Doing something nice for your difficult child during the "bad" times

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Nomad, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I posted about getting my difficult child a little something (and I mean little) for Easter and when I told her about it she smirked. It gave me a negative impression. She DID say all the right things. But, one thing that was clear not this: "Thank you mom for thinking about me even though I have been very inappropriate of late. How fortunate I am to have someone who cares about me throughout." NO WAY. It was more like "Ha! Even if I act inappropriately, this one will still care about me and do nice things for me." Ya see the difference?

    On Easter difficult child came to the house and was totally appropriate. She stayed a short period of time. Someone who could conveniently take her home (it was on the way back to their home) took her back to her house (or at least the house she is crashing at while she gathers money to move, hopefully soon).

    I did not tell her about the present on Easter, waiting to see how the day would go. I waited until several days later (actually forgot about it, etc.)

    Okay, so what do you all do when your kids are behaving inappropriately and it is a holiday? We have limited or halted interaction with her during holidays if she is rude, etc.

    Trinity mentioned (thank you) that sometimes these gifts can blur the lines when we are setting firm boundaries. difficult children just don't get it. Thoughts...ideas?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Up until recently, I used to try and do special things for my kids in equal ways--regardless of behaviors or whatever. So if it was a holiday, they each got special gifts. If it was summer or school vacation, I made sure they each got opportunities. And I tried to keep things equal between them.

    Well, not any more...

    You're gonna treat me like dirt? Well, I guess I'm not gonna go out of my way to do something special for you.

    on the other hand, when you're really deserving of a "treat"'re going to get one from me--regardless of whether it is "fair" or "equal".

    That's my new policy and I'm sticking to it (I'm pretty sure I am, anyways...)
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I always do some sort of celebration for holidays even though they are difficult child's. I didnt do easter stuff this year because I wasnt home. Normally I get them a small bit of their favorite candy.

    I am big on most holidays for some reason. I did have to pair down Cory's fancy stuff he wanted when he hit 18 or so because he "lost" several items we bought him. We got him a personal dvd player one year and that got gone. The next year we bought him a leather jacket and he lost that. The next year Jamie bought him just a 25 dollar dvd player to hook up to a tv and that got gone. So from then on he only got clothes. Now he is tickled pink if he gets anything at all. Plus after he had Keyana he asked that we only get her stuff and not him but we still do get him little things. Like this year I got him a pot and pans set. Not expensive but reasonable at Walmart.

    I always get him a heart shaped box of valentines candy and we cook out on Memorial Day, Labor Day and the 4th of July.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    In hindsight my giving M gifts, even for holidays, after he had been awful to us, was to him very much like the abusive spouse/honeymoon thing. He'd act awful, I'd yell or otherwise get upset, then I'd feel badly and get him a gift and he'd go back to being awful. I'm sure I taught him some very bad behaviors this way.
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is a tough one. I've not gotten my girls Easter gifts since they stopped believing in the Easter bunny, so that particular holiday only means a family dinner (and now, an Easter basket for my grandson). Christmas and birthdays, I will always give gifts of some kind. It does take some thought, however, because of the differences in my girls. Youngest takes care of her things, and is generally appreciative. Oldest is appreciative, but tends to lose things I give her .. leaving them behind at previous residences, especially. I've stopped giving her anything of value, until this changes. I think she is appreciative, but just, careless, and the loss of some things I've given her has really hurt my feelings in the past, especially the ones I put lots of thought into.

    As far as behavior on holidays, several times there have been "threats" of drama from both my girls, including this year. So far I've not had to go so far as to cancel a family dinner, but I've pretty much said, "here's what I"m doing, let me know if you're coming." I'm totally ok with cancelling in the future, though, if things are bad enough. No skin off my back if I don't have to cook!

    I'm not looking forward to Mother's Day this year (not that I do, in any year). Each year since Youngest had a baby, she's more adament that this holiday is about her, not me. Not that it was ever much about me, anyway, to either of my girls.. but that's a whole other post. Last year when I blatantly asked if they were thinking of any plans for mother's day, since I didn't really want to cook, the reponse was, "I'm a mother TOO!" Whatever. This year, I may just ignore the entire holiday.
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Good luck with that!
  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I agree that this is a tough one. We treat birthdays and Christmas as sacrosanct, and always give gifts for those occasions. We're careful to choose things based on each child's abilities and behaviour patterns. For example, difficult child 1 begged for a remote control car for Christmas this year, but since he trashed the last one we got for him many years ago, we didn't get it for him, instead selecting something else.

    We do withdraw from events, or make our difficult children withdraw from them, if their behaviour deteriorates. difficult child 1 spent most of Christmas day last year alone in the tv room while we celebrated elsewhere, as his behaviour was appalling and I told him that we didn't want to be near him when he was being like that. husband, the younger children and I skipped Thanksgiving and Easter dinners this time around, because our difficult children and other family members were causing us stress which we weren't prepared to deal with.

    It's a tough call. Honestly, I don't think that it's made a dent in difficult child 1's or difficult child 2's level of self-centredness. However, it does ease my stress load. And at this point, that's my focus. The difficult children are adults now. They'll either figure it out or they won't, but I just don't want to make it my problem anymore. I'm tired.

  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I do think there are some difficult children that the lines get blurred when parents just try to do the ordinary nice things for them. It's like they have to stay in the Boss role 24/7 or the difficult child doesn't quite know how to handle it.

    Mine don't seem to have this issue, thankfully. But if it's holidays......I look at it this way, if I'm going to do something for them it's because I want to. It's a purely selfish act meant to make me feel good to do something nice for someone else. So however they take the act/gift whatever doesn't matter. It still makes me feel good to do it. I've been told this is an odd way of looking at it. lol But it's the same way I look at helping someone out or loaning money. It's done because I want to do it, I don't worry about it being repaid. If I did, I wouldn't do it to begin with. Does that make sense?
  9. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hound Dog, I think I have the same philosophy as you. I give gifts or do something nice because I want to and it will make me feel good. If I am doing it for some other reason I might end up resentful. As you said, if you are doing it because it will make you feel good then the recipient's response isn't so important.
  10. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I'm with Lisa on this. I do stuff for thank you because I want to.

    With him out of the house now, and me no longer responsible for him, my perspective has changed a bit. A lot of it has to do with- the death of a friend's difficult child at Christmas, too. thank you is still living a very borderline existence, probably more unsafe than I imagine (though I try not to think about that too hard). When he shows up around here, it's a gift, and it's not something I take for granted. If he needs/wants something and I'm able to provide it, I will. No strings, no expectations. If he's being a horse's behind, I won't help, but he does seem to actually have finally grasped that concept and knows to stay away until I'm over it and/or he's apologized (which is usually more manipulation than anything, but at this stage of the game, I'll take it).

    Holidays I do what I want for him, regardless of his attitude/behavior. It was a conscious decision I made a very long time ago, not to ruin my joy of giving just because he's doing whatever. I also very consciously do not expect thanks or anything else in return.
  11. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    I don't know what I'm going to do about the holidays/Birthdays. Right now, if the difficult children have anything to do with me, it's to use me. There is nothing from them that would even remotely look like a parent/child relationship. It's all give me, give me.... or I don't exist at all.

    I've noticed this with my difficult child-A, anytime I do anything nice for him, it blurs the lines and he starts expecting me to cater to him. And if I keep the lines firm, I feel like a mean and uncaring person. And he let's me know that I am one. It's a no-win situation.

    Now, with easy child being away at College, I sent him a little extra money to help him out. I got all kinds of "Thank you" and "you shouldn't spend your money on me". It was nice. He's doing all the right things and should get something. But, I find myself feeling guilty because I don't/won't do this for the difficult children. First, if I'd give them money, they'd expect more. Second, it would be gone before the day was over. Third, they'd believe I owed it to them since they are gods in their own eyes.

    difficult child-S has been ignoring us since September. She had nothing to do with us on Thanksgiving. Came over for Christmas on the 29th to get her gifts. Hasn't responded to a text or call since then. But if I didn't get her something for her B-day or Christmas???? I'd be tarred and feathers by her and EG.

    I'm just glad that I have six months before her B-day. I'll face it than.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you everyone.
    For me, a tough and confusing topic. I want her to know that she is still cared for, but I don't appreciate this attitude of hers that seems to be along the lines of what have you done for me lately.
    I suppose that I will have a tendency to be more lenient for her birthday and Christmas. But, as always, if she is disrespectful, that too can be cancelled (as far as celebrating with her and/or gift giving). Other holidays, well....perhaps a small gift if and only if she is behaving appropriately. Right this second, I'm thinking I should not have gotten her the little Easter gift. Not a big deal either way. But it's been on my mind. This is new and not fun....but it is what it is.
  13. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I tend to believe that holidays are "free" zones. Depending on the age, there should be a correlation between their effort and our effort.
    At 18 or so we realized he had not one iota of thought for our birthdays, M-day, F-day but he planned his birthday for months. We told him we would
    return what effort he put in back at him for his special day. He had some skimpy birthdays and easters.
    As an adult, difficult child is really in to getting the right gift for us. I have to remind him that he is unemployed. He tends to give openly partly because money
    has no value. LOL. He is thinking, being somewhat thoughtful and planning. He seems to appreciate that he is remembered.

    There probably isn't a one answer for all of us. Our kids are so unique from their general personality, to their disabilities and their potential.
  14. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I don't go overboard for my difficult child.... for one, I am not in a financial position to shower her with gifts, even if I wanted to. I did do an Easter basket for her this year. I made chocolate covered peppermints and haystacks and bought her an inexpensive t-shirt and flip flops. She is staying with DEX and had been pretty hateful to me the week prior. I still hung the basket on his door and, when I picked her up the next day for a pre-arranged family dinner, she was gracious and appreciatve.

    I try to just spend time with her - taking walks, watching dvd's at my place. I avoid the disneyland parent thing. I will do little, meaninful gifts like homemade granola bars or a book from time to time. My whole family is like that,so it's pretty normal for us.

    What I DON'T do, is take her shopping or cave in when she says she "needs" something.

    Small things with great love ....


    I have to add that, if we were truly estranged (as in not hearing from her for a long period of time), I would probably not buy gifts except for birthdays and Christmas - and then it would be small. My difficult child is 18 - we're all still new to the "adult child" thing...
  15. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I've always felt that holidays were exempt. Even if I was mad as heck at Rob, he would still get something at Christmas, birthday, Easter basket, etc. The whole point was celebrating the holiday, not his attitude/behavior. If I was to model the joy of giving it didn't behoove me (or him or the premise) to not give gracefully and without strings attached.

  16. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Good point about letting the holidays be free zones and one I will consider; Certainly have that in my mind for Xmas and her birthday.
    Many thanks!
  17. compassion

    compassion Member

    This is very relevant as tomorrow is FG's 17th birthday!!! What I have been doing is being very clear and gettign her input. I ahv ebeen through the this is the worst day of my life Christmasses when I got something for her that she did not reqwuest, or like a chepaer verson of the same item. I hav ebeen listenring to her input. I ordered a ring, a candle for her and I am taking her on a shopping spree tomorrow (being ver specidic about items to get :spring clothes : specific shorst/tops, flip flops, 2 bathing suits, and 2 sun dresses. )We are goign to speicific thrit stores and she has told me the order we will go in She has also gotten a picture frame and music discs. We are going to a steakhouse and her boyfriend is coming and she picked out her spiefic cake. We will do that at a park accrss from the restrant.
    I do have a boundary to being trated iwth respiect/no verbal abuse or off the wall demands,extortion or blackmail. Esster went well. I got each teen and her boyfriend a card, a chocolate4 bunny and a small gift. We ate at a place my son picked out.
  18. Jody

    Jody Active Member

    Easter was the first holiday that I have not bought my girls a little something and some candy. I cannot do it right now, difficult child ruins most days with her terrible behavior and nasty mouth and I refuse to do ANYTHING but puy a roof over her head, clothes, education and food. My oldest daughter not difficult child, I do thinks for but not a lot when her sister is around. I am not going to allow her to even try and manipulate me into feeling I am being unfair. It's unfair that I wake up and have to deal with the mouth and temper tantrums. It does bother me when I want to do something nice for difficult child and she blows it right before she gets blessed. Oh well, that's my issue not her's. I am learning to get over it mighty quick.
  19. I hate to sound so cynical, but no good deed goes unpunished. difficult child is so appreciative of all that we do... but interestingly enough, easy child always has issues with almost anything nice we do for him. I've learned to put my rhino skin on when I give him something special and I truly don't expect a "thank you". (they do sometimes come). More often, our good things just annoy and irritate him. He's out of town right now, and I must say that it is a refreshing break.

    Hmmm.... maybe easy child isn't so much easy child after all. Food for thought...

  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have to say I rethought this thread. I think the really bad memories of what we went through with Cory are somewhat faded kind of like the pains of If you totally remembered how badly it hurt to give birth you would only have one baby!

    Now he has moved out and we have a different relationship, things are better. We can just ignore what we dont want to deal with. If we want to have holidays and special occasions, we do. If not, oh well. Now we dont have to be in each others space all the time and its nice when we do get together. If that makes sense.