Archive for the ‘Agencies’ Category

Sometimes I feel like being in a blended family makes you feel like you are living a bipolar existence.  This is more so when some of the other parties, namely Bert, try to turn things into something they are not.  It is this I believe that is the source of our most recent saga.

First, sorry I’ve been away for a while.  As we approached the holidays life was just crazy busy and no topics hit me with that “you can share something useful”  kick in the pants that makes me feel like what I have to say might be worthy to inspire, educate or get someone else to think differently about their situation.

So now on to what kicked me out of my writer’s block.  It relates back to the ongoing counseling of some of the kids from challenges we had this summer (“Expected Chaos” and “Dangers of Ineptness“).  In the interest of open disclosure I will say I am like a lot of men in that I feel that counseling is a tool not an ongoing service.  Like a man, I approach things in the world with “identify the problem, find some solutions, implement the solutions, move on”.  As I’ve talked with my friends it seems this is a universal guy view of counselors and over the last few months the overriding question I get from them is “when are they going to give you guys something to use so you guys can move forward normally?”

Sadly we are still trying to get there and a step in that process is what pushed me to get out what I feel and understand in this post.  Peter was initially working with a counselor for about three to four months who ultimately did very little if anything for him.  God has blessed us with a solution that makes the counseling of Peter and his sisters free of charge due mainly to the fact that Bert is on assistance and so fees are picked up.  If we were paying per session, my “man view” of counseling would have been pushing for a resolution much sooner.  In any event this woman eventually decided she was not equipped to help Peter (glad she wasted three months to get there, but herein lies a pet peeve of mine with counseling in that when they can have no goal, than means the counseling can go on forever providing said counselor with a steady stream of income) and she referred him to a place we wanted to go initially but had instead deferred to Bert’s desire to try this other counseling center.  It worked out because Bert went along without grumbling because it was not his ex who had suggested it but a third party.  Peter has basically had a handful of sessions with his new counselor but he seems to be opening up to this one where he would not really talk to the other one.  I get it, it happens.  Just wish the other bozo had not taken so long to understand that if your client is not talking and you’ve got no plan to get them to talk that’s not really a recipe for good counseling.

So feedback to my dear wife this week is what took what was pretty good holiday season with a good cheer and such as you can have with a house full of teenagers and in the course of 24 hours took her to state of frustration and worry.  At this point Greg and Peter’s counselors have not spoken to each other even after we asked them to.  This is the source of my wife’s frustration.  Completely warranted and it frustrates me to, because perhaps if they had talked a month ago like we asked she would not have gotten the comment she did that seems to have sent her into a tailspin.  There are two issues here, but let me stick with the one here which was actually the second issue.  Hope to not confuse you.

Since they had not talked and Peter’s counselor has no information on Greg and the assessment of the other counselor when asked what she recommended what we do to monitor the boys she made the ludicrous statement that we should never have the two of them together unless they are in “eyeshot”.  My friend said it best when he said that along with all the door monitors etc. is really a Fascist state and that this counselor should use her head and realize how unrealistic and stupid that recommendation is.  I understand she is just taking the ultra conservative route and not wanting to have something occur because she said we could use a more relaxed approach since she has no input on Greg.  My frustration on this is I feel what the counselor did was very unprofessional and borders on misconduct.  It is along the line of asking a movie reviewer, “Did you like Movie A or Movie B more?”

“I liked Movie A.”

“Why?”

“Because I didn’t see Movie B.”

What?  If you do not have enough information to make a recommendation then the responsible thing to do is to say that, not make some asinine statement that has no professional basis.  A more appropriate response would have been to say “I can answer that after I speak with Greg’s counselor which I will make every effort to do as quickly as possible.”  Instead what she did was launch a domino effect that sent my wife into a tailspin that was not necessary at all.  Pisses me off to no end.  I have to go in and meet with this counselor in a couple weeks in another one of her ill advised brainstorms, and I just hope I am past her incompetence enough to handle the circus appropriately.

My assessment, and I can’t read anyone’s mind last I checked, so it’s just what I have put together in my head, is that because of my wife’s fear or worry about Bert turning everything into a made up fallacy she has placed more power on this counselor that is really there.  We are not in some court mandated assessment.  This is personal counseling entered into voluntarily and therefore protected by all that is HIPAA.  At this point the counselor has Peter working through understanding that the first steps to inappropriate action by someone is usually talking about it.  This does not mean that if someone talks about it they will do it.  It’s the old version of I saw a bird.  I saw the bird fly.  Therefore all birds fly.  Yet we all know an ostrich does not fly but is a bird.  His action does not automatically cause the event.  The counselor explained that Peter is having a hard time making that distinction and that is making him hypersensitive to comments by others.  First thing this counselor has said that I agree with.  However I believe because of this worry about Bert taking the fact that natural youngster and teenage banter about sexuality and such occurs in a household somehow makes the household a problem.  Think back to when you were a kid.  Did you talk about inappropriate things?  How often?  As often as possible, right?  That’s the nature of childhood.  When I discuss with dispassionate folks they all agree.  It is when adults create meaning that is not there that it creates the crazy train.  Greg’s counselor has pointed this out to us, and for some reason it seems my wife feels that this counselor has jumped the fence and is somehow calling something what it is not.  I’m only seeing a overprotective counselor who spoke out of turn ad should have waited to say ANYTHING until she had enough info to speak with a grain of intelligence.  Instead she created propaganda that has taken on a life of its own in my wife’s head.

You see one of the other issues that has now expanded beyond reason is that because this counselor might be worried about Greg, what would in most cases be passed off as normal behavior is viewed with a lens of adult added angst.  From time to time when Greg and Bobbi watch TV they will share a seat and hang over each other.  They will toss legs over each other or Greg will lean on Bobbi’s arm.  When I discuss this with my friend he says his son and daughter so this stuff all the time.  My brother did it with me.  I think Greg likes the fact that he has a sister, even a stepsister, who’s first reaction to him sitting within five feet of her is not “get away from me, I hate you” which is what Greg has gotten from his two sisters his whole life.  Bobbi does not get upset when Greg leans on her in fact they are usually giggling and talking.  It’s just normal human interaction.  Yet because this counselor has raised the specter of not knowing Greg because she spoke out of turn this has turned a knob in my wife’s head that what if Greg is overly affectionate?  As long as he’s not groping people etc. what parent would not be happy to have their pre-teens not be happy in each other’s presence rather than loathsome?   Yet this is what our over-sensitized counselor-fueled existence has become, and all I can think is “STOP THE MADNESS!!!!”

I certainly do not want to stick my head in the sand, so I have sought other opinions.  As I said, friends are saying their kids do this all the time and we are being ridiculous and are being driven to this stupid view by all these counselors.  Again, I have a lot of guy friends so their solution is simple.  Tell the counselor we need to get to a point where we can go forward as normal because we have crossed the line into the territory of counseling doing more harm than good.  Given the tailspin this is moving us into I find it hard to argue.  Do we want to be dumb and unobservant no, but do we want to react to everything with the result that we eventually have every child in the house walking around in an inflated bubble and my wife and I never sleep or go anywhere because we have to watch everyone?  Hell no!  Peter is already expressing his frustration with the fact that his life is not as he would like because he is basically under house arrest and constant surveillance, yet if we listen to crazy counselor we are not being Gestapo enough!   How is that going to raise a healthy child?  You see Peter and Greg were upset because on New Year’s Eve while all their siblings got to party all night they had to go to their rooms behind their door alarms because the adult’s were going to bed and they could not be watched.  Think about that statement for a bit.  In hindsight it was perhaps ill advised for me to voice it out loud as the reason for their having to go to bed while the other’s did not, but it was the reality of our existence.  It was at this moment that I realized this has gone on long enough and something needed to change and then all hell broke loose with mouthy counselor not using her supposedly educated head.

You see we are in a never ending stream of counseling on this event.  Why? Because the counselors have no set goal.  Is that our fault?  Perhaps, but because of my regular lack of relying on others to handle my problems for me I have not had to deal with counselors a lot until I started marriage counseling before my divorce.  I went to a marriage counselor, who I felt was very good.  What was the result?  I got divorced.  Now I have this situation.  Excuse me for not being too upbeat on the success of counseling.  I think we need to get the counselors to set a goal for the two remaining kids in counseling and that goal is simple.  We want them both to understand how to interact with others appropriately and to live a normal life.  The counselors should then be able to articulate a plan on how we will get there.  Peter’s counselor at least has a semblance of that, but Bobbi’s counselor is continuing her clueless trek down “let me talk with Bobbi and bill the state” land.  I have been content to just leave it be because it was not costing anything but now there is a cost.   Our family’s sanity.  Am I going to demand a change?  No not right away.  I realize I’m really upset and venting, but I do think we are being stupid ad doing our whole family a disservice by not demanding some professional responsibility from the counselors.  After all if I went to anyone else for a service would I just tell them, “Hey I’ll just pay you every week without any end in sight and you just take my money and do whatever you want, OK?” you’d call me an idiot.  And you’d be right.  I want to have a discussion with my wife on what our family’s goal with this is and get off the incorrect assumption that we must just let it go on forever because of the source.  Sure the events of the summer need to be dealt with and they have been, are and will be.  If your kids used drugs would we send them to rehab forever?  No.  Would they perhaps do something again that made the go back?  Perhaps, but all we can do is give the tools to make a good decision and the guidance to know what that is and then let them get back to life.  Yet in this case we are not.  My wife and I have discussed the imposition of the door alarms and so have the rest of the kids so we acknowledge the problem, yet we have taken no action to solve it.  Who’s fault is that?  We need two big fingers pointing right back at us.  Will the door alarms ever be off, honestly because of Bert’s meddling, probably not, but we did tone them back from shrieking sirens to simply loud obnoxious ear splitting beeps a while back.  This is making all of us edgy and so is it a wonder that when we get a little shove from a stupid counselor who speaks out of turn that one of us falls off the edge?  No!

This leads me to the counselor’s first recommendation and what started the discussion that led to her dumb second recommendation that I have just beat like a dead horse.  They have been pushing for about a month to get the adults from the households with the three boys involved with this summer’s activities into a room together.  When I told my friend about this his first response was “I hope you said no way in hell!”  His reasoning?  Bert is totally incapable and unwilling to be anything but productive in that meeting.  He will monopolize that meeting.  My reaction.  He is 100% accurate.  With what just happened with my wife because of the other comment this week I am frankly terrified about how she will handle this session.  I understand the counselors are doing what people in that field try to do.  They think they are being helpful, yet this is the same counselor who when my wife said she did not want to be interviewed with Bert in the same room insisted that “this was the process” and then my wife went through it, Bert used his manipulation over her to make her feel hideous and she had to talk it over with her counselor over multiple sessions and was not her wonderful self for weeks.  Yet here we go into this again.  Are we stupid?  I’m beginning to think so.  Yet I do not know another option, because I am also willing to give it a shot but the only way we succeed in there is if Bert talks we all shut up and let him go.  He will lie, say things that are untrue, but we cannot react.  If we do he wins.  My concern is I will blow up in there and call the counselor the bumbling fool she is for calling this meeting in the first place.  She witnessed what happened with Bert and my wife, and she knows the other mom has similar issues with Bert.  The only one who can deal with Bert’s shit is me.  But what I can’t deal with and I am having a real time sucking up is some “professional” placing my wife into a situation that she is not at all comfortable with and demanding she do it with a smile.  God made it clear that a man is supposed to protect his wife.  I am prepared to do that to the death someday if needed.  My wife is the most important person in the world to me and the fact that she deals with this shit on a regular basis tears me up.  Even though I know it is un-Christian I pray for God to remove Bert from this world often and vehemently.  I then pray for forgiveness that I did that.  I do not understand God’s point in these trials and testing, but I worry that I am not doing what I should.  Should I be saying “hell no!” to this meeting?  If you were to ask me today, the answer I would shout from the mountain tops would be a resounding yes.  I need to pray on it and see.  I have almost no confidence; no I do have zero confidence, that this meeting will do anything of value.  My wife had basically said the same thing.  It would seem that then we are not very smart for proceeding.  Maybe we talk with the other mom and decide that way.

Because Bert takes wicked advantage of everything with his sociopathy I believe my wife has added a lot of weight to this that is not there.  We recently read some excerpts from a book where the author said stop worrying about the worst that can happen because the worst rarely does, yet that is basically what is happening here.  I feel that we are letting some fear of what Bert could spin things into drive us into not demanding more from the counselors and instead taking a very passive attitude and into walking into situations that are set up for bad outcomes.

At this point however we sit at a point that my wife feels “there is a counselor with power for the county” which I feel is utterly false but she is so worried from this woman’s inappropriate statement without any of the facts she needed to make it that she will not move from that.  If we continue this way for the next few days I know my resolve will grow much stronger to say we are not participating in that joint waste of time.  The counselors have this hope that the changes they want Bert to make will be made through these types of meetings.  That is what is driving my wife and this other mom to agree though every ounce of their being does not want to do this.  They are being driven for their kids just as I am being driven for my wife.  Should I be the voice of reason?   The most dispassionate one in the bunch?  Should I stand up and say this has no chance of success?  The counselors will be disappointed but the carnage that I anticipate Bert wreaking in that room will not have a chance to take place.  If I felt one iota of possibility that he could be reasoned with and the counselors could get him to listen I would feel some hope.  As my friend said, “This better be the best fucking counselor the world has ever seen, or you are just headed into a nightmare.”  I think I’ve already established on a much smaller point that we are not dealing with that type of counselor here.  I’d really like some thoughtful comments on this one.  We’ve got a couple weeks before this meeting is to take place.  I understand that everything I’ve written says stop the madness.  Sadly that’s not always so easy.

God presents us with chances every moment of our lives to learn something.  Those of us who use that gift and make something of it improve our chances for success in life by at times immeasurable ways.  In this truth I solemnly believe.  In the dark moments of life, I believe He provides us the most powerful ways to improve.

When we are young, everything new is scary but perhaps also exciting.  We learn that not everything is to be feared.  Different names are provided for those initial concerns.  The boogeyman.  Monsters in the closet.  Things that go bump in the night.  We learn that these things do not exist and we are able to overcome bigger fears because of that new found knowledge.

There are however some things that we find are not so false, and are not so easy to overcome.  Recently I came face to face with one of those things with my wife.  Like the lions of Tsavo, for some the ability to learn and understand is easier because they are not imperiled.  The hunter played by Val Kilmer is like that.  His past experience had taught him that even though these lions were more formidable than anything he had ever encountered he had built up the resilience to overcome that fear and prevail.  For others, like some of the workers, superstitions and never shaking the boogeymen of childhood for whatever reason, or perhaps seeing a family member carried off by a lion at one time or another taught a different lesson.  They were afraid, at times paralyzingly so, of something the hunter saw so very differently.

In the aftermath of our few weeks in the summer brought on by machinations from Bert, Peter and several others are still going to counseling.  Recently Peter’s counselor said she was going to refer him out because he needed to talk with someone who had a specialty in the issues that occurred and this created a situation that tossed my wife into a tailspin.

For reasons that make little sense to a rational person, Bert like to take these opportunities of a new individual to replay all the past history, as he sees it of his and my wife’s life together.  These situations are never pleasant for my wife and this was no exception.  What transpired was sadly similar to the analogy I provided above.  My wife had indicated ahead of time to the new counselor that due to her past abusive history with Bert she was not comfortable having a joint session with him and especially with Peter.  For whatever reason, when she arrived there her request was not granted.  As best I can tell, the counselor felt like the hunter, that she had seen a predatory lion before and knew how to handle him and could therefore disregard the concerns of the superstitious laborer who did not have the experience she had.  As we were to find out, just because the hunter is comfortable and believes the laborer should be, the mind will do what it will when confronted with the ghost of abuses past and the darkness of being ignored by those who mean to help yet again.

For whatever reason, my wife walked away from the intake session in a very bad place, and she stayed there for several days.  She visited her counselor after a few days and was encouraged to withdraw from things for a few days and process.  Again, we ran into two perspectives, where she was reeling from this and I just wanted our life to go on and her to shake it off, which she was having a nearly impossible time doing.  We had some direct conversations as she pulled out of this but I did my part and remained as caring and focused as I could.

So what did I take away from God’s teaching moment?  Ultimately that we emerged in a better place and with my wife having a clearer picture about what set off this chain of events and that she needs to stand her ground with any future counselors and not let them play the hero who can reconcile the irreconcilable creature that is Bert.  If they want to try that on their own, that’s their business.  Stalking the lion in the rushes is up to them.  My wife does not need to be used as the bait.  The lesson was that worrying about how she would be perceived by the counselor when she refused to simply go along and attend the joint session was the wrong choice over standing firm and asserting the position God had graced her with.  He had pulled her out of a terrible situation and created a new life for her with someone who cares and loves her and there was never a reason to re-enter that old world, even at the behest of a counselor who claimed to know better.  She was right back in the darkness where Bert had the control and she felt she had none and even though she would like to be strong enough to handle that, it turned out she was not.

Why does God reveal things when He does?  We will never know.  Many things came to light over the last several months as we lived through the situation caused by Bert’s malice.  For my wife many of them were revelations from the mother of Peter’s half brother and who lived with my wife and Bert for a time and with Bert after my wife left.  The details are not important so I will not go into them here, but the key to understanding is that things my wife believed she understood and that the kids might not have been aware of were shown to be untrue in several conversations she had with this mother.  Adding all the burdens together these revelations, the pressures we were going through to get past the false accusations, the frustration of the children, the added schedules of the counseling sessions and other new requirements on an already very busy schedule and finally the ill advised choices by Peter’s new counselor resulted in the pot boiling over.  I certainly do not understand God’s timing in this and why there was just more and more, but we relied on what we knew to be true, that He loved us and it made sense to Him and just did the best we could.

Without the blow up, perhaps my wife would never garner the fortitude to realize that no matter what in the future she stands her ground on this.  She may have continued to pacify any future counselors to not “make waves” because it was not so bad.  By hitting the bottom, maybe this was God’s way of telling her to realize that she never need again subject herself to these situations.  That’s a lesson more than worth learning.

Our pastors have indicated that this entire process is perhaps just a tool God is using to hone us even further for our purpose of helping other divorced people through the process.  We certainly have new understanding of police, agencies and counselors than we did in the past and certainly it will adjust our advice on those topics.  It also provided us with situations with the children and others that also add to our experience.  We take these and look for future lions in a different way.  We will continue to have encounters with other ghosts and other darkness in the future and trust that God is always preparing us for the battle, if only we will listen and learn.

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.