Taking it from the top: what is the problem?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ropefree, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    I have been single parenting my son with adhd since birth.
    HIs, not mine.
    I am disabled from back injuries and that set the stage for a long haul in poverty. I did not understand the last work related injury was going to be so limiting I am not the type to sit on my laurels. Oh..here iam on my laurels.
    My son is a teen now, he is 16, not 17 and he has been a terrific person.
    He has had episodes of outbursts not often, but it is clear to me the occations are overwhelming when they happen for him
    He is very bright. Does well in school. His teachers like him. I have been a forse to recon with to get him the direction and supports along the way from the schools. Mostly because he, like many adhd, has a fast metabolism and the time released medications are done by just about the end of school.
    He would have slipped by without any help as the grade he would get were passing. However it was so hard for him that I did insist that he was tested to "see how he is learning" and low and behold he had so much lower ability at handwriting that that qualified him for IEP. IT is classic adhd stuff and when these learners do not get that the set up for failures is to sad.

    He has needed and benifited from conseling in school and especially one in middle school where the social piece was handled beautifully by a true talent in the conseling department.

    Now he has friends too.

    And all was going along well. He joined a sport (after I told the IEP team that maybe it would be smart for a couch to ask him to join...oh, yeah,
    make contact, show interest, welcome....)

    With one of his friends he auditioned and did a playhouse production with a dinner theater..(lines, rehersals ect)

    HE had a few interesting girlfreinds...all very sweet and normal...and then
    last year a breakup with a long term one ...hit hard.

    This year the livingroom was now filling with teens...we have had freinds around alot and it is good. Then the overnights were not by permission(?) and involved like eight couples and older homeless males who I had not met until recently. And ...it may suprise, but I sent them on their merry way.

    Three times.
    Then the driving girls start taking the group out for over nights. I was thinking...what! So I tracked down the girls name and called home.
    The "problem" was just getting found out anyway.

    ANd that the stay over attempts were at my house.

    ANd then my son, who started staying up late here on the computer is having anger fits...he is not sleeping enough. ANd the one night he swears at me and pushes me...and then agian in the morning and he is not going to school because I sent his girlfriend when she came to get him away:
    because he swore at me and pushed me seconds ago
    because she had detored to school the week befor and they skipped part of class.
    The police come. I have been physically abused by my parents, my boyfriends at differant times in my life and I am not tolerating it in my son.

    I have been patient and consistant and kind and the psyciartists and the conselors and the district psycologists and the pediatrician are all like love having us because I do care, we are working on the core stuff and the outcomes have been fine.

    The officer talks to him. I am glade he did.

    AS a single disabled parent I am well acquainted with the habit by many in our society to live by their bias and have unfounded opions and to use the
    label trap to excuse all sorts of indesencies. Like failing to take the neglect
    and to support the single parent.

    My son has benifited from the advocasy and the care and when he is fed up he has no one but his freinds and conselors to turn to. The dianamic of a single parent situation does need caring adults who support and esteem
    this type of family.

    So, he shuts down. Over his friend who stayed here and he wanted me to
    take him in permenantly. They both did. However much I might want to I have restrictions of housing requirements and income issues and I am not equipt to take on the off the hook mother.

    He has stayed out over night. Not ok. There is a curfew here. If you do not have one in your area, then work on that. and he is not thinking well enough to be on own.

    I have pursued the intensive in home therapy not "just" to structure his
    conduct to match norms in the home, but to establish a functional relationship style :learned behavor.
    Personally I hope that instead of looking at theraputic relationship as a
    indication that something is "wrong" instead the fact that these trasisional stages of developement are crissis points in life that offer growth opertunities that left unattended fester into lifelong unexplored pits.

    AT my age, with my experiance and my general curious way of checking things out I am frustrated as all get out that I am being talked down to.
    "you son isn't going to sit on the couch and watch movies with you like when he was in elementary school" direct quote from the therapist.
    #1 we did not have a couch when he was in elelmentary school.
    #2 i bet money that we will be sitting on the couch (we have one) and watching movies between now and when he does move on his own.

    He is going through something. HIs freinds are not supervised. Their parents have not been parenting. The ones I am refering to are real people,and I bet your community has samples of the same thing. These people are causeing my little family of two problems because the nonscence they are
    sharing that influences, the 'letting' a minor stay without contactin a parent,the HOSTILE passive indifferance to the other people(me, mom, single parent) and all the other parents who are just not caring.

    Just look at my kid in my livingroom. Sullen, not talking, doing what he wants resenting having to say where he is going, resenting that he has to come home and NO he can not sleep wherever without notice.

    Yes we are getting intensive home therapy NOW. And I anticipate that the outcome will benefit and I am pushing the process for a more significant
    impact because I do think that a large part of the problem with apathy in our culture is the "no can do" attitude.

    How can you help me? I don't know. I am so on own here that it is isolated and lonily and surely there are women who have had success in forging a possitive and feels good repore with the separating teen? Directing. they do not like it. they NEED IT.

    My intention is to get my one child into college and on the road to a carreer. IF he has the ability to do it all on his own he would be a wonderman. Parents I talk to help their college success through the whole time. For my son his best shot from this point is going to include an ongoing and workable realtionship.

    I very much do hope that what ever does happen it is on good terms.
    Are we really in a world where parents just dump teens in the streets?
    I am not interested in that. I am not planning on that. We were homeless and I do not want my son drifting around.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Ropefree, you're at that difficult stage in parenting when they stop seeing you as a parent and start seeing you as a nag, a cop, a pain in the neck and a fun-wrecker. OK, we may be all of that, but with good reason. The trouble is, until they see that reason you're not going to get through.

    As I see it (from what you just shared plus previous posts) you have in the past been supportve and understanding. This has also meant some leniency while he establishes himself as a responsible independent person.

    Trouble is, it sounds like he and his friends took advantage of that.

    Ok, consequences. That means you stepped in and closed a few gates that had been left open. Fair enough (from me) but clearly not from him, because to HIS mind, you're changing the rules on him.

    Trouble is, when we apparently change the rules on our kids - we do it by clamping down on discipline and saying, "Ok, if you can't be trusted to be responsible then we have to go back to treating you like a little kid and checking up on you all the time, limiting your chance to Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) about and so on."

    But it's like putting the genie back in the bottle - all it does is breed resentment. And when the kids are feeling resentful, they're not learning a darn thing. All that happens is they keep testing the limits even harder, throw even more sulks, make our lives miserable and eventually either wear down our defences or break away.

    So we come to the one thing that has worked for me - turn your child into your flatmate. I've mentioned this to you before, and when all else fails, this is always worth trying. Your child wants adult responsibilities because after all, as soon as he turns 18 he will be off. That's what they all either say, or think. But as I have said to my kids, "Sonny Jim, you reckon you're capable of looking after yourself in the big bad world. You reckon you will find a bunk somewhere with friends, you will have no trouble living alone. OK, time to start is NOW. Because if you don't let me teach you how to look after your own affairs and how to be a responsible, considerate and popular flatmate, you will find it VERY difficult to manage because sooner rather than later you will wear out your welcome."

    You can even add, "I want you gone sooner rather than later. I NEED you to be a success at living independently, because if you are NOT a success, it means I get stuck with you having to move back home."

    You don't have to be mean about it, you just have to be logical. By this age you should be able to talk to your son at least superficially, and be able to communicate. You should be able to discuss politics (after all, he will be old enough to vote very soon). He has already seen how you can fight for what needs to be fought for. He mightn't be good at it yet, but he needs to know to ask for help if he needs it and to know WHEN to ask for help.

    Here are some past threads where I've described this. I haven't included any threads which were addressed specifically to you, because I figured you already would have easy access to those. I think I definitely have to include tis topic as an entire chapter to itself in the book I'm working on!

    http://www.conductdisorders.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20258&highlight=child+flatmate+independent

    I also found a chunk from a thread to someone else, where I've summarised this as best as I can. I think it perhaps says it better overall than I've been able to post for you.

    'A flatmate is respected. As flatmates, you tell each other where you are going and when you will be back. This is so household activities can take people's movements into account (such as who will be home for dinner, and when to send out a search party). As flatmates, if it's your turn to cook dinner you find out what people are prepared to eat and cater accordingly. As flatmates, if someone doesn't like what you cook, they are free to take over kitchen duties and organise the meals. As flatmates, we take turns, we work as a team, to comply with landlord inspections. We support one another in cleaning the bathrooms, doing the laundry, washing the floor etc. We note every product we use and put it on the shopping list. We put our washing in the laundry (or wherever it's been decided dirty washing is to go). We do whatever chores are needed, each according to ability and time available.
    As flatmates, failure to comply with house rules can lead to eviction. Or at the very least, loss of any special treatment or support. "Why should I go to the trouble of cooking your favourite food, if you are rude to me about my cooking? If you don't like what I cook, then you can take over planning the meals for everyone. This includes shopping to a tight budget."

    When our kids grow up we expect them to be able to survive in the big bad world, with other people. We are successful parents when our children are able to leave home and live happy, fulfilled, productive and independent lives. The "Explosive Child" methods can actually fast-track this, by teaching them to take responsibility and control in their own lives, often much younger than we would have thought. A lot of the frustration in difficult children comes from not being able to control anything in their lives. This technique allows them control, in areas we frankly don't care about, and in doing so they learn control in general instead of having control imposed on them.

    It's like teaching your child to walk; or more accurately, allowing your child to learn when they are ready, but with your hands hovering nearby in case they begin to wobble a bit.

    If we respond to 'rudeness' and absolutely every small infraction with strict control, we can undermine a lot of good progress without actually teaching anything useful. It can also seem, especially to a difficult child, that we are doing it because we CAN, because we're the adults and we have the control. This builds resentment and makes the problems worse.

    And if we're honest with each other, there is something very satisfying in having the final authority over a child who is smart-mouthing us. "Go to your room!" announced almost triumphantly can give us a sense of, "At least I've got the last word now; I'll have a couple of minutes' peace and then hopefully she'll apologise, I'll say my piece about respecting your parents and for a little while longer she will know her place." '

    Whenever we're dealing with our child we need to keep eye focus on the long term, not the quick solution for now. We need to look beneath the surface and if we have to ban someone, we need to give reasons.

    difficult child 1 had three close friends at school; he had met them all at a "Brat Camp" set-up organised by the school for difficult kids. Instead of really teaching these kids anything much of use, they created a clique of really weird kids which actually made them MORE socially isolated. difficult child 1's last shreds of friendship with the 'normal' kids went out the window after that camp.
    His new friends - all had problems. At the parents' sessions we had met the parent figures for the other boys and drew our own conclusions as to why they had problems. One boy was clearly similar to difficult child 1 in diagnosis, but had an uncontrolled temper when anxious. He was physically big, could be very scary.
    Another boy was from a wealthy family but never fitted in with other kids, he didn't know how to behave appropriately. His mother simply couldn't direct him; the boy would smart-mouth the mother and she would shout back at him, but generally not getting the last word.
    The third boy was VERY aggressive, at times violent, using a lot of bad language but otherwise not a criminal-type. Loyal to difficult child 1.

    I cautiously allowed all three boys into my home. However difficult child 3, barely school-age at the time, was wanting to tag along with his adored big brother's friends. Two of them (the last two I mentioned) I felt were dangerously inappropriate with difficult child 3. One made violent threats to him. While I recognised the threats as pure bluff and social inappropriateness, I still wasn't going to stand for it and those two were banned form being inside our home, until further notice. It was too important to me that difficult child 3 be treated with respect and that he feel safe in his own home. Ironically the big bloke, the one the teachers at school were most afraid of, was never a problem for me (he was the one who was recently Best Man at difficult child 1's wedding).

    Sometimes difficult child 1 tried to bring these boys home from school. I made it clear - they were not permitted inside our home until I felt they could be trusted around difficult child 3. So difficult child 1 would sit outside with his friends and talk.

    One day difficult child 1 was given an old TV by a man in the street (who was throwing it out). difficult child 1 wanted that TV to play games on, but needed help to carry it. His friends offered to help and came all the way home with him (expensive by public transport, also took a lot of time) just to help carry that darn TV. They both said to me, "It's OK Mrs Marg, we won't come inside. We're just here to help difficult child 1 then we're going home again."

    I invited them back in and since then they have behaved themselves well for me.

    But the entire time - I explained to difficult child 1 what my reasons were, I at no time tried to control difficult child 1's choice of friends, I discussed it with him but made it clear - even though I know his friends didn't mean to upset me, they did. And difficult child 3 as such a young, vulnerable child with the diagnosis of autism, HAD to feel safe in his own home. The important thing here wasn't what people MEANT, but how it was interpreted by the most vulnerable person in the room. "The chain is no stronger than its weakest link."

    You need to give way, in the RIGHT direction, in order to prevent him going in the WRONG direction. Some of the way you need to give will NOT be to your liking but it always is a compromise. Make it clear to your son that you ARE compromising, so he doesn't see it as his right all the time. Discuss, negotiate, make agreements, follow through, communicate.

    It's tedious at times, cumbersome at times, frustrating a lot of the time, but worth it in the long run.

    You're on your own, which makes it more difficult in some ways. You're dealing with your own disability, which can make you sometimes too tired to follow through. But your disability can also be a very good reason for NEEDING him to cooperate.

    Living under the same roof requires teamwork. He will benefit from this - he needs to see that. He won't be good at teamwork - you need to give him some understanding. But not necessarily any slack. If he fails to put his washing in the laundry, then it won't get done. If he fails to pull his weight, then you will not feel like going to any extra trouble for him. But if he DOES pull his weight, then be good to him in return. After all, if he saves you the effort of cooking dinner, then you have more energy left over to do his laundry.

    Quid pro quo.

    It works.

    Marg
     
  3. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Thanks Marguretie...
    I did read your posts and the first session with the conseling after the police bit, when he was in shock really, because as he said later "how did this all happen?"
    part of the plan was chores. He spent two weeks in a row and has a couple since doing his part. or part of his part.
    But the deafening silence between us is not budging.
    Although I apreciate the part about getting the independant skills so you do not come back...my mother started telling me I can not wait til you leave home when I was nine and she was just beginning her riguerous journey down bipolar road with the psycotic episodes. I would not burden a youth with
    such sentiments.
    I am pursuing the intensive home therapy as I am thinking that having the input of others who are caring and listen and will draw out the matters so that it is not at the point of devisiveness where all the dialogue is,if any.
    We have never had the 'go to your room'senerio as we have always been in one room until this house and here there are differant rooms which we retreat into and just paralellel live. It is not enough.
    One clear statement he did make was when he had stayed out all night and when I saw him the next day he was sorry and had done his chores really well. He also said then as he went over what had happened and so forth that he would not have been able to talk about it if he had not taken his medications.
    Part of this is the difficulty for him when he is not undder the effects of the medications. Which is most of the time when we are together. ANd it is when he is out in the world with his freinds, now.
    The other part, I think, is just having motivation to talk. Which for him he will not talk about things sometimes until months later. I can not get anything out of him but :leave me alone, I don't want to talk to you.
    On the bright side he did call today and he did come home for curfew yesterday. He called when he left the event he went to and said he was going to watch a movie.

    Befor he left I did (nag,pester, prod, poke) by saying "You will do your chores tomorow" and he said."maybe, I guess."

    I think when he had all those people over he was not altogether happy about it either. He has said he was glade I did it because he hadn't wanted them here to the therapist.

    His pediatrician said it is emancipation disorder.

    What I want is to take the steps that are going to see him along in the best way possible and I will not set by while he is caught in the quagmire of the youths who are no going to get very far.

    I will contiue to seek input from those who are successful with adhd and
    youths and younge adults because I believe that giving up is giving up.
    I am not going to do that. I am not going to yell, belittle, deminish, insult intentionally or push my teen ager on the street. I am going to redirect,
    direct, and praise when he does take the right steps and I am going to make it unforgetable when he makes the wrong one.

    My voice might not work. The writing on the board might not work. The therapy may take forever. I may be creating a disturbance in the middle of the night from time to time ("it must be after curfew I hear my moms autoalarm outside")

    Success is made. That is where I am as a parent. I had the one. One day
    he is going to be looking back on this and think...hmmm, that mother of mine she knew how to be there for her kid.

    I am falling apart.My family was terrible in the teen years. I do not know how to go through the college thing, the economy is junk, the government is in debt until whenever, I have this one person on this earth who I have an obligation to propel warts and all into the future. I may drop tears ahead, I may have one brick wall to get over under around through but if it can be done,look, watch I will. And my son will have that degree, that education. Not every mind is as able to take in so much. My son has this trait, this ability and it sets him apart...his cognitive ability, his fast pace learning ability, and he is vunerable..he is a heartful tender guy.

    WE are suppose to look into strattera.
     
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Ropefree, you said, "Although I apreciate the part about getting the independant skills so you do not come back...my mother started telling me I can not wait til you leave home when I was nine and she was just beginning her riguerous journey down bipolar road with the psycotic episodes. I would not burden a youth with such sentiments."

    OK, so try this one (closer to what I said). "Honey, I am happy for you to continue to live here as long as you need a roof over your head. However, I accept tat one day you will want to leave. When that day comes I need to know that you will be well prepared, so we're going to begin now so you can get these skills down as second nature for you. It should also help you feel more independent and grown up, even while you live under this roof.
    So here's how it will work..."

    Kids will always talk, at some level. OK, he may not share his feelings about this or that, but there are ways. Even if all he does is acknowledge that you told him you were going to the shops and does he want anything, it is still talking.

    You can build in the basic level of communication into the house rules. "We will tell each other where we are going and when we'll be back, so we can coordinate transport, meals and any other joint interests in our shared accommodation."

    If necessary you might even be able to incorporate some level of conversation into the chores list - "You and your mother will converse, for ten minutes a day minimum, on topics of mutual agreement. Sample topics include the weather, the climate, your mutual interests, film, television, music, news events."
    This is also a useful living skill.

    If this is too difficult then another option (which builds up to this) is to read aloud to one another on a daily basis. I know at 17 he will feel this is babyish, but being able to read aloud well is a valuable skill, useful to people of any age. it also encourages him to learn how to use his voice effectively. Let him choose the book, or if he refuses to (or can't decide) you find one you think he will enjoy. It needn't be fiction - maybe "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking. And the reason for doing this - if difficult child reads aloud to you while you're busy with your hands preparing dinner, say, then it is a good reason for you to not get the chance to read (you're busy) and there's certainly nothing babyish about the book. You want to improve your mind, the book choice is not sending any 'therapy' message to difficult child, it also provides another opportunity to talk - "so what do you think about this book?"
    If difficult child EVER says he doesn't like something, ask him why. Explain again that for the sake of learning to communicate effectively with other people, you need him to practice on you. He will find that it is a very useful skill to be able to express his own likes and dislikes, as well as his reasoning of this.

    Surely as long as HE is the topic of conversation, he will be more willing to talk?

    Keeping it short, so he's not finding it too onerous, is a way to build up slowly to more acceptable levels of communication. Try to stop before he gets fed up with it, while he is still enjoying it.

    Marg
     
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ropefree, I know that was hard for you so THANK YOU for sharing. Marg is great and caring and loving and gave you such good advice.
    I could never tell my kids they can never come home either. EVER. They can always come back home, even with their own kids in tow, if times got rough. My mother also said, "Once you leave, you're gone" and it scared me. I also have disabilities and I got married just to feel secure. I also have a mood disorder and some neurological stuff going on.
    I made my daughter leave (but she went to live with her loving brother). I had to do it because I have younger kids too and she was on drugs and would not get help. Sometimes it is appropriate to make kids leave--that doesn't mean forever---it means until they have gotten help. Sometimes they won't get any help until they go. However, it doesn't seem that your son is that troubled. He is so much like 17 year olds everywhere who think they are all grown up because of the 18 year old-is-legal law.
    I dont' want to give too much advice. I want to let others do that. But I do want to tell you that now I understand your situation much better and that I know (as we all do) how hard it was for you to share. And I think you have a fine young man and you did a great job. He will see you were looking out for his best interests at about age 23 :) Take care.
     
  6. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    The last few nights he has been coming in showing respect for curfew. Yeah!

    Frankly the point for having therapy is to open the dialogue and to have the
    reason factor (the third person) who changes the manner of the talk...and
    encourages dialogue, negotiation, and airing of issues.

    My son is a really terrific fellow. And the crissis that erupted over the swearing
    not just that he was, but how and what words...and pushing me the two times. There is no glossing over that.

    The approach I have has been to respect the developemental level and to speak to the matters at hand with patience, understanding, and presence for what is so. His kindness toward others, compassion, and friendly nature are
    what is obvious.

    He has anger issues as well. Until this round it has not been so problematic.
    And as it does appear that he is settling down some the fact remains that he has learned these new evasive, close lipped, disrespectful tactics from the
    family systems he is exposed to that are harmful for him and which are not
    healthy for anyone.

    I very much appreciate that you have taken time to offer a better fit for the tone I want ringing in my head and his, Marg. My role is not a power struggle
    here. It is about empowerment and the tools for a successful life.

    My wish for the new generation is that they are asking for help when needed and discerning what is effective and appropriate for them. And from my best understanding the benefits of staying in dialogue with ones elders through each stage of life is that the bigger picture of life itself with all the snags and pitfalls and predictable outcomes are not discovered by braille in the dark with out any warning, caution, or map sketched out to help travel safely.

    He kinda blames me the friends do not want to visit over here, yet the apparent attraction was a mistaken assumption that our open welcoming style included not telling parents where their girls were overnight. To bad so sad.

    Now the no answer the phone family has that at their house because no adults are staying there. How would that go over in your neighborhood?

    So the rule is home at night by curfew. No over nights.

    If and when a dialogue and conversation resumes then we can go from there.
    But under this withdrawn hostile tactic I am not persueded that I have to do
    another thing. My consideration is compassionate and if another person is
    actively hurtful wether passively or more demonstatively that infridges on my
    life.

    The first conselor said that I had to lower my expectations. HUgh? Oh no.
    Something that is as basic as this is not neigotiable. Whine, fuss, snivel,
    mope,get mad, but if you want me to participate then, Hello, I will be needing the mutually repectful grown version talking to me and asking for my attention.

    I think the sullen, demotivated, hostile teen thing is a form of regression. I think that by clinging to these childish behavors the teen is acting out the
    inner struggle between dependancy and that future...and at this point it is future. A 16 on up without all the elements of an adult life in play:school, excersise,extracuricular, friendships,and a job they are in transition. ANd even with all those at a moments notice anything could happen and they are back in dependancy or they are drifting.

    I fully feel that what is so very important about this stage is that far to often the youth are lost by neglects.

    Especially when these are with diagnosis. Society has a habit of shunning. And the
    AA crowd, who are working hard at finding and staying sober, making that choice everyday are testimony to the fact that our society sells just plain
    poison to people. Where is the anhauser bush flophouse for alcoholics?
    The JimBeam hospice for psoriosis of the liver? The Voldka reserve for the completely hopeless? Has the makers of the pcp used in vets offices opened a
    residence for the perminantly impaired who bought their product from the hands of criminals who did get the materials from somewhere?
    So, I am turning to the clinicians who are TRYING to learn how to manage and support the diagnosis, their families, because not enough is known. The fact is the
    status quo, which is visible here, is that not enough is offered, studied, peer reviewed, reasearched and the children being born and raised without the social consern suffer at the hands of profiteers who are waiting for that sale.

    The care of our children is the most important thing done in all society.
    No mistake about it. Having a mental disablility is something. It is part of what is normal. It is irrespocible to not make the efforts to accomidate and protect these teens with great vigilants and care.

    More study needs to be done for families. More info needs to be out in plain language that anyone can understand. Specifics to consern and not general attention.
     
  7. Jena

    Jena New Member

    I just wanted to jump in and offer my support as well to you.

    (((((hugs))))

    Marg has given you some great advice and tips. I hope that it helps.
     
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Actually, Ropefree, I agree with you that your son is a terrific kid. From what you have shared about him he seems to want to help people, to care about them. The trouble is, he sounds like he's trying to help people whose lifestyle is just so very different from his home life that he (your son" is very vulnerable (but would never accept this information). He MAY seem to them like a nice bloke who can make a few things possible for them, or it may be that they want a taste of what you have provided for your son, or it may be that they see him as a patsy who can be milked for whatever they can et out of him.

    I think the curfew etc are really good things. And of course, tis means you have the same curfew, because otherwise how else would you know if he was obeying the rules?

    With the silent treatment etc, this is NOT tolerable. If you allow him to use this as a means to manipulate, then he will carry this through into his adult life and will make some poor unsuspecting partner in the future, suffer in the same way. I understand your not wanting to engage when he is being like this, but you need to avoid the possible accusation from him that you are giving back what he is dishing out.

    My father used to do the silent treatment occasionally. My mother's way of handling it was with humour. It was very effective.

    Example: I don't know why (maybe my mother did) but for some reason, my father had taken himself out to his workshop and was busy pottering around in there and wouldn't come out. It may have been a disagreement between my parents; I don't know. But he didn't come inside for his morning tea, when my mother sent me out to let him know it was ready. His tea eventually went cold; she poured it down the sink. She put the biscuits back in the tin then set about preparing lunch.

    Lunchtime came. Dad still hadn't come inside. Mum sent me out to let him know. He answered me (as he had when I told him about his morning tea) but was gruff and short, as he had been before.
    For lunch Mum had fixed some salad. That starts out cold and doesn't need to be kept warm.
    We waited for Dad. In those days, Dad was the head of the household and we NEVER ate without him with us, unless he was at work. But this day, he still wouldn't come inside, nor would he come and say, "Start without me, I'll be a while."

    So by 2 pm we sat down and started to eat without him. By this stage Mum had wised me up; Dad had the cranks for some reason and was wanting to make us feel guilty (for some reason) and was also trying to show what a hard worker he was, what a martyr he was, and try to make us feel sorry for him. It was a scorching hot day outside and there he was slaving away over fence posts, fixing the gate, hammering in star pickets - generally doing all the heavy jobs we normally would have left until the cooler hours.

    Mum & I were sitting in the dining room chattering happily about something when he walked past the window. He saw us eating (while trying not to look) and heard us laughing. Mum quietly jogged my elbow, we carefully didn't look at him (although I watched his retreating back in the mirror reflecting through the window).

    Five minutes later he came inside for his lunch. Mum didn't scold him or say anything triumphant, she merely got up from the table and fetched his salad from the fridge, put it down in front of him and then poured him a cold drink. Nothing was said, but there was still a lot of communication going on. The main message was, "You can sulk all you like but you can't make me feel bad if I don't choose to."

    By the time lunch was over it was all forgotten, Dad was happy again and he and Mum were talking about whatever it is that parents talk about.

    So what I suggest, and I'm sure you know what I mean - HE needs to know that you are not letting HIS mood affect YOU. But if you are also silent, he needs to know that it's not in retaliation, but more in accord. Maybe you can chatter a little, in ways that do not require any answers. Pass on family 'gossip' ("Just thought I'd let you know; Nancy had her baby last night. She's had a boy, he's doing fine. I'm thinking of going over to visit this afternoon. Let me know if you want to come along too. Your choice, of course.")
    You can throw in comments like, "I'm planning to make chili for dinner; if you don't want chili then say so and I'll make you some bolognese."
    The choice is there; but a failure to communicate from him, is also a communication because by NOT communicating, he is making a choice.

    Sneaky, but effective.

    I have found, when I've had kids who were giving me the silent treatment (easy child 2/difficult child 2 would do this; frankly I was glad of her silence) that if I just carried on like this as if nothing was wrong, eventually they'd crack. They'd either pick up my cue and drop their hostility, pretending that nothing had been wrong, or (most often easy child 2/difficult child 2) they would burst out with, "We need to talk about this."

    If the kid is REALLY being ridiculous and it threatens to drag on for a stupid length of time, I have been known to turn to the kid and say, "OK, time out. Enough of this, it's not appropriate behaviour for someone your age." (I know, I keep telling people to not say "for your age" to your kids, but sometimes you have to). "Now we are going to talk. Or if you won't talk, then you can darn well listen."
    If I feel that they are angry at me and the situation warrants it, I WILL apologise. But usually it's, "I am sorry if you feel I hurt you. I didn't intend to hurt you. I was trying to do the following..."
    If there is still no response you at least have the satisfaction of having said your piece. And you can conclude with, "If you need to respond, now is the time. If you do not respond now, then that tells me that you feel it has all been said. if so, I am glad of that. It means it is all resolved. Thank you for your time."
    You then turn your back and go back to whatever you were doing.

    Any kid who is STILL giving you the silent treatment after that, needs time to work it out for himself in his own head. You need not feel in the slightest guilty, you have done what you could do. ANd there is no way he can ever then accuse you of not trying to communicate.

    Some kids are not good at conflict resolution. They need us to show them the way, and to pull them out of their wrong tactics before they become a bad habit.

    My sister in law is married to a bloke who 'argues' this way sometimes. He can be a nasty piece of work, passive-aggressive. His mother was erratic and passive-aggressive. I won't stand for it, although if it is someone "out of my jurisdiction" I usually leave the room so they have nobody to sulk at. Passive-aggressives LOVE an audience, especially an audience who will fall all over them trying to placate them (as my sister in law has done). You give a passive-aggressive that sort of attention and they get the payoff they're looking for. It all harks back to the sad little boy who lost his ball down the drain and stood around looking sad until someone gave him a sweetie. Then he still looked sad so they gave him another sweetie and a new ball. By now it was paying off so he stood in front of ANOTHER drain and told his sad story and got more sweeties and another ball.

    You get the picture.

    There are ways, and there are ways... but a child who wants to be treated like an adult, and who needs the adult experience but with training wheels, needs to learn to NOT sulk to get his own way.

    And although we're taking about someone who should be behaving in a more adult fashion, he IS still a child and you are the adult. So sadly, we do (as the parents) have to find our own (effective) way of not buying into their drama and playing the role they have cast for us.

    Ropefree, you do sound like you're doing a really good job with him. Keep telling yourself that. He needs to know this and one day he WILL know this. But he also needs to learn to communicate more effectively. Words are always much better for this, than silence.

    Marg
     
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