Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Man’s Restraining Order Against His Son « Strained Relations

Today’s email included a note from a parent who had taken out a restraining order against his son. I asked if I could include some of his story as I know others are interested in this topic.

“Jack” read my book as he was looking for information about being estranged from a child. He wanted to know he was not alone.

Jack and his wife had been living in fear of their 17 year old son, “Tom.” This son had been stealing from them, and they couldn’t even estimate the amount missing as it was in the hundreds of dollars. They were also missing jewelry and other expensive items. They had gone to family therapy and tried many different therapists to help Tom.

When they found a stash of pills in his room, they told him he’d have to either stop or leave home. Tom picked up a chair and threw it at them, and they ran to the bedroom, locked the door and called the police. They were terrified of what would happen next. Tom left before the police arrived, but they completed a report and then filed a restraining order, also known as a protective order.

Jack said this happened a few years ago and they have not seen their son since that night. They constantly worry about him; this is their only child and it’s been hard on them. Family and friends ask about their son and Jack and his wife say Tom is working and studying. It’s easier to lie than describe the nightmare they are living.

When I interviewed professionals for my book, I spoke with a lawyer about restraining orders. Here is a quote from Jerome Wisselman, J. D.: “There are some situations where people have brought proceedings to get orders of protection against their children, so that if the kids continue to act in the way they were acting, parents could actually have them arrested, if necessary. Often the parents want to restrict the child from being in the residence under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, or other situations. I have seen situations where the children assaulted the parents and a restraining order would address the assault issue. Sometimes the kids stay at home while they’re under the order, and sometimes the kids don’t want to stay in the house. They just go and stay with friends or relatives.”

If you are living in an abusive situation, you may need to file a restraining order. You can research help in your own state/country, often by contacting domestic violence agencies.

We did not experience this, but I can understand how things could escalate. I think it’s more important to protect your life than worry about embarrassment. I’m sure there are many other parents who have been in a similar position.

Do you have an experience to share?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cheri’s Adoption Experience & Some Parenting Advice

Following my last post, I received an email from a distant cousin. She wrote the following:

“As an adopted child, it all depends on how the adoptive parents handle the situation. I was told about being adopted when I was very young, in the form of a story. As I got older and began to question my parents, they honestly told me what they could (Ohio has sealed records). My dad encouraged me to look into my past, but my Mom, for many reasons, did not. When she did pass away, I wrote to the court in Columbus and received ALL the paperwork about my adoption. Probably because everyone associated with the process had passed on. I was never made to feel any different form the Ungerleider side. My mother’s family was quite the opposite and could never understand why I didn’t like them! Adoptive parents shouldn’t be upset at the above questions, it’s normal. I said that too. But, if they never told the child about being adopted in the first place, then they need to become very upfront and honest with the child immediately. Assure them that they are special and were “chosen” by their parents and are loved.

Parents are so stupid these days- think they have to be buddies to their kids or have to allow those kids to say and do anything for it might hurt their “self esteem”. My kids were always to told that we would love them no matter what, but we demanded their respect and gave it back to them in return. We always told my kids that no matter what, we would be there to defend and fight for them when needed. I also told my kids, when they were in their early and late teens, that I wasn’t their pal, I was their Mom and could be their very best friend or very worst enemy- it was up to them. When they each turned 25, they came to us and said we were the best parents any kid could have had. Guess we did it right.”

Would you like to share your thoughts or experiences? All you have to do is send me a comment, and I can accept the comment or use it as a post if you indicate I can do so.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

“I didn’t ask to be adopted” or “You’re not my real mom!” « Strained Relations

“I didn’t ask to be adopted” or “You’re not my real mom!” « Strained Relations

Words that strike parents in ways few other words can do.

Certainly, biological kids have their own words that hurt, but this is very different.
Some adoptive parents have open homes, open hearts to kids of all ages and conditions and have a mix of biological, foster and adopted children. Others are like me, people who lived through miscarriages and years of infertility treatments.

For me, adoption wasn’t the last thing I had thought about for creating a family. In fact, since I was young, I saw it as a great way to build a family. Adopted children were special and not “second best.”

We adopted a baby at birth, taking care of him as any parent would take care of his/her child. One day, when he was around 7, he said he didn’t have to do what I asked as I was not his “real” mom.

Not his real mom? I felt faint, angry, resentful, incredibly wounded, like it was an arrow through my heart. Not his real mom?

Here’s what I said, and this is almost verbatim: “Who do you think raised you so far? Who was changing your diapers, getting you food, taking you to the park and reading to you at night? Who plays games with you, makes sure you bathe and brush your teeth? Do you see any other mom here? No. I am your mom and that is that. Now go to your room and think about what I said.”

He never said anything like that to me again, but I wonder if he harbored those thoughts of anger or resentment and just kept them to himself.

I relayed this once to another adoptive mom, and she had been told by a defiant your daughter, “I didn’t ask to be adopted.” This from a child who didn’t want to clean her room, throwing out every excuse until she got to this one that might sidetrack her mother. The mom retained her calm demeanor and said, “You are not to talk back. Go to your room and whatever is not picked up off the floor and put away nicely on your shelves in 5 minutes will be thrown out.” She meant it. The mother took those few minutes to calm down and think about how she wanted to address this with her child.

She waited for another day and took her daughter for a walk, exploring feelings on both sides. What does it feel like to be adopted, and what does it feel like to adopt? Why did you adopt me? Why didn’t my birthmother keep me? There were a lot of questions addressed, and they returned to this topic several times over the years as the daughter matured.

If you’re a stepparent, you may have experienced “You’re not my real mom/dad, and ….”

Have you experienced this? What did you say or do? Do you have advice for others?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Catching Problems When Children Are Young

Here’s a note from a woman who just read my book.

“I like to read different parenting books, and you mentioned your book at a workshop so I bought a copy. My kids are small and they’re pretty good with minor issues, but I worry about the future. I am also curious about what other parents go through. I wasn’t a very easy teenager and wondered about the parent’s point of view. I had a lot of reasons to buy the book.

I expected to find more information about right when they are teens, and I did find that, but I did not expect to have a better look at when things start to go wrong and how fast things went bad in the families. I was surprised and glad to find something about the younger years.

I have started to see some small problems with my older child, and I thought I could let some of it ride, but now I see I have to start now before it gets worse. I really liked the chapter where the person talked about how she stopped nagging her child as she had done to her older kids, and how their home is more peaceful and her son is more cooperative.

I have more insight about what I put my parents through and am sending them a copy of the book. We had a good discussion about it and this was the first time we talked about those years. I had some apologizing to do. Reading about the professionals was really helpful, too.

Thanks for your book and all of the resources you provided there and on your website.”

I love this kind of feedback! It’s always good to know the information is useful, and I hope this parent can avoid some of the problems other parents have experienced. It was interesting to hear that she has a little more insight into her own life and the impact it had on her parents.