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What Do I Say/do?

Posted by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 3:09 AM
  • 12 Replies
BM has been living with her cousin the past year. Last week, some things came to a head between them so she left and he told her she wasn't living there anymore. Next day, he she came to get a few things and he apologized and said he'll give her a second chance if she wants to follow some of the new boundaries he's setting up for the whole house(him, his 2 sons in high school, and her). She said no, so he told her she's not living there again.
So now, she's been homeless, living literally on the streets the past week, and hasn't eaten for a couple days. She called today, wanting to come over and spend the night and see the kids. No problem with that.
However, kids have been having a hard time with this, which is the second time in 18 months. Can't sleep, crying a lot, acting out more, because of their worry.
The oldest cane upstairs tonight, in hysterics, because mom hadn't eaten in a few days and was homeless. I know it's really affecting them and I don't know what to say/do. It's after midnight here and I can't sleep because I'm worried about them. I don't want to say or do the wrong thing to them. I know they're going to worry, but it kills dh and I to see that because we believe they shouldn't have to like this.
Any advice would be great.
Sorry it's so long. I just needed to get it off my chest.
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 3:09 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Leigh84
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2013 at 6:52 AM
That has to be hard on the kids, worrying about their mom like that. Is there a shelter she could go to that would help her get on her feet? I'm assuming there is no one else she can stay with since you said she's been living on the streets.
spicy0425
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2013 at 7:40 AM

I am curious to know how this turns out. Please keep us posted. Thanks.

newstepmom61811
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 8:48 AM
1 mom liked this

They need a professional to help with this...this is BIG stuff for kids to carry...with our kids...BM makes many not so smart choices, and is often homeless, or shacking up with really shady figures just to get three hots and a cot and my neices uncle (SIL's brother) also makes bad choices, we tend to tell all the kids that adults have the right to make choices for their lives, that they sometimes don't make the best ones, but that adults are stronger than they realize, it is never a kids job to be responsible for an adult, to never accept any guilt or responsibility an adult tries to put on them, it is purely an adults job to take care of kids, never the reverse, and that it is OK to worry, it just means they care, and what the child should learn is about choices, what choice would they make or not make in the situation. That's all we figure we can do with the kids...it's a REALLY hard situation.

AlyssaN
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:49 AM
1 mom liked this
Dh and I talked this morning before he left for work, and he thinks its best if we don't say anything about her anymore. We've told the kiddos til we're blue in the face that its about choices, and she's made some bad, some good, right now she's not, it's not their job to always take care of her, they shouldn't feel guilty for her being in the place she is currently. They see it as us bad mouthing her, not understanding that its ok to feel bad about what's going on, and to learn from the mistake. They hate that we're not going to keep bailing her out since something like this happens frequently. I've told them when she wants to see them, she can come over or we can meet in a public place for a few hours. I'm working on dh to have him get all 4 in therapy. The youngest is going every Friday for other issues so we'll work this one in now.
DDDaysh
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

There isn't anything you can do to "fix" it.  Do the kids have a counselor they can talk to about this.  

It's hard on kids when they have non-functional parents.  They love someone and they haven't yet learned that love sometimes isn't enough to be able to fix things.  So it's hard to watch someone they love suffer.  

How old are the kids.  Are there shelters or soup kitchens in your area they could volunteer at?  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes it makes it easier on them when they realize there are places that can help people like the non-functional parent, and that the parent must be making a choice to stay on the streets and not eat (or not get mental health treatment, etc).  

It is a hard situation.  

DDDaysh
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:59 AM

When my son was going through some really hard times with his father (who he doesn't really know at all), I was advised not to really talk about him, not to try to answer questions.  Most of the questions were, "Why did Dad...  or Why does Dad...", and the true answer was that I didn't know the answer to that question.  I might SUSPECT what the reason is, but since i don't actually KNOW, the best thing would be to simply tell DS that truth and just say "I don't know".  

That allows him to either accept that the world sometimes doesn't make sense, or come up with his own reasons.  His own reasons might be terribly false, but because they are his own, he will be able to re-evaluate them as he gets more experience in life.  And because of that, they'll be less emotionally damaging in the long term.  

Sweet little lies like, "Well, your Daddy loves you but can't see you because he's working," don't really help solve long term problems.  

Quoting AlyssaN:

Dh and I talked this morning before he left for work, and he thinks its best if we don't say anything about her anymore. We've told the kiddos til we're blue in the face that its about choices, and she's made some bad, some good, right now she's not, it's not their job to always take care of her, they shouldn't feel guilty for her being in the place she is currently. They see it as us bad mouthing her, not understanding that its ok to feel bad about what's going on, and to learn from the mistake. They hate that we're not going to keep bailing her out since something like this happens frequently. I've told them when she wants to see them, she can come over or we can meet in a public place for a few hours. I'm working on dh to have him get all 4 in therapy. The youngest is going every Friday for other issues so we'll work this one in now.


SMInProgress
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM

This is really tough. It's not good for the kids at all & think you & your DH are right in not saying more about the situation regarding life choices, etc.  They feel hurt & guilt for their mother regardless if she's playing the perpetual victim card or not. Yes, BM is an ass & should not be putting them & you in this position.

However having said that, it seems BM has some mental & emotional issues. You may want to help her find some state resources for her starting at a women's shelter, etc ASAP. Though I'm tough on boundaries, I can never turn down someone hungry.  Maybe just pack her up some brown lunches as long as it reasonably take-- but whatever you do, it's best if you help BM find a way to get off the streets first, before getting therapy for all the kids. Because 1) sounds like BM can't stop this anytime soon & 2) God forbid anything happens to her on streets, that will scar the skids up far more.  When a mother is the problem, the skids become the problem.

Tinkerbellmama
by Platinum Member on Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Yea, SD's counselor gave us the same advice, little white lies of "mommy loves you, but can't see you because of work/school/whatever, right now." Aren't helpful. When SD asks questions regarding BM we are to tell her that we don't know.

We think those little white lies are OK, we're saving their feelings, or somehow protecting them, that's not really the case.

If SD asks us questions about BM, we tell her we don't know. 


Quoting DDDaysh:

When my son was going through some really hard times with his father (who he doesn't really know at all), I was advised not to really talk about him, not to try to answer questions.  Most of the questions were, "Why did Dad...  or Why does Dad...", and the true answer was that I didn't know the answer to that question.  I might SUSPECT what the reason is, but since i don't actually KNOW, the best thing would be to simply tell DS that truth and just say "I don't know".  

That allows him to either accept that the world sometimes doesn't make sense, or come up with his own reasons.  His own reasons might be terribly false, but because they are his own, he will be able to re-evaluate them as he gets more experience in life.  And because of that, they'll be less emotionally damaging in the long term.  

Sweet little lies like, "Well, your Daddy loves you but can't see you because he's working," don't really help solve long term problems.  

Quoting AlyssaN:

Dh and I talked this morning before he left for work, and he thinks its best if we don't say anything about her anymore. We've told the kiddos til we're blue in the face that its about choices, and she's made some bad, some good, right now she's not, it's not their job to always take care of her, they shouldn't feel guilty for her being in the place she is currently. They see it as us bad mouthing her, not understanding that its ok to feel bad about what's going on, and to learn from the mistake. They hate that we're not going to keep bailing her out since something like this happens frequently. I've told them when she wants to see them, she can come over or we can meet in a public place for a few hours. I'm working on dh to have him get all 4 in therapy. The youngest is going every Friday for other issues so we'll work this one in now.




DDDaysh
by on Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM
1 mom liked this

Well, multiple times I've been told that telling someone that someone else loves them, when you don't actually "know" that, is basically lying to the kid and that's part of why it's not helpful.  

But one therapist broke it down for me this way.  

Say you told your SD, "Mommy loves you, she just sometimes doesn't know how to control her temper," or "Mommy loves you, she's just too busy to see you," what is that teaching her about love?  More specifically, what is that teaching her that YOU believe about love?  

Suppose I told my son, "Your Dad loves you, but (insert whatever excuse I come up with here)."  And then, two days later tried to help his separation anxiety by saying, "Don't worry, of course I'll come back, I love you!"   Well, how soothing is that "I love you!" from me going to be to that child?  What is he even going to believe I mean by "love"?  

As adults, we have more experience.  We understand there are different degrees and types of love, and that sometimes hard choices have to be made even though you love someone.  

But a young child isn't that experienced yet.  It's one thing to let the child who walks away tell the kid, "I love you" and then still walk away.  That can hurt, but it isn't as bad because kids are pretty good at quickly figuring out that what one person means by a word (like love) might be different than what another person means.  Just like they might learn that when Mom says "No" it means I better stop right now, but when Grandma says, "No", if I beg "please, please, please!" she might turn "No," into "Yes".  

It's a totally different thing to have the person they trust start confusing what "love" means.  If I tell my son that Dad loves him AND that I love him, he isn't going to be able to reconcile that very easily.  So, at first, he'll attribute the way I express my love for him to how Dad feels.  But as Dad continues to let him down, it will flip, and he'll simply start having less and less faith in my love for him.  

Quoting Tinkerbellmama:

Yea, SD's counselor gave us the same advice, little white lies of "mommy loves you, but can't see you because of work/school/whatever, right now." Aren't helpful. When SD asks questions regarding BM we are to tell her that we don't know.

We think those little white lies are OK, we're saving their feelings, or somehow protecting them, that's not really the case.

If SD asks us questions about BM, we tell her we don't know. 


Quoting DDDaysh:






Pero3
by Silver Member on Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Might have been already answered, but how did the kids find out that she is living on the streets and hasn't eaten for a couple of days? Who told them?

If it was her, then I'd have DH sit her down and explain to her that - whilst he certainly feels sorry for her - this isn't really something the children should have to know about.

If it was you guys ... oh well, see above!


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