Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Are the some personal issues you might have that you would never bring up in casual conversation?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28052 points ) June 21st, 2013

We had a bar b que a few weeks ago. A woman came with her bf and 2 of her kids. Her youngest is 5. He’s been a horrible child since the day he could start talking, and much of his problem goes back to his father, who is a violent, woman-hating, abusive drunk. The middle child has the same father, and she has problems too, but they’re expressed differently.
The mom and I were talking and she mentioned some problems the 5 year old was having in school.
She said, “He’s so bad they suspended him from school.”
I almost fell out of my chair. They suspended a kindergartener from school?
Then she casually gave me some details…at lunch he’d sneak out of the lunch room and go back to the class room and climb around on the desks and tear stuff up.
When the class was in session he’d poke other students with pencils and run around the room, yelling.
She said, “He was doing so well, until spring break. He came back from spring break and he was just out of control.”
I said, “Did he spend much time with his father over break.”
“Well, yeah. He as with him all week. I had to work.”
I was just left speechless.
If my child had those kinds of problems I sure as hell wouldn’t be discussing them at parties. And I’d sure as hell find a way to get him away from the father. But she’ll leave them with the father even when it isn’t his visiting time, so she can go do whatever.
She acts like it has nothing to do with her and she’s just helpless in all of it.
I would think that if she felt any responsibility for it, the guilt would stop her from discussing it, don’t you?

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36 Answers

Headhurts's avatar

I wouldn’t bring up any of my insecurities. I have a lot an I know how horrible people can be.

tianalovesyou's avatar

Maybe she just doesn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

janbb's avatar

Of course I do, but I try not to judge other people for personal problems they bring up.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@tianalovesyou She told me she has mental health counseling for her and the kids. I know she can talk to her boyfriend (they’ve been dating a couple of years, and it’s committed and monogamous.) I don’t know why she would bring up something that is so obviously a failing on her part, as well as her ex.
It was just shocking @janbb. A kindergartener getting suspended from school? I’ve never heard of that happening before, although I’m sure it has.

Buttonstc's avatar

I never cease to be amazed by the sheer number of people with problems like this (and far more severe and personal) who are willing to air it all on national TV. It’s kept Jerry Springer and others in business for years.

And if I had no idea which of the numerous guys I’ve slept with were the father of the child I’m carrying, I sure as hell would not subject myself to airing it on TV just to find out. I’d be too mortified that now the whole world would know what a slut I’ve been.

But everybody’s different :)

My guess is she sees you as someone who somewhat has their shit together and was hoping for some helpful advice but can’t be direct enough to just ask you outright. But I know next to nothing about her and could be totally wrong.

But when I was having a tough time dealing with the suicide of a family member, my instinct was to find the best shrink I could. So I lucked out and got someone with over 25 years experience and it helped a lot.

There are some things best left to the professionals and this lady really needs one but maybe has no idea where to turn to find one.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She said she’s getting mental health counseling through the county for what that’s worth @Buttonstc.

Jerry Springer and those shows….that’s a good tie in. It would be mortifying for me too. But I think they really think they are the victims and people will feel sorry for them, just as with the acquaintance I mentioned. It was like, “Poor me, I have this awful child and I’m going through all of this. Poor, poor me.” Damn it! It’s your parenting and lack of protection for him (and his sister) that created this awful child! You deliberately put them in a situation where they are going to be abused, maybe even sexually, often just for your own convenience, not because it’s their legal time to be with him.

Buttonstc's avatar

Re: “for what it’s worth”

Not a whole heck of a lot, in my opinion :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve been through counseling through the SRS. I mean, they are the bottom of the dregs.

tups's avatar

I agree with @janbb

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, so the woman puts her children in the care of an abusive drunk, really abusive drunk who lives with his mother and father, who are both abusive drunks too (the father hit on one of his step granddaughers when she was 11,) she puts them in their care whenever it’s convenient, she wants to party or go camping without the kids, and I’m just supposed to say, “Well, everyone does things differently. You’re fine.”? I don’t think so.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Your question and your details don’t really match up. The question I answered was “are there personal problems you wouldn’t bring up?” If you want to discuss the woman’s actions, that’s a different issue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s all part and parcel l of the mentality, @janbb. Are you saying it’s OK to judge her on her actions, her part in creating her son’s problems, but not ok to be flabbergasted that she’d bring it all up so casually? It’s serious, serious stuff. Not party conversation.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You jellies know more about me than anyone including my family and best friends, so I wouldn’t share anything but generalities with strangers – like ever. I have some major trust issues.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She wasn’t exactly a stranger, but there was no reason at all for her to tell me this. None. I don’t know what she was thinking.

bookish1's avatar

Plenty. You can read about many of them on Fluther.

tups's avatar

To answer the question as it appears in the question line: Yes, of course I have. I am a private person. There is a reason why it’s called personal issues.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. Apparently nothing is off limits to her, though. I probably should have asked “Why would you not casually discuss certain issues?”

Sunny2's avatar

I’m not sure why you’re surprised. Her judgment is missing a few links if she married this jerk in the first place and continues to include him in her kid’s lives. Blame it on a lack of judgment and probably intelligence. Her kid sounds hyperactive and she’d probably say he’s got a lot of energy. With the genetic background of those kids, I can’t see a happy future for them.

augustlan's avatar

Several issues to address here:

I’m one of those people who holds nothing back. It would never occur to me keep any particular subject matter to myself. If it comes up naturally in a conversation, I will tell you anything. No matter if I’m to ‘blame’ for the situation or not. I mean, I won’t tell you someone else’s secret, I just don’t really have any of my own. Not saying that’s a good or bad thing, it’s just the way I’m made.

As a result of the way I am (I guess?), people tell me all sorts of stuff about themselves and their lives. Sometimes things they’ve never told another living soul. I’ve had some pretty intense private conversations right in the middle of casual parties, but I actually rather enjoy that!

I’ve definitely heard of kindergartners being suspended (some have even made the news). Even way back when I was in like first grade, one of my classmates had such bad behavioral issues that he got kicked out of regular school. It’s not all that uncommon.

Should this woman allow her ex to spend time with her child? Nope, unless it is supervised visitation. And if I were you, I would have asked her some questions about that, to see if she is aware of the connection. Making gentle suggestions along the way.

Instead of being flabbergasted (and judgy) when people shock you, maybe you could see it as an opportunity to help someone in some small way. Including people in pajamas at 7–11. :p

Dutchess_III's avatar

@augustlan When she mentioned that the boy was doing really well until spring break, after which he fell apart, I feel that asking “Did he spend a lot of time with his dad over Spring Break,” was a pretty big hint.
When she said, “Well, yeah. I had to work.” The tone of voice was “I had no choice.” I just shut up. She knows that he is much of the problem and she’s choosing to ignore it. She doesn’t want to shell out the money for other child care. What is there that I could say that would change that?

I remember once her getting angry at her son when when her son was about 3 because “All he’ll eat are these junk popcorn things. He won’t eat anything else!” He was walking around with a bag of them as we spoke.
I said, “Well, you know, he’s not the one buying them. If they aren’t around he can’t eat them.”
She actually quit buying them after that, and gave me the credit. She said, “Yeah, I quit buying it and he actually eats other things now.”

I’ve never seen a person in pyjamas at 7–11. That could be because 7–11 attracts a higher class of people or maybe because I haven’t seen a 7–11 since the 60’s ‘round here!

marinelife's avatar

Yes, of course I do.

I hate it when people supply too much information. Like the person I worked with who “shared” that she did not wear underwear, causing one of my colleagues to track which of the shared computers she used and spray Lysol after her.

Or the woman who “shared” that her husband had trouble maintaining an erection causing me to become quite red in the face when I was introduced to him at a party later.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, @marinelife. That too. Why are you sharing this with us? I can’t believe you spent 5 hours composing that!

Bellatrix's avatar

She obviously thought she could trust you to listen. Maybe she hoped you would give her some advice.

She has mental health problems. It sounds as though she has low self-esteem. It’s quite likely she didn’t have great parenting examples to draw from.

Perhaps she has nobody else to talk to. Perhaps she thinks of you as a friend.

It sounds like she needs help rather than judgement.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Bellatrix We are not that close. She has a lot of girlfriends and she has her boyfriend who is a pretty good guy and knows about everything. I can’t help her because I can’t imagine….myself in that kind of situation, and not doing everything I could do to get my child out. If she was doing everything she could without breaking a judges orders / the law, and needed more ideas, I could have suggestions, but she isn’t. She keeps sending the kids there because it’s convenient, and she knows that it is a big part of the problem. I think she wants me to feel sorry for her, to sympathize some how, but I can’t. I feel sorry for her kids.

As I’ve said, she is seeing a County Mental Health Expert.

cookieman's avatar

Yes, all of them. That’s why they’re personal.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I honestly believe that today’s “reality show” mentality contributes to the complete and unedited stories of perfect strangers heaving their problems and peccadillos on every
unsuspecting listener.

marinelife's avatar

@Dutchess_III Sorry to disappoint you, but I went out to movie in the interim. Why were you timing me?

As to why I shared those two stories with you, the people who told them to me I did not know very well. it is amazing what people will say.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m sorry, I just don’t see this as being such a ‘personal’ story to share with a friend. Someone you know, from what you’ve said pretty well, is having problems with her children’s behaviour. So she told you about what was happening. I tell my friends when I’m having problems with members of my family. Why is that so strange? She didn’t, as has been mentioned here, go into great detail about her partner’s premature ejaculation or the terrible and intimate medical issue she has. She talked to you, a friend, about a problem she’s having with her children.

You say she has mental issues, so I would think you’d cut her some slack. She said she left her children with their father while she went to WORK. She wasn’t out galavanting and drinking with her friends. Does she have other suitable child minders? Can she afford to pay for child care? Obviously the father isn’t a great role model and he may very well be a major part of the problem, but he is their father and I’d imagine she is legally required to allow him access to the children. I doubt she can just refuse to let them see him.

I just don’t get why you are so appalled she shared her problem with you? Or are you more appalled at her children’s poor behaviour and because you don’t agree with how she’s handling it?

hug_of_war's avatar

I don’t know, I feel like you’re kind of being a jerk to this woman. We all have our issues, maybe oversharing is one of hers. People with difficult children, difficult exes, are not bad people. If he has court-appointed visitation, she may not have much choice. It is hard to be a working mother period, but especially when you don’t make a lot. She may have no other childcare choices. I don’t know, I think compassion for others should always be our first instinct, not judging them.

I work at a job where I see parents in tough situations, similar to this one. It is easy to judge them, but that doesn’t help anyone. So I do the best I can for their children. People with depression and other disorders often overshare, this job has taught me. It is because they are unhappy in their life, and need some form of interaction they aren’t getting elsewhere.

Parenting, is difficult in the most ideal of situations. Do you know how expensive chilcare is nowadays? Heck I know people who stay at home, not because it is ideal for them, but because it is cheaper for them to be a one income family than to be a 2-income family with childcare costs. Do you know how exhausting it is to deal with a child with those kinds of issues all the time? I work with severely disabled children. It is exhausting. It is exhausting to never have a moment of peace. It is exhausting to figure out what they need.

I’ve had ten year olds hit me for an hour straight, slap me in the face, headbutt me, throw toys hard enough to cause property damange, spit, kick me in the shins, and the list goes on. There are some valid reasons for these behaviors, but that doesn’t make them any less exhausting.

You helped her with the popcorn issue. She credited you. People aren’t perfect. They don’t always know stuff that you take for granted because you were brought up a certain way, or you’ve been doing it so long it feels like second nature. It doesn’t make her a bad parent because her and her kids life aren’t ideal. And it is sure of a heck a lot easier when you are mentally fit, have a good support system who can lessen the burden of childcare, and don’t have to deal with your children’s father being less than an ideal role model.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@marinelife Because I could “see” you composing for about 5 hours and I was worried!

@Bellatrix…We aren’t that close. We rarely see each other. We don’t even talk on fb, we never chit chat on the phone. We don’t go shopping together. I’m appalled that she could bring up such serious behavior issues with her son as casually as if saying “Oh, he had a cold last week” to someone who is just an acquaintance. I think @DarlingRhadamanthus nailed it: “I honestly believe that today’s “reality show” mentality contributes to the complete and unedited stories of perfect strangers heaving their problems and peccadillos on every unsuspecting listener.” It’s as though it didn’t even occur to her that this was really inappropriate. IF she had called at some point and said, “I have a serious problem and I need to talk to someone,” that would have been different. As it was she’s eating ribs and corn and inbetween bites and jokes she’s telling me about these horrific problems she’s having…as though she has nothing to do with it.

@hug_of_war So are you saying that work is more important than her children’s physical and mental safety? And there are times she’s left them with her ex and his family because she wanted to party, or to go camping with just her bf. She has girlfriends, her mom lives there, her boyfriend makes pretty good money. They could have afforded childcare for a week. She could have made prior arrangements with someone else. Also, the father is so far removed from “being less than an ideal role model” that he should be in jail.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh yeah…in addition to a large network of friends and some family she has a 19 year old daughter that she could have paid to watch the kids.

jordym84's avatar

Wow you never cease to amaze me with your judgmental questions!!

This question is confusing…I can’t tell if you have a bigger issue with her “oversharing” or with her parenting choices. Regardless, please cut this woman some slack. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, but I know better than to judge someone on something like this. As an outsider, you have no way of knowing what exactly is going on in her life. It may appear to you that her boyfriend makes good money, that she may have other options for childcare, and so and so forth, but that doesn’t mean that your observations are true. We could speculate for hours over why she does things the way she does, but none of us will ever know for sure what really goes on in her life. All I can say is, even though you’re not friends as you stated above, the least you can do is be compassionate and open-minded instead of mean-spirited and judgmental. You don’t have to say anything or offer any help/advice if you don’t want to, just smile and nod and then go about your life.

Coloma's avatar

I’m fairly discriminating but also not overly concerned with “personal.”
I think being able to openly talk about anything makes for a healthy human psyche. Sure, there are boundaries but being a comedienne at heart I find humor in a lot of things that others don’t.
I openly shared the time one of my vibrators was activated in my dresser drawer and how I almost called my neighbors husband over because I thought my walls were short circuiting. lol

I found that hilarious and didn’t feel embarrassed in the least by disclosing the wayward silver bullet story.
I also don’t wear underware. haha

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it’s funny too @Coloma! Except, the not wearing under wear. That’s gross! :)~

However, to me, those are fairly benign. I just could NOT casually tell an acquaintance that my kid was so awful that he got suspended from kindergarten. I mean, from Middle School, or HS, maybe, because kids are making a lot of their own, sometimes bad, decisions, often in spite of a fine, supportive up bringing. A kindergartener though…that implies a serious parenting issue. It’s just not something I would share with anyone I wasn’t really close to, or anyone who couldn’t help me, which I can’t. She lives 30 miles away and we see her and her family about once every 6 months.
But, maybe she doesn’t have a problem talking about it because she doesn’t feel in any way responsible. It’s just her five year old kid being bad. It’s his own fault. Nothing to do with her.

There are a few things that have happened in my life that I’ve never told anyone about. Some involving me, some involving my children.

Buttonstc's avatar

Actually, now that I think about it, my nephew was kicked out of Montessori school (PRE kindergarten age). Well, that sounds worse than it actually was. They basically told her that he wasn’t ready yet and take him out now and try again next year.

I don’t think there was a precipitating incident or anything. He was just really immature.

Even tho she had the option of enrolling him iin kindergarten the following fall (due to his Birthday being in November) when she asked my opinion I advised strongly against it.

We (teachers) had a nickname for kids whose birthdays fell between the opening of school in Sept. and Jan. 1 and the ability to enroll them that school year instead of the next.

We called them “Christmas kids” (and being one is not considered fortunate, especially for boys).

When I taught third grade, occasionally I had to leave a kid behind. It was a difficult situation but if the kid was just hopelessly behind, it was better to do it then since that’s a foundation year.

Every boy I ever had to have repeat a grade was a “Christmas kid” whose parents took the option of that earlier enrollment.

Boys, generally speaking, lag behind girls in overall maturity and ability by about six months. (they usually dont start catching up until high school) So, if you take a boy and opt for that earlier enrollment, you’ve now got a kid whose classmates have up to a years or year and a half extra growing and maturing time.

Granted, there are a few with above average intelligence and they generally thrive. But for many of average little boys born in that critical time period it quickly just becomes overwhelming. Physical size is the least of it. It’s everything else from brain and CNS development to something as simple as lack of the fine motor coordination required to master cursive handwriting or simply the self control to sit quietly for extended periods of time. Those abilities are part of overall maturation and in children this young it can have a profound effect upon the rest of their lives.

My nephew didn’t fail at preschool because of poor parenting or a dysfunctional home situation. Both his parents (particularly Dad) were very involved with all aspects of his life.

He was, quite simply, too immature to be able to handle the structure and requirements of school at that age. Had she compounded things by putting him in kindergarten instead of taking the option to wait for the following year, it would have been disastrous.

So,while being suspended from kindergarten is by no means typical, it’s not NECESSARILY due to crappy parenting either. There could be a lot of other factors at play here and since I don’t know the kid you’re describing, I wouldn’t even venture a guess.

But I did know my nephew and my sister. And I know for certain that his biggest problem by far was being too immature to be able to handle what was being required.

Of course it didn’t help matters that my sister was too overly indulgent toward her firstborn and I made no bones about telling her that quite directly on numerous occasions.

And it also didn’t help matters any that be inherited his mothers impatience and quick temper either. He never hurt other kids; his meltdowns were more harmful to himself.

And being too young just added fuel to the fire. But my main point is that someone who didn’t know the family all that well could have easily made the snap judgement of a severely dysfunctional family and a crappy mother who wouldn’t control her kid.

Every kid and every family is unique and while a kid getting suspended from K. is far from ideal, there could be a multitude of reasons which may or may not indicate total parental failure. Not everything is always black and white.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc There is a HUGE difference between kids born in the summer (I have 2 of those) and, for example, my daughter who was born in December. She was much closer to 6 than to 5 when she started kindergarten. She scored very high on the tests they gave to make sure they were ready.
My second daughter, on the other hand, born in July, didn’t score nearly as well. (My husband took this as an insult to himself, of course. He was mad. He said, “Jen did just fine!” I said, “Jen was 6 months older too!”) Anyway, they went ahead and admitted Corrie..and she struggled. In 1st grade I made the decision to hold her back a year. I had to fight the school tooth and nail to allow that to happen. It was ridiculous. Why do they even test them if, even though they do poorly, they send them on anyway?

However, if you read the details, the child was expelled because his behavior was out of control. He was doing fine, teacher was ready to send him on to first grade….until he got back from spring break. He was completely out of control. Even if he was “immature” for a kindergartner, that doesn’t explain that kind of behavior. There are some serious emotional issues there.

IDK, guys. It would be like someone casually mentioning at a barbecue something like, “Well, my 13 year old daughter was at a party last month and she pulled a train and now she’s pregnant and we have no idea who the father is.” I mean….REALLY? Do I really need those details?

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