Mother is wor­ried about chil­dren’s safety with trou­bled teen

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - COFFEE BREAK - AMY DICK­IN­SON

DEAR AMY: I am a mother of two young chil­dren: a daugh­ter, age 4, and a 1-yearold boy. They cur­rently go to my hus­band’s cousin’s house for child care ev­ery day. My old­est has been go­ing there for over two years, along with our nephew and niece (who are the same age). Our fam­ily member (along with her helpers) pro­vides won­der­ful care. I know they are safe and well looked af­ter.

Ev­ery sum­mer, an­other fam­ily member sends her three foster chil­dren to the same house for child care. This was their day care from when be­fore they were school age. Al­though these chil­dren are older than ours, they are not al­lowed to be at home un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the old­est child, a 13-year-old boy, be­cause he has shown be­hav­ioral is­sues.

He was tem­po­rar­ily re­moved from his home once over vi­o­lent threats to­ward his younger brother, and has been or­dered to at­tend manda­tory coun­sel­ing, as he has been mak­ing vi­o­lent state­ments in his school set­ting. He has also sent text mes­sages to his fe­male class­mates stat­ing he is go­ing to vi­o­late them, sex­u­ally — this very much wor­ries me.

I don’t know what to do if I find out he will be go­ing to our day care for sum­mer va­ca­tion again. I feel I will of­fend our fam­ily member by in­sin­u­at­ing that some­thing could hap­pen to my chil­dren un­der her watch, and I feel the rest of the fam­ily would think I’m be­ing un­rea­son­able. This boy took a shine to my daugh­ter last year over these sum­mer months. I’m now wor­ried about him be­ing that close to my chil­dren ev­ery day.

Am I over­re­act­ing? What is the best way to deal with this?

— WOR­RIED MOTHER

DEAR WOR­RIED: Three ad­di­tional chil­dren with this wide age range sounds like a huge chal­lenge for a day care provider; I can’t imag­ine many 13 year olds who would do well in an all-day en­vi­ron­ment which in­cludes his own sib­lings, as well as preschool­ers and at least one tod­dler.

It’s an ex­treme age range, and this does not sound like a good sit­u­a­tion for him. Given what you re­port, it also doesn’t sound like a good sit­u­a­tion for the younger chil­dren. I agree with your concern.

You should in­quire about this sum­mer. Will the older boy be present (per­haps they’ve found a spe­cial­ized pro­gram for him)? If the older boy is go­ing to be present, you should ex­press your con­cerns, and all of the adults in­volved should put their heads together to try to find a work­able so­lu­tion. You might need to find an­other day care for the sum­mer.

When deal­ing with fam­ily mem­bers about this, keep in mind that some peo­ple au­to­mat­i­cally as­sume a de­fen­sive po­si­tion, even when they’re not be­ing at­tacked. Your tone should be neu­tral and fo­cused on a so­lu­tion. Your foster nephew is go­ing through an ex­tremely tough patch, and you should ex­press com­pas­sion for him. But your own chil­dren’s well­be­ing is on the line, and you will have to be stalwart, steady and fo­cused — al­ways— on their safety.

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