Today's visit with- difficult child

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

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    difficult child had been telling me that things were going pretty well the past couple of weeks, and he started our visit today like things were ok. Then, he started getting emotional. He first was saying that he has always taken too much from other kids and holds things in that bother him until he can't take it anymore then he explodes or does something stupid. (This is true.)

    But, he started blaming me for it saying that it was because I raised him that way. Now, there is some truth to that- I used to tell him to tell a teacher or ignore nasty comments from other kids instead of teaching him how to really stand up for himself. But, the fact that he's really sensitive kid who never like competition and is not naturally assertive is not anyone's fault. Does anyone here ever recall having to just accept characterisitcs about our own personalities and learn how to handle things in a way to compensate for that?Is there anything I can say to difficult child to help him see that?

    I should add that what triggered that was that he's doing very well in there- behavior wise. But he says that when he tries to ask staff a question, they don't even realize he's there and don't even repsond to him but they always respond to the other boys. I told him it was probably because he has behaved so well and they don't see him as one who could end up causing a problem. Plus, I doubt he's as assertive about it as the others.

    Then, he started again about me never letting him hang out with his friends. Ok, I did, until he got into more legal troubel than everyone across the board felt they should stay away from each other for a while. When I was ready to let them hang out together again, the other parents would not allow it and apparently, the other boy wasn't too interested either. This hurt difficult child so bad that it took him months before he would even tell his therapist - he kept telling his therapist that I wouldn't let him hang out with anyone. Then he started to hang around a kid who was more than a little bad news and I wouldn't allow that. Anyway, I didn't raise my voice but triecd to tell difficult child that we should discuss these things in family therapy- he was starting to cry n front of all the other kids and their families visiting.

    He talked about how he wanted to get back into advanced classes when he gets out and goes to high school. Then he turned around and fussed at me for making too big of a deal about him doing homework. He said the most important thing to him was having friends to hang out with. But he wasn't going to take carp from other kids anymore- he was going to fight them.

    He went on about several things where I really didn't see how anyone could add things up the way he does. Then he was really trying hard not to cry more and said over and over "I have royally scr**ed my life up. I will never be able to do anything. If I get out and do things differently, I will still end up in here again. I hate it here. But I don't care- I'll just end up in here again- then someday it will be adult prison."

    I couldn't decide if this was a sense of hopelessness, an "I don't care" attitude in general, or just trying to accept that he's in there for the next year and there's nothing he can do about it.

    I finally gave up trying to reason with him and told him it would help to talk to a therapist but he needed to decide for himself what his own priorities were- school, friends, or proving he's cool. I reminded him that a lot of things happened because he kept getting into trouble and if he kept handling things the same, he would get the same results. He said he would never be equal to other kids now because if he makes a "normal" mess-up, they would get a slap on the hand, he would get back into Department of Juvenile Justice. I said "that's right- you are in a hole and have to work hard to get yourself out- but it can be done."

    He asked me how he was supposed to handle things once he gets out. I don't have the answer to that. Is my kid sicker than I thought? Is his inability to add things up in a better way permanent?

    He says no therapist has ever really helped. In his defense, I don't think he's ever had a good one either. But I don't think it would matter- I don';t think anything will do any good until/unless he adds things up for himself and comes up with logical conclusions about how things got to this point (in the sense of accepting himself and takiing responsibility) and realizing what it will take to turn his life around and sticking to it. A good therapist who really cared and spent ample time with him could help with that part- but really, I think those are few and far between. It's difficult for adults who are ready to walk in and blurt the problem out to find a good therapist, much less a kid in trouble who has trouble identifying the problem to begin with.

    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    It actually sounds like you had a good visit. You can't solve his problems or even come up with-what-if answers. All you can do is throw out ideas and allow him to throw out ideas, and you can be a good listener. Which sounds pretty much like what happened.
    He's not at summer camp. This is not supposed to be fun. The fact that he has you to talk to is, I hope, a benefit to him, and I also hope that he can make a friend or two there. You never know.
    In reg to a therapist, keep looking. Once he gets out, he's got to keep going. When the times gets closer, you can gently remind him that he will be seeing a therapist for a long time, and that transitioning to regular life is just that--a transition. It's not like he can walk out of there and instantly become a corporate executive.
    In the meantime, you may want to keep the topics a bit lighter, (although it does sound like he brought up some heavy stuff on his own) but maybe help steer the conversation to other things.
    He sounds like he's doing remarkably well, especially since he's thinking about taking classes when he gets out.
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member


    It must be hard for you to go there, the visits, all his thoughts........

    I'd say reality has hit it sounds like. Reality of where he is right now, which i think is a good thing. Also seems like some reality regarding the hole he has gotten himself into as well. That's all good stuff. So, is the talking about the future, what he'd like to do, classes, friends. all that is great!

    Why do you seem, I don't know not totally pleased with the visit? I think you handled it great by telling him that he can work to get out of the hole. Maybe an idea would be as it gears closer to that time and i know a year's a while he can work on things there, you could maybe bring him info, resources, etc. to help get his brain flowing the positive route sort of thing.

    As far as doctors I know what you mean. It's so scary. He needs someone to help him find that middle between the emotion and acting upon it. The coping skill, and ability to verbalize how he feels calmly and troubleshoot it himself or with you. It is so so hard. Feels impossible certain days with my own difficult child.

    I think you did great. I think from what you wrote it sounds like it went very well. Hard therapists are very difficult to find.

  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, but he didn't feel any better when I left. He pulled himself together for them to take him back but he was still upset. I can say this stuff to him, it just doesn't have any effect. I asked him if it didn't feel better to just talk about it, even when a person didn't have answers. He said no. Go figure.

    I wish I could take stuff to him- we aren't allowed to take them or send them anything- not even a book. They do have books there though and he said he'd been reading- which is a new thing for him. LOL! They say they allow photos to be mailed in but I mailed some a week ago and they haven't given them to him yet. It will be interesting to see if they pass the screening process- but they were only of difficult child doing fun stuff, a couple of people in the family, and mostly our dogs- which he asked for.

    He'll get a therapist while he's in there- they just haven't started it up yet. My therapist used to work for this system and she said some of their therapist's are useless but a few are good and how difficult child does will depend a lot on which therapist is assigned to him. He'll have a mentor when he gets out- that will probably be the same- the effectiveness will depend on how good they are. I would say that it depends on difficult child since I realize this has a lot to do with it, too, but I swear, this kid has ALWAYS tried with tdocs and so forth so unless that changes, I expect that he will make an effort. He''s one that really thrives on any interest shown by a male adult. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if the therapist he gets in Department of Juvenile Justice is a female- that might not be as effective, but who knows.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    That stinks you can't bring papers, etc in sheesh. You know what the whole thing is so hard on you, yet maybe he needs to be upset now a little bit just to understand what's occured and to process so he can heal from it, and think about what the future will hold.

    He's so young, so much good can still be for him, a great life. I was a screwed up kid too once and I turned it around. Well, we all know i'm a bit touched, lol but you know what i mean :)
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    If he can and does process it and add things up better, that is great. I'm just starting to get worried that he might be more of a mental mess than I thought. Shouldn't he be able to get a little further along in his thought patterns? I mean, how can he talk like he wants to accomplish so much in school, yet then say all he cares about is having friends and hanging out, then say he'll beat up anybody. He's 14- shouldn't he know that no 2 of those 3 things are compatible with each other? Those are 3 completely different paths.

    As an afterthought- those 3 paths are exactly what I've been dealing with. Sometimes I'm trying to reinforce my and his goals of doing well in school and other activities, sometimes I was dealing with the friend issue with him, and sometimes it was a legal issue. He seemed to be plowing down 3 different directions for the past 3 years. I don't know anymore if it's BiPolar (BP) or not.

    Yeah, I was a mess as a teeen, too and I turned to drugs. It is amazing to me how lucky I got when I found the right therapist. She had my life turned around in 2 mos. But I saw several useless ones before getting to her and almost gave up.

    PS I like your avatar, Jena!
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I could be off, but I sense that he is feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty of his future. What you told him is absolutely right -- is IS going to have to work harder than his peers, but he CAN do it. He just needs to focus on living one day at a time. When he gets released and is ready to start working on his education again, you will be there, his therapist (whomever that is) will be there, the school counselor will be there -- all to help him stay on track. He won't be alone. And the friendships will come. His whole life is ahead of him.
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    What a hard visit. However, I am reading a lot of positive. He has to be thinking about all these things and that is a good thing. He has indicated that he does not like how things are turning out and that is a good thing. He wants to change and that is a good thing.

    You can keep encouraging him to make those changes. He can focus on an education. He can learn to deal with people who build anger in him without physically fighting. (by the way, you haven't told him anything different than many warrior moms in regards of ignoring and telling a teacher. Hopefully the teacher would help him use his words to explain what is happening and give advise. Sometimes teachers will pull the other kid aside and work with both kids on the issue.)

    He needs people around him who believes in his character and his willingness to make good decisions. My difficult child's teachers sent that message to difficult child last year while he was going through an angry year. They kept up the positive message of, "difficult child, we know you do not want to be like this. We know you can change. We know you are a good kid." It was done in a non-judgemental caring way and that circle of support helped so much.

    Is there a staff member there that you feel is a good connection? Can you ask that person to check in on difficult child every day if only to ask how he is doing? Sounds like he is feeling lonely or isolated and if he sees that only bad behavior gets attention from the staff, he may get desperate enough to do something just to get heard?

    To difficult child: "difficult child, you can do this! Yes, it will be very hard and we can not forsee the future. Learn all the coping skills you can and be ready to use them all when you are discharged. Then, take one day at a time. Your mom will be there to help advise you but you will need to do the work. You can do this! It took a long time to get here, it will take a long time to get out. Focus on being the person you want to be. Will your actions help you reach that goal?"
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I guess you all are right in that he's reflecting and thinking about the future and maybe starting to see that there really are serious consequences for things. He is not happy that he can't take accelerated math (which he had been in) in the Department of Juvenile Justice school. He said this messed up his plan of getting further along in math in high school. We discussed the possiblitity of him taking algebra this summer since they go to school all year there. I will ask about that.

    But, you can't quit doing homework, stay home from school because you emotionally shut down, get in trouble legally and expect to excel in school. (Couldn't he figure this out?)

    Also, he used to be an excellent swimmer and had done well his one trial on a swim team. He didn't want to stay on a team and compete though, so I didn't make him. They have opportunity to swim there and he said most kids have no clue how and some can't even tread water so he's trying to teach some of them. He said some had never been in a pool at all. It made him feel good that they bragged on his swimming. (He's really out of shape and I'm sure he's not doing half the strokes well, but who cares- at least he's getting back into it a little.)

    Why can't he figure out that he can do well in life and concentrate on constructive things and make friends that way? By helping those less fortunate? Or by getting back on a swim team?

    He's also taking note that most of the boys in there were being raised in what he calls "the ghetto" with violence and extreme poverty. We are not wealthy by any stretch, but I hope he's starting to see that he had a lot of advantages and should feel lucky for what he had, instead of concentrating on what he didn't have going for him.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sounds fairly positive to me too. I do think you are expecting him to adjust and move on too fast. Remember you have only recently taken forward steps (like your cute hairdo and gardening) to fight yourself out of the emotional hole. Big problems take time. DDD
  11. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    I'm new here so I don't know all the history. But that bit of self-awareness that he showed (as opposed to self-absorption, which is a typical teen characteristic that seems to double in difficult children) is a good start. The challenge will be for him to stop blaming you -- to take responsibility for his actions vs. "you raised me that way." As a receptacle for all blame for the bad but no credit for the good, I can empathize with you -- LOL.

    But, you can't quit doing homework, stay home from school because you emotionally shut down, get in trouble legally and expect to excel in school. (Couldn't he figure this out?)

    Why can't he figure out that he can do well in life and concentrate on constructive things and make friends that way?

    I think difficult children understand these things objectively, but have difficulty applying them in their own lives. I often wonder, "Doesn't difficult child get that his life is easier when he is respectful and cooperative? Doesn't he get that he can get straight A's if he would just do the assignments?" Sadly, they just don't get it sometimes.

    Teaching the other kids how to swim is great! Helping others will help him feel valued, and get him out of that mode of thinking, "I will never be able to do anything."

    Seeing that you have hope for him will help him become more hopeful too, even if not immediately. It's a long, hard road, isn't it?

    Hugs to you!
  12. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you handled things perfectly. I remember having talks like that with Youngest while in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) .. it's easy for them to feel so overwhelmed when all they have is time. time to think, reflect, mixed in with a healthy dose of self-pity. I think it takes awhile for things to sink in with our difficult children .. their learning curve is a bit skewed. Hopefully he'll take those feelings and use them to empower himself to want to change... and hopefully he'll get a therapist assigned that will help him to do that.
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you all- you've made me feel a lot better. I think I'll write him today and try to be supportive without lecturing. Ha!

    I had thought he must be many years behind his peers in maturity when I heard all this. After reading everyone's post, maybe he isn't as far behind as I'd feared- at least for a difficult child.

    I am glad he's still opening up to me about what's going on his head and of course, I can't be the one to decide his priorities. No matter how old he his- he simply has to decide for himself what kind of person he wants to be and what is important to him and what he's willing to do to obtain what he wants in life. I will try to remind myself that even if he chooses something I don't agree with now, a few years down the road he might regret it and change his priorities.

    I think I understand now why people used to tell me I was going thru the easy part when I was struggling to stay awake, keep the baby provided for, fed, and healthy when he was first born. LOL!

    Thanks for all your support!
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont even think he is so abnormal for a typical teen. I know lots of boys who struggle with not being able to figure out how to grow from boy to man. All this "Im not gonna let them push me around anymore" stuff is kind of like posturing for position in the game of life.

    Cory has said some very bizarre things to me over the years. Things like he should have finished school because there were girls in there! Huh? You just now figured that out? You mean you never noticed that girls went to HS? Idiot! I guess I should have used that as a selling
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    KLMNO, difficult child 1 never "got it". I'm still not sure he does entirely, now, but he is making it and has only been in trouble a couple of times, and they were relatively minor. But we spent his entire existence til he left home dragging him to a therapist that never really seemed to help, except when he wasn't going, he was worse, and basically just otherwise attemtping to keep him out of trouble. I don't breathe easy just yet, but he's making it for now.

    Don't give up hope.
  16. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to send you a caring "hug"....

    ((((((((((((lovemysons to klmno))))))))))))

    I think he sounds frustrated at his situation for the moment. Things may go better next visit.

    with love and care,
  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks again everyone- DJ, I think difficult child might be following in Cory's footsteps!

    Shari, I'm glad to hear your difficult child still is able to do better. I hope my son can find that in his life.

    I wrote him a long letter today. I tried to keep it positive and supportive and give suggestions in the guise that he will figure these things out for himself as he works through this and matures. I hope he doesn't rebel against it just because it was his mom that said these things.

    We have a team meeting tomorrow at Department of Juvenile Justice. I'm leary and excited at the same time. This is when I really need to get them on board with family therapy while he's there- and hope it doesn't have to consume visitation hhours. I'm sure I'll be posting afterwards. LOL!