Last week I had the worst family meeting I have ever had with a family. I reluctantly went back over to my client's (a thirteen year old girl) moms' house where she spends only a few court appointed hours with her a week. I went over in hopes that our second meeting would be better than our first, and I was wrong. I did everything I could to re-direct the mom when she went off again and started bringing up awful stories from the past, how awful her lawyers were, the judge lies, I was against them, everything she could do to blame everyone else for all of her problems and do absolutely nothing on her part to try and help the situation they were in. My biggest problem with all of this, despite the fact the mom didn't listen, despite the fact that her adult brother joined the yelling fit and spewed hateful things all around the room, even despite the fact that it was so uncomfortable I considered sneaking out the sliding glass door that was right behind me without saying a word to them.... my biggest problem with all of this was that the thirteen year old girl sat silently beside me during all of this. I kept trying to bring that to their attention; what you are saying is not appropriate to say when she is in the room!! But she didn't care. The mom was the most inappropriate, ignorant, irresponsible mom I have ever met with and clearly the irresponsible behavior runs in the family. The mom did not care that not only had this girl been through hell by some of the true stories she just yelled about, but now, this mom is keeping her in hell by her continued idiotic actions. By the end of the meeting I miraculously managed to wrap things up somewhat positively and the mom even said 'have a nice night' as I left, which was the total opposite of her 'I don't care what the judge thinks, and I don't care what you think!' rant a few minutes earlier.
Cut to yesterday I get to meet with my client again thankfully this time we have an individual meeting and her mom is a good few miles away from us. This meeting I tried to de-brief her about that last meeting and make sure she understood the original point of our meeting. She said she felt embarrassed by what her mom and uncle had said and she felt herself getting red sploches on her arms and chest because that's what happens when she gets uncomfortable. A while later I asked her what a healthy relationship is and she said it's one where you argue just a little bit but mostly get along. She then went on to say she thinks people should 'feel whole' before they get in to a relationship because what if that person leaves and then you are less whole? That didn't make sense to her. This girl is having to learn what a healthy relationship is but what she DOESN'T see. She has to imagine what a good relationship is and she has to guess how she thinks she should be treated. She also went on to say that she feels like her parents are racist and that makes her uncomfortable and she doesn't want to be racist. I explained to her that the cool thing about that was that she didn't have to be racist.. she didn't have to think everything her parents thought and that made her smile. This is the first time in her life where she is feeling more comfortable forming her own thoughts regardless of what people say around her and I think that's great. This is a case where I don't think I will ever help her parents, but I think she has stepped up and started to make better decisions for herself and in turn she is open to changing for the better. She is still hopeful and that makes me hopeful for her.
What a difference a week can make!