Grandson came home from work as usual yesterday evening and also as usual, he came to find one of us to tell us about his day. He works at a summer program for troubled kids and so there is always a story to tell, a question to ask or advice to be sought.
About ten minutes into the conversation he said that there was trouble in his room. We went downstairs to look; one of the shelves that had been mounted above his bed had come crashing down and everything on it was strewn all over the room, creating a ginormous mess! Grandson said he was wondering if he had done something wrong and as punishment we “trashed” his room….(really, I had overloaded the shelf and the bracket holding it had broken).
I am angry, very angry – and have been for a while…and here is why:
I have been suspecting that there is abuse in his family; I don’t use that word easily, and I am also not someone that believes that not pampering your children constitutes abuse. I believe that children need discipline and routine, just as much as they need love and understanding. But there are also lines in a family (with your spouse and children) that should not be crossed…
Grandson is a college student with good grades; he works one job during the school year and two during the summer. His father kicked him out of the house a week after he came home from college, for no reason (I won’t bore you with the details). He now lives with us.
Back to my suspicions.
Extreme Control: Nothing in that family happens without the father’s explicit approval or explicit permission. In addition, everyone is being surveilled (their calls/texts/emails are being monitored) and the house is covered inside and out by cameras that the father monitors every time he is away from the house. No one appears to have a choice or is allowed to make an independent decision about anything, no matter how small.
Physical Abuse: I have learned that the teenager was recently backhanded in the face because the father “did not like the look he gave” him!
Mental Abuse: An example of punishment for even a minor infraction consists of their clothes being thrown in the trash and doused with ketchup and mustard so they could not be saved. On one occasion the wife was sent to the guest room to “think about what she had done” (I would do that to a three-year-old but to a spouse?!?!). The family members are constantly being berated and belittled, at all times of day and night, incessantly and constantly.
The above are just examples of incidents that I have first hand knowledge of (there are plenty more). The wife and children don’t talk, don’t complain and do not question the father’s authority.
I have the feeling that the “children” have lived with this all their lives, so they don’t know any different and that the wife is trying so hard to keep whatever fragile “peace” exists that she does not push back.
Abuse never stops at verbal abuse and abusers escalate. Knowing of this sort of behavior in the past, I am almost certain that it has escalated…if you are backhanding your teenager without a second thought, why would I think that you are not doing this to your wife or other child (and maybe worse?) If your “punishment” is putting your children in serious danger, what kind of parent are you? actually, what kind of human being are you?
Additionally, I have witnessed erratic, impulsive, unpredictable and dangerous behavior to the extreme; this behavior is almost always followed by professions of love and concern for family.
I am trying very hard here to only address things that I have first hand knowledge of and not what I am assuming or conclusions that I have drawn; what I am assuming is going on, is much, much worse; the conclusions I have come to truly concerning.
Being a member of a family where abuse is happening is extremely difficult: you are constantly wondering what you can do and how you can help! You are angry, sympathetic, empathetic and worried on a constant basis, and so, so sad….
Back to the fallen shelf in grandson’s bedroom —
He assumed that we had done this to his room because that is the behavior he is used to from his father. It angers me to no end that this is what he expects from the adults in his life, the people that are supposed to guide and advise him and from whom he is to learn how to be a man, and eventually spouse/husband and father. He has been left with that lasting scar that we will not be able to erase. Since he has been living with us, we have tried to show him (not tell him) how adults communicate properly, how family relationships are supposed to work and that fear is not something he is supposed to be feeling or expecting when he comes home.
In the meantime, his parents are acting as if everything is normal; it does not appear that his being kicked out has had any effect on their household whatsoever –
I know this is a long, convoluted post – it is as confused, and as confusing as I currently am. And so, so angry…