Category: General

General
The Do’s and Don’ts of talking to your child about her period.

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. The kids are playing in the yard. Your husband is bbqing and you are enjoying your new couch with your girlfriend who’s visiting for the weekend. Sounds great.

Until your 11 year old daughter tells you “Mom, I have blood in my pants”.

Do you know how you’ll react? Will you stop breathing for a moment before calling your own mom for advice?

What should you say to your daughter on that fateful day? Have you thought about it much?

You can’t stop it, puberty is a part of life. We all go through it at one point or another and as parents it’s your job to help make the transition as smooth and painless as possible.

So here’s some do’s and don’ts of explaining puberty to your daughter, and preparing her for her monthly visitor.

First, what is it? It’s a cycle a woman’s body goes through shedding the lining of her uterus when she is not pregnant. This happens about once a month to then prepare the woman’s uterus for a baby. If a baby doesn’t come, it sheds it again in a month. Once a girls’ monthly happens, she can become pregnant. She can even become pregnant right before her first period if she has sex.

DO talk about it.

This is nothing to shy away from. It’s not anything to feel embarrassed about, or ashamed of. It’s a milestone in a girls life when she becomes a woman. She shouldn’t be afraid of it. She should be taught to embrace the changes and learn her body so she can feel comfortable during it’s changes. Most of all, so she respects her body, and herself, and expects others to respect her as well.

DON’T avoid the subject. DON’T just expect her to learn on her own.

So, when do you talk to her about it?

That’s really up to you and your daughter’s personality. Each girl is different, and your relationship with her will hopefully tell you the right time If you remain open to it . If she shows interest by bringing it up, dont steer her away, embrace the conversation. Be honest with her. It’s nature after all. If she doesn’t bring it up, you may want to take the lead when you know she’s around that age when it begins.

DO respect her privacy. It’s not an event that you will want to announce to her friends and family members. This is not a birth announcement or gender reveal. This is a very intense part of a girls life. You don’t want her to be embarrassed or feel humiliated.

DO teach her what to do to maintain her health and cleanliness. Teach her the difference in the products available for use during her period. There are health risks involved with the use of tampons for example, like toxic shock syndrome. It’s important for her to know the proper way to use them.

DON’T force her to use pads over tampons or vice versa. Let her decide.

DO teach her what is normal and what is not normal. She should know that cramping is normal during the days prior to her period starting each month, but they should subside. Her flow should be heavier at first then lighten up over the week. She should learn her body to be able to tell if something doesn’t feel right.

DO let her know that she can come to you if she feels like something isn’t right with her body. You want to make sure the lives of communication are open in case she needs medical attention. She will experience mood fluctuations due to hormones during this time and during her monthly visitor. She should be ready to feel those changes. Let her know that it could feel overwhelming at times and to come to you. Many teenagers experience depression and anxiety that can seem extreme, if this occurs, be sure you’re child knows you are there to listen to her without judgment. Teenagers can sometimes overreact, and in extreme cars, can lead to suicidal and even homicidal ideations. You don’t want you’re child to feel alone if she had those thoughts. Keep an open live off communication so she knows she can come to you. No matter what the issue is. She should not fear your reaction to her innermost conflicts if she chooses to express them. Hello her to find alternative ways of dealing with her emotions that are healthy

And finally, DO explain to her that if she chooses to become sexually active, she will be able to become pregnant. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away. A teenager who is sexually active needs to know how to be safe to prevent STDs and an unplanned pregnancy. Having a child as a teenager is a life changing decision, and one that is usually made under duress. It can affect the rest of her life. It’s important to discuss abstinence and birth control methods.

It’s your job as a parent to raise your child into adulthood as best you can to give her a good foundation to start her adult life. This is all part of the process. It’s also one of the most important things you can do to take your little girl and make her into a healthy and well adjusted woman.

Remember, love respect, and good open communication goes a long way. She will remember this time in her life and how you prepared her. She will also thank you one day.

cps, General
What exactly IS the definition of child abuse and neglect?

If you are accused of child abuse, what does that mean? When I was a child, it was common practice to get a spanking, or whopping. It was called discipline.

Now days, spanking your child can get your child taken away from you and suddenly you are labeled an abuser for trying to teach your child tight from wrong. Where do we draw the line? Do parents have to live in fear of disciplining their own child?

What about neglect? CPS often uses the term “neglectful supervision” to justify their reason for involvement in a family’s life. That’s a very elastic term, what does it mean? How do you tell the difference between neglect and simply poverty?

If a family cannot afford to get the child school supplies or new clothes are they really being neglectful?

Let’s take a look at what the experts and the law says is child abuse and neglect.

What exactly IS child abuse?

In defining child maltreatment, experts have focused on both broad parameters and specific types or subgroups of child abuse and neglect.

C. Henry Kempe and colleagues’ “battered child syndrome” identified physical injuries perpetrated on the child by caregivers.

Vincent Fontana’s “maltreatment syndrome” included neglect in the definition of child abuse.

The American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Standards Project defined child abuse as a non-accidental injury that “causes or creates a substantial risk of causing disfigurement, impairment of bodily functioning, or other serious physical injury.”

A group of professionals in child welfare defined “emotional neglect” as the “parent’s refusal to recognize and take action to ameliorate a child’s identified emotional disturbance.”

Another definition of child abuse includes sexual abuse as “the sexual misuse of a child for an adult’s own gratification without proper concern for the child’s psychosexual development.”

The federal government’s legal definition of child abuse and neglect comes under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Public Law 100-294).

This included child physical and mental abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, and neglect by a person responsible for the child’s health and welfare.

The Child Abuse Amendments of 1984 (Public Law 98-457) expanded the definition of child abuse and neglect to include “the withholding of medical treatment to an infant with a life threatening health condition or complication.”

The National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators’ definition of child abuse and neglect further defined child maltreatment in a broad level as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death or serious physical, sexual, or emotional harm or presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a person under age 18.”

Critics of the sometimes confusing, inconsistent, plethora of definitions of child abuse and neglect point out such problems as some are too narrow, others too inclusive, and the cross-cultural differences with respect to perceptions of child maltreatment and reporting of such.

The lack of uniformity in definitions and the resulting inconsistencies in their application reflect “the manifold perspectives on these acts, and the inchoate state of conceptualization.

Legislative history

The law was completely rewritten in the Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption and Family Services Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-294).

It was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-126 and the Drug Free School Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226).

The Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Grants was a program that was originally authorized by Sections 402 to 409 of the Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1985 (Public Law 98-473).

The Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 (Public Law 101-126) transferred the program to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended.

A new Title III, Certain Preventive Services Regarding Children of Homeless Families or Families at Risk of Homelessness, was added to the Child Abuse and Neglect and Treatment Act by the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act Amendments of 1990 (Public Law 101-645).

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was amended and reauthorized by the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence Adoption and Family Services Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-295), and amended by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Amendmentsof 1992 (Public Law 102-586).

The Act was amended by the Older American Act Technical Amendments of 1993 (Public Law 103-171, 12/2/93) and the Human Services Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-252, 5/19/94).

CAPTA was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L. 104-235, 10/3/96), which amended Title I, replaced the Title II Community-Based Family Resource Centers program with a new Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program, and repealed Title III.

CAPTA was most recently amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36, 6/25/03), which amended Title I and replaced Title II, Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program with Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

CAPTA was reauthorized in 2010, as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011 (Public Law 111-320)

This factsheet available for download by clicking here, is intended to help you better understand the Federal
definition of child abuse and neglect; learn about the different types of abuse and neglect, including human
trafficking; and recognize their signs and symptoms.

It also includes additional resources with information on how to effectively identify and report maltreatment and refer children who have been maltreated.

Federal legislation lays the groundwork for State laws
and Neglect and on child maltreatment by identifying a minimum set of systemwide laws, policies, and statutes that define actions or behaviors as child abuse and neglect.

Federal Law defines child abuse and neglect as, at a minimum,

any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or victims, fatalities, exploitation (including sexual abuse as determined under section 111), or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm” (42 U.S.C. 5101 note, § 3)

Additionally, it stipulates that “a child shall be considered a victim of ‘child abuse and neglect’ and of ‘sexual abuse’ if the child is identified, by a State or local agency employee of the State or locality involved, as being a victim of sex trafficking.

Most Federal and State child protection laws primarily refer to cases of harm to a child caused by parents or other caregivers; they generally do not include harm caused by other people, such as acquaintances or strangers.

Some State laws also include a child’s witnessing of domestic violence as a form of abuse or neglect.

For more information on State-specific laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect, see Child Welfare Information Gateway’s State Statutes Search page .

General
Child Abuse and Neglect in the Armed Services

Relatively little research has been done on child maltreatment in the armed services: the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. However, some data does indicate that child abuse and neglect is a serious problem in the military just as in civilian life.

According to NCANDS data, there were 16,673 reports of alleged child maltreatment in the military in 1996.

In 48 percent of the investigations, there were dispositions of substantiated maltreatment of children.

A breakdown of the type of child maltreatment victims found in the armed services follows:

* Forty-two percent were victims of neglect.
* Thirty-six percent were physical abuse victims.
* Fourteen percent were sexual abuse victims.
* Seventeen percent were victims of emotional maltreatment.

Child maltreatment in the armed services has been associated with military life itself and circumstances within, including substance abuse, disciplinary infractions, reassignment, field training, payroll problems, living abroad, foreign spouses, and intra-cultural problems.

John Miller reported that the most vulnerable population in the military for child maltreatment are young enlisted families who have been in the service for less than 3 years.

Within this group are “high-risk families, as in civilian life, characterized by “inexperience, immaturity, lack of social skills, and inability to cope with life’s stresses and problems.”

In a study of the types of child maltreatment in the armed services conducted at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, it was found that 7 percent of the cases were “disciplinary abuse.”

The term was first used in a study classifying types of child maltreatment among the civilian population, and descriptive of the typical pattern of the “military syndrome.”

The abusive parents were described as “rigid and unfeeling… the homes were spotless… abuse was centered upon any child who broke the rules and straps and sticks were used in place of hands.”

Although Family Advocacy Programs personnel in the armed services are required to report cases of child abuse and neglect to the child abuse registry in the state in which the victim lives, much like civilians, most child maltreatment in the military is believed to go unreported and, thus, remains a hidden tragedy

General, murder, news
CPS placed 18 month old child in his aunt’s care – now he’s dead

Two separate investigations will review Child Protective Services’ handling of a Dallas toddler’s case after the child was found dead Thursday in a landfill, a day after his aunt and caregiver reported him missing.

Police believe they found 18-month-old Cedrick Jackson’s remains Thursday morning in a landfill on the Garland-Rowlett line. The Dallas County medical examiner had yet to positively identify the remains or determine a cause of death as of Friday.

Authorities charged Sedrick Johnson, the 27-year-old boyfriend of the child’s aunt, with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.

Johnson faces additional charges pending the medical examiner’s findings. The toddler had been living in a Lake Highlands apartment with Johnson and his aunt, Crystal Jackson, after CPS placed him in her care.

Johnson told police he had swaddled Cedrick in blankets — something he had been doing since May after the child “made a mess” with ketchup packets, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Johnson told police he unwrapped Cedrick after he heard the child making noises in his sleep. He said the toddler then vomited and became unresponsive. Johnson told police he left the child’s body in a dumpster in northeast Dallas after his CPR attempts failed.

Internal and independent reviews will likely examine why Cedrick was placed in the home of Johnson, who has a criminal history in Dallas County.

The child’s mother, Dishundra Thomas, had allowed Cedrick to stay with Jackson. The arrangement by CPS was not against her will, Thomas said.

However, CPS would not knowingly place a child in a home with an adult who has a criminal history, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Johnson was charged with child abandonment in 2010 after police said he left his infant daughter alone in an apartment while he propositioned an undercover officer who he believed was a prostitute, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to four years of probation. Johnson later violated that probation and was sentenced to eight months in state jail in 2016.

Under normal circumstances, CPS officials conduct a criminal background check on each adult in a home being considered for child placement, Gonzales said. She didn’t provide details on Cedrick’s case Friday, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

The Department of Family and Protective Service’s Office of Child Safety will conduct an independent review of CPS’ handling of Cedrick’s case, Gonzales said. It’s not clear when either investigation will complete.

The Office of Child Safety will issue a report detailing its findings when the investigation is complete, but Gonzales said the office would need the approval of the Dallas County district attorney’s office and law enforcement before releasing the report publicly.

Johnson was still in the Dallas County jail as of Friday evening, with bail set at $503,000.

Vigil in boy’s honor

Friday evening, mourners gathered under a pavilion at Lake Highlands Recreation Center for a community vigil in Cedrick’s memory, where Dishundra Thomas, the boy’s mother, briefly addressed the crowd of about 100 before breaking down, inconsolable. Another read a prepared statement that was barely comprehensible through her tears.

“Baby C.J. was the sweetest little baby in the world,” his mother said. “He meant everything to us. He didn’t deserve anything that happened to him.”

Eventually family members had to escort her away, as she sobbed and screamed, “I want him back!”

The gathering included several families with small children, carrying blue and white balloons, one in the shape of a giant C. Some wore blue T-shirts with an image of Cedrick’s face and the words, “Rest in Heaven.” One woman carried a handmade poster reading “Our Beloved CJ” with photos of the boy.

Linus Walton of Wylie, an acquaintance of the boy’s uncle, spoke as well, saying “He brought people, as we see right now, together. C.J. was loved. His life was not in vain.”

Finally, as the sun began to set, the crowd moved to an open grassy area, where Cedrick’s grand-aunt, Benita Arterberry of Mesquite, said the gesture was symbolic of a soul being commended to God.

“Father, we know that into each life a little rain must fall, and today is a storm,” she said, as the crowd sent their balloons skyward. “We are so grateful to have had him for the time that we did.”

drug abuse, families, family, financial, funding, General, government, home, money, news
This is why Trump’s recommendation to replace SNAP FOOD STAMPS with food boxes is a bad idea… and its not really about the food or the money.

And when it was my turn, there was nobody left to speak up for me…

I know this isn’t normally in line with my blog topic of Foster Care but it does relate to the interest of families all across our country.

So, please take a moment and help me get this message out.

I am going to tell you why i believe President Trumps’ idea to replace SNAP food stamps with boxes of food is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

But before i do, i have drafted a petition to President Trump on this issue that i am asking you to sign. I need 100,000 signatures in 30 days for it to reach the white house.

So even if you do not agree with me to sign the petition, please at least share my post, or the link to the petition, so it gets passed around. someone else might feel as strongly as I do on the topic and might want to include their signature. Thank you.

I’ve created this petition asking President Trump not to replace food stamps with boxes of food.

I must reach a goal of 100,000 signatures so that my petition makes it to the white house.

Even if you don’t agree with the current program of SNAP FOOD BENEFITS, that’s okay. This is about much more than that. If you value your FREEDOMS AS AMERICAN CITIZENS, please take a moment.

SNAP food stamps are NOT just for people who do not work. In fact, most employees of Walmart are on food stamps…(and incidentally spend them at Walmart…hrmmm).

For many families it is the difference between going HUNGRY OR having the ability to cook a real, heathy meal with meat and vegetables.

I’M NOT DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT SNAP IS necessary, or for who, or how much or for how long.

I do not even receive SNAP benefits, by the way .

I want to discuss the IMPLICATIONS of what The POTUS has proposed.

Trump wants to replace food stamps with boxes of government food.

THINK ABOUT THAT.

The government issued boxes of food Trump Is proposing for the future….

the bread lines of the past.

Once a month, poor families well be given their share of whatever food the GOVERNMENT THINKS they should get to eat.

Bread lines.

Is this how things should be done in a “free” country? or is this ONE STEP CLOSER to repeating history?

This is AMERICA, LAND OF THE FREE, which includes the freedom to choose what we eat, when we eat, and how much.

AMERICA is NOT A COMMUNIST COUNTRY … government issued food boxes is one more freedom removed targeting the poor.

THAT’S A BIG DEAL.

There are too many ways the government can save money and make reforms to programs including SNAP food benefits

Please sign and pass along my petition at this site.

I need 100,000 signatures.

Thank you.

THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

HITLER WAS ELECTED. REMEMBER?


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family, General
The Last Wind

I wanted to run to you that day, In May.. … to follow you into the last wind. But I knew It wasn’t time for me to go… yet. It was YOUR name that was called into a new beginning…not mine.. So I wait…. Remembering.. another time, once before… when I would run to you. I was always full of smiles. My arms waved frantically to you in alliegence…I couldn’t wait. YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE I knew you would embrace me with your tenderness and you would always make me laugh with your silly wiles. Those were the innocent times… before my travels led me be too far away to come back home… I remember how you always waited with your arms outstretched, and your knees bent in an irresponsible crouch..you were always full of smiles. YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE You would catch me and my laughter and spin us around .. You made my ten year olds’ wishes come true in your magical arms … around and around.. yes, I remember … you always gave me love and so much happiness. Those were the innocent times … before I learned too many truths to believe… Before I lost so much hope, that I stopped making wishes… I would always run to you, Daddy, from the plane…. and find you there, waiting… YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE I would run to you now if I could, into the last wind… In memory of my father, Jack T. Akin Sr. who passed into another beginning on May 10, 2010.

child, children, cps, families, General, love
Taming the Mommy Tiger

This article from StepMom Magazine is too good to not re-post. In the arena of parental alienation, I have been doing my research into many areas, including blended families.

One of the most common issues I see presented is the battle between a stepparent and the natural parent.

This article has great insight, by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. 

Taming the Mommy TigerOne of the most common questions I hear from women who marry or partner with men who have kids is,

What should they call me?”

While there’s no one right answer, I do concur with the overwhelming majority of experts and women in the trenches who know from first-hand experience that there is, in a broad sense, to which there are rare exceptions, a wrong one: Mom. Or mommy. Or mother. You get the idea.

I’m not big on oversimplified advice—there’s way too much of it out there for stepmothers in books, which tend to gloss over the point of view of the woman with stepchildren, as if she’s got no right to have one. That’s just wrong, and that’s why I wrote a book from a stepmother-centric perspective. But when it comes to this particular issue, unless the planets are aligned just so (and we’ll get to that, to the factors that might make it easy and OK for his kids to call you and think of you as mom), it is best for all parties if you acknowledge the specialness of your bond with his kids of any age by coming up with a word other than mom to define it.

“Hey!” you’re thinking, “That’s not fair! I’m just like a mom. I do lots of heavy lifting. I do X, Y and even Z for those kids!! And she’s (fill-in-the-blank with neglectful, or a terrible mother or unloving and selfish and disinterested in  her kids, or even an alcoholic/drug addict/liar).

So, why is she the only one to be called mom?

Does just giving birth to them make her the only mother?

Yep, it does.

Whether we like it or think it’s right or wrong, we will likely be able save ourselves a lot of grief and aggravation by acknowledging a simple truth. In our society, motherhood is romanticized and idealized, and mothers—no matter how bad—are put on a pedestal by the world in general and by their kids in particular.

Sometimes, you may have noticed, the more problems the mother has, the more fiercely protective of and attached and irrationally loyal to her the kids are. It can make your head spin, especially if you know you’re a better parent than she is. Whoa, there, Step-mom!

There’s a reason step-family experts—from the National Step-family Resource Center to the last book you picked up—are virtually unanimous in their advice,

“Don’t try to replace their mother, and don’t ask them to call you mom.”

While you’re at it, when they ask to call you mom, as flattering as it is, as much of a victory as it feels like, as much as you feel you earned it and deserve it, your life will probably be a whole lot easier in the long run if you point out,

“I love you very much, but let’s think of something else for you to call me, since you already have a mom.”

Again, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Why are the experts and so many of the women who have been there such killjoys about the kids calling you mommy?

Because they know what they’re talking about. First, there’s the reality of the loyalty bind—a feeling that kids get, often because their moms
encourage it—that loving or even liking you is a betrayal of her. They
suspect that bonding with you will actually cause their bond with her to wither and die. What could be scarier for these kids than loving you and calling you mom, mommy or any variant of The Mother? Sometimes, kids feel and fear this even without their moms doing what too many moms do— badmouth you and your marriage.

If there’s anything that provokes a woman with stepchildren, it’s a mom who doesn’t want her kids to get too close to dad’s new wife—and tries to assure it won’t happen by telling lies or saying inappropriate and undermining things about their step-mom.

“If it weren’t for her, your dad and I would still be together,” such women might say to their kids. Or, “You don’t have to listen to her or be nice to her. She’s not in charge of you.”

If there is anything that provokes a mother, it’s the feeling that someone— someone married to her ex-husband in particular, whether she instigated the divorce or not—is competing with her for her child’s affection. “I love them like they’re my own,” you might say to her in a conversation, trying to set her at ease. But the words have the opposite effect, making mom feel encroached upon and threatened.

But why? As I researched my book, “Stepmonster,” I reviewed what sociologists and anthropologists had to say about stepmothering worldwide and about wife/ex-wife conflict across cultures. What quickly became clear was the following simple truth: In our society in particular, many women find the idea of sharing their children with another motherlike figure incredibly threatening to their core identity and their very sense of self. And when they have to do it, they lose it.

Many are the stories of crazy exes and vengeful biomoms (can we please just call them moms or mothers?) who undermine the stepmother/stepchild relationship as if their very lives depend upon it.

Why are these women so angry, so dead set on keeping their kids from bonding with stepmom? Sociologists Linda Nielsen of Wake Forest University, Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen University and the Council on Contemporary Families tell us that, unlike many Caribbean, Native American, and Pacific Island cultures—where children have a number of parent-like figures who care for them and may have several mother-like “aunties” who look after them in all senses, such as feeding, clothing and even disciplining them—middle and upper-middle class Caucasian American women are dramatically more likely to have been raised in a “one-mother only mentality.”

That means these women have been taught from an early age that mothering means one woman and one woman only doing the heavy lifting mostly, if not entirely, on her own. They are less likely, in a broad statistical sense, to have had fictive kin, aunties and even extended family involved in their upbringing. In their view, mothering comes from one person, and one person alone—period.

This exclusive, exclusionary view of mothering is deeply ingrained for many of us and results in a mindset that there can be only one mother. Further implied is that if one mother isn’t doing it all on her own, she’s a bad one. And being a bad mother, in our culture, makes you a bad woman and a bad person. There’s no separating those categories in our thinking.

Coontz, Nielsen and other sociologists point out that Caribbean, Pacific Island, Native American and African American children are more likely to have “allomaternal” and “allopaternal” figures in their lives—“aunties” and “uncles” who contribute to their well-being in numerous ways. They also tell us this is likely to be the case in immigrant and lower-income groups, where extended family living arrangements and a belief that “it takes a village” prevail. In contrast, for many of us in the U.S., it’s nuclear family bonds uber-alles.

Why do so many ex-wives go nuts when their exes remarry and their kids get a stepmother? In large part, it may be because they are programmed to do this.

Understanding this might help those of us with stepchildren understand how an otherwise sane-seeming, high-functioning woman is capable of demonizing us in irrational ways. It takes hard work and commitment to overcome this social programming, and our collective hats should be off to the mothers who manage it. As for those who don’t, we will do everyone a good turn, perhaps most especially ourselves and our step kids, if we use this knowledge to avoid provoking the mommy tiger by insisting on our “right” to be called mom and to share what she considers to be her exclusive mom privileges.

These often include parent-teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments and conversations with kids about topics like reproduction, sex and drugs. In all of these areas, ask yourself just how dreadful it really is to have to concede to her irrational-seeming wishes you just stay away or remain uninvolved.

As many therapists and stepfamily coaches ask their clients,

“Do you really want to go to every parent-teacher conference? If it provokes your husband’s ex so tremendously, might it be wise to sit back?”

Sadly,our well-intentioned impulses to be involved in his children’s lives might be read by mom, owing to her social programming, as territorial and aggressive.

Does that mean you have to skip the Winter Sing, the graduation or the gymnastics meet every time, be excluded and shut out? No way. But if there is a high conflict situation with a Mommy Tiger, it makes sense to ask yourself exactly which battles are worth having and when it might be more fun to skip the science fair and go out for a night with friends.

And then there are those rare exceptions. I know a few—and perhaps you do, too—women whose step kids call them mom and who have a highly involved, maternal relationship with the kids. Here’s the planetary alignment that might favor a kid calling you mom and thinking of you as one or another one, without blowback:

1. His or her mother is out of the picture. Not as in deceased. A child whose mother has passed away will likely need to preserve her memory and her name—mother—just for her, no matter how badly that child may want and need mothering from you. But out of touch and out of sight for almost all of the time might make it easier and less
fraught for you to take on a mom role and name. Remember, though, although she may be out of sight and out of touch, she may not be out of mind.

2. He or she is young enough and open enough to forming an attachment so the mommy thing will not inspire tremendous ambivalence or confusion.

3. His or her mother actually encourages a warm, closer relationship between you and her child—and means it.

One woman I interviewed—I’ll call her Sarah—was nine months pregnant when her husband, never reliable, left her. He came back when the baby was 3 months old and left again three months later.

Sarah knew her ex, given his yearslong pattern of abandoning her and others, would never be part of her child’s life. She also found out that
a court was very likely to support her barring contact should it come to that. So, when Sarah eventually decided to remarry, she and her partner thought long and hard about what her 2-year-old girl should call her stepfather. Given all of the factors, they settled on daddy.

However, they decided her new husband’s son Zach—whose mom was
sufficiently unreliable and irresponsible to have lost custody of him—had a mom, however imperfect. Having and being a mommy, Sarah and her husband knew, is uniquely fraught in our culture. And they suspected that letting Zach call Sarah mommy might cause problems—resentments, confusion or ambivalence—down the line. They were probably right.

And five years later, Zach and Sarah, whom he calls Sarry—a variation on mommy that is different enough from it to set everyone at ease—are doing just fine.

“In our society in particular, many women find the idea of sharing their children with  another  mother-like figure incredibly threatening to their core identity and their very sense of self. And when they have to do it, they lose it.”

© 2011 StepMom Magazine
Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., is a social researcher and the author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do (2009).
She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today
(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stepmonster)
and blogs for the Huffington Post and on her own web site
(www.wednesdaymartin.com).
She has appeared as a stepparenting expert on NPR, the BBC Newshour, Fox News and NBC Weekend Today, and was a regular contributor to the New York Post’s parenting page.
Stepmonster was a finalist in the parenting category of the 2010 “Books for a Better Life” award.
A stepmother for a decade, Wednesday lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
Her stepdaughters are young adults.
adoption, child adoption, cps, foster child, General, health, love, mental illness
Understanding Ambiguous Loss

For nearly seven years now, I have suffered the grief from losing my son in 2004. I have been paralyzed, lost, and trapped in the pain since 2004.

I have grieved, or so I thought. Maybe I didn’t grieve. I really don’t know for sure, since this sort of thing was not part of my plan as a parent.

How does a parent resolve the unfair loss of a child into the system, that occurred because of a custody battle gone wrong, a spiteful spouse, and system failure?  That resolve does not exist. When the wrongs  are never righted there is no resolution, only the what ifs that run rampant. The frustration and anger is never-ending.

 I never knew it was something with a label, “ambiguous loss”.

 Wow.  There is a term for what I feel.  There is a label that is out there and recognized, as something real, and is far greater than I, alone, can overcome.  I can only feel it every day, every week, month, and year, since the loss of my son, as it eats away the inside of my spirit.

People have said to me, “move on” and “get over it” and “yeah yeah its been years, aren’t you past that yet?” or “at least he’s alive out there, he could be dead, ya know…” or one of a million other ‘words of advice’ in their futile attempts to fix me.   Yet I remain stuck, lost, and sad.  

On top of the myriad of emotions I feel as the mother, I often fear that if it feels this intense for *me* at *my age* with *my understanding of life* as an adult –  I CANNOT imagine how it felt to my eight year old son to go through what we went through!!

I don’t want to imagine how it felt for him, but as his mother, I have no choice but to wonder – which makes the impact of my own emotions that much greater.  It’s a horrible cycle that never ends.   There is no resolution, there is no finalizing the pain.

 So…Ambiguous Loss is what its called.  

Lets learn a little about it and how it affects the children in the child welfare system. As if we can even begin to understand how deeply they feel it as children… as if..


Understanding Ambiguous Loss

source: http://www.mnadopt.org

Ambiguous loss is a term that is used to describe the grief or distress associated with a loss (usually a person or relationship) in which there is confusion or uncertainty about that person or relationship.

There are two types of ambiguous loss:

1) When the person is physically present but psychologically unavailable. An example of this might be when a child’s parent has a mental health diagnosis or chemical use issues which make them emotionally unavailable to meet the needs of the child, even if that parent is physically present;

2) When the person is physically absent but psychologically present. Examples of this would be when a child does not live with a parent due to divorce, incarceration, foster care or adoption;

Ambiguous loss may overlap with trauma and attachment problems and symptoms may be similar to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A person experiencing ambiguous loss may:

• Have difficulty with transitions or changes;

• Have difficulty making decisions; feeling “paralyzed” or overwhelmed when having to make choices about one’s life;

• Have decreased ability to cope with routine childhood or adolescent losses–not being able to “move on” from a disappointment or loss or feeling “stuck”;

• Exhibit learned helplessness or hopelessness;

• Have depression and/or anxiety;

• Have feelings of guilt.

Ambiguous loss affects adopted children who may think about their birth family, but birth family members and adoptive parents might also experience ambiguous loss. Both birth family members and adopted children may wonder about each other, or may mourn or fantasize about what it would have been like to stay together. Adoptive parents, especially if they adopt after struggles with infertility, may experience ambiguous loss over pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or the loss of the dream of having children biologically.

Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss: Coming to Terms with Unresolved Grief, writes,

“Although the birth mother is more conscious of the actual separation than is the baby given up for adoption… the birth mother is thought about often and kept psychologically present in the minds of both the adoptive mother and the adopted child.”

Consider how much more this loss might be felt by youth who were not separated at birth but lived with the mother or father for months or years before the separation occurred; or the effect of loss on children who experience multiple placements and caregivers.

Each move from a caregiver is one more time a child could experience ambiguous loss over the separation.

It was once thought that a child could not feel loss over the separation from birth family they had never known; however more recent research has shown that adopted youth may in fact grieve over the loss (Grotevant et al, 2000).

Adopted individuals who were able to discuss difficult feelings about the uncertainty and lack of information about birth family with their adoptive family showed less symptoms of ambiguous loss than those whose adoptive families had more closed conversations (Powell & Afifi, 2005).

Some adopted children make up their own story about the circumstances of their adoption or use “magical thinking” to
describe their imagined adoption scenario when they lack information.

Adoptees have described the lack of knowledge about their biological families and reasons for separation as like “a book without the first few chapters” or as “lives written in pencil that can easily be erased.”

Some researchers have found that ambiguous loss often peaks for adopted youth during adolescence when identity becomes part of the teenager’s developmental tasks.

According to Boss,

“. . . the greater the ambiguity surrounding one’s loss, the more difficult it is to master [the loss] and the greater one’s depression, anxiety, and family conflict”

Why is this?

• It is difficult for a person to resolve grief if they don’t know if the loss is temporary or final;
• Uncertainty about the loss prevents a child’s ability to reorganize roles and relationships in their family;
• There is a lack of a clear, symbolic ritual surrounding the loss;

• The lost relationship is not socially recognized or is hidden from others;

• The griever is not socially recognized (this is often the case with birth family, regardless of whether the child was removed voluntarily or involuntarily);

• The circumstances that led to loss are perceived negatively by others.

In the case of a parent’s death, for example, people understand the loss and rituals (such as funerals) help the child understand and provide closure to the relationship with that parent.

However, as Boss writes,

“Existing rituals and community supports only address clear-cut loss such as death.”

When a child is separated from his or her parents due to child protection intervention, relinquishment or abandonment, the parent may be physically absent but the psychological presence may still be very much in the child’s mind. Knowing the parent is out there “somewhere” can be confusing or  anxiety-inducing for the child. They may wonder if they will run into the parent at the grocery store, for example, or wonder if the parent will call them someday.

Also, because adoption is commonly viewed positively as a joyous event in our society, a child may feel confusion or guilt over being asked to be happy that they were separated from their birth family. Extended family members and community may not recognize or understand that adoption is directly related to the loss of  the original birth family.

Suggestions for helping children manage feelings of ambiguous loss:

• Give voice to the ambiguity. Provide a name to the feelings of ambiguous loss and acknowledge how difficult It is to live with this ambiguity.

• Learn to redefine what it means to be a family.

Boss writes,

“Acting as if the membership list of an adoptive family is etched in stone may in the end be more stressful than explicitly recognizing that the family has some ambiguous boundaries.”

• Adopted children need to be given permission to grieve the loss of their family of origin without feeling  guilty

• Help the child identify what has been lost (the loss may not be limited to the actual parent – the loss could also include the membership of that extended family, the loss of the home or town they were born in, the loss of having a family that looks like them, the loss of their family surname, or for internationally adopted youth the loss of birth country and language;

• Create a “loss box.” In her work with adopted adolescents, therapist Debbie Riley guides the youth as they decorate a box in which they place items that represent things they’ve lost. This gives the youth both a ritual for acknowledging the loss and a way for them to revisit the people or relationships in the future.

• Include birth parents and birth family members in the child’s family “orchard” so the child can literally and figuratively place them in their self-narrative “history”

• Sometimes certain events trigger feelings of loss such as holidays, birthdays or the anniversary of an adoption. Alter or add to family rituals to acknowledge the child’s feelings about these important people or  relationships that have been lost.

For example, adding an extra candle representing the child’s birth family on his or her cake may be a way of remembering their part in your child’s life on that day; or even an acknowledgement like “I bet your mom and dad are thinking about you today” recognizes those ambiguous relationships.

• Don’t set an expectation that grief over ambiguous loss will be “cured,” “fixed” or “resolved” in any kind of predetermined time frame.

Explain that feelings related to ambiguous loss will come and go at different times in a person’s life and provide a safe place for the child to express those feelings.

Adults must be mindful of the trauma that accompanies each transition to a different placement or with new caregivers.

It is important for social workers, foster parents and adoptive parents to recognize how ambiguous loss and grief may affect adopted youth – especially as they near adolescence and young adulthood.

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For more information:
Ambiguous loss: Learning to live with unresolved grief. Pauline Boss, (1999). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
 
Ambiguous loss in adolescents: Increasing understanding to enhance intervention. L. Ashbourne, L. Baker & C. Male (2002).
 
This free, downloadable pdf is available at www.lfcc.on.ca.
Disenfranchised grief: Recognizing hidden sorrow. K.J. Doka (2002). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
 
Adoptive identity: How contexts within and beyond the family shape developmental pathways. H.D. Grotevant, N. Dunbar, J.K. Kohler & A.M.L. Esau (2000). Family Relations, 49: 379-387.
 
Uncertainty management and adoptees’ ambiguous loss of their birth parents. K.A. Powell & T.D. Afifi (2005). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 22(1): 129-151.
 
Beneath the mask: Understanding adopted teens. D. Riley & J. Meeks (2006). Burtonsville, MD: C.A.S.E. Publications
child, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, divorce, domestic violence, families, family, fear, General, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, murder
Help! I fell in love with the boogeyman!

(c) Forever May, 2009

The boogeyman.

Everybody knows the boogeyman isn’t real. Right?

Well, to some, the boogeyman is very real and he is the one you love.  How does someone fall in love with the boogeyman?  What makes the boogeyman become what or who he is? A monster – an abuser…

Abuse at its worst is when the one person you look to as your life partner hurts you.  That’s the person you should trust, confide in, turn to, and be there for…. til death do us part does not mean a death because of the very relationship the wedding vows refer to.  The pain is ten-fold, the emotions run especially high, the betrayal, and bitterness is raw, and in the end – the wounds & scars run deep. Very deep.

I have been an advocate against domestic abuse for years. I know the cycle of abuse. I know the pain. I know the scars. I lost my son to domestic abuse.  So, I would know better than to involve myself into another abusive relationship. I would never mean to get in a relationship with a man who would hit me or take my freedom and will away from me. I know the signs, the symptoms, the who gamet.

If you have noticed my blog has been slow posting over the last year or so, this is the reason.  I somehow managed to get myself into a relationship, again, with an abuser. Its taken me a year and 1/2 and several dozen attempts to get away.  I did, finally, get out.

*I* fell into the cycle again knowing better…. I know SO WELL what to look for, what to avoid, and what to do – I’ve been through this before. I couldn’t believe where I found myself again.  I asked “why did this happen” each time I would be swallowing my tears, hiding in my dark room, or  sneaking past his sleeping quieted body to the fridge to grab a piece of bread and scurry away to eat it without waking him or his rage…How did *I* get trapped by another monster?

He was the boogeyman, you see, wearing a disguise.  He offered me a helping hand when I needed it badly, and he was so beautifully charming.  He had a good paying job, a nice house, car, he worked hard, he was kind, sensitive, good looking, a good listener, we had fun times together.  We had so much in common on our views, opinions, passions, and goals. It was perfect…too perfect.  He even got me a puppy.

Sure, I thought “this is too good to be true” and was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I was expecting another shoe to drop.

I didn’t expect it to be a boot …( a steel-toed boot).

I had plenty of space, as his job took him out of town for weeks at a time too. While he was away, I would have plenty of time to myself, to do my thing.  It was my time to recharge my inner batteries so-to-speak.

The weekends when he was home we’d have a great time together.  Then I told him I wanted to get a job.  Instantly, he changed into the boogeyman.  He quit going to work, became extremely possessive, and if I had a job interview, he would subversively sabotage any chance I had of getting it.  A job meant indepedence.  A job meant I would leave.  He lost his job then his car, and eventually his house.  He moved us into an old house that had once been scheduled for demolition and every other week I was running away from home, but with my dog by my side, it was difficult to find anywhere to go for any period of time.  I went to the shelter. I wanted to work, but the inconsistency of my life couldn’t allow me to keep a job.  I went back after I would run out of options, just to leave again within the next few weeks.

For the first year and 1/2, no matter how abusive it got, he hadn’t “hit” me.  The abuse was mental, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial.  Intimidation tactics, threats, but he always promised he’d never hit me.  I lost all my friends, one by one, who got tired of the “drama” or who were afraid of him coming over there.

Then he hit me for the first time.  It was an “accident” he said, a “freak accident.” Right.

I was so afraid and in shock I stood frozen in the corner he’d backed me into and then played possom all night until I had the chance to run. I went into a shelter, but was kicked out of the shelter for eating yogurt after 9pm. I was starving – food had been a special commodity with him. 

Back I went with the utmost of apprehension… the second time he hit me, a week later, he didn’t just hit me, it was an all out brawl, and my dog bit him… the puppy he’d gotten me… protecting me.  He threatened her.  I left that day and never went back.  I had the good fortune of some of his friends who were nearby, picked my dog and I up from the corner gas station, and had a feeling the abuse had been going on, but weren’t sure.  He kept me too isolated to know. 

Now they knew, and his secret was out.  Finally, I was out too.

He still tries, and thinks I’m his, and will be home. I received roses yesterday.  I won’t budge.  My things are still at his house, in my bedroom there that has notes he painted for me all over the walls and ceiling.  His obsession with me hasn’t diminished, & he can’t control me anymore.  So far he’s had the desire to save face in front of his friends enough to leave me be.  So far.

What happened to him that made him this way?  If you ask him he’ll say it was all my fault, an accident, or a result of my “craziness”.  He’ll never admit he’s a monster.  He doesn’t seem that way at first of course.  He has a good side, a good heart, a generous nature, but the flip side is a controlling abusive man.

Whats going on in his mind?  Why is he abusive?  Thats why this topic is particularly involving my focus right now.  Why did I fall into it again, even knowing so well what to avoid and look for.

It goes to show one can never have too much knowledge. Thank goodness I’m away and safe.  I thought he was going to kill me one day. He might have. I am sad for the way things turned out, but knew it was the only choice, for me to leave. 

I want to reunite with my son one day, and I want to have a close relationship with my daughter and granddaughter, and my son too, which I could never have with an abuser around me.  He didn’t see himself as an abuser, so he didn’t see things the way I did.  He has the mind of an abuser, fits exactly the profile in the article to follow.  So exact in fact, its spooky, like it was written about him.

There’s some very useful information about domestic violence and abusers in the following articles, how abusers’ minds work how their loved ones can deal with them, and where to find help.

Thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past year while I was dealing with this.  As for me, I’m okay, a little traumatized again, with my PTSD acting up. Hypervigilence at its best… or worst, I guess.  

I’m making new friends, finding support of wonderful people around me, and enjoying the peace. I’m starting to feel happy again, and hope again.

For anyone out there involved in an abusive relationship, take it from me, its not your fault, stay strong, and there is a light out there somewhere – keep trying to find it.  I know its hard and frustrating and often times hopeless.

You can make it, and you don’t deserve to stay.  Its hard getting out. I know.  Have faith in yourself and keep trying to find a way out.

I think I’ll stay single for a while though.

Thanks again for your support!

 _________________________________

For More Information read:  Exploring the Mind of An Abuser