What to Do When Your Child Is Condemned
Condemned is such a strong word, but there’s no getting around it when there’s an “incident” when someone else gets injured and it’s your child who did the injuring. And I really don’t care how kind and compassionate the deliverer of the message is, your child hurt someone else and there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it.
And what’s happened to me is that it puts everything into question. I went for years wondering if Michael was ever going to drive.
Would he ever be able to have a girlfriend, much less a wife?
Would he ever be able to move out and live on his own?
Would he ever be able to stop taking medication and be able to “function normally” in society?
If you don’t have to ponder these questions, consider yourself fortunate on some level. The dream of your children going to birthday parties and playing team sports was easy to let go of. Well, kinda easy I suppose because it seems I’ve already done that.
- Cry. It’s what I’ve done for two straight days now. I still have more tears left in me – like the one’s flowing out of my eyeballs right now in face as I write this. Just cry. And be ok with crying. Hopefully each tear is releasing a small amount of shame, guilt, or hopelessness. After the crying, hopefully there will be room left to welcome acceptance, resolve, and kind action. Whatever you need to do with your tears, do it and take your time to do it.
- Apologize #1. Help your child apologize to the injured in whatever way they can. The victim certainly is under no obligation to accept the apology, but our children need to learn compassion and part of that is to own the result of our actions. Or if needed, apologize on their behalf, but with dignity (not the kind where you blame your child and tell him he’s a complete jerk – though that is definitely a stage when this happens).
- Apologize #2. Apologize to the parents and offer explanation and actions taken. Mine looked like this:
- After this, I pretty much feel like I’ve gotten my ass kicked all the way to Montana and back so it’s time for the tears again, a bath, it’s time for hibernation in a dark room, it’s time for hot chai with no regard for the calorie count, etc. Take care of yourself.
- Reply to the apologies. I’ve had requests of the parents needing an apology which I struggle with but I said we would do what it takes to help build the bridge. Do what you can, do it with kindness, respect for yourself, respect for your child, understanding for the fear the other parents must feel about your child and you. I’m fighting the part about the child apologizing to the parents. That’s happening to me right now. He apologized to the girl he hurt. He’s bigger, he’s older… will he drive? Will he be able to have a relationship? Will he have to live with me for the rest of his life or in assisted living? He’s so close you know, but then this happened and all the bricks come tumbling down once again and I’m back with a very severe case of PTSD. Do I need the psyche ward? I don’t think so. But the tears… the tears won’t stop. I can’t make them stop. What are we going to do? There’s not another school he wants to go to. How do I fucking do this? This was over and done. He was able to do it. But not again and not now. I know him and love him
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