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Helping Others, Friends, and Judging Character...Help!!!

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Old 03-05-2012, 10:25 PM   #1
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Default Helping Others, Friends, and Judging Character...Help!!!

I am in the middle of a personal dilemma that I have never encountered before, and i would like some opinions...or maybe some help from others that have dealt with these issues before. If you have personal experiences in any of these areas, I am interested to hear what you have to say.

My son (8 years old), really likes this little girl in his class. He tells me a lot about her and before even meeting her I found myself wondering and even worrying about her a lot. I have never thought about a kid I did not know as much as i did this little girl. He kept telling me that she follows him around, but does not talk. she does not talk in school, but seems to have latched onto him. I was the same way when i was little, and I was being abused in every way possible, so i believe that is why my thoughts kept going to this little girl when he kept asking me why she follows him but will not talk to him.

Well, he invited her to his birthday party last weekend and she came along with her parents her older sister. The parents are very dirty looking...I suspect mental problems for the father as he walked through the roller rink all day with his entire belly hanging out and just seemed off to me. The mom seems very nice, but most people I admit would not talk to her because of her appearances. I am not someone who looks at appearances and I am not judgmental, but even i wondered about them as it looked like they did not even brush their hair before coming. they did seem to put more effort into their girls, but you can tell they don't have much and are poor. That didn't bother me, and I found the mom to be very nice at the party.

Through the day I had several interactions with this little girl and she would not speak to me or anyone else, but she would smile at me, she opened her coat and showed me her t-shirt which she seemed proud of, and she followed my son around all day and he helped her learn to skate, they really seem to be sweet on one another. The older daughter did talk quite a lot, but she is difficult to understand. I don't know if it is just a speech problem or something else, but I wondered if this is why the little girl never talks. Yet, the older daughter would not skate with my daughter who is the same age and would not speak to other kids, but she spoke to me and her parents.

I could tell they need help, so I gathered a huge trash bag of clothes that no longer fit my daughter and I looked the mom up on Facebook and sent her a message...I opened it by sending her pictures of her daughter and my son that I took during the party. She responded back and was very nice...so I asked if she would like some clothes that no longer fit my daughter and she said yes. I had clothes that would probably fit both of her girls and honestly I have been looking for someone to hand down to, as i have someone that hands down to my son and it is very helpful.

I was going to meet a friend of mine at the park yesterday and invited her to come by, and I put the clothes in my trunk. Her and the girls came out of their van and played for awhile, but her husband stayed in their van until my friend and her kids left. Then suddenly he came out and stood right by us the entire time, I almost felt he did not want to leave me alone with his wife or something...again, he gives me a creepy feeling, his entire belly is hanging out of his clothes, and he seems to be "off" somehow. the girls will whisper to their mom, will not talk to anyone else, and her older daughter seemed very unsure about playing with my daughter (they are the same age), and would not talk the entire time she played with her. The mom kept telling me that her girls only play together usually and are inseparable, and it is just weird for her older daughter to play separate from the younger daughter (who continued to follow my son around but not talk to him). Even the older girl was not talking this time. At one point the husband left in the van for a minute and the younger daughter whispered to her mom something and she assured her he would be back. i could hear a bit of a speech issue when the daughter whistpered, but she seemed much clearer than the older daughter, so I am still uncertain as to why she doesn't speak out. Both girls seemed very unsure of themselves playing at the park, they were stand-offish from the other kids, the litle one kept running to her mom and whispering and the mom kept telling her to "go play while you can" and "go while you have the chance." The big sister kept staring at the little sister, just very protective, and neither of them talked to anyone the entire time they were there.

Just before the husband got out of the van the mom said she was cold but did not want to go home, then started talking about her neighbors giving her problems, but seemed to be really nervous. i was uncertain if she was trying to tell me she did not want to go home for a reason or if she was just nervous talking to me, I did not know what to do!

My friend left the park quick and was not sure about them. I know it is because of the appearance...which I know a lot of people cannot see past that, but I am really trying because for some reason these people are heavy on my heart.

My question now is what I do from here. For some reason this little girl is on my mind ALL the time. I could not sleep last night because I was thinking about why they do not talk, could something be wrong with this father, was the mother trying to tell me something by saying she was cold but did not want to go home...I just cannot push them from my mind. That is not like me, I am not someone who latches to other people, but these people are just heavy on my mind and heart right now.

I don't really want to get mixed up on one hand because this father really just gives me a bad feeling and I have not liked being around him. But on the other hand that intensifies my worry for these little girls and makes me wonder if this woman needs some help. I know people like my friend would never give them a second glance because they are clearly very poor and do not take care of themselves...but I saw loving qualities and exchanges between the mom and the daughters and just feel somehow they need help.

My husband is telling me to mind my own business and my friend has said they are hard to look at pretty much and told me to be careful...but for some reason they are on my heart. How do I approach this? Am i just emotional becuase the little girl reminds me of myself at that age? Or could there really be something there?

She is inviting me to her house, but i don't feel safe going there because her husband gives me such a bad feeling...so I figured the polite way out is to suggest I can pick them up and they can come here and hang out for the evening sometime.

Any advice on how to handle a situation like this? Do I need to back off and just mind my own business, assuming I am sensitive due to my own childhood problems? Or how do I move forward getting to know them while keeping safe form this man i do not trust or have a good feeling about? HELP! i have never had anything like this before, but these people are so heavy on my heart for some reason. I could not even sleep last night as I was worrying about them...and I don't even know why I am worrying! I just have this strong sense that I should not turn away from them even if they are "undesirable" by most people's standards. What would you guys do?
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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It sounds like they could use a friend.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:31 PM   #3
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I'm with you here. Something seems VERY VERY WRONG about this situation.
I've heard a lot about this and the first thing everyone and every article I have EVER read says that you need to tell someone IMMEDIATELY.

From the way you described it, it almost seems like the father is either sexually/emotionally/physically abusing all three of them. I could be completely wrong, but that's the way it comes off to me.

If it were me, I would call child services immediately and give them an anonymous tip. They know what they're doing and can investigate it further. They should be able to tell if something is going on or not.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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Midwife-- yes, I will be her friend, but i am wondering if I am right to worry about more or what I do if I feel something is wrong...I think maybe they need more than friends but i keep second guessing myself and just don't know what to do.

tesse---that is how I have felt since before I even met them, but for some reason I second guess myself, and especially when it calls to calling child services on someone. I feel like maybe i need to get closer to her and just get a better feel for what may be happening...but then part of me says "stay away, that man is scary, and what can you really do to help anyway?" I am just confused, but no one has ever been on my mind like this before so I have a very strong gut instinct that something is wrong in this situation. I just don't know if it is my bleeding heart for children or if something is really wrong there. I would not want them to know I called, either. Or even suspect that.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:42 AM   #5
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I would call child services. I worry that if you wait and become better friends with the mom and feel out the situation more that not only is that more time for abuse to continue, but I feel like it's more of a signal that you are the one who called if you wind up calling. There was a party recently, they were out with you and your friend, it might not have been you.

I would also try your hardest to get the mom and the girls out of the house often. If you continue to meet in public areas or in places you feel safe then I think the husband is less of an issue, however creepy he may be.

This situation brings me back to one that has haunted me for years. I was good friends with a girl who lived in the townhouse behind me. She was a happy, good child. A few years later her mother QUICKLY married a man who creeped me out. And he brought his children into their home. Things changed. His children were already off but soon my friend and her brother were off too. They were oddly sexual for children 8-12 years old. The boys were allowed the join sleepovers. The father would find flimsy excuses to come downstairs half naked during sleepovers (if his pants were a fraction of an inch lower, he would have been indecent. To the point that I now know he obviously shaved his area) while his wife was asleep upstairs and he would hang out with us. Grown man hanging out with 11 year old girls. The children began to only associate with themselves and I found myself out 4 friends. One day a couple years later I saw police cars outside of their home. A few days later I tried to call my friend and their number had been disconnected. I soon realized the mother and husband still lived there but all of the children no longer did. That's when it hit me that something seriously wrong must have been going on in that house. I was too young to realize just how wrong some of the things that happened in that house were. There is no doubt in my mind that at the very least my friends were sexually abused. God only knows what else. It haunts me that I didn't know to tell someone.

Anyway. My point is if you don't report them to child services, you might regret it for the rest of your life. Even though I didn't realize the full scope of what was wrong with that family until I was older, 16 years later it still makes me want to cry that I didn't help even though I didn't realize why they needed help.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:53 AM   #6
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That's why I said call them anonymously.
I agree with Daki. I think the more you hang out with them, the more obvious it will be that you were the one that called. Maybe give it a few more days and call so they wouldn't suspect you, if you're really that afraid of them finding out.
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
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Have you tried talking to your son's teacher as the little girl is a classmate? The teacher might be able to provide additional insight or your concerns couple with those they may have may prompt the teacher to contact CPS as many are legally required if there are credible suspicious regarding abuse.
If you are unsure if the teacher has contacted CPS, you may still contact them yourself anonymously citing any thing the teacher may say to make your concerns more valid. CPS will surely speak with any adults that interact with the children outside the family.
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:51 PM   #8
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(((((purplefirefly)))))
It sounds like this woman and her family is striking a chord with something about you and your past. You seem to have have a very caring and sensitive heart. There may also be something unspoken in your son that causes the youngest daughter to want to reach out to him. It might sound like a cop-out, but if you're the praying type, I highly suggest that you use this as your first method of attack.

The suggestions to call CPS obviously come from a place of concern, but please please please be careful with filing anonymous tips.

You should only call CPS if you have witnessed direct abuse and/or neglect.

In most states, after an anonymous tip is placed, a social worker will be sent to the home to do a general walk around the property and make sure conditions APPEAR TO BE safe. As long as the father doesn't outright touch or abuse the women in plain view of the social worker, they will have no cause to investigate him further. He could be the biggest scumbag on the face of the earth, but they can't arrest him for just "looking creepy". Plus, if there is abuse taking place, this suspicion and investigation may anger/frustrate/humiliate him, causing him to retaliate by abusing the mother/daughters even more.

I would try to interact with the mother more and learn more about her story. Maybe invite her and the kids over to your house without the father. Ask if there's someone she trusts that can help her out in her situation. Does she have relatives in the area? Are there local shelters for women? Is she a member of a good church? These are concrete things you can do to try to aid the mother and give her the confidence/courage to get out of the situation if it is indeed unsafe.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:41 PM   #9
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Anyone know about those with speech or hearing problems? Is it normal for kids with speech and/or hearing problems not to talk or to be very shy about talking? Thanks for chiming in if you know or have some experience in that area.

Well, my hubby and son are going on a boy scout camping thing Friday night, so I contacted the woman and asked if her and the girls want to come over for a "girl's night" and just hang out with me and my daughter. I made certain to call it a girl's night and offered to come pick them up, since she cannot drive. I do not want this man coming into my home when my husband is not here, so I figured this would be a safe way to get her out of her house with the girls and let's see if they ease up or if she will talk to me, or what I can find out about her.

It is also kind of a test to see if he will let her go without him, she told me at the park he has to take her everywhere and she is mostly just at home all the time.

She messaged me back and just said that she would love to come, but she has some things to do on Friday and maybe we could meet somewhere. She didn't say anything beyond that. I think I will respond back that I will call her and we can work that out.

She has opened up to me through FB chat a bit...she told me that her first husband (older daughter's daddy I believe) cheated on her, she came home and found him in bed with her best friend and she left him. Then she married this guy, who I believe is the father of the younger girl that does not speak at all.

I do not want him in my house, and do not want to just give my address for him to drop her off. I really really just am uneasy about him. I don't want to call children's services because I have no proof of anything and I really fear once they go out there it could get worse for them, if there is something going on. I don't know that the teacher would be able to tell me anything due to confidentiality, but that is a good idea I may try to email her and just try.

I asked my son last night if this girl was at school and asked if she talks to the other girls in the class. He said she does have one friend that is a girl, but they don't talk in words. I asked what that means and he said they talk with hand motions. Then he said that actually the other girl talks with hand motions and mostly this little girl nods her head. So, maybe there is just a speech problem ... but she can talk, I heard her whispering to her mom, and they did not use sign language at all at the park.

Oh, and the older daughter would not take her coat off at the skating rink, so I am going to look for signs of bruises or scars, etc. surely she will take her coat off when in my home...it is supposed to be very warm out that day and evening.

I'm going to have her over Friday and see what happens. I plan to get some clothes together that might fit her and send them home with her. I just am not willing to call children's services with no proof and risk it getting worse for them in some manner.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:52 PM   #10
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I'm so glad that you are trying to figure out how to help these people instead of just ignoring them because of how they look and act. Most people would just walk the other way, and completely forget about them. Kudos to you for caring. (Isnt sad how people just don't care anymore?!)

On the other hand, I do not agree with just calling CPS because of a hunch. If you were to call CPS right now, would you feel as if you actually did anything to better their lives? Probably not. You would never know the outcome of the investigation, so you'd always wonder what happened. You would mean well, but all you would do is have an overworked caseworker come out, maybe even in several months due to budget cuts and lay offs, and open a case file on the family. The father may have lost his job and is just so depressed that he doesn't care what he looks like, and may just be socially awkward. On the other hand, it is possible that abuse may be going on, and once you are able to confirm that it is, or really feel that something is going on after speaking with the teacher and others who have dealt with the family, then I would call CPS. The teacher may be able to provide you with some much needed insight. Of course, at any time you witness, see or hear anything from the kids that is serious, I would definitely call CPS, or Law Enforcement if you feel it is warranted.

For now, if I were you, I would try communicating and befriending the mother through Facebook. Hopefully you can build up a rapport with her and she will learn to trust and confide in you. Just be careful because her husband may check her messages. I would start out with basic conversation about the kids, etc. and see how she responds. The husband may just be overly protective of his family, especially because they do not know you...yet.

All in good time, hopefully you will be able to get to know this family and be a positive influence on their lives. Sometimes just knowing someone cares makes all the difference!

Best of luck to you!
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:37 PM   #11
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You make a good point...they don't know me very well either! Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and I will feel better about the situation. I am really hoping nothing is wrong and it works out...I am hoping!
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Old 03-08-2012, 01:01 PM   #12
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I absolutely think you're doing the right thing. She will appreciative your friendships & you're giving her a safe place to open up. It sounds like she may not have anyone or anywhere else to turn, if necessary. You're very kind . Please do keep us posted. Last thought- great idea keeping your address withheld.
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Old 03-08-2012, 02:20 PM   #13
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First of all, be careful how much you say through facebook. You don't know if the husband has access to her account.

If she doesn't speak at all, surely this has come up in school. Is it possible you can talk about this with the school counselor?

I saw this show last night (untold ER or something) where a boy came in to the ER with multiple fractures of different ages all over his body. Immediately social services was called to which the distressed parents kept saying, he fell off his bike. No one would believe them and charges were filed against the father. Turns out after more tests at the hospital that the kid has brittle bone disease and there's no abuse. I just felt awful for those parents.

I'm not saying that's the case here, but to call CPS immediately, I don't know. I'd rather have a discussion with the school counselor first. You're right- they most likely won't be able to tell you anything, but you can certainly say things to them.

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Old 03-09-2012, 01:18 PM   #14
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It does make a lot of sense that the little girl would be slow to speak if she had hearing difficulties. So glad that you are reaching out to this family. It sounds like they could use a good friend.

Will be thinking about you today!!!
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Old 03-09-2012, 01:33 PM   #15
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You seem like a very kind and caring woman and I admire you not turning your back on them because of their appearance or some strange behavior. It does sound like they need a friend but I feel for now till you know they better is to make outside/public play dates. I wouldn't go to the house and actually what is your 'gut' telling you? Listen to it!

That was so sweet to think about passing along the clothes to her. That was so generous of you.

Do not take this family on like it's going to be your job to figure them out and help them. The best thing you can do is be there as a friend, someone who can listen if and when she might want to open up.

But whatever you do....be sure that you don't put yourself or your children in harms way. Some of your story scared me a bit. I don't want you getting yourself hurt.
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