Kid caught in toxic fam­ily cross­fire

Times Standard (Eureka) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Amy Dick­in­son

DEAR AMY » Nine-year-old “Danny” lives with his dad and grand­par­ents, and none of them get along. Danny is al­ways caught in the mid­dle. Danny’s dad (in his mid30s) is a self-ab­sorbed jerk and spends very lit­tle time with Danny, but he lives in the same house.

If Grandma is mad at Danny’s fa­ther, (who is her son), Danny gets to hear all about it, and vice versa. Caught in the tur­moil, Danny gets chewed out by both sides.

The lat­est ex­am­ple of this is that Danny is go­ing on va­ca­tion with his grand­par­ents, but his dad wasn’t in­vited and doesn’t even know they are go­ing! Grandma told Danny not to tell his dad be­cause she doesn’t want the dad to go! And when they re­turn, Danny will be yelled at by his dad for keep­ing the se­cret. Danny can­not win in this dys­func­tional fam­ily.

How can it be right for the other fam­ily mem­bers to leave on va­ca­tion with his son and not tell him, and to de­mand that Danny keep this se­cret? The grand­par­ents are his main care­givers and if they left him be­hind, I doubt his fa­ther would look af­ter him for the 10 days, so Danny must go with them.

I’m a (not very re­spected) fam­ily mem­ber, who thank­fully doesn’t live there. I keep my mouth shut be­cause no­body asked me, but Danny does share with me some of his anx­i­eties and fears. I re­ally feel for the boy. All I can think to tell him is that he can chart his own path when he grows up, and that he won’t have to live with ei­ther his grand­par­ents or his dad. It seems so in­suf­fi­cient.

Ob­vi­ously, all of these peo­ple need coun­sel­ing and I se­ri­ously doubt it would ever hap­pen, be­cause they are blind to their an­gry dys­func­tion.

Is it right for them to take Danny with­out telling the dad? What can I say to Danny? — Wor­ried Rel­a­tive

DEAR WOR­RIED » It is NOT right for these grand­par­ents to spirit their grand­son away — un­less they are the child’s le­gal adop­tive par­ents or guardians, it would also be il­le­gal for them to take the child with­out the fa­ther’s per­mis­sion.

Any par­ent re­turn­ing home to find his child miss­ing with­out ex­pla­na­tion would be jus­ti­fied in call­ing the po­lice to re­port an ab­duc­tion.

Poor “Danny” is in a toxic house­hold. No adult should EVER ask a child to keep a se­cret from a par­ent; se­cret-keep­ing di­vides a child’s loy­alty — it is also what peo­ple who ex­ploit chil­dren ask them to do.

Danny can’t wait un­til he grows up to chart his own path. Given the dy­namic in this house­hold, the child will pay the price, and his path will be very rocky. Stay close to the boy.

You should not stay silent. This fam­ily des­per­ately needs in­ter­ven­tion, for the child’s sake.

You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: askamy@amy­dick­in­son. com and fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy.

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