Archive for August, 2013

One of the biggest challenges facing parents is how to deal with all the inputs into our kid’s lives.  I understand on a general scale that this is just a new version of the same old statement that our parents and their parents and their parents and so on made back into time immemorial.  Sometimes I wonder if the only parents that did not have to worry about this were Adam and Eve because it was just them and their kids and no other outside people to influence them, yet one brother still killed the other so not sure that proves my point.

I certainly know my parents echoed the familiar mantra, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”  Usually as I mulled it about in my head for the nanosecond before my mouth responded, it usually depended on what it was.  If it was something that I felt was stupid, I’m sure I would have said, “No” but either because I really like to do many things or because my parents had the dumb luck to only bring this up with things I thought were pretty appealing I of course responded with some form of the affirmative.  As I got older it was accompanied with additional comments about how out of touch they were or some form of how everyone was OK with it except these two annoying people who happened to be my parents.

It sucks when the tables are turned.  Now I’m the parent and I find myself pulling what little hair I have left out when I think about all the challenges with raising kids to be morally and ethically good in a culture that more and more I find to be providing crazy examples of how the opposite is true.  Take the episode of the day, Miley Cyrus and her VMA “performance”.  I guess I take a little solace in the fact that asides from the Iraq War nothing seems to compare to the shock and awe that was voiced pretty heatedly on Monday.  Today, we have parents like me trying to figure out what to do.  This article on CNN is just one of the samplings of responses, to which I’m adding my own right now.

In my generation we’ve all heard the common responses.  Send your kid to a convent.  Lock them in their room.  Monitor what they do and see.  These were all hard enough for my parents to do.  I grew up in the age when Nixon’s aides tape recording a conversation was so scandalous it set the country on its ear.  I think if Miley had performed back then, we’d have lost 300 million people in an instant as the country would have died from a collective coronary, but now it’s just another head shaking example of those stupid celebrities and the stuff they pull.  This week we discussed in church how our guides should not be what is culturally acceptable but what is biblically acceptable because that is the best standard we have.  Acting like a ho was not acceptable back then and it has not become OK now.  As a parent sending this message does not necessarily fall on deaf ears but must compete against the growing cacophony of friends, other parents, media and  everything else that simply labels those of us who feel it’s OK not to walk around naked as weird.  As much as man wants to think the rules have changed, they haven’t.  They have and will always be the same.  Break them at your own risk.  There are a few cities God wiped off the face of the Earth and have still not been found because their inhabitants through they could make their own rules.

Just a couple weeks ago we had this message from Ashton Kutcher to the teens of the world.  It was very well delivered and one can say a lot of things to denigrate the messenger, but in the end, as a parent, I’d rather have my kids see Ashton’s message, even though many believe it was contrived and fake, versus seeing Miley’s “message”, which some are now trying to paint as some feminist manifesto showing how strong women can show they can be just like men.   Maybe when those arguments are being made we should bring out the “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”  So it’s OK for men to be sexual, disgusting pigs, so good for you Miley for showing women can do it too?  Yes, let’s stand up and give a huge round of applause to that logic.

My wife appreciates that I do not treat her like a sex toy.  Sadly more and more young boys will have seen Miley gyrating around on the stage in front from Robin Thicke and grow up thinking something very different.  Do you want your daughter or granddaughter to be that boys girlfriend?  I have heard the logic that “Miley looked like she was in charge” yet was she in charge of something you would be proud to have an important female in your life in charge of?  The sad truth is that even having this discussion shows how much our country and our world has slid from common human decency.  You can argue all you want about the constraints and other limitations placed on women back in the Victorian age when it was scandalous to even see a woman’s ankle in public, but can you really argue against all that with a straight face that we should be able to see all of her now in public and think that’s forward progress?  I’ll be the first to admit that women were mistreated in terrible ways back in that time when their husbands rules over the house with an iron fist and many would make poor choices and physically assault their wives into submission, but we can eliminate one evil without opening ourselves to a dozen others.  Women’s progress does not require disgusting behavior and lewd acts.

Many argued that Miley had to shed her Disney image.  In today’s hyper media age, I guess that means you can’t just dress up like an adult and stop singing about boys.  Jodie Foster shed her kid actor image without twerking or whatever we were calling it back then.  Just because you show me you can act like a stripper doesn’t tell me you’re an adult now.  It tells me more than ever that you’re still an immature kid and need to grow up and understand that how you act says a lot about who you are.  This is the message I need to get my kids to understand every day as a parent.  Ashton did a lot of things I’d not be proud of my kids doing too, but if I had to choose between the two prominent examples provided this month by celebrities about someone who wants me to understand that he has become an adult, Ashton’s message made that a lot more clear than Miley’s did.

I talk with a lot of friends about our kids and how we raise them today.  Like it or not, my parents and ones before them had it easy when trying to limit exposure to inappropriate messages and images.  I had to go get something, be it magazine, TV screen or later in life a video tape to be exposed to something.  I had to go meet someone in person.  Sure I could talk on the phone and talk dirty, but I could not simply sit in my room and FaceTime and add visuals in a way that is harder to monitor.  At times it feels like the only way to parent is to train to be a Gestapo agent so that we can monitor and control every aspect of life, which any parent knows just creates further resistance and encourages that behavior we are trying to limit.  When your parents refused to let you do something, how well did you listen?  The harder they pushed the more defiant you became even though many times you knew it was wrong, but you just wanted CONTROL, darn it!

I’d love to hear what you’ve run into and what you’re doing about it and if it’s working.  It’s impossible to pre-screen everything the kids want to see as I can’t watch every YouTube video they might see here or at their friend’s or at school.  I was just going to go get my daily news yesterday morning and I was greeted by Miley’s bra and panty, half bent over body.  I was not looking for it, I was just wanting to see what was happening with Syria.  I understand that even if my kids wanted to avoid the same things (which I understand they don’t) they show up in your face like it or not with the media coverage.  The stakes are so much higher these days with the ability to post something stupid.  A character in the recent movie “ The Social Network” states the internet is not written in pencil, it’s written in ink.  What you say and do is out there forever.  That’s true for Miley and her VMA performance is it is for all my kids and whatever “performances” they choose to share with the world or scarier what someone chooses to share for them.  Their rant in a restaurant can be posted off a stranger’s cell phone in an instant.  All we do as parent’s is get a little bit of their life to influence them and hope they make choices less like Miley and more like Ashton.

As I start to wrap up the posts about our most recent family drama, I come to another one of those things that as a Christian I look at and see as the hand of God working for our good, but that a non-believer would call luck or coincidence.

So around mid-June (June 19th to be exact as I looked at my Amazon order) we were made aware of an excellent book called “Divorce Poison” by Dr. Richard Warshak by the mom of the kids half-brother involved in the incident most recently.  She had heard about it from a friend, was going to look it up, and recommended it to my wife given how Bert functions.  This was the same reason it was recommended to her.

I had quickly read through the book in about three days and found it excellent and very indicative of what we had seen Bert doing through the children.  Were it not for having read this book just weeks before the ordeal that began in early July I would have had a much more difficult time not only understanding but not quickly building resentment and anger towards the kids for their false accusations.  After all I knew Bert was likely to accuse me of doing something inappropriate to the kids at some point, but I felt confident that there was no way one of the kids, when questioned by other adults, would stick with their lies.  I was certainly upset when this occurred, but was able to deal with it because I had read the book.  Had God not orchestrated these events to prepare us, this trial would have been even more difficult to bear.

The premise of the work is that either accidentally or deliberately (we know Bert proceeds with this deliberately because he did the same things to my wife when she was married to him and abused by him) a parent (termed the favored parent) will attempt to turn the kids against the other parent (the rejected parent).  There have been several studies about this phenomenon and Dr. Warshak talks about this a bit.  There are levels of this process and bad-mouthing and bashing of the other parent are the tools used most often.  This can lead to alienation, where a child wants nothing to do with the rejected parent and is hostile, contemptuous and totally negative to them.

In our case, we do not feel we are at that point yet, as the kids come over and have no problem showing affection to their mom when here, but in the presence of Bert they will not even come over to my wife and hug her or even acknowledge her presence in anything but the most cursory manner.  Dr. Warshak likens this to programming or brainwashing, and it can occur just because a divorced parent is upset and talks too much in front of the kids or where they can hear to other people, or makes it clear they do not want to talk about the other parent.  Many people do this by accident, and this book tries to open parent’s eyes to the fact that this is unfair to the children.  Again, with Bert we know this is not random but deliberate as he denigrates everyone he can to further his goals of being in control and important.

The real lynchpin of this entire book is that the conventional wisdom from many counselors, attorneys and others when this type of behavior is occurring is to just wait it out and things will work out.  The kids will see for themselves.  Just ignore it as you do not want to bad mouth in reverse.  Dr. Warshak says this wisdom is dangerously wrong and by the time you realize it, you can have a real mess on your hands, possibly with children who have nothing to do with you at all as you react inappropriately and tell them to stay with the other parent until they want to see you, a tactic we were contemplating earlier this spring with Marcia when she wanted to move to Nan’s for a time.  Luckily out gut told us to do what we have now learned was the right thing and not allow contact to be restricted because it would only feed into the path to alienation rather than “show” them how their decision was wrong.   Dr, Warshak teaches you how you can speak up with facts and not bad mouth, but teach them what is really going on.  As an example when the kids say, “you never did anything fun with us” you can respond “You are mistaken” and show them videos or pictures of events.  The problem in our case is Bert kept all those, perhaps in an attempt to make this type of factual sharing more difficult, but we pray we continue to not get to full blown alienation and that the kids will remain open to clarification.

There is also a video to watch with your kids on this called “Welcome Back Pluto” that is available from Dr. Warshak’s website where you can also find a bunch of other resources on this problem.  Since we have had our family back together this is part of what we are doing to raise some awareness amongst the children about what they should be aware of and not have to deal with.  They provide an excellent guide on how to introduce the video to the kids, even if they are fully alienated and have no interest in not hating you.  They have you run through it as something that the company needs feedback on from kids on how they can improve and that has seemed to work for our group, though again, we do not feel the kids are to the point of alienation yet but we worry about the danger and as Dr. Warshak explains in the book, it is much better to stop it before it gets to that point than trying to recover from alienation or full blown estrangement where you have no contact with the kids at all.

Based on what we have learned we have definitely modified our approach to not simply sit by while we hear the kids parrot the bad-mouthing from Bert but to set the record straight and give them good examples.  Dr. Warshak explains how to subtly teach your kids how they can be manipulated by using advertising as a teaching tool about how you an be made to believe something that might not be entirely true with careful placement of messages.  We have spoken with the counselors about this and they all think it is an excellent idea and method and to use the tools we have from Dr. Warshak to try to keep the situation for getting any worse and hopefully to reverse it.

If you suspect any of this type of behavior in your divorce, intentional or accidental, I would highly recommend looking into the resources at www.warshak.com.

So the last few weeks have seemed a little bit like living through “Who’s on first?” on repeat and at hyper speed.  If that reference is lost on you, I apologize, but hopefully the story I will share below will clarify the confusion.

So as I mentioned before, in the last few weeks we basically had a situation where we learned we have some kids involved in things that need to be corrected, but false accusations were made possibly to protect, cover-up or whatever.  In the first two days of this I had people looking at things very closely and doing their jobs.  I certainly take no issue with that and since I have nothing to hide was more than happy to allow them to ask what they wanted and see what they wanted to see.  We are taught by the Bible to place our trust in government and know that God places the right people to fulfill his plan there.  This is the truth I clung to in those initial, spooky, very emotional days.  The items I was questioned about did allow me to show definitive proof that certain pieces of the accusation were impossible to be true, which was good, kind of along the lines of “You have an orange car” and then I could walk then outside and show them my purple car.

Bert has a history of accusing everyone but his household of doing bad things to the kids.  It has gotten to the point that even this last spring we were visited by social services and their first statement was that looking at the history in the file it was pretty clear what was going on (an ex on a mission to create drama and harass using the system), but that they needed to investigate and then they would be on their way.  In hindsight, I still feel that’s what happened here, but the stakes were a lot higher this time and so the emotions we all felt ramped up accordingly.  If we take a dispassionate look back though we see that after those first couple days we have not been asked anything, had anyone visit to ask to see something, or basically been involved in any way other than the frustrating story I am about to share.

Everything went as well as could be expected until the last few days.  It was then that we were confused and ultimately had to rely on the advice of an attorney and counselors who told us to do what the counselors, the professionals who were trained in these matters, suggested, until we were provided some legal documents to indicate otherwise.  To set the stage a bit, you have basically four households involved in some way here, our blended home, Bert’s home with some half siblings along with my wife’s children and a live-in girlfriend who is less than five years older than Jan, the home of the mom of one half-sibling and Nan’s home.  At one point in this process, asides from the proper recommendation of individual counseling for some of the children, social services made a recommendation for family counseling….. for a household that Is not even one of the four.  This was the first sign that things may not have been as professionally managed as we would hope.  You see social services had the brilliant idea that we might want to look at family counseling for Bert, Jan, Bobbi, Peter and my wife.  The only problem with that is my wife is now married to me and not to Bert, thereby not really a family.  Happily when an actual counselor was asked about this recommendation, she thought it might not be a good idea right now and indicated that social services issues recommendations but it is the counselors who have more education and training in these areas to tweak those recommendations into something, I believe the word was, “useful”.

So this was the first sign that maybe there was a little confusion there.  Initially our household was asked to be separated while various agencies investigated the accusation against me, among other things.  Certainly we understood and complied.  Later we asked the attorney when we would hear if the agency was done looking at me and was told, we would in all likelihood not hear anything if things were done and that given the time frame and the accusation in question it was most likely done already.  Seemed strange, but we were trusting the experts here, which as you can see has been our consistent stance.

From that bit of knowledge (that we will not hear anything) it led to us getting very frustrated with social services because of what we can only describe as ineptness.  Asides from the ill advised recommendation of family counseling for a non-existent family, we were to suddenly find a lot of things not belonging together.  Thankfully we were always good at the Sesame Street can “One of these things doesn’t belong” and were quickly able to identify that in our case that was all the recommendations by social services.

First we had the situation where when the kids were to go back to Bert for their visitation time with him, social services expressed concern to my wife that they would prefer they not go back there but there was nothing they could do legally and they encouraged us to consult an attorney, which we did and were told there was not enough actual material to obtain anything.  Just a week later when they were asking us to continue to keep separated, when my wife said that was not what we were being told to do and she might not be able to make that happen, the recommendation of social services?  To let them stay with Bert.  So first they were worried enough about Bert that they suggested we take immediate legal action, but then a week later, they were suggesting him as an appropriate household?  If you can see the logic in this, please share, because we were certainly confused, as nothing had changed.

In this same discussion when my wife asked why social services was still recommending separation when the counselors were all stating the proper course was the opposite; they wanted us to get together as quickly as possible and start family counseling for what they all felt was a perfectly manageable set of issues.  The worker indicated that the investigation on me was still not complete.  As politely as possible my wife asked if she was certain, at which she indicated they had not checked in over a week and so they were encouraged to do so since we had been led to believe things were completed.  To add to the confusion, my wife had also left a message for the supervisor who called her back later.  The supervisor proceeded to cite the same reasons for separation and when asked the same question, assured my wife that they were talking to all agencies every day.  So just a few hours ago the case worker said that it had been over a week since they contacted an agency, but now they have been in contact every day.  As you might imagine this started to upset my wife and I as it certainly felt as if the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing.

At one point Nan had also been told by social services that they were not qualified to determine what to do to proceed and that was best left for counselors who had the proper training and they would defer to them, yet when confronted with the fact that several independent counselors were telling our family to come back together and move on they felt otherwise and even though they had releases they did not contact any counselor, perhaps because they did not want to hear what was being said, which at this point was that the kids would not be traumatized by what happened, but they certainly could be traumatized by how the adults around them, including the agencies, overreacted.  At this point we made the decision to go with the professionals who were trained in properly solving this situation rather than an agency which seemed to be if not out-and-out lying to us, as least confused as to what it was doing and how it should do it.  Instead of working to bring a family together, the only thing they could seem to come up with was “stay apart until we can figure out what else to tell you”.  Several times their answer was “it’s hard to keep everything straight, there are so many people involved”.  Again, we understand that.  The counselors understood that, and that’s why they were all singing in unison that it was unlikely the root cause would ever be identified, and more importantly it really did not matter if it was identified because everyone just needed to move forward with life and address what we knew occurred versus all the insinuations and accusations that had no basis.  Basically what we were facing was a situation every parent understands.  Someone had broken the antique vase in the hallway and the parents had walked in on the children standing over the shards.  When asked who did it the kids all blamed each other or anyone else but themselves, including the parents for putting the vase there to begin with.  Most parents know that asking the kids who taught them how to break a vase, probably was not too fruitful, yet in our case we had some parents who felt that might be the best course of action.  All we knew for certain was that the vase was broken, and if we made everyone understand why it was wrong to break another vase in the future and what they could do to lessen the chances of the happening, that was the best course of action rather than resorting to a witch hunt to find the party who broke it.

In talking again to our attorney he indicated that social services had no legal standing and felt it was highly inappropriate for them to try to tell us to keep separate as a family.  Since the counselors were suggesting that we re-unite and there was no reason not to at this point, we let social services know that was the plan.

Several days later, Nan and my wife received calls that social services would like to talk to each of the boys again.  We have no idea what Peter’s reaction may have been since he was at Bert’s, but Nan promptly called to let us know that while Greg had returned to normal behavior, as soon as she mentioned to him they wanted to talk with him again, he became clingy and sad, which is exactly what the counselors had warned us against with “overreacting adults” causing trauma.  Nan was very upset and was asking what we felt should be done.  After discussing what the attorney had told us we decided that we would hold firm and help our kids move on as the counselors said and not have them interviewed over and over.  No one felt that was useful (other than social services).  Their requests were refused and it was made clear that under advice from an attorney and counselors they would not be allowed to talk to the kids again without a court order.

So the general frustration is that this was being dragged on and on for no apparent reason.  Days had gone by and with one counselor we asked her if social services had talked to her and she said no.  When we talked to social services the next day they insisted that was wrong, so basically I guess they were accusing the counselor of lying to us?  It was just more and more inept as it went on.

So the lessons learned at this point are to follow the advice of the professionals even though it may be contrary to the agencies involved unless the agencies want to push it to a legal document level.    It was very frustrating that while the agency was supposed to help families all it seemed to be doing was trying to keep a family apart with no plan to get it back together or to suggest counseling for a non-existent family.  Not exactly a process that has inspired faith in how the system works.  If you are faced with any similar situations, I think it is important to keep these lessons in mind.  The dangers of social services inability to function in an beneficial way were that we could have gone down a path that would ultimately do more harm, and if we had not had the good advice of several professionals that would have been the outcome.  We are blessed enough that we could afford the fees of counselors and attorneys if needed, but many divorced parents in a similar situation do not have that benefit and that was why I wanted to share what I learned.  Obviously every situation is unique and different locations have different laws guiding these agencies, but my understanding is that in any case, until you are handed a court order you can work with a counselor to guide your family and their advice is best.

The counselors certainly agreed that we needed to address the issues with the kids and move on as a family.  Moving past the ineptness was their universal direction.  We will probably never know why the kids lied not find the source of the behaviors we need to modify, but we are comfortable with the explanation of the counselors that this is OK and not necessary.  We can let social services pretend they can, but in the end we all know they cannot, it is just frustrating when your family is being given poor advice while they try to solve the unsolvable and refuse to understand that.  The things social services are worried about our counselors are explaining are normal in families, like someone opening a door without knocking once in a while, yet someone behind a desk who knows nothing about your family is allowed to ask questions when you have to deal with them.  For those of you that have not had to experience the process of running your family by government advice, I pray you never need to.  It is not a good thing in the best of circumstances and when they take things too far and overstep their bounds even more it can be devastating.

“In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s been no secret to followers of this blog that Bert is a bit of an overachiever when it comes to creating divorce drama.  Over the last month our household has been dealing with one of those moments which would easily have been resolved if Bert and his household would even attempt to communicate normally, but one that was expected given his pattern in the past.  I have waited to begin writing about this situation until it started to clarify itself a bit and now feel we are coming out on the other side and at least have a semblance of understanding of what might really be going on.

The start of this entire episode was that Peter was caught doing something with his younger half-brother over at Bert’s house.  It seems Jan walked in on them and reported the incident to Bert who then proceeded to escalate the situation through his normal tactics of fear and overbearing behavior with his kids until it resulted in involvement of social and law enforcement services because there were false accusations around myself and Greg.   Greg had already been used in a ploy earlier this year when Bert tried to create some additional drama.

During this time our household had been asked to separate so my wife had spent the time she had with her kids for summer vacation at her mom’s while I had my children with me at our house.  In the course of all this, probably due to Bert’s barrage of accusations against about seven or eight other people he suddenly found himself also being asked to not be in his house over night with his children.  Sadly, our initial hope that perhaps this time the authorities would do something about Bert and he inappropriate behaviors and environment in his household seems to be fading away as things have just devolved into confusion and ineptness.

The facts as we know then now, and are dealing with them, is that there was in fact, according to the counselors involved with the kids, some age-appropriate activities that we certainly want to stop, along with situations at Bert’s house that go beyond the age-appropriate level.  The advice of social services was to get most everyone into counselors and this has been done at this point, but what has resulted is that the professionals we were sent to are at complete odds for the most part with social services.  What is more frustrating is that multiple counselors have told us all the same thing:  that social services tend to overreact and make poor recommendations.  So under the advice of several professionals we are proceeding according to the direction of the professionals to move forward rather than to remain stuck in a non-solution proposed by social services. 

I’ll get into some more of the explanation of how confusing this whole process was, in another post.  On this side I want to share some of what I experienced to try to provide help to others who may find themselves caught in a similar nightmare.

There are no statistics I could find about how often blended families find themselves on the receiving end of serious accusations that have no basis in truth.  I was not surprised by this because I’m not sure how you would gather those figures.  In my situation, I was put in contact, via a contact through church, with another man who went through a similar false accusation so I know of at least one, but in our work with divorced people we hear stories all the time of exes making things up for whatever reason.  Just as in this situation, we can usually only speculate about the driver of this being bitterness, revenge, anger or whatever else.  Sadly, too many people place the emphasis on themselves rather than on their children, and the children end up suffering in the process.  In the case with Bert, my wife has tried numerous times to show how he harasses her using the various agencies and creating false investigations, but the system is to messed up to respond.  Perhaps as more of us talk about this challenge faced by divorced people everywhere, changes can be made to the system.

One of the most upsetting things I learned in this process as I consulted an attorney to guide if I should speak with someone or what we might hear, is that since this entire accusation against me was false and therefore there is no evidence and I was informed of that, that is all we will hear.  No one will call me to say an investigation is over.  I was amazed.  The attorney said even with their “access” to the legal system, they would not be told either.  I’m sure some of it has to do with manpower in already understaffed and overworked government agencies.   It is hard enough just doing the work that needs to be done.  Where would they find the time to call and let people know they nothing is going to happen.  Even though it is the nice thing to do. 

At one point in cooperating in this process I was not able to see my wife for over a week and while I was at home with my kids, and they knew most of what was going on since they had to talk to people too, it was still a very isolated existence.  I spoke with friends and family, but it was very disappointing to say that for the most part I feel much as MLK did.  The accusations were bad enough, but the lack of communication or outright unhelpful communication from friends was staggering.  I know Bert has it out for anyone not aligned with him, this was not news to me and certainly did not “hurt” in the common definition of that word.  Even though family and friends knew the accusation was false from the first second, I felt the focus was not on helping me deal with what I was feeling and understanding that, but on placing blame or slinging anger, which frankly was totally unhelpful.  I ended up stopping communication with several people because I would leave the conversation more drained or upset than when I started because I was spending time trying to help them, rather than obtaining the support I had hoped to receive from them at the time.

This is not a foreign situation to anyone who goes through divorce, and I have told my wife and a few others how surprised I was to find myself in the same emotional roller coaster that I had been through during my divorce.  The benefit was that now I know how to handle it, so it was not nearly as long lived, but for a couple days it was easily as intense.  Sitting alone at night, up in my room, with my wife and half my family elsewhere, it was sheer misery.  I had one friend and several church contacts that helped, but otherwise it was really the “silence of my friends” that really smacked on me. 

Through it all it was my faith in God and on leaning on other Christians that allowed me to not lose my composure and ultimately my mind in the last few weeks.  I cannot tell you how many times I dropped to my knees in tears and desparation telling God how I trust him yet not understanding why this trial had come my way.  During this process it was the first time my wife ever heard me tell her, “I know you understand I can take a lot, but even I have my limits, and I’m basicaly there”.  I know that statement must have scared and frightened her because she and her family have regularly commented about that I am her “rock” and maintain control and stability when she is not always able to do that.  Having me in that state certainly must have challenged her.  I certainly learned more than ever before the my “rock” was Jesus and the trust I had in him and his ability to navigate through what I found very uncertain.  Ask yourself the question of “How do I prove I didn’t do something?” and you can understand what I was facing.  Doing something produces evidence.  Not doing something produces nothing.  It certainly did not make sense to me, but I knew God could figure it out and so I leaned on him when my other means of support were lacking.

Looking back had we had the ability to have any conversations that border on normal with Bert and his household none of the last few weeks would have happened and we would have been well into counseling the kids who do need to work through some issues.  Again, for the most part they are lying, covering up and all the things that kids do to avoid getting in trouble.  Instead we have a lot more work for everyone to get through.  More on that next time.