QS and I are planning a short family trip. We've been in communication with a friend and they have opened up their home to us during our visit. They took it even further and offered free child care so QS and I could take full advantage of the city, and enjoy a couple hours alone. I jumped at the idea. (Who wouldn't!?)
But the more I thought about it, the more fear and panic welled up within me. Do I really know this person well enough to let my children stay with them? Maybe I should do a background check on them. What if they have been covering something up? What if they aren't really who I think they are? What if my children are hurt? What if, what if, what if?
I was frozen up in fear, doubting the lodging, the trip, the whole 9 yards. This friend is dear to us. They're long distance, but super close. If that makes any sense. There has never, ever been red flags. Ever. So why the panic?
It's not the first time someone has offered to keep my kids. All the other times I've rejected the help. Because of fear. What if something happens to my kids? Mother has drilled it into me. Strangers are bad, even "friends" cannot be trusted with children, family and close friends are the ones who hurt your kids the worst, Even "church" friends and family cannot be trusted, be extremely picky on who you let keep your kids, never let them stay overnight with anyone, never let them out of the house alone....on and on it goes. So who can I trust? According to her, nobody.
Example: Was called up for jury duty this month. So far, I've gotten off the hook and not had to report in. A friend just around the corner from me offered to keep the kids if/when that changes. She keeps her grandson and he would love company. It would save me 2 hours taking my kids to my sisters... Anyway, I have been scared to take her up. Why? Because according to Mother, her boys (18 and 20) are creepy. No, they just aren't her "ideal". They are artsy, they think outside the other box. That doesn't make them child molesters and rapists. I was thinking last night, I have watched them interact with DS. No red flags. But the fear has held me back.
As I was sitting there stewing last night I asked myself, "Why is friend's sons bad? Why do I feel they are bad? What have they done to raise flags to me?" Answer? Nothing. Anything negative I have heard about them has been told to me by Mother. There is no evidence to support her suspicions. (Not only that, but she doesn't like the parents. Automatic strike there.) It's her fear. Her mistrust. And lets be honest here. She doesn't trust anyone. Not even her own husband. So....how I can I completely, or even halfway, trust her judgement on anything???
I read "Protecting the Gift" a while back. It helped a little, but I don't think it sank in completely. I still had the influence of FOO breathing down my neck, feeding the fear, causing me to doubt my judgement.
I'm going to read it again. I'm more removed from FOO. There is NC and I'm beginning to think more clearly. Maybe I can read it and absorb it fully. Embrace it fully.
Jesus, I'm so tired of the fear. So tired of not trusting anyone. Automatically believing the worst about everyone because I've heard Mother voice her suspicions. It's no way to live. I hate that I'm one of "those people". Paranoid, over-protective, and suspicious. I want to change. It's hard.
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - J. Wayne
"What if I fall?" Oh but my darling, what if you fly?
She had always promised me that if I needed birth control, she'd take me to get on it, no questions asked... Except she didn't, when I asked for birth control, I was told no, because that would encourage me to have sex... But I was having sex anyway, just without protection. She then said, who would buy the cow if they got the milk for free. Implying if I had sex, I'd never get married. I married the only guy I slept with. We dated for 6 years and have been married for 10. He never cared about those things.
She told me I was unlovable to everyone but her, except I wasn't. Lots of people love me.
She told me that if anyone knew how we lived then no one would be my friend and we'd get taken away( she was and is a hoarder). Except that they should have known how we lived, we should have been taken away.
She told us not to trust people outside our family. No one could be safe for us, except it was the people outside our family that ultimately proved they were trustworthy and that she wasn't.
Do you see where I'm going with this? I had to learn to trust my own judgement because after years of being hurt by my mother's judgement, I learned she couldn't be trusted. I started by making a conscious effort to do everything the opposite of what she would do. So if she didn't like someone, I made an effort to get to know them on my own and make a decision for myself. If she said that something was bad, I looked into it further.
You can do this for yourself with a checklist, when you get that internal paranoid or fear based dialogue in your head, stop yourself and say out loud, these are Mother's feelings not mine. I will not own her feelings. Then list what your feelings are. You like the neighbor's kids, so start there, what do you like about them? They are creative? Fun? Smart? Responsible? Friendly? Are they respectful? If the answers are all yes, then they sound like good people. Maybe have your neighbor keep your kids for 20-30 minutes so you can do something uninterrupted to see how it goes before you leave the kids the whole day. Same with your friends, observe what's really happening rather than your mom's perception.
Even though your FOO issues have you not trusting ANYONE, I always think it's better to be cautious with that kind of stuff. Have your kids spent some time around this person before, even in your presence?
One of my criteria was "is the child old enough to communicate what's going on?". If not, trusted family and other moms.
Second, would I be 100% comfortable leaving my purse with the person for an afternoon? May seem like an odd thing, but if I wouldn't feel at ease doing that, then I'd have no business leaving my precious child.
It's very difficult to strike a balance in all things related to parenting. I think the important thing is to do what feels right to you, in YOUR gut, because ultimately you're the responsible adult.
Hope you enjoy your trip, and that you find peace in whatever you decide relative to the kids. (((Aubrie)))
Like I said, any negativity I've heard came from my parents. Who by the way have a personal vendetta against them. Because the guy is life long friends with the lead Pastor and dontcha know, nobody but my dad can be the BFF. It's a power trip. My parents find EVERYTHING wrong with EVERYONE and hold them to the dang impossible standard, they themselves cannot hold. Imagine that. So the guy suffers from depression from time to time. That makes him evil? So his teenagers are *gasp* teenagers. That makes them...bad? What about me? I was a rebel. Does that make me a child molester?
These people have shown us nothing but care and kindness since day 1 of knowing them. There is no reason not to trust them. I leave my kids at the church in their care every Sunday morning. What's a day in their home? And yes, they pass the purse test.
My mind is telling me all ^^^^^^, but then I have that stupid fear niggling at me. It's insanity.
The fear has prevented me from allowing them do so many things.
My children are 5 and 8. Both are very expressive and articulate.
I've been such a wuss.
There is risk in everything we do. We send the kids the school, involve them in activities such as sports and dance and church events and they can get hurt. We can smother them and keep them safeguarded at home but then we restrict their growth and we also drive ourselves crazy. And then we read about kids who were hurt or worse in their own backyards. Or about the girl who was taken from her own bedroom.
It sounds like you are looking at this in a healthy manner now. You are evaluating the risk and asking yourself if there is a reason that you should be wary. If they are good people and you have known them for a long time and know them to be trustworthy and involved with children then trust your gut. I agree with FacePunched that it would be good for the kids to have time with these friends during the day first. If you are only talking about a few hours then that is one thing.
If they are staying overnight, well that is something different. Take it one step at a time. If the kids have never overnighted with someone before then they might not be comfortable suddenly jumping into it.
Aubrie, you and QS deserve some time alone. YOU need to take some time for yourself, too. And the kids also need the opportunity to grow outside their own box (I'm not trying to insinuate that you don't so this so please don't take it that way).
If you know these people, trust them, have been involved with them in other activities then trust your gut. Not your mother's. Look at how they live and what they are involved in.
And then go and call every 30 minutes like the worried momma that you are checking up and talking to the kids because this is your first time away from them. Your friends will laugh and tease you and you will feel better.
[This message edited by gahurts at 10:24 AM, February 18th (Tuesday)]
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - Aubrie
Your children are precious. Of COURSE their safety is your #1 concern.
You KNOW these people. They are not strangers you selected from a child care giving website.
It will be hard for you to walk out that door. But if you do it, I think it will open up a world of possibilities for you. Not that I'm suggesting dumping your kiddos off on anyone that offers to watch them---just that you'll feel better about other choices for childcare when you need it.
How does QS feel about it?
Have you only left your children with your mother? (or sister?) Is it possible if your mom was your primary care giver (after you and QS) that she bred this fear into your mind and heart so you'd ONLY want to entrust the kids to her, therefore giving her MORE entrance to your life? She'd know where you were going, why you were going, who you'd be with. And don't forget, SHE watched your kids, now you OWE her a favor!
I'd suggest you take some baby steps BEFORE your trip. Try letting your kids spend time with one of their friends (at the FRIEND'S house) for an hour or two. I think you should try it before your trip because you when it goes well, you'll likely be less anxious during the trip itself.
DD(21), DS(18, PDD-NOS)
6 Furkids - 4 dogs, 2 cats
WXH (serial cheater, 12+ OW)
Legally married 18yrs, together 16.5yrs
I edit often for clarity.
It was a lovely family in our church. My kids had a BLAST. They still talk about the time they went to Harmony's and made spaghetti and her Dad jammed on his favorite instrument, and the awesome dog they have, and DD used a "real" knife for the first time evah, and, and, and, and....They were FINE.
I was so. stressed. those couple days. I mean it was just a huge mess. And it shouldn't have been. Cause they were fine.
Have you only left your children with your mother? (or sister?)
Is it possible if your mom was your primary care giver (after you and QS) that she bred this fear into your mind and heart so you'd ONLY want to entrust the kids to her, therefore giving her MORE entrance to your life?
She'd know where you were going, why you were going, who you'd be with.
Example: She watched my nephew while my S and BIL went on a date. She Life360'd them while they were gone. They were at home. Well, there's only one reason why they would be home on date night. Mother was horrified. And the whole family found out, but nobody told anyone else cause ya know, it was just nasty.
Control, fear, control, fear. Oh, and a wee bit-o humiliation for good measure.
ARGH. How maddening.
How does QS feel about it? Just another day in paradise. Drop them off! Our friends love kids! Leave them with our friend on the trip. They'll be fine. Let's go to dinner. No red flags, no twinges.
Hope I can reach his level of confidence.
For me, there are few things more beautiful than seeing other people love my children, and to watch what my children have gained by that love. Different folks teach them different things. They have a wealth of resources to turn to if ever they feel they cannot turn to me. For me, this is a different type of protection I have given my children.
Remember in Protecting the Gift where he teaches us to purposely have our children talk to strangers? That only by those normal types of interactions can our children grow their own instincts for what is right and what is "off." It is my personal belief that locking kids away from life and other people can be far more damaging than the risk associated with letting them out.
He has another book called The Gift of Fear that you might read first. It covers the concept more in depth in some ways than the second book does.
You may never get to QS's level of confidence---but you'll find your own footing. Once your voice becomes the dominant voice, you'll be able to trust yourself and your judgment.
the Life360 thing? Wow. I didn't even know there was such a thing, and to hear about it used in that manner....creepy.
He went off on a tangent. Basically my parents are so incredibly insecure in themselves, they have to point out the flaws and faults of everyone else, in an effort to lift themselves up. When they were spouting off at the mouth about our friends, QS sat there completely in shock because what my parents were saying was not lining up with what he saw with his own eyes.
The issues my parents have with our friends is, they're in with leadership, He's a little inappropriate and loud at times, he suffers on and off with depression, and they are very overweight and people that don't take care of themselves are disgusting to my parents. These people are "competition" for my parents for attention. But Dad picks on the weight thing to paint them as gross and worthless. Geez, that's really messed up. I hate even typing that.
Rebreather, I don't have the other book you mentioned. I'll go ahead and refresh on the first one while The Gift of Fear comes in.
the Life360 thing? Wow. I didn't even know there was such a thing, and to hear about it used in that manner....creepy.
I'm mentally going thru my address book and thinking about each one. Am I comfortable with them? Are there red flags? Are they safe? So far....every person in my book is a gem. Gawd I've been so naive.
You're doing great, to think through your fear logically and take it apart. I think that is the best thing to do. You obviously won't purposely put your children in danger. You are a good parent, who has taught them how to handle themselves the best they can, I'm sure. I think it is important to break this cycle for you, so that you don't pass it on to them.
And, good lord, I hope my parents never hear about that life360 thing. We use Find My Friends when we travel with Aussie's dad. It is very practical and handy, but creepy as well. It's weird being "watched".
It will all be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end
Happily remarried to a wonderful man (Aussie). I think I found the right guy and the right finger this time.
Sounds like your going NC with your Family has created a space for Special friends to become your Family of Choice. It does take a village to raise kids... sounds like you've weeded, sown, and are getting ready to cultivate.
Giving your kids the chance to build bonds with other trusted people is a gift that they will treasure. Look at how much they treasure the last time you gave them this gift.
Having people who love you is a very special gift... sounds like you have an address book full of them.
By the end of my address book, there was only one person in our area that I wouldn't trust. He even gives my husband the heebie jeebies. This is a man we see a hand full of times a year. So, not a concern. When he's close, he fixates on my son. Tries to give him candy, touch his head or arms. Just...really weird. My son stays with QS or I at all times when this man is present in a social setting.
There are individuals on both sides of the extended family. My uncle. He abused my aunts. My husband's grandfather and three uncles. They were vicious to my MIL and aunts. Would they hurt my kids? Dunno. Can't take that risk.
These are people that are no immediate danger to my children, because we see them once a blue moon and only in supervised situations. So, yeah.
The fear's gotta go. I'm all feared out. It's not fun, it's robbing me of my joy, my peace. It's projected on the children, they suffer as a result of it.
I was all keyed up yesterday about jury duty. The dreaded 4:30 rolled around and I was in a panic. I had already made up my mind to have my friend keep the kids if I was summoned, but I was still freaking out. QS was like, "Ummm...."
But I think making new childcare choices is going to panic me for a while. Just like standing up to my parents and telling them they aren't going to disrespect me anymore.
I have to get used to something new.
Yes, our kids are precious, but you have to use discretion. You know these people. You like them. Your kids probably like them.
I've always erred on the side of exposing my son to as many different aspects of life than cocooning him against 'what ifs'.