This past weekend, I finally met one of the parents. She came outside with her boy, calling him names, cursing at him, and then he ran away to play with the other kids.
It didn’t take long for me to realize she was completely wasted at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, with slurred language, hitting on my husband, giving us hugs, trying to get in the car with us ... it was bad. The looks on the kids’ faces, too, were just heartbreaking. What do I do? Is this something you call the authorities for?
I realize there is a sense of crossing a Rubicon when calling the police or child-protective services on a parent – of putting them in “the system,” of possibly doing more harm than good. I also understand why this sense is often enough to keep people from making the call. At the same time, if these kids are in crisis, then it’s every witness’s duty to speak up.
That’s why I recommend Childhelp so often in this space. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of child abuse, and it has a hotline (800-4-A-CHILD) that you can call when you’re in the grip of oh-this-is-awful-what-on-earth-do-I-do paralysis. The hotline staff can bring three things that are critical in these situations: calm, expertise, and follow-up questions that get at the context of the situation.
My daughter was away when we divorced but witnessed abusive events and a beating while growing up. Yet she wants to forgive her dad and forget, and for me to do the same, even though the ex has never owned up to what he did. I can’t bear being around my ex at the grandkids’ birthday parties, and so I miss them. I feel like a terrible grandma. Is there a solution?
That includes forgiving your ex’s weakness, if it would help – and forgiving your daughter for wanting or needing to forget. As for the parties: Close bonds aren’t a connect-the-dots of milestone events. Skip the ones you must. Time you spend with your grandkids between the birthdays arguably means even more.