Let down my guard

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by maril, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. maril

    maril New Member

    I want to vent, so please forgive me if I ramble. I guess I got a little comfortable with believing that maybe the foul mouth, verbal abuse, and destructiveness of difficult child was going to cease because he SEEMED to be turning over a new leaf, more in control. We have been working with him and we finally have good outside supports and interventions in place. So, of course, I was caught off guard this morning when difficult child exploded after being read the riot act by husband when difficult child once again missed the bus. It was horrible from the time it started (starting with both guys escalating to the point of things getting out of control/barely avoided a fight -- lucky I was there -- and difficult child did do some property damage before I finally got him out the door into the car) until I dropped difficult child at school. I chose to grin and bear it in order to get this kid to school and show him that I was not going to buy into his extreme reaction and ugly behavior (I know difficult child is very anxious and has some issues with his dad, but still...). When we got to his school, those inside saw something was wrong, the principal came out, calmly spoke with me, then instantly (thank goodness) difficult child's demeanor and behavior changed and he went into school peacefully. I am embarassed because I was about to cry in front of the principal and probably was shaking when he was talking to me, and I hate when I get to that point because I thought I was getting better at keeping my emotions under control. :ashamed:

    When I got home, I gave husband a piece of my mind because we had previously agreed to back away, not feed into difficult child's outbursts and try to not escalate, and husband chose to lose control and esalate anyway. Of course, my reaction to husband does not help matters and, anyway, difficult child is probably hoping to divide and conquer mom and dad...

    Okay, so upon re-reading the above, I know it is unrealistic to think my son is going to dispense with his long-time habits. Also, he still has not had possible other diagnoses ruled out, so, of course, I can't expect his behaviors to go away by asking him to stop. He definitely needs continued help and further evaluation.

    Right now, I feel like buying a one-way ticket to someplace really, really nice (like maybe St. Martin...I like it there) and would like to leave these two extremists alone to figure out how to get along. Naw...can't do that...without someone to intervene, these two would seriously hurt each other. I am just really getting tired of being the moderator. :(
     
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Aw, Marilynne, I'm sorry. been there done that.

    You've GOT to back away. Allow natural consequences. Read John Rosemond's books on teens. He's really into natural consequences.

    We've been through this so many times ... now I can look at it and see what happened, but when you're in the middle of it, it is SO hard!

    I feel for you.

    by the way, be sure to NOT bring it up with-difficult child later today. Just take away a privilege calmly and go on with-your life.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  3. maril

    maril New Member

    Oh, TerryJ2, thanks for the support and, also, the book info - I am sure it will be helpful.

    It is reassuring and calming to hear from someone who has been there done that, and I appreciate your input.

    I will steer clear of bringing this morning up to him. I already have my mind set to not allow any use of cell phones. He has been using my cell phone off and on because we took his away and have yet to return it (not real consistent, am I?).
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  4. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I am so sorry you had such an awful morning. It is very hard when the two authority figures are not on the same page. Like you said divide and conquer. That being said, I do understand how DIFFICULT it is to walk away and try to disengage! It is a daily struggle for me. It is just so easy to get caught up in the moment and react. Shoot, they should give us medications to allow us to stay calm!!! LOL It takes lots of practice.

    I am glad that the principle was able to calmly take difficult child into school. I hope things are better after school.

    Hang in there. :)

    p.s. If you get the tickets to St. Martin let me know. I'M COMING!!!! :)
     
  5. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    The principle, vice principle, Special Education teacher, reading therapist .... have all seen me cry. I hate it but will probably do it again, but I won't let it stop me.

    Take that trip to St. Martin, even if it is just a five minute stop at the coffee shop on the way home. Find some time for yourself. We have a neighbor who always hands me a glass of wine when I drop by. I'll stop for 10 minutes when out to get gas. You just need it.

    You are correct husband needs to get with the program. But, it is as hard for him to control his anger as it is for me to not cry in front of the principle. He probably understands it, wants it, but has a hard time controlling it. Even though you are not there yet, it sounds like difficult child is making progress, and I bet if you look hard you might find some progress with husband. Just not as much as you would like.

    Next time to talk to husband about his behavior, try the voice change trick. This is when you can not talk to him in your normal voice because you are too angry. Instead of yelling, lower your voice. It comes out like the computer in 2001 which says, "I am sorry, Dave. I am afraid I can't do that". Only you are saying, "If you lose your temper, he will learn that that is the proper way to respond."

    Hang in, one day at a time.
     
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hon, I feel for you, you poor thing. If it makes you feel better, the spec. ed teacher saw me bawl like a baby too.
    One thing: I don't think your son is doing long time habits. I think his disorder fuels his behavior so he will keep repeating until he is stable. I hope things improve soon!
     
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah! I want to go to St. Martin's too!!!!

    Marilynne, funny you should say that about the cell phone. All it takes for me to forget things is to be in the same rm with-my difficult child! I called to confirm a chiro appointment at my husband's one day ... TWICE ... then picked up my difficult child from school and went straight home and forgot the appointment! I vow that he is grounded off my cell ph and then forget when he gets in the car.
    He has even reminded me of some of his Time Outs.
    How embarrassing.
    Are we under stress or what?
     
  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I believe in natural and logical consequences, but the situation determines which type to use. A natural consequences is one that follows without you as the parent having to impose it. For example, your difficult child is cold because he refuses to wear his winter jacket. Next time (maybe!) he will wear his jacket or face the same natural consequence of being cold.

    A logical consequence is one imposed by the parent that is related to the misbehavior. These consequences are usually talked over and understand before the misbehavior occurs. For example, if your difficult child continually misses the bus, then the logical consequence is for him to have to call and pay for a taxi or pay mom or dad "taxi fare" to drive him to school. This teaches him a real-life consequence of missing the bus. To my way of thinking, taking away a cell phone teaches your difficult child no real lesson about missing the bus.

    With both types of consequences, there is no lecturing or "told you so's" about the misbehavior (and hopefully fewer explosions by parent and child). The consequences simply occur as a matter of course.

    If your difficult child has a disorder that has not been identified and treated and meltdowns are occurring all the time, consequences frequently don't work. In this case, you are better off using the Collaborative Problem Solving techniques outlined in The Explosive Child by Ross Greene.
     
  9. maril

    maril New Member

    Okay, so I really laughed and then my eyes teared up after reading all your posts! You all are gems.

    After school today was okay. Not much was said, and now he is off with his friend to who knows where.

    Lol, thanks for the reassurance and wishes. St. Martin, here we come!

    To quote aeroeng: (I couldn't figure out how to include more than one quote using the controls on the page, so I copied the quotes myself in the rest of my post): "You are correct husband needs to get with the program. But, it is as hard for him to control his anger as it is for me to not cry in front of the principle. He probably understands it, wants it, but has a hard time controlling it. Even though you are not there yet, it sounds like difficult child is making progress, and I bet if you look hard you might find some progress with husband. Just not as much as you would like."

    You make some very good points and, honestly, husband has made strides and is trying hard to be understanding some of the time. Also, I like the "voice trick" idea. I will try that, lol.

    To quote MidwestMom: "One thing: I don't think your son is doing long time habits. I think his disorder fuels his behavior so he will keep repeating until he is stable. I hope things improve soon!"

    Thanks so much. I would/and I bet difficult child, too, would like life better if he could get the "formula" for helping him become stable.

    To quote TerryJ2: "Are we under stress or what?" Yes, yes, this stress does that to us! Thanks for sharing that, lol. Oh, and we could have a great time in St. Martin! Sun and fun and no worries. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  10. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    LOL!!! Love the picture of the beach! I am dreaming right now. And the best part about my dream isn't actually the beautiful beach - IT'S THE STRING BIKINI I am wearing!!!! Hey, if I'm gonna dream, I'm gonna dream BIG!!! :)
     
  11. maril

    maril New Member

    bran: I'm dreaming, too! It sure is a beautiful place.

    smallworld: I understand the points you have made and appreciate them. As you stated, "If your difficult child has a disorder that has not been identified and treated and meltdowns are occurring all the time, consequences frequently don't work. In this case, you are better off using the Collaborative Problem Solving techniques outlined in The Explosive Child by Ross Greene."

    I agree, and it is evident that my son needs to be stabilized. Also, I have heard the book you suggested mentioned here before and will check for it when I go to the library. Thanks!

    by the way - Of course, as you say, taking away the cell phone would not be a logical consequence to missing the bus. However, I would like to note that we have restricted his cell phone use since January (actually took his away in January and periodically let him use mine/doesn't have a cell phone 24/7), due to abuse of that privilege (using the phone to threaten people, using it in school after being told to put it away, etc.), and so, the restriction continued into February. In addition, since he refused to return my cell phone this morning (he had been doing pretty good with restrictions in place until today), once I did get my cell phone from him, I chose to stop his access to our cell phones altogether (we pay the bill, so he has no say).
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    There is another thread (or two) on the topic of cell phones, I also added a couple of options I've heard about in terms of phones which are very difficult for a kid to abuse, but which still allow the sort of use that we as parents want. You know, "Mum, the bus left without me, I'm stranded" phone calls. Or "Mum, football practice finished early because the coach was sick. Can I get a ride home with Mrs Walsh? She's standing right here to talk to you." But these basic-service phones don't allow phone calls to anyone whose phone number YOU haven't put into the phone previously. No messaging, no photos, no internet. And, of course, there is info on those threads on how to limit services to more standard-type phones.

    I'm a firm believer in natural consequences. And logical consequences. It's a policy that reflects life. If your child is mean and hits a friend, then that friend won't want to play with your child. Natural consequence, one that follows regardless of your repsonse (unless you sit with them to resolve the differences).

    With difficult child's outburst it's impotant to remember that part of the problem is your son's inability (due to disability) to cope with anxiety, frustration and someone being "in his face". Added to this is his father's method of communicating and resolving conflict (yeah, right). I've learned to NOT react with anger or desire to punish, when my child explodes. I know from my own past experience, that even though I am a calm person, someone who has a great deal of self-control when it comes to not swearing, staying calm, resolving conflict, handlnig a tough situation - if I am REALLY upset, if someone makes me really angry, when I finally DO get sufficiently worked up - then all purgatory breaks loose and I make up for it. Even then I often can stay seemingly calm, although people who know me say even my eyes change colour when I'm really angry.
    Example: I don't walk very well so I use an electric mobility scooter (little old lady type). We don't have footpaths on all our roads so I often have to ease down off the end of a path and use the side of the road. I was coming home from the shops and feeling relaxed and happy, when I got suddenly startled by a car coming dangerously close to me, it actually swerved to "buzz" me and they tooted their horn loudly while yelling something out the window at me. My heart rate must have instantly doubled, I went into full panic mode and swore loudly at the driver (who probably didn't hear me, he was probably too ar away and laughing too hard). I was then immediately disgusted with myself for losing control so easily. But it happens. The thing is, although it took a very big, sudden fright to do it, I lost control. Anyone can lose control, with sufficient provocation. A difficult child needs a lot less provocation, so it is difficult to help them over this.

    The best way to help difficult child learn self-control is positive motivation. I didn't like how I felt when I was out of control. I would have much preferred to have stayed IN control and perhaps shouted something witty. Or had the presence of mind to note down the number plate and ring the cops. If I had come through that with the presence of mind I would have preferred, it would have been a win for me - "I survived the experience with my dignity intact."
    A difficult child who has lost control doesn't like how he feels. I doubt he is trying to divide you and your husband, but he may very well know (as does difficult child 3, with us) that if he really wants something, he needs to ask Mum and not Dad. And whyt is this? Because he knows Mum is trying to help him stay in control, while Dad has his moments of blokey toughness and "I'm the man of the house, that's why" responses which only serve to aggravate the problems, not help the boy stay calm.

    When a difficult child loses his cool and shouts at a parent, it's not good. What makes it worse is when a parent immediately sees this as insubordination and responds with more aggression and attempt to control. Buddy - you've already lost control, that is not the way to regain it.
    A difficult child out of control is a difficult child who cannot be reasoned with until he calms down. You saw it yourself - your difficult child was trying to regain control but was only able to do so after he got to school and the principal came out. I bet that if the principal had been standing at your gate, difficult child may still possibly have got SOME control at that point but it would have been far more difficult because it was just too soon.

    Losing his cool brings its own consequences, in how difficult child will be feeling inside.

    What we do - we talk. Once difficult child is calm, we talk calmly about how we could have handed the situation better. How difficult child could have done it better, especially. To do this, if possible you need to talk to husband about how he reacted. It is OK for a parent to admit they contributed, if they can accept that they did. It won't undermine authority to do so; if anything, it gains respect from the child, it teaches the child that it's OK to admit your mistakes and it also teaches honesty about it all. What I aim for is an apology (voluntarily) from the child. If the child feels at all justified, you probably won't get it. But if you make it possible for the child to apologise at least in part, it can open the door to even more. "I'm sorry I lost my temper this morning," is a good start. It doesn't have to be directed to the person he's really angry with (his father) until he's ready to apologise to him. And sometimes it can take an apology from his father first ("I'm sorry I kept shouting at you, son, even after you got angry - I forgot that we now use different ways to handle this situation.") His dad can still have unresolved problems with difficult child (for example, whatever made him angry with him in the first place, such as leaving Dad's best screwdriver set out in the rain) which husband can add in with, "I was angry about the screwdrivers and we still need to discuss what we need to do about this."

    The morning rush is the worst time to have to sit down and sort out a problem. No time for family meetings, everyone rushing around, people getting in others' way, people getting impatient with each other. It can trigger a easy child, let alone a difficult child.

    Sometimes a problem can start purely from "get out of my way, I'm in a hurry," and escalate to WWIII in seconds. There's nothing to really resolve underneath this, except to try to set up better strategies to avoid this in the future. But if the trigger was, "I was trying to get ready for work and I discovered that difficult child had used the last of my shaving cream to fill my shoes," then that is something that at a later time needs to be sorted out. You sit down and calmly talk about it. In the process of talking about it, ask difficult child what he feels he should have done instead. Ask him how he can make it better. A good consequence in that scenario is difficult child having to clean husband's shoes (maybe all of them?) and go out and buy another tin of shaving cream with his own money. And apologise.

    From difficult child's point of view - if you punish difficult child for his outburst, you shouldalso punish husband for escalating it. And if you go there, you can end up on a vert slippery slope indeed.

    How will you handle husband over this? And if your method for husband is different, why is this? Is it a more effective method? In which case, why not use it for difficult child as well?

    Just some thoughts for you. I realise you were mainly venting, sometimes there's nothing left to do or say but to wipe away your tears and get back on the horse. Just know you're not alone in this posse!

    Marg
     
  13. maril

    maril New Member

    Marguerite (I like that name and your avatar, too!): I'll have to look for the threads on cell phones to catch up on that information. Except for a short time with a pay-as-you-go cell, my son never had his own cell phone until last spring. It has been a learning experience for all of us.

    I am like you, in that (most of the time) I try to react calmly and stay in control when difficult child explodes. It is not always easy. It is so disheartening that we can have some great conversations and communicate well during periods of calm and then during one of his outbursts, I am actually afraid of him and not sure what he will do; he cannot be reached.

    "When a difficult child loses his cool and shouts at a parent, it's not good. What makes it worse is when a parent immediately sees this as insubordination and responds with more aggression and attempt to control. Buddy - you've already lost control, that is not the way to regain it." Absolutely a good point.

    "A difficult child out of control is a difficult child who cannot be reasoned with until he calms down. You saw it yourself - your difficult child was trying to regain control but was only able to do so after he got to school and the principal came out. I bet that if the principal had been standing at your gate, difficult child may still possibly have got SOME control at that point but it would have been far more difficult because it was just too soon." I know this but have a hard time riding out the storm until it is over sometimes. I need to deal with my fear of what he might do and not let it overwhelm me.

    "To do this, if possible you need to talk to husband about how he reacted." We have talked a lot in recent months about how to help our son and husband has good intentions; guess old patterns come into place in moments of crisis.

    "His dad can still have unresolved problems with difficult child (for example, whatever made him angry with him in the first place, such as leaving Dad's best screwdriver set out in the rain) which husband can add in with, "I was angry about the screwdrivers and we still need to discuss what we need to do about this." Yes, there are unresolved things, and husband and difficult child have talked about those issues during calmer times with a plan to make restitution. difficult child hasn't had a job since summer/fall last year, he wants to look for one, and I am encouraging but not pushing him; it would be nice for difficult child to have some of his own money and he could also start to pay dad back...

    Thanks for your response!
     
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What about the possibility of difficult child working off his debt to his father? Maybe see if there are some dad tasks that difficult child could undertake, each one he does works off a fragment of the debt. For example, each lawn mowed. Of course, some of these things difficult child should be doing anyway, but if there is something they could both work on as a family project which could also double as a way to work off debt, it could help rebuild the relationship.

    The thread on phones was on General. There are two threads. Here is the first:
    http://www.conductdisorders.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22467

    And here is the second:
    http://www.conductdisorders.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22631

    I hope this gives you some more useful information.

    Marg

    Marg
     
  15. maril

    maril New Member

    Thanks for more information, Marg! :D

    You offer good suggestions and it is reasonable to think that difficult child could put in some extra time around here to help out and work towards paying off his debts.

    difficult child actually is a very hard worker and when he gets in that mode, he does well and has received praise from his dad (and me, too). They usually can work together (both work together at local fire department) and this is what I'm encouraging. They have plans for working on a dilapidated classic car we have garaged (held up by lack of money, considering what husband wants to do to renovate that car...not something that is realistic right at the moment) as well as working towards (and this is a long shot, mind you) getting a used vehicle for difficult child and working on it together. There are definite and clear steps we have gone over/first-things-first that need to be fulfilled before difficult child goes for his driver's license (has had his permit for quite some time) let alone getting to the point where difficult child can have access to his "own" vehicle (husband would have ownership, etc.; we have all of our vehicles in his name only, including DDs used car [but she takes care of expenses, maintenance, chips in for insurance] which helps with insurance costs, other reasons for doing so, also).

    There is some hope for a better relationship with these guys but it is a rocky road.

    I really enjoy your posts and appreciate all of your suggestions.
     
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