Another newbie - I need some help please

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Nicky, May 13, 2011.

  1. Nicky

    Nicky New Member

    Hallo everyone

    I’ve browsed this forum a bit and I am quite sure I can get some good advice and a few shoulders to cry on here.

    Normally, me, husband & 3 kids in the house are a happy, busy bunch without any major hassles. Enters difficult child – he normally stays with his mom, but she upped and left for 4 months for the UK and before we knew he was our responsibility (we stay about 4 hours from them, so we normally only see him during holidays for a week or 2).

    He has now been with us for 8 weeks and I am at the end of my wits. We were aware that he has ADHD, and has had some problems in the past, but as he only visits us for short periods at a time we did not realise how bad it gets. In frustration, I googled and found ODD – a perfect fit. When husband asked birthmom about it the answer was that yes, he was diagnosed with it, but she didn’t actually take the time to share this with us (or anyone else for that matter).

    In addition of having to deal with a 12-year old lying, stealing, bullying the smaller children and generally disrupting our whole household, he is home-schooled. As it is currently the second term of the schoolyear here in South Africa, me and husband (who both have full-time jobs) have had to motivate, check schoolwork, etc. after work and over weekends. We have had to employ a nanny full-time (to partly make sure that he does not burn down the house, etc). The schoolwork is an endless battle. We have caught him breaking into a cupboard that was locked, copying the answers of the whole weeks’ schoolwork from the memoranda in the cupboard (but not with enough changes so I won’t notice), and then lying about it when caught out. I have a list that can go on and on and on. We went on holiday for a week and the police were actually called in once to deal with him.

    Now, seeing as there is no communication from birthmom about this situation, and she is quite unapproachable about her son, we do not know what to do next. Obviously this kid needs some serious help. We have tried to get to see a specialist to review the medication, but can only get an appointment in September. In addition, birthmom is a nurse, so thinks she has everything under control.

    He is going back to his hometown in 3 weeks time to write exams. After that his birthmom is back, and I have no idea what will happen then. All I know is if that someone doesn’t take responsibility for this whole situation, I don’t know where he might end up.

    I am very very tired of fighting all the time. Nothing helps – asking nicely, taking away privileges, screaming, time out, we have tried everything. He just ignores you and then does exactly what he wants to. He has no social skills whatsoever. Everything is my fault, never his. He is very very entitled. And this is seriously affecting the other kids. They are emotional, and fighting because difficult child does not respect anyone else or their belongings. husband is more tired than I am.

    I know this is temporary, but have this sneaky suspicion that before too long birthmom is going to bail and make it our problem. She has done it once before, with easy child 1 (at around the same age difficult child is now).

    Any ideas? Because I don’t have any.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shoulder to cry on - definitely. I would also suggest you get your husband to read the posts here too, it can really help you both to get the info at the same level.

    I am grabbing a few minutes in the wee small hours to post quickly - have a look at "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Given the problems with your husband's ex, it is possible that the inconsistency, coupled with the ADHD, is what has contributed to a lot of this boy's behaviour problems. She does sound like she's checked out for some respite, with zero notice. I've seen other parents do this with their difficult kids. Or not even difficult kids - easy child 2/difficult child 2's exBF was raised this way, his mother was a party girl who would sometimes not come home for days. The boy had to fend for himself in the meantime, often not knowing where his mother was or when she would be back. She began doing this when he was about 5 years old, he told us. They lived in the inner city. There was even a time when she was evicted from the apartment (and therefore so was he) and she stayed with a friend, but the friend didn't want both of the. So he stayed with us for a few weeks/months. She kept promising him, "I'll rent an apartment for you," but never did it. That sort of inconsistency and frank neglect can do a lot of harm.

    Gotta go get sleep... I'll watch tis thread when I am awake and conscious...

  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Is there any chance of a three-way conference (you, your husband and your boy's mother) to discuss the way forward and to what the current treatment/therapy options are? Also to be clear about your concerns with her.
  4. wintak

    wintak New Member

    I'm new here, too. We have some of the same issues in behaviour...homework is a HUGE fight constantly and yes, mine feels entitled all the time. No real advice for you, but welcome
  5. seriously

    seriously New Member

    If he's only going to be there 3 more weeks - any chance you can send him back to biomom wherever she is with about as much notice as she gave you?

    And I would just forget the homeschooling. If biomom doesn't like it - so what? 3 weeks of no homeschooling is not going to make any difference in the long run but getting rid of that daily battle may let you get through the next 3 weeks with your sanity intact.

    I suggest you send the younger kids away to a grandparent or someone for a couple of weeks. You do not want him victimizing them and you should never leave him alone with them if his behavior is that bad. And the conflict, if it's severe, will traumatize them and may contribute to difficult behaviors for months after he is gone. I know school is in session but if you have someone who is close enough for them to keep attending then I would do that. You could also go have a frank talk with the head of their school and tell them why you need to send the kids away and see if they will help by providing school work for them to take with them on their little "vacation". You could also ask that person if he/she has any suggestions of local resources to help you deal with an out of control 12 year old.

    ADHD does not explain all those kinds of behaviors. And I have never heard of Risperdal being rxd to treat it either. Often ODD is a description of behaviors - not a diagnosis. Usually the behaviors are the result of underlying neurological, developmental or psychiatric problems. Any chance you can contact the doctor that prescribed the Risperdal directly and ask for help/guidance?

    If you had to call the police - why? What happened when they came?

    Practical things -

    Have you locked up all prescription and over the counter medications? If not, I suggest you do that even if you only lock them up in a metal fishing tackle box with a padlock and put them away in your closet. You do not need him getting into those.

    What did he steal? I hope you are keeping your valuables, wallets and any important financial information like credit cards and tax returns where he cannot get to them.

    Is he using a computer? Is it under password lock? If not, you really should do that right now. And go out and check to make sure he hasn't used your financial info to charge things online.

    Same thing if you have a landline phone - long distance charges??
  6. Nicky

    Nicky New Member

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Biomom is at this stage not responding to any requests from us. We do know that she is coming back middle of July, but a three-way conference will probably never happen. If we do try and speak about him, or problems, she gets all defensive, tells us that we don't care and she will take care of it and puts down the phone. Or just responds with, "oh, that's bad". Great help. She will not listen to me at all, because I am the evil stepmom that victimises her kids. Sigh.

    We are still trying with the homeschooling, but if he doesn't pass this term, so be it. Maybe then will she admit that this kid needs some serious help. Or it will all be my and husband's fault, because we did not put in enough time and effort, according to her. Whatever.

    We all make sure that the smaller kids are never alone with him. Luckily, they are cared for at their schools all day at after-care, so they only come home when we come home from work. And yes, the conflict is getting to them. That is one of the few reasons he can never come stay here permanently. I try to get them out of the house as much as possible, luckily I have a big support-base here.

    All medication, money and valuables are locked up. During the day televisions are blocked. easy child's have passwords that only the adults know. Only cellphones for us - the home phone has a code that he doesn't know. The nanny has a cellphone that she keeps on her to get a hold of us if needs be. He has enough work to keep him busy during the day. I hate having to do all this. But if we don't it will be a free for all.

    The biggest thing for us is, that even if he returns to his mom in a few weeks time, he is still husband's son. And if it gets any worse (I don't even want to think about that), it will inevitably be our problem because she will just dump him on us. A bit of history - when easy child 1 was 12 he was sent to live with his dad because he sneaked out of the house, was caught stealing and she generally could not handle him. We have had our moments during the past 4 years, but I was never scared of him harming the smaller 2 children or himself or us. About 6 months after he moved here, he was taken off all medication (he was on Ritalin up to then). No problems at all. He is a responsible, popular boy holding down a part-time job, helping us with the kids and doing well at school. I suspect that 90% of the things he was accused of was actually difficult child's doing. And the moment he was not being blamed for everything his brother did wrong, he relaxed and started doing well.

    So I'm scared that she is going to try it again. And difficult child is a whole different kettle of fish.

    The police incident was about "borrowing" a boogie board while on holiday at the coast that was never brought back - stealing it in other words. The people called in the police, but charges were not laid because husband replaced it with a new one. After that incident difficult child was not allowed to go anywhere in the resort unless we went with him, so he basically sat around being bored the rest of the holiday while the other kids could do what they wanted. We made no impression whatsoever.

    So on this wonderful Saturday we have been doing homework while fighting about it since breakfast. I will rather go to work. Not nice.
  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    In my experience with Miss KT, Strattera addressed the focus issues, but not the hyperactivity. Risperdal helped greatly with her anger management issues...there were no more holes punched in walls, no more chunks of tile missing from my kitchen counter, no more doors torn off the hinges and thrown at me. Concerta didn't last too long with her...don't remember why. It was a long time ago and my brain is oatmeal today.

    What does your husband say about all this?
  8. seriously

    seriously New Member

    Yes, what does husband say about all this?

    If something like the theft happens again - I would not rescue him from the consequences. I assume biomom also lives in South Africa so if he is in juvenile justice custody or on probation when she gets back he would not end up tied to you and your location if you live in a different area than biomom.

    I have no idea what, if any, social support mechanisms are available to you to deal with this child. Here we would be working with his school, physicians and probably juvenile justice to get/keep him under some level of control. He might have been placed into foster care if things were bad enough.

    Who has legal custody or shared custody? Do the laws governing custody prevent your husband from taking certain actions without biomoms approval or consent? Is he willing to take action or get help that way?

    Because, if husband thinks this child will be dumped on you guys, establishing a history of problems now may be helpful when/if the question of custody comes up or difficult child is dumped on you and you need help.

    It is one thing to deal with a kid like this when he's 12.

    It's a whole other thing if he's 15 or 17.

    Do you have access to mental health care that includes hospitalization? Under what circumstances/behaviors can he be hospitalized?

    I must not understand the homeschooling system he is in if he has "terms" that he gets grades for his work from someone outside the home. In that case, can you contact that person/organization and discuss his refusal to do the work and see if they can help?

    Again, I would not rescue him from the consequences of refusing to do the work. If he is capable of doing it relatively independently then I would provide some basic instructions like what pages to complete or reading to do, give him a deadline each day for completion of the work, ask if he's completed it or needs help and, unless he asks for help, end the discussion.

    If there could be consequences come back on you for his not performing then you might want to keep a diary of these assignments, how many hours he had to complete the work, what work was actually completed and husband initials it daily. If possible get difficult child to sign or initial it too. That way you have a record of what he was assigned. It doesn't matter if it was the same thing day after day. And I would make sure the school authorities knew he was refusing and had become unmanageable in writing.

    Sorry you are having to deal with this. It sounds like you have already taken many of the precautions that parents who are feeling overwhelmed don't think to do. It's a tough situation especially if husband doesn't have the power to do certain things because of custody or if he is unwilling to let difficult child get arrested, etc.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The home schooling he has sounds a lot like difficult child 3's. It's a correspondence-based school, he works from home on worksheets administered by the school and mailed out to us. I will encourage difficult child 3 to do his work and help him stay on task, but if there is a concern, I call the school and ask his teachers to talk to him. Or I take him to the school (if I can) and organise a face-to-face lesson. I also have the option of phone lessons for difficult child 3. But it is Not My Problem - difficult child 3 has to learn to be responsible for his own work ethic.

    I actually have found he works better with correspondence than he ever did in mainstream.

  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Part of me feels really bad for this kid. I am SURE that he has gotten "your father doesn't want you/love you/ care for you/support you" messages from his mother all his life. then he was able to do all sorts of stuff and have it be blamed on his brother so he did not have a real chance to learn from consequences. Then it sounds like his mom just sort of let him do what he wants with no real consequences for bad behavior. ALL of that is bad for a child.

    I do not know what is available where you are. I WOULD start looking into options for care for him as you suspect the mother is going to send him to you and refuse to have him back at some point. At the very least I would want a full and complete workup for autism, mental illness, learning disabilities, sensory issues, etc.... Here we would suggest a neuropsychology workup but not sure what it would be called where you are. It is about 6-12 hrs of testing over several sessions and it gives a good picture of what is going on at that time. This is helpful to figure out what is going on and how best to help.

    You need to have a long, honest talk with your husband about what would happen if this child came to live with you. Would the family be able to handle it/ Would it be needed to find a boarding school or therapeutic foster home for him? It doesn't sound like he has a close bond with his father (how could he with just visits - not anyone's fault, just a fact) and what would be the best thing for everyone? Then you will have something of a game plan for if/when the mother abandons him. at the very very least he needs intense therapy - even now because he has seen his mom dump a child when the chidl was too much trouble and is likely trying to make her dump him so it will be on his terms and he has some type of control over it. I am NOT saying that coming to live with you is impossible or that it is a must. You have to look to see what your options will be so that you can figure out what is the best for everyone. You cannot disregard the other children just because he comes to live with you and in fact living iwth all of you may not be a good thing. If he is hurting the smaller kids I would want him to NOT live with you. Just because he has problems doesn't mean he can live with you and hurt others. on the other hand, if you think you can work past that to a point where he will be safe around everyone then you may want to try.

    You and your husband need to be brutally honest about this. I sense he really scares you and you must let your husband know this. He must let you know how he feels also, and then you work a plan from there.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Nicky.

    I'm always the rescuer, so I'd end up with-the difficult child full time, no doubt. :)

    But it's up to you if you want to send him back. You are wise to guess, given past history, and that history repeats itself, that he will end up with-you again, and for longer periods, as bio mom sends him back as he gets older and things get more out of control. So you want to get started on the task now.

    I beg to differ on your opinion of the resort incident. The fact that the police were called, and then you cracked down on difficult child and would not allow him to go anywhere alone DID make a huge difference. It's that kind of thing that will change him. Do not confuse happiness or unhappiness with-an inability to learn and change behaviors. It is a very long process. He now knows how people react when he steals boogie boards, and how you react.
    Just out of curiousity, once he steals something, and learns that he has consequences, does he no longer steal that item, but moves on to stealing a different item? Because that could be Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/Aspie. No ability to project onto other things, to extrapolate. Each experience is limited to itself.
    That would also fit the notion that he doesn't care what other people think.
    And ODD.

    Now, there could be many, many other things, but I can only go by what you've written here. Does his dad give you any info on what difficult child was like as a baby?