How can we make this better for this child? A few years ago, my family brought in a 13 year old troubled child and raised him as his Mum wanted nothing to do with him. She threw him out of the house with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. We got help through Social Care and school and now everything is going ok. Fast forward 5 years and he still has nothing to do with his Mum. He doesn’t want to know her and has moved on in his life, got an apartment, nice girlfriend etc. The problem is, is now Mum is telling anyone that would listen that this young man is evil, troubled and that my family kidnapped him. She is playing the massive victim and making people feel sorry for her, but at the same time, hate him. It’s such a shame. She has even turned his young siblings against him. She got him arrested because he was sticking up for his brother when she was being cruel to him. It was dropped in court though as we handed over the Social Care records. We want her to stop bad mouthing him and trying to ruin his life. She had also told his siblings that ‘if xxxxx has children, she hopes he will allow the children to see her, but he won’t because he is a bad man’. This was said to a 10 year old. Advice please!
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reader, anonymous, writes (12 October 2018):
It's extremely important - crucial in fact - that you do NOT respond 'in kind'.
As other readers have suggested, keep records of what she says to others and, importantly, how you become aware of what she is saying - is it gossip (in which case it can't really be legally acted upon), or is it through any form of written medium? (In which case, you can take legal action for libel, slander, defamation of character etc).
The MUCH stronger stance to take is to refuse to respond in kind, refuse to come down to her level and focus instead on quietly but calmly projecting a positive, healthy and authentic image and impression of this young man and his larger, 'adoptive' family and girlfriend. Do NOT go overboard at all, but just quietly reinforce positive messages that he is doing well in his new life; modest posts on Facebook, praise verbally where appropriate and, importantly, keep him focussed on building a loving and lovely life for himself and those who care for him.
The woman involved reminds me very much of my own mother, but she is more extreme because she has made things public - my mother didn't quite do this, although she had no qualms at all about humiliating me in front of other people - in fact, she seemed to do it automatically, and completely un-necessarily - the only reason for it was to disempower me and make herself feel powerful.My mother was extremely neglectful and abusive and every time she felt I was escaping her control or could be in a position to call her out on her awful behaviour, she would basically run a 'smear campaign' through my family, turning me into a scapegoat for her own abusive behaviour and twisting everything to make it seem like I was the evil one and she was the victim. It has taken me years to see this for what it was; I wish I'd been able to understand this at an earlier time. When you don't behave like that yourself, it can be absolutely bewildering as to why other people do; it can take years to understand that they are simply differently wired, and do not have the emotional maturity to take responsibility for changing their own behaviour. Other readers are right that sometimes you simply cannot change - or educate - people who do not want to change and do not want to become educated regarding the effects on others of their own behaviour. The woman involved must, ultimately, be full of self-loathing and inner fear to be behaving in this way, but that's her responsibility to sort out. Your responsibility is to do as much as you can to put a boundary up between her behaviour and your own, and at this point in time it basically boils down to focussing on developing a lovely life and calmly countering her smear campaign by projecting a truthful reflection of that in any way that feels appropriate. One very straightforward way to do this is for the young man involved to become involved in charity work or voluntary work - for example, supporting other young abused men - and putting a positive public image in place for that. It will make it much harder for this woman to keep trying to degrade him.
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reader, Ivyblue +, writes (12 October 2018):What a sad situation for this young man. You and everyone involved with being part of his life know and understand just how far he has come and established himself into the independent young man he is today without his mother. 5 years and no contact from her says enough in itself without adding nasty slanderous comment to boot. Seems she is a very bitter and poor excuse anyway hell bent on on her oh woe is me rant. Not much you can do about that however hurtful. My advice, reiterate to him that he cant take on her rubbish and do his best to steer clear and not engage or react to her bullshit. Hopefully she will tire and move on to invest in someone else who will do the same. Just remind him that he is no reflection of her and should be proud of who he has become given the shitty hand he was dealt at 13. Sounds like you and your family have done a wonderful job in this young mans life.
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reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2018):I knew a kid like this.We took him in as a teen.His mother was awful to him.At my house he thrived got his diploma and driver's license and a good job.His sister knew he was a good guy but his mother would dis him and us for making him a better person.His sister knew how her mother was and never believed her lies.So you see his siblings know how their mother is they do not believe her crap.Let his mum say stuff.People who really know you and his mum know the truth.The rest can go to hell.You did good taking that kid in do not let his mum change who you are keep being kind.
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reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (11 October 2018):People who actually know him, or his mother and her ways; will not listen to her slanderous lies.
If she causes false arrests, or costs him his job; he will have to seek a lawyer to sue her for defamation of character,or libel and slander. He should keep record of anything she publishes through social media about him; and any threatening text messages, or emails.
No one can stop a person from talking; unless they cross legal-lines, and cause you harm or loss. I know her venom is upsetting and untrue; but if he ignores it, that's what everyone else should do. Gossip and reporting needs an audience willing to listen to it. People soon catch-on and realize what she's up to; based on her character, and the frequency that she seems to be stirring-up trouble. It won't be exclusively aimed at him; she'll go after everybody and anybody. That, or people will just get tired of hearing the same old stories and lies.
Trouble-makers are neither smart nor focused. They eventually get sloppy and get caught in their own traps.
People who accept what she says without supportive-evidence; are usually stupid, and believe just about any gossip they hear. Unless they go deaf, you can't stop them from listening to her. She has a lot of idle-time on her hands; her life must be empty and miserable, to spend so much time trying to ruin his.
What goes around comes around. She's going out of her way to make trouble, and it's only a matter of time before things will backfire. He can get a restraining order, or an order of protection. That will keep her away from him. He'll just have to put-up with the bad-mouthing; unless, like I said, she crosses legal-lines. He should keep any written or recorded-evidence to support any complaints filed with the police; or if he files a lawsuit.
You take the wind out the sails of trouble-makers; when you let them make noise, and don't react to it. She's humiliated, because everyone knows what a horrible creature she is for a mother. Shame and guilt are eating her alive; and she's rotting from the inside from her own poison.
You can't sustain harassing people indefinitely; eventually the law steps-in. They always make a big mistake. Ignoring her also neutralizes her venom; when she realizes frankly he and nobody else gives a damn. They have to consider the source; before judging him for what she says about him.
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reader, Honeypie + ♥, writes (10 October 2018):You can't really "make" her stop. UNFORTUNATELY.
However, if she post these things in WRITTEN form it's libel and slander (especially if he can probe it) and can be a matter for the courts. IF she is using social media like Facebook, he CAN try and contact Facebook and ask (demand) that everything she is writing is removed. BUT again, that can be hard.
All he can do about his siblings is talk to the Social Care system and see if there is a case for them to be removed, again not an easy thing to do in the UK (or the US). But they won't REMOVE kids because she is badmouthing an older sibling.
Maybe what he needs to consider is getting AWAY from her toxicity. Which means move to an areas SHE doesn't know and have NO contact with her. To build and live his life AS he wants.
HE is HER biggest failure. Because he succeeded when she didn't want him to, THAT is her beef with him.
My guess is that people who KNOWS him, who gets to know him will KNOW she is full of shit.
The people who feel sorry for her, probably DOESN'T know the full story and doesn't know him. And let's be honest here a minute... HOW many people who has ANY KIND of common sense would believe your family "kidnapped" him? I mean if people who believe that... those are NOT the kind of people I would want around.
Again, you can't MAKE someone be a decent human being. Unfortunately, his mom is a piece of crap.
I would contact a lawyer/solicitor If you have PROOF that her badmouthing is damaging his life or career (and I don't mean emotional damage as that isn't measurable or subject to the law) but financially for instance.
And while it SUCKS that HE might have to move away and start over, it might be the best thing for him.
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