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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Your abuser’s reaction is not reality."

In most extended families, most certainly not all, when there is a breach in normal relationships, civility can be a key to contact. It would seem most divorced parents can find the strength within themselves to have a civil relationship with their ex-spouses, at least for the sake of the children. Siblings with feuds can often come to family gatherings and mutter a few words, for the sake of the extended family.

The relationship of a parent who is raising grandchildren of an adult child is not, more than likely, the type of relationship where that can happen. Most grandparents in this situation have a sacred and court-ordered trust to raise the children as best they are able, which often means protecting those grandchildren, even if the relationship with the adult child, or anybody else for that matter, is affected. These adult children are often mentally ill and refusing medication, alcoholics or drug addicts, in addition to having delusions of entitlement. Barnum and Bailey never counted on the actions of these adult children toward their own parents and the subsequent grandchildren, or they would have eschewed the Big Top and sold tickets to visitation drop-offs and pick-ups.

I am hearing once again in my email of abuse by adult children whose parents are raising their kids. Abuse is not always a physical beating, and though I've heard of those, too, in the past, they are less common. It can mean verbiage at the front door or the drop-off point for grandparents who have a custody agreement with the adult child. In the 21st century, however, a lot of abuse comes from the Internet, in the form of name-calling, disrespect and downright verbal psychosis. 

I've experienced it. I've hit the Infobahn and discovered that, according to my Lulubelle, I am the epitome of evil. I stole her children, yada, yada, yada, on and on, until I am Darth Vader and Jeffrey Dahmer combined, according to her. So I know it is some of the biggest hurt out there, the disrespect combined with lies and egregious complaints about me. 

The worst part of it is the public display of what should be private. Start a shouting match at a family reunion? It's kept in the family, and there are people to calm the combatants down. See yourself defamed on Facebook? The whole world sees what your adult child thinks of you, and you wonder if they wonder what kind of monster you possibly could be, from small fishing boats off Prince Edward Island to Tiananman Square. We of a certain generation- anybody over 50- know better than to parade faults and foibles across the world. Personal business is personal business.   

Rivaling the emotion of having your personal business blast for world consumption, is the sad fact that your child, the one you nurtured from the womb, is a stinking, abusive liar, who will stop at nothing to hurt you. This person was once your baby! You walked the floor nights with him or her, sat up nights with illnesses, went to who knows how many sports and school events no matter what the adult says now, saving for college, did your very best, in some cases didn't eat so they could, walked to work every morning to support them! This is what you receive in return. Slaps in the face, verbally. 

Friends and normal family members will remind you that the person has an illness, and they know none of this is true. They are correct, to an extent. It doesn't make it hurt any less. And these children of ours are alleged adults, who should know there are consequences to their actions, as well as need to fix themselves. No matter what Mama did when she raised the now-adult, doesn't mean that now-adult doesn't have a responsibility to correct the problem. If that means stopping drinking, taking prescribed medication or seeking the assistance of a psychiatrist (not a social worker, not just a counselor), it should be done. 

There will be those family members, few in number, who have their own ax to grind, so to speak, and will therefore egg on the abusive adult child. They are enabling the abuser. Most other family members will try to avoid the whole deal. It can get pretty lonely.

The Internet, for every piece of porn, phishing expedition and rant-a-thon by crazies of all persuasions, also holds a lot of good sites. Google "abuse mental verbal other coping techniques" and you will see you are not alone; far from it. 

Each situation with abuse is different. I don't know each and every personal situation out there. You may have to do something as drastic as move. You may be fortunate, and in due time, you might be able to have a relationship with the adult child in question. I have found avoidance extremely advantageous. Don't go looking for it unless you must, especially if it raises your blood pressure and gives you a panic attack. 

 If you have a visitation order, you really need to bring another unrelated adult with you, in case the abuse starts. Make sure the cell phone is ready to record the abuse. Your witness can hold the phone in your hand, press the sound record button, and even record a short video. 

I don't know your particular circumstances, on whether you have a mild personality, or your tongue is a registered weapon. I am just another grandparent who is trying to help you over the hurdles not an attorney, not a psychiatrist, not law enforcement. I have my own hurdles, as well. 

There are many good tips out there. The best one, in my opinion, came from the Pandora Project:
  • Remember, you survived.
  • It wasn’t your fault.
  • You don’t have to pretend.
  • Your abuser’s reaction is not reality.

The one on abuser's reaction is really, really important to me.  Pandora Project continues: "In short: Don’t believe your abuser’s reaction. Remind yourself their response serves to deflect the truth to protect only them." You know the verbiage isn't true. You most likely have evidence it isn't true (and you need to start collecting some if you don't). You have a much bigger job here than defending your actions and your grandkids. 

If the grandkids are in your custody, you have already won a major battle. If you have adopted them, you have won an even bigger victory, you have won the war! It might be at a very precious price, but you have won! You have protected those children from abuse and/ or neglect. You have every reason to be proud of yourself.  

I would only add that in certain circumstances, even though it's the Internet, if necessary you can consult your attorney about the verbal abuse. In some states, you might only be able to have your attorney send a cease-and-desist letter, but in other states, you may be able to get a restraining order or order of protection. Document, document, document every piece of abuse out there, if this is the case! If you don't know how to screenprint (hold down the CTRL key and the PRT SC or PRTSCN button at the same time, then PASTE that to MS Word or another word processing program), go ahead and print it out from your printer, and save it. If your present attorney doesn't know how to deal with the abuse, see if you can find one who does.

Take precautions for your physical safety, but don't be afraid to battle this issue simply because it's verbal and not physical. Abuse is abuse!    

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