(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Should I turn my son in to child protective services?
(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Right now I want to welcome Jan to the phone. Jan, your son and his girlfriend need some help?
Jan: Yes they do.
Dr. Kenner: What's going on?
Jan: They've had some domestic issues going on between them and it just seems like it's escalating a lot worse than that. Her parents were both drug addicts and that, so she is just really strongly against drugs and that, but my son kind of experiments with oxy and pain pills and things like that. Whether or not he's doing them or not, she always thinks that he is and then she is always thinking that he's messing around with these girls at work and she just really -
Dr. Kenner: So trust issues?
Jan: Right. Big trust issues. It's like everyday, because she says she can't control herself and she says that everyday she is questioning him, whether or not he's doing anything wrong or not. She's always drilling him. Then she keeps on so bad that she goes beyond his limit and then it ends up into a punching match.
Dr. Kenner: Who punches who?
Jan: Well, basically they kind of punch each other.
Dr. Kenner: Who pushes, who does the first punch?
Jan: I saw a fight between them the other day where she was the one that was hitting on him first.
Dr. Kenner: She initiated it, okay. You can see the violence will escalate. You can start with verbal attacks and then it gets worse and worse. But here's the big question I have - you're the mom. How are you involved in this? Are they living with you?
Jan: No, they're not.
Dr. Kenner: But you were witness to one?
Dr. Kenner: How can I help you as a mom? What help are you looking for?
Jan: Well, basically just hopefully trying to find - because they don't have insurance right now, so I've been trying to find someplace where they can both go and get hopefully some free counseling and just go from there. Like I said, my concern is they have three young children and their children of course are crying and carrying on when all of this is going on.
Dr. Kenner: This is beyond, let me jump in here. If they did not have three young children - are they children they've had together?
Jan: The first one is not, but the other two are.
Dr. Kenner: So they have two together, and one from your son or the girlfriend?
Jan: The girlfriend.
Dr. Kenner: And your son is how old?
Jan: He's 27.
Dr. Kenner: She's how old, ballpark?
Jan: 24 or 25.
Dr. Kenner: So they're in their 20s. What I'm hearing is alarming for the children's sake. It's alarming for them too. They're adults and they can seek the help, but for the children, it really bothers me and if I'm grandma looking on at my three kids, I am at wits end. What do I do? And on one hand, it seems like I'm powerless. On the other hand I want them to get help. Would they be willing to go into therapy asap?
Jan: They said that they are. My son is not quite as willing. He wants to go in to group therapy and she says that she thinks the reason he wants to go to group therapy is so that he can kind of get the pat on the back, basically, from all the other people and listen to their stories and think I'm not as bad as they are.
Dr. Kenner: So it's the victim. Here's a question - I don't know why she chose him, why she is staying with him, if she wants a life free of drugs. I don't know whether in their case - and I would need to be immersed -
Jan: I think she's really upset with him, is what it is. I'm scared to be with him but yet I'm scared to not be with him.
Dr. Kenner: So if she's afraid of being on her own, she could certainly go to some women's protection agency or try to seek some shelter.
Jan: I think the reason she doesn't is -
Dr. Kenner: They're afraid of losing the kids I'm assuming?
Jan: That and the fact that he has warrants in a couple of different states. That's part of the reason why she doesn't turn him in either because she doesn't want him to go to jail because she seems to think she can't make it on her own. I think she could.
Dr. Kenner: You can already hear that you're facing a choice - what do you do? What are your options as grandma? What are your options? You're watching the three kids. There's obviously violence. My sense is they don't say to the kids, "Excuse me I'm going to punch your mother or your dad, and could you please leave the room because we don't want you to see this." My guess is the kids are immersed in this. Normally, if you were seeing a therapist or if a therapist were dealing with them, child protective services would be in there in a heartbeat. There'd be no question. The whole story would come out. If you, as the grandmother, would be willing to take the kids - I mean, that's a huge responsibility -
Jan: That is something I suggested the other day when they were fighting. I said, "Let me take the kids and if you want to knock each other's brains out, fine, but you don't have to do it in front of the kids."
Dr. Kenner: You can actually call child protective services. Again, you're turning in your son, but man, this guy has so many problems and they're not getting better in the direction he's going. He's just going to use more drugs. He's either going to end up, typically what happens, on the streets or in jail. And he's already got the warrants out. They're just waiting for the bubble to burst. You have the option of calling child protective services. Will he like it? No. Will you feel very awkward turning in your own son? Yes. Will you also feel some pride? I don't know. Will you feel pride that you did the right thing to protect the kids? I don't know what you would feel. I would feel proud as a parent doing that. So, it's one of those very difficult choices.
Jan: I'm struggling with that.
Dr. Kenner: If you yourself can get therapy, your therapist could help you. Actually, the therapist would then probably call it in, or you could have family therapy. So that's another option. You could seek therapy. You have insurance?
Jan: Yes I do.
Dr. Kenner: You could just go for individual therapy and then the whole story comes out and you would then get the guidance of professionals to deal with this. And you may not like the answer. If you threaten to turn them in, what did he say to you? We're right at the end of time here.
Jan: He keeps telling me, "Don't threaten me with my kids."
Dr. Kenner: You're not. He's threatening himself with the kids. He's already abusing them. You are protecting the kids. You're doing him a favor by getting the kids some help and bringing this all to a head.