What should I do if I think my daughter is abusive to my teenage granddaughter?
My granddaughter (13 yrs) told me her mother kicked her in the stomach when she felt she had been a smart mouth. She also tells me her mother tells her she is fat and ugly. Now her Dad is also threatening to hit her when he gets mad at her. If I tell my daughter that my granddaughter tells me about this, I am afraid it will get worse and she'll hurt her even more. But my granddaughter could be exaggerating too. They live 2500 miles away so I don't see them but once a year on vacation. I'm afraid to call social services as my daughter flip out. What can I do?
I'm sure that this is a very tough situation for you as a grandmother. However, even though it is possible that your granddaughter is exaggerating, it is also possible that she isn't. If your daughter really is kicking or hitting her or if her dad is hurting her, it certainly is physical abuse. Of course it is also verbally abusive if her mother is calling her fat and ugly, but probably (sadly!) of less interest to social services.
Physical abuse like you are describing could be very, very dangerous. for example, your granddaughter's internal organ's could be damaged or worse! It is not your job do decide whether the abuse is really happening--that would be the job of social services. But it is definitely your job to report it--and you must do so. If you are afraid of or intimidated by your daughter 2500 miles away, think of how scary it must be for your granddaugther to be living with her.
Please do what you know in your gut is right for your granddaughter and make the call. You don't want to regret not doing it later!
Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert www.drsusanbartell.com
NEW book "The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask"
I agree with the responder who urged you to report this at once. I know how difficult this can be, since I reported my own sister (for physical and verbal abuse of her three children), though it was indirectly, through the kids' school. I had tried many times to talk to my sister, but to no avail. She would just get angry and either "justify" the abuse or tell me to mind my own business. When the school called, worried about her twins (a boy and girl) and their abnormal behavior, I realized I had to decide between my sister's friendship and the safety of my niece and nephews. I have never regretted reporting her, since there was intervention that helped, I feel. Kids MUST come first. Kudos to you for your concern and bravery!