This really bugged me re: other people's perceptions

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by alldone, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. alldone

    alldone New Member

    I had an interaction with someone in which they were describing behaviors of a child, and really she could have been describing my difficult child when she's in a bad phase (only, difficult child has had some worse behaviors too). Anyway, I was glad that this person could grasp that maybe it wasn't all due to bad parenting but that the child might actually be "troubled." But what she said next really bothered me, deeply. She said she feels awful for the parents who have to live with this child and for the school the child goes to.

    Now, I am glad for empathy people have for us. But all I could imagine was my difficult child hearing someone say how awful they felt for me because I have to live with her. How would she feel? And, I cringe at the thought of someone feeling awful for me. But at the same time I wonder, is this irrational? It just seemed so...not understanding of my difficult child and what she goes through, and not understanding how the parents might feel-it's so complex to love a child with these kinds of issues, and to me as bad as it can get (and as discouraged, stressed, exhausted as I can get) I wouldn't say it's awful to be the parent of a difficult child, it isn't always even though it can be very difficult and the emotions are complex. If someone I knew had a child exactly like mine I think I wouldn't feel awful for them, although I would empathize, know that it can be really hard, and want to help or wish I could help. This lady's comment seemed so focused on the kid's being bad, despite her apparent understanding that the kid might have real problems (if that makes any sense). Or maybe her comment bugs me because it seems to imply that the kid can't be helped, and that the child's behavior will always be a pain in the butt to everyone else. And what if his behavior doesn't change in a significant way, is he worth less than "normal" kids? He's too inconvenient? Might influence good children like hers? Are these reasons to feel awful for his parents and teachers?

    I know I'm taking it very personally because what she described reminded me so much of my difficult child. I'm sure I'll develop a thicker skin, eventually (and have already learned to let a lot roll right off). Have you ever bristled at comments like this? Is this something that happens to others parents of difficult children? Or am I a lone wingnut?
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    My husband was a family friend for years before he and I got married. He heard us all complain about life with difficult child 1.

    13 years or whatever later, he moved in. He experience life with difficult child first hand.

    One night he told me that he didn't really comprehend what life with difficult child was like, even tho he had by far the most information on it of anyone outside of our family. Then he said that he didn't think I could have said anything to have truly made him understand it.

    My husband is a pretty simple simon, but that statement seemed pretty profound to me. Nothing I could say to someone could even begin to cover what life with a difficult child is like.

    I realize how bad statments like you encountered hurts. If this is your friend, I'd gently explain it to her, let her know that even problem kids have parents who love them; or even try to explain it from the kid's perspective - how awful it must feel to be out of control like that. If not, I would take it with a grain of salt and try to focus on the fact that at least she is attempting to understand the dynamics of life in that type of household. I agree hearing that would be awful for a child; but at least she's acknowledging a very real problem. She's ahead of a lot of them out there.
  3. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    I know what you mean, hon. It does sound like some kind of back-handed sympathy, doesn't it?

    That said, I agree with her, for the most part. Living with my Sis was generally pretty awful. Like living in a house with a ticking time bomb, but you couldn't see the read-out that was doing the time count-down. I felt bad, and still do feel bad, for my Mom, who frequently had her 24/7 all by herself. I left home for college when sis was young---it was awful all through high school, and it was awful when I was home on breaks from college. Then it was awful when I was home visiting from grad school. It was awful on family vacations and my birthday and HER birthday and Christmas and...well, the list keeps going.

    I don't think you need thicker skin. If we didn't all have fairly troll-like thick skin, we'd have all run for the hills years ago. Hehe. It's just a different way of thinking about it. As long as people don't say, "Your Sis is AWFUL!", I appreciate the care that they intend when they say, "I feel AWFUL for you!". That's how I see it, at least. :)
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think she meant anything bad by what she said. Its awful to live with a loved one dying, its awful to live with a parent with mental illness, its awful to live with chronic can just be plain awful so much of the time. I think she probably just meant she felt badly for what the parents had to go through. I feel badly for what we have to go through, no matter what our obstacles are.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I like Janet's point of view.
    I'm hoping it was a contextual thing, and that she didn't mean it as a slam to the child, personally.
    If she is a friend, or a potential friend, you could explain to her the next time tha you see her that this child is a real person and it's not fun to live in a body and mind that don't respond the way you want them to. It takes an extra long learning curve and lots more work than being a regular kid. Maybe that will help a bit.
    If it doesn't help, don't worry about it. There are too many people out there who spout out things that they know nothing about.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm with Janet also.

    I had difficult child 3's teacher say this to me, when difficult child 3 was 8 years old. He said, "I've had a really difficult day with him. And justwhen I'm getting fed up, I remember that I can go home and leave it behind. But you have to live with this. I honestly don't know how you do it."

    I did point out that at home, difficult child 3 fits into his space and niche and we all havw adapted to one another, so perhaps it's not as bad as he visualised. HOwever, yes - thank you for the recognition that my parenting is a thankless task at times, a superhuman-feeling one too. Because implied in this is the recognition that my parenting is the means to cope, instead of the cause.

  7. alldone

    alldone New Member

    Thank you all so much! Yeah, after I wrote out my post and went out to bring the kids to karate, I realized that she really meant no harm and was just expressing her empathy and concern for the parents. I'm just extra sensitive lately, all around.
  8. compassion

    compassion Member

    There IS jusgement and stigma out there, I really try to surround myself with support as much as possible and really try tonot judge or crticize ANY difficult child or parent etc. Compassion rules. Compassion
  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know there have been times when I would have described having to deal with difficult children, ailing parents, working full time, and single parenthood all at the same time as awful. Horrible, even. It is what it is (or was). That didn't mean I loved my difficult children any less, or my parents any less. It just meant, I was stuck in an impossible situation but I did the best I could with it.

    Actually I think I used to get more frustrated with the "I don't know how you do it" comments, or the "how do you do it?" questions. You do it because you have no choice (except the unacceptable choice of abandoning your children). I know those people didn't mean any harm either, but somehow, that comment/question always got to me. Those people would deal with it, too, if they had to ... they've just been fortunate enough NOT to have to.

    We never know our own strength until it is truly tested, then it tends to amaze even us, sometimes.
  10. JLady

    JLady A ship lost in the night

    Being fairly new to all of this and having 1 easy child grown and 1 easy child in HS, I can understand the statement that was made. It is plain ignorance. Those that have raised (or are raising) easy child's have no idea how to even begin to raise a child that has difficulties beyond anyone's control. With easy child's, you discipline, they grow, they learn and life goes on. Many times with difficult child we just get through the moment.

    I have a friend who has a child that is physically ill. He is in and out of the hospital and has constant physical complications. I have said to her a million times... 'I don't know how you do it. I don't think I could'. It is this same friend who is now saying to me.... You can do it. It will be ok.

    Last night I played with my difficult child for a while. I found myself just grabbing him and hugging him. I love him with all my heart and it breaks my heart that he has the problems he does. I don't understand it. I don't know what to do. I feel lost because I don't know how to help him. I'm learning but I'm in the boat labeled "how do you do it".

    Don't take it personal. Dealing with this day in and day out just seems impossible to those of us that have no idea how to do it.

  11. alldone

    alldone New Member

    ((hug)) You will do it. Half the time I don't feel like I know how to do it either, and it really does feel impossible sometimes. But we all do it, because we have to. I think you just do it one moment at a time (a day at a time is too much sometimes), even if you don't know what you're doing. And you learn as you go.
  12. 'Chelle

    'Chelle Active Member

    I too think it was said as a supportive thought. As Shari said, until you actually live with it, you don't really understand what living with a difficult child is. The worst thing for me is all the conflicting emotions, almost constantly. To me right now the worst is a feeling of helplessness sometimes, when my difficult child is struggling and I just don't know what else to try to help him get through. And unless you've experienced it you don't get it. I almost wish that all parents would get to experience living with a difficult child for a while, so they can appreciate the good things they have with their pcs. Just like I truly appreciate every good moment with my difficult child and easy child.