Ineffective Mother

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by overwhelmedwith3, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. overwhelmedwith3

    overwhelmedwith3 New Member

    So, my 10 year old son drives me insane, and I looked up ODD, and the only thing that seems to be missing is his photo. He has not been diagnosed with any disorders...yet, but he is definitely suffering from something, maybe even just bad parenting. I don't know where to begin and I'm not even quite sure what I intend to accomplish by posting this.

    Maybe you can all anonymously tell me what a horrible mother I am, or alternately, that I'm just like you. So I guess my intent is to find out just how far out of the norm I am as a mother to a difficult child.

    I don't know how to effectively teach him how to control his own anger and frustrations when I can't seem to control my own. Tonight, he wanted to have a battle of wills over a homework assignment (which has been a regular issue with him lately), but it was a 2 page report and I wasn't about to let him blow it off. I'm not even going to go into why it wasn't done previously, but the point is, I kept him up until about 12:45am to finish it because he wanted to moan and groan and crumple his paper and throw it. Anything but do the work, and the more I insisted he do it, the more defiant he got. It definitely didn't start this way. I was actually looking forward to helping him and it started out ok, but about a half hour into it he started getting frustrated, difficult, and increasingly defiant.

    Now it's when he does this that I have a tendency to completely lose it and become, as I call her, "Demon Mom". First I insist that he does what he needs to do, make threats. If he persists in his defiance, I get louder, more demanding. Eventually I scream at the top of my lungs, spank him and if he doesn't break down in tears, he usually ends up earning himself another.

    Sometimes, I want to beat him, but I never have, and I thought I never would, but "thought" has turned to "hope". I have, as I call it, spanked the cr*p out of him, but really, it's just several pretty good swats. I have never injured him more than causing temporary pain. But the point is, how the heck do I teach him how to control himself if I can't do the same? It usually takes a while to push me to this point, unless I'm already stressed out. I usually keep it together pretty well, but he seems to enjoy wearing me down. And how do I blame a 10 year old? Isn't he the product of his parents and environment? I can't escape at least partial blame for this. I know I'm not helping in the long run even when I eventually get the results I want now. Like tonight, after he saw me go crazy, which I will not detail here due to shame and fear, he broke down and did what he needed to do.

    Ok, so maybe my question is this: Have any of you found yourselves screaming at the top of your lungs, spanking hard enough to make your fingers throb like they're broken (over clothes of course, and that's probably why it hurts me so bad. Darn cargo pants pockets), completely losing your mind, then feeling like the world's cr*ppiest parent afterward, or is it just me, and I should remove myself from this earth?

    Give it to me straight...I need to hear it. Don't be polite. Thank you in advance, and forgive me if what I've said about my parenting disgusts you. It disgusts me.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi and welcome overwhelmed,

    The frist thing I would say to you is run, don't walk, to the nearest book store or library and pick up a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's our "board bible". It really gives you a new perspective into what is going in insdie these challenging kids of ours.

    I think, just based on what you have said about the recent incident and what you have tried in the past, you have learned that traditional methods of discipline, i.e.spanking, don't work with our kids. It's useless and counterproductive - I would stop now.

    Do we loose it? Certainly!

    Here's a couple things, it's hard, based on your first post and just one example, to know what is going on with your son. It would be helpful if you did a profile signature like you see at the bottom of our posts. Just click User CP on the upper left side of the page and go from there! It would be helpful to know what professionals have seen your son, the home dynamics (age of sibs, live with dad, etc.), history of mental or emotional issues in the family, stuff like that.

    I can say that keeping a 10 year old boy up until midnight to complete his homework is too much. Either he pay the consequences by getting a bad grade, or he takes a late grade and works on it over the weekend before he gets his play privilages.

    How does your son do socially at school? Any behavior issues at school? Does he have friends? Does he get along with his sibs? Is he respectful to adults?

    Addressing the issue of enviornment - certainly intellectually we understand that any disorders our children may have, they were born with (or are a result of early trauma in the case of things like Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or PTSD). But I do feel that the way we parent can have an effect on them. We certainly are not going to do everything right, but have a better understanding about what our kids are going through is one of the goals of this site.

    I welcome you here. I think there are going to be a lot of questions coming your way regarding what medical attention has been happening with your son. What kind of docs he has seen, what testing has been done, etc. Glad you have found your way here.

  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome, to our corner of the world. I second what LDM said about The Explosive Child. I would not battle over the hw. Let the natural consequences take its course. We stopped doing battles with my difficult child over hw in first grade because he would get so violent. We even have it written in to his iep that hw is a no go. Does your son have an iep?

    Have you taken him to a nueropsychologist? They can really be helpful in identifying what may be going on.

    Glad you found us; you will find much support here.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome, but sorry you have to be here. :tongue:

    Now for my comment, and you asked for honest feedback. Hon, get help for yourself. in my opinion a book is not need professional help. Hitting your kid (sounds like the spanking got out of hand) is not going to help him or change him and it will keep on making you feel like ****. in my opinion hitting him just makes it worse and when you act just like him you are not setting a good example. Calm works much better with these kids, and perhaps therapy will help with that. You should not think of this as "he wins if I don't win." He has obvious problems (in my opinion more than ODD) and you, being the adult, need to diagnose him (see a neuropsychologist for him) and advocate for his help. You also will get better feedback from us if you answer a few questions.

    1/Are there are psychiatric problems (diagnosed or undiagnosed) on either side of his biological family tree? You didn't mention a father, but even if his dad hasn't seen him since his conception, he has inherited half of his genes so his father's disorders could still be passed along. Was his father a substance abuser, which can be a red flag for mood disorders that he is trying to self-medicate?

    2/How was your son's early development? Did he talk on time, make strong eye contact with strangers, can he socialize appropriately with his same age peers? How is he in school? Does he have an IEP? Some kids can't handle homework and have a modified homework schedule (mine did). Also, now my son gets his homework done in school in a special study hall. This really worked well.

    Others will come along. You are not a bad parent. You just need help regarding how to handle your differently-wired son. Plus you need to get his diagnosed correctly so you know how to parent him. (((Hugs)))
  5. There's genetics, there's environment, and the two can work together to make something truly horrid. There's a lot going on with you right now and it's great that you're seeking some help here.

    I understand a lot of what you feel. My grandfather was an alcoholic who just beat the daylights out of my dad. My dad drank every day (but not like his father did) and whacked us kids quite a bit --- but, again, not like his father did. I'm guessing I drink in a week (or maybe more ) what my father did in an evening and I rarely get physical with my son. I did, however, long ago go to the family doctor and express my feelings of great irritation with everyone and everything and my unhappiness that I was generally so annoyed, I didn't have the quality of life I wanted. Tried a number of medications until we found one that worked for me.

    Fast forward many years and after many efforts of seeking alternative ways to deal with a boy who went from the perfect baby to a Terrible Two and stayed there, we found the right medications for him, too. I am fully convinced that if the genetic line holds true, my son will have a child just like him (may I live to see the day) but my son will do a better job than I did in handling his Explosive Child of an offspring.

    What's my point? Yeah, you have problems but you are far from alone, especially on this website. Here's my advice for what it's worth:
    1. Talk to your doctor about your own anger issues. S/he is in a good position to advise a counselor, trying medications or another solution.
    2. Definitely get the Explosive Child book (worth its weight in gold). That book really helped me understand myself a lot better as well as my son.
    3. Work with your son's doctor and school district to get him the help he needs.
    4. Hang out with the folks on this website and learn a lot of great coping tools and helpful hints. You'll find things that work for you. Maybe only one idea in ten works in your household, but it's one more tool than you had the day before. Having a full tool chest helps you be more effective and happier.

    People on this site are very non-judgment and many have walked in shoes nearly identical to yours. I have felt shame and guilt at some of my actions, too. I have a goal to be a better parent than my father (who truly was a better parent than his father even though I considered him totally inadequate until I was in my twenties) and great hopes that within a couple generations, people in my genetic line can actually avoid the pitfalls I fell into and have normal family lives. I'm fully convinced that with the right medications and education (and we're learning all the time!) that this can happen. Maybe I'm totally delusional, but that vision is truly one of the tools in my toolbox.

    I have a lot of little "mantras" I repeat to help me avoid those full-family meltdowns. Here's my idealized process (I admit it breaks down a lot, but it's a goal).
    1. "He's doing the best he can with what he has to work with." [Repeat to self at least five times.]
    2. "He didn't choose to be like this." [Go back to step 1.]
    3. When the anger/frustration builds up too high, say "I am very angry with you right now and I really want to smack you. But I'm going to walk away instead." [Suit actions to words.]

    I made a commitment some time ago that I would not hit my son at all. I told my husband that I believed that all he was learning is that if you get mad enough and you're big enough, it's OK to hit people. The truth is that I was afraid it was a slippery slope for me and that I would end up no better than my father or, worse, reverse the progress of my family and end up like my grandfather. The temptation was certainly very strong! The more tools I have in my box, the less difficulty I've been having. I do understand how you feel -- the expression in my house is not Demon Mom but rather "watching Mom's head spin completely around" which is fundamentally the same thing! Yet, we've had improvement and I'm sure you can, too. Good luck and welcome to the site!
  6. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    You are a good Mother, and you are not alone. I used to fantasize about beating the hel out of the kid, with a determination that I really would never do it. Then one day he was exploding and being highly disrespectful. I walked away while imagining hitting him. Then he grabbed the back of my jacket and yield, "You don't walk away when I am talking to you", and he pulled me backwards". That was it. With all the strength I had I whipped, my arm over his arms breaking his grip and smacking him hard with the back side of my hand. This event ended with the police being called. We both told them the same story and the police spent over an hour lecturing the boy. "You never lay a hand on your Mother! If we find you do that again we will take you in!". The only words they gave me were advice and comfort. But, yet because I imagined hitting him first, I still felt guilty. But for me to focus my energy on feeling guilty will not help my son develop the social and anger management skills he will need in his life.

    The Explosive Child did help but did not give enough information on HOW to teach the skills necessary. (Read the book you will understand). I found out that the counselor at our local family center did a much better job at teaching me how to behave and act. It includes:

    - Keep control of my anger. The better I am at not losing it the smaller the explosions become.
    - Don't spank or hit. Particularly when you are angry. For us spankings really did not discourage anything. It only encouraged me to become angrier.
    - Try to avoid yelling. I use what a call the "Hal Voice". From the move 2010, when the computer (Hal) says, "I am sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" in an overly calm emotionless voice. I use this voice because when I am mad I cannot talk in a normal voice, and I don't want to yell. I have even said, "I am sorry difficult child, I'm afraid I can't do that". I am sure some day when he is older he will watch the movie and discover my secrete.
    - Reflect: This is a technique which the Family center taught husband and me. A similar technique is covered in the Explosive Child. Only the Explosive Child did not go into enough detail on how to use it. But by using the reflecting technique you ether repeat what the child has said, or you state what you believe the child is feeling or wants. Don't worry if you don't get it correct the child will correct you and then you state the corrected version. This technique helps the child verbalize what is frustrating them, lets the child know you are lessening and helps set things up for a more calm discussion. I have even used it at work and now have a reputation for being able to manage more difficult employees.
    - If possible, identify the things that set him off and talk about them early.
    - Natural consequences work better than yours do. Example: "If you don't write the paper you will fail the class and will not be allowed to play on the team" works better than any punishments you can do.
    - Sometimes you need to walk away. I once left the 13 yr home alone and went to a move at midnight. (Mall cop, good mindless move for a frustrated mother).
    - Find time for yourself. Take mini vacations. Big mug of chocolate and 15 minutes in a quiet place. This is more important than cleaning the house if it can help you.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome--

    First, you are NOT a horrible parent, but you must stop spanking/ probably doesn't seem like that big a deal, lot's of parents do it....BUT depending on your child's issues, you may be teaching him to use violence to get what he wants...and that will backfire BIG TIME one day.

    I also recommended "The Explosive Child" does help give you a perspective into these kids and their thought-process and how to deal with it.

    If you have anger and self-control issues yourself, try and get yourself into some therapy and/or an anger management program...

    If you only find yourself becoming angry and out-of-control with this child..? O I hear ya! Some of these kids can send the best of us over the edge at times.

    Is your son in any kind of therapy or counseling at this time?

    Please let us know more...

  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, another note about me. Oh, wait, it's about someone else ... LOL!
    I always tell people that if my son weren't so cute, I would have killed him by now. ;)

    So, I agree with-the others, that spanking won't work. In fact, it exacerbates the problem, because once his system is lit up, it's just going to continue until he has a nuclear meltdown. In fact, if he's like my son, he'll rise to the task and it's almost like he looks forward to the fight.

    I would break down his homework into bitesize chunks. IOW, if there's a paper due, have him type/write his name at the top with-the date, the teacher's name, and the title of the paper. That's Day 1. The next day is one sentence. It may seem like it takes forever, but eventually, he'll get into it and finish it. (And I sometimes trick my son into doing 3 or 4 sentences and voila! He's done! Not the length I would wish for, but it's better than nothing.)

    I also agree with-the others that therapy, medications, massage, and exercise are great for dealing with-kids like this. Time alone is a must.

    Please type in a profile at the bottom. My memory was sucked out by my son ...
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, one more thing. A reward system might work. If he's like my son, he'll be so ramped up by the "treat" (usually, video games) that he'll race through the homework and do a crummy job, but you have to start somewhere.
  10. overwhelmedwith3

    overwhelmedwith3 New Member

    I can't seem to get my sig to show up, so I'll paste it in here. I want to write much more, but I have to go get him from school, so here are the family details for now.

    THANK YOU all for your responses.

    Me -> 34
    boyfriend -> 30 going on 15, father of #2 & #3. wouldn't be here if it weren't for the kids. Relationship usually hanging by a thread
    XBf -> 35, father of #1. Joint custody 50/50 everything. Worse than me.
    Baby #1 -> 10 y.o. son, gifted, willful, generally good kid, super-defiant. He and boyfriend don't get along. Ping pong ball with XBf.
    Baby #2 -> 20 m.o. daughter, angelface, starting terrible two's
    Baby #3 -> 8 m.o. son, sweet as can be, seems a lot like the 10 y.o. as a baby. *sigh*
  11. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    A thought on reward systems: For my son, an all or nothing approach does not work. He needs an incremental system. For example, we migh tel him to finish his homework in 15 minuts (he's in 1st grade) with no fuss and he can have 15 minutes on the Wii. If he fusses, I might knock it down to 12 minutes and so on.

    We do the same think with his allowance ($1/day). Bad behavior loses a quarter, but it can be earned back through exceptionally good behavior. His time horizon is very short, so this works.

    You are not a bad mother, but you and your son need some help to cope with all of this better. Keep coming back here...we are all very understanding.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sweetie, you are not a bad mom. You are an overwhelmed one. There really IS a difference. So first off I am sending you some hugs.

    Lots of us spanked at one point or another. We all have learned that all it really accomplished was a child who thought that if you were bigger you could hit someone who didn't do what you wanted. Not terribly productive, is that?

    You have gotten good advice. I want to add a couple of books. This first one has a Christian bent, and I don't know your religion. It is not mentioned to change or address your religion. I have had many friends of other religions who found it helpful.

    She's Gonna Blow!: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

    While not terribly religious, I found this gave me concrete signals to watch in my behavior to see when my anger started, so that I could then defuse it before I exploded.

    I also strongly recommend the Love and Logic parenting books. You can look at them on their website (, read and even listen to audio things. Take a look at the stuff aimed for teachers, it has good tips there also. They have a number of books. In your situation I recommend the basic Love and Logic Parenting book and the one aimed at parents of children five and under. I am not saying your little ones are out of control, just that this is very effective with many kids and it is easier to put changes into place if you do it with all the kids at once.

    If you want to get the books from you can click on the link on the right side of this page. It does help support this site. If you would prefer to buy used, you can find the books at,, or

    Sending some more hugs. Things can get better. We have all had to learn different ways to parent our kids, because the old fashioned parenting just doesn't work with our kids.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome. You've had some good feddback so far.

    First, on the keeping a kid up until after midnight to turn in an assignment - did the job get done? If so, good. It's not generally a good idea to get into battles with your kids, because it fosters a "them or us" attitude in both of you and that is unhealthy. But I have done tha "stay up until this is done" method with easy child, she needed it. And I didn't have to do it too often, soon she began to do it for hersewlf when she needed to, then she got better at organising herself to do it right in the first place.

    But for a difficult child, it's often different. A difficult child who needs medications to focus, for example, is gonig to be fairly useless by 10 pm, let alone after midnight. How you manage seems to be very dependent on each kid and how their mind functions.

    You do need to find how to plug in to where your child is and how best he learns. Similarly, plug in to yourself. You do sound at lest partly plugged in, you are aware that some of what you are doing is not right.

    Are you a bad parent? Well, you are donig some things wrong. But the thing is - you are aware of it and are not happy about it. That is really important. A really bad parent simply wouldn't care.

    Does that mean we will blast you and refuse to have anything to do with you? Of course not. We've been where you are, we understand. We also have had our days of getting it wrong, of screaming at our kids, of doing worse.

    THis is a loving site, we do try to help one another. Sometimes I feel we're not firm enough with people who need a short sharp kick in the parental conscience, but there's generally a way to say what needs to be said, with tact.

    In your case, you do need to find another way. For your sake as well as your son's. The book will help, but of course it's not the only answer. But I suspect that once you can begin to find your way out of the minefield, your stress will ease, your son's stress will ease and it will be easier for you to navigate.

    Keep in touch, let us know how you're getting on.

  14. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    I so understand the guilt that comes from losing it and scaring the heck out of your kids, after they've rubbed your last nerve raw. I think you get the gist of what most of us would suggest: don't hit, try not to yell, and get some support for yourself.

    You know how the flight attendants tell you that in case of a loss of cabin pressure, that you should put your oxygen mask on first, then your child's? Same idea with parenting a difficult child. You need to take care of your exhaustion and frustration first before you can be an effective parent for a challenging child. From your signature, it sounds like you have a lot of demands on your time, attention and emotions, so it's completely understandable that you would lose it with a child who is just making you crazy. But as Marguerite put it, you realize what you are doing is not helping and you care. A "bad" parent wouldn't even reflect on their parenting.

    I come here all the time to confess the boneheaded mistakes I've made with my kids. It's a relief.
  15. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Hello from another mom who understands.