Brainstorming a Second List?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by emotionallybankrupt, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    The list in the archives that gives ideas for responses to difficult child's in certain situations is very helpful. What are ideas for appropriate responses to well-meaning people who ask about your difficult child's, when they haven't seen you for a while or otherwise just have no idea what's going on with them? Even the "conversation starters" with strangers are deadly: "How many children do you have? Oh, two? How old are they?" Then...inevitably the list below begins, in a case like this, ending with #1. I deal with this all the time, especially in my profession, and haven't figured out any good responses. Examples...

    "How is (difficult child) liking high school?" or "Which high school is she going to?" (uhhh. dropped out).

    "Where is she living now?" (uh, not sure).

    "Well, is she working?" (nope).

    "What does her husband do?" (dunno--no job last I knew)

    "Going to college?" (doubt it), or, the assuming, "Where is she planning to go to college?"

    The conversation can start most any of these places, depending on how much the person knows about the situation. The most frequent one I deal with is #1. I wish I could figure out a graceful exit--for them and me both. These are not the people who are bragging on their own children or being in any way obnoxious. They are just trying to make conversation or are genuinely interested from having known her as a child, and I don't know what to say. To make it worse, these encounters often happen in group situations--PTA meetings, Open House, etc.

    As an introvert, making conversation isn't my specialty anyway, so there may be some obvious, light responses I'm just not seeing. Help?
  2. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I tend to go with the truth, but not in a way to make someone uncomfortable. For example:

    "My daughter is battling (struggling) with a psychiatric disorder (brain disorder, mental illness, whatever term you are comfortable with) and her life has taken a different direction for the time being."

    You can then gauge the rest of the conversation on their reaction to determine how much detail you want to give.

    I know that a lot of people don't want to use those words with someone for fear of being stigmatized, but I haven't found any judgment from others (at least not from anyone whose opinion I care about - there was this lady I worked with, but she was toxic and judged everyone, so I don't care ha!). I've found people to be very understanding and it can open a discussion into mental illness. Educating another about something that millions of people in our country alone deal with is always a good thing, in my opinion.

    I don't say it for sympathy. Just very matter of fact. It's the truth. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, just as one shouldn't be ashamed of diabetes or heart disease or cancer.

    And, I'm sure you will find that a lot of people have a family member or friend with a mental illness and it may be a relief to them to know they aren't alone; as I'm sure it would be helpful to you.

    I have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder for most of my life. I was hospitalized twice: August, 2002, and March, 2003. Even after coming out of the worst of that episode, I didn't want to spend time outside of my house. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter and was humiliated, ashamed, and absolutely mortified that some of my neighbors knew. It took years to rebuild my self-confidence. It was some time on this board before I could even share that information. I remember hiding my anti-depressants (and the fact that I took them) from my boyfriend.

    You know, I don't want to live like that. I have a medical disorder. It just happens to be in the brain. I have nothing to be ashamed of. But, it took a long time to get to that point.

    I understand if you're not ready to speak so freely with another.
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I quickly sum up the situation. Who is asking...its on as 'as needed basis.'

    So, if it a good friend whom I have a close, long standing relationship with....I tend to tell the truth. I might not tell all all the details, but I tell them she has a disorder and that she is currently stable or not stable If at all possible, I leave it on a positive note like "she is getting back on her medication and there are signs of improvement."

    If it is someone I don't know well or a stranger, I give much less information...I don't know, I'm not sure, I haven't spoken with her this week...she's been going to school on again/off again...I am vague and change the subject.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There is a country song called The Baby. There are some lyrics in it that are fairly poignant for this topic and I use them quite often in my life.

    "She loved that photograph,
    of our whole family.
    She'd always point us out,
    for all her friends to see.

    That's Greg he's doing great,
    he really loves his job.
    And Ronnie with his 2 kids,
    how 'bout that wife he's got.
    And that one's kinda crazy,
    but that one is my baby."

    Thats about the way I reply when someone asks me about my youngest son...I say...well...Cory is just Cory. Not a whole lot changes, he's kinda crazy but he's my baby.
  5. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Thanks. These responses help. I know and like that country song a lot, by the way.

    I have a lot less trouble with the vague, "How's it going with her?" questions than the pointed one I usually get, "Where's she going to school?" For a 16-year-old, "not" isn't an appropriate answer; and "I don't know," doesn't work either. For people I haven't seen in years, people who just remember difficult child as she was 8-10 years ago, the truth would leave them standing there stunned. Because I am a teacher, it's a common thing to run into former parents and students, so, again, I'm in that spot fairly often.

    I think I can use the "going a different direction," though. "Still trying out different options, looking for the right fit. Going a non-traditional route for now." I have also just used the response, "Ya know, teen years can be rough, and it's kind of hard for me to talk about ___________ right now. So tell me about how you and your family are getting along."

    Yes, I'm a lot more open with closer friends, and when people are really trying to open a conversation rather ask a couple questions in passing.
  6. Momslittleangels

    Momslittleangels New Member

    I think I used the word "issues" for years.... "Well, she has had some issues, so we have been working through them and made adjustments". It is vague enough that people don't usually follow up with "what kind of issues", because then it sounds rude and intrusive.