difficult child won't take medications amid family death


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My f-i-l died two days ago. He was in the ICU for 2 wks and it's been very stressful for everyone. husband flew up and visited for a few days, was able to get his father to squeeze his hand, etc.

As you can imagine, difficult child is acting up more than usual, won't let us talk on the phone... I was on the ph with-my b-i-l this a.m., listening to him describe the decision to pull the plug, how heart wrenching it was, and difficult child is in my face, talking, yanking the ph cord, etc. Then difficult child insists he took his pill when I KNOW he didn't and now it's almost noon so if I make him take it now, he'll never sleep all night.

He started to earn stars (he earns 1 for ea task, ie clear table, brush dogs, etc) but this a.m. decided to argue that he needed 2 stars for ea task and of course, took advantage of the fact I was on the ph.

I offered to write the obit, but no one is in charge of my f-i-l's body... he was going to donate it to the Univ medication school but he was in such bad shape, they don't want him! He's been in the hospital morgue for 2 days with-no decisions made. Ack! (I actually went through this with-a cousin who couldn't or wouldn't make a decision about her husband and I had to call the morgue in NYC every day to beg them to keep the body just a while longer.)

Now my other b-i-l is trying to make arrangements and I can't send out the obit until I have a legal entity tagline and I can't concentrate with-missiles being thrown about difficult child bedroom... it's a mess. difficult child has broken nearly everything that was returned to him in the last wk. It's SO disheartening.

husband went to church--I hate it when he does this on Sun mornings... there is nothing for difficult child to do and I think husband should take him to the children's svc, but he says he can't get him up in time. Whatever.

I went for a walk in the rain, just to save my sanity. difficult child is sitting in the LaZboy with-a bowl of cereal like a dictator. (In fact, I think he was on the cover of Parade Magazine 2 wks ago on the top 20 list). I gave him a list of things to do--he's not going to earn any stars with-this list... just the privilege of not being sent to his room ALL day. Most of the list is simply cleaning his mess. He yelled, "I'm not doing any of that!"

Of course.
What did I expect?

It's just that when there's a crisis, Ggf always gets worse... it's like some electrical thing in the air, you know?

Thanks for listening.


Well-Known Member
So, he just came and hugged me and said he was sorry. He tore up the list of things to do and he still refused to do them.
I told him if he was really sorry he'd do the list... I'm going to rewrite it.


Terry, I'm sorry for your loss. A family death is always stressful for everyone. I'm not being judgmental, but is there any chance difficult child is mourning the loss of his grandfather, or at the very least, picking up on the sorrow of the adults around him? Maybe today is not the time to push the chores. Some one-on-one time with difficult child, or some downtime (watching a movie or playing a computer game) may be in order today. Hugs to you.


Well-Known Member
I'm sorry you are under such stress. I discovered forty years ago that difficult children pick up on the tension and stress and react in a magnified way. Although I practiced and learned not to show when
I had problems.........when you are dealing with a death in the family etc. there is no way that even a saint could pretend that
everything is normal. It just isn't.

Sending supportive thoughts your way. Personally I am amazed
how many of our Board members have kids who take their medications on
their own. I have to hand the morning pills to my 16 year old
difficult child to make sure they are swallowed. He just can't cope with early morning responsibility. DDD
Terry, I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers... I'm so sorry you lost your f-i-l...

DDD and Smallworld are right - difficult children ALWAYS act up at the worst times!!! I think Smallworld has a point. difficult child could be reacting to all the stress as well as missing his grandfather. Maybe you could have a talk with him and see what he has to say. If he is mourning his grandfather's death, maybe you could tell him that you understand how hard loosing his grandfather is for him and maybe he could complete the list of chores when he is feeling a bit better. Maybe if given the chance to complete them on his own, he'll surprise you! Sometimes when I give my difficult children a bit of control during difficult, stressful times, they do a bit better.

You wouldn't be letting him off the hook. You would just be giving him a bit of extra time that he might need because of the situation. I KNOW how hard this is for you!!! We do so much for our difficult children and when we really need them to behave, they just can't or won't. It is extremely frustrating and annoying!!!

Sending cyber hugs, WFEN

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

Sorry to hear of the loss in your family.

If at all possible, let the list go for today. It's simply isn't worth it with all that is going on around you.

Find some self calming activities for difficult child to do while you & husband work out the details & such that need to be done.

Gameboy, video games, coloring books, pop in a movie, legos, warm bath, playdoh, anything that will distract/calm difficult child.

I'm praying for your family today.


Active Member
I'm with the others on this. You need your time to not only grieve but help organise things. difficult child needs his time too and doesn't know how to cope.

I don't know if this will work for you, it really does depend on how capable he is of empathy. But it may be worth a try:

Sit with him and find out how he's feeling. No judgements, no criticism, no list of chores. Just a talk. Maybe both of you go for a walk and talk about how you both feel about this. BUT include in your talk an explanation to him of all the things that you now have to do, as a result of this. Family members ringing up, all upset over how to arrange things when there's a lot of paperwork to sort out. having to organise the funeral, because even if difficult child doesn't want to think about it or has his own ideas, other family members have to be considered, too. difficult child was only a grandson. His children need to be given the chance to mourn their father. Tell your son you're writing the eulogy, ask him if there's anything he'd like you to include, something he would like people to remember about his grandfather.

You both have things to deal with. Encourage him to tell you about his own issued and you tell him about yours.

Then you finish with an understated request - "Could you give me a bit of space if I'm on the phone? I could be talking to one of your uncles and they're pretty upset right now. They're less likely at the moment to understand or appreciate it if I stop talking to them, to deal with something you want that maybe could wait. I'll try to deal with your needs too, but I have a really long list of stuff I have to deal with." And write out your list. Show it to difficult child and then tick off the things on your list as you do them. Add more stuff as you become aware of what you need to do.

In doing this, you're still dealing with all the stuff that is still on your plate but you're showing difficult child that the rules aren't just for him. You have rules to follow and huge lists of things to get done.

difficult children hate thinking they're being singled out for what they consider to be unfair treatment. Why should they do chores? They didn't make all this mess! And even if they did - well, you provoked him so you should do it. (in their eyes).
But showing him that all the stuff you have to do isn't because you like it, or because you made the mess so you have to clean it up - you're doing it because you're family and families do this as part of living together. It's a social obligation and we all have those.

So include him. Involve him. Stop trying to include him if he pulls away, but go ahead and write up your list then stick it up somewhere obvious FOR YOU, but where he can also see it. Make it clear it's YOUR list, not his. But he can read it if he wants. You're doing the list for YOU to keep track of your tasks (but if he reads it, he may get a better idea of how busy you have to be).

This is an especially hard time for you to have to try this, but maybe because it's a hard time for difficult child too, it may make it easier to open doors.

And about the medications - if he says his feelings are a mess, point out to him that his medications are to help him cope better. Not taking them will make it harder for him to cope with his feelings because everything else will be more confusing and difficult than usual, and now is not a good time to have to deal with more stuff than he has to. Life isn't fair. Death isn't fair. What would grandfather want him to be doing now? Think about how proud grandfather would be of him, if he can help out with the jobs that must be done right now, and so give dad some time to mourn as he needs to.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad your husband was able to get to his father before he died. I remember when my father in law died - difficult child 3 was about two and a half and we knew we had a problem kid (just didn't know what). As a result, I'd had to stay away from the bedside because we couldn't take difficult child 3 anywhere for very long, without causing problems. An intensive care ward is not the place for two year old tantrums. Nurses would comment on the behaviour of his oddness, which would spark other questions and discussion about his problems which family denial put down to my bad parenting (because the thought of a damaged child was anathema, especially with everyone so stressed).
Then when father in law died I had to pitch in and help, but still keep difficult child 3 under control. It was very hard to give difficult child 3 the normal amount of attention he needed, let alone the extra as a result of losing his grandfather. And my feelings? I had to deal with those in there somewhere as well.

It's extra hard when you have a difficult child and also when family expect you to be the strong one, because he wasn't YOUR father.

Hang in there. Grit your teeth and take plenty of walks with difficult child, if you can persuade him to. But involve him. it will make it easier on him (and therefore you) later on, if he gets a better chance to grieve now.



Well-Known Member
hi, thank you all.
I must not have explained this clearly.
The chores WERE FROM HIS TANTRUM. I added things like feed the dogs, etc. I couldn't avoid having him clean it up because everywhere I walked, there was a mess, incl. food.
Thank g*d husband came home right after church instead of going out to lunch and when difficult child heard he was on his way, all of a sudden, he started to clean up. :crazy:
He has 0 respect for me but a quite a bit for husband. The child psychiatric said he's at the age when it's a male thing, he's going to need a strong male authority figure, and I'm going to have to live through it. (So much for Feminism 101.) :mad:
difficult child ate very well today... constantly bugged me for food, just in case I ever doubted that he lied about the pill. (As you all know, most of these medications are appetite suppressants.) So I'm trying to look on the bright side and say, well, at least he didn't lose any weight today!
He was rude to me in front of husband and they were about to play chess, so difficult child got sent to bed early and I ended up playing chess. :whistle:
He's still supposed to write "I'm sorry I called you a ****" 10X... but after he was rude, I changed it to 20. If he does it tomorrow, he can earn a privilege.
He just can't understand A + B = C.
The child psychiatric did a good job explaining it at the last session, got difficult child to actually admit that it was his behavior, not mine, that caused the problems (he insisted I enjoyed being mean and there was no reason for my rules). But then we got home and it was like nothing happened.
At least they have school tomorrow.


I'm sorry you're having such a rough time with difficult child!!! I understand what you mean by difficult child having respect for husband and absolutely zero respect for you. It is this way in my house too!!! I find that when husband and I are on the same page, it is a bit better.

Do you and husband work together as a team??? Do you and husband handle difficult child's good and bad behaviors in the same way??? I was also told that the lack of respect for women has something to do with age too. However, I believe that when husband and I are acting as a team when it comes to handling difficult children behaviors, things not only run smoother in the household but difficult children seem to have a bit more respect for me too. Unfortunately, in my household, this is easier said than done some of the time...

Thinking of you and hoping things get better... Take some time to take care of yourself. You're under alot of stress right now!!! WFEN


Well-Known Member
Thank you.
We're working as a team now. We hadn't for yrs. I would discipline the kids and husband said I was too strict. husband likes to take the kids on errands and buy stuff for them. (His dad traveled a lot and bought them things when he came back, which is nice, but it can't buy love... ) I have had to break him of that habit. If you've got a good, normal kid, they'll be spoiled. If you've got a difficult child, they'll get worse.
So, we're getting there.
I'm glad to hear you're now working as a team. I really do think that this will help difficult child with his attitude. You just need to give it some time... Please try to do something nice for yourself today :flower:. Lots of STRESS is the pits!!! WFEN