So tired of arguing over difficult child with H

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by hearts and roses, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I don't pretend to always know the answers concerning difficult child and all her 'stuff'. Lately, we've been up against some challenges.

    If H raises his voice or pushes too hard, it's enough to send difficult child into a tizzy and then I feel like we're going backwards. On the other hand, I don't feel we should be walking around on eggshells and allowing her to get away with crap any other teen wouldn't (which we really don't but at times it seems we're under reacting).

    Historically, I've always been the disciplinarian and the first contact whenever there is an issue with either girl. I hate to admit it but H is not always available and as much as he's been a supportive, good dad, he's also apprehensive to 'get involved' at times - because of me. I have had a tendency to block a lot of information from him over the years because I know his reactions are out of whack on many levels. We can never tell how he will react - much of his reaction depends on where he is in his head, his mood, etc. Plus, when he's annoyed he tends to fall into the same type of thinking and parenting as his parents did with him which is basically "I'm the BOSS and this is the way it is" and doesn't let a person get a word in edgewise. I've always tried to be a parenting mediator, discussionist, compromiser, and be fair and reasonable. Obviously, there are times when this is ineffective, but for the most part it works for me. So, sometimes I will fill H in on what's going on but he is not a major part of the discussions and disciplining. He has been, just not a lot.

    So, flash forward to difficult child being 17 and we can see that she's starting to pull some typical teen crap with us. We're standing our ground and she's matured and most of the time she's okay, but it is cyclic as well. She just wants to be out and about with friends. She's just coming off of an episode and we have to watch her, which she hates and she insists that since she's going to counseling we should ease up and not have to know every nitty gritty detail of her day/night.

    Hmmm, well, last night I told her that I didn't want her going up to the lake alone. She insisted that she's done it before and it's fine. I said no, she said yes and then hung up on me (we were at the food store). Minutes later she left me a voicemail that she is fine and meeting a friend (nice kid) and would be home for curfew. I never got that voicemail, its there, but I never heard the beep last night. So at 11PM, H asks where difficult child is and I said, "At the lake - she went anyway, even though I said I didn't want her to. Maybe I should take away her car for a few days", kind of half joking, because really, I knew she was okay and technically she wasn't late yet. Anyway, H goes off on a tangent about how he's sick of walking on eggshells all the time, worried that he's going to set her off or be blamed for making her spiral downward again. He is right. We hardly ever yell at her or stand firm with her because there is always that fear that she will be set off in a tantrum or spiral into the pit of despair and hurt herself. I had a friend years ago who also walked around on eggshells, still does, because her daughter was always swallowing pills everytime the parents laid down the law. I remember telling her that her daughter was holding her captive and controlling the whole household.

    By George, I think I've got it! We have to stop pandering to difficult child. I agreed with H last night and we talked about it, but it seems that we're never on the same page when really we are, but we just feel like our hands are somewhat tied.

    For those of you out there who have finally moved on to the point where you no longer walk on eggshells because you're afraid of your difficult child flipping out or hurting him/ did you move away from that? Merely using detachment with love doesn't seem like enough. I don't want to just drop the ball, but I feel like the only way to get difficult child to move past this part of her life and become a responsible adult it to place some firm demands on her that I KNOW she can handle - like getting a job, continuing her volunteer work with my sister and following the basic rules of our home. If there is a book out there on how to help your kid transition from being a dependent to becoming an independent, responsible adult, please let me know. Or, if it's a matter of just saying it and letting her know without a care for her reaction, then I am scared, but I will do it. I have discussed this with H and we always end up in a fight, when really we do agree, it's just about the methodology that we do not agree. Likewise, I've discussed it with many friends, family and's easy for people to tell you what to do, but putting it into practice is not so easy, as we know all too well.

    So, any thoughts - sorry this is so long, but I needed to really write out my thoughts on this. I'd appreciate any and all feedback.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well this is the million dollar question Jog!

    It is so easy with so called normal kids. They grow up, graduate high school, go to college or get a job, move out, marry or live with someone, etc. The progression works.

    difficult child's just dont move forward that way. We have to be like momma birds and push them out of the nest sometimes. I have yet to be able to figure out how to do that successfully. Mine keep returning home! I think I have an electro-magnetic field around my house that keeps drawing them back. Either that or I was too nice a Maybe I should have been meaner.

    You can start teaching her slowly while she is at home how to be responsible for herself. Start treating her more like a tenant and less like a child. Tell her she is to pay rent now and has responsibilities like paying for certain things. You can save her rent to help her move out one day. If she is working a part time job then her rent could be 1/5th her weekly paycheck...that is what is considered reasonable in the outside world I believe. Then make her pay for her own clothes or her contribute to her own car insurance etc. You get the idea. Start slowly and teach her what it means to be an adult in this world. Show her how to have a checking account and how to pay bills. If she has a cell phone, show her how to pay the bills. Teach her budgeting skills and debit cards. I would avoid credit Bipolars dont do well with them.
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Oh thanks Janet! The million dollar question indeed! :rofl:

    We recently changed her old school savings account into a checking and savings, with the bulk of her funds going into the savings. I am on both accounts, however she is the main signer. We just received her checks in the mail yesterday and we're going to go over how to write them and keep track of them, etc. She's limited to a basic ATM card but it took a while for me to help her understand that she just can't keep taking money out and she must record all deposits, withdrawals and check her balances, etc. In addition, I've linked her savings to her checking so if she DOES withdraw money from her checking and there isn't enough in there, she will not incur an overdraft fee as the bank will go into her savings to cover it. And we had the bank impose a limit of $100 withdrawal per ATM transaction/day. Also, I've set it up so I can see what she's doing in the accounts on line, since my name is on them. I will teach her how to do the same. So, we're on this.

    Once she gets a job again, she will pay my H $100/month for her auto insurance. Rent has not been an issue with either dds yet as easy child is in college and as long as she's a student or paying her own expenses, she can live here rent free. Same goes for difficult child. If she doesn't attend school then that rule will be altered. I think if she moved out, she'd probably go live with her dad for a while, then maybe try to come back. All of that is fine, as long as she understands that under our roof, she will need to adhere to our rules, obviously.

    I feel like we need to be taking baby steps in helping her become more independent (in healthier ways). I think her idea of becoming independent and ours are two way different ideas! In her head, like so many young adult teens, she's thinking it means she has more freedoms. But in our heads we're thinking it's about becoming more self sufficient and planning for her immediate future, Know what I mean?? This is where it gets tricky. With easy child, it was a pita, but doable and basically, easy child fell in line and is doing what she's supposed to do - she was my first and very easy, which did not prepare me very well for difficult child! But, of course, now I've had years of practice...although years of practice doesn't teach you everything, now does it??

    Thanks for your thoughts. I know I'm not the only one out there guessing.
  4. cage11

    cage11 New Member

    Oh my gosh! You sound just like me! I could have written your post. The exact same situation exists in our house. I am a social worker by training so am always trying to talk things out, be supportive, etc. My husband is the "do as I say" kinda guy - that is how he was raised. Here I am with an 18 year old daughter who is manipulative, lying all the time, wild and out all night (she does keep in touch with me). She is bipolar and oppositional with some ADD probably thrown in there. She has decided that now that she has graduated from high school (by the skin of her teeth) and is 18 she can do whatever she wants. Her friends scare me. My husband worries about our safety due to her anger issues.
    Yesterday I had it. I kicked her out. I can't believe I found the strength. Her psychiatrist told me it was about time and I have to do this in order to help her become a responsible adult. I'm trying to stay firm and not let her back in unless she shows reponsibility. But, it hurts so much! I cried all night. Now what? I guess I just wait and see...
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{{cage11}}}, I'm so sorry for everything you've been through. We're not quite to that point yet, but I totally feel for you.

    I don't want to say I anticipate being where you are of attraction and all that. I'd rather say that I think difficult child will be okay, will learn and come out of this stage in her life better. I am trying to hold a positive thought. What is most conflicting for us right now is how to work as a team rather than focus on her behavior. She usually sticks to her curfew. The drinking was a short issue, but she hasn't been drinking. However, she did come home stoned the other night...not sure if that is something she will delve into now that alcohol is off limits.

    I throw up my hands in wonder. Each day is a new day and wonder. I just never know what's going to happen and I hate that. I'm so tired of it.

    When you told her to leave, did she do so willingly? Did she put up a fight? Where is she staying? Is there any way for you to know if she will snap to attention or completely spiral out of control? I am now worried about YOUR daughter. You must be walking around in a fog. I'm so sorry. Hugs~
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jog, mine is only 16, but I have been having the same thoughts and feelings. I am starting slowly now to make some changes. She is supposed to have a job - although the training start date is slow to be announced... :crazy2: we shall see.

    I will be anticipating others comments and I also wonder if it would help to put something in Parent Emeritus to see if those more experienced can share what worked, what didn't and what they wish they did now looking back.

    What do you think?
  7. cage11

    cage11 New Member

    I have to tell you it took me years to get to this point. Her psychiatrist has been telling me to let her go - better we put her out than she goes on her own (the whole control thing). But, it is very painful. This must be what grief feels like.

    Her first comment when I told her to go was, "you are kidding, right?!" When I told her I wasn't she got angry and told me to "leave the room before I punch you in the face!". I told her I would call the police. She calmed down (thanks to her brother and a friend of his and hers that was here - also bipolar), showered and left. She asked me, "what about work tomorrow?". I told her to pack her uniform and take it with her. She packed and left without a word. Funny, later she calls me and tells me she is with a friend (in a car with loud noise). Then she texted me and told me if her other friend calls the house don't answer. My reply was, "whatever". All this leads me to believe she doesn't take me seriously.

    And, guess what? I'm such a wimp and so upset I would probably fall for her pleads to come home and manipulation. I'm trying really hard to be tough. I'm trying to make the goals to return home realistic - follow house rules, make an appointment. to talk to her advisor for college (she blew it off the other day), write the thank you cards for the graduation money she quickly cashed a month ago from her aunt and grandmother, make and keep and appointment. with her psychiatrist and take her medication.

    I'm not sure if she will spiral out of control or come around. My son told me she asked him before she left, "Do you think mom is trying to teach me a lesson?" To which he replied, "Dah, are you going to listen this time?!" Much will depend on if she takes her medication or not. I have to set it out for her nightly. She refused to take it with her, then came back in the house and asked me where her pill case was. I hope that's a good sign. But she also takes medication for herpes (yes, a result of sex with the wrong people). So she may only take that. sigh.

    In my heart I think she will be back. Despite all this we are very close. All day I've been wondering what an acceptable curfew would be for her. What do you think? She is 18 and graduated and has a part time job bussing tables. As soon as summer hit she decided she was allowed to stay out all night. She only comes home maybe 3 nights a week and sometimes at 4 or 5 am. I don't want to make the limits so unrealistic that she will fail and be kicked out again (if she does come back which I think she will).

    Any thoughts?
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Cage11, My thoughts on curfew are kind of conservative I think. Since she's 18, graduated and has a PT job, I'd say 11 during the week and 2 on weekends. Considering she's in your home and you need your sleep, 2 is fair, in my opinion. However, there are some parents who feel "okay, they are 18 - whatever". That's not me. I have a friend who never EVER imposed a curfew with her daughters. They learned on their own that they couldn't function properly without sleeping. Haha - they learned. Mine would not.

    busywend: I've been teaching my girls about life and banking and jobs since forever. They each had real jobs when they turned 16 - it is a requisite in our house. Actually difficult child had her first real job at 15 and she loves working. She's not working now because of the suicidal thing a few weeks ago - I made her quit because it was stressing her out. I think it's important to start young, it's just that with difficult child's it takes way longer than it did with my easy child. Ugh.

    I think posting in the parenting emeritus is a good idea. I supposed I will just cut and paste it there. Thanks - good thinking!
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JoG, my difficult child starts her first job on Monday!

    I am hoping she loves it... hehe!

    I will look for your post in PE now.
  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader


    Good for your difficult child!!

    My difficult child has been volunteering her time working with my sister in her bird clinic. Yesterday, my sister called me around 9:30 and said difficult child never showed up. Hmmm, I wondered since she left when I did and said she was going straight there at 8:15AM.

    So, my sister called me back about an hour later and told me she went down to her clinic and there was a note from difficult child telling her she measured out all the dead mice and fed all the birds and gave them fresh water. Said she didn't want to wake my sister up (she recovering from surgery). Haha - how funny (cool and amazing!) is that? difficult child DID show up, did the work and then met a friend for coffee afterwards. difficult child IS capable. My sister was so impressed that she came over and did all her work without waking her - that difficult child was so confident in her ability to KNOW what to do.

    It's times like this that leave me scratching my head in wonder. Cool huh?
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JoG - that IS VERY COOL!!!!

    Kudos to your difficult child!

    And to you!