So today, Pranksters, I have a fill-in for Your Aunt Becky. May I introduce my friend Stacia from Failure To Nap. You can call her Aunt Statia because OBVIOUSLY.

Also? My friend Kate could use a hand bringing her daughters Bethany and Laura home. If you don’t know her, you should. She’s a good friend of mine, has been for a long time, and has supported me for ages, through thick and thin. I love her dearly and she’s working to adopt two children with Down’s Syndrome from the Ukraine. She’s good people. CLEARLY.

Without further tongue wagging from Your Aunt Becky, I give you Aunt Statia!

My five year old may get a male teacher next year. I have nothing against this guy. He seems lovely… but I have a bad abuse history which has left me very very wary of men when it comes to kids. Also, one of my own teachers was convicted of abusing children (boys) and recently another teacher from my area has been charged with over 40 offenses. I haven’t got any good reason to request my son be moved but I hate that I have to give a man the benefit of the doubt. I also don’t want to get a reputation as the nutcase mum.

Do I say anything? I have gently asked other mums whose children have been in his class and have had variable results as to how he is.

First of all, I’m really sorry that you had to go through such a trauma. No one should ever have to go through the hell that is abuse. Ever. I think it’s one of the meanest things anyone could ever do to another human being.

And let me ask you, have you sought therapy for your pain? I say this because therapy has saved my life. I’ve been in therapy for various reasons over the years, but after having two kids close in age, I was suffering badly and it took a lot for me to ask for help and if it weren’t for having someone that I could confide my deepest darkest secrets to, knowing they were bound by HIPAA laws, I might have been a lot worse off. So please, first and foremost, it’s OK to take care of yourself.

Secondly, I know it’s really really hard to trust people with your children. Especially in the age of media and technology being so in your face about predators and Bad Things. Not to nullify your fears, but it’s a lot less common than you think. But I hear you. It’s one of my biggest fears too. I lay awake at night worrying about stuff like this, and this is what people don’t tell you when you have kids. That you worry a lot about people hurting your babies. Here’s what I would do:

1. Ask yourself. Do you have a bad feeling about this guy? And if so, is it because of your past history, or does he truly give you a creepy vibe?

2. Ask some of his past students (if you have friend’s whose kids have had him in the past), if they’ve liked him. Asking parents can be helpful, but also tricky, as it’s easy to get mixed results, given that not everyone is going to jive in personality. Kids might be a better gauge of how the teacher really is.

3. Find out more about him. How long has he been a teacher? Does he have a family? Don’t be afraid to ask him questions about him, if it makes you feel at ease.

4. Just be your mama bear self. There should be no reason for him to be alone with your child or any student. And teach your child the basic rules of body awareness and that it’s never ok for anyone to touch them for any reason. And that if anyone should hurt them or touch them inappropriately, to tell you immediately, and never be afraid.

I wish you all the best.

Dear Aunt Becky Stacia,

PLEASE HELP!!!!!!! My ignorant in-laws are constantly ruining the Christmas season for me! I want to appreciate the season, but all I find is that it brings me stress, anger and exhaustion.

We have three wonderful, beautiful children (11, 9, 2). They have one SPOILED, 8 year old husky that is their “child”. The problem – if the children go near something the dog likes, or touch him/brush against him in the wrong way, he GROWLS AT THEM!

Because of this, we RARELY see them. But every Christmas my husband wants to do the obligatory visit (they rarely come our way, and we only live 1 1/2 hours apart).

Despite my best efforts, the dog growled at the baby when he was walking by us on the way to the backyard. I scooped her right up, but then had to listen to them tell me how he would NEVER EVER actually bite. That when he growls he doesn’t mean anything by it, he can just be “vocal”. OH MY GOD THOSE IGNORANT FOOLS.

The holiday visiting has turned me into a big scrooge.I have to be the one to demand that the dog is always kept in another room, and I am still on high alert the WHOLE time (as the dog does need to be let out to use the restroom, etc…)!!!! My husband doesn’t say much, preferring me to look like the bitch so he can keep some semblance of a relationship with his father (and step mother).

My hubby is very upset by this, but he does not want to completely cut his father out of his life. He feels that by limiting our visits to once per year, and allowing me to be the dog police is the best we can do.

Oh Aunt Becky, how do I survive stomaching these ignorant, foolish idiots?

Signed,

Doggone Tired

Oh sister, I FEEL your pain. I think next to money problems, this is the second biggest source of tension in a marriage. And I know of few people that actually get along with their in-laws. I myself have had my fair share of in-law troubles. My husband has a tendency to be very diplomatic.

When I was pregnant with my son, my mother-in-law gave me a whole heap of trouble and my husband didn’t want to rock the boat. It took me finally being outright in his face in terms of what I expected from him as a husband. This is such a tricky issue, because men generally don’t want to rock the boat when it comes to their parents, and that gives the in-laws free reign to walk all over you, and that is just not OK in my book.

If your husband really wants to keep the peace and help keep you happy in the process (because my thought is, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy, and I realize that’s just bad grammar, but sometimes life just calls for bad grammar), he would at least have them come visit you.

I realize that in-laws also tend to be stubborn, but let him know that you’re truly afraid of the dog hurting the children and rather than have to stress yourself out over the thought of a possible accident, it might be best to at least have them over your house at least until the kids are old enough to understand that they have to leave the dog alone.

If all else fails, you can always feign illness and stay home with the kids, and then as a treat, you can all have ice cream for dinner. Because you deserve it.

3) How do you get revenge on the snarky, obnoxious, superior critic of your success as a mother when it’s you?

How do make the bitch SHUT UP!

Ok, here’s the deal. Sometimes, it’s OK to be smug as mother. Sometimes, you have to toot your own horn from time to time. Because let’s face it, being a mother is a thankless job and sometimes the only appreciation is going to come from you.

However, there is a time and a place for it. When you’ve successfully bribed your child with broccoli and they ate the whole plate? Pat yourself on the back.

You can be smug. And if you want to share that with your friends, you can say something like “Oh my god, I can’t believe it, but I totally got my child to eat BROCCOLI, oh glorious day, maybe I should play the lottery!” Make it seem as if you’re so proud of yourself because stuff like this NEVER happens.

You may think that you’re a better mother than everyone else. You may think you’re super mom, but you know what? We’re all trying to do the best job we can, so being smug around other parents is just not cool. No one likes a one upping, judgey mom.

Because you know what? At some point, your kids are going to do things that will pull that perfectly clean sparkling rug out from underneath you and make you question every single thing you ever did as a parent.

Case in point? My son was an angel baby. Never questioned a thing I said, never got into trouble (I could leave oily rags and a lighter out and he wouldn’t even so much as glance at them, seriously). Now? He’s a HELLION.

Just remember. What goes around, comes around, and at some point, it’s going to come back to you.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

19 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Statia

  • Tracy says:

    I just wanted to make a note about huskies. Do not trust this dog around your children if it obviously has those issues. They are known to not always be good around small people and small animals. I own a husky and she snarls and growls at cats. We never thought she would hurt one till one day we left the room and she attacked one of our cats and broke his jaw.

    Any animals that growls, will bite. You have the right to protect your children.

    Maybe do some research on Husky Temperment on teh interwebz and find a nice way to show it to your MIL and explain your fears to her, sometime other than Christmas.

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t know that that behavior is indicative of huskies. we had a very loving and sweet husky who never growled and who loved kids and cats. but, every dog is different and I agree that a dog that growls will probably eventually bite.

      • Tracy says:

        I definitely did not mean to imply that every husky was this way! A lot of them are bred from a working background where they see things smaller than them as prey, or even annoyances :( Our husky is very loving to all of our family members, but she is never left alone with children or cats because of this :)

  • Your Aunt Becky
    Twitter: mommywantsvodka
    says:

    You’re totally right. Very, very good advice.

  • PaleMother says:

    “My husband has a tendency to be very diplomatic.”

    Well, ‘diplomatic’ is one word for it.

    OMG, I have so BTDT.

    Not only do I have in law problems in general, but I actually have THIS in law problem right now. My in laws’ dog actually has a history of biting my MIL, FIL and Aunt in law (if the authorities were aware, I think they might have taken action). The dog is actually on psych meds. And yet my FIL insists on bringing the dog to every family gathering which also includes 11 grandkids and counting. None of his four children will confront him about it. Fortunately most of the kids have learned to steer clear. But it’s still disturbing that FIL is willing to take the risk.

    On message boards that deal with in law issues, there is a saying: You don’t have an in law problem. You have a spouse problem.

    The problem doesn’t get better until the unified front gets better.

    It’s up to the blood relative to speak up, because they are the ones who are invested in the relationship and they are the ones the in laws are invested in. YOU can’t win. You can be the “bitch” (you have to do what you have to do, especially when safety is involved) … but it isn’t fair to put you in that position.

    Unfortunately it is also very difficult for adult children to overcome a lifetime of conditioning to dysfunctional family rules. So this is not a problem that gets better overnight. It’s a baby steps kind of thing.

    Personally it took a separation of seven months (before we had kids) and coming ~this~ close to divorvce to get my husband to take standing up for his primary family (us) more seriously (of course it was way more complicated than just that). Things are very good now between us, but the in laws behaving badly will always be a source of tension and trouble.

    My MIL probably has some form of a personality disorder and is an alcoholic. And the rest of the family is in various states of enabling/denial/helplessness/frustration around her.
    At times it’s crazy making, other times it’s just sad. And my own family is far from crazy-free, so I am in no way up on a high horse about blood behaving badly.

    My husband and I have sort of become the family lightening rods/bad kids because we have better boundaries than the others (backlash is something you have to deal with … there is no win-win).

    We rely on tactics a lot. For one thing, my husband deals with the in laws first hand now. My MIL is famous for triangulating and used to love to put me in the middle. She is especially bitchy/bullying on the phone. But now that my husband has to take her nonsense first hand, it’s a lot harder for him to minimize the problem and invalidate my reactions.

    Maybe get on the web and get yourself some scary stories about what dog bites can do to kids. I’m thinking ER docs, plastic surgeons and personal injury attorneys could probably tell you things that would make his hair fall out. Put the fear of God into him and try to get him to realize the potential consequences of not speaking up. And let him know it’s not okay for him to let you dangle at the end of the bad guy noose.

    Lots of people recommend a book by Susan Forward, Toxic In Laws:

    http://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Laws-Strategies-Protecting-Marriage/dp/0060507853/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267978381&sr=8-1

    • statia says:

      It took me getting in his face before he finally “got” it. And now we don’t speak to his mother. Probably a harsh solution, but she’s a toxic person, and it was solely his decision to cut that tie. It’s made our life a whole lot easier. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses.

      He’s no longer diplomatic about such things.

  • melanie says:

    I just want to say that as the wife to a former male teacher (he is still male-shut up– just not a teacher due to the crap-tastic district that he taught in–) it saddens me that someone would not want a teacher just because he is male, my husband had to jump through a lot of hoops to be an elementary school and he has to make ABSOLUTELY sure to do everything by the book, a kindergartner who needed their pants snapped after going to the bathroom he had to call a female teacher to do it (and dont even get me started about why its ok for a female teacher to help small children–even male children, but its NEVER ok for a male teacher)….. there really are some guys who genuinely want to make a difference, and there are so many children who could use a POSITIVE male influence in their life, that its a shame they have to be so on guard to teach, lest people think the worst of them.

    • Andrea says:

      You’re right. I’ve known some awesome male teachers as friends and as my own teachers. I think what this woman is having a hard time with is her own past abuse. I was abused by a woman (I’m female) and I have a hard time trusting women who display similar personality traits as my abuser. But thank gods for therapy! It’s sad that bad people make it so hard for the rest of us to function without casting suspicion.

  • Pingback: Failure To Nap » Blog Archive » Your Aunt Statia gives advice

  • Aunt Statia, you are a wise woman. You are caring and empathetic too! I am a fond believer in therapy as well. When you have the right therapist/patient connection it can be great!

  • Jennifer says:

    {{{{{{HUGS KATE, BETHANY and LAURA}}}}}}

    Thank you Becky for spreading the word {{{HUGS}}}

  • Rebecca says:

    I had to chime in about the male teacher. Gawd it’s hard. I was recently introduced to my soon to be kindergartners, principal. He’s a….guy. Wow. My brain was speeding into overdrive thinking and thinking and yes, over-thinking every possible thing that could go wrong with a MALE principal. The Nerve~~ Then, I took a step back and remembered my elementary school years, middle school and high school. Every single year (exception last year of high school year) I had a male principal. Every single male principal was just fine. Never once touched me (or anyone that I know of). All outstanding members of the community.

    After I thought about how wonderful all those men in schools were, I felt more relaxed and will be just fine sending my daughter to school this year when she starts kindergarten.

    And it’s true…….the media makes child predators sound like they are a lot more common than they really are.

  • Wombat Central
    Twitter: wombatcentral
    says:

    Gotta comment on the dog letter. Daddy-0 really needs to get on board with this one, because that dog is a real danger to your kids. It isn’t like a small breed that might just nip them, either. This dog could do some serious damage. Grandma and Grandpa are kidding themselves if they think otherwise. I’m a lover of dogs who was bitten twice in the face as a kid (coincidentally, one was a husky). I’d lay down ground rules before you make the next trip. Dog is gated and walked by leash to go out for potty breaks.

  • Diane says:

    I have two comments.

    1. Stay away from the dog. My in laws’ dog bit both my children (and yes we spoke to them about it but we were made out to be the bad guys in the family). It was not until my sister in law was bitten that the dog was put down. Don’t try to be super vigilent as that is what we did and the second child was bitten in the blink of an eye.

    2. My kids had a male gym teacher from junior kindergarden on and he was amazing (and when the kids were small, the kids changed into gym clothes together in one room with the teacher). A good male teacher is worth their weight in gold. I understand your history, but please don’t write them all off as there are some amazing caring men in the role of teacher and we have so few of them at the elementary level.

  • Kendra says:

    Fantastic advice about the teacher, I’d like to say. My oldest son is in first grade, and since I stay at home, we’re just getting used to the idea of leaving him with adults he’s not related to. But he’s getting into Scouting too, and that’s something I never thought about, but that they emphasize: there is no reason for the adult (scout leader, teacher, pastor, etc) to be alone with a single child. Even in the best cases, there’s the possibility for things to be misunderstood. In the worst cases, something bad happens. By all means, learn more about the teacher, talk to ex-students and to him. But it can really help to understand (and make clear) certain expectations about what is and is not appropriate.

  • ohiofarmgirl says:

    i told my MIL if her stupid dog bit me (again) i would kick it until it was dead. problem solved.

    Doggone Tired should not let her kid/s within 100ft of that dog. the owners dont have control over it and sure it might not bite “a person” its obvious that the dog only sees the kid/s as bait. if the parents wont put the dog up when they are there she should take the kid/s and leave.

  • Rebecca says:

    Just read the chapter you sent to me Aunt Becky and it’s an amazing story that you tell. Loved it from beginning to end and I can’t wait to read the whole entire thing and YOU BETTER go on tour and do a book signing. Maybe while you are signing your books, your real family will come forward! I for one, will show up early and keep going through the line until the guards physically remove me or until you get fed up with me and leave.

  • katryn says:

    yep, i have to agree about the dog. do not trust it near the children. ever. growling is a display of aggression and the thin edge of the wedge. hoomans simply cannot read dog minds. my own dog (raised lovingly by me) bit me. i now have a scarred left boob :(
    i disregarded her warning growl and she went for me. she was not a puppy either, she was 2 years old.

  • Pammy Pam says:

    male teacher response here.
    honey, as a fellow abuse survivor i say do what your gut tells you. you wont be happy or comfortable if you let your precious little one in that class, will you? besides, what if you have to be alone with mr. teacher? anything that freaks you out may freak out your little one. do what’s safest for you and to HELL what anyone else thinks! good luck!!

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