Hello from a very old board member

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SusanMpls, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. SusanMpls

    SusanMpls New Member

    Hello everyone! I used to post here regularly many years ago, when my difficult child was in the 7-12 age range (he is now 20) So I doubt that very many of you would remember me--possibly Abbey and Fran might. difficult child has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, or maybe AS--no one has ever quite pinned it down. Anyway, when I first discovered the board, difficult child was a 7 year old disaster--daily rages and violent threats to his family, himself, and others. He was suspended multiple times from school and thrown out of many daycares. He nearly cost me my marriage and my job.

    However, somehow we have survived, and today difficult child is a college student. Not an extremely successful one--he is 20 years old and has completed about 12 credits in the past two years. But he attends college about 4 hours away from us, drives a car, lives in a dorm apartment with a roomate, more or less manages his homework, and seems this year to have a graduation goal. Every year gets a little bit better.

    A few things haven't changed: he still blames me for everything that is wrong in his life (especially putting him in a specialised Autism program in high school--the thing I believe is most responsible for his academic success). But every year, he "gets it" a little bit better. He has a few friends and has learned to reach out socially (although I am sure his peers still see him as a little strange, he has been able to find enough who are open minded and tolerant). He has learned to advocate for himself. He cleans his own room without being told. He doesn't need his mom for very much anymore. He seems mostly happy.

    I still worry about him every day but have gotten better at detachment. I do now trust that he can manage many things by himself.

    What worked for us? The high school autism program was wonderful: difficult child hated every minute of it and all of the people in it, but it removed the burden from us parents of always having to be the bad guys. The school managed most of the homework wars and worked with difficult child to help him understand the importance of graduating. I also eventually came to realize that difficult child did better when I backed off. He has mostly good instincts and wants to do the right thing. But if we push on him, he can't resist the temptation to push back. When we stopped pushing him to do what we wanted him to do, his ODD behaviors mostly disappeared.

    Anyway, I consider my difficult child to be a success story. He may never graduate from college, but I think he has developed enough life skills to hold down a job and live independently. I think he will always need a "mentor" around.

    As of today, I'm an empty nester. difficult child's sister graduated from college in May and moved to Europe. difficult child just left for college. So I thought it would be a good time to post a "success story" here. Not sure what I will do with myself now!
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hi Susan, I absolutely remember you. Your son was 5 or 6 yrs younger than mine. What a wonderful update. I think many of our kids will need a safety net into adulthood. Congratulations to a life that has produced a young man who will be an independent, tax paying, law abiding adult who has the choice to live his life as best he can.
    My difficult child has done a lot more growing at the 24, 25 yr age group. Hopefully, he will manage better this time around in a program/apartment than the last time. He is off to Texas after Labor Day and his new life. If it works, it will be a fuller more connected adult life and if it doesn't, we keep trying to help him find what he needs.
    Wonderful news! Thanks for giving us this update.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for the update Susan! Wonderful news about your difficult child being in college and living in a dorm - great life experiences.

    I am in the camp of let them blame us, we have strong shoulders to share that burden for them. I figure that is the best parenting technique for a kid that needs to put that on someone else.

    I also let mine figure it our for herself without much pushing as it was WAY more productive when she did it herself. Some dislike detachment in the sense that you just step back, but I really feel it is what these kids need from us more than anything else.

    Enjoy your empty nest! I will be there on Sept 1!
  4. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What a wonderful post to read! You did good, mom :)
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Hi Susan!

    Sounds like despite what he thinks of whom to blame you did VERY WELL - driving, graduated, living on his own, going to college, not in prison. yeah ..........all that's YOUR 'fault' too - so congrats for that. lol. Hard to believe our kids are 20 years old. Dude is also 20 now. He's - okay. Not much to know so not much to tell, but glad to see you back here and filling us in on your life. Nice to talk to you again!