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Tuesday
Oct132009

Your Chance To Be Ann Landers

It occurred to me many years ago that my calling in life would be to offer advice. People seem to ask me or it quite often when they're not asking me for spare change. Sometimes the advice or opinion people are looking for is easy enough to find. "No, those pants actually DO make you look chunky." or  "You and onions do not get along. Rather, you and onions and speaking directly to my face do not get along." See? I'm a natural! To wit, a friend of mine posed a question to me on Facebook which I answered thusly:

Breathalizers in school, for or against? Just wondering what an educators perspective is. If yes, how should it be handled? Interested in your opinion...
Against.

Here's why: not every problem in society is for schools to fix. Every agency that's now within schools is there in order to work on things that our communities have and schools have enough on their plates. 

So, if they installed them what would we do with the kids who tested positive? Do we inflict some sort of punishment? Are kids kicked out for that (suspended? expelled?) and then how we ensure that students get that work made up in order to earn grades and then credits? 

That's just a sampling of my answer to her. As far as education goes, I'm never without opinions.

The fact that I've written about reuniting with my daughter has netted me lots of comments and e-mails and responses. Two weeks ago I got this comment on an older post of mine that actually threw me for a loop:
Not sure you are still maintaining this blog…but was looking for this topic…I am trying to reconnect with my son who I gave up for adoption at birth but his father obtained custody after, when he was 15mos. old. I was notified by mail and living in another state by that time. His father and I’s relationship was totally deteriorated and after about a year and half, I no longer knew where they were living. Dad got married and his wife has always been “mom” to my son. Three yrs ago, I recieved paperwork from the courts and talked to “mom” about communicating. She agreed I could send letters addressed to her and she would read them with him & discuss. He was 13 at that time. I began writing every month and after four months, she wrote me an email to say I was totally out of line and it was way too much for him to handle emotionally. I needed to back off and give him time to let it sink in. I found out this year that was a lie and she never gave him any of the letters. Now my son lives alone with his father. Mom left the household about three years ago and lives in another state. Dad now needs financial help so he filed for child support this year. I now pay support and have began trying to communicate with my son through text messaging since late August. He has admitted he is not excited about talking to me and barely responds to my messages, other times he does not respond at all. It is crushing me as I am not sure exactly what he is being told or how he really feels. Which he may not share anyway, since he is a 16 year old boy. I have decided to go to try meet him next month and attend a few of his soccer games. Even if he will not talk to me, I will go and watch him play and try to let him know I do want to be here for him now. I can’t make up for all the lost time, but I need some ideas on how to reach out, connect, show him that I truly care and love him. I sent him a letter recently, telling him all of these things and how sorry I am, and his response to my letter was, “it was what I expected.” Now it may be that mom is advising him against me or it may be that he is very angry with me…but any thoughts or advice would be most appreciated..!!

Initially, I responded to her via e-mail and asked that she give me some time to respond. I don't feel qualified to do so and that's not usual for me. Readers. Dear, sweet readers. I cannot come up with any advice. Do you have any to offer? Please be kind in your responses. She's obviously hurting and wants some guidance.
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Reader Comments (12)

We're just going through a reunion now in my family. My advice? Get a reunion professional (yes, there is such a thing). A trained therapist who has done this many times and understands both what is developmentally appropriate for kids and what is natural for the process of building a relationship.

I know there are several great ones out there, and they will help make the process more gentle and loving for everyone.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSBarnacle

She should nix the text messages and go visit her son in person. A face to face meeting might help him to really listen to what she has to say ...and they can build from there.

Mocha, I've always wondered....what was your daughters' reaction when she discovered she had a "mocha" momma?

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Sandy - She was, at the very least, surprised. She had seen my picture and thought, "Nah. No way that could be my birth mom." And then she went straight to her brother (also adopted and mixed) and told him just because she knew he wouldn't believe it either.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lylah M. Alphonse. Lylah M. Alphonse said: RT @mochamomma Looking for some advice: http://bit.ly/11zgPY [...]

Wow, tough stuff. Extra challenging because the brooding teen years are probably the hardest age ever to communicate... I think she should try to be a calm and supportive presence -- have a sit down or communicate by letter that she also feels confused and uncertain but ultimately she just wants to be supportive and help if he needs it and that she is there for him. I also think a therapist is a good idea (I'm very pro therapy) but he may not be ready at this juncture.

I think in general she needs to give him a sense of control -- he's probably felt very out of control of his family situation for a long time and right now he needs to feel that he can make some choices. It will be hard to wait, but if she can show him unconditional love and support and that she's still there, even if he puts up walls, he'll probably then start to trust.

-Christine

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBoston Mamas

Wow, what Christine said. Exactly.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

I have a lot of thoughts but I'm also not feeling qualified to give advice. The boy doesn't seem ready for this--based on what she's telling us. Maybe she should contact a reunion professional for advice--not with the intention of planning a reunion right away, but to learn how to lay the groundwork for a successful reunion. It may be that she'll have to wait until her son is ready.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg Evans

And while I took 20 minutes to compose my comment, Boston Mamas said it all so much better! Ditto!

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg Evans

I knew if I asked the interwebs they would have some great answers. Thanks to those of you who emailed even more information about reunion therapists.

You people rock my world so much.

October 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMocha

First, I think your response to the breathalizers in school was PERFECT. Seriously.

Second, what a touch question from your commenter! I feel very unqualified to answer her questions at all. Except, I don't think the text messaging is appropriate. I think she needs to speak to him. Let him hear her voice.

October 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNel

I think she has let the boy know her feelings and now the ball is in his court. He already doesn't seem keen on getting to know her right now and I think showing up at the soccer games uninvited is stepping over the line. Even if she can justify it to herself, it will likely only push the wedge between them further. 16 year olds are hard to connect with anyway even without alienation. Let him grow up and come to you when and if he becomes so inclined. People grow a lot after 16.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSra

When he's ready, a face-to-face with a trained facilitator/therapist/adoption social worker would be a good entre. Nix the texts, they're too much and too intrusive. Go for paper letters--not email--once, maybe twice, a year. Simple, upbeat updates on her daily life as it is now, and certainly not guilt-ridden apologies or soliliquies on all the things she missed in his life and all the things she hopes to be a part of now and in the future. In time, frequency may increase as their relationship develops. Or it may not.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMommela

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