Dear Judge – you may notice I’m dispensing with “Your Honor”:

And it’s really no reflection on you, I’m just not in the mood today for pleasantries or formalities.  The County Family Court system is really the issue here.

Now, I do understand that the Court may seldom deal with kids who have mental issues – although, given the statistics of our prison population, I really doubt it.  The problem is that the Court seldom recognizes these issues.  Yes, we all know the Court is not made up of doctors, but of lawyers; social workers, however, should know better.  Unfortunately, with their collective liberal leanings, they are most concerned with blaming parenting skills for the issues of the children.

Probably most of the kids who come through family court have problems at home.  Or, novel concept, they ARE the problem.  These are the exceptions, perhaps, but many of the kids who HAVE problems are also dealing with mental issues that continue to go unrecognized.

Take my son, for example.  We had behavior problems with him – police involvement, violence, aggression, verbal abuse – on HIS part, not ours.  They seemed to become very, very bad very quickly.  Children’s Division said it MUST be us.  They did very little, except paperwork and procedure – by the way, WHO comes up with this stuff??  Sheesh.

So we dealt with it.  Our way worked, mostly.  I tried and tried to get help for my son, but everywhere we turned we were told “there’s nothing wrong with him”.

Ha.  Turns out he not only has been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, but with Bipolar.  Do you know anything about these?  Hallmarks of CD are lying, aggression, truancy, stealing, destruction of property, etc.  Signs and symptoms of Bipolar include manic episodes, depression, aggression, and so forth – at different times, different days, at any time or day. 

How can your court psychologists NOT recognize these things?  Again, we were told there was “nothing” wrong with my son.  Instead, we were told that we needed to treat him differently and let him CHOOSE his own rules – in fact, we agreed on a list of rules and behaviors, and the court wanted us to have him sign a contract.  What??  Seriously, as you well know, no contract in enforceable with a minor.  Who came up with that ridiculous idea?  Someone without kids, no doubt.

Here’s the thing: it was supposedly OUR fault.  Our son’s mental illness could, according to the court therapists, psychologists, and social workers, be cured simply by our allowing him to choose his own bedtime, or allow him to stay up all night on the computer or phone; it could be cured if only we didn’t react to his violence and let him do whatever the heck he wanted.  Wow.  They should market this concept.

Of course, it didn’t work.  In the meantime, our son accused us of abuse.  You saw through that, I think, and the whole thing was pretty much pushed to the side.  But WE had to live with DFS crawling through our lives for EIGHT months – because a kid with a mental illness, two in fact, lied.  None of that was addressed.  Come to think of it, the caseworkers kept insisting that *I* get a psych evaluation.  Naturally, it MUST be my fault, right?  Because my son said so.

Have you ever had your life so invaded for such a ridiculous reason?  Of course not.  Who would dare accuse a judge of abuse?  What court worker would believe a kid over a judge?  But we normal, everyday parents get screwed by the system.  Repeatedly.

All I asked yesterday was that you keep my son until I could make arrangements for his inpatient treatment.  Might have been over the weekend, tops.  Instead, you sent him home, once again, with an admonition to “behave”.  HE CANNOT.  HE NEEDS HELP.

Oh – and did you know that, not knowing where our son has been for several weeks, we have kept the house locked and bolted 24/7 because we don’t know what he’ll do?  He broke in at least once.  He told us he hoped we’d die.  And you sent him home.

While I understand that detention is for kids who commit offenses, my son is a walking, talking time bomb.  He has been in and out of your courtroom for a couple years now, and I’m telling you straight out: if you don’t help these kids, like my son, who will?  They will KEEP coming back, and end up in prison, or worse.  Because the Court continues to ignore mental illness and blame the parents.

Between us, we’ve raised five kids.  They all, with this one exception, managed to follow the rules, stay within the law, and do the right thing.  Tell me, please, how can a social worker possibly blame our parenting?  What, with just ONE kid we changed the rules?  We beat him six ways to Sunday?  Just one?  Really?  Does he look abused or neglected?  Is he not twice my size?

I understand you were “not happy” that I “threw his medicine into the yard”.  Let me tell you what really happened, Judge, because I saw the report – did you know that information came from my son, who lies about EVERYTHING?  He was becoming more and more aggressive, and based on his history I was afraid.  He said he’d leave if I’d give him the medicine bottle, and as things escalated, I opened the door and tossed the bottle onto a lighted patio, not 4 feet from the door.  My only thought was to get him outside before he did something.

Have you ever been afraid of someone?  In your own home?  Wasn’t this a better choice than letting him hit us or having to call the police yet again?  What would you have done?

You and your court can fault all parents as much as you want.  You are the judge.  We have to do what you say, we have to follow the rules.  But our kids don’t.  Oh no, they can violate your orders, do nothing you tell them, or nothing we tell them, and there are no consequences except parental blame. 

And no help either.


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