On the Sunday before the New Year, a relative (whom I shall call Claudette), who lives far away, called me. She told me that she was under a lot of stress because of several incidents involving her 9-year-old son and family members.

Her blood pressure had shot up really high, and she was having chest pains. I urged her to go to the emergency room but she said she knew her symptoms were just due to stress. I agreed that her symptoms were due to stress, but said that her body was telling her she needed medical attention.

She changed the subject and told me that she was upset because her son reported that one of his cousins was allowed to hit him and call him names whenever he visited her aunt and cousins. Claudette started crying and said that she was afraid to say anything to these relatives, because they were the only relatives she had in town, and she wanted her son to know his family.

She had not said anything to them about the problem for months, and now a visiting adult cousin was picking on her son, too. She said her son was shy and not inclined to fight back.

For health reasons, I encouraged her to speak up when these incidents occur, instead of letting them mount up. I also said that she should risking saying something to her aunt about her grandson’s abusive behavior, and that Claudette should accompany her son on future visits to her aunt’s house, if he wanted to go there. Her son really likes and gets along well with the brother of the abusive cousin.

Claudette telephoned me on New Year’s Eve to say that she had gone to the emergency room on that Sunday night, that the doctors and nurses talked to her about stress and its ramifications and said they would not release her until medication brought down her blood pressure.

She followed up this emergency-room visit with a call her to her aunt’s house. She talked to her aunt and an adult cousin about her son’s being abused during his visits there. Although she was not totally satisfied with the responses she received, she did feel better about having the courage to talk with them about the problem.
I commended Claudette on being able to do this.

Because of advice from medical staff, Claudette has decided to turn over a new leaf: She will speak up more quickly now and not let anger build up inside her.
We laughed as we chimed together, “We choose our friends, but God gives us relatives.”