By Alma Gill
To Tell or Not to Tell
The mom of one of my 10-year-old daughter’s friends confided in me that her husband had been physically and verbally abusive to her several times. (Unfortunately, as many people do in this situation, she did not press charges because she didn’t want her kids to have to deal with the fallout.) The husband and wife are separated now. My daughter’s friend invited her to a birthday party at her dad’s new house. The husband has been polite to me and my child, but I’m uncomfortable with the situation, particularly since I have some experience with an abusive partner who was a “nice person” to outsiders. I’m planning to tell my daughter she can’t go (but not tell her the real reason). What do you think? I’ve pointed the mom to some resources on domestic violence and counseling. Here’s hoping she can heal.
Signed, Cautious Reisterstown, Md.
I see your red light earrings flashing, and I can understand why, but you’re wrong on this one. I say you should let your daughter go. Here’s why: Your daughter is 10. It’s a birthday party. Her best friend’s father has never hurt his own daughter or yours. If he had, I suspect his wife would not allow him to host a birthday party. You said yourself that the BFF’s father has been polite to you and your daughter. You also said you’re familiar with abusers being “a nice person to outsiders.” So why not let your daughter go? She was not the only one invited to the party. I’m sure other adults (parents and family members) will be there.
A part of me wonders if you think that by allowing your daughter to attend you would be giving approval to the father’s behavior. Don’t worry; that’s not so. Unless her mom asked you not to participate, I just can’t come up with a good reason for your daughter not to go. This isn’t a sleepover. Don’t make this a grown-up issue for your daughter. I understand that you and the other mother have bonded over shared sorrows, but you can’t let the pain and suffering of your marriages overshadow a very fun time and lifelong memory for your daughters. Joint custody arrangements, especially after a spiteful split, can be extremely exasperating. It’s horribly difficult to move past the hurtful events and heartbreaking history you have with an ex-partner. The key is to put your child first.
A Blessing or a Curse?
My husband and I have fallen on hard times. He was laid off, and as soon as his unemployment benefits ran out, I was laid off, too. My parents have been helping us with the mortgage and car payments. My sister in-law offered to help us and put us on her cell phone family plan. I appreciate all that both families are doing, but why did my sister in-law post our business on Facebook? She wrote how she and her husband are a blessing to us in our time of need. I am furious. I called her and we had a big fight on the phone. Now she is telling the family that I’m ungrateful. That’s not true. I just didn’t want my business out in the street. How can I get her to see what she did was wrong?
This sounds like the latest Tyler Perry stage play: “Why You Put Me On Blast On Facebook?” Yep, you’ve got a right to be mad, and I’d be mad, too. It seems to me, and I think you’d agree, that social media and reality TV have eulogized and buried the old-school rules of discretion. Is there such a thing as Facebook etiquette? Unfortunately, I think not. Meanwhile, that doesn’t change the situation between you and your SIL. Yes, she was wrong, but you may never get her to realize that. Remember, Lottie-Dottie, you kaint change nobody. LOL.
Sometimes you’ve got to move past who was right or wrong and focus more on how to resolve the issue. Since your SIL likes to communicate online, send her an email explaining how you felt humiliated after reading her Facebook post. Let her know you’d appreciate it if she’d talk to you directly about family business and keep it off the Internet. Offer an apology for the argument over the phone and thank her for what she’s done to help you and her brother. That’s what you call taking the high road. On a side note: Being laid off can make you feel hurt, ashamed and embarrassed. Don’t let it. Life is full of unforeseen situations. Download and listen to your favorite uplifting gospel songs and get ready; keep sharpening your tools. This is just a small setback, preparing you and your husband for a major victory. The best is yet to come.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.