Transitioning: childhood to adulthood+ - a repost

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by hearts and roses, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I posted this in the General board, but busywend suggested posting here so I could get some thoughts from parents with experience in transitioning from child to adulthood. Any thoughts are much appreciated!!

    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/herself...how 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 counselors...it'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. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    I would be more silent and less active in her life. pull away. let her make mistakes and feel the consequences. dont give advice unless she asks. let her taste independence while you can still see what is going on. treat her as if she is already independent so you can both try that on.

    I dont know of any books that worked with ant and I. I still like the boundaries book by townsend and cloud. dr cloud is on TV once a week too on a christian channel. he helps remind me that I am not responsible for ant. ant is.
     
  3. KFld

    KFld New Member

    You and husband sound much like myself and my husband. I kept many things from him while difficult child was growing up because he would over react and give these outrageous punishments, where on the other hand I was much to lenient. I was always trying to protect him my husband and that only enabled him to manipulate me more.

    What did it for us was intense counseling. I learned to stand back and not try to get involved with the relationship between husband and difficult child, that it was basically none of my business. I spent years trying to fix there relationship, not wanting it to be what my husband and his dads was. Once I stepped back and stopped hiding things from husband, things got much better. We learned how to get on the same page and decide between us what was the best course of action. This allowed him to become a little more lenient and me to not put up with as much crud from him. We learned to discuss things as they happened and decide between us what the consequence would be before even discussing it with him.

    I think the both of you need to decide that you will no longer walk on eggshells, but that you have to come to an in between that both of you can be comfortable with on how to handle it. when a situation arises, don't make a decision right then and there. It's o.k. to tell her you will discuss it and get back to her, then do just that. Once she sees both of you as a united front it will have a much bigger impact.

    My husband and my difficult child had a horrible relationship for years, but I think my husband really resented feeling like he never had a say in anything because I was always making the decisions and protecting difficult child from him. Once I learned to stop doing that, their relationship improved greatly, plus I learned to detatch and stop enabling.

    Good luck!! I hope the two of you can come to some kind of solution together that works for all of you.
     
  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JoG, as I mentioned in general, I am looking forward to some suggestions from the PE forum on what they would have done differently, what worked, what didn't, etc.

    It is tough to be at this age. Alot more freedom is required - not necessarily deserved. Maybe deserved is too harsh. The freedom is scary. Yet, I know it is needed. My difficult child will for sure have to learn the hard way. I have accepted that. But, I still would like some guidance on how to parent in this next phase.
     
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Originally Posted By: KFld
    when a situation arises, don't make a decision right then and there. It's o.k. to tell her you will discuss it and get back to her, then do just that. Once she sees both of you as a united front it will have a much bigger impact.

    This is key, in my opinion, and it works when you can put it into practice or remember to...lol. The first problem I have is that H falls asleep at 9PM and inevitably things hit the fan after that, and I am the only one awake. I know I can say something like, "difficult child, go to bed and after I discuss this with H in the morning, we'll talk." I have done this in the past and here is what happens just about everytime...H and I will wake up and be having coffee and I will tell him about whatever it is that happened and we'll discuss is like normal rational people. Then difficult child will get up and come out to the kitchen and H will just go off like a rocket...barraging her with questions and rotten comments and basically call her a name or two in there as well. So, instead of us providing a united front, H is on a full scale verbal assault against difficult child and in my opinion that is not conducive to anything good coming out of this. There is no discussion, difficult child either fights back and it only gets worse or she retreats, berates herself, gives the icy stare, and wants to leave and *possibly* hurt herself. Then, I may ask H why we couldn't just sit down with difficult child and talk and then he's screaming at me and telling me how I shouldn't bother telling him anything if I don't like the way he handles it. I remind him that I wasn't looking for HIM to "handle it". I was looking to be able to sit together and talk with difficult child calmly about things and be a partnership in matters. He rolls his eyes, tells me I am F*-ed up and leaves. Or....it could go another way. H and I will wake up, I will let him know what happened and ask him if we can decide on what difficult child's consequences should be and he tells me something along the lines of, "I don't know what you want ME to do - she doesn't listen to anyone. She's just like her father." Ugh. So, we've gotten where we are because it's easier for me to just handle things without his being a part of it but the thing is that if I go away for a day or so, I come back to complete chaos. H either wants to dominate or throw up his hands and give up.

    I have been taking steps back from her and allowing her the space to be more independent. Each time I do that, she's good for a while and then the crud hits the fan and she ends up in a downward spiral. The counselor she has right now is really good I think. difficult child has an appointment next week to meet with the psychiatrist and *hopefully* we will get an official diagnosis soon. I want to know if she is truly bipolar or not.

    There is a large part of me that believes she is, but I do have these niggling thoughts that she is also the mistress of manipulation with a little lazy thrown in for good measure. 10 years of dealing with her behaviors and having DR's tell us that we need to make all these outrageous accomodations is just really seeming to be a big mistake. I feel like such an old person when I say this, but back in my day, there were no such things as 'accomodations' for any students unless you had a severe handicap and the mentally disabled had their own classrooms. I am doubting that difficult child is incapable of doing everything that anyone else can. The problem is that I feel we've accomodated her so much that now she likely doesn't feel like she should be expected to pull her own weight and be responsible to anyone but herself. When people ask her what her hobbies are she says "Sleeping and Napping". Huh!

    So, while I agree about H and I getting the opportunity to discuss before we react, it's the reacting part that grates me. I grew up with a tyrant of a mother and her methodology in parenting her kids was to berate and dictate. And that's what H's reactions remind me of. I refuse to go along with that. I don't think that I'm too easy on difficult child, in fact, there are times when H thinks I'M being unreasonable in my expectations. But I hate the yelling and berating and I think it's humiliating. I really do. I remember it well. on the other hand, I did tell H and difficult child that I cannot be responsible for their relationship. The other day in counseling I reminded difficult child that H is not ALL bad and has been a very good father to her, drove her to school for 2 years straight, taught her how to drive, pitch, be goalie, ride a bike, provided a nice home for her and helped clothe and feed her, supported her, helped her with her math and ss assignments since forever, and the list goes on. I also told her that he has a right to reprimand her and scold her when she's misbehaved and that instead of yelling back, maybe she should just listen and then think about things he's said. I told her that she is just as resonsible in their relationship as he is at this point. difficult child chooses to only remember the things she doesn't like about everyone. H has been in my dds' lives forever, and as a stepdad for nearly 12 years, so it's not like he's a stranger. He may not be perfect, but none of us are. I know he loves my girls like his own and easy child can't say enough good things about having H in our lives. easy child doesn't understand why difficult child has such negative views or why they always manage to hit horns. easy child and H enjoy a very close and loving relationship so I really can't help but think it's just one of those oil and water relationships that I can't do anything about. I'm tired of being referee. And I've been taking steps back so I won't be anymore. I think difficult child will eventually move away from us, which worries me but may be a good thing. I just hope she doesn't go live with her dad. Again, I have no control over that either. For now, she's under 18 and she's at our home and I will just continue to do the best I can.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant. I am thinking out loud. Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  6. KFld

    KFld New Member

    Wow do you sound like me and husband a few years back. My husband used to say all kinds of mean things to difficult child when he did something wrong and give him these outrageous punishments, which once we got into counseling we found most of the reasons he did those things was because he was so frustrated by feeling like he didn't have a say that he pretty much did it out of resentment and to get the point across that he was going to have a say, no matter how rediculous it was. Through counseling we both learned how to deal with situations without either of us being to lenient or to tough and my husband learned how to parent without humiliating difficult child.

    It's tough. It takes a lot of work. I remember it all too well and don't envy you and husband right now.
     
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Jo

    First of all.... Are you sure you're not married to my husband??? Yours, I swear, sounds exactly like mine right down to his reactions. Spooky. :nonono:

    This is going to sound awful but I'm the sole diciplinarian in our home. Oh, husband will back me up, but I'm the law. I didn't plan it this way, nor do I like it this way, but I just don't have a choice. husband is too reactive to both difficult child kids (always has been) and always over reacts to every little thing, then when he's over being mad will relent and try to make the punishment go away. :slap: He's simply too up and down. I've always been a tad anal about consistancy with rules and dicipline. I rarely raise my voice, but if I do my kids know the world is about to stand still and they're in serious trouble. husband, well, the kids stopped paying attention to him by the 2nd grade.

    Not that I haven't tried with husband. We've discussed the subject to death. Even if I can get him to see what he does, the next time the kids do something he's at it again. So I just stopped. I tell husband what I think he needs to know. Anything I think he'll blow his top over he gets told long after it's been delt with or not at all. Sometimes, if I'm lucky we can discuss something before hand and husband will manage to hold it together while we handle the situation. But as you know most difficult child situations don't give us warning, they just happen.


    Once my kids entered their teen years I began stepping back and letting them make their own mistakes. The older they got, the more I stepped back. By the time mine were 17 they were making 90% of their own decisions with some input from me. They still had the house rules to follow. But they had quite a bit of freedom within those rules. I let natural consequences take their course and only did punishment when necessary.

    As the title of your post indicates, you're attempting at this age to transition difficult child from childhood to adulthood. If difficult child isn't allowed a certain amount of freedom and independence she won't be able to learn the skills she'll need as an adult. I know it can be hard when the child is a difficult child to find the right balance. You and husband will have to set the bounderies that you feel comfortable with.
     
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Lisa, I love natural consequences and for the past couple of years have really put this method into play....well, tried a lot.

    Thanks for your input. I don't feel like H and my situation is all that odd. :smile:
     
  9. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    Jog I am drawing from experiences with my 17 yr old easy child not difficult child, but I have done as Lisa has said, I let natural consequences fall as they may and I give advice when needed. She lives by our rules, but has the freedom to make her own choices and suffer when she makes the wrong decision.

    As far as husband's go, My husband is step-dad and still lives dark ages and doesn't want to change. I am very selective in what I share with him about easy child issues. He can not understand the feelings of a 17 yr old girl and I can still remember that far back so I get the job of parenting .


    Traci
     
  10. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Hi,
    in my humble opinion the most important tool we have , our ability to influence is a trusting relationship. husband is a step parent , they have never bonded and step parents don't have that moral authority as a bio- parent , in the eyes of difficult child to parent. I think you have to call her in , and say from now on you are an adult , we will offer guidance but it is your decision , but to be an adult , you must be involved with adults, job , young adults as friends , mentors etc , more than a therapist she needs a mentor , a democratic relationship with somepne who will be her confidant and guide , someone who will have her ear. Kids will hear others and yet be deaf the same words coming from us.It is not a war . win-lose dynamic but a relationship , husband should keep out of it , and the better you cope , the easier it is for husband
    Allan
     
  11. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    This could be my household also. Strange isn't it that husband's can be very similar?
    I became the disciplinarian in our household because husband way way over the top.
    What I have learned though is I wish I had practiced less emotion, and stood my ground more. I was there to listen to difficult child's but I freqently (and still do) get sucked in to the drama. I wish I could have been more inflexible. Sort of inflexible with flexibility (do you know what I mean?). Not the my way or the highway, but this is what I expect and if it's not met then this is the consequence.
    I think you are on the right road....know matter how bumpy it is.
     
  12. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Thank you Allan. I have been saying for a while now that I think daughter needs a life coach/mentor instead of a counselor. I hate when the counselors just want to rehash crap difficult child has already addressed prior from a million years ago...instead of focusing on RIGHT NOW and her future. I did tell the counselor this the other day and she agreed, looked relieved almost. I said its fine if difficult child has issues about my exh to resolve, but I really want the main focus to be on helping difficult child see things in a more positive light, become her own advocate and take baby steps towards planning her future. The counselor seemed excited. difficult child looked a little confused because I think she realized that the jig is up - no more falling back on her typical routine of making it all about everyone else instead of her. I can see that she really wants the guidance she needs but she is paralyzed by fear as to the work required on her part. The counselor told her that we'd be there to support her and help her out, but she needs to WANT to make the changes so she can become a responsible, self sufficient, productive adult in society. I mean, this is nothing new, this is what we've been working on for years. And she was doing well as far as having a job, etc., but just after graduation everything fell apart and I think she is in limbo. Not sure that to do or how to get there.

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. It's really helped me to remain strong and hopeful.
     
  13. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have a bit of a different thought process on the dad figure and way of parenting. I think a dad is meant to be different than a mom. I think it is natural. It is hard for a mom to get why a dad acts/reacts the way he does because it is so different from our way - and our way is of course right. :wink:

    This is something difficult child learned when she went to live with her dad. She had missed 'daddy parenting' all her life as he was disney dad on the weekends. Wow - was it different and difficult for her. He was sooooo mean - her words. He was just parenting in his way. I am not saying dads and moms are always right or do the best thing while parenting, but I do think nature wanted kids to have 2 different types of parenting. I think my difficult child had a disservice by only having a moms way of parenting all those years.
    Can you imagine if she never had a dads way? She would leave her husband the minute he tried to discipline her kids - it would be so foreign to her.
     
  14. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: busywend</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have a bit of a different thought process on the dad figure and way of parenting. I think a dad is meant to be different than a mom. I think it is natural. It is hard for a mom to get why a dad acts/reacts the way he does because it is so different from our way - and our way is of course right. :wink:

    This is something difficult child learned when she went to live with her dad. She had missed 'daddy parenting' all her life as he was disney dad on the weekends. Wow - was it different and difficult for her. He was sooooo mean - her words. He was just parenting in his way. I am not saying dads and moms are always right or do the best thing while parenting, but I do think nature wanted kids to have 2 different types of parenting. I think my difficult child had a disservice by only having a moms way of parenting all those years.
    Can you imagine if she never had a dads way? She would leave her husband the minute he tried to discipline her kids - it would be so foreign to her.</div></div>

    Yes, I agree with this. I didn't for a while. I always thought being on the same page meant doing it the same. I was wrong. There are times when I like H to pick up the slack for me or step in when I obviously am not handling things well. I also think that for my H, difficult child's stepdad, it's slightly different than if her bio dad was doing the parenting. That is a whole other story and one to be explored at some point I'm sure. He's been the vacation dad and the disney dad, as you say. He wants difficult child to go live with him for a few weeks and while the thought of it makes me quake in my boots, I'm thinking it may not be such a bad thing.

    But anyway, yeah, I think the differences in perspectives creates a nice balance at times. Even if it makes me want to punch him in the nose! LOL
     
  15. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It has to be twice as hard for your husband being a step parent.

    But, whether step or bio - you/we would probably always have times we would want to punch them in the nose! :laugh: Mostly it is when they hurt our babies. Emotionally, verbally or (especially) physically.

    Sometimes I think us moms need to 'buck up' and get stronger. Dads make it look so easy, don't they? They still manage to get the child's love.



    :flower:
     
  16. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: busywend</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Dads make it look so easy, don't they? They still manage to get the child's love. :flower: </div></div>

    Yeah! That is so true. What's up with that? I am always the one difficult child raged on. I think it was easier to rage against me than H. And she has never EVER said "Boo" to her bio-dad. The risk of losing him is too great for her. Even easy child has only recently started speaking her mind with her bio-dad. It took a long time for her to be ready to risk it with him. He actually told me he was so happy that she finally wasn't afraid to speak up. But...even still, he always tries to talk her out of her own feelings or explain away his behavior. Oh well, at least she's sticking up for herself. I can't wait until difficult child gets there.

    Overall, H has been a good dad to both my daughters, moreso than their biodad ever could be, so if I had to grade him I'd probably give him a B (with a lot of scored points for effort). LOL
     
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