Also new to site -- need help with relatives

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by looking4hope, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    I am new to the sight, and hope that you can help me out. I am a single mom, 40 something, with an only child difficult child 9 year old son diagnosed with ADHD, mood disorder (won't say bipolar, but definitely a mood disorder) and ODD. He was expelled last year for hitting a teacher, which also produced a police report so he's "in the system" (but with-o any action taken). He has an IEP and is now in a special day class for kids with DSM-IV diagnoses and may be moved to another similar school that is more restrictive again due to hitting and kicking his teachers/ aides.

    Ex has been diagnosed with BiPolar (BP) and possible Borderline (BPD), but thinks that most of difficult child's problems are due to bad parenting (mine, of course, not his -- but that's another very long story). Was verbally and emotionally abusive to us during the marriage, but seems to have calmed down since the divorce (no familial responsibilities and limited visitation cuts down on the stress).

    My sisters have recently told me that my son is no longer welcome to family events because of his behavior. They too believe that my lack of parenting skills is ruining my son, and that he doesn't need the medications (even though he's been hospitalized twice for threatening suicide and aggressive behavior toward me and others). Believe me, their kids are far from perfect (one has a son the same age as mine who is MEAN, manipulative, aggressive and defiant; the daughter was caught stealing from classmates and from my purse in first grade), but I am "insane"!!! They tell me that my son needs limits, and I should "beat him if that's what he needs"! Of course, this attack was in front of my son, and they kept turning to him telling him he's "a great kid, we love you", but in the next turn saying that we "are no longer welcome around their kids and to stay away".

    They don't live through what all of us live through on a daily basis. They can't understand the heartbreak you feel when your child tells you that they would rather die than have these feelings, when they attack you because they don't know how to vent or handle their emotions, or the fear that we feel when we send them off to school, hoping that they have a good day. They've never cried the tears I cry often, they've never blamed themselves for the actions of their child.

    I am obviously heartbroken. I was hoping that my family would be helpful and understanding, but that is not to be. I am wondering if anyone else has had these issues, and advice for how they handled it. My son loves his cousins, and he is also heartbroken to know that he can't be with them. He knows that he needs to learn to control his anger, but I cannot believe the cruelty of the situation. I would love some advice on how to help him cope as well.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ohhh, yeaaaah!
    been there done that!

    One of my sisters says I'm a mean mom because I set too many limits.
    Another one says that difficult child is "just all boy."
    A friend says I should beat him to a pulp. (Of course, she has no children.)

    There are lots of people on this bb who will give you plenty of stories and plenty of company.

    But that doesn't change much ... read the note called "isolation" and you will see that we have to make our own rituals and lifestyles to accommodate our special kids. It gives a whole new meaning to the word "family."

    You didn't really ask for advice, but if I could offer a teensy bit ... I'd suggest not engaging in any conversation about your difficult child with-family members. They will criticize and you will defend yourself. It gets you nowhere.

    Talk about the weather if you have to.

    So sorry. Take care.
  3. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    Actually, I am looking for advice, so thank you for yours.

    A good friend of mine basically told me to "divorce" myself from my family, and realize that no matter what I do, they won't approve. There will always be some fault, because there is no way they can understand. She also worked in mental health before becoming a math teacher, so she has more insight to the situation than most people.

    Isolated is exactly how I feel. I'm afraid to take my son out anywhere for fear of how he'll react and behave. Sometimes he's so irritable that going to things that he likes is unenjoyable for both of us.

    Thanks again for your kind words. I really need them right now.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome! I'm glad you found us.

    What kind of doctor diagnosed your difficult child? What kind of doctor is treating him?
    Is he on medications? If so, what and are they making him better, worse or about the same?
    Is he in therapy?

    Sorry for the questions, but your answers will help us point you in the right direction.

    Again, welcome.
  5. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hi and welcome!

    been there done that!! I hear every day from my mom what I am doing wrong. It is so old and tired.

    You came to the right place. Pull up a chair and stay awhile. We're a great group. It is a very safe place here; nobody judges you. Glad you found us but sorry you had to.

  6. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Hi and welcome.

    I'm with Terry, I wouldn't engage in conversation about difficult child with them. If they ask how he is doing, reply with 'fine' and move on. All of us here have heard it from family, friends, school personnel and even complete strangers how if we were only more strict, more lenient, blah, blah, blah. In one ear and out the other. They don't live with it; they have no idea. The one that surprised me the most was a former co-worker who's son struggled with drug addiction and ultimately committed suicide. I guess I thought she of all people would be more understanding.

    If you are interested in maintaining a relationship with your sisters, invite them to your house instead. But set boundaries on what you will and will not tolerate from them. Rule number 1 is they are not to discuss difficult child in front of difficult child. Ever. Period.

    I'm sorry they're being snots. Ultimately, you have to decide how important those relationships are to you.

  7. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    difficult child is on Depakote, Seroquel and Strattera. Has been diagnosed an is being treated by a child psychiatrist and has two psychotherapists (a private one and one at his special day class). I am very happy with his treatment team, and they are a compassionate group.

    His P-DR is suggesting a stint at a Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), but I am hoping to avoid that -- especially since I don't know how I'd pay for it. I have private insurance, but I know if won't cover everything. Neither will the school district. Hopefully, it won't come to that -- he's been doing much better lately.

    What really bothers me is that he's been shielding his reaction to this latest drama, probably because I can't help but be upset by it. I have spoken with his psychotherapist, but need to speak with the one at school too. In a way, it has been good for Reed (difficult child) because he's been jolted into seeing how his behavior affects others and now himself. Before he didn't really care, but he's sad that he can't see his cousins anymore.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Hi L4H.

    Welcome to the board!

    I'm so sorry your family feels this way. It makes a hard situation even harder. But I think most of us here have at least some members of our family that can't accept the life that is ours. Not that it helps your situation, but take comfort that you aren't alone.

    I don't suppose any of us have found the magic way to make our families understand. In fact, my husband was a long-time family friend before he and I married. He knew difficult child 1 before I did. I would often confide in him before we were married the difficulties of raising difficult child 1. When we married and he lived with difficult child 1 for a while, he said he always beleived me, but he never truly understood. And said nothing I could have ever said would have prepared him for what it was really like to live this life with difficult child. I always took that as an important lesson from the "outside".

    My mother in law and my brother are like your sisters. I gave summaries of difficult child's evaluation reports to them (not complete, but enough to see that several experts saw the same things and it WASN'T parenting) and handouts outlining his diagnoses. My brother has a favorite story now about how difficult child doesn't "get it" sometimes, but the significance of it hasn't sunk in. mother in law, I think she tossed it all. I avoid mother in law and brother and I only get together when other family is around to mediate. Its not a good situation, but it works. This is the hand we're dealt, so we play it.

    I have learned, tho, that family doesn't have diddly squat to do with blood types and DNA. Over the past few years, I've aquired a wonderful group of people that I refer to as family, and several of them aren't related to any of us. Go where you're loved. Sadly, DNA doesn't always equal unconditional love. Maybe they won't, maybe they can't, but regarldess the reason, you can't change them.

    Its hard, its :censored2:, and it hurts. My best advice is to keep the relationship, if you want, but on a very high level, and let go of further expectations.

    Good luck and welcome!
  9. cathyw1970

    cathyw1970 New Member

    I sooooo know what you are going thru. In fact I have not had any contact with my mother (who I feel is bipolar also) because of the fact that whatever help me and husband would try to get for difficult child she would try to undo. She went so far as to call protective services on us on a few occasions. One being when we was in the early stages of diagnosis and was trying different medications. She contacted them stating that we was just drugging him up because we didn't want to deal with him. That was the last straw and even tho I hated to I had to distance my family from the negative. It makes me so dag on angry to hear that all our difficult child's need is a good old fashioned beating. My difficult child can not go to my dad's and stepmom's to stay all night but our girls can. There is only one family member who will have anything to do with him. They don't seem to understand that the more our difficult child's feel isolated the worse they can become. My son has asked me many times why does everyone hate him. To give you an example, this Christmas, our girls got numerous presents from family members and difficult child only got a present from my dad and from my cousin. That's it. So here is what I did. I wrote everyone a letter letting them know that we have him as a child also and if they can't give for all 3 not to give for any. What I wanted to do was give the gifts back but I couldn't do that to the girls. So I told husband that from here on out we will not be taking part in holidays where there are gifts involved. I was always told that family should always back you. However, that is the furtherest thing from the truth. The way I look at it is this. Until you have experienced the hell we go thru don't try and pass judgement. I would love for them just for 1hr to walk in difficult child's shoes then maybe they can somewhat begin to understand the hell he goes thru.
  10. mom23gsfg

    mom23gsfg New Member

    i wouldnt wish our lives or any of our childrens' lives on anyone...but i think that anyone that had to walk one day in our shoes would not be so judgemental
    i would try and start having my own family events under your rules(no putting down of your child and etc.)if they want to come ..if not its their loss not yours or your far as im concerned ive never seen or even heard of the perfect child..most children do "things" behind their parents backs and since they dont do them in front of the parent ,the parent often does not believe their child does these things....sometimes i have to think of it this way... my children are secure enough in my love for them that they are not afraid to show their true colors to me and could be themselves(that is what my sons counselor told me when i asked why he didnt behave as bad around certain people)

    cathyw190:sorry but i do not see how anyone could be so cruel as to leave out one child and not the rest,no matter how they behave....has anyone ever thought maybe things like this are some of the reason behind the bahavior towards them? i could never treat a child that my home if theres not enough for everyone noone gets any. if i am around a child ,no matter how they behave, i treat them as i would my own.
    my cousin had a similiar experiences for years with her husband's family (she has a child from a previous marriage age 13)and one 8 yr old.his family would buy the one that was his things and not hers.even after being told off by herself and her husband they would still do these things. but last year the lil one got big enough and noticed what was going on...
    she picked up her gifts and handed them back to her aunt (his sis)and said no thankyou ,if you cant give my sissy presents i dont want them .....needless to say this christmas there was presents for both children
  11. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Hi & welcome. Many of us have been uninvited to events/functions whatever, due to our difficult children & their varying instability. It's hard on the parent - it's even harder for our children to understand.

    None of our children want to be this way; this out of control. Our job as parents, is to find every help, every intervention we can to help our children grow up to be law abiding citizens with the ability to make mature & safe choices & hopefully live a happy life along with it.

    It proves to be a challenge with our little wonders. As parents, we can do no less.

    I agree with the above posters - talk little of your difficult child. When I do talk about my tweedles to family it's generally a postive update. Something to get excited about.

    Our children are not for the faint of heart. This board has so very many strong & wise parents here. You will learn much & find a great deal of support even when we don't have answers or suggestions for you.

  12. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    Hello and welcome.

    So sorry to hear about your family and their reactions. Some of my family act very similar. I've been told that I'm too strict, that I'm not strict enough, that I don't listen to her, that I should ignore her more, all she needs is a good spanking, "give her to us for a week and we'll straighten her out" etc...etc... Its very frustrating so like some of the ladies mentioned above, certain people get very little information about difficult child because they don't understand and don't want to. There are a few that do want to understand and actually do some mom has done some of that. Wishing you lots of luck and look forward to getting to know you.
  13. navineja

    navineja New Member

    been there done that too. I used to talk to my friends and family about the problems I have with the kids, since they all have kids and I thought that I could get advice. Big mistake most of the time! I have found that there are very few that I can confide in without adverse judgement. And even those do not (can't) understand, but at least they support. My youngest sister is adopted and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (she is 25 now), so my mom understands and always backs us up on discipline and everything else, which I am truly grateful for. Unfortunately, my sisters don't feel the same way and in addition, are very lenient with their kids, which only adds to the feeling that we are too strict. I miss the closeness that we used to have (we still get together, but not as often or for as long), but it is what we have to do for our own sanity and the benefit of the twins.
    I think what saddens me most is that I hear from the few close friends that others are discussing our parenting behind our backs, without giving us the chance to explain. (The twins' really only act up at home, so the problems are not apparent to most.) It has led to much better understanding when people have spoken directly to us and we have been able to tell them exactly what the problems are and why we handle things the way we do. If only everyone would be as honest!
  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello L4H,

    I agree with the other posters who have recommended that you set clear boundaries with your family about what is and is not acceptable behaviour as far as you and your difficult child are concerned.

    Have events at your place, under your control if possible, and do not discuss difficult child with them, and do not allow them to discuss difficult child with you, unless and until they can show that they are understanding and compassionate about your situation.

    I am blessed that my DHs family is incredibly understanding and compassionate about difficult child. My people on the other hand, are horrible and malicious. After repeated attempts by them (unsuccessful) to break up my marriage to husband, and repeated attempts (partially successful) to poison the extended family against me, I broke off all contact and have neither seen nor spoken to them for years now.

    Although we don't get to choose our families, we do get to choose who we spend time with. Life's too short and your time is too valuable to waste it with people who will only give you grief and pain.

    Hugs for your hurting heart. I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.

  15. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    Thank you all for your kind words of support and advice. My son got upset at school today because of the whole situation, as I knew he would. It took him a couple of days to process everything, and I did speak with his teachers and the on-site psychologist so they would be aware of the situation.

    Mostly, I am sad for my son. I remember getting together with relatives and friends for birthdays, holidays and just to vacation, and it kills me that he won't be included and get to experience these events any longer. It also kills me because on of my sisters and her husband are my son's godparents, and they have effectively rejected him. Some example of Christian love!

    Now I've got another situation to work through, both for me and my son. But I will do it, because as Timer Lady/ Linda says, it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that our children become productive, law abiding citizens. The path isn't the same for any child, but for children with behavior and emotional problems, there are a lot more crossroads than for "normal" kids.