SEVEN no one took Jess
Jess was in the last half of her freshman year, she and her mother continued
their close relationship. They still did practically everything together. But
Jess was also developing a close relationship with someone else and was unsure
how her mother would react.
Jess did not make friends easily but in her English class
she met a girl named Katie. They began spending time together between classes
and a nice friendship started developing. As their friendship grew, Jess knew it
was time for Katie to meet her mother.
Kathy was friendly toward Katie when Jess invited her over
one evening for dinner but later when the girls went to a movie together, she
could not help but be a little jealous.
Kathy knew it was not right to be jealous of Jess’ new
friend but she feared this inevitably would mean the end of her isolated
relationship with her daughter. She was happy Jess found a friend she liked so
much because she knew it was not easy for Jess to get close to people but the
feeling of competition grew every time Katie was around.
And when Katie was around the house, Kathy tried her
best to ignore both of them.
After a few months passed, Jess realized her mother was not
handling this well. She had hoped over time her mother would learn to accept
her new friend and get to know her like Jess did.
This idea turned out to be wonderful. At first, Kathy did
not feel like tagging along but the three of them ended up having a great time
together. Kathy came to realize how special Katie was and what a valued friend
she was to her daughter.
By the time summer break had arrived, the three of them were
enjoying each other’s company. Kathy did not always go with them when the girls
went out but she did not mind. She began enjoying her time alone at home and
baked the girls cookies or relaxed with a good book. Every once in a while she
got lonely but the feelings would subside.
One night, Jess finally got up the nerve to talk with her
mother. “Mom, there’s something I’ve been wanting to discuss with
you,” she began.
Kathy grabbed the remote and quickly turned the television
off so there would be no distractions. She knew this was going to be a serious
discussion. “What’s up?” she said, trying to put her daughter at
“Well,” Jess said, taking a deep breath,
“Katie and I have been discussing living in an apartment off-campus when
school starts back up.”
Kathy said nothing. She was too stunned to reply.
“I know this is coming as quite a surprise but I think
it would be good for me to get out on my own. And it would be really nice not
to have to commute back and forth to classes,” Jess continued.
Still no response from Kathy.
Jess kept on talking. “I know it would be asking too
much for you to pay for my rent and utilities so I will be getting a part-time
job on campus to help pay for my half of the bills. It might not be easy but I
think I should learn the responsibility of living on my own.”
For the next few days, no words were exchanged between Kathy
and her daughter. Jess was shocked by her mother’s outburst and Kathy was
shocked her daughter wanted to leave her.
“How could she possibly want to leave me all
alone?” Kathy would ask herself. She could not begin to understand her
daughter’s feelings because she was too absorbed with her own.
The next few months as Jess started school again were
torturous for everyone. Jess and Kathy still were not communicating well and
Kathy also noticed Katie was not coming around as much.
When Jess was at home, she stayed as far away from her
mother as possible. She would stay in her room studying or reading a book while
her mother sat in the living room watching television.
But Kathy was not really watching television. She was
spending most of her nights in deep thought. And as the days turned to weeks
and the weeks into months, Kathy painfully began realizing what she was doing
to her daughter.
When Jess celebrated her twentieth birthday at home with her
mother, Kathy broke down in tears. Everything she had been doing wrong was
finally coming to the surface.
The following Friday, as she was driving to her parents’
house for dinner, Kathy could barely take it anymore.
Kathy pulled up to the two-story, white house that belonged
to her parents, the same house she, Joyce, and Larry grew up in so many years
ago. She loved spending time here because it made her feel so comforted and
relaxed. She needed that today, of all days.
@ In GETTING STARTED and in other sections, the main
person in the vignettes or discussion is usually referred to as you; but
this simply reflects a personalized writing style. The you in the story
or discussion only refers to YOU to the extent you see yourself. At
times you may; but usually you will not.
@ At the end of each vignette in the sections below is a
list of signs that are related to the vignette. The list is suggestive
of signs that the family has a problem in the specific area. The list is
not intended as inclusive of the problems that may be related to the topic.
@ If a question
does not apply to a family member, simply skip it. For example, questions about
school or work would not apply to a toddler. To the extent you do not know the
answers to questions, your sample is incomplete and your conclusions are less
@ The relationship risk chart and the accompanying
discussion is adapted from THE FUNCTIONING OF THE FAMILY SYSTEM; Gary A. Crow
and Letha I. Crow; Charles C. Thomas, 1988 and OUR HOME – YOUR HOME previously
@ The number of relationships only equals the number of
people in your family if there are three of you. If there are two of you, there
is one relationship. If there are four of you, there are six relationships. If
there are five of you, there are ten relationships. Just be sure to assess each
@ Please note that the text reflects the series of events
as they happened. Given the suspicion of serious neglect, her lawyer or Kathy
should have contacted Children’s Services or the Department of Social Services
for assistance. Jess being outside in very cold weather would be the main
concern. This would usually be investigated at no cost to Kathy.