Arguing for the sake of arguing

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by flutterbee, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    You know, you just can't win. I mean, it's not about winning, but sometimes no matter what you do or say, it's going to start that circular reasoning.

    difficult child is going to the doctor today about her eye. It's still red and painful, causing headaches. She just came in and she has on makeup - including eye makeup. I told her that with a possible infection in her eye, we should probably err on the side of caution and not wear eye makeup.

    All of a sudden she starts with, "I can't do anything right." Where did that come from? I told her I was just giving her advice. She told me I was criticizing her. :surprise: I said that she had never experienced this kind of problem before and I was just making her aware of the risks of wearing eye makeup with a possible infection. Even Devon tried to explain that I was just giving advice and wasn't being critical in either my tone or my words.

    But, by then she *wanted* to argue. And it goes from she can't do anything right, to everyone criticizes everything she does, and on and on. She said she can't take advice as anything other than criticism. "That's just how I am."

    I told her that nothing that was said warranted her reaction and she needs to go somewhere and calm down because I wasn't arguing with her. Of course, that just made her more angry.

    Lasted edited by : Feb 14, 2009
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Poor mom! Poor Wynter!

    You probably shouldn't tell her right now that if it IS an infection, she'll need to toss all her eye makeup anyway and buy new stuff that's not contaminated. Then again, maybe that's something she'd enjoy doing?

    She's just tired of having this problem and a bit overly sensitive right now. Maybe when she's over this you can talk to her more about her perceptions of criticism... some of it might just be coming from her depression. husband is HUGELY sensitive when his depression is not well-controlled (like right now).
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    The only good news here is that the DR will be the one giving her advice about her eye at the appointment today...and you will be "off the hook" so to speak. He will probably ask her to remove the eye makeup before he even takes a look. If that happens, do try to resist the "I told you so!"--(you can write it here if it will make you feel better) you know it won't help anything to say it to her.

    Hang in there!

  4. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    If she is arguing to argue she will do it again tomorrow or soon after. So you need to find a strategy for tomorrow's response. She can not argue if she is the only one arguing. If you can, (and it is impossible to do, but try anyway) don't take it personally and don't respond more then the minimum. Say, "I was not criticizing, you look beautiful with your eyes done. I am just worried about the infection". Then don't say anything more. She will complain unfairly you know she will, blame you, yell at you, follow you and try to hype it up. Just smile and walk away. You know if you tell her to go and clam down she will get upset. So don't, just leave what she needs with her and you leave.

    My husband calls this "removing the dominos". Not allowing an argument to build by not participating in the argument. My difficult child still explodes and life is still difficult, but when we can keep are own responses in check the explosions tend to be shorter.
  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Wyntergrace, my routine response to cries that I am criticizing is "that if God didn't expect a child to be parented that I would have given birth and slithered away like a snake and difficult child could fend for himself but if I am expected to keep difficult child until 18 or older then it means it's my job to parent him. He can call it criticism but I call it parenting. Even easy child gets parented.
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heather, sorry - hope the doctor appointment went well and it's not too serious.

    Fran, hope you don't mind if I steal that line!

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Marf, you took the words right out of my mouth (well, keyboard).

    Heather, she IS gonig to argue, she IS going to be oversensitive and highly reactive. You need to do your utmost to be the opposite. Be so laid back you look like you're almost falling asleep. Of course it's annoying, of course it's frustrting, but the more you react in dfence, the more frustrating and annoying it will be.

    Why do you feel a need to prove yourself to A KID? I suspect you're reacting to her, almost as much as she is reacting (over-reacting) to whayt you say.

    Someone needs to be the strong one, to say, "Enough!" and walk away. And we both know she won't.

    By YOU being the one to walk away (figuratively, at least) you will hopefully be modelling this for her to learn, in her own interactions. Because somewhere in there, SHE needs to learn to "let it go".

    OK, she probably shouldn't have worn eye makeup. But once it's on, then it's on. And maybe it's not such a big deal. But let the doctor be the one to tell her, she is more likely to listen to a doctor. Besides, that way someone else can be the baddie, not you.

    Fran, while I really like your line, I think it would have been a mistake for Heather to use it, in this situation. Perhaps 'bank' that line for a better opportunity?

    Let us know how the doctor appointment goes. I hope it's an easy fix, but sufficiently serious to justify your concerns.

  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Sounds all too familiar...Miss KT would debate anything, anywhere, anytime. Even if I picked up a book and announced that the conversation was finished, she'd argue with herself.

    Hope the appointment went well...many hugs to you.
  9. Janna

    Janna New Member

    Urgh, sounds exhausting. I wish I had something to add. Sending gentle hugs and prayers for a very peaceful night for you.
  10. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Yeah, she won't let anything go. And I refuse to have to stop what I'm doing and leave the room because she won't. I can see how well that would go over with a boss. When she was younger, yes. But, not at her age.

    I do like that line, Fran. It would just totally tick her off, though. I just keep repeating that I am the mom and it is my job to parent her; and that it's not a popularity contest.

    She had something stuck under her eyelid - which is the first thing I suspected Saturday morning, before she said there was white stuff - which was probably just eye goop collecting to protect the eye. But, of course it couldn't be that. It's amazing how stupid I am and have still managed to get through life. :faint: The doctor did a stain and the scratch is not near the pupil which is good. So, she has drops to put in her eye 3 times a day for a week.

    That should be interesting. Saturday morning, I tried to put natural tears in her eyes hoping to flush out whatever "wasn't" (according to difficult child) in there and you would have thought I was torturing her.

    Oh. And she did take off the eye makeup before going to the doctor. I just wish she didn't insist on going through all drama. It makes me tired.
    Lasted edited by : Feb 14, 2009
  11. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    And other than explaining that I was just giving advice and then stating that nothing that was said warranted her behavior and she needed to go somewhere to calm down, I didn't react to her. It doesn't stop her from going on....and on and on and on...trying to get a reaction from me.

    I don't need to prove anything to her and I don't.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    All you can do then, Heather, is just keep going. I agree, it is really emotionally draining for you.

    I'm glad her eye isn't seriously affected, but that something was found (it vindicates you).

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 is like this, I really wish I could help her move on to stop this. I've had her literally escalate herself as if she is arguing with me (or morecorrectly, as if I am arguing back when often I'm not saying a word!) and it can be really bizarre. Anxiety and stress makes her a great deal worse of course. She would come home stressed from work and I might say, "How was your day?" (and if I didn't ask, sahe would get upset and escalate herself because I didn't care enough to ask.)

    Me: How was your day?

    easy child 2/difficult child 2: It was awful. I couldn't make K listen to me at all, she just went on and on about how I had to do things the way she said. I tried to explain that her way makes more work for us all, we have to do it my way because I've put a lot of thought into this, but she just won't listen, she just points at it and said, 'do it.' I mean, how does she get to be a supervisor with that attitude? How will I ever get to be a supervisor? I have to meet her standards and I just can't do it. She won't listen to me, nobody listens to me, I just don't know why I bother even talking to you about it, because you don't listen to me either. Nobody cares, I wish I was dead..." (storms out of room in floods of tears)

    Heather, if it's any consolation, I have seen easy child 2/difficult child 2 learn self-control to a much greater extent. It took a lot longer than I expected it to, but it has finally begun to happen. Even though I know I didn't argue back with her or make her worse, there were times when I tried to help and found myself copping a barrage. But if I didn't try to help, she'd be crying at me for leaving her to wallow in it. There were times when I had to confront her (it took multiple sessions over a week or more, with me stopping the discussion as she began to escalate) to tell her I was very unhappy with always feeling like I had to walk on eggshells. I used all the official conflict resolution techniques (she gave me such good practice, I feel like the world's greatest expert now, on conflict resolution!) and always used "I" statements instead of "you" statements. As in, "I feel like I'm walking on eggshells, in my own home, and that makes me feel very uncomfortable."

    I would find that apart from an occasional outburst, she would improve for a few days. Over time and trying again (and again!) she has slowly become more in control. She still will nitpick over things that really shouldn't be such a big issue, but she's more accepting when someone says, "get over yourself."

    As long as it's not me!

    Heather, sometimes physically walking away is not an option, I agree. And yes, it can make it worse. When I mean "walk away" I meant finding a way to do it mentally. Sometimes you can try to deflect, or sometimes change the subject or find something else to do. Even "pass the salt" can deflect sometimes.

    But if you can just hang in there a few more years, it should get better. Meantime - you're not alone. If only we lived closer, we could introduce our girls to each other, then stand back and watch the fireworks!

  13. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    That's it exactly. Regardless of what I do, she's going to escalate one way or another. Apparently, she just needs to get it out. However, she needs to learn more appropriate ways to do that, which I've been trying to work on with her. That can only be done after she has calmed down. It's like she gets stuck. There is no talking to her or reasoning with her and I (usually) don't play the game with her. But, after - maybe the next day, even - she'll want to talk about it and we discuss appropriate ways to handle things.

    Which, would be much more successful if the words "I can't" were not a part of her vocabulary. :whiteflag:
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Heather, maybe her brain just isn't fully ready yet, for what you're trying to teach her.

    Sometimes our kids just take a lot longer to reach their milestones. All you can do is what you ARE doing - keep trying, test her ability to learn (or not) and respond accordingly.

    It takes a delicate touch plus infinite patience. Hang in there.