difficult child, gparents, meltdown

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Steely, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So, difficult child has been doing relatively well. And I use the term, relative, loosely. He has had little to no stress in his life, although I am slowly implementing rules and structure to get him back on track.

    He has had a rough history with bio-dad abandoning him, and his gparents trying to be there for him, but loosing their cool with him frequently. I know that some of their actions towards him were technically abuse, although at the time I rationalized it all as obsolete, (probably because I was abused by them, and until recently I could not even recognize that fact, ((which makes me sad)), but is true). As you know his aunt, my sister, just died, suddenly. This was the closest connection he really had to my family, although even that was tenuous.

    So tonight, to get difficult child out of his reclusive self, and to celebrate my mom's bd, I invited my parents over to our house. difficult child was fine with this, and calm - for the last 2 days - but tonight I get home to clean up before they arrive and he was going ballistic. This is the first time in 8 months that he has been this upset. He was punching his fist in the wall, and screaming, all because he said his computer was not working right. But I knew. I could see the angst in his eyes.

    I told him 20 minutes later, that the gparents did not need to come over tonight, and we could do it a different time. He then started to sob, and cry, because he had made a hole in the wall, and he wanted it to be perfect the way it was.

    I just don't know what to do. I have upheld this facade for my whole life that my parents are "good people", and that difficult child was in good hands when he was with them. However, tonight, after seeing how tormented he seemed at the very thought of them coming over, I am disturbed. Deeply.

    Do you think I am reading too much into this? Do you think I should have been tougher on him, and just said they are coming over, regardless. Of course they love him very much - but he says he can never forgive them.

    I think he is especially tormented because my dad has cancer, and his aunt just died, and he feels obligated in certain ways "to the family", but yet does not feel it deep inside.

    Ugh. I am tormented. I don't know. Thoughts? I don't want him to just throw a tantrum and get out of things - but I also do not want to disregard his valid past feelings of invalidation, abuse, and the surrounding, resulting issues.

    God, I love this kid.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, as you know, I am just trying to learn all the ins and outs about kids with BiPolar (BP), but so far, it does appear that stress is a major trigger- at least with some. And- I'm not so sure I know the difference between stress and anxiety. But, it sounds like this is what got to him tonight. I don't know how we help them adjust to everything that is expected in the "normal" world. If your parents can still come- let them come. Maybe try to calm difficult child first. But, somehow, they need to learn to accept the two of you as you are- unless you think it will cause WW3. Then- I think I'd just take them out occassionally and not worry about it. But, after a few days when difficult child has calmed- maybe he can fix the hole in the wall??
  3. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks klmno,

    I think my parents accept us for who we are..........but I think their presence seems to trigger such a primitive, hurt child syndrome in difficult child, that I am unsure how to proceed. It has been 5 months since he has seen them, since H.'s memorial, and you would think he could tolerate it.
    But then I think.............. why should I make him tolerate a family member that has violated all of his boundaries in the past? Out of my guilt? Out of obligation? Because he was misbehaving at the time and everyone was doing their best?
    Or is it that this is just not that big of a deal, and I just need to make difficult child tough it out.
    That is where I am lost.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    What does he say about it? Any chance seeing them is bringing back memories of H's memorial?

    Not that by any means suggests it is your fault- but any chance he's picking up your stress and anxiety? (This happens in our home during stressful periods for me.)

    Anyway- I'd just try to talking to him. You sound pretty in tune with him- so, shoot, if it isn't a good time to have people over, then so be it.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Can you call your parents and offer to take them out instead and then let difficult child decide if he wants to go to?
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    So sorry he's having a rough time. What does your "mommy gut" tell you? I wish I had an answer or a suggestion for you...I only have hugs and good thoughts. Hope the evening smooths out for you both, in whatever you decide to do.
  7. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I forgot to mention that difficult child has been trying to cut off contact for 2 years now with gparents. I have been the one trying to continue it, I guess out of obligation, guilt and confusion.

    I guess my mommy gut tells me to listen to my kid. He is trying to tell me something. My other side is telling me to be a tougher parent.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    JMHO- I think you should listen to your mommy gut on this one. He's 17- you can still have whatever relationship you are comfortable with, with your parents. He might work through some of this on his own- or with your advice- at a later date. For whatever reason, right now he isn't comfortable with it. It doesn't make them wicked- it just makes him uncomfortable. Just my 2 cents!
  9. ML

    ML Guest

    I would honor difficult child's feelings right now. Let him take the lead, within reason of course. Your parents need to understand his needs come first in this.

    Having said that, your feelings are just as important. What do *you* want to do?


  10. ML

    ML Guest

    PS I need to get tougher too but I don't think this kind of issue requires the love approach. If he was hurt by them, he should be able to have a say in this. I know you'll do the best thing for both of you xo ML
  11. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I would listen more to my mommy gut on this one. After Miss KT's grand-dad died three years ago, she started refusing to spend time with Grandma. Nothing I said would make a difference, she just did not want to visit or call, so I had to let it go. Grandma is very critical in how she regards Miss KT and her appearance/behaviors, and I guess she got tired of being put down all the time.

    Try and find out what he's not telling you.
  12. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I too agree to go with the mommy gut.

    He could be reacting due to BiPolar (BP) cycling caused by stress, or he could even have PTSD.

    Seeing his gparents at a memorial was "safe". Having them in HIS home on HIS turf may not be safe to him.

    Considering you said that he had gone 8 months without a reaction of this caliber, I'd bet he really is upset and not just trying to get his way.

    Hugs to you and him.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with listening to your mommy gut on this. I wouldn't force it right now.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I sent you a PM. But it just occurred to me - what is your response to the worker right now? he has to feel that stress. And what if that is how he feels around your parents and can't communicate it? Teen boys seem to react more on the fight end of fight or flight, in my opinion.

    Also, your mommy gut is always right. if it is speaking, listen. I have made some really HUGE mistakes with my kids and EVERY SINGLE TIME was ignoring my mommy gut.

    Chances are you don't really know all of what went on. kids hide a LOT from their parents about abuse. Even when they "come clean" as kids if doesn't seem to all come out.

    I'm so sorry.

  15. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I agree with the mommy gut. Go with your instincts.
  16. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Steely, I just have a few questions and thoughts. Take them or leave them since I'm not in your shoes or home.

    When you speak of difficult child not wanting to see his grand parents, I wouldn't push it. He should have a choice. We get choices in who we want to visit with or not. However, it's your home and you should be able to entertain your parents if you choose. He can be polite and retire to his room.
    When you speak of abuse are we talking about beatings or enforced confinement or average style spankings that were common in that era? I think there is a difference.

    Our difficult child's are born with a brain wrinkle and just living in a real world heaps confusion, stress, and expectations on them. They don't get it and end up acting out. There is a choice between living in the social world or staying in an isolated, protected life. Some of our kids(mine) will probably not make it out there. He will always live in a supported, insulated environment. If your son has intentions of living out in the world, he can't punch holes in the wall. It's unacceptable in the real world. Can he function with these social rules? Besides it disrespects his own home.
    I think the grown up world terrifies them and they react primitively. Flight or fight I suspect.

    I don't know if your parents inflicted such pain on their grandchild to say he has deep emotional scars from it but I suspect that they have expectations of behavior for a 17 yr old that your difficult child can't/won't ever be. The fear of disappointment is a constant in the lives of our difficult child's. So they fight or fly away. My son chooses to stay away with short visits. It's too much work to stay controlled for that long of a time. You on the other hand, have as much right to visit or stay connected to your parents in any way you or they choose.

    I hesitate to put blame and point fingers at how family treats my difficult child. He is not an easy kid to be around. It's a lot of work and most of the time, we are flying blind in how to react to difficult child. It's probably unfair to expect grandparents, aunts or uncles to know how to be with our difficult child's. This isn't a disability that lends itself to sweet, loving reactions from family and friends. It's hard, sometimes ugly, uncomfortable and just a little out there half the time. It's unrealistic to expect perfect grandparents, perfect parents, perfect teachers, preachers, neighbors or even strangers on the street. The best I hope for is some understanding without the ugly judgement of difficult child. If judging people harshly is the norm in your family then they will make difficult child feel judged as falling short in their expectations but on the other hand are you judging them harshly for their failings? Are they trying the best they can? Is difficult child? It's all we can hope for isn't it?
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys.
    Fran I think you nailed my exact question on the head. I cannot discern if he fighting and fleeing so to speak is because there may be normal outside world expectations put on him - or because of the mis-happenings that have gone between his gparents and him. The abuse, happened when my dad became as out of control as my kid. It was not good, and I never was able to get the full details when it happened, because my mom did a good job covering it up. I do know that sometimes there were bruises, and there were stories relayed to me by difficult child that pop shook him, and slapped him. My father sexually abused me, and I am not sure there was not an episode that did not actually occur when difficult child was 2. Again, it was always hidden from me - and I could only piece together pieces. I was in a really tough spot for most of difficult children life with having to work weekends, and nights, and early, early mornings, and there was not daycare providers during those times. Many times I went against my intuition, and trusted that my parents had the best of intentions and left my kid there. He was a hard child, is a hard child - so there was always the added, who else can take care of him when I work. However, those are all rationlizations. In retrospect, I failed to provide a safe environment for my child, and he was not treated appropriately.

    So, it brings me back to still not really knowing what caused yesterdays response - but I do think I need to respect who he wants to see in his life. I have an OK relationship with my parents and see them every weekend at their house, so I am not worried this jeopardizing what I want.

    Susie, yes, he knows about this ongoing episode at work with witchy-woman and her harassment. I think he knows I am really upset, and he is very protective of me - so that could also be adding more stress to him. I did think it was odd that he had this almost fight or flight response, in the midst of me struggling with the same thing - although I have not really shown that at home or around him. I think he really did have has own similar episode, which is why this is hit me so hard. I really got it. I really could see it so clearly, because it is how I have been feeling for weeks. Which is why I so adamantly wanted to protect him, and respect his feelings.

    Fran, I think my difficult child will be one of the kids who needs to live in an insulated environment. He has never done well in the mainstream of life, and it is only now, that so much of the real world stress has lifted that he is finally able to function with-out melting down daily. He has gone months, adhering to our house rules and being a loving kid. What type of facility does your son live in. How does he make ends meet?

    Thanks again guys. I will continue to trust my mommy-spidey sense.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Steely, just wanted to lend support.
    I'm not the forgiving type so I'm glad I came in late here.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry about the abuse from Gpa. It is hard when you endured it, and were told not to trust what you experienced to be real. Living that from an early age really erodes your confidence in yourself. Know that your difficult child may be a hard kid because who he is, genetics, or the abuse. or some combo that you probably won't ever know.

    Forgive yourself - you did the best you could with what you had at the time. You NEVER woke up and said, "How can I best mess up my kid today?" If you were that kind of parent you wouldn't be here. You would be out partying or further messing up your kid.

    Trust the mommy instinct. Your fight or flight may not be the cause of his. I meant it only as an example of what he might be feeling. We go through a fair amount of it with Wiz.

    I am glad he has been able to be a loving child recently. Have you applied for SSI or disability for him from social Security? That would help with support. Also the county health dept should have some services he may qualify for, assisted living, etc...
  20. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    {{{{{HUGS}}}}} Steely,

    I agree with everyone else who recommended that you trust your mommy gut. Every parenting mistake I have made resulted from ignoring that voice when it was speaking to me.

    As for guilt, obligation etc. to family, I think your difficult child should have the choice as to whether he sees his grandparents or not. Clearly right now the thought of it is causing him distress. So don't push it. Leave it up to him whether he wants to continue having a relationship with them or not.

    Sometimes breaking away from family IS the healthy choice, speaking from experience.