How do you deal with a parent in denial of their child(ren)'s actions?

@CanadaGal (4304)
Canada
September 23, 2008 4:26pm CST
I live in a townhouse complex with my three sons, aged 7, 7, and 9. There have been numerous issues with two brothers (aged 7 and 11) who live in this complex, and although I have talked to their mother in the past, she either doesn't do anything about their behaviours (my proof being that the boys continue with their bullying and taunting), or when she asks them if they did a certain "crime", they will simply deny it, and she believes them, and therefore there are no consequences to their actions. The most severe incident with the older brother occurred 2 summers ago on two different occasions. The short story, is that my sons were playing in the complex, and he walked up to them and told them that he was going to get a knife, and he was going to kill our dog. I had called the police to inquire how I should deal with it, and they insisted on sending out an officer to talk to the child, because those are the attitudes and behaviours of future murderers. At first the child denied saying such things, but eventually did tell the police that yes, he did indeed make those threats, twice. More recently, just the other week, there was an incident where this same older brother was bullying one of my sons, and not allowing him and his friend access to our back yard where he was trying to get to to put out the garbage. My son and his friend called him stupid, and according to the kid, allegedly told him that I said he was stupid, and that his mother was stupid too. The kid confronted me on that when I approached him later and told him to just stay away from my kids. I told him that no, I didn't say that, that what I DID say, is that I don't bother telling his mother of his bad choices, because she doesn't do anything about them anyways. I went back towards my home with my son, and within a few minutes, the mother in denial came ranting and raving, going on about how ignorant I was, and how "everyone" ("all" of the kids) said that I'd called her son stupid to his face, and called her stupid as well. Sigh! She was then VERY adamant by saying, "MY CHILDREN DON'T LIE!!! I still giggle about that one... apparently her children are an exception to lying; they are different from all other children that ever were, are, or will be. As much as we don't like it, all children lie. Today again, the older boy started bullying the same son as before, by pushing and shoving him. I did not witness this, but also know there is no point in addressing the mother, because the child will simply deny his actions, and she'll believe him, no more questions asked. Because don't forget, her children do not lie. So here I am, confused about what to do. With any other parent, I could talk to them and together we could discuss how to resolve the issues, but with this one, I can't. I've tried. That was a few times before the police incident. I think I will talk to the school principal tomorrow and ask her advice on how to go about dealing with this situation, because I am at a loss. Today, I told my children to just stay in the house, so that no more incidences could occur. Not fair to my kids, but as I see it, the safest choice for today. Have you ever had dealings with a parent in denial of their child(ren)'s actions and behaviours? What is the story there? How did you resolve the issue? Were authorities involved? Was there any counseling or mediation involved? What suggestions do you have for me? I need help!
5 people like this
14 responses
@fasttalker (2797)
• United States
23 Sep 08
Oh my! That is terrible to make your children stay inside. I understand it but so unfair to you and them. I think if she is so impossible to deal with I would check with the authorities about getting a restraining order against them and see if that is intimidating enough to back them down. It is sad to have to depend on the authorities and not be able to talk with the parents. Is there a dad anywhere around that may be more apt to listen? My oldest son tried his bullying ability once with the neighbors son but because I have two boys that do lie LOL and are boys I wasn't unapproachable about it at all. Once it was brought to our attention my husband and I and the neighbors remedied that situation and the boys are best friends now and have been for about 3 years. I did threaten my own with the police routine and that seemed to do the trick. That is why I mentioned maybe if you did it, since she wont, it may help. Good Luck and I hope things work out for you and the kids!
5 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
23 Sep 08
I really don't want to take it to court, because that is truly such a hassle. That is a last resort to me. And to be honest, I don't think I could get a peace bond at this point, because no one has actually gotten hurt. Yet. The law is not set up for preventative measures in instances like this. :( I agree, I don't like having to keep the boys inside either, but that was the most logical resolution today.
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
23 Sep 08
I forgot to answer about the father... he is around sometimes. He does not live in the home. I have dealt with him once at the school last winter when he was having a snowball fight with the older son one day before school started. I nicely explained to him that throwing snowballs was forbidden on school property during school hours. I think he thought I was a teacher at the time.
2 people like this
@sedel1027 (17855)
• United States
23 Sep 08
Thankfully, I have not had to deal with this. I would call the police and see what they have to say about the situation. They may not be able to do anything right now, but you may be able to file complaints that can be in public record. That way if anything does happen there is a long record of the kids - and parents - behavior. Do you think there may be more going on in the home? If you think so, you can always have them checked out by child's services (I know you aren't in the US, but I am sure there is something similar where you live). For right now, I would let your kids out and tell them if they see these boys to come inside and not talk to the boys at all.
4 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
23 Sep 08
I really don't know what the family life could be behind closed doors. Abusers and bullies have been abused and bullied, that's how the cycle works as I know you know. But if it's something that is current? I don't know. I do know that the neighbour's boys are rather small for their ages, and from experiences over the years, a lot of times it's those "little guys" that feel that they have "something to prove". All of my boys happen to be rather big for their ages, especially the 7 yr old that the older one seems to like to pick on most often. It never occurred to me to contact child protective services. Here in Ontario we have "CAS"... the Children's Aid Society. I could call them and voice my concerns, and get some advice. It's my children I'm trying to aid here, after all.
2 people like this
• Canada
23 Sep 08
I would equip my children with little tape recorders or hidden cameras or something to capture this behaviour. You're doing the right thing by contacting the authorities. Keep doing that. Sounds like the mother and her family are just a bunch of bullies, and they are going to get what's coming to them one day. You just keep calling the cops, and document as much proof as you can. Keep a journal of when things go wrong, to give to the cops, so that they can see what these little buggers are doing, and when they are doing it.
4 people like this
@owlwings (39247)
• Cambridge, England
23 Sep 08
I don't think there can be any resolution apart from you moving to a more pleasant neighbourhood. There are parents who simply believe that their kids don't lie and there are parents who will lie through their teeth to protect their kids. The simplest thing is to just not associate with people who you cannot trust but, since that is almost unavoidable and probably impracticable, the only recourse is to try never to be drawn into an argument and to always counter them with honesty and fairness. Also, try and teach your kids the exact meanings of the words they use. 'Stupid' is an easy (and quite meaningless) epithet ... so is 'nice'. They are the kind of words that people use easily and can be just as easily taken up and used as a weapon against one. The possession of intelligence never endears one to those who believe they lack it but it does, at least, make one unassailable. I'm sure you have tried to do all of the things I suggested and none of it helped. The last recourse is to try to love the apparently unloveable!
4 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
23 Sep 08
Moving would be great, but unfortunately, not an option anytime soon. I have continually asked my boys to stay away from those boys, and their mother has claimed in the past she's asked the same. But they were still around my kids anytime they were looking for a cool toy to play with, or when no one else wanted to play with them. :( As for the choice in words, you're right, the use of the word "stupid" is rather meaningless, yet it conveys such a strong message to kids. As for discussing that word with my sons, I tell them to NEVER use that word to describe a person, as people are not "stupid", although some situations and choices can be. I know they're going to use that word, so I figure I can at least direct them in how to use it more appropriately (less hurtful to people's feelings). Gee, reading that over, doesn't make it sound all that great.
2 people like this
@coffeeshot (3786)
• Australia
24 Sep 08
Keep your kids right away from them.
3 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
I'm doing my best, but it's so hard on the boys when it means I have to keep them inside when they want to run and play outside. :(
1 person likes this
@zhuuraan (967)
• United States
24 Sep 08
If you have a park or something near you, you might want to take the time to take them out and play there with other children. That way they can be away from the pair but still get some outdoor time, possibly with children their age, or at least play together. They definitely need space to run and be kids.
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
Me supervising them at a local park isn't always an option. They have other friends within this same townhouse complex that they play with, and I can't often find other kids' parents to meet with us after school for playdates. I've tried arranging many of them over the last few years.
1 person likes this
• India
24 Sep 08
Parents who deny their kids actions donot understand that in future when children will grow up it will fall back on them only. These kind of parents not only stop their kids to become a good responsible human being but also encourage them to create negativity around them. Right now everyone in your society should avoid such people or tell them in strong words that stop harrassing people.
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
The kids deny doing any wrong. The mother always believes the kids, and as I mentioned, rather emphatically states that HER children do NOT lie. I agree, these brothers are going to find themselves in a LOT of trouble in the future. No doubt, their mother will continue in her denial. It's a shame that society is going to have to pay for it though. :(
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 08
Have you tried talking with other parents in the complex to see if they are having the same problem? It may not help in dealing with the mother of these children but there is strength in numbers.Perhaps you could all get together and help each other watch out for each others children.Or maybe if several of you parents got together and approached this mother and said what her children are doing she may have to accept it and deal with it.From her point of view it is her child's word against yours,and if it were me I would believe my child.However if several different parents came to me saying the same thing I would have to rethink that choice and not only have a talk with my child but be outside watching.But that is me and this woman might not really care to teach her children what is best.In that case you parent need to watch out for each others children and help keep them safe from bullies.The police unfortunately can't do anything until something happens and often times that something can be the worst.I would talk to my neighbors and see if they are having similar problems and then help each other.
3 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
Yes, other children have had issues with this same brother pair. The oldest is the worst, the younger one simply follows in his big brother's footsteps. One incident that occurred the last week of summer break was the older boy took his brother to a local convenience store (about a 15 minute walk away). They easily convinced a young 5 yr old boy who lives in the complex to join them. When the father of the 5 yr old found him at the store and called to him to come over, the older brother told his little brother and the 5 yr old to "RUN! RUN! That way!!" (while he pointed in a direction AWAY from the parent). The mother of the 5 yr old went to the mother in denial to tell her what happened. Her reaction was, kids will be kids, no harm was done.
1 person likes this
• Canada
24 Sep 08
Bullies are awful. That's why I hated school, because of the kids. They can be so cruel. I loved learning, I loved the challenge and the school work, just hated the kids because they were so cruel and heartless. I think that if the police were called at every incident, then maybe they could get a restraining order. Firstly, and most importantly, keep a written record of all the bullying and altercations between these children and yours or any others for that matter. The more records you have, the better, if it ever comes to a court case. Or just to help prove it to anyone for whatever reason. This would help to prove that those children are the problem, not yours. That her parenting skills are severely lacking, not yours. It is so unfair and I hate this. I do not hate much at all. I try to keep hate out of my vocabulary, really. But this is so distressing for your children and likely all others in the entire complex. Maybe you could bring evidence to the Townhouse Board. She (the parent of the bullies) could be forced to move or at least do something about the children's disgusting behaviour. I get that you are hoping that the school may have some ideas for you since they deal with children's altercations more often than anywhere else. But the Children's Aid Society (CAS) may also have some good ideas for you. And they may even pay her a visit to offer to aid her in helping her deal with these 'problem' children of hers. Just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from; I was convicted of truancy in grade school and sentenced to a group home for a time, because I hated the bullies in my school and skipped school for 3 mos straight, just to avoid the unwarranted cruelty. I still graduated that year with honours, so it wasn't my academic abilitly or interest, just the environment. And I'll tell you, once the Children's Aid was involved, every minute of my life was under scrutiny, so I had no more problems with bullies at the school I attended in another town whilst living at the group home. So I do have faith in their abilities.
• Canada
24 Sep 08
When I had a bully and his sidekick beating me up every day after school, I tried the school, his parents and my Mom. None did anything. If any of them even tried to do anything, in fact, it got worse. Finally, my Mom told me that she would not be able to fight my battles for me, that I would have to fight them myself. So, I waited for THEM one night after school. One kick to the 'jewels' of the big bully (he failed gr.6 twice) dropped him to his knees and his sidekick ran away from me as fast as his legs could carry him. I inherited his bully title and my rein was much kinder than his. I would then be the one someone came to in order to help them fight their battles with bullies. So I would stick up for the underdog and make it so they were no longer targets for the bullies or they would have to deal with me. I once broke a fella's thumb, defending myself. He was sweet as pie to me afterwards. Unfortunatley, my experience has told me that Bullies only respect other bullies or greater physical prowess. They basically only respect you because they fear you. So I became someone to fear in order to survive.
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
It's frowned upon nowadays to teach our children to fight back. I'm very torn on that, because I know that it would work. I also see how the no tolerance policies work, and all too often the victims are the ones who get suspended for finally fighting back to bullies who were "asking" for it for a long time. I did talk to the boys a few weeks ago about the idea of putting them through a martial arts class. To them, I know they think, "Oh cool! We can karate chop him!"... but I know it's all about teaching respect and tolerance and learning self control. I also feel that the boys would have increased self esteem. I won't be able to afford it until sometime in the new year, but I can do my research in the meantime, and be ready to go. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that as a kid. :( In some ways it's better now that the adults are sticking up more for the kids and helping them through these tough times. But I'm torn on some of the approaches nowadays.
1 person likes this
• Canada
24 Sep 08
I know you don't think that calling the CAS is a good idea yet. But they don't just remove children from homes. That doesn't have to be the end result. Support is their main objective. To AID CHILDREN is their main objective. I would call them just to ask their advice on how to deal with this without your children feeling like victims any more. What they do with the information is up to them. Naturally, they will ask for names and dates. Maybe just one visit from the CAS will stop the bullying. Maybe you can let your children start a rumour that the bullies can go to jail for bullying nowadays. I'm not one for lying, but this is an extreme survival situation in my opinion. I really hated it. I felt so powerless and small. Not a memory I relish. It was a very difficult and turbulent time for me. I don't wish it on anyone and I can feel the hurt they are going through. I agree that the laws about spanking and discipline are incorrect at this point in time. All too often, the children are in the driver's seat and can call the cops on their parents just for spanking them, so how do you discipline anymore when they fear nothing. Now just add bullying into it, and you have an even bigger ball of wax. But, those children have problems or they wouldn't be expressing it in some way. So calling the CAS to investigate may really and truly be the best way to nip it in the bud, so to speak. If they are able to find out the cause for the bullying, then maybe they can stop the behaviour. Maybe the children are abused and that is why they are acting out this way. CAS will likely get to the bottom of it and hopefully the bully boys will be better off for it.
2 people like this
@rowantree (1190)
• United States
24 Sep 08
My daughter was bullied by a neighbor who is the same age and grade. Bully's mom was one of those "queen bee" women who totally defended her daughter's "right" to bully. The mom even went so far as to tell me that my family and I had no right to be on "her" street! I live on one corner of said street, she lives towards the other end. I told her that her daughter was to leave my daughter alone, period. Her daughter tried to bully her at school recess. My daughter told the recess aide. The bullying at recess stopped. Her daughter tried to bully my daughter on the bus. My daughter told the bus driver. The bullying on the bus stopped. A few months ago, this girl started coming down to our house, not in the yard but just walking or riding her bike very slowly by our house. I told my daughter "oh look, you have a stalker" and I told my daughter that any time we saw the girl come by our house, either one of us should grab a camera and take her picture. Well, we haven't had to take her picture yet because my daughter set out and let every single one of her friends know that this bully girl was "stalking" her and it stopped. I highly recommend going outside with your boys, armed with a video camera. I would be off to the side, out of immediate view. You might be able to catch the bullies misbehaving. They might stay away once they see you, especially with the camera. It takes a long time but as long as you continue to stand up to them, they'll eventually understand that they need a new target. If they misbehave on camera, you have evidence to show your landlord and/or the police. If you don't own a video camera or can't borrow one, I still recommend going outside with your boys. This way they still get to go outside and play but you're right there in case the neighbor boys show up. The principal of the school can't do anything about the boys' behavior when they aren't on school property. Now if these boys are bothering your children while at school, that is a different story. Good luck.
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
Going outside to watch my boys isn't as easy as it may seem. There are common areas in both the front and back of our unit, as well as other common areas within the complex that aren't immediately adjacent to our unit. I've already told the boys to stay immediately out front or out back of our unit. While inside doing housework and chores, I can look out both sides to see what's going on, and without the kids knowing I'm doing that. I do have a video camera, and have thought about using it in the past, but haven't. I guess it wouldn't hurt to have it out and charged and ready to grab at any time. I'm sorry your daughter has had to go through this sort of situation as well.
1 person likes this
@zhuuraan (967)
• United States
24 Sep 08
I would call child protective services. This seems to have gone too far. When it is at the point when your children have to be prisoners in their own home, that is way too much. The situation is also not good for the children. If something is not done, they will grow to be little hooligans with no contribution to society. The mother ignoring them or being in denial about their actions will not help them any more either. They definitely need counciling, and possibly the children might need to be taken away from her custody. That's a harsh reality but I believe it is how the situation must be. If the mother will not discipline the children, how can they be expected to improve without external intervention?
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
I don't constantly keep the boys inside, but yesterday, it was the best option to keep the one in, as the other two and myself were watching a movie. Majority rules in my house. I will wait on calling CAS at this point. I'm going to use the school guidance for the time being, but should I find that they are not handling things to my satisfaction, I may bump it up a notch and get CAS involved. I don't feel the situation is anywhere near needing the boys to be removed from the home. I know that's not my call. But I see so many worse situations out there, and I HATE the thought of taking time for this situation when those man hours are needed much more elsewhere.
1 person likes this
@TessWhite (3147)
• United States
24 Sep 08
What I would suggest is to keep contacting the police, or even Human Services. Children who act like this obviously have serious mental health problems. If the mother is hassled enough by the police or child services maybe she will move or will at least get her children to stay away from yours. I would also suggest documenting all of this in a journal when it happens. This may be handy if you need to show the authorities all that has gone on. I had to do something similar with a woman and her pit bulls. She would let them run constantly, terrorizing my FENCED dogs, and chasing people walking. I started calling animal control and the police every single time. Finally she got fed up enough she moved and took her dogs with her.
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
I've created a word document on my laptop to record every single incident that occurs between our families. I've started it from the beginning of September, and will talk to my boys after school today to explain to them what I'm doing, and how I need to hear from them every little thing that is said and done on school grounds and in the complex, so that I can record it. It's not yet to the point where the police can do anything, but keeping this record will show it's a continuous problem, and not just an isolated event.
1 person likes this
@trv231 (152)
• India
24 Sep 08
consuelling and mediation is the best. Please friendly with them and create an atmosphere that they freely express everything to elders they trust
2 people like this
@CanadaGal (4304)
• Canada
24 Sep 08
My sons will be getting some support counseling from the school, now that I've talked to the Vice Principal. As for mediation, that would have to be through the school, and it hasn't reached the point where it would be advised yet.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 08
Keep it simple! Talk to the Landlord and get some of the others involved that may have seen or had these same problems out of these kids. EVERY parent will "take up" for their child and oftem NOT see their wrongs. You have a right to your part of the yard. I would tell my children to simply come inside or avoid these kids in every way that they can. Please drop this subject being discussed around little ears. They repeat exactly what they hear and this issue can be settled by the adults acting like adults and taking care of it. Just let the landlord give her a warning about this and she might think twice if she suddenly had to move.
2 people like this
@Shavkat (62709)
• Philippines
9 Nov 12
It is really difficult to face the reality of being in denial. There are five stages of grief, it is normal to be in denial. But I had read book, it takes 3 months to take the dilemma in your shoulder. Beyond this period, they need to consult people that can help them go through this. For parents, they have the same feeling to their children.