At my wit's end

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by RndaWns, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. RndaWns

    RndaWns New Member

    To anybody who has never dealt with these issues, this is going to sound really petty, but this morning, husband went to make toast and pulled out a jar of Nutella that he bought only two days ago. He kind of huffs and asks if I've had any and of course, I say "no." Over 2/3 of the jar is GONE. I'd specifically told difficult child not to touch this as I have a recipe that I'd planned to make this weekend and I needed the whole jar. difficult child goes through stages where he'll steal anything sweet and then deny it (Christmas before last, he managed to open an entire case of chocolate chips -- 24 bags -- that I'd put aside to do my holiday baking and he ate all but about 1/4 cup of the last bag). He doesn't only steal food, he once stole his sisters engagement ring and gave it away at school. Any ideas on how to get through to him? Seriously wanting to just sit down and cry right now.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Which child is this? Certain mood sustaining medications can make kids AND adults literally crave sweet foods and I know from guilty experience that you can't always stop it.

    If nephew had a chaotic early life, it is possible he has attachment problems, if you are talking about him. If his birthmother used drugs or drank during her pregnancy with him, he could also have substance abuse brain damage, like fetal alcohol spectrum or serious medically induced impulse control problems.

    What is his story and we can help you better. From what you wrote, it sounds trite (except for engagement ring!), but I sense there is a lot more if you are sadly feeling like crying about it. The more you tell, the more we can try to help! What was his early life like?

    Welcome to t he board! :)
  3. tammybackagain

    tammybackagain New Member

    I had a Locked Freezer that I locked all sweets in otherwise it was gone if I planned anything he would eat it. now when I go to his house I eat all the sweets (brightside)
  4. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    No, its not petty. Its part of a bigger pattern that is serious (stealing). Also, our kids throw so much at us that just one more thing is to much to take and sets us off.

    Welcome to the board.
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    It does sound bigger than stealing ....he's listed as ODD but that's more a symptom of something in my humble opinion, and his history (needing you to take custody at age 3) would logically suggest bigger issues are at play here.

    Has he ever had a comprehensive evaluation by a developmental pediatric team or a neuropsychologist?
  6. RndaWns

    RndaWns New Member

    Sorry that I am late in responding; I couldn't find my post. Finally figured it out, sheesh! I am totally overwhelmed by life right now. A bit of history: My sister (B) gave birth to two boys. The oldest is now 21 (We'll call him "S") and the youngest is 14 ("J"). When J was just six months old, B called me to say "goodbye". She was planning to kill the boys and then herself. I begged her to get help, to call our mother (who lived in the same town), anything. Finally she agreed to give me 24 hours so that I could drive cross-country and take the boys for the summer. When I got there, she begged me to keep the boys. She had gotten pregnant on purpose both times, but had been in a long-term relationship with A's father. J was the result of pretty much a one-night stand with someone she worked with, but she wanted another kid.

    B is bi-polar and, like most, takes her medications for a month or so until she feels better and then goes off them "because I'm CURED!" SMH. She has never used drugs, and rarely used alcohol (I don't think she drank while she was pregnant). From that first summer, those poor boys were sent back and forth between me and my sister for the next two years. A was 8 when this first started, so it was easier on him, but J grew very attached to me very early in his life and hated to go back to B. Unfortunately, I did not have enough legal reason to move for custody until J was 2 1/2 when B called the father of A, asking him to take A and also telling that dad that she planned to drop of J at the ER since she was convinced that the new laws regarding dropping off newborns still applied when the kid was 2 1/2. Luckily, A's father contacted me and I got onto a plane that night and took J for good.

    B is not in J's life. She nearly killed him the last time she had him (not exaggerating, she pushed his face into the mattress while spanking him and A thought she was going to kill him). Obviously, B has some serious issues and had been abusing the boys.

    As J has gotten older, his behavior began to be a bit strange (although completely potty trained, he preferred to defecate into his underwear or his closet), etc. By the age of 7, he had stolen so many small things that it was beyond counting. I had to get rid of my seizure-alert dog and my beloved talking parrot because he was abusing them. These are just a few examples, of course.

    He is not currently on medications or in therapy. I know that sounds terrible, but he was being seen by a specialist in our area and it only made him ten times as bad. We've seen several doctors who specialize in ODD, and he manages to manipulate each doctor. The last time he was seeing someone, his behavior ramped up to the point where I seriously considered giving up my guardianship (this is when he stole the engagement ring by the way). The doctor sat me down and explained that the problem wasn't with J, it was actually his oldest sister because she was "correcting" him too much. Um, yeah, my oldest daughter is 14 years older than him and when she sees him walking toward the back of the house with a spray paint can in hand, what should she have done? She in no way took on the mothering role (I know how much confusion that would have added), but for this doctor to tell me that his behavior was out of frustration with my oldest daughter was beyond frustrating.

    J is a master manipulator. About two years ago, he took my husband's butcher knife (he's a grocer and was working in produce so this was a part of his uniform). There was nobody else who could have possibly taken it, and of course we tossed J's room searching for it but he's evidently found one HECK of a hiding place. For one full week, we searched for that knife and asked J about it. He'd look me square in the face and tell me that I was a bad mother, because my job as his parent is to be on his side and believe him when he tells me something. In the end, he placed the knife (blade up) in my recliner. I don't even know how I saw it before sitting on it, but thank goodness I did.

    Well, I've typed an entire novel, so I'll close this out. In answer to Buddy's question, he was seen by the head of our local County Mental Health office. This doctor told me in no uncertain terms that he was only diagnosing J as ODD because legally he couldn't label him a sociopath until the age of 16 in our state.

    PS: I will update my signature line in a minute; I actually have 6 kids and J is the youngest (and only boy). A huge part of my frustration is when people tell me, "Oh, that's just a BOY THING." Ugh. Thank you all for the help. It's nice to have a soft place to land right now.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    As you already know, it's NOT just a boy thing.

    Given J's history... have you ever researched attachment disorders?
  8. RndaWns

    RndaWns New Member

    I have a friend who has loaned me a few books on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (Reactive Attachment Disorder, if I'm remembering correctly). It's ironic, but she ended up with custody of a boy who is one year younger than J and it seems like we're usually going through the same things, just a few months apart. My friend had her boy in attachment therapy, along with several other types of treatments. Who knows what's worked and what hasn't when you're doing 3-4 things at a time? I do know that J feels zero attachment for his bio-mom (by the time he was 4 - 4 1/2, he refused to get on the phone with her because she'd missed too many of her scheduled phone visits). When his sisters have each moved out/moved on to their own lives, he never says he misses them or asks about them. T moved across the country after she got married and she seemed to be his favorite because she's a peace-keeper by nature, but he never really wants to talk to her either. I do make him talk to his sisters (and his one brother, who I did not get custody of), but he's very detached. He also absolutely HATES to be touched. Until a couple of years ago, I'd hug him before bed and when he was much younger, he had to follow the same rule as all of the girls (had to give hugs before bed), but he'd just stiffen up and could barely bring himself to pat the other person on the back. I had hoped he'd outgrow that, but I don't see it happening.

    He had to have surgery two weeks ago for a broken arm, and as they were knocking him out, I was able to sneak in one kiss on the forehead and I realized that's the first time he's "allowed" me to kiss him or show any physical affection in years and years. It's so sad.
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    It seems like county mental health got it. Can you get him counseling through there?
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Aw, hon. This is NOT NOT NOT your fault in any way. He probably has attachment issues, which you did not cause and in fact you did everything legally possible to give him some love as a baby. But with birthmother both mentally ill, not really wanting him, and trying to kill him it makes sense in my opinion that he probably has attachment issues, which actually are exactly like antisocial personality disorder in children. Because of the lack of consistent response to their needs (such as being fed when hungry) in their very early years (think of "failuare to thrive syndrome") they simply learn, as young as infants, that they can't trust anyone but themselves so that's what they learn and it can be quite hardwired into them. Attachment therapy can help some kids. It's expensive and controversial. Regular therapy doesn't usually do beans for these types of kids. On top of all that, he could have inherited a predisposition to bipolar disorder, but he sounds more RADish to me than bipolar.

    Now you need to think about yourself. These types of kids are so very difficult to raise. Have you checked to see if social services offers respite? Also, how old is your nephew? You may need to sadly put locks on all your doors and keep your valuables locked up. Does he ever rage or hurt animals or play with fire? Does he pee and poop inappropriately? We adopted a child at age eleven who was too Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and sick for a family and it became unsafe to have him with us so we kind of learned the signs of a budding sociopath. After the experience of that child, the entire family was in therapy for years!

    They are good at acting charming when necessary and or when they want something.

    Hugs!!! Keep us posted.
  11. You are not being petty. I get it! Missing food happens A LOT in our house. It's a legitimate frustration. I can't offer a solution but I completely sympathize. (((hugs)))

    This issue comes and goes randomly around here. Sometimes what's missing is plain bizzare like frozen peppers and family sized broccoli casseroles (really?!) but usually it involves things that have been specifically set aside for other purposes. It gets stuck in their Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) minds as something they must have even if they waste it or give it away.

    While I was out grocery shopping yesterday, DD13 snuck out the backdoor with all the indivual sized drinks and chips we had and fed neighborhood friends. House rule is simple: eat from the family sized packages so that children packing school lunches have what they need during the week. There were several bags of chips and costco sized jugs of apple juice she could have taken from the pantry. I was annoyed at having to go back out for lunch drinks. husband grounded her (his watch- his consequence) which doesn't do anything but prevent opportunity. And honestly, it does seem petty, doesn't it? A kid ate up all the junk food? Oh noes! LOL! But it's part of a bigger problem and it's so darn intentional with what gets taken- something off limits. Ugh! Instead of choosing the large bags of Dorito's bought for home consumption, she snuck out the 12 pack of indivual bags she knew we needed for other purposes.

    My pizza cutters are currently missing, one is a huge red plastic wedge thingy that's impossible to miss. The fact that both are MIA at the same time leads me to beleive Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kid may know where they disappeared to. I don't expect to see them again, but who knows, they might make a comeback after I buy replacements. Funny how that happens... Thank freaking goodness for the dollar tree!

    I'm new here too. We had the same experience with therapy. DD13 got worse. I agree with others here that what you describe sounds like Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) behavior.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    At the best of times, traditional tdocs are the worst solution for a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The entire approach that they need is totally different. There are some who specialize in attachment disorders and really do know how to help... and even they can't reach all of them.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Well, after reading all of that, you seem on the right track. It sure sounds like it would be next to impossible for him to NOT have attachment problems. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is difficult and requires specialized treatment and it is absolutely diagnosed at younger ages. Being a sociopath can be a symptom in Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but not always. They may be more egocentric but not totally without caring for others. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is on a spectrum like other conditions.

    The hard thing about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (you are probably reading this) is that some therapists think they know how to help but actually end up doing more harm than good because they do not understand the specialized kinds of treatment needed. People with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) triangulate others and can make therapists think that the parents caring for them are angry beasts.

    The food issues you mention are listed on every list I have seen, I was even warned of it when adopting. Even for kids who were well fed. I hope you can use your friend as a resource and ask which places she found to be the most useful for working with her son.

    The attachment parts of my son's issues (it of course gets mixed together but some things seem clear) are some of the saddest things we deal with. It kills me because it is such a preventable condition for most people who have it (there are some causes that are not preventable, like chronic unrelenting pain in early childhood). Your sister was not purposely ill, but darn, it's hard not to wish he could have been placed in a more stable situation earlier and never had to go through any of that suffering. You are amazing to take on that responsibility. You are a hero.