
 
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I know how hard it can be to establish a closer relationship with people who are only known to you because they happen to be family. Perhaps this is where your DH should step in and call up his sister saying how great it was to have her there, how, now that they both are parents he feels they should talk more or whatever. He can also throw in that you really like her too and would love to have that extended family closer bond with them. After that, you can call her up a few times for random things like recipes or pictures of the reunion, etc. If you can get a conversation going, it might be that easy. If possible, try to call when BIL is not around as he is likely the source of their isolation from the family. Maybe you can get other people in the family to do the same.

As for him not beating the kids, you should say he is not beating them yet. The kids are still quite young and can be easily terrorized in the ways you mentioned before. As they grow older, things will almost certainly escalate. Holding under water at 5 (and in front of people) already sounds pretty high on that scale. It would be really surprising if he was not doing the same things the other poster's (sorry did not notice the name) uncle was doing by the time they are 7.

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#195 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 01:20 AM
 
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to you blessed. i know this ha been a hard thread to stick with.

as you've said they live in another state so contacting someone there may be difficult. i don't know how easy it would be to contact their pediatrition for instance and is the 5 year old even in school? you might conatc the school if he is, the school board for their county if you don't know which school hed be going to. maybe you could call cps in their county to see if they would want to add something to a similar profile, just to see if maybe the response would be any different from what you heARD in your location.

beyond that maybe just kkeeping in touch, start sending cards, letters the occaisional article, etc. just as a bridge to greater communication later if needed.

hth....
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#196 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 09:24 AM
 
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And we end on the cacophony of replies from people who haven't bothered to actually read the thread.

'...you haven't mention how everyone else in the family feels...I'm guessing...'
Well, since that's my quote, I'll address it.

I have read the entire thread. You've made some comments about how the family isn't comfortable with his actions, but you don't believe they think it's abuse. But that was pretty early on, before there were other situations. I can't recall you actually saying you expressed open concern to any of the ILs privately... it was more an assumption about what their attitudes would be. But, I don't have a photographic memory so I may have missed something over the course of the thread, as I don't go back and reread every post before responding.

You've also never mentioned anyone else stepping in to do things to protect the kids, except perhaps when the 2 yo didn't want to walk on the hike, and then it was more cajoling BIL, and you are the one who finally took action and just carried the 2 yo. You've mentioned the other family members having shocked looks but never DOING anything. You also never answered the question about what your dh thinks about all this and I don't recall a mention where he confronted BIL (during an incident, to protect a child or defuse a situation) or what he says about talking to his sister.

Personally, if it was my family I would be riding Dh's a** to stand up for his nephews and show some concern for his sister, and he wouldn't have a moment's peace from me (in private) until he did. But then, I can't imagine him standing aside and watching this without doing something... and he's not all that fond of/close to his sister. Honestly, the saddest part of this whole post is the silence of your dh's entire family.

I was just trying to offer support about how difficult this must be for you to be the only one taking action in this situation. If I missed a mention of others in the family taking action, please point it out. I think you handled incidents dealing with your BIL with grace, and did a better job than I would have, as I probably would have been pretty abrasive or even kicked BIL out of my house (which I don't think would help anyone longterm).

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#197 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 09:36 AM
 
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Blessed, was any of this helpful to you? I think I understand what didn't work, but I am wondering if there were any pieces that felt helpful at all? Thanks.
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#198 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Very helpful.

It would have been a much harder week to get through without a forum to voice my dispair and concern. Especially to an audience whom I knew would feel equally outraged.

I think if you poll an internet audience about any given subject you'll get a wide range of answers. Some people seemed to grasp the complexities and were able to follow out proposed actions to their likely conclusions. Others didn't, and couldn't. No matter.

As a collective group, while I often admire MDC members parenting outlooks and abilities, I've never felt that same way about their management of interpersonal relationships. If someone posts about a MIL who is a bit intrusive, there is a hail of mean spirited replies about telling her off and putting her in her place. I remember watching one member's entire family come unraveled over her IL's discomfort with her breastfeeding in their presence. The entire thread was peppered with advice for her to break off her relationship with them, refuse to allow them to see their grandchild, encouragement to draw unyeilding ultimatums. It seemed like I was the sole voice calling for restraint, caution and kindess.

It wasn't entirely like that here. There were many people weighing in whose judgments seemed mature and thought out. And many more PM's to that same effect. But of course there were the usual lit torches and calls for people's heads, which I probably would have been better off to just ignore.
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#199 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 02:09 PM
 
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I've read through about 5 pages of this thread, and one thing that hasn't ever come up is that this man, this angry, angry man, is probably hurting inside about something. Instead of only pointing the finger and yelling, "Abuser!", is is possible to look at him with a little compassion for a minute? Yelling at your kids probably feels pretty crummy, and it's probably arising from tension/anxiety/anger about something else. Maybe he thinks he's doing them a favor, toughening them up to face the cruelties of the real world. Is there other stuff in this family's life or past that is putting pressure on this man? Instead of trying to take the kids away, which will just make him feel worse/more attacked/threatened, how about looking for root causes of the anger and trying to find a way to help him address it or deal with it? Does he go to church? Is there a men's group that could reach out to him (either a formal one, or maybe all the men in the family could go on a fishing trip or something)? Has somebody else in the family overcome a similiar problem?

Anger is really toxic, not just to the family, but to the person holding it. It hurts terribly to be angry, but sometimes people don't know how to be any other way. Getting angry back at them doesn't show them an alternative.

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#200 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 02:24 PM
 
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Every day I open this thread and every day I wish I hadn't. I feel so deeply for your poor nephews. I have lost sleep and feel almost a little silly for having these intense feelings for children I have never met or even know exist. What helps is knowing I have made it out of this type of abuse and went on to have very gentle relationships with my kids. So when I think of your nephews, I pray, send out thoughts, give a little light whatever you want to call it. I'm hoping that your thoughts on a message board stirred people so much that our collective prayers/lights/thoughts will be heard by the universe and your nephews will feel it. Please tell your nephews some crazy lady surfing the net is pulling for them.
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#201 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 05:10 PM
 
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disregard...

I was just trying to bring to light the consequences of not advocating for the children...

apparently my own experiences have warped me and the kids really will be fine!
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#202 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 05:23 PM
 
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Yes, this sounds like along the lines of what I'm thinking as well.

I think the first and most necessary step is simply to establish a base of trust with this family. Having them here in our home, as part of this family, welcome, loved, appreciated, is the basis for all future intervention.

Approaching SIL would take a lot of groundwork, I think. Right now we live totally separate lives and have no communication. We'd have to establish common ground and a pattern of interaction before broaching such a sensitive topic would even begin to make sense.

I'm not sure if it's even doable.
Do you have a plan for maintaining open communication with SIL? I think it is an important step.
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#203 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 06:32 PM
 
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From my own journal -written a year ago...

So, defend the man, if you will, you aren't the first to do so. Just be aware of the long term damage that is happening to these children.
What do you want her to do. Blessed is not responsible for these children first of all, your anger is better directed at their mother, not their aunt who is concerned and said something directly to this father about his actions on that first night.


Believe it or not there are loving and well intentioned parents in the world who <gasp> also have anger issues. I trust that Blessed being in the same home with this family has a lot more equip to describe this father than any of us hearing about the situation.

I don't know what kind of help we are supplying Blessed by telling her she isn't doing enough.


My BIL is very much like the Father discussed in this thread. My Mom did everything that is being suggested Blessed do, and we didn't see my niece for 4 years and I didn't know my sister had my nephew until he was 5 months old (threw gossip, my sister didn't tell us).

I patched up that relationship with my sister, and we're very close now. She divorced her husband, and despite that fact that his anger is not healthy for anybody, he is also a loving dad.

My ex-BIL was raised in a bone chilling abusive home, way beyond abusive and into the area of sadistic. In his mind he is not abusive, because his kids aren't subjected to the same life and his kids have never been hit.


I learned in my experience with my sister (who cut off contact with us, not her husband. Her husband actually encouraged her to try to get back in contact with us). If you push on a person they usually push away, if you are a good example (which is the relationship I have now with my sister) they come to you.


When the person is doing nothing legally wrong, and we all know your not going to get anywhere with an intervention, I think modeling a better way of life, AND starting better contact with this family is the way to go.

Blessed I truly do believe your doing the best you can.


I know we all want to protect kids, but it's a process, it's not a ambush.

-Janna, independent mother of dd, Ms. Mattie Sky born on my 25th birthday, 06*23*2000. My Mama Feb.21,1938-Sept.10,2006
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#204 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 06:51 PM
 
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U2can,

Btdt.


Pat

I have a blog.
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#205 of 205 Old 07-08-2008, 11:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by U2can View Post
disregard...

I was just trying to bring to light the consequences of not advocating for the children...

apparently my own experiences have warped me and the kids really will be fine!


I hope the deletion of your post isn't because of what I said, I'm assuming that it is, because I'm the only one who replied. I am not disregarding your feelings, you feelings on this issue are extremely valid on this subject.

I do not believe that the kids will be just fine. But what can be done for them to make this situation better, not worse, that's the question.

Don't you think that if Blessed had a solid answer to how to make this family function better, the father calmer, and the children happy and safe she would do it?

-Janna, independent mother of dd, Ms. Mattie Sky born on my 25th birthday, 06*23*2000. My Mama Feb.21,1938-Sept.10,2006
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