attachment question

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Steely, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So, to be brief, and as you know, the group home Matt is in has cut down our weekly communication, from daily to once a week. Their thought was that Matt was too dependent on me, and not others. They wanted him to "trust" other people, and not just me in his life.

    So now that that has taken place, the opposite seems to be occurring. Matt will not talk to me about anything important on our one family session a week - but yet now he is talking to his counselor about it. So, for example, last week he had confided in his counselor about an issue he had had, and the counselor brought it up as a topic for us to discuss on the family call, and Matt would not discuss it.

    Any ideas? I think it is truly interesting, since the program thought this was all about Matt and me, and our dysfunctional relationship. Yet now he is repeating the same patterns of distrust, only with me, the one he supposedly trusts the most.

    Do you think he just won't bring things up that are potentially embarrassing to him in a "group forum", and that is why he does not want to tell me in family therapy? Or do you think he just can only trust one person at a time?

    I know he has big attachment issues, just because of his dad abandoning him over and over - but I really do not know how that has played out in his life. To have a true attachment disorder you need to not have had any parental love for a period of time, I thought.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well this makes a little more sense now. They are doing/have done the same thing with my son in Department of Juvenile Justice. It isn't anything personal against the parent or the relationship- they really should have explained this to you. It's to get the difficult child to not just confide in the one parent, then present a different face to others- because that 1) makes it impossible for them to help him, 2) makes for a very dysfunctional and unhealthy life for the difficult child trying to become independent- as in- an adult, 3) keeps the difficult child from being honest with himself.

    At least that is the way I see it with my son.

    You didn't say what the specific issue was that they brought up so I have no idea why M wouldn't discuss it. With my son, some things are too painful for him to discuss with a therapist, some are too embaressing for him to handle in group, some are too hard for him to discuss with me. He proposed (maybe from a suggestion by his therapist) that he write me about the things he has trouble discussing with me. I told him I thought that was a great idea. With him, it usually has something to do with being angry with me, being able to come back home, or something else that causes one of us to tense up or become emotional. I actually luike covering these topics thru letters better because I can think before responding and difficult child doesn't automatically see a hurt or tense look come across my face.

    You might try suggesting that M is welcome to write you about any topic that is hard for him to discuss over the phone.

    This sounds doable to me now, Steely- as far as M having a better chance in this Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Gosh, thats a tough one. Its anybodies guess I suppose would be my only way to answer that one. We never can really know what makes another tick the way they do unless they figure it out and let us in on it.
    I imagine it must feel odd to have him not discussing things with you after a lifetime of turning to you in confidence and for support. I'm sorry since I imagine that must be so difficult to adjust to. On the flip, I think its terrific he is confiding to a therapist. I am of this mind about most people: a person can talk to one person, two people, a boat load of people, it really makes no different. So long as they are talking to someone who is listening and invested in helping them if they need help. And your difficult child is talking. So that is a good thing!

    I will say that something popped in my head though. Again, who can really know? But ... since you've been his "go to person" and he has always talked to you, perhaps he wasn't really interested or invested in talking his private stuff on others since he did indeed have a loving mother who heard him when he needed it. Now he knows he still has that loving mother, but he knows that this place expects him to lean on someone else, and in order to keep peace in his life, to take that off your shoulders, he is doing it. perhaps in order to protect you. I'm sure he's aware of how they are pushing you to pull back.

    In spite of how strange this transition might be, I think it is a terrific update. In that, he is talking to a professional who is a outside observer who can help him. And you can redefine the roll that at this age, is normally redefined. Non difficult child's usually move past that need for parents being their everything, and find their own way, while bonding a new and grown up way with their parents. For our difficult child's, that transition is far from smooth and often so delayed. Soooo ... your difficult child is growing up, whatever the reason may be. He's leaning on a professional to work on himself where it is needed, he is after all the only one who can fix himself where needed. He gets to do that, take that step to manhood, adult hood, personal responsability, while still speaking weekly to his mom who has always loved him and been there for him, without using those talks to discuss what he is doing for his own benefit. Now that time can be about your relationship with him instead. I think that's fantastic.

    Heck, I doubt when difficult child or easy child move out, I'll hear from them once a week lol. I know this all hurts you horribly and frankly, I completely get it from a mom perspective. My difficult child has only ever had me. I'm still his go to person. I'll miss it when I sense him pulling away in that regard and finding new coping tools not involving me. Yet I know the bond we have, and my role for him and importance to him, is never going to change. It's firmly established. I can just tell from all your posts it is that way with you two as well.

    I have to say, this post from you made me incredibly proud of your difficult child. And of you, although you have always impressed me incredibly anyhow. this just reaffirms it for me.

  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, I'd like to add one other after-thought- so far my son has shown more appreciation for me thru this process- not less. It might not go that far with M's situation since he's in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) instead of being incarcerated, but my son has gotten a bigger view of the reality other boys have grown up in by taking all his focus off me, and it has given him a different (but better) perspective on our relationship, it seems. At least so far.
  5. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Steely, I think you are reading into this too much and thinking he now has an "attachment" issue with you because he now doesn't want to discuss certain things with you

    He is 19 years old - not a little boy anymore - if he doesn't want to discuss an issue with you, and would prefer to do it on his own with the councelor - I would think that would be a good thing and would be be encouraging it. Maybe he doesn't want to deal with whatever it was he didn't want to discuss. At least he is talking and trying to work thru things without your imput. Its a start on the road to being self sufficient - isn't that the whole goal?

  6. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Steely, in my humble opinion the therapy is forcing (okay, not a good word but I can't think of another right now) Matt to develop the autonomy he should have developed long ago. I know he was pulled out of school and was home schooled for a while. If I remember correctly, he basically became a hermit with limited contact with the outside world. Up until about 10, most children confide in their parents. As they age, they begin to not share with their parents and become secretive. In their early teens, as they begin to develop autonomy, that changes and they move to their peer groups to "tell it all." All of mine, especially the easy child's did this. Then, they begin to develop a relationship with another special person, and that person becomes their go to...think boyfriend/girlfriend. Once they are adults, they begin to share again, but more on a equal/adult way---seeking advice as they would from a peer. It's all been odd to live through with was really hard during the early teens when they would tell me nothing...or hide things they didn't want me to know. Now we can have open honest conversations about things, but most of the "sharing" is done with their significant others.
  7. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    as others have said, it's maturity. A good thing.

    When mine have real problems, or need a "sounding board" they still call mom. Because I somehow instilled in them the freedom to make their own mistakes, yet the knowledge that I would be there for them when they needed me. I say somehow because I'm sure I screwed it up more than a few times over the years. They don't do this with my ex because he tried (actually he still tries) to control every aspect of their lives.

    My oldest is married. But when he was deployed, he gave ME the rights to his bank account (with his wife's blessing). She has some issues with money, and it was his way of keeping things under check. He knew that I, in my anal/retentive nature, would account for every penny.

    Yet, I still don't know all that goes on in his life, and that's how it should be.

    It's a fine balancing act as they become adults. Sometimes we get it right as parents, other times we don't. But it's what comes with their maturity.
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys.
    Just to clarify I am not upset, or feeling slighted by Matt - nor do I think it is something to be upset by necessarily. I just was wondering if he can only confide in one person at a time - and if that has been what is hindering him. I just thought it was an interesting pattern to be forced to trust someone else, but then not be able to go back and confide in the first person you had already established a pattern of trust with. I don't think it is bad he is not talking to "Mom" - that was not really my point. My point was that I just thought it was an interesting trend, and I wondered why it happened.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I tend to think he will come back and confide in you- maybe not about every little detail, but enough for you to have a jest of what is going on with him. He's just going thru a new change right now and my guess is that he just needs a little time to balance it all out in his mind.
  10. I believe that he has figured out what he needs to do to complete the program. I think he knows that you will discuss whatever you learn from him with the staff. He doesn't want that. He will play low, avoid drama and complete the program. I think that it is good that he is past that point where he will rebel.

    As for not talking in "group forum" it is quite normal according to the educational consultant when the group home use confrontational therapy. Whatever you say people can use to attack you. They learn to hold back and it actually a good thing in a working environment. Think about how useful it is if you choose a career in a firm. If you hold back information until it is useful for you, it can keep most of the focus on colleagues which is good when firms are downsizing.

    I believe that he has shown that he wants to mature. It is a very good sign.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This short story sticks out in my mind so take it for what it's worth:

    I used to be in the Navy and early in difficult child's years, I'd hoped someday he might join. He might never be able to now due to difficult child issues, but still, I'd hoped he would be pro-Navy (so-to-speak) and enjoy things like watching today's Army-Navy football game together with me.

    The way this is now- difficult child couldn't care less about the navy. He likes the army and "says" he might go in if he qualifies (given his difficult child issues) someday. If he was home today, we would NOT be sitting in front of the TV rooting for the Navy together as I used to dream of.

    But- I'm SURE we would be watching that game together with him rooting for the army and me rooting for the Navy. LOL!

    It's not all lost- it just isn't all what we dreamed of or exactly the way we dreamed it. And there is somethhing unexpected to be gained when the difficult child becomes his own person who can debate us as well as anyone!

    I honestly believe that you and M will be fine- just give it time. And remember, watching a game together with different views is still better than not watching the game together at all.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think this is permanent- I think it will be short-lived. But as others have said, he might not tell you EVERYTHING in the future- I just think he will find a good balance for himsself, you will ALWAYS be his Mom, and he will tell you enough to get the jest of some things- others, he will really want your opinion, just like before.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  12. ML

    ML Guest

    Maybe take a leap of faith here and let this therapy ride its course. Perhaps it really is just a way to encourage him to develop trust with others. This may turn out to be a very healthy thing. Hang in there and just go with it. Hugs!
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Personally, I wouldn't read too much into it just yet. Matt is being forced to become independent. He's working thru alot of issues. Some of those issues he may just not be ready to discuss with you yet even if the therapist thinks he should be. Some issues he may decide best never to discuss with you, but to resolve them himself. Nothing wrong with that.

    I'd sit back for now and let Matt ride this wave to wherever it leads him. You can trust someone utterly, but still not confide everything to them.

  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Maybe ----this is the exercise in which they teach him that NO MATTER HOW little communication he has with you -YOU WILL still be there. It is possible that the one that he could fear loosing is you. So if they take it from that perspective, and break the communication - and allow him to mature without you, but show him that it's okay, you're not leaving, you are STILL going to be there, and he'll be okay - he'll mature on normal levels like a 19 year old should.

    Our kids are different - but THEY don't want to be. We forget that, and we treat them like they are in a bubble, special, un-normal, and at times I think we make them very angry because we try so hard to protect them instead of letting them just BE. Just get their feet wet. Just run with the other people their age. Experience life. Instead we tend to still be the parent that protects and smothers, and has a hard time letting go. It's what we have done....and now all of a sudden other people are there going "Let go."

    I've struggled with this too in the last couple of years, it's not easy - but you have to find a place where you can put the Mommy in you aside and ALLOW Matt to become a man, make his own choices right or wrong, and be independent without you there to fix stuff. Not saying - you quit being his Mom. I guess how someone told me - you just stop being fixing Mommy - and your roll now is to mature and be a listening Mom. (I didn't like it when I heard it either, but it was true)

    As far as this place? Let them have this chance Steely - they seem to be trying awfully hard to help Matt be the best person he can become. In the mean time? You use your time to do the same. That way when he's done and you get back together? It will really be a nice family reunion.

    Or as good as it can be.....Know what I mean??

    Hugs & Love