What do you do when your kids are being lied to?

English: Colin Henderson's winning design will...
English: Colin Henderson’s winning design will be displayed on T-shirts and other items at this year’s Domestic Violence Awareness Rally, which is scheduled for Oct. 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just found out this morning that my son had told someone that he didn’t want to talk to me because he was worried he would end up in Juvy (I assume he meant Juvenile Detention).

Not sure how to handle this. Maybe a little background is in order.  I’m not sure how much of this I have communicated here on the site, so let me tell the story now.

I’ve struggled with my teens for several years.  I would try to help guide and direct them through teen questions and issues (yes, you must do homework before playing soccer or going to ride your horse or going on a date, no we will not take you to the summer camp of your choice when your church is already planning a big deal summer camp…)   There have been frequent battles between my ex and I regarding this. It reached its peak very early this year when I tried to speak to my daughter a bit about some issues we had experienced.

She immediately began to yell and I calmly said that we weren’t going to handle problems in our family any more by yelling.  I then explained that she’d lose her iPhone if she kept yelling like this.  She then attacked me and began beating me with her fists in an attempt to get her phone.  I’m not very strong, but I held tight to the phone, kept my hands to my side and got out of her room and went downstairs.  She followed me around for about 20 minutes as I kept trying to get away from her and calmly telling her  that this isn’t the way we handle things.  Her mom and brother joined in the yelling and her mom actually hit me twice as well through this ordeal.  I never raised my arms, just kept them to my side and tried to get into another room to stop this.  At one point my daughter told me she was going to rip my arms off and left a six inch welt on my bicep trying to do this (I have a picture of it).  After about 20 minutes of this I told them that if they kept it up I would have no choice but to call the police.  This is not the way any family should live and if they couldn’t listen to me and stop, I would have to involve someone they would need to listen to.  My ex screamed that she would just tell them I was beating them!  I had the phone in my hand and was dialing 911 and didn’t realize they answer even if you don’t hit send on the phone.  The operator heard my ex say this and asked if everyone was okay.

The police came and I repeatedly told them I didn’t want to press charges.  Apparently in my state once a domestic violence call is made, the onus shifts to the State to press charges and they don’t frankly care what the victim says at that point.

Somehow — the story I get from my ex is that the kids heard me say “I want them to go to jail.”  What I actually said repeatedly was, “I don’t want anyone to go to jail.”  At the conclusion, the police finally said if I left the house that night and went somewhere else that no one would go to jail.  So that was my last night in my home.

Once both my ex and my daughter went to court, the court system decided not to press charges on each of them due to the “first offense” situation for both.  I was asked if I was okay with this and told them yes.

So how my son thinks that he is going to end up in Juvy if he talks with me is very interesting.  Who’s telling him that?  His sister?  His Mom?  His counselor?  For the record, I have never raised a hand to my children and have very rarely even raised my voice especially in the last couple of years.  My son and I have gotten along better than I have with anyone else in the house.  And now he’s scared to talk to me because I will  put him in Juvy.

I’m not sure if you can detect the hopeless feeling that washes over me after writing that.  How do I change that perception?  It’s completely baseless when looking at the facts, but his statement is not about facts, its about emotion and the collective anger that has been nurtured and allowed to fester in the house where he lives.  How can you defend yourself against a lie that has been drilled into someone for so long?  Especially when there is no real way to prove it either way?  I have repeatedly written both of my kids to tell them exactly what happened that night.  IF they write back, it is in anger and telling me that what I have said isn’t what they heard.

A good friend of mine just told me that Only God can change hearts.  That we need to pray and that God is going to intervene here at some point.  If I didn’t believe that, I think I would be overwhelmed with hopelessness for this situation.

3 thoughts on “What do you do when your kids are being lied to?

  1. Sounds like you are in a very tough situation. I can feel your hurt through your sharing.

    Your friend is right…though only partially, when he said “Only God can change hearts.” I’d like to add that we can too. I believe in prayers as well so I do encourage you to keep on praying. I also believe that in order to change other people’s hearts, we start with changing ours. I went through this shift three years ago when I started a Parenting Class. While my husband and I did not go through a divorce, I was overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities of being the primary care taker. My husband travels extensively for his work and since I am a stay-at-home mom, I get to do everything else.

    Parenting is the most rewarding and the most challenging job as it stands alone. Adding another variable such as divorce, multiply the challenges exponentially. While we all love our children deeply, we don’t always meet their needs the way they need to have them met. I came to this realization because while I felt this intense love for my children (two boys, 15 and 12) they were far away from feeling it. I saw that in their behaviors, in their interactions with me and with one another. I wanted to make them see how I felt about them through lectures, through rewards and punishment and bribery and whatever else that I could think of at the time. Nothing worked. If they did, they only lasted for a short time. Through the Parenting Class, I learned that kids (and adults) are naturally cooperative when they feel connected to us. Think about your good friend who you quoted in this writing and ask yourself why you get along with this person? What do you come up with? Is there a connection between the two of you? How about mutual respect? How do you treat each other? With consideration and thoughtfulness? Do you forgive and forget?

    Once I learned that I needed to view my children differently, to treat them differently, they started reciprocating. I also learned how to talk to them differently, how to affirm their feelings, show empathy and just listen, really listen. With all the knowledge I gained and all the tools I was given, I started working hard on my connections with my boys. At first, it was somewhat awkward but as I got more comfortable with the new way of parenting, my connections with them became stronger. Three years later, I have become a more confident and peaceful parent, my boys have become more happy and are thriving, not just surviving, in every aspect of their lives. My husband even came on board and is now taking the class. At first he watched from the outside. Then he saw how my transformation helped transform the boys so he slowly bought into the change.

    There is so much resources out there now for parents who want to build a stronger connection with their children. You can find the books I recommended on my site. I also have a FB page (heart2heartparenting) and a personal page (Lee Giacalone) where I post articles related to my experience, share helpful websites and recommend other resources. I am sure you will be able to find what resonates with you and your situation from a number of these places.

    Best of luck to you Jim in your search for answers.

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for your response, Lee. I think I would say that I agree with everything you say here. My difficulty is that I don’t know how to build a connection when the kids won’t talk to me, don’t respond to my emails/texts (except in anger) and won’t agree to spend any time with me. I worked hard at connecting with my kids where they were when I was at home. It was so difficult when I was constantly undermined by my ex during the last few years. I would LOVE to work on connecting with both kids and would be willing to do whatever it took to get there ( classes, reading, apologizing, begging?) but it is virtually impossible without even a minor level of connection right now. I’m meeting with their counselor for the first time later this week, maybe that will help. — Jim

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