This week I became an “anonymous poster” on my own Facebook Page. I get daily messages from men and women who ask me to post anonymous questions but I never thought that I would need to follow that path. I was faced with a situation that I didn’t know how to handle. I wanted to be cautious about overreacting and I needed input from others who could take a non-emotional stance.
Facebook Post: I am in California and I have full physical and legal custody of our two children- my ex has very limited visitation (no overnight visits). My children confided in me that their father is hitting them- not hard enough to leave marks but he is physically striking them across the arms or legs.
While they are normal children who can push buttons, they are very well-behaved and I have never used any type of physical punishment to discipline them. They confided that it happens fairly often for fairly simple things (mud on the carpet, etc). How would you handle this situation? ###
I posted anonymously because I needed to be clear of my direction before I spoke publicly about the situation. Up until this weekend, I have had a sense of peace over the holiday season knowing that there would be family members coming and going from Seth’s home. When people are around, he is usually on his best behavior. After picking the girls up on Saturday night, they admitted to me that Seth had struck my youngest daughter for standing on the couch. There was family present in the home at the time- Seth’s mother, Cleo, and his aunt were both in the kitchen. The girls then went on to describe multiple occasions in the past few months when Seth has struck them—and they described the very minor “infractions” that led up to him striking them. I was speechless.
I believe that every family should have the right to decide what punishments are used in their home- within reason, of course. I am adamantly against spanking or physical punishment in my home—I believe that there are so many tools available in today’s day and age (Positive Discipline, Love & Logic, etc) that spanking should be a last resort. This was something that Seth and I agreed on before our daughters were born. We agreed that we would never spank the girls.
“Seth” has been physical with the girls on multiple occasions since we separated in 2009. He can maintain a charming smile on his face while simultaneously squeezing my daughter’s wrist in public for anything that he feels is disobedience or could embarrass him. After striking my oldest daughter last year, there was a court order made that prevented him from inflicting any type of physical punishment on the girls. With the pending parenting evaluation, I am shocked that he would be physically hitting them.
I did two things upon waking this morning:
1. I called Minor’s Counsel and made an appointment for 2pm this afternoon. My daughters were able to march into the office and use their voices to explain the things that have been happening.
2. I filed a report with Child Welfare Services.
Deep breath. I am furious. I am angry. I am frustrated with our system.
Seth has the girls for a total of 6 hours for each visit and 30 minutes of that time is usually spent driving. It is mindboggling to me that this man can’t control himself when he only sees these beautiful little girls for about four days per month – 6 hours each visit. Infuriating. I have not spent more than 24-hours away from the girls in the past 18 months and never once have they done anything that warranted physical punishment- they are two of the most well-behaved and polite children that I’ve ever known.
He knows what he is doing because he controls himself when people are around. He waits until no one is looking and then he resorts to being a 7-year old bully trapped in the body of a 39-year old man. As I was leaving the attorney’s office today, he was calling the courthouse to get the wheels turning for our parenting evaluation —the evaluation cannot begin soon enough in my opinion.
This brings me to another frustration within our system: I am terrified to talk to my own children for fear of being accused of “planting” things in their minds. If my daughter was hit by a 7-year old bully on the playground, it would open the door for all types of discussions—why people become bullies, why hitting is not okay, why they should immediately find an adult and get assistance for the issue. On Wednesday, I decided to call my daughter’s therapist for advice and to update her on the situation. She told me to have both girls journal about what happened or ask them to draw pictures about the incident. While I was able to give them the tools to write and draw (papers, crayons and pencils), I am more concerned about the tools that they need on how to handle being bullied by their own father. Dealing with a 7-year old bully would be much easier. ###
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