There were times when I felt like I was in a canoe trying to escape a flood, and my biological sons, Patrick and Andrew, were in the canoe with me. But instead of helping me paddle, they were chopping holes in the bottom of the canoe. Eventually the canoe sank and we had to swim for our lives, but instead of swimming for themselves, and they are both excellent swimmers, they demanded to ride on my back, sinking me to drown.
Andrew is not a psychopath like his brother, he is not violent or dangerous, but he is addicted to video games and though he works hard, he spends every spare dime he has on video games and computers to play them, leaving no money for even minor unexpected expenses, like his car breaking down, or medical bills. He is irresponsible with his finances because of his addiction to the video games. Since he is also ADHD this is a fairly common addiction with people who are ADHD it is no surprise, but he is unwilling to change his spending on “toys” so is continually in poverty. When his wife and her lover, Patrick’s friend he had sent to take over our family, and to kill me, Andrew was left not only an emotional cripple, but financially broke as well. I let him move in with me to help him out. We had an agreement about his finances, he was to give me one-third of his take home as rent and room and board, much cheaper than he could have lived some where else, use one-third for his expenses and save one-third for an emergency back up so no matter what happened, a car break down, lose his job, whatever emergency came along he would be prepared.
Patrick, of course is a true violent psychopath and guilty of every crime I can think of, including murder. He is in prison where he belongs.
I have told myself through the years when I let my sons “ride in my canoe” and tried to help them become responsible individuals, to work, earn money, and save some for emergencies. They both got their first jobs around 9th grade and my rule was that they gave me 1/3 of it “for room and board” (actually I was saving it for them) and 1/3 to savings, and they could spend the other 1/3 any way they wished.
When they were 16 and wanted to drive, I had my stepfather teach them to drive. Daddy had taught drivers ed at a high school for many years, so they got a good education in safe driving. When they got their licenses I didn’t buy them a car, but I did make them pay the increased insurance premium that I had to pay because I had young drivers in the family. I was trying to teach them that there are COSTS to everything we want to do, and that we must work for and pay those costs.
I taught them how to manage a checking account, find the best interest returns for their savings, and modeled financial responsibility for them. I showed them how to save up money for something they wanted and not go into debt to buy something, but pay cash for it.
I, in short, tried to give my kids an education in life skills for managing money, working for what you want, and in homemaking skills as well. I taught them how to cook, clean the house, and expected them to participate in the family chores as long as they lived under my roof.
Unfortunately, I let them ride in my “canoe” for way too long,, even when they had repeatedly “sunk” the canoe. In short, I enabled them by allowing bad behavior and then pulling them out of the hot water they had gotten into.
When Patrick was arrested for his first adult felony, aggravated robbery, I refused to hire him an attorney (at great expense) because knew he was guilty and I thought that he would do a couple of years in prison and that would “straighten him out.” So during those two years, I sent daily letters, commissary money and arranged with the State of Texas to allow him to come home to live with us and go to college. He did not take advantage of this because he had NO intention of going straight, so he moved in with my husband’s crazy niece in Texas and convinced her that “his mommy didn’t understand him.” She rescued him from his “abusive mommy” and five months later a SWAT team descended on her house to retrieve the murder weapon. Patrick chopped a hole in her canoe in thanks for her taking him in.
Many families have irresponsible or violent members in their midst. Researchers believe that there is mental and/or physical abuse to one degree or another in 46% of marriages. Yet many of those marriage hang together even if the abuser/offender is in prison at least for a while.
There is also a statistic that if an offender gets more than two years in prison and is married when s/he goes to prison that only 2% are still married when they are released. Actually, to me that is an encouraging statistic. That means that 98% of the wo/men who are married to an offender who gets some “serious” jail time most leave the relationship with that offender.
But what about those who stay married to a felony offender? What makes them patch up their “canoe” and have it there for the offender when s/he is released? With the recidivism rate very high there is an excellent chance that the freed offender will “chop a hole in that canoe” within a short time, and there is an 80% chance that over the next 20 years the offender will be charged with and convicted of another felony.
I know why I held on to the “malignant hope” that my sons would change…I loved them unconditionally, and I held on to that hope that they would change if I supported them enough. It was only after I had my “canoe” repeatedly sunk that I finally realized that if I didn’t want to “drown” in the flood of my tears. I would have to stop letting them into my canoe. They have to learn to swim for themselves if they jump into the river of bad behavior. They are the ones who must get the consequences, not me. I cannot “help” someone who does not want “help” or to change their behavior.
Both of my biological sons have expressed “sorry” for what they have done, but especially in Patrick’s case I know it is a lie. All the while he was telling me how much he loved and appreciated me (what I wanted so bad to hear) he was writing to Hamilton, telling him how to manipulate me and my mother.
I finally woke up after many years and much heart ache. You can’t save someone who “chops holes in your canoe.” It is best to eliminate them from your life as quickly as possible. No matter how much you love a child (or anyone else) if they repeatedly violate agreements, commit criminal offenses, are abusive to anyone, engage in addictive behavior of any kind, not just drugs or alcohol, for your own sake and the sakes of any children in your family, you must eliminate the problem. 45% of the murders of women are committed by their spouse or significant other. That’s a lot of dead women (and a few men) who stayed with the abuser one day too many. Look at what Jodi Arias did to Travis.
Don’t stay until you become a headline, or your children become headlines. Whether you are male or female, you must protect yourself from these offenders and abusers, whether they are in prison or out and regardless of how much you love them or how much DNA you share.