Monday, November 2, 2009

You're not serious, are you?

I was reading the "Dear Prudence" column on Slate.com over the weekend, which is something I'm wont to do (unless work is unusally slow, and then, dare I admit, I read it during "working" hours), and the past set of questions were just too awesome to ignore. Normally I leave the advice giving to those that are better equipped and more entertaining than I (see the Fly front page), but I just can't let these go without my own .02, so straight from me to you, free of charge, is my advice to these dimwitted letter writers, as well as my own paraphrasing of the original questions. If you want to see the original letters, go to Slate.com and look up the Dear Prudence column. I'm too lazy (and stupid) to post the link directly for you.

And away we go!

LW#1: Dear Prudie,
I have this super awesome boyfriend that's totally great and I just love him to pieces and we're all sunshine and rainbows except for this one little issue: he holds me down against my will and tickles me nearly every single day since the day I told him I HATE to be tickled (which was like, date #3 when he insisted we play the "What do you absolutely hate the most so I can torture you with it?" game) and even though I've told him repeatedly that it makes me super uncomfortable and I panic and hate it, he tells me that I need to go with it and learn to like it, because obviously since I'm laughing I must like it. You know, the whole "no really means yes" thing. And since he's cool with it and gets off on it, I should just deal with it, because then he wouldn't have to go through all the effort of pinning me down to do it. How do I tell him that I really, really, really, REALLY don't like it at all?

Sincerely,
Clueless Wonder

Dear Clueless:

Kick him in the nuts the second he starts toward you with his hands extended. Then dump his ass and date a guy that doesn't think holding you down against your will (for any reason) is the greatest thing since Rohypnol. Period.

LW#2: Dear Prudie,
My mom used to be a total drunk, but she's been sober now for 6 years and she wants to have a "What'd I miss?" lunch so I can fill her in on all the details of my adolescence when she was too sloshed to give a shit. I'm really uncomfortable doing this, because even though I'm proud of her for being sober, I really don't need that trip down memory lane. Am I being selfish?

Sincerely,
Lost in transformation

Dear Lost,
Not only are you not being selfish, but you don't owe it to her either. It's great that she's been sober and accepts/acknowledges that she lost  a lot of good years she could have been spending bonding with you, but she completely missed out being able to help you through the most turbulent time in anyone's life. She doesn't get a do-over, and she needs to accept that some things you just can't get back, no matter how much you'd like.
And don't forget that it's not you that should be put into a situation of trying to make her feel better or whatever it is she's looking for in this scavenger hunt down memory lane. Tell her that you don't want to get into it because you've come to terms with it and need to keep that chapter closed. If she insists, tell her straight up that she's the one that owes you explanations and closure, not the other way around. My personal theory is that she wants some kind of assurance that she didn't royally fuck you over when she was too busy drinking to notice you were living in Hell on Earth because I imagine she's got some serious guilt, and she should. Sorry. I call 'em like I see 'em. And best of luck for a healthy relationship with her, because it sounds like she's still got some issues to work through.

LW#3: Dear Prudie,
Now that I'm out of Graduate school, I really want to show everyone how grown up and sophisticated (i.e. snooty) I've become, but I'm new to "grown up-style" socializing. I want to have a dinner party with the group I used to hang with, but they've all gone and gotten lives and have significant others or (gasp!) spouses. I don't want to play with them, because then the attention wouldn't be just on me. Can I invite my 10 friends over and tell them to keep their lousy loved ones at home? And can I use the lame excuse that my dining room table is too small to fit everyone?

Sincerely,
All about me

Dear All,
There's probably a good reason why that particular group of folks don't keep in touch with you anymore. Sounds like you're living in the past, and haven't figured out a way to get out of it. Not to mention, you're old enough to have gone through Graduate school and you're using terms like "grown up style socializing"? Really? And what's with your dining room table being too small? You're telling me that you can comfortably seat 11 people at your dining room table? That's the biggest "small" table I've ever heard of.
You know what I think? I think you got yourself a fancy little place, full of fancy little things, and you want to play Dinner Party and have all those folks over to rub in their face that you're doing sooo awesome but you don't want to deal with their significant others because you're actually jealous that you didn't bother to go out and get a life while you were furnishing your "small" place with your tiny-only-seats-11-comfortably-table. If you're really interested in catching up with lost friends, meet at a restaurant where they have space enough to fit your friends and their significant others, and quit acting like such a dumbass. 

LW#4: Dear Prudie,
We adopted our daughter when she was 5 years old and a foster child in our care. Since then, we've been forcing her to keep in contact with the family members that were responsible for getting her put into foster care to begin with, because this therapist insisted that doing this wouldn't make her feel like a freak at all. After all, blood is thicker than water, right? Anyway, she's 12 now and wants to stop hanging out with her freak ass biological family members, but we don't think it's right. I mean, sure they've made some "bad" choices, but we love her sooo much that we think it's in her best interest to continue to force her seeing family members she has no interest in being around. Because we're that open minded and forward thinking! Tell us it's okay to continue to ignore our daughter's wishes for a normal childhood.

Sincerely,
Dr. Spock Didn't Have a Chapter for This

Dear Doc,
Having 1)been adopted myself and 2) grown up living with foster kids and taking care of them all my life, I feel like I have enough experience to tell you that you need to cut ties with your kid's biological family and let her really be a part of yours, no strings attached. Because what you're doing, despite the best of your intentions, is constantly reminding your kid that she's not really your kid. You realize all you've done this entire time is reinforce the fact that she's not really your child, right? That even though it says so on paper, all this time you've spent making her see her "other" family is just confusing the kid into thinking she doesn't really belong in yours, right? That's gotta make her think she's not good enough to just belong to you, hence her explanation to you that she's happy being here, with YOU.


Sure, you adopted her, but you've basically made her spend the entire time she's been part of your family spending it with the very people that put her in the position to be part of your family. They made "bad" choices? Ya think?? Child Welfare doesn't get involved with families who just aren't making their kids eat their veggies or brush their teeth, you know. There's a reason why that kid was taken away from the people she was with. And, being 5 years old when it happened means there's stuff that she remembers, and it's not good stuff either. 

I don't know what kind of whacked out therapist you've been taking her to, but anyone with half a brain could tell you that allowing your child to be around the damaging, neglectful folks she was likely around, but only in a "safer" environment is not conducive to proper healing of traumatic events. She's your kid now, right? So let her be your kid. Respect her wishes now that she's old enough to voice them and tell those family members that she's not interested in continuing a relationship with them, and since it's her choice, they have to respect that. If she changes her mind when she gets older, then it's her choice to contact them again. That's your job as her parents - to do what's truly best for her, not what you think should be best because you have some weird Mary Poppins notion that some kind of perfect world exists where the neglectful, absuive family that gave you your child has completely changed their lives and turned out to be great people that totally wouldn't hurt your kid again.

Why are you taking more consideration of her other family's feelings than you are with her own? You want her well adjusted and happy? Let her have her family- her real family (that's YOU) - all to herself and really feel like she belongs to just you. That's what she wants, how many different ways does she have to say it?

And before I get a bunch of "People can change, you know! You're not being fair to that other family!" responses, here's what I know: in the course of living in my mother's house (for 18 years), there were no less than 15 different families that had their kids placed in our home for care (my mom was one of the few foster parents that wasn't willing to separate siblings from each other) while the parents tried to get their shit together. NONE of them ever did. Two of those kids (out of probably 20+total) ended up becoming my siblings, and the rest? Yup, all went back to those very same parents that had them taken away to begin with. And you know what happened? They all ended up back in the system again, or got too old to bother being put back in and ended up being stuck in a shitty situation with no real recourse but to run away and start life on their own. Of the ones I still keep in touch with, they either had babies themselves when they were 15 & 19, ended up in abusive relationships, turned into alcoholics/drug addicts themselves, or just plain disappeared. The ones that did manage to come out on the other side a bit better for the wear? The ones that continued to live with us (with their parents' permission because they really didn't want to bother being parents) as part of our family, even though it was never officially acknowledged.

So yes, miracles can happen, but it's pretty rare. And with regard to this particular letter writer, this kid is obviously not cool with hanging with her biological family, so the parents need to take the hint from their kid and let that relationship die. After all, she knows better than anyone else the kind of people they really are.

*steps off soap box*

Well, that's it for me today, folks. I'm actually going to do some real work now! Have a fantastic Monday!

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for telling it like it is, Sister!

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  2. SS, you absolutely rocked my socks off! That was great stuff. Your synopses (I *think* that's the prural of synopsis) for the LWs are great--just the right bit of summary and seeing through the flash to the essence. Thanks for a great read! :-)

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  3. Sing it, Sister! Well done on all!

    LW #4 is a nut if she thinks she's been doing that poor kid any favors by "keeping in touch" with her abusers.

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  4. You are the first one I've seen who noticed the "small" table for 11.

    The voice of experience is often best when it comes to people like #4.

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  5. Oh, damn, CoolOne, I forgot to mention that! Excellent catch on the small table for 11, SS! You are too cool for school! :-P

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  6. Aw, shucks, guys. You make a gal feel good! The only reason why the table for 11 sounded off to me was because of a friend of mine who was super excited about her new DR table that could seat 12. It took up the ENTIRE room and was kind of difficult to maneuver around. But it was pretty! :)

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  7. LW#4, IMO, also needs to get over the discomfort or fear I'm guessing she's feeling at the thought of having to tell her child's birth family that the kid doesn't want to keep in touch anymore. But, echoing the sentiments of all those more eloquent than I... woman needs to suck it up. Priority 1 is her child -- and she is *her* child, not the bio family's. They had their chance.

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  8. Awesome advice SS and i think i'm going to finish all my sentences today with "and quit acting like such a dumbass"!

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