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Talk to Shar

By Shar Howe

Hi Folks:
Spring time is just around the corner here in Kelowna, B.C. Hopefully all of you are sensing the arrival of springtime as you inhale its essence as it wafts in around the corners of Old Man Winter who is relentlessly trying to hang around as long as he can.

Grab your coffee and join us!

Hello Shar:
My wife is driving me crazy. Actually she is my ex-wife now. We have 3 young girls and my wife is always pawning the children off on baby sitters. So, even though I have to work during the days I take my children. This means I have to get my family to look after them. I want to see them and be with them but they end up not with me anyways. But I usually take time off my work so I can be with them because I miss them so much. I get my girls every other weekend and any other time I want them. I don't know why she doesn't hear me and stop trying to make me responsible for the girls when she is suppose to be responsible. Can you tell me what to do with my wife?
Phoenix, Arizona

Hi John:
No, I cannot tell you what to do with your wife but as I read your letter I hear that your wife can only do to you what you allow her to do to you. I hear that you miss your children so much that when your wife presents to you that you can see them, you jump at the chance. Are you being responsible here? You have a job and it must be a priority. Sounds like you are having a hard time setting boundaries with yourself re: going to work or seeing your girls whenever your wife needs a baby sitter.

What I hear you saying here John is that perhaps you are making yourself responsible for the girls during your working hours, not your wife. I hear you addressing the issue of your wife getting baby sitters for the children instead of addressing what you tell me here; that you miss them so much. I think you might find the answers you are seeking in addressing your own issue of missing the girls and wanting them with you all the time. Yet you say you cannot do this because of your job. Perhaps it is you who needs to set boundaries with yourself in regards to seeing the girls during your work day?

It sounds like you miss your girls very much and want to be with them. If you and your wife were still together would you have been with them during your work day or did you let your wife be responsible for the care of the children during the day? If so, why are you not allowing her to do so now? Is it your need to see the girls that is so great that is preventing you from giving your job the priority it needs to have in your day? Is this really about your wife leaving the girls with baby sitters or your need to be with your girls? If you find your job is suffering (which is your source of income) perhaps you might consider going and talking with someone and dealing with your loss and grieving over the loss of your marriage, family, etc. Does this fit for you? I would think you probably give the same message to your wife that you are giving here to me. That your need to have your girls is so great that you find it hard to be away from them. This is not your wife's responsibility to try to take care of you. She can't. Only you can do the work you need to do and take the journey you need to take to deal with your feelings John. I truly hope you will do so. As long as you keep believing that your wife is the problem I don't think anything will change for you. I know divorce is very difficult and losing one's family is a treacherous loss that needs to be dealt with before it destroys your own life.

I wish you all the best and truly hope you will consider dealing with your own feelings around the loss of your marriage and children in regards to having them in your daily life.

Hi There:
I would just like a STRAIGHT ANSWER! I ask my mother to look after my children and she hums and haws and I feel like I am intruding on her or putting her out, etc. etc. She says she wants to see my children but when I ask to bring them over it seems like she has something else she is doing. When I bring them over she doesn't have many groceries. She doesn't like having food around so she obviously doesn't enjoy even feeding them when they are with her. I am fed up with this scenario. I want her to be with her grandchildren and she says she wants to see them but it hardly seems worth it. What can I do?
Cawston, B.C.

Hi Fred:
I am hearing you say that your mother wants to see the grandchildren and be with them. I also hear you say that you ask her to look after them and then you narrate what comes of that and how you feel. I find myself wondering if you share the children with your mother without asking her to babysit for you? I am wondering if she might be more open to seeing the children when you ask her to look after them if at other times you and the girls share times and outings with her where you aren't asking her to look after them?

You say you feel like you are intruding upon her when you ask her to look after the children. Have you shared with your mother the things you have shared with me? I believe that she is the only one who can tell you how she feels. I can assume many things but you are already assuming things from how you feel so perhaps it is time to sit down with her and communicate with her how you feel and ask her how she really feels. Also, letting her know, that if you have not been sensitive to her in some way you are open to hearing her tell you about this. Is this something you are willing to try? Let me know how it works out.

Dear Counsellor:
My Aunt is such a lovely lady. She is 80 years old. Her daughter, my cousin, treats her very badly. Always nagging at her and putting her down and saying demeaning things to her. Why does my Aunt let her do this? Is it right that I should step in and tell my cousin what a witch she is and to STOP abusing her mother? I cannot believe my Aunt lets her daughter treat her like this. My Aunt has talked to me about this before but I don't know what to say to her. My cousin is hateful and the family just tries to stay clear of her. She is one nasty person. She also treats her husband the same way and anyone else who gets in her way. She is just like her father. Abusive. What should I do? What would you do?

We all see my cousin treating my Aunt like this but because we are aware that my Aunt sees it too we don't know if we should step in? My cousin wants her mother to move in with her and her husband and sell her house and give her the money now, while she is still alive. Many members of the family are very concerned about my Aunt and very worried that she might actually do this.

Please help!
Drayton Valley, Alberta

Dear Mary:
I understand how upsetting this is to you and I applaud you on your sensitivity to this situation. It sounds like perhaps you and your Aunt have a close relationship? If this is so perhaps you might want to sit down with your Aunt and tell her what you have told me since she has already opened up the door for you to have this communication with her. Your Aunt has already shared with you her concerns over this. Perhaps you might want to encourage her to talk with her doctor, pastor, or a health official, and let this situation be known as it sounds like elder abuse is well on its way to bursting into full form.

You share with me that your Aunt's husband was just like her daughter so it sounds like perhaps your Aunt has been living as a victim of this type of abuse for most of her life and does not know how to stop it. It also sounds like she is now addressing this issue and may feel fear now that she is getting frailer in her years. I do think you need to hear her concerns and sit down, and share with her your concerns, which may be supportive for her to hear in that other's see what is going on and that she isn't alone.

It is not easy to be the family member that another seeks out to get support from in these issues but it is most necessary that you take this very seriously and do all you can to encourage your Aunt to talk with someone who might help her in dealing with this abuse before she finds herself in a position of being totally dependent upon her daughter.

It sounds like your Aunt is calling out for help but perhaps she feels guilty in doing so but scared that if she doesn't she may find herself the victim of much more serious abuse. Ask yourself what you would like someone to do for you if you were in your Aunt's shoes. Talk it over with someone else in the family that you trust. I encourage you and your family to stop pretending all this is not going on and stand up for your convictions in regards to dealing with this issue.

You might want to take another family member or two with you and go talk with your Aunt and tell her that you folk support her and do see what goes on and offer to take her to talk with someone about it. If she refuses to go, and she may, as she may be scared of what her daughter might do, then I suggest you tell her that you will go talk to her doctor so that someone that she trusts is aware of the situation. And go do it!

Let me know how this works out and feel free to write me if you need any further assistance.

Hello Therapist:
My sister runs a day care centre. Her husband is a cocaine addict. He snorts in the house while the children are there. I can't sleep because I am so worried about the children and also that my sister will be in serious trouble should this be found out. What do I do? Karen,
Breslau, Ontario

Dear Karen:
What should you do? Go to your sister immediately and offer to go with her to the authorities. If she does not I suggest you go immediately. It is a crime to not divulge this information once you know. To endanger children's lives in any way is a criminal act. You will be in just as much trouble as your sister if you do not go and tell the authorities.

I must remind everyone that should you reveal to me any sexual abuse or any other abuse against children or that your life is being threatened or that you are being hurt or planning to hurt someone, then I by law, must go to the authorities. It is no different here than if you were in my office.

I would like you to call me karen. I will send you my number through your e-mail and if you want me to connect you with someone who will go to the police with you I will glad to do so. But, go to the police you must. You did not bring this issue about - children in day care where drugs are being used - but now that you know you are definitely morally and legally responsible to go to the authorities.

This is it for now folks.

Talk with you soon,

Shar, R.P.C.C.

E-mail your comments and questions to me at:

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