Not For Amateurs

Filed under: Direct Answers |

Ten years ago I became friends with the mother of one of my son’s friends. We are both single mothers. Over the years we became good friends and told each other the good, the bad and the ugly. Until recently we shared a paper route for some extra money.

A few months ago she changed. Every conversation would start out fine but end with her screaming at me. I don’t let her have any opinions, I always put her and her kids down, etc. Her son and mine talk on speaker phone, so I hear everything at her house. She has been volatile with her two kids as well.

I became so tired of ending every conversation with one of us in tears I stopped calling. I suspected she was back with her abusive, violent ex, and possibly using again. I know at one point her kids were placed in foster care, he went to jail, she got clean, and the kids were returned.

This man has spent time in jail for kidnapping and torture, drugs, and gang-related charges. A few weeks ago, while our sons were talking, a man’s voice came in the background swearing and yelling at her son that “you have to respect me, you little bastard.” I could hear things being thrown.

I’ve had run-ins with him before and he knows I encouraged her not to be with him. I care about her and her kids and am scared for them. I am also so angry at her that she would put her family at risk.

Pushing me away probably was a way to cover him being back. My attempts to contact her family were ignored. Her mother left me a voicemail saying I do not need to concern myself.

Friends of mine know this family. They encouraged me to contact her social worker. They have already done so but were told since all the information is coming from me, I will have to call. I’ve already gotten the social worker’s number, but have not called.

Another option is contacting her father, a retired police officer who owns the home she lives in. He would not tolerate the ex living there. I do not have his number but can get it.

Should I call the social worker? Should I call the father? Should I confront her directly? Or do all three?

My conscience will not allow me to walk away when I know these people are in danger. I know these kids. They are so angry at their father. I don’t want to damage their lives anymore than has already been done, but I have to do something.


Nona, you can’t let this go because you think you have the power to make this situation what you want it to be. But you don’t have that power. In your head you see only rosy outcomes, but there is no certainty any outcome will be rosy.

If the children are taken away and put in foster care, will they thank you? No. If you confront this woman, will she thank you? No. Will her ex-husband thank you? No. He’s a violent man. The only thanks you might get from him will be late at night when he drops by your house to “thank you” in person.

Your conscience asks a nagging question. What will happen if I don’t intervene? Instead you should focus on what will happen if you do intervene. Don’t put yourself and your family at risk.

This woman has made her choices. If you think intervention won’t backfire on you and your son, tell her social worker, keep your son away from these people and let the rest go.

Your son can learn compassion, but first he needs to learn about danger, and you need to realize you can’t help someone who does not want your help. This situation requires professional intervention.

Wayne & Tamara

Wayne and Tamara

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Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

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