Raising PCs When You Have a difficult child in the family

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    A thread on PE brought up the problems that can happen with a easy child when they grow up with a difficult child. It isn't a topic we talk about specifically very often, and it is an important one, in my opinion.

    I think I have some different ideas on this because I was the mostly easy child in a family with a serious difficult child who was not getting any real treatment. There wasn't really anything available that I am aware of, and my folks flat out refused to believe much of what was going on. It was NOT easy.

    I know some of us have seen easy child children turn into difficult children during the teen years and this happens for many reasons. I don't think many of us talk about the attention given to the difficult child and the pressure and strain that the whole family experiences as a major factor in that change.

    Our kids see us spend so much of our energy dealing with difficult children, the therapy and other appts they need, the drama they cause, the triangulation, the dangerous situations we end up in or have to go rescue them from, etc... We are exhausted when it comes to the easy child and it is easy to slide into letting them fix their own problems because we are so emotionally, physically and financially exhausted by the demands and needs of the difficult child.

    What are your ideas on this topic? What did you do that you feel as right for easy child? Wrong? What do you do to try to give easy child as much of your time and resources as is needed? How do you find that one on one time with easy child when difficult child is causing constant conflama?

    It can be so easy to just let the easy child's do easy child stuff and spend our energies on working with our difficult children. Sadly, that can send the message that the only way to get our time and attention is to do difficult child things. Our pcs take that, and their anger and sorrow over growing up with a difficult child and they can head down that difficult child road too.

    What are your thoughts on this topic? what have you done to make sure the easy child children are safe from the difficult child, and to make sure that they are getting the time and attention they need to help keep them from the difficult child path? Do you talk about this? Evaluate what psychiatrists and tdocs recommend in the light of the needs of the entire family? How do the 'experts' react when you say that you can't/won't follow a plan because of the impact it will have on the other children in the family?
  2. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    Good lord will be following this one.

    You are probably looking for people with older easy child's but I try to make sure that my boyo doesn't get lost between difficult child and baby, we sing and dance and unload dishes. And he gets lap time, mommy time abc time, bath time. It's not too hard for me because he is at home and difficult child is in school, I only really have trouble in the afternoon when difficult child comes home. She wants to snack and he wants to talk to her and she's not having it, she's supposed to be doing homework and he wants to play. She's easily distracted and even though I'm trying to keep them from fighting and separated She's sometimes just down right mean. I think quite a bit of my problem in my house is I treat difficult child like her age when she needs more supervision not less than the 3 year old but there is only one of me, and hubs is not much help, well sometimes he is and sometimes he's not.

    There have been many times we had plans to do something And ended up not doing it because of difficult child and her attitude or things she's done, it is now pretty much standard procedure to go along with our plans if she is determined to be miserable we let her but the rest of us need our outings and family time. And often times she proceeds to have a funky little attitude while we are out and about but that's up to her, I try not to let it spoil our time.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    We only have two children so we basically gave both boys one adult. That was done mostly because of practical reasons. Both had many hobbies and needed to be driven around a lot. And some of those hobbies also required heavy parental involvement. To keep all that going, we separated activities and boys and I took care of some and husband some. While easy child's school and music was my responsibility and difficult child's one sport husband's responsibility, mostly it ended up with difficult child being my problem and easy child husband's. We live just enough outside of the city that we spent a lot of time in car with kids and that is very good place to have talks with kids. I also tried to have private time with easy child few times a week. We also did whole family activities, but they of course were often dominated by difficult child being difficult.

    That was of course, when boys were little older. When easy child was a baby and toddler I did whole attachment parenting (Sears type, not the other one) thing and he was literally attached to my hip till he was three. I mean that all baby-led feeding, parenting etc., co-sleeping, baby carrying and so on. And when difficult child started school, we of course had some alone time with easy child. And when they got little older, it somehow ended up so, that I and husband basically split kids. easy child has always had most of husband attention and I have tried to make a point to spend some positive time with him alone. Well, till now. He just turned 17 and doesn't have much time for me or husband. We still drive him around quite a lot (our kids can't drive before 18), require him to be there for dinner times every now and then and difficult child being away from home two and half years now, he of course has more of our attention than he would like, but to get him actually schedule some extensive time for us, we almost have to get also difficult child there and tell him that this or that day/weekend is whole family activity, then he is happy to join. Other than that, we are there when he needs us and comes looking.

    easy child has had some issues with difficult child's reputation and there are some things it's hard for him to get his head around. He has also had some trouble deciding how to define boundaries and his loyalties with some difficult child related matters. How to be his own man and loyal to his brother at the same time. I need to say that easy child and difficult child have surprisingly good relationship. difficult child is very proud of his little brother and while easy child is little ambivalent with how he sees and relates difficult child, when push comes to shove, he trusts and relies on difficult child and for example calls him for help, if he has an issue he doesn't want to bring to me or husband and which he believes difficult child could help - or if he doesn't know what to do. One thing I'm not happy with is, that both of my kids seem to firmly consider easy child to be literally the perfect child of the family, our golden boy and star and difficult child being the black sheep and somehow always little inferior. It's not good for difficult child even though he takes it very matter of fact way and as I said, is very proud of easy child, but it is even worse to easy child to always have that superior feeling compared to difficult child. Though lately he has been struggling with that believe because he has noticed that there are things difficult child does better than he and hopefully learns to reconsider whole attitude when he grows up. While struggling with the issue he has had some jealousy issues etc. but as I said, luckily they do have a strong relationship, so I'm sure they can overcome those issues.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Unfortunately, by the time difficult child was in "full swing" bonehead and I were separated so I was on my own. On the flip, fortunately my easy child was my daughter was a gentle, understanding soul who was five years older and was 13 when difficult child imploded.

    Being a single parent, it was all I could do to focus on difficult child's needs. easy child was, and has always been, a really good kid. I spent as much time with her as I could and made sure that my house was the hang out house which meant I could give more since she and her friends were always here. She and her friends pretty much grew up here from middle through high school and still, four years out from high school graduation, still call me Mother Sharon!

    Sometimes it was late at night sitting in her room, sometime it was early on a school morning, or in the afternoon when difficult child was involved in a tv show, but I made sure easy child and I had time to talk and bond.

    I truly believe that a big part of how our easy child's handle their siblings is built in to who they are - the other is the "nuture" part but not just how we treat them. Even bigger is the example we set for how we treat others and how we handle hardship or conflict.

  5. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    We recently had a conversation with our pcs about this! It was a short conversation while we were out for a bite to eat. difficult child had to work. They both agreed that they learned how to handle other people better. With difficult child we would have to figure out our own "manipulation" of him to get him to do what we wanted with the least amount of response. One easy child is a teacher and he feels having a difficult child made him into a terrific teacher. He gets a lot of compliments on how he can listen to the kids and how he handles the difficult children in class. He teaches high school. Yes, they definitely feel they missed out on things because of difficult child. They were glad that we did coach their sports teams and attended everything that we weren't physically involved in. Both got the attention and praise. BOTH admit that they definitely took advantage of knowing what would make difficult child explode & using it quite often!
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    It's been really hard with Jett. He learned from an early age to make himself invisible to bio mom and Onyxx, so he would quietly play with his Army men, then later video games or cartoons for hours and hours. Unfortunately this has led to his being very introverted, and his social skills are horrible. He doesn't know how to play outside... And he doesn't know how to entertain himself if his screens are suddenly gone. (Basically this leads to him being in our back pockets. I thought I'd get alone time to poop... Nope. He waits till I am in the bathroom... I expect this from Inky!)

    With all the time spent on court, phone calls, appointments, and basically trying to keep Onyxx out of trouble... Jett fell into a crack and got stuck there. We tried for family outings, which worked to some degree especially when Onyxx went to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and then got a job... And then left. Bowling, canoeing, and we were going to do mini golf a couple weeks ago but we did a carnival instead. I think mini golf would be a lot more fun... That's next! We made sure he is in softball, so he has some socializtion and he loves that, which means I break my neck making sure he gets to his games and I am there or husband is (or both). Inky also loves it when he is up to bat - she squeals and claps just to see him.

    That's anothing thing... As bad as Onyxx was for Jett, Inky is good. She is teaching him responsibility, how to be a good role model, and what to do when you don't know what to do - because unlike homework, you can't just ignore her existence.

    I get really upset by the screen addiction, but... husband and I are, too (though mine is mild, and husband is medium)... And it's a coping mechanism. I really hope that when Inky is moving better he will play with her outside... They certainly adore one another.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My easy child's got along fairly well. The two of them were "back up" for me as I struggled to meet everyone's needs. One of my easy child's sadly surprised me by distancing himself when we took on GFGmom's children. Interestingly he and I were very closely bonded until he married and had children of his own. Once he recognized that husband and I could not fill the role of participating Grandparents to his family who live eight hours away...well, the visits waned and the connection is not at all what I expected. It is sad. DDD
  8. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I always felt so bad for easy child when difficult child was unmedicated before her diagnosis. Being a single parent raising the both of them was hard. Before difficult child was properly medicated she had multiple rages a day and barely slept at night. Lucky for me easy child was a good sleeper and although they shared a room he could sleep right through her being awake late at night. The rages were the most difficult. I can't count how many times difficult child through big fits while we were driving in the car and I would have to pull over until she settled down. She would kick in the car windows, bang her head, and pull her hair out. Sometimes it would take an hour for her to calm down. Poor easy child had to sit there and wait which I'm sure wasn't fun for him at all. Then there were the drive thru's when difficult child would throw huge tantrums because I couldn't afford to order something she wanted. I didn't want to punish easy child for difficult child's misbehavior so I would order the food and get out of there as quickly as possible, difficult child raging and the people in the drive thru window staring at us like we were freaks.

    easy child was a real trooper throughout all of it and for that I am eternally grateful. It took a couple of years to find the right medications for difficult child and between the ages of two and ten she was incredibly unstable and difficult. Once she finally found the right medication combo that's when easy child starting having his issues. He always had social skills issues and was way behind in developement but since he was so mild tempered I always considered him a easy child. Then the preteen hormones kicked in and he started having more issues. He can throw a pretty mean tantrum but fortunately it doesn't happen often. His triggers are the cell phone or computer freezing up on him then he gets impatient and throws stuff. But it's rare that it happens, thank goodness. Those unstable years with difficult child were the hardest but thankfully we are past them and although she is still very much a difficult child with an attitude, her bipolar is fairly stable. I used to feel guilty because I felt like I sorta neglected easy child during the rough years, but I am over it now. I think he can forgive me for sometimes not paying as much attention to him as I should have. One thing I do regret though is not having him in therapy. I think he really could have benefited from it from all the chaos and turmoil difficult child put us through. Now he's in therapy at school and I'm hoping if he harbors any resentment he is working through it. For now he seems to be well adjusted and he is still my affectionate loving boy who I adore with all my heart.
  9. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    This is something I struggle with. I really don't think my pcs would be called easy child in a different family. Everyone has tons of needs and autistic traits; Ann just threw a 2 day fit over making her bed. My difficult children being the older ones makes it so the pcs don't know life any differently, but it also means I don't have an older easy child to help meet the needs of the younger pcs; like other large families do. I have to try to get the difficult children to help with some of the needs of the pcs. It can be very frustrating for pcs and difficult children, but my autistic rigid little boys are starting to be able to see the needs of their sisters; especially difficult child 3 and difficult child 1. I've had almost everyone in therapy at some point over this issue as well. This issue affects Elsie the most and she wants more of my time and wants to be the baby. So I try to cuddle her more and let her have sippies and a baby spoon. I call her baby princess and she smiles and laughs. It helps that difficult child 1 goes to school and visitations, and that everyone else homeschools. The homeschooling makes me spend one on one time with each of them everyday. It also eliminates some of the social issues they would encounter at school (they can still be plenty mean to each other as siblings though, it doesn't get rid of all issues.) They do play very well together though. We don't go lots of places because I have to have backup where ever I go, and this does effect the kids. I know difficult child 2 is jealous of the programs difficult child 1 is in; all of the rewards and fun places, and difficult child 1 is jealous of difficult child 2 staying home.

    I also try to limit the appointments and tdocs we go to. This has not made me popular with some of them. I can not do everything they suggest and they seem to think that unless I do everything they say the difficult child they treat won't make it in life. They don't always see what they are suggesting will do to the whole family. Others are better at it and more reasonable.
  10. Bunny

    Bunny Active Member

    This is something that I think about alot. I think that it's harder when the easy child is the younger child and they have to sit there and watch the things that the older difficult child does.

    Now that easy child is 9 he's really coming into his own. He has his own friends and his own interests, some of which are similar to difficult child, and some of which are not. difficult child gets angry with us and with easy child at times because easy child's sports take up alot of time and and difficult child wants easy child here at home to help entertain him. We tell easy child all the time that if he wants to play sports, or ride his bike or go out and play with his friends then that is what he should do. I have tried very hard to make sure easy child understands that he is not required to entertain difficult child, regardless of what difficult child tells him. I think encouraging easy child to do and play what he wants has been good for him. It gets him it of the house and away from his brother so they have some separation, which makes the time that they do spend together more tolerable to easy child.

    The hardest part, I think, is when difficult child tries to parent easy child because he's the older brother and he thinks that easy child has to do anything and everything that difficult child tells him to do. I actually don't like to discipline easy child in front of difficult child because then difficult child starts with repeating what I've said and trying to administer punishment. I know when easy child needs to be spoken to about things, but I don't like to add insult to injury by having to subject him to difficult child's "parenting."

    I do try to make sure that easy child is comforted during and afte difficult child's raging meltdowns. They are frightening, even to me, and I try to make sure that easy child knows he is safe, although there are times when everyone's safety is a concern of mine.

    I do worry about easy child. Alot! I don't want easy child to grow up and think that he should be someone's door mat because that is how difficult child has treated him for many years. That's gotten a little better, although it's not great, because if easy child doesn't like the way he is being treated he will get up and walk away, many times resulting in a meltdown.

    Basically, like everyone else, I'm doing the best I can.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My kids are far apart in age....35 is 35, Julie is 29, Jumper is 17, Sonic is 19. The difficult child acting kids were Julie and 35, who still is. Fortunately, the others were not affected that much due to huge age differences. I do have to say, Jumper vowed never to use drugs after seeing the cops come for Julie a few times and handcuffing her. I don't consider Sonic a difficult child. He was really not a behavior problem other than, when younger, acting pretty autistic but mostly without the rages and bad behaviors of many Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids. He was, actually, easy to raise. And in case my daughter Julie is reading this, as she knows about this site, certainly she is not a difficult child anymore. But you know that, right, Julie? Love you :)
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    MWM... I beg to differ. Sonic IS a difficult child. One of the classical types of "difficult to raise kids". Fact is... with what you'd already been through with 35 and Julie... Sonic was at least somebody you could "figure out". You still had to be a Warrior Mom to get him what he needed, so he could come SO far. You've had to be Warrior Mom for Jumper, too... just not nearly to the same degree. SO... there. Don't discount YOUR part in all this!
  13. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I forgot to add that when easy child started having his autistic meltdowns difficult child loved it. For once somebody else was displaying negative behavior besides her. easy child/difficult child's meltdowns were far less frequent and not half as severe, but still hard to deal with. difficult child used to throw it in his face, telling him things like "You thought I was crazy but look at you now." I put a stop to that real quick. My kids may have disorders but they are far from crazy. Their dad likes to call difficult child things like "psychotic" and "mental." I have tried to get him to stop because he is really damaging her self esteem. He, as usual, doesn't listen to me. But despite my kids behaviors I do not label them beyond there diagnoses.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This topic really interests me. I guess from being on different sides at different times.

    Dixie, this is NOT about the age of the children. in my opinion it is a topic that is rarely talked about and I believe that most parents of difficult child, esp the Warrior Parents, think, worry and feel tremendous guilt over this in silence. When we do something we truly enjoy with our easy child, we feel bad because difficult child isn't there, because it is so easy and usually enjoyable to do things, esp fun things, with easy child and such a different experience with difficult child. Not always a bad or even lesser experience with difficult child, just a very different one, Know what I mean??

    This forum is one of the only places I have EVER felt comfortable about those feelings. A therapist helped, but other parents who had been there done that helped a LOT more.

    A few of the things we have done to try to make sure everyone's needs are met is to make sure that husband and I EACH have some time all alone periodically. It isn't formal anymore, but we do each try to take the kids somewhere so the other can recharge. sure, it isn't doing anything with the easy child kids separately, but a recharged parent does a MUCH better job. We found there was a lot less bickering between the kids if we did this. I have had a few tdocs and a psychiatrist tell me this time alone is important for us, but it doesn't help our children. They are dead wrong, in my opinion.

    I do think my kids suffered in some ways from growing up with a difficult child and a difficult child-uncle (a guncle? a gfuncle?). They also developed insights and strengths that they would not have gotten with-o the difficult child influence. They learned to stand up for themselves, they learned to read other people's emotions to a degree they otherwise might not, they learned compassion, and they got help for their problems from a mom who would go toe to toe with any 'expert' if something was wrong or needed and the 'expert' was a roadblock. They learned to do research to learn things ('Mom, what does this mean?' "Look it up" 'Mom, how do I do this?' "Read the directions" 'What directions' "The ones in the package or the ones you find online when you search directions for 'this'"), and they learned that if they could read the instructions, apply common sense (that is usually FAR from a natural skill, at least for my boys, lol), and think, they could do ANYTHING. Well, except for some biological stuff. They also got help wth things when they needed it and I was a much better advocate for them than I was for Wiz in the beginning.

    I actually think J would have been treated for inattentive adhd rather than epilepsy if it wasn't for things I learned here. I hadn't realized that in the early days of treating adhd the protocol said that each child needed an eeg before stims could be rx'd. he day we came home because I told him that her epilepsy diagnosis was due to him. At first he thought he did something to cause the epilepsy. When I explained that nothing he did could cause it, but that by learning about his problems I learned that the eeg could be crucial before taking medications for adhd. That the adhd medications can cause seizures if you have a seizure disorder and because we asked for the eeg we were able to save her from having the wrong treatment that could make things worse. He had the proudest smile because his problems helped keep his little sister safe, and we had focused a lot on siblings keeping each other safe instead of hurting them.

    I did make some decisions for/about Wiz based on my refusal to allow my children to be treated the way I was as a child. I was not believed when I told my parents many many things. Those that were too aparent to be hidden were written off as something else that would 'pass' or as 'normal' teen behavior. It was incredibly upsetting as I knew that he was manipulating them into believing some bogus explanation or that it was not what it clearly was. Or that it was all my fault because if I had told them earlier then he would not have been doing it. Yes, I got blamed that he went out and got drunk or he broke something because I did not tell someone sooner. Not because he did it, not at ALL.

    I swore that if I had a difficult child he would get help as soon as possible, and that I would not pretend things didn't happen or ignore it if he hurt his siblings. NOT to interfere with every squabble, but hurting each other was not going to happen if I could stop it. I think they all benefited from that, and from knowing that I would believe them and not turn everything around to make them responsible or scapegoats for each other.