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Family / Social situations

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by Healing with Jesus, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:28 PM.

  1. Healing with Jesus

    Healing with Jesus merciful listener

    153
    +394
    United States
    Christian
    Private
    Howdy. I am looking for some advice about various situations, and figured I'd create a single thread to get some perspective.

    A little background: I have been separated from my husband for a few months due to domestic violence and substance abuse. We are (now) still friendly and co-parent our 3 young kids. We spend small bits of time together. I hope that we will eventually reconcile, i.e. move back in together. For now, my health and safety and our children's wellbeing is contingent upon our living apart.

    A. In-laws
    1. My in-laws were visiting for the holiday and one of them gave my oldest some money. This was done in secret so that my middle child didn't find out. It wasn't a whole lot. But now it's a big secret. My husband and oldest were whispering about it so my middle child couldn't hear. Now we have to hide it. I don't understand why a split amount wasn't just given to each child. The favoritism and secrecy is bothering me. Knowing that my oldest was pulled aside privately and getting a secret special gift from a grandparent trying to be a favorite. Ick. Also, my middle child saw my oldest and me whispering about it the other night and got very upset at being excluded. Now I'm complicit in this ickiness :( I truly don't know what to do.
    2. My in-laws post pictures of my kids online. I asked my husband to address this, but he won't. The problem is that I don't consent to this. I am not on social media for this reason. I don't even post photos of my own kids. My father stalks me and the kids so it's a real safety concern. He is a violent, abusive, bipolar psychopath. I can't monitor the activity since I don't have accounts on these sites. My mom will sometimes let me know if she sees photos. I had asked my in-laws not to post, but my opinion and experience with my father means diddly squat to them. They whined that their friends get to post photos of their grandkids, so it wouldn't be fair. I recommended emailing photos to their close friends, but was ignored. My husband not standing up for the issue is a weak spot.
    3. Every time there's a visit, I'm the butt end of snarky remarks. At this point, I just expect it, but it doesn't hurt less. E.g., "I am leaving Son some extra things because HIS are all missing." [Wife took them all is the not-so-subtle implication, which is downright false by the way, he just needs to do some laundry.] Interestingly enough my husband has money to spend on other things but not household essentials. Again, it's one of those situations I don't know how to handle.

    Historically, I have been quiet and observing of these dynamics, and haven't been very vocal about asserting myself. This is because I don't want to commit the error of expressing unjust hatred toward my in-laws (and/or husband). But I am getting worn out from this treatment and the unhealthy dynamic, and I have prayed about it and feel that I should be armed with an assertive and loving response. After all, God is a God of boundaries as much as He's a God of love.

    B. School / Small town
    1. We live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and you try not to make a fuss or you'll upset the status quo. My youngest child is significantly disabled. We have a special accommodation for picking my older kids up from school. It's because we have a handicap parking tag so we can maneuver more easily. This accommodation creates more work for a significant school staff member. She used to be friendly and jovial to me, but now is cold and accusingly negative. I am concerned about this treatment towards me, and about how my older kids may be treated. Also, my youngest could go to school here eventually, and I am not feeling comfortable with this institutional negativity toward accommodating our special needs. No idea how to handle this one.
    2. Small town living is burning me out. I'm from a big city. I like the obvious benefits like lack of traffic and small lines in the store, but being constantly monitored, judged, and pressured to conform to the local social standard is taxing. Any advice here is much appreciated.

    C. Neighbors
    1. One of our neighbors is a married couple with a child. My oldest loves playing with the kid at their house. They have video games etc. and things I don't have. I want to invite them over for dinner or something to express my appreciation. However, since I'm living as a single (separated) mom, I feel awkward about approaching a married couple. I've wondered about inviting the mom and kid over, but then that would exclude the dad and that seems rude. I want to try to create friendship in a mindful way.
    2. We have a neighbor who is a friendly older woman, but she is pretty reclusive. One of the first things she told me was that she likes to be alone. She is a widow and has no children. She is wise and pleasant. I would like to invite her over, but don't want to make her feel pressured in any way.

    Thanks for weighing in on my various concerns. Please feel free to pray for my family and me too :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 4:40 PM
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  2. Kris Jordan

    Kris Jordan Acts 4:12

    203
    +266
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    Hi Healing With Jesus,

    I'm sorry you are going through all of this. As I was reading your post, a few things came to mind:

    1. Regarding your in-laws, the secret money, the posting on social media, etc. -- I know you've said that you've spoken to them about the "social media" part but it sounds like you need to have a more formal conversation with them about all your various concerns and why. It's okay to tell them that you feel disrespected by their actions. They may not agree with you, but at least you can be heard. If they continue in spite of your feelings, there's nothing you can do about it other than pray for them and for your children's protection.
    2. Regarding your oldest child's gift -- As your children get older, they won't always receive "the same" in life. Part of that can be a teaching moment and telling them that each of them will have their turn being blessed in life, but at different times. You can also personally bless the other children with something who got left-out if you wanted to. That would be up to you.
    3. Regarding the school staffer -- Communication is always good whenever there's conflict or perceived conflict. I'd simply ask her if you've done something to offend her because you feel a coldness from her, etc. It's possible it has nothing to do with you, but you'll never know unless you address it. Just do it in a loving, non-challenging way.
    4. Regarding the married neighbors -- There's nothing wrong with inviting a married couple over for dinner. It would be inappropriate for you to invite the husband only, but thoughtless to leave him out.
    5. Regarding the recluse neighbor -- If she enjoys spending time alone, you could always drop a hint like, "I know you really enjoy being alone but I'd love to have you over for dinner sometime if you ever felt up to it." See how she responds. You will be able to tell a lot from that. If she doesn't take you up on it, let it be.
    Those are just my thoughts... :)
     
  3. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

    +1,070
    Australia
    Non-Denom
    Divorced
    Lord Jesus, grant a gift of great wisdom to deal with these complex issues. Be her strength of heart and don't let the opposition get her down. Greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world!
     
  4. pdudgeon

    pdudgeon Traditional Catholic

    +9,677
    United States
    Catholic
    Widowed
    US-Republican
     
  5. pdudgeon

    pdudgeon Traditional Catholic

    +9,677
    United States
    Catholic
    Widowed
    US-Republican
    For the In-Laws, since you are living separately at the present, don't invite them over, don't send them pictures (because it puts the kids into danger) don't encourage gifts from them unless the gift is given to all the children.
    These are your kids, so the grandparents should have to play by your rules. Either they accept and treat all grandkids equally, or else.

    When you and the hubby get back together, (you'll have to have a united front on this one) that in future, all gifts to the grand kids go through both you and your husband first.
    So in the situation with the gift of money, that would be received with thanks by both of you as their parents, and divided three ways between the children.

    The impression that you want to leave with the grandparents is that in your house, there are no "favorites" allowed. What the grandparents want to think on their own time and in their own house is their business. But in your house, it's your rules or the door; they can choose one or the other.

    As for the problems with the school, make an appointment and talk to the principal.
    Tell him of the problem with the handicapped parking, and ask if there can be another school employee assigned to watch over your child before and after school.

    It would probably be a good idea to stress that you are asking for this because the current employee (most likely) has to watch over your child as well as other groups of children at the same time, and thus his/her attention is divided between the groups, which ends up compromising the safety of ALL the children; not just your child.

    As for the neighbors, it's probably enough to just be friendly, be helpful, and wave hello whenever you see them out and about.
    If you want more contact, an offer to drive the elderly lady, or share a daily paper with her might be appreciated.
    So would offering your help in reaching for items at her house that would normally require a step ladder to reach otherwise. That would also probably be appreciated more than you could realize.

    Or if it snows in the Winter where you live, an offer to shovel your neighbor's walkways by the children as a favor to their neighbors would also be a very nice gesture.
    Or offer to rake their fallen leaves in the Fall.

    I've supervised my kids when they have done these tasks for our neighbors, and it was a very good way for the kids to learn how to take care of others, and not just think of what they themselves want or need. And our neighbors really appreciated it!

    P. S. we did it for free, and for the fun. For the kids, it was an adventure. For the neighbors it helped them to know that someone was there for them if they needed us.

    Best wishes!
    You may not have thought of it, but these are different times that we are living in now. So usually neighbors are generally more cautious about whom they let into their houses than they used to be
     
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