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Reporting a friend...
September 22, 2006
4:00 pm
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lovetocrochet
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This is my first time posting a thread and needing advice/support, so here goes...

A long-time friend of mine has a son who's two. I learned she and her husband punished him the other day for ruining a piece of furniture by making him sit in his high chair on and off for a total of two hours the whole day, basically any time they were at home. They also wanted to take away some fun trips they were going to go on for the next few days.

I let her know I thought this was overly harsh and if anyone should be grounded it's her husband for not supervising the boy. She sees nothing wrong with what they're doing and argued that she "has to stand by" her husband because he's the one who came up with this. She mentioned her pediatrician told them you should only do a two minute time out, but she criticized his advice as being too soft and said that's the reason why kids have no respect today.

She also said well we still handled it better than my parents would have. All I could think was, SO???

I'm frankly not a big fan of her husband's. I got to see his temper when he yelled at me in public a few years ago, in front of my family; my husband had to get in his face and order him to leave. I warned her then not to have kids with him unless he got his act under control and she kind of went yeah I know... I had hoped when she had her kids that he'd gotten a grip but apparently not.

I warned her that A) she's going to simply train her son to become resentful, B) if she's going to focus on being hard on her kids for the sake of "teaching them responsibility" then she's going to blink and miss enjoying them as just kids, and C) what she does now about these things teaches her boy how to treat people when they make mistakes... and that will include his parents. She just sort of brushed it all off with a "but I do enjoy my kids."

I called an abuse hotline and they said to call the child agency in their area. They in turn dumped me in endless voice menus (and people wonder why we have problems with the system?) and I left a message with someone when I finally got somewhere but I haven't gotten a hold back. I'm thinking of calling again today.

Please, someone tell me this is the right thing to do, I think it is but the idea of turning in a friend... I've known this person for so long and we've seen each other through a lot. If I'm not able to submit a complaint anonymously this will definitely kill our friendship, but her kidlets are more important and God knows she and her husband need parenting classes if they think this is normal.

I've also gotten criticism from my husband. He says I should't be "sticking my nose in." Well GD it, if I don't who will? I told him if he saw some close friends of his mistreating their child he wouldn't hesitate to step in and he went, well yeah, but... I countered well then what difference does it make here??

Right now more than anything I simply need some support and to keep me in your thoughts and prayers for discernment and guidance. Thank you.

September 22, 2006
4:06 pm
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doubleloss
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hi love. I would stay out of this. Talk to your friend first.

September 22, 2006
4:08 pm
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Anonymous
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Hi there,

I commend you for doing the right thing. That punishment is ridiculous for the childs age, and you are spot on in that the husband should be punished for not paying attention to the little tyke. My ex was supposed to be watching his son one day when we were living together...when I got home from work his son had drawn beautiful crayon murals over 50% of the walls in my apartment...my ex then said it had happened under my watch earlier during the day which was not true. who did I punish? My ex of course! As parents we are to take responsibility for our childrens actions when they are so young. They need constant supervision because they can't think for themselves in a rational manner. To assume that a two year old would know better is ludicrous!
Kudos, please keep posting and let us follow with how this progresses,
ML

September 22, 2006
4:09 pm
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Anonymous
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Also...if this man has a temper he is inclined to only become more abusive without intervention. Hopefully a visit from child services will help guide them and give them the wake up call they need.

September 22, 2006
4:15 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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time out in a high chair is not the end of the world - I have done worse to my child at that age - because she really was a pisser....if I got reported for it, I would have died....at least he didn't beat the child.

In any case, they may need parenting classes or something....but I don't see a real abuse case here....there may be issues down the road, and it's good you are concerned, for the kid's sake.

It's hard not to be concerned, but sometimes a parent just has to stumble along until they get it right.

September 22, 2006
4:17 pm
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taj64
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oops. I think you are overstepping your boundaries by far. While I do think that is harsh punishment, it is her family. I suppose all you can do is talk to the mother who is your friend and speak as a friend. But personally I think it is betrayal to your friendship to go behind her back this way. They are the parents though. The two year could get hurt yes, I think so but it their home. You have to draw the line somewhere as other's people role in raising your children and what you would do may be different than your own ideas. Talking seems a better idea.

September 22, 2006
4:26 pm
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Shaney
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I wouldn't report them. The highchair thing may be excessive, but I don't feel it's all out abuse, in my opinion. I would talk with her once more if you really feel strongly about it ... especially if you see their behaviour toward their child escalateing in any way. If you see full blown abuse, let her know that you will be calling the authorities... don't just spring it on them. What you consider abuse, the autorities may not... and then you've just created an enemy for life that lives right next door. Calling CPS is a very serious thing - be SURE you think it all the way through.

September 22, 2006
4:41 pm
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tryin2smile
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I have to agree with Shaney and the others. I think it would be better for you to keep a friendship and be there for this little guy incase real abuse was to ever arise. His punishment was harsh and I can see your concern. But like Shaney said the authorities may not see it as abuse.

I don't know for sure but in my state CPS would probablly not even investigate that. My daughter(6) had a knife held to her throat by her step brother(9). I reported it because I did not think her dad or step mom dealt with it at all(they blamed it on the boys ADHD and gave him a spanking). This was two years ago and my ex has since left the situation, but CPS has done nothing. Not even an investigation.

I like risings suggestion about parenting classes. Maybe if you feel comfortable enough with your friend you could suggest that to her. Good luck, I know it is hard to see the little ones treated soo harshly. But I think you can be more helpful to him by sticking around and staying friends with mom. Who knows maybe she will change her ways.

September 22, 2006
4:44 pm
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lovetocrochet

I think you are very right to be concerned about your friend and her family.

I am surprised some people have posted to you "at least they didn't beat the child". Haven't we all spent pages and pages posting here about how long it took us to figure out that abuse can be real even if it doesn't leave physical marks?

Your friend's husband's "anger problem" is a time bomb waiting to go off, and the child is going to suffer. I think intervention at this stage is not a bad idea, because this family needs better parenting skills.

Sorry, I have to run. Wanted to say more. Will come back later. But bottom line, "it takes a village to raise a child" and you are being a GOOD friend by wanting to prevent bigger problems down the road. What's that we all say on this site about paying attention to red flags?

regards, kroika

September 22, 2006
4:49 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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I did say that and I realized, after I typed it, that it could be taken wrong.

I don't think this may be a time bomb situation.

I know that I had a "difficult" child who spent ALOT of time in time out.

I also know there were times I had to put her in her room and hold the door shut, so she couldn't come out, meanwhile, she was throwing a tantrum on the other side and beating her head against the door in effort to get me to give in....gosh, I cringe realizing how bad that sounds.

but, my daughter and I came out okay and the reality was, she was bored and really had no outlet for her energy (wish supernanny or nanny 911 was out back then, could have learned something).

in any case, there were times I had to restrain her during tantrums, or put her in time out over and over and over again....and some days, she was in time out all damn day it seemed.

I think that sometimes, saying the child was in time out in the high chair all day can be misinterpreted....I think there has to be more information before you suspect abuse....like abuse of the wife, abuse of animals or others....and while i know that verbal abuse runs rampant, I know that DCYS won't get involved for that, cuz it's hard to prove or fix.

tread lightly is my only suggestion - cuz it may not be as bad as it seems and if your friend cuts off your friendship - you may not be able to monitor what's really going on.

September 22, 2006
5:09 pm
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Anonymous
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I don't think the issue is the high chair time out necessarily. Its the physical neglect of the father, the resulting punishment because of the fathers neglect that needs to be dealt with. True, the CPS might not do anything, but it might serve as a wake up call to the mother.
Physical neglect: includes either failure to provide adequately for the child's nurturance and basic care or FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPERVISION ADEQUATE FOR THE CHILD'S AGE, or both. (The Developing Child, 10th ed. p.114, authors Helen Bee and Denise Boyd)

September 22, 2006
5:13 pm
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jastypes
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I'm going with "not your problem" on this one. Making a child sit in a high chair would not be considered abuse. I do agree that the punishment is ridiculous, and I've heard a minute per year of age of time out should do it. I also agree that he should have been better supervised. BUT, this one is between mother/father and child. She'll reap what she sows, for sure, but it's their business.

September 22, 2006
5:17 pm
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jastypes
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There is another consideration here regarding your friendship. While Children & Youth services cannot divulge WHO made the report, they can, with specificity, say WHAT was in the report. So... they will tell your friend that she was reported as keeping her 2 year old in a high chair all day. I'm thinking she'll know who did the reporting even without them giving the name.

September 22, 2006
6:03 pm
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taj64
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Are you sure you are not trying to get back at the husband for yelling at you? That is pretty drastic to ruin a friendship by reporting to social services. This would be the second time you wuold be in a family's situation. Cant you let them deal with tehir own problems? Im not saying it is a good thing what this father does, I certianly would not treat my 2 year old that way. I also agree that there has to be more information as to what really went on during that 2 hours and was it really two hours. Did the parent say that to give you a rise? I perhaps think that it could even be provoked on their part since you have already gotten your husband to attack him. This is personal now, not just a neighbor. By your attitude of warning her, your close friend, you are likely sounding like you are judging her and people don't really like that. And I also find that you warned her not to have children with this man in the first place. I picture a woman pointing her finger and shaking it. Her choices in life are her to make and unless this is a serious situation, one that you know the full story on and not here say then I would hold off on the call to social services. First thought on this is a busy body. I seriusly think the story was embellished to get a reaction. You don't know what really happened. On and off a chair for two hours could be in the chair for a few minutes then back off for 20. You didn't say the full two hours. So really what is it. If you see this with your own eyes a full two hours with no parent watching, then by all means call social services. But it could mean an entirely different situation on and off. Dont react unless you have facts.

September 22, 2006
6:11 pm
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lovinglife
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When I read the orignal post it brought something to mind I read years ago...dug it out of my archives of sayings, poems, etc I have about/on children.... {I'll add my 2 cents in later}...thought I'd share this.

The Natural Thing

A child falls while playing- he’s clumsy.
A leaf falls of a tree-it’s natural.

A child runs in the house-he rambunctious.
A river runs in the valley-it’s natural.

A child blocks your light-he in the way.
A cloud blocks the sun-it’s natural.

A child screams when excited- he’s noisy.
An eagle screams while flying-it’s natural.

A child gets dirty- he’s a pig.
A window gets dirty- it’s natural.

A child likes to sit- he’s lazy.
A dog lies at your feet- it’s natural.

A child asks who- he’s bothersome.
An owl asks who- it’s natural.

A child breaks a two-dollar plate- he’s careless.
A cat ruins your $50.00 drapes- it’s natural.

Isn’t it funny that a child, just being a child, isn’t natural?

September 22, 2006
7:59 pm
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lovetocrochet
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Taj, you're way off base. First I did not "get" my husband to "attack" anyone. He simply stood up and told the guy in a calm voice only we could hear to leave after being told by me AND his wife to stop yelling/cussing. DH was trained in missionary work to handle conflicts non-violently so he never raises his voice or uses force when these things happen.

Second, my friend is also not the type to try and get a rise out of other people. Period. If I haven't figured that out after 25 years well then I don't know how to pick friends.

Finally, the incident with her husband was three years ago. I'd totally forgotten that it happened until a few hours after she'd told me what he did to punish their son. So it's not like I'd been stewing on it all this time. The only reason I brought it up was because after remembering that I realized he still probably has an anger problem.

I'm wondering how those of you who are criticizing me for being nosy can say you think what they do in their home is their business. Isn't that how our abusers got away with the crap they pulled, is everyone around them believing they shouldn't get involved?

Please, if you're going to give me reasons not to pursue this further, don't make them the same ones our parents' friends and relatives used.

September 22, 2006
8:10 pm
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taj64
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sorry you took it so wrong. I was simply taking a guess.I asked questions so thank you very much for clearing it up. Thank you very much for providing more information about your husband intervention skills. That was very helpful to know. I hope it works out for you and your friend. she is lucky to have a friend that cares so deeply enough to think of her and her children and their welfare. If I had known that your husband was trained in all this I probably would have not made a guess about provoking. People dont always have the full story when it comes to blow outs. so sorry. There are always two sides to two stories. Calm down. I have to hear the whole story before I can suggest calling social services over a friend. It really is a serious matter when you do that.

September 22, 2006
8:13 pm
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Shaney
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Hey there lovetocrochet -

It seems you're defensive and I can certainly understand why. It's a touchy situation and you're concerned - but when you ask for opinions, you're going to get all kinds. They vary in tone, as much as they vary in content. These are just opinions, that you can take or leave. Only you know the true and total story... we only know as much as you've written, along with some assumptions that we may make on our own. I think overall, that you've gotten some good advice. As hard as it may be sometimes, try not to take any of these opinions too personally. We all have different writing styles and I'm sure if we were to give you some of this advice in person, it would come across very differently than how you originally read it. Good luck to you, with your friend. Love - Shaney

September 22, 2006
8:18 pm
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taj64
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There is a true story about a woman who took pictures of her children in lingerie type clothes. You know those cute little Anne Geddy type pictures. Well her kids got taken away by social services and it took her a long time to get her kids back. They were innocent pictures taken yet someone saw them as porn and well some would view that as not so bad, someone else took it as porn. You have to be VERY careful, have your facts in order, etc. You are messing with someone's home. That is why I brought up the two hour period. What seems to you might be a long two hours for a child to be in a chair without any parents around could actually be a child in a chair for a few minutes, taken out, put back in, etc. You DID NOT give the full story. So I look at that. Im sure your husband is a good guy but when I read your post you said your husband got in his face after he humiliated you in public. I had to ask because to me a normal reaction from a man to man embarrassing his wife would be to be confrontational. It seems to be there would be hurt feelings. I would not have known it would be three years. I sure hope it all got worked out between your husband and your friend's husband.

September 22, 2006
8:22 pm
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sleepless in uk
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This is very hard for you Love to crochet.

I know how difficult it can be to have young kids. I had 3 of them under 4 yrs and was often at my wits end. I lost it and shouted and cried and tried to send them to their rooms etc but I can tell you something.

Every single time that happened it was because of my inability to cope at the time. I was being inconsistent or having a bad day or generally feeling unwell. We are all human and we do sometimes react in ways we later wish we hadnt.

But to calmly punish a child so young in such a harsh way over a sustained, extended period of time? I believe that is very very wrong and I think you did the right thing. It seems a very cold calculating way for anybody to behave, particularly with such a little fellow who isnt yet old enough to understand fully what is right and wrong

Trust your instincts. If there is nothing to worry about then that will become evident when they ivestigate. But if there is?

I think you did right and it was brave of you to do it.

September 22, 2006
8:27 pm
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This is a hot topic and one not to be taken lightly. But I stand firm in my opinion that there needs to be intervention here, for the sake of the child. Choosing friendship over the sake of the child would be sick, not to mention codependent. Thats my two cents
ML

September 22, 2006
8:40 pm
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taj64
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Have you talked to your friend and mentioned that you would be calling social services or that you have called social services? That you are very serious about this? That would make the difference to me. She would want to make a change. And the friendship would be salvaged somehow. But you are not doing this, you're going straight to social services? I question this. I find this a serious matter.

September 22, 2006
8:44 pm
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Hi again ltc,

I think sleepless has described very well what struck me as abusive in your story.

You know, a lot of what I hear in the responses you've gotten has to do with leaving a family to struggle on their own in the name of "privacy", and the idea that "telling on them" is a bad thing to do.

Could it be because so many of us carry shame about making mistakes, and were punished rather than assisted to learn better?

I'm a nurse and I did some research into medication errors recently. Apparently a huge percentage of medication errors are not reported because nurses fear reprisals from their managers, and the errors did not result in harm to the patient.

But wouldn't we rather have a non-punitive system that helps us discover what factors led to the errors, so that similar errors can be prevented? I think most people would want to feel that their nurse would be supported and assisted to practice better.

Why can't we see that parents have a job that is every bit as important as what nurses do... except they are expected to do it with no training, no pay, and no inservices to keep them practising competently.

Imagine that. Supporting parents to do their job. By paying attention and giving them a hand when they are passing on abuse they learned as children....

yours for happy, healthy parenting, kroika

September 22, 2006
8:45 pm
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taj64
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I think I need the facts here. Was he indeed sitting in this chair the whole two hours? You said off and on. What does that mean? You really need to straighten this out for readers. It could make a HUGE difference here. Were the parents indeed not around during this time? I cannot accuse someone of child abuse for a statement of a child in a chair OFF and ON for two hours. That could be many different scenarios. Im sorry but I analyze and facts are important before you run off and judge.

September 22, 2006
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I agree that getting the specifics, before making an accusation such as child abuse, is essential. Mainly because once you turn someone into cps, it's very hard to unwind. Lives are at stake. Speaking for myself only, I wouldn't have a problem confronting someone about possible child abuse, OR turning them into the authorities, if I really suspected that a child was being neglected or abused. But, if I did so, it wouldn't be some knee-jerk reaction, that I'd regret later. There are a lot of things to consider. But like I said, only you know the facts, and if you think that calling cps is the solution and you've thought through all of the possible consequences, then I'm sure you're making the right decision.

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