A response to school director's emails - tell me what you think

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by timer lady, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    kt has been displaying more difficult & "confusing" behaviors than normal of late. We are seeing psychiatrist tomorrow & I asked school staff to expand on their concerns. Several times during the email they expressed concerns about my being able to parent kt. Several times the comment "since she has come home" was inserted.

    There were several suggestions that kt be hospitalized. Please let me know what you think before I send this. Thanks.


    Thank you for your recent email regarding kt's behaviors at school. First I would like to offer you and your staff a well known quote:

    “If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got”.

    When something stops working something else needs to replace it. You have to find kt's “currency”, if you will.

    Your description of kt's behavior issues confuses me. It's no different than kt a few years ago or even three months ago. The idea that coming home is causing her negative behaviors to increase is somewhat insulting. There are anniversaries for kt that are not “pleasant” along with her placement here with my late husband and myself.

    And being an attachment disordered child I would expect no less than manipulation or triangulation even after all these years of therapy and interventions – I would be scared if I saw different at this stage of the game.

    Parenting kt has always been a matter of creative thinking. While I know that you are trying to teach her academics along with what is accepted in the community, it comes down to a matter of creativity with my daughter, as I'm sure it is with most of the students there.

    From kt's take on the matter, she doesn't feel manic; she is feeling depressed. She's also frustrated that Mr. S continues to refuse to sign a contract because kt and another peer aren't ready to discuss a situation. I've not been filled in on the matter so I have no clue what the contract is all about.

    Saying the above, I'm not sure the level drops or level increases mean anything to kt anymore. The school store isn't what it was even a year ago. School store, or levels mean little to a transitioning teenager; a teenager who is becoming a young adult even though emotionally she's much younger.

    When an apology isn't accepted by a peer or an adult, there is little more kt can do.

    I have always supported you & your staff – will continue to do so. However, I wonder if certain of your staff's refusal to accept kt's expanding personality and independence isn't getting in the way. On top of that kt is experiencing actual dissociative states along with states of depersonalization. She has spent time working through memories of abuse. AND continues to do so.

    As always I would like to thank you and your staff for all the work you continue to do with kt. You are making in incredible impact on her life.

    Thank you,
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think it needs work.

    I immediately reacted at the word "insulting" - although you are describing your feelings, it is as close as you can get, to claiming that the school has chosen to insult you. It means that anything else of value you are trying to say, would immediately get lost in what they would see as a strong emotional response and you would be playing right into their hands - "proving the case", if they chose to see it that way. I don't know the fine detail of the stuff the school has written to you about, so please take that into account. But you need to address those specifics and do your utmost to not "hurt" at them, no matter how much they deserve it.

    Some possible suggestions -

    "Dear school staff,
    Thank you for your ongoing concerns and feedback regarding kt. It is good to know you are continuing your observation of her. However, I am concerned that you may be unaware of some of the deeper currents and stressors in her world which are making things more difficult for kt, for you and for me.

    It is well known that I have my own health issues. it is difficult to avoid. These have been apparent for several years now and while of course they are going to be a stress factor for kt, we have done our utmost to minimise that impact and to also keep kt as insulated from my health issues as possible. That it is a factor - we accept this. We cannot do any more than we have been doing. However, kt has had a great deal more to have to deal with, which has a far greater impact on her stress levels. Her father's death, her brother's ongoing problems, her own mental health issues which are far more long-standing than my own health problems - kt is a complex bundle of emotions and needs careful, considered handling with long-term supports in place. She also is a product of her own emotional upheavals and has learnt to be very manipulative as well as extremely anxious; how she is managed needs to take this into account. We can't fix her readily (or we would have already done so) - all we can do is the best we can. We need to work on the things we can control, and not stress about the things we can't."

    You go on from there with specifics. Tell them you personally do not have the necessary information concerning the contract with Mr S, and without you knowing what is going on, your support for and understanding of the school's actions is limited, of necessity. You want to be able to be an effective and seamless partner of the school in their management of kt, but this requires you to be kept in the loop. It also requires them to respect your input, your deeper understanding of how kt ticks and to do their utmost to look beyond your physical disabilities and not take what could be seen as a quick way out and blame all of kt's issues on your condition. Her problems go back a great deal further. Besides, the best way to help a difficult child whose mental state is being negatively impacted by worry over a parent's serious illness, is to keep that child informed and supported. You have been doing that, doing your best to ensure that kt is allowed to work through those issues. The anniversary of her father's death (and the circumstances surrounding it all) should not be dismissed.

    Some things cannot be changed - the past, for one. Your health, for another. Kt is the most changeable element in this, but because her problems are long-standing and also because over the years she has adapted to a lot of the usual interventions, she needs far more proactive and considered management.

    Your insight should always be taken into account and not dismissed. Of course you are not school staff, but this can often make it easier for you to give a fresh insight into the issues kt is trying to handle. You will continue to listen to them just as you require them to take your viewpoint into account. Together you have a better chance of actually making progress with kt, especially during difficult anniversaries. Such difficult times are well known to re-trigger unresolved issues of past trauma and distress. With anniversaries, we have some warning of when the need for support is greater. We need to be proactive about putting such supports in place, to "head them off at the pass", so to speak.

    You could add "I know my own serious health issues are also a stress factor for kt, but we are doing our best to minimise that. There are a great many other issues we need to address. Please don't get sidetracked into thinking this has a simple, obvious answer. We've been working on this for a long time - if the answer were as simple, the problems would have been solved long ago."

    Or words to that effect.

    It is better to come across as efficient, as "bigger than they area" when it comes to not letting them see how insulting they've been and making it clear - such a simplistic view is not going to help anyone, and you have more important things to get stuck into them about, than your feelings. You're bigger than that, even if they are not.

    I've had the same thing, with various people seeing only my disability and trying to blame all the problems on that. I take an attitude of, "For heaven's sake, get over it, don't you think we'd have already thought of that? if only it were that simple..." and then say, "So the problems as I see it (based on information from you) is X, Y and Z. You're currently doing A, I propose you also consider B and C in order to help her do things this way and also make it easier on school staff."

    Always sell them on your ideas, by telling them how getting it right is the fastest way to make their lives easier. It's also the best for kt, which surely should be their aim too.

    Good luck with this one.

  3. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Thanks Marg ~ as always your ability to "see" the idea behind my words helps in more ways than you can imagine. I'll make the changes & send the email shortly.
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    While I do agree with Marg insofar as not beginning the letter so they are on the defensive, I do understand your concern that the school is trying to "blame" kt's recent down slide on the fact that she is home.

    It is beyond belief that the school, with their long history of being blessed with your complicated daughter, cannot see the additional stressors she is dealing with and acknowledge their contribtion to the issues.

    While the word insulting may be a little strong, I believe you should address your feelings in their blame game right up front.

  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I just wanted to offer support for you in this situation. I have the fear that if difficult child struggles upon returning home, it will get blamed on the fact that he just came back to live with me and any additional support he might need regarding fitting in at school or in the community will not be acknowledged or provided. It's easy for people to point a finger at someone else and then act like there's nothing they can do about it- it's not so easy to take the position that "here's where we and the difficult child are now; what can we do to help the situation".