Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by klmno, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That's the only way I can describe my mind right now. I met with PO today- he was all over the board talkiing out of both sides of his mouth and then started saying stuff that were the same as the previous probation officer had said but then would say just the opposite. I felt like I had been given the biggest BS in the world and then he went off about me not trusting them and how this interfered with their rehab of difficult child. How could anyone trust people who talk out of both sides of their mouth?

    The mentor- he doubles as difficult child's best buddy and "helping" the PO monitor difficult child to make sure he's being compliant, according to PO. PO says they don't do behav mod- clearly there website says that is what the mentor does and the woman on the phone told me they tell difficult child expectations then use rewards and consequences then report to PO. What would you call it? He asked wwhy I was against a mentor- I said I wasn't- but I don't like being BS'd. He said it was either this or I would have to bring difficult child in for him to see him 5 times a month, which would I rather do. I said I'd rather bring difficult child in 5 times a month and sign him up at Big Brothers where at least I'd know he get a real mentor. He said these were real mentors and he's not allowing that option.

    At one point he was saying we'll work thru things, at another pouint he's saying if I cancel an appointment, I and difficult child both will be found noncompliant and be pulled over to the courts, at another he says he told the lady to negotiate times with me and he understands if we can't make all the set times every week. He says he just can't understand why I'm so uncomfortable with giving this a chance and why I'm judging him based on what other people have done or said in the past.

    I told PO we were the same in the exact same place as the day difficult child flipped out and pulled the knife on me. He told me in a very indirect way that it was my problem.

    I was in tears when I came home and called him and told him that I thought we should discuss if difficult child should even come home. Then PO was back to being the nicest person in the world and he just couldn't understand why I didn't want to give this a chance. I told him that there were obviously too many hard feelings and mistrust and negative stuff between me and the people over there and I realize they all think I''m difficult child's biggest problem so at this point, it's so much like a bad marriage that it doesn't even matter anymore who's to blame for waht. We can't even agree on what difficult child's problem is. They think I don't want to support their efforts; I feel like they are contributing to our problems. But I think this is setting difficult child up for failure and if they are so convinced that I'm difficult child's big problem, why would they want to send him back here? He claimed he had no idea what the previous PO's attitude was toward me or what she thought (can't be true because he had said her exact words in the earlier meeting today) and he wasn't like her and he had looked into group homes as a possibility but difficult child didn't qualify for any they had access to so we had no option but he himself did not think I was such a bad parent- he said he didn't even know me. (Never mind he'd just sat in his office and said the opposite.)

    I asked him what I needed to do to move difficult child out of state- if there had to be a month waiting period for paperwork to go thru and so forth. He said no, just let him know address ahead of time, then move with difficult child.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    K...I think you need to relax and breathe.

    Let the mentor deal be what it is. Who cares if it is a rewards and consequences deal? That is exactly what most of real life is...rewards and consequences. You work, you get a paycheck. You dont, you get fired.

    You can work out the fine print of the mentor relationship but dont go all postal with the PO from the get go. Just agree with him on everything. He is going to be monitoring you guys pretty actively at first and once he sees everything is going well...he will back off. It will end up being a once a month "Hi how are ya" deal. If you give him nothing to sweat about, you will be small potatoes to him.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I've been hashing this over in my noggin... You're gun shy and have every right to be so... but what can be done to make things any different this go-round.

    And I think I'd treat it like I do a business meeting at work. Go in next time with tablet in hand and take notes thru the entire conversation. Seat yourself so PO can see what you're writing, and reference back to previous notes when the double talk starts. At the end of the meeting, recap the hightlights and action items right then. Resolve any discrepencies before you even leave OR agree to table them and offer a copy of your notes.

    Don't make this guy pay for the other guys' mistakes; but don't give him the opportunity, either.

    Hugs. YOu can do this.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree - minute the meeting. Make the minutes as clear and concise as possible. Have an agenda before you go in, make sure every item is addressed. Any "business arising" - note it down and deal with it. If this slows down the meeting while you write - so be it. It is what you have to do.

    This would also make him far more accountable for what he says and also show tat you are serious about wanting to help difficult child; you are determined to get information down correctly and not just nitpick (which seems to be one thing they're accusing you of) and in general, it puts everything on a more business-like footing.

    You've mentioned some genuine concerns here, things which should be easily rectified by simply bringing them up and asking for clarification. For example, PO said that if you cancel a meeting you will be hauled in as non-compliant, but he also indicated some wiggle room. This needs to be in writing. Note down what he says, ask him to confirm it because what you have heard seems contradictory, and "since I clearly must have misunderstood you, kind sir, I need to be certain I have got tis down correctly. I don't want to jeopardise my son's chance at success."

    Then at the end of it all, note that this is the record of the meeting between you both on such-and-such a date, give him a copy and ask him to notify you in writing if any of it is incorrect. In fact, put this at the end of your minutes - "I have given PO a copy of these notes and have asked him to notify me in writing if there are any corrections needed."

    This works. I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but given the amount of time you have had wasted already, in the long run this saves a lot of time and heartache. All the time wasted is also time in your son's life being wasted.

    I also have had various officials giving me the runaround and telling me one thing but meaning another, then later on denying that they ever said what I know they said. And when you're getting mixed messages, especially over stuff that is important, you NEED to nail it down in writing.

    For example, the choices he gave you about appointments - he clearly said, "You have to do this - or would you rather do that?"
    He never expected, or wanted, you to say, "I'll do that," it was meant to be rhetorical. That's why he said, "Well, you can't." It was at that point you should have said to him, "Excuse me - you just offered me two choices, I made a choice and now you're telling me it was never on the table? Please be consistent. If you fail to be clear and consistent in your instructions then how can I be certain I will get it right?"

    It IS possible to be polite when you do this. You're merely asking for clarification. If he begins to get hot under the collar, don't back down, but neither should you let it happen. You simply say, "excuse me, but no offence was intended. This is too important for personalities to get in the way. This is my son's welfare here, I ask you these questions because I have to be sure I have got tis down right. Please bear with me if I am not as smart as you are, I need a little more time to make sure I fully understand you."

    But from here on, put it all in writing. In front of them. If they will let you, record all meetings. Tell them you need to, in order to be certain you have got it right. You can't always get all the information you need and may need to play it back in order to fully benefit from every scrap of their wise advice.

    If they let you record it, then transcribe it and present them with a transcript. Or give them a copy of the tape (MP3 file).

    Whatever method you use, give them a copy as soon as possible and ask them to make sure it is, in their mind, a true and accurate record. It's got to be an "opt out" clause - if they fail to inform you of any errors, it must be considered to be correct by default.

    Now go get 'em!

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks for the support, Ladies! Marg, I did exactly what you are suggesting shortly after the initial papers were signed between the PO and me. I had a gut feeling afterwards that I'd made a mistake by signing them so readily because it was a standard form saying the intent was for difficult child to come home, and that part was fine, but then it said that "these parole requirements have been developed with the guardian". Ok, they had NOT been developed with me. Now, one might thinkk that this is a specific PO issue if they really didn't coordinate things with a parent and come to a mutual agreement- the way the form would make it appear by using that wording. However, at the end of the form there is an area where the PO signs if the parent refuses to sign that form. What that tells me is that it's not uncommon for a parent to refuse to sign. What I'm leading to is that they know wwhat they are doing - the twisting of words and so forth is intentional and meant to manipualte- or they would ssay, keep the parent and kid in line. They expect the parent to act like they are on parole, too. This PO had convinced me that it had just been the previous one and he wasn't that way, but clearly he is.

    Example: The woman called last week and introduced herself asa the mentor's super and said she wanted to come by the afternoon difficult child got released and asked if I had any questions about their therapuetic mentoring. I asked a couple of questions about it- I hear back from PO that "sorry- YOU (being me) can't choose every person that's going to be involved in your son's life". Why? because I asked what specificaly made their program therapuetic- were there tdocs or what? Clearly, they have me labeled over there. From my standpoint, don't call acting nice and agreeable and asking if I have questions if what you really mean is "this is your order, got it?" and you expect a "yes, sir" answer or else the person is being difficult. Plus, he was tic'd because I had said the afternoon difficult child got released was not a good time- it was overwhelming. When I called and told him this, he acted like it was ok. When I saw him in his office, he accused me of not allowing him to monitor difficult child because the mentor was to help him monitor difficult child at home and in the community. Ok, well the lady didn't call and say she needed to stop by and make sure difficult child was home- she said she needed to work out a schedule with me for mentoring. This mentoring program is speiciifcally for monitoring/transitioning difficult child's coming out of Department of Juvenile Justice- the super didn't make an oversight, I feel sure. My guess is that they are used to parents who don't want to be agreeable with the monitoring so she presented it to me like they were just mentors. But see, if they would just stop trying to manipulate me and tell me what it is really then I would have had no problem with her stopping by to check on difficult child, and I told PO that, but I simply can't commit to a schedule until I know difficult child's school requirements.

    Here'sa where it became more than clear that PO was BS'iong me;: He had been saying that he knew nothing about what heppened before with previouis PO and I should trust him and give him a chance and be willing to start anew for difficult child's sake. The minute this subject came up in his office, he said to me "every time someone orders something that requires someone to come to your home, you start making excuses, throw up your arms, and refuse it". That is what the previous PO claimed- and so the GAL then claimed it because the PO claimed it. It was a lie. I had even told current PO about this in the past. Where does that claim come from? GAL suggesting MST be ordered because she assumed that's what difficult child's psychiatrist would recommend- she did not however actually ever call difficult child's psychiatrist to ask because psychiatrist told me she never talked to him once. Anyway, the judge ordered it- I did not refuse it but after difficult child's MDE report where it recommended a treatment in writing, instead of that PO and GAL being willing to ask judge to remove the order for MST so I could get that treatment, they made me go thru a court proceeding, which I did. The judge did change the order. But the PO and GAL have repeatedly presented this to DSS and the judge at later times as me refusing to follow PO orders and allow MST. IOW, I think it's a control thing. Oh- the MST guy works in the same building as them and he claimed he would schedule times with me in order to be convenient for both of us. Then he call one day and said he would be at my house the next day a a certain time and that was the only time that week he had available. About the third time he did that, I realized that the claim that he would coordinate schedules was really BS- he would threaten to report noncompliance to PO if I said I couldn't meet at that time. Then last year when I was trying to meet with county team and get approval and funding for difficult child to go to Residential Treatment Center (RTC), they got that PO involved and she ordered in home therapy instead and threatened to take me to judge. She knew at that point that difficult child had become violent and was self-mutilating. Within about a week difficult child had pulled the knife on me. PO claimed I refused that in home therapy- that inhome therapy hadn't even had time to start. The PO had given me the paper on it with contact info the very day difficult child pulled the knife- I had explained all this to the current PO before because I knew there were lies being told but the dates on the papers prove it. When he started spewing out stuff yesterday, he threw out a couple of statements that sounded like threats to tell a judge that I refused this mentor. This makes me think that they use the threat of misrepresenting things, too, to keep a parent doing what they want. And claiming that it was my fault difficult child can't get better because I kept refusing things and being noncompliant. I said seriously, if he was going off that much over me telling someone claiming only to be a mentor/super that coming over 2 hours after difficult child gets home is not a good time then we are going to have a serious problem here.

    Since I have seen a PO use that metthod of saying things to make it sound like they are so agreeable and nice and making all this effort, but their actions are really that they expect you to jump when they say jump, and then a MST guy was that way, now this mentor's super and this PO are that way- this is their method of behavior mod for the parent, apparently. Honestly, I do resent being treated this way as a result of difficult child pulling a knife on me- I didn't break the law. But because I'm his parent, I end feeling like I'm on parole. I feel that way because I'm being treated that way. Further, when I spilled all this out to PO and said it was obvious after a few years that this is the method of working with parents because all of them over there use the same buzz words to get the parent on board, then turn it into a threat of noncomplpiance if a parent actually expects them to coordinate a schedule or explain a service or whatever because ALL of them I have worked with over their use the EXACT same phrases and buzz words. He laughed. Then he claimed that no other parent was as difficult as me- he went thru this show and pulled open his file cabinet and said out of all those cases no one has ever questioned one of his orders and that I was just difficult because he had one case where the guardian was a 70-80 yo woman raising five kids plus having two jobs and she had more orders then me and difficult child and she found a way to do it and never complained. (Maybe she can adopt difficult child. LOL!)

    Then after all that c**** he went thru and put me thru, he said it would be fine to let difficult child wait until the end of the following week to start with a mentor. Fine- but exactly what is the point of putting me thru all that just to get to that point? I'd bet money that when the person shows up to "coordinate schedules" it will be more of a "these are the days and times we will be here".

    Now what do I do this week when difficult child go in there immediately after his release? This is when I have to sign the parole plan that will also say "it was developed WITH the guardian" and the guardian is "signing in agreement", making the parent non compliant if not followed. In actualty, those are the orders- that will have NO specifics. It's a form that has small areas to get checked off or filled in- for instance "mentor", but no area to specify time requirements, etc. I previously told PO and had wriitten in that letter to him months ago that I would not sign that until the specifics were worked out and in writing. My gut tells me though that if I don't sign with difficult child sitting right there, he will tell us that then difficult child can't come home and he'll have him taken over to the detention center and locked up there, telling difficult child it's my fault because I'm refusing to follow thru with the plans he has in place.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Did difficult child have an attorney other than the GAL? If so, I'd have him present at the release and the signing of this documentation - to make sure everything is spelled out and is actually in agreement with the guardian. If not, I'd get one.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yes- difficult child has always had a defense attny. Even though our GAL's are attny's, they cannot also act as the defense attny on the same case. difficult child's last def attny was public- working in the same bldg for these same people. His previous one was private, that I hired. I had asked him about this before- he told me I had no choice but to sign anything a PO puts in front of me or they will make sure difficult child doesn't come home. People in this state that have had to deal with our juvenile system say this is the way this state does things- it'ss to motivate the parent to keep the kid out of trouble. He told me the last PO (actually 2 attnys told me) was determined to nail me to a wall. Apoarently, it came from GAL who formed her opinions based on what my bro told her because she was spending more time talking to him than difficult child's psychiatrist, tdocs, people iin our lives, etc, like she should have been. But it got worse after I chose to pursue that court hearing to have mst removed when they refused to just go ask the judge to change the order without a court hearing. I hired an attny, went to court, and while there testifying, revealed everything about my bro and what GAL had done (and not done), including coming to court portraying to judge what difficult child's psychiatrist recommended, but in actuality she had never even spoken to his psychiatrist and she claimed there was no way I could know that but I said yes there is- he told me- and that was true. The people that all work together over there are a clique and I honestly can't think of any other reason why the last PO wanted so bad to nail me- except she made it clear that she was not happy about me pursuing mmental health options instead of ONLY doing what she ordered. And I brought that out to the judge too- and of course, all these people were sitting in the court room and heard me.

    The last defense attny did tell me off the record that the GAL was, well, the problem, but if I ever took any action against her legally, that she would make sure I regretted it, even going so far as to cost me custody. (You gotta love those ethics, huh?) I can't afford an attny now and it would do me no good anyway. If it ever gets to a point where permanent custody is a court issue, then I would qualify for a public defender. As long as it's just me being the parent of a kid in trouble, I can't even speak in court unless called to testify by either the prosecuter, def attny, or GAL. So they can misrepresent things all they want in court and I would never have a chance to respond. I have submitted a letter asking for this GAL to get replaced should difficult child ever need one again- technically she's off the case any time difficult child does not have an active court hearing coming up, but since I've heard her standing in the hall, in the public area, talking about my son (another no-no), I know she isn't keeping her mouth shut about difficult child's case. The judge is leaving so any future court appearance will be in front of a judge who knows NONE of these details and will go by what GAL and PO say.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    K...they are not looking at you as the victim. They are looking at you as the parent of a kid coming out of Department of Juvenile Justice. They are not built to combine the two. Dont keep rocking that boat. It isnt going to help. If you want to deal with what your son did to you, deal with it privately in therapy.

    Im going to give you this advice one more time. Go with the flow quietly and nicely. Do what they tell you to do. Be agreeable. Smile and nod. Go to whatever appointments they set up. If the mentors are set up for whatever days...let them in and talk small talk. Be polite.

    Just go with it. The more you act like you are normal, beaver cleaver family, the sooner they will be out of your lives. They will soon decide they dont need to monitor you guys and move on to bigger and badder clients. PO's have a ton of cases to worry about. If he decides he doesnt have to put forth much effort into your case, he will move on. That is your goal.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    lI see that now that it's clearer what I'm dealing with. I'll try to be a bobblehead. Still- there are 2 concerns. One being that they are all so convinceed that I am the way GAL and PO (previous) portrayed me that every party may just continue to take every action or inaction I make or say as either challenging or not participating. For example,, the super said the first meeting would need all of us there and would take about 1 1/2 hour. That's when I said I thought this was a mentor situation. She said welll they were therapuetic mentors so theey needed to fill out paperwork and a plan listing difficult child's goals and my goals. I said oh, so you're therapists? She said no, I asked then what kind of services they provide so I'd be able to think of goals in that area. That conversation got turned into PO accusing me of not working with them because they didn't provide the services I thought difficult child should get and him saying he made the order, I wasn't in control of it. Geezz.... Of course, if I sit there and say I have no goals, that will be turned into me not participating. I'll throw out a couple I think they should be able to handle.

    Second concerrn, if difficult child whines to the mentor about something at home- house rules or lack of privileges or whatever, mentor reports it back to PO. Boom, more orders. difficult child did that stuff with previous PO- had her and Department of Juvenile Justice therapist convinced the whole problem was that I would NEVER let him go out and play with friends. They assume difficult child is telling the truth without asdking me. The truth was that since difficult child had gone manic and set that brush fire in the neighborhood (GAL of course made issue in court that maybe I hadn;'t been supervising him enough), I didn't let him go out if he just had major medication changes, was just released from psychiatric hospital, self-mutilating, or had not gone to school that day- or was grounded. Sorry but that left him in the house quite a bit last fall and winter. I will talk to him and make sure he understands that pulling those stories again will result in bing on parole longer and both of us having more orders/monitoring, because I'm sure it will. Hopefully, this PO won't go so far as reinforcing to difficult child that they think all his problems are my fault like the last one and GAL- difficult child doesn't mind very well when he knows the legal people are blaming me for everything.
  10. ML

    ML Guest

    You've gotten some good suggestions here and I don't have anything to add except hugs and prayers. I'm always thinking of you guys xo ML
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Janet, you know more about the system here than I do, so please feel free to over-rule me.

    KLMNO, you say you documented to begin with.

    What I suggest, is that you put a letter together to PO (and of course keep a copy). IN line with previously expressed advice on this thread, write the letter with an attitude of "nod and smile". But merely say, in your letter, "I believe I am perceived as obstructive because I asked questions when asked if I had any questions. I apologise if this upset anybody - at no time was I challenging anything being offered, I was merely trying to understand in order to be able to cooperate fully, as I have always tried to do.
    If there is any concern that any of you may have as to my open and honest desire to work with you all in order to get the most appropriate and best help for my son, please let me know in writing so I can immediately make the appropriate changes.
    I am determined to do this the right way but unlike you, I am inexperienced at the legal system. So there will be times when I need help in understanding things. Please do not take any questions I may ask as me expressing concerns; in fact it is simply me trying to be certain what I am required to do. Sometimes the information I am given seems contradictory, which of course is probably due to my inexperience.
    If we can work well together on this, it should be the best for all concerned, especially and most importantly for the child at the centre of all this.
    I have never tried to be difficult, although I realise from what has been said to me that this is the unfortunate perception. I would like to remedy this as a priority.
    In order to make sure I fully understand, I will try to take detailed notes of all future communications, in order that I don't miss any important instructions or information. You all have considerable collective wisdom in this and it is important I take full advantage of this, in order to help my child.
    Thank you for all you are trying to do. It is appreciated."

    Yes, I know it is grovelling. Obsequious, even. But necessary.

    You also have to follow through - do the nod and smile, if an appointment is scheduled and they want to turn up at a bad time, you have to be prepared to throw everything else out and re-schedule everything else. At least until relationships with these people have been repaired.

    If you can, address what has been said about you that is bad and try to make it clear that you aren't like this. also ask them to talk to you as soon as they have any such concerns, in order for you to learn from any mistakes you may have made. Sometimes there are misunderstandings, you can say, and if you are not directly told when you do something wrong, how can you learn to get it right next time?

    There is a fine line between grovelling and standing up for your rights politely. I think at the moment you need to err on the side of grovelling, but if you make it clear that:

    1) your child is the priority, not your schedule - however, it is helpful if someone offers to fit in with you and then actually allows it

    2) you are a cooperative parent but you need to understand, which means you need things explained carefully, plus you need to take notes so you can go back and check what you recorded you were told

    then you should at least have a clearer idea of what they are tellnig you.

    Of course, WE know they are being inconsistent. But a follow-up letter (and it needs to be immediate - within hours if possible) needs to be along the lines of, "Dear PO, I am a little confused, could you please clarify? At our meeting, I thought you told me X, but now Y is happening. Has the picture changed? Or did I misunderstand?"

    Even if you KNOW they have changed their story and seem to be trying to keep you off balance, always give them wiggle room to back out and save face.

    Also, your letters (plus theirs - you should always ask for their replies in writing, "so I can keep touching base with what you told me and not get muddled trying to remember") can get the message across to them that you ARE keeping tabs, they had better be more precise in their instructions to you. it also demonstrates to a casual observer that you are going to the nth degree to support them, not to be difficult. So anybody claiming you are difficult - your letters, always conciliatory and asking for confirmation or clarification, show they must have it wrong.

    Grit your teeth. Consider, as you write these letters, that you are in a very vulnerable position (say, a person from a minority group being persecuted by a racist invader of your country) and despite your desire to sabotage the invaders and join the Resistance, you need to act circumspectly for now, and get into the habit of tugging your forelock.

    Later on, when this is all past, write a book about it. But begin gathering your information now, do your research now, prepare your manuscript in secret.

    But as soon as your son is permanently out of the system and no longer your responsibility, publish and be darned. Get your justice then. Not now.

  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marg, I have been known to go back groveling myself. LOL.

    There have been a few times that I have lost my cool with the powers that be and blown a gasket. One particular time I felt the head of mental health group was challenging my parenting ability and I decided to take him on head to head in a not so nice way. Lets just say my language would get censored here...lol. By the time I was done, I yanked Cory up by his collar and pulled him out the door telling them they could stuff their program where the sun doesnt shine!

    Of course, the next day I was calling his case manager meekly asking her to re-open his file pretty please!
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    In that last conversation I had with PO, I told him they should be thinking about what they are doing to contribute to the problem- like knocking the props out from underneath the parentt every time the parent tries to re-establsih a good relationship and authority with the kid, and like teaching the kid that the PO is the only authority they need to worry about- they aren't - if the kid is ever going to live in the community they need to understand that their are other authority figures and guidelines that have to be respected and the PO should be in support of that. We'll see how things go Thurs. I guess. I'm worried about the employment being listed on parole papers, while the PO is still saying he won't require it.

    Oh...and after 6 months of me thinking all the women's issues were behind me, this friction with PO knocked another "dern" egg out.! In hindsight, that might have had something to do with how well I tolerated (NOT) this whole thing.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010