Are You Desensitized?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jeppy, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Jeppy

    Jeppy New Member

    I feel like I've gone through different stages of dealing with difficult child. For instance, I used to cry all the time; now I don't. I am even getting past a little of the anger and am in an almost numb state sometimes. Do you feel like you're being hardened emotionally by your parenting experiences?

    If your difficult child is an adult who's left home, did your feelings return to normal after awhile?
  2. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Jeppy, I feel desensitized. I, too, used to cry every day, now I just try to survive another day with him. Some days he acts like a normal 13 year old, other days he acts like he's eight. I never know which he's going to be. How a mother can love her son as much as I do and yet feel soooooo far from him, I don't know. Most days I feel like with all the therapy and medications and behavior modifications, etc.....we've not really progressed very far. ODD is a very difficult diagnosis. I worry about his future and if he's always going to be under my roof, or off on his own.
  3. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    This sounds like the classic case of the stages of "Grief". I know I am still going through the "grieving" process of realizing my difficult child is not what I had in my head he would be, but it's okay because he will be who he is. I just read a really great book I picked up at the library called "Mending Wounded Minds" by Beth Henry. It's a story written by a step-mother of a difficult child and helped me get to the point to realize difficult child may never be fully healed like I thought in the beginning but we always have to keep hope.

    I think I am a little more desensitized though because difficult child's behavior used to shock and bring me to tears. Now I am a little more hardened by it and just matter of fact when I am dealing with his manic episodes or total meltdown. It still hurts but I am better at coming to grips with all of it.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Funny you should mention this- my last therapist told me that parents of "difficult children" sometimes get to a point where we are too desensitized. She said we shouldn't go so far that we tolerate so much because it sends the wrong message to the kid and can be dangerous to the family, as well.
  5. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    You know, I have learned to love my difficult child despite of his actions. I have not cried in years. Over anything. I think I cried too long and they just sort of dried up. difficult child is better now. He does not live with me. I do not have to deal with his pot use or his bad behavior. I get a daily phone call or text to check in and let me know he loves me. And he does. I just wish he loved himself. I'm not sad about his choices anymore. I've accepted he is who he is and will be who he will be regardless or what I do or don't do. If I feel like giving him gas for his car or a pack of cigarettes, I do. If I don't want to I don't feel guilty. It's nice to be able to love him again instead of resenting his actions.
  6. Jeppy

    Jeppy New Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm glad I'm not the only one. I definitely get in that survival mode.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think I'm in that survival mode. For me sometimes it is the only way I can go on. Every once in awhile I get in a good cry but it doesn't happen often anymore.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Yes, I have totally been desensitized. I look at much of the behavior "problems" my friends have and think "So what is the problem?" One friend gets SOO upset over the potty humor boys enjoy from about age 4 or 5 to age ???(Still waiting for husband to outgrow it!). I cannot for the life of me figure out why toilet jokes are such a big deal.

    Of course to get through a meal time without fighting we started doing mad libs with them when Wiz was 4. Potty, poop, vomit, it wasn't done if those words were not in the story. So my kids got potty humor at the dinner table. They ate. They didn't fight. They didn't argue. They learned parts of speech. It all seemed OK to me.

    Other friends get really upset if the child forgets to say thank you, or doesn't tidy the bedroom daily. I would remind the child to say thank you. If he refused, whatever he is thanking them for was gone. For good. Only took 2 times with Wiz. (4 with Jessie, but that was because husband let her have the item a few days later - dug it out of the garbage for her!!) And if the room isn't clean? NO friends over. And shut the door.

    i look at what upset me when Wiz was very little, before the other kids were born, and I am amazed. I am SOOOO much more relaxed now. Many things just don't bug me because I have already seen and handled so much worse. How can you get upset over a messy room when your child was just found trying to kill his little sister? (that was his stated intention when asked about what he was doing.)

    He is well past those years. I am still much more relaxed as a parent. I don't get sooooo upset anymore.

    Wiz was sent to my parents three years ago. I am still just not fazed by much the other two come up with.
  9. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    For me, it goes in waves. I don't cry every day any more. Sometimes I go weeks without tears. But then, other days I resist crying because I feel like once I start I may not stop.

    It does surprise me, though, that I can give a dispassionate description of something difficult child did, while parents of pcs would recoil in horror at such behavior. So I guess the answer is that I'm intermittently desensitized.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I'm not sure that I"m densensitized; more like Sharon I'm in survival mode. I've built a very high brick wall around my heart ~ something I will not allow the tweedles to break down or thru.

    They do their best & I've been taken to my knees more times than I care to count. AND I'm getting better in many ways at not acknowledging or being pulled into the antics that in so many ways define tweedle dee & tweedle dum.

    I really think that detachment may be the better way to go & maybe that is what I'm doing with my wall.
  11. therese005us

    therese005us New Member

    I agree with the survival mode. It's been 9 months since DS came home (wow! i can't believe it) the first month felt like a year, the second month felt like 3 years, and so on.... Now I just had to count how many months he's been home. It seems like he's never been away. I think i must have cried at least the first four months, if not more, every day, worn out, stressed out...Worrying about his drinking, drugs etc.... will I ever be able to trust him?

    What's changed? I'm not sure. But choosing your battles, comes to mind. I remember his psychiatrist told me that when he was fifteen. I find that when dealing with challenging cherubs, I can't change it all at once. so, I have to choose something which is manageable, and then move on, and on.

    Experience is a great teacher, and over the years I have been amazed at what I've had to deal with, how I've dealt with it, (good and bad) and then there is a sense of stepping back and looking to see how far I've come.
    So, no, I don't think we're desensitising ourselves, we're just growing in experience, and settling; for there is no doubt, that our challenges are beyond the norms of stressful at times.

    I can't imagine not loving our children, no matter what they do. When DS left home at 15, it broke my heart; I felt as though I had failed him. DOCs were not supportive (it's a long, sad story) painting me as the baddie; that he was scared of. However, in the 3 1/2 years he was away, he never failed to text or phone several times a year. And where did he come when there was nowhere to go?
    Sorry, I've rabbited on again.
  12. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is a good question.

    I'm not sure I would call where I am desensitized, rather just another stage of being the parent of a difficult child. Someone mentioned the stages of grief - I don't describe it as grief - I got over "mourning" not having a easy child years ago because in reality, I don't think it's fair to grieve too long - it stops the process of accepting your difficult child for who they are and moving on, at least in my opinion.

    It's kinda like working out. When you first begin to use a new machine at the gym, you can only take a little weight and few reps. But the more you go and workout, the more weight you add and the more reps you can do. It almost happens without thought; you just one day realize you've increased you weight and reps.

    Parenting my difficult child is kinda like that. At first, I was in shock, sore and sad all the time. But after a while, I began to get used to the judgement of others, the need to fight the school system, the calls from teachers, the trips to the therapist, the meltdowns, difficult child's idiosyncracies, the missing birthday party invitations, lack of a big circle of friends, the stress when in public (waiting for something to happen), the co$t of doctors and medications. I began to think that those things were just a part of my life.

    Instead of taking easy child to play practise that day, I took difficult child to the therapist. Instead of watching easy child in a music recitle, I was at school wrriting an IEP. It just became part of my life.

    Is it desensitized? I'm not sure.

    I do know that I am a better person for having my difficult child. I have become a better person and a better parent for having him. I wouldn't trade that boy for anything. As much as he is frustrating, he is funny and smart and loving and creative....the list goes on and on. I can't imagine not having him and him not being who he is.

    I think the word desensitized calls to mind a numbness of sorts. And I am in no way numb with difficult child; perhaps it's just semantics...

  13. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    I kind of think you have to go through this desensitization in order to get to a healthy detachment. I remember back when my difficult child would not come home but spend her time on the Commons (our downtown area) with other difficult children. We had to report her missing anytime she didn't come home even though she wasn't really missing--needed that paper trail.

    Anyway, one time we were walking through the Commons on our way to a nearby police station to report her missing and there was a band playing so my husband and I stopped to dance. I thought it was kind of funny--we were so desensitized to the process of having our dtr hanging out with the other difficult children and having to report her missing once again that we were able to stop and enjoy ourselves on our way to the police station.

    I have a good relationship with difficult child now (although I make sure to keep those boundaries in place). I am not desensitized to the extent I was before but I do have to be careful to not invest my emotions too heavily with her or I could drive myself nuts worrying over her and her baby. For instance, she says she has nowhere to live right now and is staying in a tent at a campground with the baby. I know I cannot and should not help her, she needs to pick herself up and figure out what to do and I think she is doing that. But it is hard to maintain a hard line when I feel so bad for her and I can't "go there"--have to stay strong and neutral.

    Great topic!

  14. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    This is what happened to me today......I bought difficult child a milkshake. He's very lactose intolerant, he knows it, knows where his pills are to allow him an occasional milkshake, but failed to get them out of the cabinet and put into his mouth. (I called it LAZY.) He was ill afterwards for several hours. I said, "Oh, boo-hoo..." I didn't feel a bit sorry for him. I already chase him around with his other medications, I refuse to chase him with those and HE knows anyway. husband called me a "hard worman"....lololol. difficult child is fine now. Ya know, you just get to that point, I think.
  15. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    This is a very good question...

    I don't think that I would call it "desensitized" either. In my case, it's more like my shields are always up and on full power (think Star Trek). I maintain a significant distance from difficult child, both emotionally and physically.

    I rarely visit difficult child at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or speak to him on the phone, or have very much contact with him at all, although I avidly read the daily reports and am in touch with the staff at least a few times a week to know how he's doing. husband does the heavy lifting as far as visits and maintaining contact.

    Really, it's a matter of self-preservation. difficult child caused so much physical and emotional harm to me, Little easy child and Step D. husband as well, but somewhat less. And now he wants a close mother-son relationship just like we used to have, without ever acknowledging the damage he did. I'm not over it yet, and right now I'm not sure that I'll ever get there.

    I suppose I am desensitized in that nothing Little easy child does really phases me. Potty-mouth, not putting his toys away, sneaking into the maple syrup...this stuff just doesn't even register. Even by NT standards it's mild. I correct it, but it certainly doesn't upset me in the slightest.
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Mine goes in waves.
    Maybe PMS? ;)
    I like the Star Trek shields metaphor. But it's hard to live on Red Alert all the time and never be able to totally relax unless I'm several miles away. (Or galaxies away.:) )
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  17. judi

    judi Active Member

    My son is now 24 - we haven't had seen him in over a year and then it was only for 15 minutes. We love him, we want him in our lives, but we can't make him do anything. I don't cry anymore about it because I think I'm cried out - that was a long time ago.

    Still love him and miss him but...
  18. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm more or less in detachment mode...I HAD to do this to survive.
    Sometimes, I come out of it a bit....not sure how wise this is.
    I am not really "desensitized." I have moments that I feel pain about it all.
    My eyes are open...I see it and I feel it.
    However, it is not as deep as it was previously and I absolutely refuse to let it go on for long periods of time. Life is too short and too good for me to let that happen.
    It is hard...especially since the situation is ongoing. Much like Mandy is a feeling of grief.
    It has taken me great effort...and continues to take great work from this state of mind.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 6, 2009
  19. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    You asked about when a difficult child leaves home. When mine moved out, I felt a sense of calm. My demeaner basically returned to normal. I am more relaxed and much happier. I am actually more detached from difficult child. I still somtimes feel discomfort when difficult child exhibits inappropriate or hurtful behavior, but it doesn't sting nearly as often or as deeply. husband was heard to say "I have my wife back."