Does this happen to you?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CrazyinVA, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Scenario: me laying down the law to one of my difficult children, letting them know that I will not tolerate a certain behavior, that they need to get their act together or a b and c will happen.

    difficult child Reaction: "You're always telling me what a screw-up I am. You never say anything nice to me. I can't do anything right." Poor difficult child. Wah wah wah.

    Reality: I give praise for positive behavior when it happens. It's just never remembered at times like this. It turns into a pity party for the difficult child. Seems like "you never" or "you always" is a common sentence starter for difficult children.

    Some of this might be low self-esteem, but mostly I think it's manipulation. I'm allowed to tell them I think their behavior is dead wrong. In the "old days" (when they were in high school), I'd get defensive, and give a laundry list of all the positive things they'd done lately, and remind them that I praised them at the time. I'm over that. I won't be played any more. Now, I mostly ignore it and walk away. But it still irritates the heck out of me, because it's just another way they refuse to accept responsibilty for their behavior. Pure deflection.

    Just curious how many of you recognize this dance, and how you handle it? If you've got some great responses, let's hear them...
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Are you talking about Onyxx?????
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hehehehe Step ... thought it might be familiar to a few (if not all) folks ;-)
  4. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Yup, add mine to that list!!
  5. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    Mine does the same. difficult child always tries to make me feel guilty.
  6. compassion

    compassion Member

    I respond similrly. I try to mke a very big deal out of nythin gpositve and ignore the drama, chaos, and crisis. I lso know that ngivity is part of the disorders so I stay as positve as possible. Manipulation: oh yes, feeling pity, feeling guilty, feeling intimidted, and the biggie mnipulated by compassion. Compassion
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    And add in...If it was Jamie or Billy you or yyy. only love me because I gave you Keyana.
  8. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I get the since I disapprove of one thing, I must hate her response.
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Oh, yeah...anytime

    Oh, yeah..."you're always putting me down, you never help me, boo hoo hoo..." everything she screws something up, because she is perfect and the rest of us are pond scum.

    My current response is, "Whatever, Miss KT...tell your therapist how awful I am."
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL KTmom....when the boys where in their mid to late teens, I used to tell them that I was just giving them useful information to tell their therapists when they were adults...lmao.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Sigh... Yes. "You never" and "you always" yada yada yada.

    Facts usually are really - for the nevers - actually it's often - and the always - is rarely.

    But there it is... Life with a difficult child.
  12. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Yes, my difficult child does this too. In her case (these days), it's less of the you always and you never and more of "you don't knopw how HARD I'm trying to get a job" cry, sob or "It's just that I'm so stressed about (insert drama)". She usualy deflects from whatever it is we're talking about and flicks on some high drama tears.

    When she was in HS, this usually took the form of her gnashing her teeth over her adoption and how she struggles with her issues and questions. This one used to get to me - I'd jump right in and try to fix things, tired to be the ever-understanding mom, etc. But I eventually figured out that she was just using this to either deflect or for some good old-fashioned attention.

    Seriously. You're struggling with your loving parents, your large, accepting and high-functioning extended family? You're struggling with your stable, loving home, private school, your choice of extracurricular activities, your church, your friends.... this is a struggle?


    How do I handle it? Well, now I usuallly calmly acknowledge whatever stress, etc she bandies about and then retrun to the subject.

    Back when sheused to do the "you never say anything positive", I would make the mistake of pointing out that I did, cite examples, etc. I found this to be a huge waste of energy. Oddly, her dad pulled the same thing on me when I found out about his affair. Weird.

    Stay calm, stay focused and try not to ride the difficult child roller coaster of blame with him.

  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My mother has some good answers for this. "I am sorry that you are choosing to not remember the positive things I have told you. Would it be reasonable for me to actually stop saying them as apparently they are a waste of my time, energy and breath?"

    This one stopped gfgbro cold in his tracks and shocked him so much he forgot what he was ranting about. Mostly because my mother is way too patient with him and to push her to this point (with him) is a BIG deal - and she would do it with him for at least a little while.

    When he tried the "you hate me, you love susiestar more than me" koi more than she felt was reasonable (she felt most kids said it a time or two and if you ignored it then it would go away. When it didn't go away fast enough, Mom came up with this line.) she told him "I love you both and you know it. In this family we do not compare love, it just is. I DO like her actions in the last day/week/month/recently more than I like yours. That is very true."

    Always and never statements were addressed when I was 12 and Mom dragged us to a therapist (rare in the very early 80's). The therapist taught us to fight fair and that is the one rule that Mom stuck to. "The only time always and never are true is in the following rule: It is ALWAYS untrue to say that people always or never do anything. People just are not that consistent."

    When Wiz was in the psychiatric hospital we learned that much of what he did and said when he was in trouble or wanted something was either justification for his actions/choices or it was plain old manipulations. The koi you are talking about was specifically defined as being manipulation 98% of the time. It isn't just our difficult children that do this - it is classic for the difficult children, mentally ill, personality disordered, teens and children. If it works they keep doing it. The staff at the psychiatric hospital would just hold up their index fingers to interrupt and say "manipulation". NOT "that is manipulative" or "you are manipulating" or "we don't manipulate" or "no manipulation". Just that ONE word and NOTHING else. If it was some explanation or reason for what they did and they were NOT asked why they did it, we simply said "justification". If there was a consequence for manipulation or justification it was imposed with no discussion, just those words. We didn't tell him that he now lost 30 min screen time, or owed us a quarter. We just held out a hand for the quarter or whatever and turned off what he was doing with a screen and set a timer for the 30 min. If he kept it up we just kept adding time/$ to the penalty.

    The ONLY time he could get away with justification was if we asked him what he was thinking or why he did something. Then it was a response to a direct questions and was allowed. We were taught to ask those questions as rarely as possible because a difficult child can almost always come up with some reason if they want to.

    Have you read parenting your teen with love and logic? one thing all the l&l books say is to come up with a phrase that works for you and expresses empathy with-o trying to fix anything or contradict anything or give them an opening to argue. In the seminar I took, Dr. Fay Sr said that one teacher he worked iwth in NYC used "S**ks to be you" but it WORKED for him and his students. The phrase should express empathy but NOT fix the problem or let them off the hook. I tend to use "I bet that is hard for you." or That doesn't sound like fun." You don't say much, just practice the phrase that you pick and use it when they are getting into how awful something is for them.

    Gfgbro came up with the BEST line for when niece gets a boo-boo. With ALL the caring that he feels for her, because he truly loves her and wants her to not hurt, he says "Oh, sweetie, that will feel better when it stops hurting." it is sincere, honest, empathetic and in my opinion is AWESOME.
  14. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

    Manipulation is a vicious cycle. My 38yo difficult child has many years of experience with it. She saw it done with expertise when her father was alive towards me and she has become a pro at it. She has made her own children so dependent on her emotionally that I don't know if she will ever realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of it. The comments posted by susiestar are excellent. I would be curious to find how well they work for you.
  15. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Add me to the list of those who've seen plenty of this in the difficult child in my life--that absurd difficult child see-saw between cruel/cold indifference to anyone else's welfare (while they steal, party, lie, etc) and appeals to pity and even pleas for help/compassion, attempts to make you feel guilty, etc, when they're in trouble, caught red-handed, etc.

    I'll tell you a simple antidote, if you can somehow make it happen as easily as it did for me. I slept in the bedroom next to my difficult child nephew and overheard him, many many times, yammering quite profanely and gleefully with friends on his cell phone, usually in anticipation of that night's partying and the like, mere minutes after a massive festival of "guilting" his mother, whining about how everyone regarded him as a screw-up, poor pitiful misunderstood beleaguered-by-bad-reputation difficult child, etc. Then the closed-door gleeful yammering about the fun drugs and partying that were on the way.

    You learn to just see it all for what it really is: lies, lies, lies. Pure manipulation delivered on the fly.
  16. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    This is hard. Real hard.
    But the way to deal with it is first off, don't take it personally.
    Pray, that they grow out of this and that through "life experiences," they learn down the road that refusing to take personal responsibility in life will backfire on them in a major way.
    Next, roll with it a bit. By that I mean, don't argue. Be the neutral face police officer.
    So, do the "bobble head." Listen, but don't say much or don't say anything.
    IT will NOT be easy. Being blunt and unemotional will be tough.
    Rules should be set....consequences understood and enforced.
    If they are be it.
  17. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks everyone. While I find this behavior incredibly irritating and manipulative, it doesn't have much effect on me beyond that. I'm not exactly losing sleep over it, and I tend to ignore it. I was mostly venting, and was curious to see how others have handled it. I love your mom's responses, susiestar! In the past, I've said something like, "well it's a good thing you're in therapy then, if I'm such a horrible mother." I think I got that response from these boards, actually. She's not in therapy any more, though, so that's lost its steam.

    Quite honestly, I'm done expressing empathy when she talks that way and is in her "poor me" mode. been there done that for too many years when she was a teenager. I've become immune to having any feeling other than irritation when she begins her self-pitying whines (which thankfully don't happen nearly as often as they used to). I try not to let the irritation get the better of me and stay unemotional as much as I can. I sometimes say, "well, you know what you need to do to fix that." I tell her I can't be her therapist, and if she needs one, she knows how to find one. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes I'm the master of detachment, other times, not so much. There have been more than a few conversations where I tell her it's time to grow the heck up and take responsibility for herself. My mantra with her lately is, "stop sitting around and waiting for things to happen to you, and get out there and MAKE them happen." I gotta say, that seems to stir something inside of her.

    A work in progress.
  18. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Okay.....most of what I read here as 'responses' to teens is typical parent banter and a lot of what I used to say back to Dude. There are a LOT of steps in learning (LEARNING) effective communication. IT takes time, patience and believe it or not? It does work. Sometimes it takes more work with difficult child's because we're taxed more than other parents; our kids have twice the mouths if not more, twice the 'whitty' repartee, and their minds go at twice the speed of sound, so the other parts even for a quick whitted parent are lacking severely just to keep up with some battle of words or a comeback that matches what the kid said to you five sentences ago. Thus most of my exchanges ended with "Oh yea well bite me, because I'm the MOM that's why, so what, see if I care, or my favorite, go ahead and try that and see what happens." All, very mature.

    When I started doing the effective communication /parenting training? I thought it was such a waste of time. So did Dude. Our therapist worked with us, and after even the first session? Wow what a difference. See, what I learned is something so basic it's as plain as the eyes and mouth on your face. We have TWO ears, one mouth. We need to use our ears with our kids TWICE as much, and our mouth less and we'll get lots better results. Being adults of teens? Well naturally we've LEARNED EVERYTHING and want them to do it OUR WAY. We want them to go along with our ideals, and thoughts because we know it's safer. Teens on the other hand....Everything is new, and they're so close to being adults? They have two mouths and one ear----but the way to rearrange that as an adult and slowly change it? Listen to them. Validate their feelings. On the same note - teens need to understand - We're people too, and we have lives, work, responsibilities, deadlines, and some of us have parents, or siblings to take care of and other kids that need our attention so give US some respect.

    When your kids come to you and say "YOU ALWAYS MAKE ME FEEL_________" -Instead of being accusing and saying things like "Well YOU make ME feel like XX I buy your clothes I do this I do that. Or not validating their feelings at all by saying things like I used to say - Oh whaaa." Try this.....

    Son: "Well you ALWAYS make me feel liike I'm a screw-up."

    Mom: "Stop right there - If what I say bothers you, I want you to tell me, and I will listen. You matter to me"

    Son: "You don't care about me."

    Mom: "I care about you very much I want you to tell me what is bothering you, come in here and sit down."

    Son: "It doesn't matter I'm just a XXX up."

    Mom: "No you're not, you're my Son, , What can I do to help?"

    Son: "Nothing."

    Mom: "I bet if you told me what's up, we could come up with something, you're a smart kid."

    Come on I'm going to get a bottle of water and go for a walk - you want something?

    Son: Maybe a coke.....

    Mom: You want to go with me? I'm walking in the woods. I'Tourette's Syndrome nice and quiet there
    Son: Ok

    This is what I to get him talking, calm him down......keep the dialogue going......and get him to a place where either we can talk that is a good place for him (kitchen table) that he likes or a great place that we both like - for us it is the woods. I don't have to be right there across from him - in the kitchen I can start cutting vegetables like I'm talking to a bestie - and just listening while I'm buisy ....

    SOME times.......he's just too angry to talk and will tell me - I HAVE TO GO FOR A WALK......and I'm like "OKAY - maybe you'll want to talk when you get back." but those are HIS anger techniques..

    If you INSULT teenagers? They usually will just FIRE BACK with an insult......and then it's banter with a teen. It's really hard NOT to be sarcastic with a teenager (trust me on that one I"m a National Member) but you get no where and most of us have at least 20 years on them so the battle really isn't fair. We've outlived and out heard most of the good insults so they just go right over their heads anyway.

    But there are ways to get your point across and there are ways for the kids to talk to us......they just have to be taught and we're not always the ones to teach them. Kids want respect just as much as we do, but when we are so frustrated that we can't see that we're giving what we're getting? It's time to change the game plan. And when we've gotten TO that point? We need to really be reminded of who is the parent. Yup - I've been there, and readily admit I've said some DOOZIES.....regret it.....sadly. Sometimes you just have to let go and swing for the bleachers - no doubt at all. But when it starts becomming every day banter? Time for introduction into NEW English. New approaches.....and hopefully some peace.

    I say this all the time - but check out effective communication with a will NEVER regret learning how NOT to say things to people. Even compliments you thought were NICE....can be backhanded.

    Hugs & Love
  19. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Huh. Well, there are many ways to skin that cat. Here's how that conversation would've gone with my difficult child nephew:

    Son: "Well you ALWAYS make me feel liike I'm a screw-up."

    Me: "I wonder why that is. Could it be that you're always screwing up and never learning from it? Here's a tip: stop screwing up. Until then, don't whine at me about being regarded by others as a screw-up. That's on you."

    Son: "You don't care about me."

    Me: "I care about you but I am completely done with all of your screw-ups and lies and stealing and abuse. Completely. If you're looking for affirmation or comfort from me about your ongoing vile behavior, look elsewhere. Your whining about the consequences of your own behavior is pathetic and silly and I'm tired of listening to it."

    Son: "It doesn't matter I'm just a XXX up."

    Me: "Yes you are. And you can stop any time you like. You should stop. Your life will get much better, and I'll begin to respect you again. Your choice. Until then, don't waste my time with your whining--get your life in order and I'll start listening and helping."

    Sounds harsh? Let me tell you the outcome: he kept lying and stealing and !@#$ with everyone in the house--except me. I wasn't lied to, because he knew I wouldn't buy it. He NEVER stole from me, because he knew what would happen if he did. Did he *like* me? NO. He hated me--his party was over and I saw right through his nonsense. But his conduct wrt me and my belongings was entirely unobjectionable--because he knew he couldn't get away with it. YMMV. This worked for me.