Family Health Issues - Dealing with difficult child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Wonderful Family, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Question:

    What's the best way to handle difficult child under the following situaion?

    I'm currently undergoing testing for some potentially very serious health issues (difficult child not aware of this at all) and my Dad has cancer that has just spread to the brain. My Dad is expected to respond to treatment, but the outcomes still won't be great. My Dad has melanoma that spread to the lungs, kidney, and now brain - a really hard one to treat.

    Grandpa is the one that holds Mom together quite a bit (great listener and very non-judgemental!) and it's a bit tough at the moment.

    difficult child just sees Grandpa as being OK since he doesn't "look" terrible at the moment in a kid's eyes and he is just on me right and left; defiant, picking, typical stuff.

    I actually find myself avoiding him if at all possible much of the time. Otherwise, I will engage with him - and I try to avoid that at all costs most of the time. I have told difficult child I am simply busy with other things at the moment and don't have time or energy to deal with his attitude at the moment.

    Problem is, I've always seemed to be his barometer and he reads me better than anyone else; even when nobody else would pick-up on it, and I'm a bad actor.

    Any suggestions?
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    My advice is not to hide it. He will pick up on it and without knowing what is going on he will be scared and will be more apt to think the worst. Not knowing will send his anxiety out of control. I'm not saying to share all of the gory details, but let him know enough to know that it's being addressed with the doctors, etc.

    You might see behavior stemming from fear and anxiety. Then again, he might do like my difficult child and surprise you.

  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I agree, do not hide it. I believe he is already picking up on your fears and concerns. If your difficult child is seeing a psychiatrist or therapist, that person can also help difficult child work through this. You might want meet with them without difficult child 1st to go over the issues and to ask them how much info and how to share the info with difficult child.

    I think it is hard for our difficult child's to grasp the need to be concerned but not terrified. I know my difficult child just has a hard time stopping at the "it is time to be concerned just enough to do what is needed to be safe but you do not need to enter the terrified mode." They hear bad news and it is all of a sudden the end of the world. The tornado warnings go off and my difficult child starts to freak out, "difficult child, you do not have to be that scared. It is just telling us to follow our tornado plan. We know what to do. We will be fine. Let's calm down and follow the plan."

    I think it will be easier to introduce him to whatever is going on now than if/when it does become a crisis. Let's say you are prone to dehydration, "difficult child, sometimes I need to go to ER just to get hydrated again. It sounds scary but that is where you get that kind of help. I will be just fine!"

    As long as you can stay strong and assure difficult child that you are doing everything you need to do then you are doing all you can. Like the tornado, yes, this illness may come too close for comfort, but as long as we follow this plan, we can be as safe as possible. Keep the focus on the plan and off the possible bad results.

    Let us know how it goes - I have a feeling that this will be an experience that will help others.
  4. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I am so very sorry for you and your family. I will keep you and your dad in my prayers. I truly hope everything turns out okay.

    I agree with the others, don't hide it. It will be easier if he is prepared. Plus, children are so intuitive, he will know something is wrong and might be angry that he wasn't told. If he knows what is happening step by step it might be easier for him to process.

    Good luck!! You will be in my thoughts. {{{HUGS}}}
    God bless. :)
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I third the suggestion to not hide what you can't, anyway.

    He may not need all the details, but let him in on the fact that something is up.
  6. We tend to hide little from difficult child since he finds out anyway on his own; too smart for his own good - always has been.

    He knows everything about my Dad's situation (age appropriate) and it drives him crazy that I'm so upset about it. Afterall, he's old and I should just get "over it" (his lovely words).

    Suggestion about discussing with therapist and psychiatrist are good ones; we have a therapist appointment later this week so I will discuss it with her then.

    If tests come out as doctors expect may be the case, difficult child will be furious (acting) with me. This anger (which is really fear) is the primary reason we have said absolutely nothing to him. He's still getting over a car accident from 4 years ago in which I "tried to kill him." (I thought he was getting over it, and I was obviously wrong from his most recent comments!).

    Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions.
  7. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Are you sure you have your difficult child and not mine??? We haven't been in a car accident, but there have been accidents where she has reacted that way for years. Even when I explain yet again that it was an accident, she'll say, "I know, but you still tried to kill/hurt/maim me." :faint:

    I think that has to do with emotional age and maturity and not being able to separate mom as a human vs mom protects me from everything and nothing bad can happen to me with mom. With kids with the high anxiety, we end up being everything to them and they react very strongly when we have 'let them down' by things we have no control over. IOW, when life happens.
  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry you are going through this with your father and your own health and the topping - difficult child.

    I think it's a good idea to be open, but speak with the therapist about difficult child's emotional age and ability to understand. His fear and anxiety could surely add to his behaviors.


  9. I am sorry that you are having health problems and so is your father.

    I also agree that you should be upfront with difficult child on his level with only what he absolutely needs to know. difficult child is bound to pick up that something is going on and it could add to his anxiety. I know my difficult child is just like this. I would speak with the therapist or psychiatrist and ask them for advice on how much should be revealed and when.

  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm very sorry for yours and your dad's health problems. Another who agrees about being up front. I'm glad he has an upcoming therapist appointment. Hugs.
  11. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I agree with what others have posted and I wanted offer my support. I wish you the strength to handle the time ahead and wish you a positive outcome with your medical tests and your dad's treatment.

  12. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and suggestions.

    Bad news about Dad just tonight; he may be hospitalized tomorrow; fear of more of the cancer spreading or possible infection; they have suspended chemo.

    So, regardless of me or anything else, what do you do when the glue that holds you together is gone about your difficult child? Nobody else has ever understood or taken the time to listen.

    I'm really struggling, I know there are no real words; but boy, I'm already having a tough time not having him to talk to every day about general stuff, let alone me. Poor difficult child, just try to have a fit at the moment!

    difficult child did see me on the phone with my mom (who is a bottomed-out alcoholic to boot, and actually sober for a change this evening - long story); and went to bed with no questions asked.

    difficult child is special, I would just like to "brain" him on a daily basis for stupid behavior (my word for when I don't know what else to say!). Close family given how dysfunctional everyone is!

    Thanks again for the concern and thoughts.
  13. OK - here's one last question, not related at all to difficult child; so pass if not appropriate.

    How to explain to husband in analytical terms that I need space to deal with Dad? He calls this "girl talk". I don't think he gets the relationship either. He's an engineer to the gills to boot. If I can explain something right, he gets it, if not he struggles (hence the issues with difficult child).

  14. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    "My Dad needs help right now. Mom is unable to handle this on her own. Can you take care of the kids for atleast one week so I can make sure Dad is getting proper care?"


    I basically did that when my twin sister and her husband (no kids) were in a terrible car accident and both hospitalized. Everyone asked why I didn't go down right away. Because I was wrapping things up at work and home so I could take one week off when she was discharged. The day she left the hospital, I drove down and spent a week taking care of her. I then drove three hours every weekend for a while to help. My husband also had to teach my Sunday School class for a few weekends! I basically said, I need you to do this, I have to go. I very seldom request that husband has to do anything so when I do, he tries his best to accomodate if he can.