What did y'all tell people after...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by change, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. change

    change New Member

    Warning: Sensitive subject...I'm VERY SORRY if I open up any old wounds for anyone but I don't know whom else to ask so here goes:

    For those of you whom have generously shared your similar circumstance with me, what did you "tell people" like people at work, church, neighbors, distant family members, etc. when they asked where your child was that suddenly wasn't around anymore and YOU KNEW was never coming home again?

    I have been so torn about what to say and sometimes my husband and I don't agree. I don't feel like lying about it but also, people don't need to know our business. Some people are so nosy they don't take a social cue to quit asking, and some people that my daughter has already lied to, I feel terrible about. I lied to 1-2 myself and feel bad about it but they weren't famly members but are people I will see often still. I have been avoiding some people that ARE friends like the plague though they asked me questions and I put them off again and again until they left me alone. I also know some ancillary family members are aware of something going on, I just don't know how much because I have 3 brothers who know the whole story and were told not to share but 2 of the sister-in-laws cannot be trusted so who knows how much they've told. :confused: It's all very stressful and unfortunate. I shouldn't even have to worry about it except that I have my daughter's mental state to worry about and we've been avoiding large family gatherings and even changed churches a month ago because she could barely stomach people asking her anymore about where her brother has been. I know we can't shield her forever but she's barely making it and acting out horribly at school because of all of this. She has 6 weeks of a summer intensive to get through starting next week for her performing art and she needs to give it everything because she wasted a whole year already and is lucky they haven't cut her.

    Any suggestions??????? All are welcome.
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    We are going through the same thing right now. I've told people that she is at a medical boarding school. When they ask when she will come home, I tell them when she is better. My problem is that my oldest boy doesn't understand "private" and he misunderstands so much that heaven only know what he has said. I know (from my younger daughter) that he has told some kids in the neighborhood that we sent her away cause she was bad.

    It is a shame that the stigma is still so strong. It would be so much easier to just tell the truth. At least when my kids get to junior high, Kanga was never there so the questions should stop.
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    :dont_know: I understand where you are coming from. Being honest is also good, however, there are just pesky snoopy people that really don't need to know. And those pesky snoopy people would really make life more miserable if they did know.

    I had a hard time telling family that difficult child was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I can't imagine how I could tell them that he needed more help than I would ever be able to give and he can never come home.

    Maybe a, "I would rather not talk about that."

    I wish I knew - wanted you to know my heart is heavy for your having to deal with this ontop of everything else you are going through.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I have never been there before. For us, M was at least out in society even if he wasn't in contact with us, so I could honestly say "He's going to school at such and such" or "he's got a job at so and so".

    I hate to hear that you have to deal with such an unhappy and difficult situation. It must break your heart. :( I suppose that if it were me, I would be honest but limit the amount of information I gave out. "difficult child is very ill and being treated inpatient in a hospital. We hope he will recover one day." If they push for more than you're comfortable with, you could say "I'm sorry, it's very upsetting to me right now and I'd feel better if we didn't discuss it in detail."

    The details are really none of their business if you don't want it to be. You have to be very careful who you share this type of information with. There will always be someone who isn't understanding, and you need people around you who will at least be supportive of you, because someone will always want to spread your story as entertainment.
  5. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Mine was in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for 16 months. There was some question whether she would be coming home afterwards. A lot depended on how successful the treatment was.

    My criteria for responding was the reason why I thought they were asking -- out of nosiness or out of caring. I will admit that if I thought they were just nosy, I'd tell them something stupid like I'd sent her to Mars until she quit being a teen. Otherwise, I was pretty honest. At first, I would simply say she was at a treatment center and I didn't know what would happen next. If people asked any further questions, I would simply say I don't know or it was private to my daughter. Those who asked why it had happened, I left it that she needed more help than I could give her right now. Nothing more, nothing less. The details were none of their business. However, I know that if the situation were reversed, I would want to know how I could comfort my friend. So, I answered as honestly as I could because of that. A few I gave them her address so they could write. Most I did not.

    You don't need to tell anyone why he was sent away. You can simply leave it that he needed more help than you could give him and the only way to get that help was to have CPS take over.

    I hope this helps a little.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We haven't had problems specific to "where is your child? I haven't seen him/her in a while..." but I did have problems with friends at church and in the area, who were accustomed to being let into our lives (and discussing it with other friends) who I had to suddenly freeze out, especially where it concerned me, my health, my employment and my kids. In fact, everything blew up coinciding with a church retreat for which I had been registered; I attended the beginning of the first night to tell people, "I am sorry but I cannot attend this weekend. I care about you all and wish you all well, just as I know you all care about me and my family. However, it has come to my attention that innocent information about me and/or my family is being used as currency. As a result I am having to clamp down on all information especially to do with our health and our finances. I know none of you would deliberately choose to gossip, but I do know that people here have been pumped for information. Therefore I am protecting you all from this by no longer disclosing anything. Please do not take this as a lack of trust on my part; instead, please realise I am trying to protect you from being used in this way by persons who for their own reasons wish to do mischief. You no longer need to guard what you say, because I will guard it for you. Thank you for hearing me, and I hope you all have a really productive weekend together."

    Since that time I have slowly learned who I can confide in (ever so slightly) and now have a small circle (like, about three people) that I know I can trust. If anyone else asks me something, I either hedge, or I remind them that certain topics are off-limits because I prefer to not talk about certain things; or, if they should know better AND i know they can't keep their mouths shut, then I am happy to lie.

    A lot of the time the people who seem to like to gossip can be easily distracted by asking them about themselves.


    Gossip: Hi, Marg! I haven't seen you in ages? How are you all going?

    Marg: Lovely to see you darling! How is everybody? How's the arthritis, I heard you were having trouble with it?

    And then they're off and racing, totally missing that I never answered their question.

    Then there's the family gossip queen, the one who sees you across a crowded room at a party, makes a beeline in your direction and almost skewers you to the wall with her nose quivering for gossip. "How are you? I haven't seen you in ages. You must have so much that has been happening! I want you to tell me all about it."
    And you know you won't get away without giving them information.

    That is especially when you need to feel free to lie. Be outrageous. Not so outrageous that the gossip realises, but outrageous enough so that when she passes on the info, her listeners will realise it's all bunkum.

    So with your missing son - tell the more determined gossips that you sold him to a laboratory for scientific experimentation (apologies to Monty Python's "Meaning of Life"), or that NASA have him in a top-secret program for a preliminary Mars landing project, before they use real astronauts.

    Alternatively, go with what Witz suggested - enough of the truth to shut them up, with a statement along the lines of, "I don't want to talk about this again."

    Use whatever you feel safe with, whatever works for you.

    After all, it's your life, you have to live with everything that is happening to you, you should have the right to keep things quiet if you choose to.

  7. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    This is a hard one. Some people really feel they need privacy others feel they should advocate for all and their rights and tear down the walls.
    I don't know, K was only gone for 5 weeks, I told some she had a Neurological Brain Disorder, others I told that she was Mentally Ill and needed help and had to be hospitalized.
    Others I just told she needed Medical care, they automatically thought it was cancer, I never said otherwise I just said nothing.
    If she was never coming home? And how would her little sister handle it? I would go with my heart i guess. That is what I have done up till this point. Some people I tell I have Bipolar Disorder, some it is none of there business.

    I am sorry you even have to think about this.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hon, we told the schools, friends and family the bald, awful truth. It was amazing at all the sympathy we got. People who cared were great. I did get a "I told you not to adopt all these kids" from my dad, but, in general, he was compassionate and is close to my other kids, four who are also adopted. To others I just said, "He was too disturbed to live in a family. He didn't know how and it was just causing him to act out and upsetting the other kids." Anyone who pushed for more got "It's private. You do understand, I know." In our case, once he left we never planned on seeing him again so we didn't have to deal with him coming back nor protect his reputation. He wasn't going to live in our area ever again. We have no idea where he is now. Since he's eighteen, he's probably on the loose somewhere in maybe Green Bay (the last place I heard he lived) and this scares me. He was sooooooo dangerous. (((Hugs)))
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    But, you do not want to reveal your daughter's awful experience, right?

    What did your daughter say was the reason when she lied?

    I think the 'medical boarding school' sounds good to say.
  10. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    There's honesty, there's need to know, and there's privacy for difficult child and other family members.

    thank you's been out of the home 8 years now. I never thought it would be for so long but from day 1, if people asked it was simply that he was going to a boarding school in the city. When summer rolled around, we explained it was a year-round school.

    That's not a lie at all. Not full disclosure but - thank you has the right to privacy and quite frankly it's just not the community's business.

    I don't feel compelled to even quantify the school - medical or therapeutic or whatever. It's just school.

    I think for my other kids, this was really the very best solution because as they got older and entered school, there were questions about where thank you was. I don't want them to feel ashamed or embarrassed (anymore than they already are, unfortunately). This explanation saved them from having to explain anything.

    The neighbors who witnessed the multiple police and ambulance calls? They figured it out. Family? Just a simple up front explanation - due to safety issues, thank you has had to be placed in Residential Treatment Center (RTC), period. I should say that we aren't near any of our family and don't do big family gatherings so it really hasn't been an issue. I can also say that no one in our extended family has an inkling of what really went on here during the bad old days. I'm not hiding it but... I'm just a private person and they simply do not need to know.

    Follow your heart but please do remember that you owe absolutely no one any explanation and you do have the right to protect your daughter's privacy as well as difficult child's.
  11. change

    change New Member

    Thank y'all. All of your suggestions help and make me feel better about what I've done so far.

    No, I don't want to tell my d's business. Unfortunately, we've had to over and over again because she keeps acting out "over the top" like she never has before and her teachers were probing about why the drastic change. My husband's solution to HIS invasion of privacy was to switch jobs! He starts a new place in August. When we go to court again, he will just tell them it was a foster situation if they probe. I'm not willing to switch jobs. My best friends are at the school I work at. When I finally let them in about 1 1/2 months after it happened, they rallied around me and haven't stopped. 4 of them know the full truth. These are 4 that I socialize with, etc. Another 3 are on my work team of 7 and they know and have also been very supportive when I'm absent. 2 more know the full truth and it's only because they noticed I was terribly thin the first couple of months after it happened and knew it must be something with him. He used to be a student at my school and began all of his extreme behaviors there and they witnessed them. My stomach is literally sick when his former teachers somtimes ask "How is ___" or some other teacher that I'm not particularly close to "How are the kids?" Thank God for my friends...especially those 3 teammates, they usually help change the subject. At church, both kids were alter servers and oddly, he did such a wonderful job at it for like 3 straight years that the congregation really noticed his absence. That's why we switched for now. We intend on returning because our church family is good to us, it's just that all but the CCE director had no idea how he was. My daughter is horrified to have to go to the neighborhood middle school next year where everyone will be that was in school with both of them in elementary. Hopefully she can get through it. She better get used to it because for high school she won't have much choice except the neighborhood high school due to her bad grades and conduct. :(
    As far as family, we had intended on only saying he was in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to everyone, but since my brothers know the full truth, I can't be sure who else does. Like I said, the sister-in-laws talk and one brother is difficult child himself and not speaking to me since the incident. He says I'm a bad parent and it's my fault. In fact I'm not sure how much he knows since I didn't tell him anything. He said to me that I was "throwing a child away" and he didn't care if he ever spoke to me again. He avoids me at family gatherings. He's an engineer, but self-entitled and disturbed.
  12. change

    change New Member

    One more thing...we had to take down ALL pictures of him in our home ad dismantle his room, etc. and are in the process of totally renovating the upstairs where the incident happened.

    We used to have parties and family gatherings. We haven't had any ever since because of this. I can't keep my little nieces and nephews away from my home forever. What can I do about this? It's one thing to tell them he's gone for now but quite another for them to see him completely dissolved from our lives like that. (The same for anyone else that may accidentally come over.) It's horrible. I hate this.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We used to be the family members that did all of the gatherings, as well. Luckily, the economy we were in six years ago allowed us to move away from the home and neighborhood where we were when L and M were causing so much trouble. It also transitioned M into a new school first year of high school. L had dropped out by that time, and had not lived with us, in any case.

    It was really hard for me at first, because I don't work and I didn't know anyone. Then M fell totally apart within a few months and was arrested and out of the house, yada yada, yada. But eventually we met people, and we have new friends, and still some of the old ones. The new friends would ask about M, and I'd say "He hates us and has his head up his hoo-haw right now, but he's trying to pull his act together."

    I know this is really hard, especially when you enjoyed having people in your home. If moving is out of the question, I think that repainting, remodeling, changing the purpose of that area of the house is a really good idea.
    The memories of what happened there will fade more quickly, and there can be new memories of new experiences.

    I'm not sure what part of the country you are in, but when the real estate market improves, and if you can afford it, it really does help to have a different home to make different memories in. You never forget what happened, but it is easier when it's not staring you in the face every day.
  14. Good discussion. This is a hard topic. We're big believers in not giving out too much information (too much information).

    Obviously, this is much more difficult for kids that are out of the home for a long time; but in some ways, I think it also applies for shorter hospital stays or even just how to handle all that time away from work and even how we handle discussing difficult child's issues with others outside the family.

    At work, I just leave everything as medical appointments. If something pops-up, I just indicate when I will be back and how it will be resolved; don't even touch the appointment. When more time is required away for any intensive treatment, all I say is medical testing for some chronic health conditions. If you repeat yourself two or three times with the same statement very politely; I've found that people typically get the hint.

    on the other hand, I will use open and friendly discussions about difficult child and private schools vs. public schools, and learning disabilities, tutoring that I'm involved in with special needs kids - that difficult child is also involved in. If people care, they figure it out pretty quick without need to know the details. And if they have a difficult child, well, that comes out pretty quick as well - they know!

    We're fortunate that my family is very supportive of our situation overall.
  15. change

    change New Member

    witzend...I've entertained that notion. However, not too seriously. Family is everything to me and both of our parents are here. We couldn't do this without them. Also, we only have 5 years to go on our mortgage and we own a historic home (1914) that we bought as a steal and renovated and more than doubled it's size ourselves so you can imagine it's worth now. We wouldn't be able to afford anything like it again and we live in a fairly affordable market compared to other large cities. We bought it right out of college then refinanced it a few years later @ a 15 yr. mortagage when we added on so we would be stupid to start over. I DO feel like running away to some foreign city and starting over when I have bad days but then I think of how lonely I'd be without the support of my parents and his. I'm my parents' only daughter and it would break my mom's heart. My husband is the oldest of 2 siblings and the only son and it's a small family. They would feel the same way.
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We only moved to the other side of town, but I can see why you would be reluctant to want to sell the house. We also changed to an unlisted number and didn't give our new info out. We were pretty severe about it.
  17. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Its a difficult subject to deal with for sure. I am rather open and honest about my sons problems if asked, but that is just me.

    You know, for years, people with mental health issues were hidden away, at home behind closed doors, or in mental institutions. They were never spoken about - almost like that person ceased to exist once a problem had arisen. How can we expect to make any changes with the understanding of mental health issues to the public at large, I have been a board member for a long time, and I wish I had a dime for every time someone has landed here and I have read someone post OMG, I thought I was the only one... Sad part about it is that they aren't, and for everyone that does land, there are probably 1000 that think the same thing and have no knowledge of where even to begin to look for help. There is no empathy in a community of ignorance.

    I am not saying one needs to blurt out a life story - a he/she has some pretty severe emotional problems and is now living in a treatment center or where ever I think is a response thats acceptable.

    I sort of have a knee jerk reaction to the whole tell/don't tell issue. It was not the most happiest time of my life being an undiagnosed difficult child in the 1950's where I was beaten silly most times for having a major case of ADHD. I don't even want to mention the punishments for a bad report card where I was accused of being lazy cause everyone knew I could pull A's if I REALLY wanted to but I was just stubborn. Anxiety would cause me to actually chew on my clothes, and put holes in them - the result a beating. If a beating could overcome learning disabilities I would probably be president of Mensa by now. My mother knew of no other way to react - she didn't know of any other kids like me, and it was never mentioned outside of the front doors because of the shame of it all.

    Ok am putting away my soapbox now..
  18. change

    change New Member

    That's awful Marcie Mac. I'm so sorry about your experience. Really. I have 3 brothers and they each had a difficult time in their own ways but we also had a tough childhood, not economically, other things. I can relate, sort of. I think my youngest brother is ADHD because he struggled through school and the rest of us were in the gifted programs and my parents just thought he was messing around. He's incredibly gifted in the performing arts though and his personality is huge. I am rally close to him and once I got my teaching certification and learned what ADHD was, etc. I felt terrible for him. If only things were different even 15 years ago for special needs kids...
  19. judi

    judi Active Member

    I have started an answer several times. Here's what I say:

    1. To my closest family (who know most of the story): I say that he is doing okay.
    2. To acquaintances, I say he's working in another city.
    3. To people who are just generally asking a general question: I just say he's okay.

    As you can see, I don't go into details anymore. Our son has had "issues" (and that is the polite term) since he was 15 - he is now 23. Few people even ask anymore. That's the beauty of this whole deal, society wants the mentally ill to disappear so as the years wear on, few people even ask.

    I don't mean to sound bitter because I'm really not: we still love our son deeply but things are the way they are. Spilling my guts to others won't change the situation, so I would rather just gloss over it and go on.
  20. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I am going to pm you.