I am a newbie...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaveS903, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. DaveS903

    DaveS903 New Member

    Howdy all! My name is Dave and I live in northeast Texas. I hope you don't mind but I kind of need to just vent a little.

    My step son (I'm the only father he has ever known) is Bipolar, ADHD/ODD and a Special Education student. He is our only child. My wife and I have struggled for years trying to raise our difficult child (glad I found the abbreviations in the FAQ section!). Nothing worked and no matter how hard we tried, our efforts always resulted in disappointment, anger, and heartache.

    A couple of months ago, my wife announced out of the blue she no longer loved me and moved out with our son (we are working on a reconciliation). The pressure of trying to raise an Bipolar/ADHD/ODD child and the resulting constant conflict got to be too much and she bolted...but it didn't solve anything and the kiddo ended up at the Behavioral Health Center for a week after the newness of life with Mom wore off.

    I am a "fixer." If something is wrong, I fix it. If the first thing I try doesn't work, I try something else...and something else...until I have the problem solved. Guess what? Trying to solve ODD will make you crazy! Absolutely nothing we've tried has worked. He has been an inpatient 4 times for rage episodes and has been on all kinds of medications. The only time we have peace is when he is doing exactly what he wants to do. It is probably an overstatement but it feels like he loses it anytime he is told no.

    I read a good book on positive discipline suggesteed to me by our family counselor that has opened my eyes to the fact that there is no way we are going to "control" him and that we have to let him develop his own set of tools for getting along in life.

    Anyway, I am so thankful there are other people out there who know what it feels like. I look forward to learning from you folks!

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member


    Welcome!! You have found a great place, with alot of people going through similar things as you have explained. The group here is both insightful and helpful. I'm sure you will recieve alot of support here.

    You may want to edit out your exact location and name on your post, this is a public forum and can be viewed by others. Just a thought.

    Anyhow, I'm sorry that you and your wife have had such problems. Often raising children like ours i have learned can bring about alot of pressure on the marriage or union of two ppl and the other members of the household.

    It's great your here looking for support. I'm sorry to hear your difficult child (gift from god) alot of us refer to our children as, has gone through so very much.

    Has he ever had any other diagnosis's i was wondering, has he ever been medicated at all, is he currently in any type of therapy? sorry for all the questions.

    Once again, welcome. :)
  3. co.jo

    co.jo co.jo

    What was the book you found helpful?
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you know about his early development? Did he talk, walk on time? Make good eye contact? Play appropriately with peers? Does he now?
    Who diagnosed him. ODD rarely stands alone...any history of psychiatric problems OR substance abuse on either side of the GENETIC tree? All of these things are really important! He may have been diagnosed wrong--that happens all the time. Doesn't sound like anyone has really figured this child out yet. Has he ever had a neuropsychologist evaluation? Has he ever been on a mood stabilizer WITHOUT stimulants or anti-depressants? Stims and AD's can make bipolar worse.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Dave. It's good to meet another parent who is fighting to help the child in his life.

    A strong suggestion - if you can, get your wife to either post here, or lurk here. It can help enormously, in keeping both parents on the same page when it comes to what the child needs. I speak from experience - this works for me and husband.

    I'd love to find out more about the book you recommend.

    As for books and ODD - there is a book we recommend here, it's "The Explosive Chid" by Ross Greene. There is some good discussion on this book and adapting it to younger children, on the Early Childhood forum here. The book seems to help in finding a different (I think, easier) way to deal with the ODD-type behaviours you can get in kids.

    For kids with a short fuse and a difficulty in coping with the world (too much distraction, too much frustration) then often the sort of highly controlled, micromanaging parenting which logic tells us would be right, is actually wrong and produces the very behaviours we're trying to prevent. We learned that in taking a step back, in getting to the root cause of the problem behaviour to understand it, it was easier to manage and also handed some control to the child as and when he could learn to handle it. The more control he can legitimately handle, the faster he learns to be safely independent and the calmer he feels in how he is managing his own life. He's also more inclined to let us continue to control what we need to, when he knows we let him have his head in areas we're comfortable with.

    This works for us, turned around some pretty heavy ODD behaviours for us.

    It's not a cure. It's management. The underlying problem is still there, but we work with it, we bend with it instead of risking breakage by trying to stand firm against it.

    If a person is a visual learner, you use that to give them the best chance at learning - you provide a lot of the learning material in written form, in illustrations, in lots of notes. Step by step, everything written down. But if someone is an intuitive learner, you work with them and get them hands on, let them touch it, feel it, smell it and do it. YOu choose the method best suited to the individual's capability.

    And so it should be, in how we raise our kids - we should choose the method that is best suited to their method of learning. Bout so often, we don't. We try to cram them into the same round hole that we were crammed into when we were growing up. OK, we might have fitted into the round hole after we had a few corners knocked off, but sometimes when we try to cram in other square pegs, we need to stop and NOT chisel off the corners from our kids, but instead maybe try to find a square hole of the right size, and use that instead.

    Anyway, welcome. I hope you and your wife can sort out your differences, it's got to be easier parenting a child with two parents, than with one. Being a step is more difficult but there are people here who have been where you are.

  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Welcome, Dave. Sorry for the reasons that brought you here but glad we can be of support.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to the site Dave. You know, it seems a real conflict to hear you say your wife couldn't take the pressure of raising her son and the resulting conflict so she left to do it on her own? Seems a little counter productive doesn't it? Pulling your son away suddenly from his father?

    Dave, even in the best of stable homes many of difficult children have a hard time maintaining. Bringing this kind of sudden change into your son's life is going to be difficult. However, inpatient treatment, in the form of an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or a group home may be in order if his raging is preventing him from moving forward in his life. In that type of enviornment, he can get a medication wash and begin anew. They are also trained to deal with any type of violent behavior he may exhibit.

    Glad to have you join us Dave. I agree with Marg in that if you could get your wife on the site, it may be beneficial for all three of you.

  8. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    just wanted to say hi and welcome. As you see, you're certainly not alone in all this. vent away any time!
  9. compassion

    compassion Member

    Welcome Dave S! Compassion
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome, Dave!

    I, too, would like to know the name of the book you mentioned.

    I also would like to know how old your son is.

    When my difficult child was 10 I certainly did not feel comfortable with letting her learn things on her own in her own time - sometimes it seemed dangerous to allow her to do that. But, at 17 - she is making her own life decisions. I try my best to guide and give advice, but if she chooses not to study for a test - not my problem. I tried to teach those skills and she resisted learning them. I still have rules and guidelines for her, ie: time she has to be home, etc.

    As you said
    I am sure your wife is struggling to maintain because it is so difficult to parent a difficult child. Give her space and make sure she gets some time to herself to pamper and reenergize.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wecome Dave! :)

    Glad you found us.

  12. DaveS903

    DaveS903 New Member

    Thanks for all the encouragement! My wife is coming over in a bit to spend the weekend and I will get her to post some more info.

    Here are a few answers to some of the questions.

    He was diagnosed by a psychiatrist and he has been an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital 4 times (5-7 days) where he was evaluated and given intensive behavioral therapy. He has been on quite a few different medications but I am not sure of the names. He sees the psychiatrist every month and had been seeing a behavioral therapist before he and his mom moved out. The therapist told us he wasn't sure he could help the difficult child because nothing he said seemed to be getting through. We are continuing with the therapy next week.

    His biological father used drugs and is currently in prison (agg. sexual assault of a minor). If I remember correctly, she said threw him out because he was smoking pot with his friends while he was babysitting. He last saw the difficult child as a two week old infant. From what I understand, my wife’s brother had issues similar to our difficult child’s issues. In addition, her father (RIP) was an alcoholic.

    The book is Positive Discipline for Teenagers by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott. The version I have is an older version but there is a current version on Amazon.

    I came into the picture when the difficult child was 6 (by the way - he turned 16 last week) but I'm told he was the perfect baby but started showing behavioral problems as a toddler. He attended a very small private religious school (1:8 teacher/student ratio) until the second grade and his mom always lived close to her parents. He had a lot of individual attention. His problems became more pronounced when he started attending public school (he got in a lot of trouble). He has exhibited inappropriate behavior with other kids. For instance, his day care asked that he not return due to him exposing himself to other kids. He doesn’t seem to have a normal sense of right and wrong. He either claims whatever he does is OK because he really wanted to do it or blames someone else for his problems. When something major happens, his attitude seems to be, “OK, that’s over. Everything is OK now.” Remorse is a foreign concept to him.

    His behavior with his friends now seems to be dysfunctional at times but more or less OK. He gets a lot of rejection from kids due to his behavior and tends to be a chameleon – he mimics whatever friend will have him and tries to buy their friendship with gifts.

    Again, thank you for the information and encouragement!
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Dave, have you ever taken him to a neuropsychologist? Seems, reasonably, that you have tried hard on the behavioral end, but some kids with certain disorders CAN'T behave in typical fashion and need different sorts of interventions to come around. My son is on the autism spectrum and all the behavioral therapy in the world would never have "clicked" with him. He is doing great now, but he had Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interventions, not behaviorists. They don't work for all kids. They work best for kids who don't have mental illnesses or behavioral differences. I strongly reiterate the neuropsychologist evaluation. I think you and your wife will get a very in-depth understanding of your stepson after the testing is done and will be in a far better position to decide what is best for him and how to treat him. Even medications don't help with some disorders, and certainly they are never the final answer. Does this child know how to interact appropriately with his peers? Does he play with toys appropriately or in odd ways? Does he obsess? Does he do any strange rituals such as clicking his tongue, or making high pitch noises, or flapping his arms when excited, or picking at scabs. Is he sensitive to loud noise or certain foods and textures? Does he know how to transition from one activity to another without a meltdown? Does he act his age? Does he sometimes appear "lost and clueless" especially in new situations. How does he do in school? These are important questions that psychiatrists often don't know what to do with (we had this experience).
    Also, has he experienced any abuse or seen abuse. That can make anything even worse.
    in my opinion I'd put a halt on the behaviorist as they are assuming the child CAN change. in my opinion I'd do the Neuropscyh evaluation first, then check out his suggestions and all options. Obviously the child isn't getting better. It's time in my opinion to try another tack. The earlier the kids get help for their various disorders, the better they do in life. Unfortunately, we can't force a child who is wired differently to be the same as everyone else. And they need a different type of handling.
    First you need to get that evaluation. Good luck ;)
  14. DaveS903

    DaveS903 New Member

    I know this is going to be a very basic question but is there a difference between being evaluated by psychiarists and neuropsychologist?
  15. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello Dave, and welcome!

    You could be describing my difficult child. The lack of a sense of right and wrong, justifying behaviour "because I really needed to", inappropriate social interactions, buying friends...

    I agree with others that a neuropsychologist evaluation will provide you with some good and helpful information.

    A neuropsychologist evaluation is different from a psychiatric one. A NeoruPsych is a psychologist with additionial expertise in brain function. The evaluation is intensive and can take hours, but it can reveal a lot of information that you would not otherwise know, which can lead to a clear diagnosis (diagnosis). The diagnosis is helpful because then you can start getting the right interventions in place for your difficult child.

    In my case, it took us 12 years to find the right diagnosis. At first we were told ADHD/ODD, then high-functioning autism, then Aspergers. Only in the last 2 years was my difficult child's mood disorder discovered, which has allowed us to give him the right medications and therapy for him.

    It's a long road, but well worth it.

    So very glad you found us. Also glad to hear that your wife will be reading and posting as well. It can be very helpful.

  16. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Hi, Dave. Welcome to the board.

    Raising a difficult child is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Psychiatrists observe and listen to symptoms but don't do full scale testing. NeuroPsychs spend 6-10 hours testing the child in all areas--from neurological to psychiatric to Learning Disability (LD) problems--the whole nine yards. Then they write up an intensive report and you have a much better idea of what makes your child tick. Psychiatarists just don't do that--often they pull out of prescription pad before doing any testing at all. I've gone myself to both--I have a mood disorder. I much prefer neuropsychologist testing--they were better for both me and my child. They are way more thorough.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Dave, welcome.

    My first thought, a knee-jerk reaction I will admit, is that your son has been misdiagnosed. BiPolar (BP) kids have their good moments, and your son sounds like he hasn't had a single one.
    Especially the word "No" --that really hit home.
    And I bet he doesn't transition well to new situations. Like, leaving a TV show to eat dinner can cause a rage, right?
    Those are some of the reasons why so many people here are suggesting a new evaluation by a neuropsychologist. You need someone who knows something about neurology, not just psychiatry.
    Psychiatrists focus on chemicals.
    Psychologists usually focus on behavior.

    I am so sorry about your wife. I know the feeling. I just read another note where the husband wanted to walk out. It almost requires a superhuman being to not only survive our kids, but to thrive in a romantic, committed relationship with-a spouse when these kids explode into our lives.

    You are right and good to try to help, even if it doesn't help your marriage. There is a kid at stake and he can become a functioning, happy adult.
    But ... at some point he will become an adult and you will have to let him go. This should be a part of your life but not an all-consuming 24-hr a day obsession for you. We all tell one another to learn how to detach. You will learn it, too.
    It takes a lot of practice.

    How old is your difficult child now? How is he doing in school?

    You've gotten some GREAT ideas and suggestions here. I'm glad you found us!
  19. DaveS903

    DaveS903 New Member

    Thanks for explaining neuropsychologist. We also did some online reading and we are going to get him an evaluation. We are considering a longer term residential treatment center if we can find one we can afford. Maybe he can to figure out life in a highly structured environment with the help of a trained staff. The neuropsychologist evaluation needs to come first though so we can have the info we need to make a good decision.

    He has some good moments but lately those moments seem like they only come when he is doing exactly what he wants to do. It is very difficut to get him to do chores or follow directions if they are counter to what he wants. To get what he wants he ether argues until he shuts down in furious silence or goes off yelling/stomping/slamming doors. Lately his favorite phrase about why he has to do something or not do something seems to be "that's retarded." Sometimes he tries to make a deal...but he rarely follows through on keeping his end (does it halfway, he's too tired, the work is too hard, his legs hurt, his back hurts, doesn't want to, etc.). When we stand our ground and he doesn't get his way, he starts ratcheting up. For instance, yesterday on the way home from church he wanted to go to a friend's house. We do not like the kid (think of Eddie Haskell and you will have the right idea) and do not like what goes on in the home so we said no but his friend could come to our house. My wife also told him we had a lot of stuff to do to get ready for a game night with my her mother and some family friends and that he had chores to take care of. He started arguing while she tried explaining why we said no. He got louder and more animated and was heading for a meltdown so we told him to go do what he wanted and if he screwed up and got in trouble too bad, so sad.

    As far as school, he is in Special Education and passes most of his classes by a point or two but the days of us battling him over doing homework or helping him do makeup work are over. Intellectually and emotionally he is about 9 or 10. On the rare occasionas he brings homework home, he will only do it if we help him. If we try to explain something that varies in any way from what his teachers say he get angry and frustrated. We encourage him to do his work but he gets bent out of shape if we remind him of it so it is his choice to bring work home and either do it or not - another one of those too bad, so sad situations.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  20. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Sounds like his methods are working perfectly -- for him. He'll try asking and if that doesn't work, he'll go to nagging. Next is yelling and stomping. And, then, of course, comes the violence or just taking off and doing what he wants. Sadly, that doesn't work for the rest of the household.

    If you say no, you have to stick to the no. He doesn't need explanations at this point. If he ups the ante, you let him know the consequences of yelling, stomping, getting violent, taking off and you follow through. Easy? Nope, not in the least. Necessary, as a former vice presidential candidate would say, You betchya.

    Decide on what the consequences are ahead of time and tell him what the consequence is for each specific behavior. For the violence and running away, I would call the police.

    He needs to quit running the household. His way has worked for a very, very long time. It is going to take a very, very long time to untrain him and you and your wife.

    I found that with my daughter when I finally decided to take control that the more she knew in advance, the better in the long run. Yes, she tested and, boy, did she test but I followed through every time. It took a few years but she did start changing some of the behaviors. Of course, she found new ones but at least she knew I would stand firm in the consequences for the new stuff and they quit a lot sooner.

    Some things you might want to consider: he slams doors, the doors come off the hinges; he stomps around the house, his shoes are stored away and only put on outside; he yells, you fine him; he destroys property or hits someone or something, the police are called; he takes off, the police are called. Do give him a safe place where he can let out his anger and frustration -- a separate, empty room, a corner in the garage, whatever. Just somewhere where he can yell, throw things, stomp all he wants.

    Good luck! I hope you find some answers as to what is causing his problems but it really does sound like a lot of his actions are entirely under his control.