Dear Carolyn: I live in a complex that has a lot of families in it. There are always kids playing outside, but I rarely see parents.
This past weekend, I finally met one of the parents. Ive seen as many as seven children on her porch, and I dont know how many live in her house, but Id say at least three. She came outside with her boy, calling him names, cursing at him.
It didnt 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.
What do I do? My heart aches every time I see one of those children. Is this something you call the authorities for?
When its that bad, yes, it is.
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. At the same time, if these kids are in crisis, then its every witness duty to speak up.
Thats why I recommend Childhelp so often in this space. Its a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of child abuse, and it has a hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD that you can call when youre in the grip of oh-this-is-awful-what-on-earth-do-I-do paralysis.
Dear Carolyn: I was married to an abusive alcoholic for 23 years; it took great courage to leave him under threats. My daughter wants to forgive her dad and forget, and for me to do the same. I cant bear being around my ex at the grandkids birthday parties, and so I miss them. I feel like a terrible grandma but cant stuff my feelings and go. Is there a solution?
Yes, and youve come to most of it on your own: You tend to your own well-being as you need to. That includes forgiving your exs weakness, if it would help and forgiving your daughter for wanting or needing to forget. As for the parties: Skip the ones you must. The time you spend with your grandkids between the birthdays, the plain old days, arguably mean even more.
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