Thursday, May 07, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
One of my church members lost her son when he was killed tragically in a car crash . I feel so sorry for her . She has decided to take up the cause against drunk drivers because of this and she has asked all of the members of the church to support her . I understand how upset she is , and I do want to help . What I don't want to do is join the committee and march and all the other stuff she has planned . It's not because I don't care , I really do . But I have my own life and responsibilities and I feel like I can't take on anything else . I have offered to make a donation , but so far , she has not agreed to take it . She wants me to be boots on the ground with her . How can I support her and draw the line on what I do ? 
Striking a balance 
Dear Striking  a Balance ,
I am so sorry  to hear of  your  church member's  loss . Losing a child, is the most heart breaking thing that can happen to anyone. And if it was caused by a drunk driver, it is not only tragic, but senseless and very difficult to accept.  The lady has chosen to channel her anger and grief  in a most positive and healthy way   by bringing awareness to an important issue.
You must make it clear to her, that although you love her, respect and support her cause, you can't possibly bring the same passion to it that she does. She is driven by something very personal. You have your own responsibilities to take care of and can't give her the time she wishes from you.
She may not realize it at this point, but all causes cost a great deal of money for drives, rallies, walks and advertising. If you can offer financial support and perhaps even coax a few of your friends into contributing, you will doing her and her cause a great service.
Compassion and support come in many forms and this is the way you feel comfortable expressing them.

Dear Maxy,
Twelve years ago , my son moved his girlfriend into our home . "Lena" lived with us for four years and we treated her like family . They broke up and Lena moved out . She then married someone else and now has an adorable 6-year-old daughter . We have remained such good friends with her that my husband walked her down the aisle at her wedding .
My son is now 30-years-old and has never married .
Unfortunately , his current girlfriend is demanding that we sever all ties with Lena and she is causing problems for us with our son . We have tried to reassure them both that the old flame is no threat to their new romance, but it hasn't helped .
We live in a small town, where everyone knows each other . Is it fair for us to be treated this way ? 
Dear Mom ,
There are different sets of dynamics at work here. Maintaining a relationship with  your son's ex runs the risk of becoming very awkward, if the new girlfriend waltzes into the sanctity of her boyfriend's home, only to find his old flame having tea with his parents. Although it shows some insecurity on her part, she has a point. Most people would be uncomfortable.
Conversely, you spent years getting to know Lena and getting close to her. You and she bonded and she became immersed in your family life, much like a daughter. I don't think it's a fair expectation to abruptly sever a friendship like that,  just because a couple parts ways.
 Well, the path of least resistance ( not necessarily the best path) is to maintain friendships with both ladies but keep them apart as much as possible. Less contact....less friction.  It would be quite a juggling act. I think Lena would understand your dilemma, sympathize, and even help, if you talked  to her about it. 
What is your son's view on this issue?  Does he accept or object to your relationship with Lena ? Is he seriously committed to the new girlfriend ? Would he sever ties with you over this, in support of her?
If there is a marriage on the horizon, this will become a more serious issue and in the future, you may have to limit your contact with Lena to preserve peace in the family. If the relationship  between your son and the new lady is casual or not committed at the present time, she really has no right to demand anything from you and certainly no right to decide who your friends are.

Dear Maxy,
My 15-year-old son just told me that he is gay . I kind of suspected it , but that's completely different than actually dealing with it .
I totally support my son to become whatever he is to be , but I have no idea on how to help him through what will surely be some rough times .
For starters , I know my husband is going to freak out . He is West Indian and stereotypically homophobic . My son will need his father to have his back . And then there are the extended family members I need help in order to help him .
Standing by His Side 
Dear Standing  By His Side 
Gay adolescents are 'coming out' younger and younger to their parents these days. This is a good thing—a sign of progress—and it should be applauded.  Research findings suggest that for openly gay kids, having a good relationship with parents is good for their mental health and self-esteem, and may inoculate them from suicidal feelings, substance abuse, and risky sex. 
 However, if your husband is homophobic and you feel he may be abusive to your son, perhaps, now is not the time to tell him.
Remind yourself that homophobia is typically based on lack of knowledge on the topic, and that your husband is only repeating stereotypes and opinions he was exposed to in his own upbringing. This is especially true if he was raised in a conservative or religious family. Your son's dad may feel shame, guilt, or even blame himself or you for your son's orientation. If he reacts badly to the news,  your son may not be not be able to handle it emotionally, at this time.
He has taken the first step by coming out to you and, honestly, that took courage. Both of you need time to process this new situation now. And you need to assure him that you are there for him 100% ....also, be a good listener. You will learn a whole facet of your son you did not know existed.
 You should do some research on how families adjust to these revelations. Websites : --
When you are both comfortable enough to talk about your family situation with someone, get a councilor involved. He can invite your husband to a family discussion in a neutral environment, where he can field your husband's questions and keep the discussion objective.  If you would prefer a family member, teacher or a member of the clergy to handle the meeting, that  could work. Having a third party there will definitely help keep the emotions under control.
 I wish you well,

Dear Maxy ,
I am so sad watching the devastating effect that parental alienation is having on my grandchildren and I feel powerless to help them .
My daughter is the target of an ex-husband who is determined to turn their children against their mother . My 13-year-old granddaughter attempted suicide last week and went to a facility for several days . She is now getting therapy , but I don't know whether the truth will come out about what is going on in this messed up family relationship .
I feel like asking my ex-son-in-law whether he loves his children more than he hates his ex-wife so he will realize who is being hurt most by his actions . My daughter went to counseling for a year before leaving her husband and the counselor said her husband is very insidious with a narcissistic personality . She left him because he was controlling and emotionally abusive . She was supposed to have custody of the children but they did not want to leave their neighborhood , school and friends . My daughter did not fight it because it was what the children were encouraged to choose .
She also knows her ex-husband would use the children to hurt her . When she recently went to sign the final divorce papers , he said if she tries to change the custody arrangement she will never see her children again .
Is there any recourse for this kind of behavior ? My daughter cannot fight this in court and we do not have the resources to help either .

Sad Grandmother 
Dear Sad Grandmother ,
Parental Alienation is the act of a parent, coaching/convincing the children to "break away" from the other parent by way of brainwashing the children into thinking badly of the targeted  parent, often to the point of them refusing to have anything to do with that parent. In most cases the children believe the words of the alienator unconditionally and are also coached in such a way as to believe that it is themselves who have made the decision to not love or want to see the other parent. The alienator can be mother or father.
 It  can cause  the  children  tremendous  psychological  harm  that can last a lifetime  if  not  addressed . Your  daughter  needs  to document  every instance  where her  ex has:  kept  the children from her, encouraged  the  children to think ill of  her, spoken negatively  about  her  in front  of  the  children or  threatened to deny her access  to the  children . At the same  time, she  should  not  become  angry  around  her  ex , because  he  will use  it  against her .
I know  it  can be  expensive  to keep  fighting  in court, but  this  is  a form  of  emotional  abuse  and  she  needs  to protect  her  kids  as  best she  can before  the  damage  is  permanent . At the  very least , suggest  that she consult  with an attorney who specializes  in parental  alienation cases . Perhaps she can get some pro bono legal assistance.  Helpful website:

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