Dear Straight Talk: I have an incredibly bad relationship with my parents. Many tell me to call Child Protective Services, however, a friend taken from her drug-addicted mom says foster care was horrible and that I shouldn’t do it. Since sixth grade, my dad has threatened to hit me multiple times and even has followed through with it. My mom has hit me causing bruises and once or twice has grabbed my neck and shoved me against a wall screaming in my face. They say I won’t make it anywhere in life, they penalize me for my body size, for not getting perfect straight A’s, and not pursuing THEIR dream. My older brother, who received similar treatment for not being perfect, thinks I should stick it out as I only have two more years. (He’s 21, but cannot support me.) I need guidance. I’m honestly terrified living at home. — Scared Teen with Big Dreams
Katelyn, 18, Azusa, Calif.: Don’t suffer silently for “only” two more years. Talk to a counselor, church leader, or trusted authority figure ASAP. If you do call CPS, they won’t automatically put you into foster care. They might send your parents to mandatory classes or arrange living with a relative. Keep your head high through activities, passions, or groups that reward you. Yoga, journaling, positive thinking, inspirational music, and books will also help with a positive mind-set.
Brie, 22, San Francisco: You need to call CPS. This is absolutely unacceptable. Another option is to get part-time work and move in with a relative or friend.
Treyvon, 19, Yorba Linda, Calif.: Many parents don’t realize the difference between “encouragement” and repression. Call CPS immediately. They have more tools in their arsenal than just removing kids. No child should be beaten. If this was me, I'd also keep pepper spray on hand.
Molly, 21, Berkeley, Calif.: Document everything! Take pictures of bruises and injuries and try to record their threats. Calling CPS is a good step. They won’t remove you from your home unless they absolutely must. Reach out to a school counselor.
Dear Scared: Your parents sound ignorant of the overwhelmingly proven principle that children become more successful through positive reinforcement rather than shaming, threatening, and beating. How very sad. CPS counselors do everything possible to keep children safe while keeping families together. Most give parents like yours (with a “spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child” mentality), parenting classes, counseling — and monitoring. You will receive counseling too.
I wouldn’t blame you for moving in with a friend or relative — you have to take care of yourself.
What's good about CPS is that they educate parents and oversee a healing process. Your parents’ mentality needs to end and you need to mend. Talk to a school counselor or call Child Protective Services and ask how they would handle your situation. Look them up under your state and county. —Lauren