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?

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