Don’t Air Your Dirty Washing in Public

On the vagaries of blogging rights

 

Swathes of Glory 2

 

I am not a full time blog reader/writer. Still, I follow a few blogs that interest me, and I try to keep up to date with them as far as I am able. If I see someone new who has either ‘liked’ one of my posts, or has followed me, I try to check out their blog to see if we have enough in common for me to show an interest in their work.

Every now and then, though, I try to click on a random blog that shows up, perhaps in the WordPress Reader. Alternatively, I look at those who have visited one of the pages that I am visiting, and simply select a ‘random’ person to check out their blog. This way, I have found some very interesting characters with some very interesting things to say.

I have also discovered some really weird blogs! Let me say, at the outset, that I do not follow blogs that contain bad language, or those that are overtly religious, political, or violent, or that spout ridiculous notions. Still, I try to remain fairly open-minded, and I have read some interesting blog entries, over the years.

Strange Revelations

There is, however, one category of blogger that really fascinates me: Those who “air their dirty washing in public.” The concept is that of someone who inappropriately shares private, potentially embarrassing information with those who are not entitled to it.

In my previous post, Are You Sure You Want to Share That with the World? I commented on those who share embarrassing personal information which, to be honest, very few others want to know. Rather than the uplifting tale of how they have overcome their personal trials, they simply wallow in their misery and try to elicit sympathy from the world.

In this post, I want to address a far more worrying concept: That of sharing potentially embarrassing, or even damaging personal information about other people.

Dirty Laundry

What follows is not a true story. It is based on a distillation of a number of blog entries that I have read over the last few years, together with items from the news media, and a fair degree of imagination. However, if you see yourself in this story, get some help. You need it!

Let’s consider a situation that is, sadly, becoming more and more common. Janet and John begin courting. They get married and have children. During their relationship, they send each other text messages with some fairly explicit comments. Eventually, they share explicit photos of themselves with each other.

(Before we go on, let me just say that I do not approve of this activity, commonly called, ‘sexting.’ Parents, especially, should be on high alert to check their children’s electronic devices regularly, and take immediate action against any such activities.)

The couple subsequently break up, and, in order to exact revenge, John posts the photos on his social media page. This has been dubbed illegal in many places, but by the time the law gets involved it is nigh on impossible to retrieve and destroy all copies of the photos. Once they are on the Internet, they are public, or can easily be made public.

Where does the law stand on this? As mentioned, in many areas it is now considered to be illegal to post ‘revenge porn’ and John could be prosecuted, especially if Janet presses charges.

When the Victim Becomes the Criminal

Now let’s consider a fairly strange scenario that I have seen in my online travels. Again, this is not a true story, as noted, above.

Consider a person who maligns another. Going back to Janet and John, let’s say that instead of posting the photos she sent him, John starts blogging about how Janet mistreated him. He says that she was always demanding money off him and would get violently angry when he failed to provide it.

She finds out about his rants but, wanting a peaceful life, says to herself, “Yeah! Whatever. I’m free of him, now, and I have no intention of validating his childishness. I will not even dignify his rant with a response. I will just ignore it.” Good for her. She has moved on, and is probably protecting her children from harm, too.

Worse than that, maybe John has blocked Janet from accessing his social media accounts, so she does not even know what he is saying.

One day, though, Janet’s sister, Mary finds out about his posts. Mary is incensed, and, against Janet’s wishes, she responds to John’s blog posts, making comments about how he is not telling the truth. OK. She calls him a liar. She points out how he failed to provide housekeeping money for Janet and the children because he was always in the pub, drinking his wages away. When he eventually got home, the children were crying with hunger pains, and Janet, not having the resources to feed them, started crying inconsolably, while he complained about her spending too much on the children and herself.

So what happens, now? John makes a complaint to the police, and Mary is cautioned about her online behaviour, being labelled as an Internet Troll. She is told that if she keeps abusing John online, the way she has, she could be prosecuted for harassment. She is not to contact him, nor is she to visit his social media pages.

Now, I know what you are thinking: “No way! John is the one at fault.” Yes. You are right. But, until Janet makes a complaint, there is nothing that the police can do about it. Mary is interfering in a domestic situation that even the police will not get involved in without permission.

And the result is that Mary now has a note against her on file with the local police. Meanwhile, John can continue his allegations without fear of retribution.

Why Do They Do It?

Why would John do something like this when he knows that he is not painting a true picture of their life together, and that Janet could, in a very short time, and very easily, expose him for the liar that he is?

The answer is quite simple. John wants attention. Specifically, he wants attention from Janet. Oh, he hates her with a vengeance. He wants nothing more to do with her. But he is so demanding, so selfish, so abusive, that he wants to control her.

Janet, however, knows how to deal with John. She knows that by ignoring him she is helping him to overcome his controlling behaviour. Eventually, he will have to come to terms with himself and, hopefully, become more rational in his thinking. Eventually, he will either learn to be at peace with Janet, or he will find someone else to abuse.

In the meantime, by spouting his lies all over the worldwide web he is eliciting sympathy from those who do not know the truth. He is also trying to make himself look good by making Janet look bad. As I noted in my post, Looking Good, that is the worst way to elicit praise for yourself.

The result is that he surrounds himself with ‘friends’ who would drop him like a hot potato if they knew what he was really like. But, because they are unlikely to ever meet him, he can get away with it; he can elicit their sympathy and try to justify himself to himself at the same time. His conscience is bothering him, but he is not listening to it. Rather, he is trying to prove his own conscience wrong.

The Danger

There is, however, a real danger, here. He is calling Janet’s integrity and parenting ability into question. She could end up having to justify herself to Social Services if they ever get hold of what John is saying.

True, it would be fairly easy for Janet to clear up the situation. Yet the process will be very stressful for her and this is stress that she could well do without.

The Solution

So, what is the solution?

I was always taught, and I tried to teach my children and grandchildren, that if you do not have anything positive to say, don’t say anything. I don’t say I have always managed to achieve that, but it is a good maxim. Alternatively, never say anything bad about someone unless it is with the intention of helping them. And then, only say it to the right person, the person who can provide that help.

In this hypothetical scenario, John should not be speaking to the world, he would do better keeping quiet. Alternatively, if he really wants attention from Janet, he might try admitting to and apologising for his failures rather than trying to justify them.

Mary should not have become involved without Janet’s permission. She only aggravated the situation and got herself a potential police record into the bargain.

As for Janet, could she possibly resolve the situation? We don’t know. Maybe she has tried. Maybe she has pointed out to John that he needs to be more careful with what he says, especially in public. Maybe she has expressed her concerns that he could be putting the children at risk. It certainly seems that she had discussions with him about his failure to provide for the family. Then, again, maybe he blocked her access to his web pages so that she cannot find out what he is saying about her; she doesn’t know! Either way, she is at least trying to keep the peace.

John knows what he has to do to be reconciled to Janet, but his pride will not allow him to act on that knowledge.

Janet, though, has the right idea. John is airing their dirty washing in public. By not engaging him in this battle she is keeping the peace, and protecting the family to the best of her ability.

Janet knows that she has true friends around her; friends who refuse to enter into the battle. Instead, they keep encouraging her and helping her to cope.

Indeed, the best way to conquer evil is with good. Refuse to engage with it; don’t pamper to its ego. Then, maybe these sad, self-centred people will simply fade away.

Grandpa's Poetic Way

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I believe that I have finally sorted out the problem with my book, and it is now available for free download, this weekend.

It is available here for Amazon UK readers, and here in the US. It is available worldwide, so you should be able to find it if you search for its updated title, Grandpa’s Poetic Way.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you to all those who have already taken a look. If you feel moved to offer a review, that would be appreciated. If you don’t like it, then that’s okay, too.

The Imposters

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same

(If – Rudyard Kipling)

Sea Clouds

Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, is a study in contrasts, considering many of the opposites that we encounter in daily life. He describes being able to do what others cannot; of handling situations with equanimity; of dealing with life in a balanced way.

Yet his comment, above, on the opposites, Triumph and Disaster, seems to add another dimension. Most versions of the poem capitalise the words as proper nouns, almost as if they are people, or even gods. And, in truth, many people see triumph as an idol to be worshipped at all costs.

Look again, though, at the contrast. Consider the synonymous definition of Triumph and Disaster both being imposters. How true. Triumph lasts only as long as the reward, and sometimes not even that long. When you think of the origin of the term, White Elephant, it becomes obvious that success in pleasing the monarch may be short-lived when the prize was a white elephant, which was expensive to keep, and could not be disposed of.

Most triumphs, of course, are not of that kind. We speak of exam success, sports success, job success, and so on. Yet the euphoria experienced even in these situations can be short-lived. Passing one set of exams may only lead to another set; and how many people still work in the field of their college major. A gold medal, today, is often followed by training, tomorrow, ready for the next event. And we soon lose interest in a highly sought-after job, once the day-to-day grind sets in and we get to know the faults of our colleagues; and they get to know ours!

Disasters, too, are relatively short-lived. Exam failure is often simply an incentive to study harder, next time; losing a race becomes motivation to do more and better training; and losing a job is an incentive to find a better one.

So, yes. Triumph and Disaster are imposters. They may engender strong emotions at the time, but those emotion fade and are replaced by the next big issue facing us in life.

An Alternative View

The contrasts in Kipling’s poem all relate to our own actions and attitudes. They ask us to meditate, mindfully, on how we behave and how we react (or respond) to various events and people. They encourage a balanced view of our situations and relationships. Can we talk with crowds and keep our virtue? Can we walk with kings without losing the common touch?

However, look back at the concept of Triumph and Disaster. Triumph, for one person, can mean disaster for another. Although exam success is often shared, a sports winner almost presupposes that there will be losers. Getting a new job usually means that someone else was disappointed.

It is the same with other triumphs. We need to remember that when we are successful, there may be others who have suffered a “disaster” so that we can succeed; if succeed is the right word. Keeping this in mind will help us to be balanced, both in our celebrations and in our lamentations. Why?

Have you ever watched the award ceremony of a sports final? The camera focuses on the winners; but looking deeper into the picture, we often see the sadness on faces of the losers as they sit, quietly waiting for an opportunity to slink away.

The same is true of other triumphs. Think about bidding for an item in an auction. You may be happy that you were able to watch and win the item. But how many other people were watching the same item and became sad about not winning the auction.

Feeling Empathy

So when it comes to triumphs, we need to remember that our triumph can often be someone else’s disaster. They may be severely disappointed at their loss. As we travel home with euphoria coursing through our veins, they will be going home in relative depression. Our success may even cause them a sad loss. Indeed, people tell me that driving home from an apparent triumph, they have been overwhelmed at the sense of disaster that it has caused to the other person. They have felt the loss suffered by that person, and it makes them realise that triumph really is an imposter.

Truly, Kipling’s poem is a reminder that both Triumph and Disaster are imposters. They pretend to be things that they are not. They produce feelings that do not last; and they fail to live up to the promises that they appear to have made.

So, next time you feel sad about a loss, remember that your “disaster” may have brought joy to another person. Are you able to feel good about that?

Think, too, about any positive consequences of your loss. Positive consequences? Oh yes. And if you are unable to think of these positive consequences, just spend a few moments thinking about how the outcome could have been much worse. Then you will be able to see the positive consequences as you become aware of the disastrous scope of what could have happened.

And next time you feel happy about a triumph, think about the loss suffered by the other person. Are you able to feel badly about that?

Think, too about the negative consequences of your gain. Will there be repercussions that will be difficult to deal with? Will you be expected to carry out additional duties, or provide additional funds or resources? What will this “triumph” cost you?

These balanced feelings of empathy, coupled with a realistic view of your triumphs and disasters, will help you to put life events into perspective; and they will help you to be a more balanced, more mindful person. You will develop better relations with others; and with yourself. Or, as Kipling put it, “You’ll be a Man, my son!”


Grandpa’s Poetic Way now available at Amazon

Grandpa's Way Poetry

On Thursday, I posted that I would be making my book available for free download over the weekend. Unfortunately, I appear to have confuse the Amazon system for the US website and my book failed to show up there.

Therefore, I decided to pull the promotion for this weekend so that I could re-offer it, later. I hope to get the free download available again next weekend and this time, to include my US readers in the offer.

I can only apologize for the confusion.

Meanwhile, I will just have to start work on the next volume.

Been Busy

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Well, hello, everyone. I hope you missed me!

You may (or may not) have been wondering where I’ve been. Well, I can now reveal that following encouragement from several sources, including Rita of The Anxious Traveler fame, I have finally published my book, Grandpa’s Way: Poetic Motivation on Amazon.

The book is a collection of my poems and photographs with some adjustments and explanations. It is designed to provide motivation and starting points for mindful meditation. I don’t consider myself to be an expert, but as many bloggers know, prompts can be found in all sorts of places.

So I hope you will forgive me for being away from my blog for the last few days. I have not been away from my keyboard. I am amazed at how much work was involved in getting the work finalized.

How does it feel? Well, when I was about twelve, I had a dream of taking my notebook and pen (no portable computers in those days) up the mountain to a secluded spot, writing a book, and getting it published. I have had several unsuccessful attempts at fiction, over the years, but never finished anything. However, thanks in great measure to the blogging community I have now published my first book.

And it feels fantastic.

So, if you feel like wandering over to Amazon and taking a look, that would be wonderful. If you feel like writing a review, then that would be even more wonderful.

Once again, thank you to all my readers for the help and encouragement. Now it’s time for some sleep, ready to work on the next book.

 

Becoming Grandparents

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Becoming a parent was a wonderful, life-changing experience. There is no doubt about that. Yet, as amazing as it was to become a parent, becoming a grandparent is even more so. It represents a new beginning in a new way.

Becoming a parent marked a change from a life of relative freedom to a life full of responsibility and, to a great extent, of being much more restricted in what you could do. Staying out late at night was now less of an option. Holidays became much more expensive. Your circle of friends is likely to have changed; you had little in common with your single friends, any more. And when the school run started, you moved into another new group. You should, however, have had a new, powerful support network.

As part of that network, there should have been your parents and in-laws.

Becoming Grandparents

The new beginning represented in becoming grandparents is different. You are not as likely to change your circle of friends; your freedom to travel and party is not as likely to be restricted unless you choose to allow this to happen. You may have less money available as you start buying clothes and toys for the new arrival. You may even find that your time is limited if you agree to provide “free” childcare for your daughter or daughter-in-law to return to work. But, in general, you will not lose as much freedom as you did when you became parents.

Still, becoming grandparents is a life-changing experience. You may have wondered whether your family name will survive your children. I know of a number of people who, for many years, said that they did not want grandchildren because it would make them feel old. They repeated it so often that their children started to believe it and decided that the right thing to do would be to avoid having children. Now, those parents have changed their tune. They have realised that their family name is about to die out; they see the pleasure that their siblings enjoy, now that they are grandparents; and they wish they could have that joy.

As grandparents, you have the pleasure of “borrowing” your grandchildren, showing them off to your friends and relatives, having great fun with them, and then, once the tiredness and grumpiness, or even the hyperactivity, sets in, giving them back!

Another Change in the Relationship

Now things really change in your relationship with your children. Since they became adults, you should have started to be more careful about the advice you give; you should have wanted to let them go, gradually and gently. You will have wanted to retain a good relationship with them, whilst allowing them the freedom to grow and develop their own adult personalities and relationships.

Having children, however, will raise the importance of maintaining that relationship to a much higher level, in the form of what we could call a distant closeness, or a close distance. As mentioned previously, you should have raised your children to develop their own thinking abilities, and that will probably mean that you will not always see things the same way. You also have to consider that your child’s thinking will have been affected by your son- or daughter-in-law’s thinking. This is as it should be. Your child is developing his or her own life. He or she will have to keep that life going, even when you are not around. The new parents will have to make decisions, usually with no time to consult you, even if they wanted to.

Suddenly, you will be faced with the problem of coming to terms with decisions that affect a helpless member of the family; and, at that point in time, all your child’s faults and failings will come to mind. Suddenly, you will remember all the events that strained your relationship with your child; and you will re-align your loyalty with a view to protecting that innocent young grandchild. Your heartstrings will be pulled in all sorts of different directions. You will want to give advice, or even interfere. As mentioned in the previous chapter, this is a danger area.

To repeat, be very careful about offering advice to your grown children. As important as this is when they have left home, it is absolutely essential when they have children of their own. Unsolicited advice is seldom received with gratitude; it is more likely to be seen as criticism. And I speak as one who has experienced both sides of the fence, so to speak. I have received advice, both solicited and unsolicited, and I have offered advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Unless it is offered in the right way, unsolicited advice is often seen as criticism.

So, what is the grandparent’s role?

We will discuss this in the next section.

Mindful Parenting

Rocky Beach

So far, we have discussed becoming a parent and some the challenges that this entails. We have deliberately ignored the daily experience of parenting in favour of some of the more controversial aspects. This is deliberate. There are plenty of books about parenting. However, if you really want a word of advice, in one or two sentences, it has to be:-

Love and respect your children and treat then as you want them to treat you. After all, one day, you might need their support!

Before we move on to becoming grandparents, let’s look at how mindfulness can help us as parents.

Mindful Meditation – As a Parent

Before discussing mindful parenting, we want to clarify something. This series is about grandparents parenting their grandchildren under Special Guardianship arrangements. So why have we spent so long talking about parenting?

It should not need to be said, but there is a huge difference between being a parent and being a grandparent. As a grandparent, you usually have the opportunity to “borrow” your grandchildren, have lots of fun, and then give them back after a few hours or days. When you give them back, they are likely to be exhausted, as will you be, or they will be hyper-excited. Either way, you can now relax until the next time. As parents, you do not have that option. The children are yours, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks per year for at least eighteen years.

But the difference is more than just in the access. There are massive cultural differences caused by modernizing policies and procedures. We have already spoken about the changes made in the way we think about discipline. Also, your son and daughter-in-law come from different backgrounds. They will have their own view on what counts as good parenting, regardless of the way they were raised. And you may not fully agree with their ideas. I hope that this review is helping you to think about your views and beliefs as parents.

Now, how does mindful meditation help as a parent?

Mindful Parenting

Mindfulness comes in many guises, as does meditation. My personal view of this is that meditation is deep thinking on a specific topic, during which we review past decisions and their consequences, followed by analysing the potential outcomes of various scenarios as we apply the lessons learned. I do not subscribe to the idea of emptying the mind. The human mind was designed with a thirst for knowledge. Trying to empty our minds denies us that right. It can also encourage us to think unhealthy thoughts. The best meditation involves healthy thoughts and is positive. I appreciate that there will be those who take issue with this view, but if they truly practice mindful meditation according to their own views, they will accept this concept without judgement, rather than taking issue with it.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, involves what is described as “being fully present in the moment.” Personally, I find that definition fairly nebulous. What do we mean by “being fully present in the moment?”

Imagine that you are looking at a painting of a meadow with poppies. Artists know that, as complimentary colours, red and green are ideal for drawing the eye. Therefore, they may use a row of poppies in a particular pattern to draw our eyes to some feature in the distance. For now, however, let’s imagine that the painting only involves a green field and a few poppies. Standing in front of the painting we have a choice. We can see “the whole picture,” for example. We look at it and think, “That would look nice in my lounge.” Or we could focus on details; we take note of the poppies because they stand out against the green background.

Yet, what if you were an art collector? You would want to ensure that you are buying an authentic painting. Therefore, you might look beyond the patterns formed by the paint. You may want to analyse the brush strokes which defined the master artist. You may know that the artist always laid down the paint according to a certain format. Now you are being mindful of more than just the overall picture.

As a parent, you need such mindfulness. You need “eyes in the back of your head,” as the saying goes. When your child is playing in the garden, you want to know that they are safe. So you look at the overall picture and see that they are playing happily. But you may also want to look at the details. If they are having fun with the secateurs, then you are likely to choose to take more notice!

So what does mindful meditation do for a parent?

As a parent, we will come across all manner of situations that test our ability to cope. Children can appear to be very frustrating, at times. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, are they really setting out to frustrate us? I once heard of an eighteen-month-old boy being described as “knowing how to push his father’s buttons.” Really? Are we saying that this child who was barely able to think could plot his way into aggravating his father? Is it not more accurate to say that the father allowed himself to be aggravated by the son’s actions?

This is an important concept. It highlights the matter of choice. We choose all of our actions. No one forces us to behave in a certain manner. It is our choice.

Making Choices

For example, imagine that your six-year-old daughter is helping with drying the dishes after dinner. She drops a plate and it smashes. Whose fault is that? It would be easy to scream and shout that she should have been more careful. Yet we know that six-year-olds are clumsy. Let’s look at some of the choices involved here.

We chose to allow, or even ask her to help. We chose to allow her to try to dry the plate, despite it being breakable. We also choose how to respond; whether to shout, or to comfort. It’s our choice. But our daughter does not force us to make that choice.

Whether we become angry or not is a matter of choice. Mindfulness will make us aware of the details, which include our feelings and emotions. Knowing that our breathing is increasing in speed, and that our muscles are tensing, and that we are frowning will alert us to the developing anger; and we will be able to choose accordingly.

Keeping Calm

Mindfulness also helps us to deal with what is going on around us. We have to remember that the angry exchange that we had at work may be affecting how we treat our children. The size of the utility bill may affect our tolerance levels. A disappointment, or a bereavement, or any other life event may affect how we respond to our child’s behaviour.

Remember, too, that our children assimilate our feelings, even if we do not make them obvious. They will reflect those feelings, no matter how hard we try to hide them. This is no excuse for giving up. It means that we have to be careful of the choices we make. Do we accept that we used the electricity and, therefore, the bill is larger than normal? If we do, then we will not allow it to affect our relationship with our children.

Mindful Treatment of Children

Therefore, mindful meditation is a valuable tool when raising young children. We need to be comfortable in our lives and mindful meditation will help us to achieve that. We can become content so that our children absorb our inner peace and reflect it back to us. Thi
s will also lead to reduced stress levels in both children and parents.

Let’s go back to our six-year-old daughter breaking a plate. Mindful meditation would have led us to think of this as a potential consequence from allowing her to help. It will also lead us to consider appropriate responses.

What about teenage children? They will be developing their own thought patterns and will want some level of independence. If we have developed mindful meditation it is likely that our children will also have developed this approach and they are more likely to act in a way that we approve of. Yet even if they do not follow our ways, our mindfulness will let us accept that with equanimity and we will be more able to reason with our teenagers, rather than yelling at them.

And when our children are grown, perhaps with their own families, we will be more able to accept their choices, even if we do not approve of them.

All of this leads us on to our next subject – becoming grandparents. As we develop this subject we will keep coming back to the need for mindfulness. Being able to meet the challenges with equanimity will help us to keep the peace. Hopefully, this review of the challenges of parenting will help grandparents to meditate mindfully on the differences between their parenting style and that of their children, because an appreciation of these differences will help us to make wise decisions as we meet the challenges that we will discuss in the rest of this book.

Grandpa’s Way–A Parent’s Dilemma

Shadows

The previous article in this series looked at keeping the peace with your children when they leave home. This can be particularly difficult when problems arise in their marriage. As a parent, however, it is your responsibility to keep the peace whilst granting your children the dignity of dealing with their own issues. Let’s look at this, next.

Choosing a Partner

When your children leave home, it will often be to get married. And that means choosing a partner, hopefully, for life. Here’s another dose of reality. Your child’s partner will seldom be good enough for your child. At least, that is how many parents will see it. However, your child is not asking you to live with this person. (This assumes that they are not going to share your home, of course.) All your child is asking is for you to accept and respect their use of the judgement skills that you taught them. (This assumes that they used the judgement skills you taught them!)

Even so, it does not mean turning a blind eye to your children’s mistakes. If you have serious concerns about a prospective partner, you should raise these concerns. How many abused women could have been saved a lot of harm if their parents had spoken up. It does not mean that your child will listen to you. But if you have raised your concerns, at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried your best to protect your child.

One word of caution, though: If your daughter goes ahead and marries “the obnoxious moron,” despite your best advice, don’t say, “I told you so,” when she comes home battered and bruised. That’s not what she wants at that time. Her pride and the thought that you might react self-righteously may be the reason why it has taken her so long to come and tell you. Right now, she will need comfort and support. And, if she subsequently decides to go back to the abuser, at least you will have strengthened your relationship with your daughter and you will be able to be supportive during future incidents. We will look at the matter of abusive partners, later.

Raising concerns may even involve suggesting that the prospective partner have specific blood tests. Some countries have prescribed tests that are legal requirements in order to try to avoid mismatched blood types causing unnecessary harm to babies. This may seem like a good idea, but, realistically, the test is only mandatory if you are planning to get married. If you intend to live with each other, the test doesn’t become an issue, which makes a mockery of the concept, regardless of the fine intentions.

However, let’s say that you discover that the love of your son’s life use to do drugs, possibly including injecting various substances. Or maybe your daughter’s latest flame had a reputation for sleeping with anyone and everyone. Might you want to suggest an AIDS test? Would that not be an appropriate level of concern? After all, your child could be putting his or her life at risk. Also, what would be the risk to any future grandchildren? Maybe it’s something to consider.

A Parent’s Dilemma

This leads to a serious question. Let’s look at a serious situation that creates an emotional dilemma for parents.

Suppose you discover that your son-in-law is abusing your daughter. What can you do? How far do you intrude into their lives?

I cannot tell you what to do. What I can say is that you still need to be careful. Your child’s pride is involved and so is their dignity. Grant them as much dignity as you would want them to grant you, even in the circumstances. Your daughter is being hurt; she is going to need your support. Let’s look at some questions that you can ask yourself to help you to mindfully consider your options.

Before proceeding, I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I am not, in any way, suggesting that any abused woman is lying, or that she is “asking for it,” as some have suggested. If ever someone alleges that they are being abused, the allegation must be taken seriously and it must be investigated. Here, I want to consider all possibilities. As we all know, whilst there is only one truth, our perspective can give us a warped sense of reality. We do not want that perspective to lead us into errors of judgement.

Both Sides of the Story

You see bruises on your daughter’s arms and you ask her how they happened. She becomes defensive and you suspect that your son-in-law is harming her. What can you do? Let’s look at the possibilities and how you might be able to get a more complete view of the situation.

The most obvious alternative explanation, of course, is that your daughter had an accident of some sort. You may be surprised that she didn’t mention it, but accidents are, by nature, embarrassing. So for your daughter to fail to mention it is not unusual.

Is it possible that your daughter is self-harming? This has to be considered. There may be other signs, such as cuts or scars. Maybe she has cut her beloved hair into a self-deprecating style. Or maybe she is not taking care of her hygiene as well as she used to. The style and colour of her clothes may have become dowdy and dishevelled. She will need help and you can and should be there for her. It may be that your son-in-law is at a loss as to how to deal with your daughter’s issues, and he may need your support, too. Intrusive questioning is only going to alienate your daughter and son-in-law.

Is this an illness? Bruising can be a symptom of serious illnesses. Maybe your daughter is embarrassed to talk about it. Maybe she has been diagnosed and she doesn’t want you to know, yet. Maybe your son-in-law is struggling to deal with the possibility of losing his young wife. Again, they will need your support.

Finally, there is the possibility that your son-in-law is abusing your daughter. If this is the case, then there may be other signs. Maybe you have noticed a tendency to violent words or actions. Maybe his behaviour or attitude has always been a cause for concern. Maybe their children always seem to be grizzly. The possibilities are endless. However, bear in mind that your daughter may, for reasons best known to herself, be willing to live with this situation and not want you to get involved. After all, have you not heard of abused women leaving their abusive husbands, only to go back to them at some later point in time? And you ask yourself, “How can they keep going back, over and over again?” This is their decision, and you do not want to alienate your daughter by adding to her worries.

Remember, this does not in any way condone or excuse abusive marriage mates. These people must be stopped. But the feelings of the abused person must be considered. Your daughter’s dignity must be respected, and that will mean allowing her to make any final decisions about any action to be taken.

Raising Your Concerns

This does not mean that you must ignore the issue, but that you need be gentle in your enquiries. Comment, by all means, but in a non-accusatory manner. You may want to mention the bruises, demonstrating that you have seen them and showing that you are concerned for her welfare. You may want to ask if she is okay. But do not suggest that you suspect anything untoward. That can lead to allegations of slander.

If your daughter is reluctant to talk about it, don’t force her. At least you have demonstrated your concern, and this will make it easier for her to confide in you in the future. If she finally decides that she wants to talk about it, she will know that you are there for her.

Should you call the police? If necessary. Yet, what are you going to tell them? Do you have conclusive evidence? Or is this, in police terms, a domestic matter? Of course, if you were to observe your son-in-law hitting your daughter, you may want to find a peaceful way to defend her. Peaceful? Yes. After all, the last thing she needs, right now, is for you to be prosecuted for assaulting her husband. If anything, that could actually cause a rift between you and your daughter. Still, if you are unable to stop him harming her, then threatening to call the police, or actually calling them, may be what is needed to bring him to his senses.

Once again, though, be sure that you really are helping. Have you ever noted that when two children quarrel, and their parents get involved, the children are back on good terms with each other within hours, or even minutes; the rift between the parents takes weeks to resolve. Getting too involved in your daughter’s marriage situation too early could result in driving your daughter and son-in-law closer together, even in an abusive relationship, while they join in turning on you for what they see as interfering. It’s the, “I’m a big girl, now, and I can sort out my own problems,” mentality. She has her pride and she is entitled to it. If you have warned her of your concerns, then you have done your best, and she is big enough to choose her own consequences, as sad as they may be.

This may not be an ideal situation; but you may have to learn to live with it for the time being. Mindfulness can help you to come to terms with your own feelings in this regard.

Keeping the Peace

The important thing to remember is that your child’s interests are best served by your keeping the peace between you and your child, and, potentially, between you and your child’s mate. You have to be the stabilising influence. Although you may have strong feelings about how your child is being treated, remember that your child has made his or her own decisions and is old enough to deal with the consequences.

This may sound harsh. However, you will see why this stance is essential when we come on to the subject of protecting your grandchildren. Remember, this series is not, primarily, about caring for your children; it is about caring for your grandchildren when your children fail to do so. That means you may have to make some very hard decisions. Getting the relationship right when your child leaves home, and before your child leaves home, will help you to deal with this very difficult dilemma in a calm, peaceful manner; which will help your grandchildren to cope, should the need ever arise.

Before we move on to your grandchildren, though, let’s look at how mindful meditation can help you to deal with your own children and the issues that their actions might raise. This will be the subject of the next article.

Silent Sentinels

Brecon Tree

Standing proudly,
Watching o’er the weathered landscape,
Silent sentinel
Waving in the breeze,
Monitoring shifting winds;
Observing ragged mountain tops.

Calm descends,
Like gentle waters softly flowing
Over polished rocks
In upland streams,
Washing cares and worries
Down cascading waterfalls.

Clouds come, clouds go;
Blue skies, white skies, some of reddish hue;
Changing by the moment;
Suspended oceans float on by,
Altering landscapes
With subtle, moody shadows.

Coruscating light
Paints sparkling veils
On moorland landscapes;
Gently folding thoughts and feelings
Into origami animals
To be tamed and nurtured.

Gorse bushes
With their thousand yellow eyes
Twinkling in the darkness,
Warning frightened children
To stay away from heath and heather
While clinging to Daddy’s hand.

Silent sentinels, all;
Guiding ways to safe environs;
Leading gently homeward;
Watching o’er the land;
Protecting weary souls
From themselves.

And here we are,
Silent sentinels
Holding on to love’s bright flame;
Which guides our way through cares and darkness;
Shields our love from harm and worry;
Standing brave, despite our fears.

Troubles come, troubles go;
Blue skies, white skies, some of reddish hue;
Changing by the moment;
Suspended worries float on by,
Altering our landscapes
With subtle, moody terrors.

Silent sentinels
Protecting names and faces
Of family and friends;
Though wrong motives be imputed
By those who do not know,
Or do not really care.

Silent sentinels
Accepting life as is,
With all its ups and downs;
Maintaining dignity, keeping integrity;
Despite the winds of change
Passing swiftly through our lives.

Yes, here we stand;
No wrangling; no complaining;
No seeking of sympathy
From those who do not really care;
Silent sentinels,
Bonded by love.


This is a tribute to all those couples who maintain their dignity and integrity in the face of sometimes cruel slander; who protect their family’s and friends’ reputations, despite the cost to themselves. Faced with what many would view as impossible positions, they find, buy, or even create seemingly impossible solutions. And still, through all of this, they know that someone, somewhere, is casting doubt on their integrity, trying to rob them of their dignity; qualities that allow them to face the realities of life with quiet fortitude and magnanimity.

They deserve our support.