Lisa "Lou" Welch Dear Lou,
I am the oldest son of four siblings, and I am the only child my mother had with my father, who passed in 2003. I have a brother eight years younger, also the only child between his father and my mother. My younger brother and sister are from the same father; "Don" (for sake of ease) has never been married to my mother. I moved in with my mom, "Don" and Brother No. 1 when I was 11, after living with my great-grandmother nearly all my life. Soon thereafter, I found that Don was a violent alcoholic whose specialty is physical and mental abuse of women and children, with the innocent exception of his own children, and even then, maybe not as physical, but verbal abuse. I lived in this household for nine years and was punched, kicked, ridiculed, bloodied, embarrassed and when I was of working age, taken advantage of. My brother endured much of the same, if not worse. The most damaging of all was witnessing our mother go through it as well. Finally, she made him leave. This all culminated with my mother suffering a broken arm at the hands of Don, and fearing for her life after Don told his mother he was "on his way to kill her" (my mother). Thankfully, the police intercepted him a few blocks away and had to use brutal force to restrain him.
Let's flash forward to now ... Don was recently released from being incarcerated (unrelated) and my mom [after being] relatively free of him for nearly five years ... has accepted him back. He still drinks, and informed my brother "that he could really hurt someone if they messed with him." I have been cordial to my mother about this, have warned her, and have viewed it from every angle possible.
Here's my problem. I have three of my own children. My mother is offended because I refuse to allow my children in his presence. I would not spend holidays with him present. I invited everyone except him to my house for dinner and gift exchange the day after Christmas. Everyone showed up but him and my mother. I am not trying to punish him, I am just putting my kids first, as should have been done with us in the first place. Am I the bad guy in this? My family is making me feel like it and the only one who agrees with me is my wife, as she is horrified at the thought of his temper. What gives him the right to be a part of my family, when he and my mother were never married?
Dear Strong, Brave, Smart, Protective Dad,
I know it doesn't mean much coming from me, but I want you to hear someone say it. I, for one, am sorry. I'm sorry that you were wounded so often and so deeply as a child, and that the one who was supposed to protect you let you down.
But now to your question. Don has a criminal past, he's an active alcoholic, he beats women and children ... oh, and he's taking no steps to change his behavior. No WAY should he be around children unsupervised, obviously. As to what he'd pull at a large family gathering, I can't say. But if your judgment tells you even this is a dangerous situation, don't compromise. It is your sacred duty to protect your children from people like this sack o' crap. Others may not understand or approve, and that is irrelevant. Stay the course. You're doing the right thing. Keep the information below handy as well, for your mother's sake. She, sadly, might need it someday.
The Julian Center