- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

For the past two years, my son’s school has done nothing but complain about his behavior. Every day I get phone calls saying he is hitting other students or being verbally abusive and aggressive toward his teachers and other students.

It makes me angry because they never consider what my son is going through. Maybe the teachers and other students are the cause of the problems. It can’t only be my son; they have some fault, too. No, the teachers say, he is an underachiever and in danger of repeating his grade.

After several meetings, the teachers, counselors and others think my son should be tested, and they keep saying he needs medication. I don’t think this is fair or culturally sensitive. Do you know anything about how to proceed with this issue? Should I try to appeal this decision?

- Mad About Education

Dear Mad,

You should comply with the recommendations and have educational testing completed. It will be to your son’s advantage.

It sounds as if your son needs some interventions immediately. You report he is hitting, being aggressive and is in danger of repeating his grade. It sounds pretty serious to me.

I’m not sure what you mean about the school team not being culturally sensitive. Are you saying it’s in your culture for your son to behave that way?

I’m not a medical doctor, so I won’t advise you on medications. However, you owe it to your son to make sure you understand all his options so that he can be successful in school. He needs to see his parents and teachers working as a team for his good. He could need special accommodations to help him be successful.

Educational testing is not a way of “labeling” children. I can’t speak for your son, but I’m sure this has been difficult for him, too. He constantly hears he is a distraction, and I’m sure his classmates don’t socialize with him because of his behavior. Being told that he may have to repeat his grade hasn’t helped his self-esteem.

Again, you definitely should work with the school team. It will only be to your son’s advantage. Let his counselor know you want to schedule a meeting to discuss any inequities you’ve noticed. I wish your son academic success.

Keep in touch.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have a big problem. My brother married a woman just a few days before he went to Afghanistan. He didn’t even know this girl. We all wondered whether he had lost his mind or something.

Well, this girl has destroyed our family. My mother is so heartbroken because she would do anything for her children. She raised my brother into the fine young man he is. This woman is so jealous of our relationship with him.

He believes everything she says. This girl is a drunk. She’s crazy. She calls him all the time, telling him lies about us. We don’t tell him anything because he’s over there fighting for our country. She doesn’t love him. All she wants is his money. She has yelled “divorce” so many times. She has cheated on him while he’s over there. She has him not even wanting to call us.

He is loved by so many people, and we pray for his safe return. I know the devil has put her in his life to destroy him. She calls us cussing us out all the time. My parents are getting old, and it’s like she’s trying to kill them.

Now, when he comes home for two weeks he doesn’t even want us to be there. What can we do? We love him and want to see him when he comes home. How can we, with the devil there?

- Help My Mom From Alabama

Dear Alabama,

I hear this story often. I’m afraid there is not much you can do but continue to support your brother while he fights for his life and his country. We often are forced to try to make amends with people who do not have the best interests of our loved ones.

My advice is don’t get into arguments with your brother’s wife; just stay out of it. If she is a drunk, a liar, a cheat and mentally unstable, your brother will have to see this for himself. If you stay neutral, he is apt to see it sooner rather than later. If you talk against her, this may make him want to protect her even more.

I know this is tough because you love your family. I understand you only want the best for your brother. Keep praying for him. At this point, you have to respect his decision. If you don’t, she will have enough power to keep him away from you and the family when he returns from Afghanistan, and I know you don’t want that to happen. I hope this helps.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

How do you handle rumors? I’m not sure whether there is any way to. My dilemma began when my co-workers started a rumor about me. They told my boss I was stealing from the office, taking computer accessories, pens, paper and toilet paper and making illegal copies. I was fired because of this.

I was confronted by my supervisor and the human resources manger. I did not have the opportunity to offer a rebuttal and was not allowed to provide an explanation. I was just fired. What’s so bad about it is I was fired just before my probationary period expired. The labor board told me you can be fired without cause while still in your probationary period.

The rumors were absolutely not true. I’m not sure whether these people were threatened by me, or jealous or what. I can’t believe they chose me to slander. Do you think I should confront them? I’m pretty sure I know who started this lie. I just feel I can’t get over this until I confront the ones who did this to me.

- Fired Because of a Lie

Dear Fired,

It’s hard to move on when we know we have been treated unfairly. I regret that this rumor resulted in your being fired. Let me say that I know firsthand about rumors and their effects. They can be devastating to individuals and families.

It sounds like you did your homework in contacting the labor board, and that you know there’s nothing it can do to assist you.

Regarding confronting those who started the rumor: My experience tells me that if you confront them, they will only deny starting the rumor. People just don’t own up to indiscretions so quickly.

You have to ask yourself, if you do confront them and they say, “Yes I told the supervisor you were a thief,” then what would you do? Furthermore, confronting them may provoke you and you could react inappropriately out of anger. I don’t think confronting your co-workers will help.

My advice is to move on and let it go. I’m sure the old adage “What goes around, comes around” will come true in this situation.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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