Choosing the lessor of the evils, tough love hurts us all sometimes

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Farmwife, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    **One of those long winded, cried until my eyes hurt kind of day posts**

    difficult child is in full mood shift. He has a revisited a lot of dreaded troll behaviors. I am glad to report that I have finally come to a place that I can *try* to see him as the kid dealing with difficult child-ness rather than a bad kid who acts out. I don't excuse his actions but am over the anger and am feeling detached in a sane way.

    That being said...I am on the verge of a painful choice that has no ideal answer and will cause pain for difficult child and I regardless of what I choose.

    The cycling is getting out of hand, or I can see it getting that way quickly. difficult child is almost manic with excitement over school and especially football.

    difficult child started his job this summer and for a time was stable and happy. His confidence was up, he was almost a easy child and life was peaceful. (can you believe it?) This coming year is his first year with an IEP in place to help with what is usually a nightmare trying to keep him passing in school. This year is also the biggest when it comes to responsibilities for difficult child. This is his sink or swim year.

    He is now obsessively focused on football which was his undoing last year as far as academics went. His confidence is down because he is also obsessed with the school social hierarchy. Though he says he is excited about the upcoming year he seems irritable and his behavior at home is slipping fast.

    I am acutely aware that he probably does not have the salt to pull this all togethor. If he weren't cycling he might have had a chance. I see him on a course that will lead to potential disaster. Work, school and sports is a lot to take on for even a easy child. Football is a couple short months but his job is year round and impossible to replace given our VERY rural location. He needs the job for a car.

    difficult child isn't self aware when it comes to his disorder or cycles so of course I am the problem, lol. I don't want to give him limitations but I hate to see him walk into a mess waiting to happen. If I take football (he doesn't understand failing to earn) he will be devastated, his self esteem will suffer because he thinks he needs football to be accepted, he will mourn losing his fantasy year and his behavior at home will suffer. Aside from that he will lose any and all motivation. Losing football last year had disasterous results for him on a personal level.

    If he keeps football he will continue to have behaviors that inevitably will hurt his academic year. His behavior will likewise be bad at home because of the long hours throwing off his routine. He will get the sport that he wants at great cost to everything else but he will gain a social life, something non existant until a couple weeks ago. If we choose football everything else falls by the wayside.

    Either way I will suffer the brunt of his cycle, whatever...I am over it. Right now I just want to do damage control. I know neither option is good for him. I just don't know how to tell him he may not be ready without it damaging him and being a punishment when all he did wrong was have a cycle he can't prevent even if he tried.

    Deep down he is a good kid and I am just trying to minimize more emotional pain than he has already endured in this life.

    Call into psychiatrist but medication change may not take effect in time...IEP won't help us at home...:whiteflag:
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is just my opinion. I have an Learning Disability (LD) daughter who excels at sports. I would never take her sports from her. Ever. She shines, she is happy, it makes her a better person. Of course, she isn't a difficult child either and tries very hard in school so that she won't get tossed off her sports team.

    but I wouldn't personally use that as a consequense, especially since it would probably just cause more unstable behavior because he will be unhappy and angry over not being allowed to do what he loves to do. And he may deliberately sabotage anything else going on in his life.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    difficult child 1 was a sports fanatic, and I refused to take sports away from him because he always flirted with the drug crowd in the off seasons...if I took away sports, I'd take away the one thing that motivated him to keep his nose clean, and no way, no how was I willing to take that chance.

    Academics are important, but sometimes I think other things are more so.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    You say this is a "sink or swim" year for difficult child. What does that mean exactly? What are his prospects after school?

    If he is on his way toward an academic scholarship and football might interfere with that....I would say make him drop the sports.

    Other than that, I think you should let him decide for himself.

    If school is a drag and football is the big thing that is motivating him (and he has to keep his grades up to be eligible for the team)....then let him play. If he cannot keep up with his grades and therefore is no longer eligible to play....natural consequences. Mom has nothing to do with it.

    If he loses his job and cannot afford to keep driving....natural consequences.

    I know it stinks--but he needs to learn one way or another.
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I guess I should point out that while I refused to take away the sports, he lost them more than once, as DF posted, due to "natural consequences" of his other actions - I didn't go to bat for him if work wasn't done, or he got caught skipping, or got caught at a party he wasn't supposed to be at and lost a sport as a result. But he worked hard to stay eligible and on the team.
  6. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Everything you guys say makes a lot of sense. I don't want to take anything from him and am a big advocate of natural consequences. My concerns are pretty basic if I try the short version. : )

    1. He is cycling which makes his odds of success pretty low at best. He can set himself back in graduation requirments but that won't kill him. What is more worrisome is the low self esteem and the potential fall out from the thin ice he is walking on. Ultimately, whether he hates me for limiting his choices or himself for failing to meet his goal and falling from social grace there is no happy ending unless he gets under control QUICK. I am going to chalk this up to an expensive life lesson. Okay...

    2. I am in a position where there is a fine line between accepting his cycling and the behaviors that he cannot control and what feels like enabling him to get a privilige that he hasn't really earned and allowing him to squeek by on rules/expectations and getting a freebie. Okay, fine I can accept lower expectations due to his condition/diagnosis. However, letting chores slip is completely different from beligerant and hostile moods. I have a big problem with him *thinking* he has us hustled and cornered to where he can do as he pleases (act the fool) and still be immune to our family consequences. IF I discipline him and take the sports for his beastly behaviors he will just melt down harder.

    #2 is just so confusing for me to figure out. Ideas?!?!?!?!?

    The job is still not negotiable in spite of natural consequences generally being a good thing. Football is nice but my ultimate goal is a semi functional grown up. Without a "junior" job I fear his options to branch out later will be harder to initiate.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Academics would, in this situation, take a back seat. Not the very back seat, but if he is trying to have it all then he has to learn somehow and at some times, that he can't. As you said, if you step in and make him cut out this or that, then YO will be the ogre and he won't have learned anything.

    If he fails academically, it needn't be the end of the world. I gather it will also bring its own natural consequences with football. As far as his job is concerned, I'm not sure what you can do because if you step in and say, "quit the job," he loses the income he is looking to for his car. Mum's the ogre again.

    Seriously, I do think this is turning into a hands off scenario. OK, you're copping more insolence and other crud at home as a result of him not coping with his increased stress levels. This happens with PCs too at this age and under these circumstances. Short of you sitting down with him and saying, "What do you want me to do?" when he rages at you and tries to blame you, I'm not sure what else you can do.

    Ease back and reduce his stress in other areas as much as you can, but also try to steer him gently on the right path.

    If you can't, then any failure is his own responsibility. He has to learn at some stage that he must own it himself. I think that time is now.

    If he fails academically, he can always go back and try again to some extent. And surely there is always going to be some football he can get involved in, at a social level? Does it HAVE to be associated with school? Or is he after the reputation of being a jock?

    I realise that in tis area, there could be cultural differences that I as an Aussie just don't get. For us, doing well in high school is very important, it opens the door to good jobs later or university. There is a lot of pressure on kids to do well so they can continue on academically. But if they don't meet the required standard, there are other pathways, including adult education options. In our zeal to see our children succeed as much as possible and as early as possible, we tend to forget that it's not the be all and end all.