difficult child sent me an email....



She's never vented to me via email before. She sent it Friday night, but I didn't check my email until just a few minutes ago.

She's obviously hurting and feeling like easy child gets preferential treatment. I don't think I treat them very differently, but she has so many more sibling complaints than easy child and I don't address all of them. I'm not going to, either. Part of growing up is learning how to deal with these things. Plus, a lot of her complaints are part of her skewed perception. I've talked to her about these things, but unless I'm on easy child's case about everything she comes to me about, she's not happy. It's hard, though, to see your child's unhappiness in black and white like that.

The part that was the most heartbreaking read:

"and its only taken me a few minutes to type this, so you can tell, i didn't have to think about this. i have been for a couple years. but i knew if i told you, you wouldn't listen so, why bother?"

She also said that "noone should have to live always thinking noone cares."

It's devastating to hear that. But, I also know that she needs more than I think anyone can give her. There has always been this emptiness within her that she's trying to fill. Always. Sometimes I think I could take off skin and it wouldn't be enough to show her that I do care. I hear from her how much I don't care every. single. day. She even told me once, after I exhausted all possible remedies for a sore knee (ice, heat, massage, soaking in a tub, ibuprofen) that if I really cared I would think of something. How do you respond to that?

I've read, researched, prayed, taken her to therapy, gotten her medications, talked with her, stayed up nights worrying, fought the system, researched more, read more, dug inside myself, talked to her, reasoned with her, and honest to God, I don't know how to help her. I do not know how to get through to her.


Well-Known Member
I'm wondering if she isn't projecting the way she feels about herself to you. I used to do that. Also, chronic depression--I have had bouts of painful depression. It's like a broken leg that is never treated. You see things in a dark tunnel and never see the sunny side of the street. Could be a combo of those things, but of course you're a loving mom and she will see it one day.


Heather, I have three thoughts about what might be going on.

First, your difficult child sounds very depressed. Lexapro might not be the right AD. In addition to talking to the psychiatrist about the bug episodes, you need to get across that her mood is still at the core very depressive.

Second, since she has characteristics of a child with NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), she may very well be misinterpreting communication between you, easy child and herself. I don't remember the exact percentages, but a great deal of communication comes through the non-verbal realm (gestures, facial expression, etc). She may be completely missing these non-verbal cues and misinterpreting what's going on around her. Have you thought about therapy that addresses social skills and pragmatic language?

Third, we are having a situation with A, who is the same age as your difficult child, that is kind of hard to explain but in a nutshell involves her extreme anger with us, her parents. Even though we are very loving and attentive parents, she was 3.5 years old when her sister was born, a critical time in her development (according to her psychiatrist), and she feels subconciously that we took love away from her. So A continually lashes out at her little sister whenever we pay the slightest attention to M. What was going on with easy child when difficult child was young? Is that when he experienced his depression?

These are just thoughts I have that may or may not pertain to your situation, but I wanted to put them out there for you to consider.


Former desparate mom
It's unfortunate that she feels like no one cares but it is her perception and she is 12yrs old.

I alternated between feeling guilty about difficult child then feeling guilty about easy child. Finally I told them both to get over it. We are doing the best we can for both of them. Their self absoption as teens is part of the development into adults. Magnify difficult child's distorted thinking then you have to realize difficult child senses these things but like the "bugs" she sees, they aren't reality.

I would ask her what you could do to show her that you care? Ask her if she has some examples of parents who care more than you. Ask her what caring looks like and feels like? Ask her how much she cares for her family members(including you). How does she show it? How does she contribute to the family unit? I think some of our kids need to be taught to identify how they feel and articulate it. She may very well feel left out. Sometimes by their very behavior they are left out. Our job as parents is to balance the needs of the one with the needs of the family.

Listen to her suggestions. Try to point out what you are doing that reflects caring. Try some of her suggestions and teach her to articulate when she feels a need to be nurtured. Sometimes despite being thorny difficult children they just want to be hugged.


Active Member
You know......again just thoughts.....but my son does this to me constantly - and therefore I have been thinking about it a lot. So, my thought is, and maybe it applies to your situation as well, that I am actually too close to my son. The boundaries are a bit blurred, there is some enablement going on, and co-dependency - and so in his mind he is overly entitled to my attention. He would literally siphon every ounce of attention out of me if he could, and it still would not be enough. Your ice pack scenario reminded me of this because in his mind - I am the one who should fix everything - should drop everything for his cause - and he sees very little of what his responsibility could be in solving a solution.

I could be wrong - but it does sound like your daughter is being a little co-dependent, for lack of a better word - and she needs to reach inside herself to find the peace she is looking for, rather than depend on you. But, if this is the case, then you will really have to first detach yourself from always feeling guilty or responsible for her well being and know that you are a wonderful mom. Perhaps the best gift of "caring" you can give her - is perhaps "caring" a little bit less - and allowing her to find her own sense of personal nurturing.

You have a had a rough, icky week. I am sending good thoughts and prayers your way. You truly are a warrior Mom.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
I agree with everyone, but I really like Fran's suggestions of asking her how you would better be able to show her that you care. I once did that with difficult child (after a heated argument...). I said, "Okay, so you don't think that I care about you when you're sad or angry or depressed. What can I do that would prove to you that I DO care?" and difficult child stomped away and said - "Forget it mom, you just don't get it!!!!" She was 15 by that time, so I don't know if the age difference will make your daughter's response vary much. But the point is that she will likely have a hard time coming up with anything to suggest. She is the one with this empty space in her for whatever reason and it's very possibly that what smallworld said is also part of what's going on. Perhaps your daughter is not picking up on the body language you're sending out. OR, perhaps she is only seeing it when you're interacting with your son, but not with her. Again, something to work in with her therapist.

The ways in which WE express love are often the ways in which we would like to have love expressed to us. However, the persons we are expressing our love to [in the way we want it] are very often not the ways in which they expect, want or see it.

I recently read this book titled, "His Needs, Her Needs". It pertains to married/romantic couples but I learned a lot about how each of are so different in the way that we give and receive love. For instance, my H thinks that his going off to work everyday and taking us out to dinner, and taking out the garbage shows us how much he loves us. For me, those things are givens - as I too work and take us out to dinner and clean the house, etc. We had to actually have a discussion about what shows each of us that we love one another outside of the day to day stuff. Just a thought and in line with what Fran was saying.

Hugs -


I like what ww said about the entanglement and entitlement web. That is me and my son to a 't'.

But having said that, I have known depression in my life and I have had to go through feeling like my mother loved my siblings more than me. My brothers needed her more and therefore got the balance of her attention. There were health considerations and also, I was the quiet easy child who didn't make any demands.

Then one day I was an adult and realized that I never got those needs met. I mourned that for a while and then (as Fran said about her kids) I realized it was time for me to get over it. No one else can make that deep pain, that empty feeling go away. It can only be filled from within. The good news is that your difficult child is learning that stuff now so hopefully by the time she's my age she'll have it together :smile:

You really are a great mom. Just keep doing what you're doing and she will realize how much love is available to her.



Active Member
Fran's suggestions are really good - when a kid is feeling that bad, there is no perspective. As MWM said, it all gets projected and is made to be someone else's fault - as if fault comes into it at all. There are many reasons for a kid to feel miserable - even for a easy child, 12 is a horrible age. For a difficult child, just about ANY age is horrible. But by throwing the questions back at her, you make hr think and quantify things, try to be part of the solution. This will give her more sense of involvement and more of a feeling that she is doing SOMETHING which always helps to reduce stress.

Rats in a cage which get electric shocks every so often suffer stress-related conditions. When those rats have a lever to push these stress-related conditions do ease, even if they're still getting just as many electric shocks. (Good ol' Skinner and his rats). Simply THINKING you're doing something to help, makes the stress easier to bear.

If she says, "You don't care, why should I bother?" a good reply is, "I'm sorry you feel I don't care. What can I do for you, to show you I do care?"
And nothing she suggests concerning easy child is relevant - he is not part of this. Or shouldn't be. This is between you and her.

We went through similar arguments with easy child 2/difficult child 2 when she tried to say we weren't being fair, she had more restrictions on her than her older sister at the same age. Bedtime, for example - she had a much earlier bedtime and felt we were treating her like a baby.
So we explained - easy child would often do her schoolwork assignments late at night. We weren't happy about it, but it seemed to work for her and she was able to function, so we let her. difficult child 1 would often stay up late but he also was working from home and so he could get up later as well. Plus, he seemed to be able to function on much less sleep than his sisters. His medications made it harder for him to get to sleep early. Whereas easy child 2/difficult child 2 has always been very tired, especially if she hasn't had enough sleep the night before. She would get extremely emotional and irritable, even if she had the chance to sleep in - which she didn't have very often. If she tried to stay up to the same time as her older sister & brother, we had a very rough time with her the next day - and she had a bad day as well. Besides, with her medications having worn off it wasn't as if she was able to do homework in the evenings anyway. She would need to get her entire learning done during school hours, and for that she needed to be awake.
We talked about it, explained that all three of them were different in how the functioned, which was by their teens independent of age. We then compromised - easy child 2/difficult child 2 could choose a later bedtime, but was also required to monitor what sort of a day she had the next day. She's poor at self-monitoring, but very good at complaining "Everybody is being mean to me! All the teachers were horrible, I just hated today!"
When primed ahead of time, it was easier for us to remind her that we had warned her this would be the outcome of lack of sleep, even if she thought it wasn't related. She soon noticed the correlation for herself and now at 21 is much more careful about getting her sleep. We do worry about her - she shouldn't still be such a sleepyhead, she is worrying about herself too and is seeing a doctor tomorrow about this (and other things).
easy child also went through a phase of being more tired than she felt she should have been - with her, a big part of it was expecting too much of herself. That, and anaemia.

So basically, kids have to have different rules and different ways of being managed, simply because they are so different from each other, physiologically and mentally. But if you include them in their own management and discipline decisions, they often will be more cooperative. it is a good step towards self-determination and self-discipline. Even if she's not ready for it yet, it's a necessary start.

As Michele said, You're doing a good job. Now it's just a matter of involving her so she can see this, too.



Active Member
Hi! Heather, sometimes one of the best "therapies" for filling a "something missing" in someone, is to let them see, really see what it is to help someone. Your "bio" on difficult child says that she loves animals. Why not let her volunteer at an animal shelter or local zoo, or even help out the local vet. Sometimes people have so much love to give, they don't "get it" when they don't sense that volume coming back <u>exclusively</u> to them.

Since animals frequently give unconditional love (which most humans are incapable of giving) she may be able to fill that niche volunteering. Also, since she's only 12, you'd have to do drop off and pick up, it would allow for some unstressed alone time with her. Conversations could be limited to " was the cat you were helping with feeling any better" or "I used to have a dog like that when I was a kid". There wouldn't be any judgements, meltdowns, but there would be plenty of room for praise.

Just a thought!

Beth :flower:


Well-Known Member
I know my difficult child feels the same way. I know she feels that I do everything for easy child and nothing for her and that I dont; care about her. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, she pushes us away constantly, is nasty to us and thinks the world owes her everythingand she owes nothing in return.

I don't know how you change someone's perception like that. Talking rationally doesn;t work with my difficult child, she doesn't care to listen or think about how her behavior causes most of her unhappiness.

I too feel my difficult child needs more than anyone can give her and she will be searching her entire life for someone that will make her happy, instead of finding that happiness within herself.



call 911........call 911

A few years ago I read a book that I thought was a total waste of my time upon taking a friends suggestion. It is called

What is your LOVE Language? I learned so much from reading that book and put it into play with my difficult child. Bottom line is we don't all percieve love as the same act.

Some (like me) think of love as acts of service. What you bought me, or said to me or gave me isn't nearly as important to me as take out the trash, wash my car, help me without being asked.

My son's perception wasn't the same so as I'm helping him do laundry and cleaning and the like he's interpereting it as "interfering" and I'm trying to say "I love you" by helping.
His love language is "Words of affirmation" the big stroke, the fuss over his latest accomplishment. He could care LESS if I cleaned his room.

It's a really neat book and it helped me verbalize to my son that if you want to tell me you love me, show me. Do this, do that. And it honestly helped because then there were NO MORE excuses and he knew that taking out the trash helped me and helping in my brain = love.

There are the rare few that buying is their love language, but I haven't met one yet.

Its a small paperback and a quick read. Maybe you two just aren't speaking the same language? (No she's not Chineese~ silly rabbit)



Thank you for the responses.

MWM - She might be projecting some...I hadn't really thought of that.

smallworld - You're right, her mood still is very depressive. However, I've always thought, and her psychiatrist and therapist agree, that her depression is secondary to the other things. That doesn't change the fact that it's there, but it does change how we treat it. We have done social skills therapy and have worked with social stories. I do know that her NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) things do kick in...that's what I called her skewed perception. She was 7 when easy child's depression hit and it did affect her greatly. We had made great strides with her and she regressed in a big, big way. While she's always been my challenging child, I've often referred to the last 5 years as fall-out from easy child's depression.

Fran - very good suggestions. I have in the past asked her questions similar to those, but it's always been in the heat of the moment and she's not able to answer or think rationally at all. I need to sit down with her during a calm time.

WW - You hit the nail on the head. She is extremely dependent on me. My favorite way of describing it is that she could tie her shoes at the babysitter's for a year before she could at home. I have told her in the past that only she can make herself happy; that no matter how much I want to do it for her I can't. I told her I can provide her the tools (therapy, medications, etc), but she has to do the work.

Jo - From the posts I've read, your daughter and my daughter have a lot of similarities.

Michele - Your post made me think. I, too, have known depression in my life, but when I think about how I felt while depressed to try to relate it to what difficult child is dealing with, I often think about my depression in adulthood. I need to think about how my depression in adolescence affected me. When I did that, I saw a lot of myself in difficult child and it really changes the way I need to respond to her. I have to apologize to my mom now. lol

Marg - I've explained many, many times to difficult child that I treat her and easy child equally, but not the same because they are different people with different needs and have explained those differences and have done much the same as you described with your daughter. I think part of understanding that is just maturity.

Beth - Great idea! I will contact our local humane society about volunteering as long as difficult child understands that we can't have any more pets. LOL Most of our pets have come from there. I'm just as much as a sucker as she is when it comes to animals. Your comment about the amount of love some have to give makes a lot of sense.

Nancy - It's hard to watch our kids do these things to themselves, isn't it? I find myself wishing for a magic pill.

Star - I have that book "The 5 Love Languages" for the same reason you read it...a friend suggested it. difficult child's language is definitely receiving gifts. I think about that often.

difficult child is a very intense person. She feels things - everything - very strongly. I remember when she was about 2 telling my mom that even if she were an only child, I were a stay at home mom and spent every second with her, it still wouldn't be enough. She has always needed so much. easy child has gotten the short end of the stick a lot because difficult child has always been so much more demanding and needy.

by the way, she sent this email because easy child and I had literally just sat down to watch a DVD when she came downstairs and said her internet wasn't working. I told her I would deal with it after the movie (which, by the way, she was more than welcome to watch with us). That was the extent of the conversation. After the movie, I got the internet back up and she then sent the email.