Do you find it difficult to compliment your difficult child?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by hearts and roses, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    You know, a lot of the time I'm either worn out from worrying about my difficult child or she's p!ssing me off. So, when an opportunity arises where I can say something nice instead of nothing or something else negative, the moment often passes without comment. I had such a moment last night.

    I won't go into details, but this has been a trying week for me with both my H and difficult child. difficult child basically stayed away all week at her friend's house (one we don't know anything about) in another town. We spoke on the phone and tried to make a plan for lunch, but everything fell through. So she came home with monkeyboy in tow last night for dinner. It was a nice time, but the air was filled with resentments, old and new, and there were a few moments that were strained between us. At one point I followed her into her room where she was packing a bag and just told her simply that we missed her and loved her (she was crying). She made a comment about why its so hard for her to be home - that we pick on her - and I hugged her and told her that home is supposed to be a place where we can joke around and laugh and cry and chill, hoping to pat down her hysteria. She was okay, she hugged me back and then left shortly thereafter. Incidentally, she had told me earlier in the day that her prmary reason for stopping home was to hit us up for cash. She ran out of money and didn't work this week (long story) and neither did her boyfriend. They were headed out of town to go visit difficult child's dad's family this morning. Well, she never asked for the money and left.

    Afterwards, I felt bad because I had missed a few opportunities where I could have said something positive about her or to her, such as her hair looked nice, I liked her shirt, anything, something small even. She had done her eyebrows and instead of telling her they looked nice or neat, I commented on how straight they were. She covered them then and ran from the kitchen, saying something about always being teased and thats why she can't wait move out. I told her to feel free to pack up her things and go. Another snipe.

    The thing is, we're together so infrequently these days and there are so many unresolved things floating around us, that my mind is on all that when she's here, so I often miss an opportunity to compliment her or say something kind. I feel like that's a really big flaw on my part. When she was little and had the daily struggle in school and life, I was always injecting something positive to help her feel good about herself and why aren't I doing that anymore? I know part of is that I'm just worn down from the last few years of dealing with her and all her stuff, but darn it, I should be able to find at least ONE nice thing to say to her that isn't about our relationship or how we miss having her around, etc.

    Do you have trouble complimenting your difficult child?
  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Yes and no. I don't have a problem telling her she looks nice. I was taught by my mother to find one positive thing to say to another every day. It was one of her better lessons. So, I make sure I've said something good to my daughter at least once during the day no matter how angry I am at her. There are times this is very difficult, especially when my resentment is sky high.

    I cannot compliment her on a job well done, though. To me, you do your chores because you have to. No matter what you do, you do the very best job possible, so why would you get a compliment for doing what you should be doing. Sadly, my daughter needs the Brownie points. I'm just not capable of giving them unless she specifically asks.

    I do know when I'm angry or resentful, it is harder to say something nice. Sniping comes much more naturally. What I have done is snipe and then apologize because what was said was really not fair to either of us -- it was beneath me and she didn't deserve at that time. I also let her know I sniped because I was frustrated and upset about other issues. I would then leave the door open by telling her I would love to talk about these issues when she was ready. It has saved us a few times. Not necessariy changed anything but at least cleared the air.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    This is one of those "it depends" answers.

    My difficult child has a sense of entitlement as deep and wide as the ocean, and high on his list is that he's entitled to be told that he's the smartest, brightest, best looking, good at everything...etc.

    He fishes for compliments all the time, but he does so with such a level of arrogance that I can't bring myself to cater to it.

    Meowbunny, I also have a difficult time giving compliments for chores that are just part of the daily routine. A job well done is simply living up to my expectations of how a job should be done, and I don't see the need to provide a compliment on it.

    Where I do compliment difficult child is when he has genuinely worked hard at something and done a good job, not because he's expecting to get praise or a reward out of it, but because he feels motivated to do his work well. Then I praise him for putting in the effort and doing the hard work.

    Sadly, those moments are rare.
  4. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    Yes, its hard to compliment difficult child but I do it as often as I can. I also make myself call her "hon" alot. I feel like a jerk for feeling the way I do but I get tired of being called names, getting swears thrown at me, and the physical aggression. I also know that due to her brain injury, she's really not connected to me in a real emotional way...just more of a dependency. So while she will say "I love you" if I'm making her macaroni and cheese, after she eats it, she could be screaming "FYouB****!!!" because I asked her to take a shower. She's not very predictable with the mood and on those days, complimenting her can be extremely difficult and sometimes it just doesn't happen. On the other days, its easier but I'm still worn out emotionally so even though I'm trying and saying the words, I don't know how much actual feeling I'm projecting or if it really even matters to her.

    I don't know if that made any sense
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Thanks ladies. I see that I'm pretty much in the same boat as most of us. I also have pet names that I call difficult child, such as "bean" and "hon" and I never hang up without telling her "I love you". I buy her some of her favorite foods to have on hand and special items I know she will like, etc. I do all that - that's not what I'm talking about so much.

    MB, I think you hit right on it. It's about finding at least one nice thing to say to someone each day. I'm ordinarily like that in my everyday life with everyone. I mean, I try. It's just with difficult child, it's becoming more and more difficult to do so. And then I am upset by the missed opportunity to lift her up rather than do nothing OR make her feel worse.

    I feel spent.

    Thanks for your responses.
  6. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Jo -

    I do find it hard sometimes. Sometimes I'll compliment her and she'll act like I'm insulting her. Other times I'll compliment her and she keeps fishing for more. Or she'll tell me I'm just saying it to be nice and that I don't mean it. And sometimes after all day of constant negativity, attitude and nastiness I just can't bring myself to do it at all.
  7. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    I sort of feel like you do. I have a very difficult time finding one nice thing to say to my difficult children on a daily basis. I'm worn out and most days, feel like a dirty doormat that my difficult children constantly use to wipe their feet on. (I had been doing better with this but then injured my ankle, can't exercise, and am now having difficulty releasing stress - But, this is your post and I'm getting off topic...)

    Don't be too hard on yourself. I think you're a great mother!!! The love you have for your difficult child shines through this post. I honestly believe your difficult child knows how much you love her too. In the long run, I honestly don't think you're in any way damaging her self-esteem.

    I don't think you should beat yourself up by feeling guilty over this. Afterall, we're human too. There is only so much we can do. It is difficult to say something positive to a difficult child when feeling used and abused so much of the time. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing for our difficult children to see that we're human and realize that their negative actions do affect us.

    Well, just my two cents for what it's worth. Hugs, WFEN
  8. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I grew up in a home that was totally ran by my mother. She was highly critical because in her words " if you were doing it right, you already knew it and if not, you needed to be told" There was never compliments and it hurt me a great deal, low self esteem. But that was my whole childhood and you are talking about a short time while you are both stressed with redefining your relationship. I admire you for being so self aware and seeing the need to work on it, it doesn't make sense to have her leaving with more baggage between you, but she isn't going to remember just this time. She has the whole length of your relationship inside her heart.
  9. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    My mother never has anything nice to say to any of us "kids," so maybe I'm more sensitive to negativity than I would be otherwise. I try not to say anything at all if my comment is going to be critical. I don't think there's any such thing as constructive criticism. My mother's comments don't ever inspire any of us to change our behavior; it just makes us angry with her. I do thank both my difficult child and my husband when they do chores. Yes, they should be doing them anyway, and yes, I do way more than they do, but I still think it's nice for them to hear a "thank you."
  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree, I always thank my family members when they help out around the house.
  11. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Given the number of times my tweedles are complimented & "good job"ed in day treatment, compliments ring hollow for both of them. They've learned to tune it out.

    Having said that, when I see kt really working on something that she wants to accomplish & completes it I will compliment her - a very calm "you did good" or something of that nature. I know I hit it right when I see that very ktbug smile.

    The same goes for wm.

  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    At times it is very difficult to compliment difficult child but most of the time I am still able to find deserved compliments and actually make them. There are days though when I am unable to.