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Help for father & son
October 18, 2000
10:32 pm
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Cassandra
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Ok folks, I know the first rule is to talk about yourself and not someone else but as this problem definitely involves me I think I am not, technically at least, breaking the rule. I have 2 very good friends who are father and son. We'll call them Bert (the dad) and Ernie (the son). Ernie turned 18 this year and this is his senior year of high school. I have known them both since Ernie was 13. I am 33 and Bert is 43. I am terribly fond of both of them and Ernie is like a little brother to me.
Ernie's mom left them when Ernie was barely 3 and he hasn't seen her since and only knows that she was an alcholic and drug addict (at least this is what his dad says) and that she was, in general, a terrible person.
Tension has been high between Bert and Ernie ever since I've known them. On the surface they seem to get along fine but Ernie was always quiet and, by the time I'd known them a year or so, hinted that his dad was, at times, violent towards him. I never saw any brusies or obvious signs of abuse but when I would ask Ernie if he'd like me to talk to his dad he'd just say no, that it wopuld make the situation worse because then his dad would feel betrayed and probably wouldn't let me see him any more. And I believed that was probably true. After all, I had no hard evidence to press Bert with.
As Ernie got older their relationship deteriorated and as Ernie becvame closer to me he told me more and more about his dad. The violence was fairly rare, but did happen, and often for no reason that Ernie could understand. So he was always tense and walking on eggshells. Worse, he learned to lie to his dad, as sometimes that would at least buy him some time. His lying has become epic though because he is afraid to ever tell the truth if he knmows his dad won't like it. But then when he gets caught in a lie, things are even worse.
A few weeks ago he told a lie, an admittedly stupid and fairly minor one really, and his dad exploded, calle dhim terrible names, compared him to his mother, and, just for good measure, beat the doorframe into the living room with a PR24 (a cop's nightstick). Ernie came to me totally freaked out and on the verge of violence himself. A day or so later I moved him in with me. After a couple of weeks to give them both time to calm down and deal with their feelings I made them get together with a couple of other close friends and try to talk. For the first time, Ernie talked about the times his dad hit him. And Bert claimed to not remember any such thing. In fact, he claims he does not understand any of Ernie's negative feelings towards him and that he had no idea Ernie felt this way. He admits he "made mistakes" but the kinds of ones that are out of love, etc.
Needless to say, this puts ME in an akward position. I will NOT send Ernie back to his father's house with this totally unresolved the way it is. And while my instincts say I should believe the things Ernie has told me, I hate to think that either of them are liars, yet one obviously is.
They both refuse professional counseling and neither of them seems to be willing to make the first move and start talking. I personally believe this is on Bert's shoulders and that, as the parent, he should take the first step. But he seems to be in such deep denial about the whole situation that I dispair of him making any positive changes.
We are at a complete impasse and I don't knoiw what to do from here. Help!

October 19, 2000
5:53 pm
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Molly
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You have placed your self in a very difficult position. Doing the right thing morally, but it could back fire, so protect your self. If the boy does not want to go back due to the violence, I would seed legal counsel, what is the boys rights, is he old enough to be emancipated, and are you willing to support him? Does he have other relatives that will take him in, as a friend you have no rights, but there is child protective services, which who the heck knows how that will turn out. does the boy have a counselor at school, he should express all to the school counselor and they are mandated to report abuse. Be careful

October 19, 2000
8:59 pm
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shanti
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Sometimes we can get involved too much (unintentionally) when issues arise for our family and close personal friends. We can begin to feel so caught up in the issue that it can feel that we ourselves actually "own the problem" it could be good to take a big step back from the situation and take a look in so to speak. It would appear that there has been some issues for the father and son for quite sometime and only now has it come to light. We can try not to get caught up in the emotional side of things and to listen for the facts how we act on those facts is the challenge without putting our friendships in jeopardy. The father may already know within himself his"mistakes" but is finding that a "hard place to go to" (a hard thing to talk about) being so close to the father and son it may be that you only make yourself available to listen but try not act on "fixing things" as I percieve that this situation will beongoing unless someone is prepared to do some work...keep yourself safe....

October 21, 2000
3:42 pm
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janes
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18....in the Statea is legal age. The best bet would be family counseling. One so the roblems can be solved...two so the son does not perpetuate the actions of the father in his own family, 3 to protect you.

See if he can get an afterschool job, into college whatever.
As an educator I see many kids who are not getting along with parents who move in with friends and/or relatives to finish the school year.

Looks "mom" is an issue...at least ofr dad. would be interesting to see why she left (abuse/Anger issues)

Abusers can be very sly about the abuse. The abused often protect the abuser... Dad in this case may not even see waht he does as abuse...

complicated case but if the kid is 18 he can live where he wants.

Sovling the relationship issues are really up to them...not you ..but it's good of you to try to get them to do it.

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