difficult child's & Empowerment

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I had written difficult child's therapist (who also does our family therapy- except we've only done that 3 times in two months) a letter about my concerns, which she received yesterday. So, instead of meeting with both difficult child and me this morning she only met with me.

    At first, I thought we were getting closer to being on the same wavelength but I still get these "signals" and vibes that she is basing a lot on preconceived ideas that are just not an accurate portrayal of difficult child's and my previous homelife. I think some of it might have come from listening to difficult child's perspective all summer, some of it is assumption (ie: most single parents are this way, etc), and some of it comes from her asking questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no or in 10 secs but that's as far as she listens before she switches gears again. I'm trying hard to make this work so I'd like others' opinions on this:

    I was explaining about certain things being said to difficult child and how he can misconstrue them to justify becoming agressive with me. Yes, I understand that the tendency to try to manipulate a parent is typical teen and the things he wants are typical teen. It is not typical teen, however, to pull a knife on the parent and demand cigs. I mentioned my concern that with the way he thinks when he's mad or wanting something or has his feelings hurt and has never been told by any third party that no matter if I was strict or not, it does not justify that sort of action, and I am concerned that if this is not addressed he could end up committing domestic violence throughout his life.

    She askeed what we had been arguing about when he pulled the knife on me. Nothing- but what bugs me about that is that I have told her that three previous times. I was sitting in a different room- we had not argued at all that day.

    Any way, she says she thinks difficult child just doesn't feel empowered in our relationship. Then, we discussed how we "problem-solve" and communicate- which is based on the TEC concept. She has read the book and seemed to like that concept but she acted like she thought I just started this since difficult child has been incarcerated. I tried to clarify that. Somehow, we ended up back on the topic of whether or not he has potential for future domestic violence. Oh- because she mentioned "empowerment" again.

    I said I didn't get that feeling with difficult child- I don't think that's the cause of his issues or becoming violent with me. I said "what if he's dating someone someday and she doesn't want sex but he does, does that mean he might rape her because he doesn't feel empowered in that situation"? She said "actually, that is exactly why a lot of people rape and commit domestic violence- because they don't feel empowered in the relationship".

    I told her I still didn't get why this applied to difficult child because 1) I discuss, problem solve, and listen to his objectives and so forth but the things he has tried to bully me to get have all been inappropriate things for him to have ( M-rated games, cigarettes), and 2) there is a difference between him (or anyone) not feeling empowered because of the relationship not being good and feeling that way because of their own self-perception or pattern of thinking (like if they feel entitled when they really aren't or superior, or inferior)

    It sounded like she agreed that difficult child's feelings in this area were his own dysfunctional perceptions- but then she said that we could work on it by helping him feel empowered in our relationship by changing our relationship.

    I'm interested in hearing others' take on this- particularly those that have first-hand experience with therapy for themselves.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I don't mean to be dumb here--but how "empowered" is a child supposed to feel over their parent? That a child should get to control certain things--how they dress, for example--makes sense, but they cannot be "empowered" over things that are not up to them to decide.

    I don't get this line of reasoning. We all have rules to follow. I don't feel particularly 'empowered' over the speed limit or the tax code--does that mean I can just do what I want???
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    We had a therapist like that. If I would just take her shopping and pay some attention to her, she'd be fine :faint:

    I think many of our kids are so extreme that it takes a special kind of therapist to wrap their minds around the situation.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heres another time for me to spout...In the olden days...

    Why are kids supposed to feel empowered while they are kids? It was good enough for people a generation or two ago to know that "because I said so" was a good reason to do what they were told. They didnt have to have meetings that rival the middle east peace negotiations to decide if they approve a punishment. Parents didnt compromise with kids. They decided on rules and expected kids to live by them. Im sure my grandparents would be shocked by today's parenting. Empowered wasnt even a word that went into the function of parenting.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thanks, ladies! My feeling is that he is "empowered" enough by being able to come to me if he's upset or I've got a rule he hates or he wants more responsiblity than I'm giving him and we discuss it and if I find it reasonable, we discuss ways to meet both our objuectives and so forth. But there is a line- I'm the parent, he's the child. And what still gets to me is that if he lived anywhere except with me, this wouldn't even be qustioned, much less people sitting in therapy together discussing how it can change to make him feel better.

    If I, as a young ADULT, sat in therapy and had to accept that I could change no one but myself, why is it no therapist we have seen has ever believed in telling a child/teen that? Since when did kids get the back of society to mold their parents?

    And if she acknowledges that ggfg's issues are due to his own dysfunctional thinking and self-perception, then wouldn't me changing divert his attention from focusing on himself and only support his temptations to blame me for it? (This is a big one with me and I brought it up to her today. This is where we had to leave though and I swear, I don't think she understands at all what I am saying. Not that I have to be right- but I don't see that my opinion is changing this way- I have to at least know that the therapist has a clue what I'm saying- even if they want to "help" me see why it's wrong or not the best, I have to feel like they "get" where I'm coming from.)

    And I'm sitting there remembering all these things difficult child says when he's mad and so forth and I'm thinking she might think all that sounds great now, but it won't work in the real world. How empowered does difficult child feel over the staff at Department of Juvenile Justice? NONE. But it never occurs to anyone that the parent needs the same support as Department of Juvenile Justice's authority, authority at psychiatric hospital, etc. They keep saying "why do you think he does so well in secure environments but not at home". I think it's because he knows he has to accept their authority and the authority there gets support and backing but people have actually taught and reinforced to difficult child that I am his problem.

    Now, I have NO problem trying to help difficult child work on his self-perception and feelings of inadequacy and better coping skills, etc, and don't mind hearing suggestions for that. (So far the people here are better than a therapist though.) But, I want everyone on the same page that me making efforts to help him "think" healthier is not exactly the same thing as "your mother drove you to this so let's improve your relationship".

    I'm foreseeing another letter to this lady in the near future. LOL!

    And here's another thing I don't get at all-

    Why is it that realtionship type therapy between two equals (like marriage counseling), the therapist listens to both sides and tries to help both people meet their objectives, but when it's family therapy with a parent and a child, it always seems to be what the parent should change so the kid will "not have desires to break the law or be noncompliant" anymore, without any regard whatsoever about the message this sends the kid, the fact that this doesn't help the child respect authority or behave better, and doesn't even consider what feelings or objectives the parent has. I mean I understand as a parent, I need to make decisions that are in the best interest of my child, not what makes me feel good or what I want, but I am not sure I can ever get to a point where I see this approach as being in the best interest of my son.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sweetie, the therapist is this way. She isn't going to change. You are going to end up having to say what she wants to hear and then after difficult child is out telling him that was all just what they wanted to hear and was NOT true, anymore than what he told them about you was true. Then tell him you are going to have a real family. One where the parents make the rules and the kids follow them. Anything else and he will see the Hawaii justice system and since he has already been in juvie they will NOT be nice.

    The therapist isn't going to change. She cannot. She is not capable of understanding anything beyond the garbage she is spouting because that is what you get when you pay the lowest possible salary. You don't get people who really have a clue, or common sense. NO ONE in that system has any clue how to handle a difficult child. They are not capable of comprehending that the child might be straight up lying about things at home. I am SURE that difficult child is filling her with what he wants her to think. The other kids are telling him what to tell her to get the most of what he wants. Don't think difficult child isn't listening or that there is a snowball's chance that he will ever admit it.

    You are going to have to just play the game to get out of the system. The more you write letters (that just confuse the therapist and other adults and overload their pea size brains) the more they are going to lock in on the fact that you are not accepting what they want and you think they are wrong. That means difficult child will come out with more restrictions, not less.

    Do what you have to, say what they want to hear, don't mail the letters you write. Don't even let them know you are writing letters. Let difficult child know you are playing the game, just like he is. He is smart. He knows you are NOT going to really do these things.

    You are acting like the juvenile system is rational. That the people in it can think. They cannot, and it isn't. Until you grasp that and start behaving in ways that make them think you "accept" what they are saying, they will not let go of difficult child or you, and they may even not let you take him home.

    This therapist cannot handle what you are talking about. Her brain will short circuit and stop telling her lungs to inhale and exhale. If you can just remember that, and figure out how to deal with difficult child and his perceptions after he is out, you just might get out of this mess fairly soon.

    Sorry if this is too blunt. But it is what it is, and the system is ALL paid on the lowest bid system. The people are the cheapest they can find, which is why difficult child can fool them and why using reason and logic does not work.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, trust me I would take that approach except that's what I've done for the past four years, in a way, but difficult child sees the other people's opinions as justifying what he does because when he gets in that mode, I think he honestly believes that they are supporting that, so it's not his fault. And it's me that ends up living with the fear of violence and court orders, etc. So that is out. I'm sticking to my guns this time. If they are stupid enough to think they have a better place for difficult child to live that will "empower" hiim more, give him more privileges, and NOT abuse him or neglect him or subject him to an environment where these things will happen, then they are going to ahve to take responsibility for that.

    Funny how you talked about the therapist- she has gone on and on about how she thinks I know so much about this stuff and I really must have researched it a lot and so forth. I don't know if she's just blowing smoke up my rear or not but between my therapy, what I learn from this board, what I know about living with difficult child, what I learned from difficult child's previous opinions from respected psychiatrists who evaluation'd difficult child, and what I've read, I am confident that my rules didn't cause this problem and changing them won't fix it. And the mixed messages that society sends our kids and lack of support that parents get causes a whole lot more problems than the parents' rules, in my humble opinion.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    As a little follow-up- difficult child just called. He's been calling a whole lot lately since he's anxious to hear the answer about the job in HI. Anyway, he asked why we didn't have family therapy today- no one came to get him for it. His therapist was suppsoed to talk to him and explain- I told him that she was going over history again. I also told him that I wasn't sure how effective it was going to be since it seemed to be moving slowly and there was only so much time left. He said he didn't care- let's just play along and get this over with. I guess that's what you were saying, Susie.

    I've never wanted to teach difficult child how to play the system and I have honestly been trying to get the most of this. I think this could have been effective if we'd started meeting early in the summer and met more often than every ffew weeks and if therapist hadn't locked her brain into something before hearing my perspective. But, we are where we are now.

    I don't know how I'll approach this- I told difficult child we'd talk about it next weekend at visitation. But I sure won't continue with something that is going to make our relationship worse or more tense.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Why? Because he knows that nobody in the secure environment gives a **** about what happens to him if he breaks the rules. They will not hesitate to crack him over the head with a stick--if it comes to that--and if that is what they feel it will take to get him to conform.

    He knows that his Mom loves him and would never intentionally do anything to really hurt him.....so he can push her boundaries without any "serious" consequences.

  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Daisy is right.

    Kids these days are not scared of their parents. They are scared of other people...or most are. It took Cory a bit. See, most kids have a healthy dose of fear of authority. The "OMG, I could get in real trouble if I do that" thing. Mine and yours dont. That gene is missing.

    Now in a locked facility, they are around people who dont give a tuckers damn about them. If they want to act up, fine...there is a nice solitary cell they can go sit in for a few days. No one has to be nice to them. They can get treated like animals locked up in cages and it is perfectly OK! Its not child abuse. I wanted to lock Cory up in a dog kennel but that was called child abuse but when I asked why it was ok for the state to do it I never got a satisfactory answer. (this was a facetious question just so you know)

    Cory has always done well in locked places. In jail, they love him. They think he is so adorable. The guards are always so nice to him and he gives them no problems.
  11. compassion

    compassion Member

    Yes, yes, yes! That structure and limits is built in in a locked facility. I cannot replicate that in our home. We are however putting locks on all of the bedroom doors and strucutring the time she may be here the best we can. I feel a lot mor eempowered today as I focus on protecting me , my home, and the rest of the family. Boundaires,boudnaries,boundaries. Happy Thanksgiving!! Compassion
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My son was learning from the first day of kindergarten that he had "riights" and that the system didn't back up his mother's authority.

    The first time this therapist asked me that question, difficult child was sitting right beside me so I bit my tongue, but I wanted to say "because he isn't given someone else to blame it on if he doesn't do what he;'s supposed to here- if he messes up here you all don't try to fix it by making the staff change the rules- and if he threatens a female staff person here who is smaller than difficult child? Well she has a few big men in uniform right behind her ready to plow difficult child and I don't have that at home."
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Exactly K..

    Now I really didnt have that problem. Cory didnt particularly follow rules here but then he didnt believe in rules anywhere. Cory was more, shall we say, macho, at placements because he felt he had to show people he was not intimidated. Here at home, he knew he couldnt get away with physical behavior. His behaviors were a bit more bizarre.

    Cory knew that if he had ever laid a hand on me not only would have had to deal with his father, he had two older brothers that would have beat him senseless.

    I know one time when he was at a group home he was bucking up against a male staff member and the guy came to me complaining about it. I looked at him and told him, look Cory isnt going to hit anyone. He isnt violent. The guy looked skeptical. I turned around and grabbed Cory who was 14 at the time and about 3 inched taller than me and pushed him up against a brick wall and asked him...you wanna hit someone boy? HUH? You wanna hit someone? He just looked at his feet. I said...if you wanna hit someone, go ahead and hit me...right now...hit me! He just looked at me and said...I cant hit you...your my momma!

    I said thats right...and when you think you wanna hit someone, you think about me and you know that they are just like me and they are gonna call me and Im gonna come down there and beat your butt!

    Hey just slinked off. The guy just stared at me. I told him...he isnt going to hit anyone. Dont be afraid of him.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm really torn about difficult child's situation. If I don't do anything to address this, he'll end up home under the same circumstances or worse. If I go in and tell these people how I really feel and how bad things really were, they will either put him in a group home or turn him over to DSS. Getting the PO requirements to be minimal then moving to a different state sure seemed like the best hope- but it's up to this county to allow him to move and nothing seems to be moving to get that resolved this week.

    I'm disappointed. :(
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well this week seems to be over so there is nothing more you can do. Just start afresh next week. By monday, maybe you will know more.