Actual Abuse

Gravestone Edited

No one likes to talk about child abuse.  It makes people sad, upset, angry, (in my case borderline homicidal), and a range of other emotions.  But, if we only ever discuss the warm and fuzzies, we will never learn anything right?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2012.  Of those 686,000, an estimated 1,640 died as a direct result.  Of the children who experienced maltreatment or abuse, over 75% suffered neglect; more than 15% suffered physical abuse; and just under 10% suffered sexual abuse.  Approximately 80% of reported child fatalities as a result of abuse and neglect were caused by one or more of the child victim’s parents.  

I have to say it:  What…the…fuck…is…wrong…with…people?

People are beating their children to death but talk about how upsetting an ASPCA commercial is because the puppies are sad.  I love me some puppies but seriously, how are we not doing something about this?  We have DCF reviewing cases because some bitter ex filed a false claim to piss off the ex that rejected them and we cannot get them into the homes of the children who need it.  Which brings me to my point….

Those stats are ACTUAL abuse.  Your ex taking the kids to McDonald’s, is NOT child abuse.  Your ex setting a later bedtime than you do in your home, is NOT child abuse.  Your child being exposed to your ex’s significant other (because God forbid they like someone other than you), is NOT child abuse.  Giving your child popcorn before the age of 4 (it is a choking hazard not a health risk), is NOT child abuse.  Your ex giving your kids non-organic foods or toys that aren’t made of only wood hand carved by tiny elves who live in a tree (I mean seriously, whose kids actually like that shit anyway?),  in NOT child abuse.  I could go on.  You should hear the crap people bitch about.

We have real problems here (see above for those of you with short-term, single parent, lack of sleep, memory issues), your ex doing things differently than you is not abuse whether you like it or not.  Further, I’m willing to wager that if you guys did everything the same and thought so much alike, you would not be divorced.  This is one issue that I will not joke about nor apologize for my snarkiness.  If you have filed a DCF report, which is bogging down our system, creating unnecessary work for our already overworked and underpaid government employees, and therefore keeping children who actually need help from getting it, you deserve  worse than to be offended by my pissed off blog post.  Additionally, you probably shouldn’t tell me where you live.  There will be abuse and it won’t be of the children.

Happy Easter! Thinking Differently.

Kermit

This is how much I like Easter….I REALLY love Easter.  Easter in our house is bigger than Christmas.

You know why?  Because I didn’t use to see my girls for any other holiday (other than Halloween which often falls on a weekday and is not shared with family).

People always gasp when I say this and I explain that I agreed to this.  I didn’t have a large family at the time and I wanted the kids to keep the same traditions they had always had.  I feared change and every parenting book said they’d become serial killers if we didn’t have consistency.  I now know it’s all bullshit, but I didn’t know that then.

Regardless, I’ve learned to think differently….and I’m not just making the best of it.  I truly enjoy the traditions and way of life that we, as a family, have created.

I don’t need to make a big fuss over Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas morning.  We celebrate those when we feel like it.  In fact, making a huge celebration out of Easter means that I have less competition.  No one cares if you want Easter dinner at your house, no one complains that you saw this parent/family member for Thanksgiving so it MUST be our turn, etc.

When your children have multiple homes, you have to be creative.  Not the overused, “think outside the box”, but instead, think differently. It’s only a problem if you make it a problem.  Alternately, anytime can be a celebration.  We love making Christmas last an entire weekend.  It may be a week after Christmas but who cares?  We love having everyone over for Easter because most don’t have other obligations anyway.

Anything can be special if you make it so.  Pick a day.  Maybe in your house Wednesdays are special.  Maybe you have a water balloon fight every year on Secretaries’ Day.  Perhaps Boxing Day is popular in your home (no, I have no idea what that is but it’s on the calendar, and I don’t judge).  It doesn’t matter.  Your kids will remember traditions because they were important to you.  Not because Hallmark told you you needed to make it so.

You’re Clueless: Supporting The Co-Parenting Parent

GUEST POST

Today’s guest post/public service announcement is brought to you by my sister and reader, Andee.          

  

Bear Edited

Andee:  When people talk about “fight or flight” I admit I am little confused. I go into this mode on a too regular basis, but it’s the “flight” part that is foreign to me. I don’t run. I dig my heel in, square my shoulders, and get ready to fight. There is a reason I am routinely referred to as “mama bear” and I consider anyone I love to be a cub.

So when I go through a traumatic family event vicariously through one of my cubs, I have to reign mama bear in, and remember that while I may be the person standing right behind the person going through the life event, it is not MY event. And what that person needs is one part teddy bear (giving them a soft place to fall), part elephant (really big ears and a closed mouth) and only a small part of mama bear.

I have learned this like I have learned virtually everything else in my life, the hardest way possible. I became educated on the subject only after I had screwed up royally, and there are too many cringe worthy moments to list. In the hopes that you can become educated without the list of ways I messed that one up, here are what I wish I had known then…

1. You are clueless. You don’t know jack. No really, you don’t know a thing, and you need to accept that fact before you open up those pretty lip glossed lips. Even if there was absolutely no embellishment, no expansion and 100% of the truth told 100% of the time, you still only know 50% of one person’s interpretation of an event. Think of it as that person’s facebook feed in reverse, instead of the highlights, you’re only hearing the lowlights. I am not suggesting that the person you are talking to is lying, but there are only two people in that relationship and you are not one of them. No matter how much experience you have co-parenting yourself, understand that their situation is different.

2. There is going to be fallout you don’t expect. When my sister and brother-in-law got divorced, my children lost a beloved uncle. I had to answer questions about my own marriage – in short, if they could get divorced, doesn’t that mean you and Daddy could too? Holidays where we had hard fast traditions needed to be modified, and sometimes we were less than thrilled with those modifications. Suddenly I had to be sensitive to rules my nieces had that were new, and I was expected to honor just like their mom was. There was a learning curve for all of us.

3. Learn how to listen. Really listen. No using this as an excuse to complain about your own problems, or how this issue is better or worse than yours. Use your big elephant ears and shut the heck up.

4. Never plan anything without synchronizing your calendars. In a lot of cases today, parents are splitting custody 50/50 which means the person you are supporting may only have their kids every other weekend, weekday whatever. Plan your activities around their custody schedule. Asking them to move it around is insensitive, makes them “owe” the other parent one, and is usually so stressful whatever delightful activity you have planned is simply not worth the hassle. Give them that courtesy.

5. Understand you might be a little jealous. And insensitive. And dare I say it again, clueless. When I talk to my divorced girlfriends there is a little part of me that wonders what it might be like to have a night off. Like an entire night where another adult was responsible for the health and well-being of my kids. I image rainbows, and unicorns, and bubble baths, and sleeping in until ten. There is not one single girlfriend I know who wouldn’t give up that illusion to have her kids 100% of the time, and will clarify the nights she has “off” are usually spent watching Supernatural and going to bed right after the laundry is dry. That’s where the insensitive thing comes in, there are times when I am complaining about my kids being up my butt, my husband being a sloth and watching a Top Gear marathon and they will say something to the effect of, “Well, at least they’re there with you.” Open mouth and insert everything you own. Don’t stop talking about your own problems, but stop and think before you speak (which is kinda good advice in general.)

6. Be a constant for the kids. Even the most successful co-parenting relationships have some areas where the kids get caught in the middle, despite everyone’s best efforts. Make an extra effort to be stable, consistent, and normal for them. Don’t buy them off, they’re too smart for that, and you won’t benefit from the relationship either. Invest in the them as people. Call them. Mail them little notes. Remember what they tell you. Play on-line games with them. Cluelessness is not ok here.

So where does mama bear come in? Right here. Put mama bear to bed. She needs her rest. Relationships are marathons, not sprints. Firing up your friend, alienating their ex, telling them what they should be doing is completely ineffective. It also makes the person feel like they have to explain themselves to you, or worse have to decide between you and their ex. Don’t do that to them. You can want to mama bear them, you can even tell them that, but channel your inner teddy bear instead.

~Andee Myatt – Guest Post Author (April 1, 2014)

Mandee comment for #5:  If you are a single parent, Please do not say things like, “at least they are with you”.  I may will smack you…hard.  Everyone has issues and co-parenting and life in general needs to be filled with tolerance.   Married parents have issues too, they are just different.  It’s not appropriate for married couples to look down on you for being a single parent, but it is equally shitty for single parents to insinuate that because another parent is married that they couldn’t possibly have a hard day.  As Ian Maclaren once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (now widely misattributed to Plato or Philo).  What the world needs is tolerance.

Thank you for tuning in today for this public service announcement.  Say “no” to drugs, and I’ll see you next week.