Opinions or support?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I posted the following on a thread about new years in the WC. I think I need some support on this and I'm open to tweaking this or advice on specifics. I'm also open to getting help from a therapist about it if one can support the recovery program I had in the past instead of trying to undermine it.

    But this year, I too have been experiencing the toxic feeling from dysfunctional people and worried about difficult child, etc. After spending the past two nights up half the night crying, I made a resolution for myself and difficult child. Since I have given up on finding a therapist who even understands what I'm talking about or who is able/willing to pick up with the recovery program my old therapist started me on (seems tdocs these days all want to throw anything previous out and do their own thing, which isn't much), I decided to just dig back in on my own. And, I decided that I need to talk to difficult child about this. I hadn't been comfortable about that before because I thought he needed to work on his own issues re. his absent father and coping skills and I did not think he was old enough to have old family issues dumped on his shoulders. But, maybe since he has thrown up to me that I have issues, too, which I always agree with him about that, I decided I don't really have to tell him everything about old family issues- I can however explain dysfunctional families to him and how they pass from generation to generation and that I am trying hard to stop that cycle and am going back to actively working on myself due to this. Maybe at some point I can get him on board to understanding that parts of this need to be worked on as a family, but parts of it are worked on individually and I'm doing my part so he can get a little involved, too. Even with the little I've read so far I can see where even though I thought I had made sure difficult child and I weren't acting codependent or enmeshed (and I still do believe that for the most part), there are "residual" aspects of this that contributed to him being a difficult child and has left him with less than adequate coping skills.

    Honestly, everything I read about this subject is consistent with what my old therapist told me: most tdocs are just not going to really get this or be onboard with adequate treatment. Never mind that these issues are predominant in so many familes and never mind that there are a ton of books out there on the subject. Maybe dysfunctional families are so common that the tdocs probably came from one too and while they might think they get it because they learned what a textbook said, they sure aren't being very helpful in providing therapy.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2009
  2. ML

    ML Guest

    Go for it. If you found a therapy that worked at one time, I totally encourage you to pick it back up. Heck, you might as well open up with difficult child about this stuff. It has affected him surely, so it might help to verbalize it. It also might help him to see your example, to see you working on your stuff. I'm proud of you KLMNO for never giving up. I just know 2010 will bring you opportunities for success! Love and hugs, ML
  3. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    If it were me, I would let sleeping dogs lie until such time your son is much much older and not to mention in a much better emotional place. There is some heavy duty stuff you have mentioned re your brother/mother and why does he need to know that right now? I think it would really be stepping over boundaries to be sharing this stuff with him at this point in time to work thru your issues together. Is he going to "get it", absolutely not despite the little spurts that he shows of some emotional growth. Next time he says "you have issues too", say your right, and am working hard on fixing them.

    Klmno,its commendable that you are wanting to sort thru your issues. Being much older than you, and a difficult child when younger, from one of the most dysfunctional families on the planet, its really a life long process of dealing with stuff and recognizing healthy actions and reactions from unhealthy actions and reactions. I have learned a lot from self help books but there comes some times I need an adult, i.e. therapist, to sort thru some of the garbage that floats to the surface when I have done too much digging on my own.

  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    My worry with sharing all the family "issues" with difficult child is that he might use it as an excuse for his own behaviors. As in well, I can't help it because X runs in my family....or I get this from my grandfather, so it's just the way I am.

    My family, for example, has issues with alcoholism. It has been necessary to give the children some information to explain what was happening with certain relatives--BUT I don't go into details, I don't excuse it, I simply state a few facts and leave it at that. I don't EVER want to hear my kids say that their lives are a certain way because so-and-so drinks. Or to view drugs or alcohol as an option because so-and-so does it.

    Do I have certain issues as a result of the alcoholism? Absolutely! And when something happens, I will just explain what happened in my life to make me behave this way and that I am trying to get past it. But again, it's a brief explanation....not an analytical session.

    If it were up to me, I would leave difficult child out of it and find an adult to work with. If not a therapist, perhaps a support group of some kind...

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wooahhh.... I don't have any intention of telling difficult child details of things about my family experience/history. Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough-
  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    A few years back, my younger sister broke confidence with my mother and told me that back in my mother's drinking days, she had had a short affair just before my late dad got out of the military.

    I knew that I'd been concieved on his last leave, but my sister's information has left me in doubt of my actual parentage. I have no way to prove it one way or the other because both my dad and my possible bio have been dead for many, many years.

    In all honesty, I wish she hadn't told me this. There was nothing I could/can do to change things.

    I finally realized that no matter who my actual bio father is, my DAD accepted me totally. HIS name is on my birth certificate. I can't even really fault my mother for the affair.

    She was very lonely. My dad had been drafted right after they married and spent most of his time in the military in Korea and then in France. As was the norm for those days for enlisted mens' spouses, she stayed in the US towns where his unit was based as opposed to travelling overseas with him like they now do.

    It's my bi-polar that makes me more sure that my dad was actually my bio as my dad was bipolar as is my sister.

    To this day I don't know my sister's motivation for telling me. I don't really think she was trying to hurt me. I think it was a mixture of her illness and her being very drunk at the time.

    I have NEVER confronted my mother on this issue. What difference would it make? We can't go back and change time, right? I don't know how I would've handled this had I found out about it at your son's age. I really don't. Even as an adult, it caused an awful lot of emotional turmoil for me.

    In some ways I wish I actually had some info on this man if only from the point of my medical history. In most ways I just wish I never knew.

  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    GN- I can see why that would hurt you and seem senseless. Again though, that is not the sort of thing I am referring to- although there have been people involved in difficult child's and my lives that have felt I should tell him all that stuff at his age. I think I posted in my original post that I have not been, and still am not, comfortable with that. Now at some point before he has children, I definitely will let him know that he needs to supervise and be careful with certain family members around his children. All authorities and mental health profs advise that and I would fell horrible if I didn't. But that is not what I'm referring to here anyway.

    I have had the extensive therapy for the issues- still as it was pointed out, there is a lifelong recovery- or a maintenance program that sometimes needs revisiting. I see nothing wrong with teaching difficult child a simple concept about dysfunctional families- say in terms of "healthy" families and unhealthy families. That doesn't mean he will hear all the gory situations and details.

    As an example, when people go to AA meetings even as a preventative measure to ward off potential relapse, they sometimes take their kids to meetings structured for children of alcoholics so they can get an understanding of things and it helps break the generational cycle.

    Even the current therapist difficult child has thought I should tell difficult child more than what I plan to discuss with him. She felt it would help him understand our family and me and my decisions more. I don't want to go that far but do want to get myself on a maintenance plan, so to speak, for a while and I think difficult child and I need to discuss it.

    I could really use support in this and no I don;t think it means I need to go back to extensive therapy- no more than the hypothetical person going back to AA meetings to prevent relapse needs to go back into a treatment center and put on thorazine again. I'm not saying that to be nasty- only to convey the perspective I'm trying to keep.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I don't think you really "get" AA and alcoholics. An alcoholic does not go to AA as a "maintenance" program. They go because every single day they want a drink. Every. Single. Day. NOT to "maintain" a level of therapy, but because they KNOW that they NEED ongoing therapy. They don't work the 12 steps once and then "maintain" it with regular meeting. They go through those 12 steps over and over.

    I don't really have an opinion as to what you should or shouldn't tell difficult child. You are his mom and know far more about his maturity levels and the situation. You need to do what you are comfortable with.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I don't think that applies to everyone, Susie. I have a cousin who went thru a treatment program and started in AA about 25 years ago. He has been clean and sober all this time with the exception of one weekend binge about 18 years ago. He's not going to AA meetings all the time anymore but does not walk around craving alcohol all the time.

    I had a drug habit, secondary to and resulting from the family issues. I do not have to go to NA meetings all the time to stay away from drugs at this point. It did take extensive treatment/therapy and working the steps and incorporating them into my life. It does take maintenance, but I don't crave drugs anymore and haven't for many years. There are things that will make a surge of desire go thru me, but I am able to let it roll off my back and keep going.

    I don't want to argue or turn this thread into a controversial issue, but recovery programs are not full of people who are walking around miserable because they are spending every day of their lives not being able to move beyond a compulsion. That happens in the beginning and does last some period of time but if a succesful proggram is being worked, it can and does turn into maintaining the recovery.

    I don't think this is the right forum to go any further about this but I would like to stress the point that people who have gone thru treatment programs and have worked 12 step programs can and do live normal healthy lives and move beyond the crisis mode and don't struggle with a compulsion every dayof their lives. There are things they have to do to maintain their own health and that differs depending on the type of compulsion, triggers, situation, personality, etc. This is what I'm calling "maintenance mode". For people who have had abuse in their childhood it might be a periodic thing, at least that is according to my old therapist and what has proven to be correct in my own life.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    K...I think your situation would be more closely related to my situation with my childhood upbringing and then my parenting of my kids.

    This is how I dealt with what I told my kids about my mom and the abuse that happened to me when I was younger. I didnt tell them much until they were old enough to handle it. No one knew anything at your son's age. Cory knew that I was bipolar at 14 because he had received the diagnosis at 13 and I was dxd right around the same time. I shared with the family "some" of my feelings but not all.

    Jamie found out about my abortion when he was 17 because we were watching a movie and he asked me about the subject. I told him my point of view on it and asked him his and then told him what had happened to me. He was very calm and understanding. We had a very deep and good discussion about relationships and how wrong moves can lead to horrible consequences.

    Now Cory learned about it much later and while he doesnt agree with what I did, he loves me enough to forgive me.

    None of my boys knew about the abuse my mom did to me until they were at least 20. She was dead by that time. I kept that a secret because I wanted them to have a decent relationship with her.

    They found out about the rape while watching tv too. As they were ready. As the subject came up. I would feel them out on the subject. I would drop small hints like "no woman deserves to be raped no matter what." When they would agree with me and start talking about it, I finally told them...but they were late teens.

    If I had a young teen girl, I might have told her earlier about the dangers that could befall a young woman to warn her but Im not sure if I would have made it personal.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, here's how I'm looking at it, which is based on the therapy that I had and may or may not apply to anyone else but it worked for me. There are two aspects- one is the dysfunctional family and that involves emotional boundaries, interactions, etc. That is what I want to discuss with difficult child at this point- not really discuss in depth but just give him a brief description and let him know that these are issues in our family and that is why I do things like monitor the communication from his grandmother. Also, I've been trying to ffind a support group in this area that might be meeting this weekend but it looks like I might have to wait until next week- they are not as advertised as AA.

    The second aspect is how bad things like sexual abuse, addictions, etc., can rear their heads in dysfucntional families. I don't think I need to discuss any personal history in this area with difficult child at this point. I've said that about three times on this thread now. LOL!

    Anyway, it does make a difference that my bro is still alive and will never quit trying to communiucate with difficult child and I would worry if difficult child had children and did not know to keep a very watchful eye. And as I have been reading again about dysfunctional families and toxic people lately, I can see where a lot of stuff was taught to him despite my efforts so at some point later on we can discuss that more. My personal incidences that pertained to people who are now dead or completely out of the picture- I don't think it's necessary to ever tell difficult child. The point here is that my family is still very dysfunctional- my mother is worse in her dysfunctional methods and toxicity all the time. I don't expect difficult child to get that after one brief discussion but he does need to start getting a clue, for several reasons. One, he gets manipulated by my mother and doesn't even realize it, two, she's trying to teach him that I am "the sick one" in the family instead of the whole family having problems and me being the only one who's ever addressed their own, and three, by the time difficult child is grown and has his own family, I want him to be knowledgable enoough to understand why he needs to not "recycle" all this.

    And please keep in mind- I am saying this is going to take a long time and I'm not dumping all that on his shoulders right now. All I want to do right now is describe aspects of a dysfunctional family without getting into all the horrid things it can result in.

    It is very similar in concept to what you went thru Janet, except the toxicity is still around us and the GAL and others are making it worse instead of better. If you read about Triangulation in family dynamics, that is the definition of my mother. She did that when my bro and I were young so now my bro does it. But now my mother is even worse and poor difficult child doesn't know what is up or down. Plus, he is old enough to realize there are issues but seems upset because he has no clue what they are- like he's completely left in the dark. Like it's all being kept secret from him. So I can see the point therapist was trying to make in that regard- it probably would help him just to have a jest of what the issues are. Again though, I don't think I'm ready to cover PTSD and so forth with him. Just that our family is sick and I want it to be healthy.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I hesitate to post because I realize you have felt in the past that I was not supportive when you needed it. My intentions are not to cause harm or undermine your self confidence. Obviously, lol, if I had all the right answers I wouldn't be living the life I am. on the other hand, you have asked for opinions as well as support so........here I go again. ;)

    You and difficult child are a family. The dysfuntions of the extended family are not
    relative to him so much as they are to you because those dysfunctions have caused your pain, anxiety and fear plus a sense of isolation. There are so many issues that directly relate to difficult child and his life that I see no reason for sharing concepts or details. Simply, as his Mom, you have the
    right and the responsibility to set the rules in reation to contact with relatives as well as friends. He, as your son, has the responsibility to do as you say. At his age he is well aware of dysfunctions. Chances are that many of the kids he lives with have shared details of "funny uncles"
    as well as extreme physical and emotional abuse. The "issues" that he
    refers to in your life have already been acknowledged sans details.

    I'm sure the holidays were awful for you and difficult child. The good news is that
    2010 is here and life should be getting better for you both soon. Hugs DDD
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    DDD, believe it or not his current therapist (the one who was doing so-called family therapy as well) suggested that I tell difficult child everything (so did GAL for that matter)- what happened with my uncle, my bro, the situation with my mother, etc. While I can see the point that difficult child is at a point where he deserves some explanation of what is going on and he knows I "have issues" but has no clue what they are really, I am not in agreement that it's in his best interest to dump it all on him right now or that it would help our relationship.

    on the other hand, I am comfortable that this doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" scenario (the judge was in support of not telling difficult child right now but waiting on an appropriate therapeutic environment). It would not be so much an issue if either 1) we were completely separated from these people but my mom would call GAL and stir up **** with the courts if I tried that and my bro will not stop until at some point he either has custody or at least communication with difficult child, or 2) when there is communication with difficult child these issues don't come into play but they do- remember we are talking a seriously dysfunctional family. You might not be familiar with that enough to understand it but it pretty much means that they have not shown ANY ability to communicate with difficult child and not make snide remarks, suggestions, etc, that keep things stirred up, feelings hurt, basicly toxic stuff, and continuously manipulate difficult child. We're not talking about just obnoxious comments- I'm talking about remarks and actions that lead to trouble with difficult child. It's hard to explain for one that hasn't lived thru it. It's emotionally abusive if not directly leading to sexual abuse.

    As par for the course, this gets worse as he gets older. From what I am reading in more than one source, if it is impossible to completely keep the child away from the family (which is the preferred way and I probably should have done that from the beginning), then it is urged to keep the family members supervised and to role model healthy familial relationships to your child(ren), and let the child see that you put up a healthy boundary with the other family, and teach the child gradually what is going on. You don't preetend that the problem isn't there. They say if you don't address it that despite your efforts for yourself alone, you are keeping a "family secret", making it your own burden instead of a family problem that needs to be dealt with as a family problem, and that it can "skip" a generation and your child grow up to still model the dysfunction in one way or another. Also, this helps the child see that all the problems are not him/her alone or the parent alone- it's a long standing family problem and we are going to work together as an immediate family to keep it from being passed down to another generation. They give suggestions on how to do this so it isn't more a sutuation of a parent expecting a child to take on adult repsonsiblities or burdens. Obviously, there are still more aspects of that for me to deal with individually, just like difficult child has his own stuff to work on.

    One article I read used the example of having to be around a physically abusive uncle who beat his wife on holidays. You don't sweep the issue under the rug, it said, you teach your child that this is wrong (if you have no choice but to be around the person). If you don't address it with the child, you're still passing along dysfunctional tendencies. It's not enough to tell yourself that you know the child knows this is wrong so it doesn't require addressing. That is an extremely brief synopsis of about a 3 page long article on this and how to accomplish better parenting. LOL!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It's a delicate line to tred and I don't envy you. I do think, however, that
    he is old enough to understand the concept that you have issues from your childhood and understand that he has issues from his childhood too.
    Chances are he would understand if you said "Look, difficult child, I know that you
    probably would like to know all about the negative things in my early life
    BUT I don't believe it would help you OR me to move on with our new life
    in a positive way. Your Uncle and your Grandma have many wonderful
    (or maybe just "good", lol) traits. There are negative traits (or traits that cause concern?) as well. Until you and I have settled our family in a groove that is best for you and me I do not want x contact with them.
    Can you understand that and work with me?"

    All kids are focused on themselves. difficult children especially focus on the here and now and mostly self. Much energy will be needed to establish healthier bonds between you two AND get him settled again in the real world. He
    should understand prioritizing and probably embrace it is it is focused on him. Fingers crossed. DDD