How do you regain a fresh perspective with difficult child?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Farmwife, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    I've noticed lately that what should be healthy detachment and boundaries has turned to almost a feeling of being withdrawn and resentful toward difficult child. I do love him dearly and want to do what I can to interact with him in a sane and healthy way. Sometimes I fail at that.

    While I realize he has a disorder and some of his behaviors may or may not be controllable it still has eroded away at me. I try to be patient and understanding but it doesn't lessen the pain of what now has amounted to 4 years of pretty much being treated like a doormat.

    I think I just hit my tolerance level and have taken all I can take while being a nurturing and understanding Mother. Now I feel edgy around him and sometimes even feel quite hostile. It wasn't always like that though. He has made progress but we still have our back and forth mood cycles which are getting very old with me.

    I think I am now overly defensive and am possibly percieving typical teen moodiness as the tip of what could quickly be a meltdown iceberg. I find myself almost overly disciplining prematurely in anticipation of him digressing where I know he could. It's like I just sense a teensy weensy bit of his 'tude and I jump on him because I am absolutely fed up and unwilling to tolerate even one more meltdown. He is trying though and the positive feedback is hard for me to come by. I have lost my enthusiasm with him. I am done. I have seen peace during his good cycle and will not let him throw us into chaos again. I'm tired of the false sense of security when times are good only to get the wind knocked out of me when difficult child decides he feels crabby.

    I wish I could ease up but he is constant maintenance. I wish I could trust him to just keep on being a decent guy but he is the kind who slacks and slacks the first chance he gets and then slips back to bad bad things.

    Plus, he kinda hurt my feelings and offended me pretty bad. My ex was abusive. difficult child asked me to leave, it was that bad. So, for the next 4 years he ws abusive and angry at me because ex wasn't around. Then one day difficult child decided he was done punishing me and said so. Nice... I guess he is over his anger at the ex because I was the fall guy. Well now out of the blue he suddenly is feeling nostalgic and misses the ex. OK fine. However, whenever they talk on the phone difficult child kisses his rear end and does anything he can to make him happy. I got caught in the middle, got punished for damage I didn't do and now the beast who messed up my difficult child is the cool one. I was the one here fighting like heck to save this difficult child and am a piece of garbage that must have no feelings?!?!

    I'm stuck picking up the pieces and getting dumped on. difficult child isn't the type to decide that I was the good guy when he grows up. He is too selfish for that and has no remorse or compassion.

    So, as you can see I'm finding it hard to be a good parent anymore and am filled with a lot of frustration. I am tired of making sacrifices that no one appreciates. I don't need a parade or even a thank you. Maybe it would just be nice to have some dignity and to be treated like an actual human being for once. difficult child has no trouble being a perfct angel to anyone but me. In the end I am the only one who has never let him down. He doesn't even realize what I do for him and what he has put me through. I don't think he ever will because everything is someone elses fault (mine) and he doesn't care about anyone but himself. I could be dead and he wouldn't care as long as whoever had him spent some cash on him. He would turn on a video game and it would be like I never even existed.

    All those years of packing his lunch, making halloween costumes, tucking him in every night, baking cookies, making sacrifice after sacrifice at much expense to myself all amount to nothing in the end.

    Emotional disorder or not that junk really hurts when he dishes it.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I am walking this road with you...

    I am so, so SOOOO tired of all of difficult child's koi, and it's becoming obvious that we will not be able to get the services she needs to be healthy (and/or cooperate with them if we do get them). I'm finding it just too hard to care what happens to her any more....cause I'm wondering about the rest of us. What about husband? What about DS? What about me? Why does it always have to be about difficult child and only difficult child? Why? I am so sick of it. Life is unfair...
  3. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    You expressed that so wonderfully. What total insight you have, and the ability to communicate it. Truly great job. To just validate what you're saying, I know exactly how you feel. I haven't been on here for a year, and came back today to basically post something similar. It sounds like your difficult child is older than mine. Mine's 11 yr old. But the first 5 paragraphs are dead on. Another mother I just met recently, who has apparently seen how destroyed I am inside has told me several times 'you're a great mom", and has given me a huge bear hug. I've NEVER NEVER NEVER heard those words before (from anyone) but it helped something inside of me. So, you need to hear it too......."YOU'RE A GREAT MOM"!!! WITH A HUGE BEAR HUG, to help it sink in.

    What I'm tired of is his providers telling me to "disengage becuase if you are disregulated, then that triggers him". So I have turned off my feelings and have gone numb, just to have them now tell me that I'm not giving difficult child affection and lovingly consoling him when is out of control, which they say may stop him from exculating. So now I'm a ginea pig, to test their "what if you do this" tests. So I understand what you are saying. How can you disengage and set healthy boundaries against the abuse, and not let it destroy the loving nuturing mom you so desire to be. But the constant rejection of your motherly love and desire to be a family just destroys you inside a little bit at a time until there is only numbness and you live on survival auto-pilot. And if you are a survivor of domestic violence anyway (because you escaped with the children, from their physically violent and manipulating father), then only being hypervigulent regarding proven violence from difficult child is just a natural defence mechanism. I keep telling my difficult child's providers that I'm a survivor of DM (escaped with the children, from their father), and that I'm now living in a DM house again because my autistic child is still throwing violent meltdowns and he's getting big enough to really hurt me. So for them to tell me it's NOT DM because he's a child, and to expect me not be emotionally triggered and scared of him when he flips and goes after me violently and injures me, is putting all the blame on my how is this helping?

    What I find additionally harmful is when his doctors and therapist and providers all see that to personally survive I must become numb, and that instead of validating it and giving me some kind words like 'it'll be ok', that they then condemn me for it and make me feel worse because I'm not superhuman and perfect for what my child needs. I'm starting to see all of these providers in the mental health arena as quacks experimenting on us, than actually helping us. The only ones who have a shred of good advice or insight are the ones who are parents of adult children who were very difficult to raise too. They've been there themselves, so they have that understanding that no matter what you do, it's not ALL YOUR FAULT.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I hear you.
    Great insight, profound comments.
    A couple things jumped out at me: the positive feedback is hard for me to come by, and My ex was abusive.

    You may be reacting toward your difficult child with-resentment you still feel for your ex, and for the extra burden you have, raising difficult child "alone," even though you have a new husband. Having had an abusive mother, I know the feeling of emotional exhaustion and how unfair it all is. But nobody ever said life was fair. *I* decide what is fair now, and I am no longer under my mother's control, so I can call the shots with-difficult child. That is an important distinction and a huge feeling of empowerment. The doormat issue is one you can control. You do not have to make difficult child's bed, you do not have to serve 8-course meals, you do not have to chauffer him around. You only have to provide a roof over his head, some kind of food, and access to education in some form. Period.

    I, too, have had a hard time telling difficult child "Good job!" when I really want to smack him silly.
    How do I do it? I remember that he is a child in a teenager's body. He's got something wrong with-his brain and cannot process emotions--his own and others'--properly. Also, I remember how awful my mother was to me, and how it devastated me as a child. Do I want to do that to my kid? No way, Jose'. He's got enough problems not fittng in, not being the head of his football or baseball team, barely passing math, you name it, and doesn't need me pummeling him emotionally. That doesn't mean I can't be honest. Believe me, I tell him he has BO and needs to clean up all the time! When I see that he has done something good that is minor, it's still good--just not everything I wanted. I still have to tell him it's good. "Great job picking up your socks. I see a pr of boxer shorts over there. Can you toss them to me and I'll throw them in the laundry? Come down to the laundry room with-me and we'll do a load together."
    99.9% of the time, he is more willing to do the laundry if I go with-him. One min he screams that he hates me, and the next, he wants to be with-me. Very much like a baby or toddler--you know how they can stop crying in a heartbeat and get distracted and laugh? That's my difficult child. *I* can't do it ... I'm still pretty miserable, and sometimes it gets so bad I have to tell difficult child that he's hurt me and I need to have a good cry and go to bed. But most of the time I pretend that I'm a robot and I just force the words of praise to come out of my mouth, and it really, really makes a difference in his behavior.

    Don't know if that helps or not ...
  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Farmwife, I'm sorry to hear that you are still at the stage of a lot of bottled anger. I was there for a long time. When you put in 10 times the effort of n/t parents and get less than zero back, it is frustrating, frightening and eventually despair sets in. I also noticed when difficult child finally started to have more stability that I was still mad as the dickens at him. My responses were probably a little more intense than they needed to be. All those tears seemed so wasted. All that work seemed wasted.

    I think it takes a lot of time for us to forgive ourselves and forgive our difficult children. Once I saw difficult child was trying to learn a different way, my maternal instincts started to kick in. In the end, we love our kids but our road has been so much more difficult and the rewards seemed small for a long time that the wear and tear become more and more obvious.
    Give yourself the gift of time to heal. Give him the gift of time to grow more stable.

    In the meantime, take care of yourself. Do things that reaffirm that you are not your child. Have a life outside of being a mom. It will make you less hyperfocused on his behavior.
  6. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    It's nice to know I am not alone. It hoovers I have company in this though...

    I have a lot of guilt when it comes to difficult child. Though I realize his diagnosis is inescapable due to genetics I fell as if I made things worse through a series of bad choices such as sticking with the abusive ex as long as I did or a laundry list of other things that impacted him at a young age. I feel responsible for his awful history because that was NOT his fault at all and I should have known better I could have changed things but I was too young and too stupid. that's not a fair excuse.

    I see difficult child as having the potential to be okay some day. I also see the potential for him to be not okay. While I realize that he is his own person I also see how much he struggles.

    I'm afraid.

    I'm afraid because he has a potnetially degenerative disorder. I'm afraid because he is depressed and lonely a lot. I'm afraid that one day he may become a drug addict due to his addictive behavior and impulse control issues. I'm even more afraid that as an adult he will quit his medications, get worse and possibly commit suicide. Even if all those things are by his own hands I would never forgive myself. I could never forget how I unwittingly set these events into motion.

    I know we mourn as parents for milestones our kids may never reach like college or a normal job. I'm just afraid I will be left to mourn so much more and be ridden with regret. I keep feeling like if I just try one more thing or try harder that a breakthrough is just around th bend.

    I feel helpless because I am smart enough to know better.

    It just breaks my heart to watch difficult child's titanic set sail toward frigid waters. I hate looking at pictures of him and his litte sister because I keep imaging having to tell her how much he loved her in the past tense some day when she is grown.

    I'm afraid because I sense there is nothing I can do to save my child or protect him. I would die for him if he needed me to and sometimes it feels like I already am a little bit at a time.

    As much as he tortures me on a regular basis I cannot imagine my world without him.

    I may as well be a can of rusty nails to him. His lack of empathy is astounding. Fairness is a fairytale.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I may as well be a can of rusty nails to him. His lack of empathy is astounding. Fairness is a fairytale.

    I know the feeling. You didn't ask me for advice but I'm going to give it anyway. Don't look to him for empathy. Especially not toward you. When it comes, he will be middle aged, at best. Take care of yourself for your own sake. Spend time with-your husband. Go for a walk.
    I hope you take time every single day to do something for yourself. Put on makeup. Curl your hair. Have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, extra jam on your toast. Do something selfish. Enough guilt, already! Start each day brand new. Easier said than done, but not impossible, with-a bit of practice.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Farmwife, empathy is not really something all kids get at the same time. They are self absorbed but teens in general are self absorbed. I see teens who don't have anywhere near the obstacles mine have and they are not terribly empathetic.
    I keep finding little nuggets of understanding in difficult child as he matures. I don't want to punish him for the drama we lived with. If he does his best, it's all I can expect him. There are limitations to what they may be able to do. I hope difficult child always have has a memory that I loved him even when I was angry and depressed.
    Don't think that how he is today is how he will be in 2, 5, 10 yrs. Don't think that how you are today is how you will feel in the same span of time.
    As far as not doing everything 100% right.
    I'm pretty sure I did everything as it was supposed to be done all the way down the line. Didn't make a bit of difference in difficult child's behavior. Go easy on your self. Perfection doesn't exist and even if you were, it doesn't mean it would have changed difficult child's behavior.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Regaining that fresh perspective can be difficult. I know at times I'm almost numb when it comes to my difficult child. His good days mean he has had some good moments or maybe even many good moments but always, there are the insults and the emotional abuse. Many times I want to be done, to wave the white flag, or to run away. I look it a lot like Terry. I try to remember how much younger he is than his actual years; that his insults are so much like that of a toddler's. I try to remember his disability and that he didn't ask to be this way. It's what gets me through; however, I very much understand your feelings as I often feel the same way myself. Hugs.
  10. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Thank you guys so very much for just voicing out, it means a lot. You had so many good insigths that I am spending time thinking about.

    I'm feeling more calm now. difficult child is at work and we had some family over for coffee, cookies and board games after we caught supper at difficult child's work. Pleasant and simple but really refreshing to the spirit.

    I think that aside from my personal angst the hardest thing with difficult child is the cyclic nature of his diagnosis. He isn't one speed all the time so I am constantly caught off guard by behaviors because I like to convince myself positive stuff is more than it is. Still, over the past year we have inched forward.

    I have known I need to do more for myself for a long time. I used to be spoiled like that but life has shifted from that. husband farms part time and works full time in the ag industry. That translates to seasonal shifts into high gear with a few months of him gone for often 10 to 14 hour days and then farming in his "free time" aka weekends and evenings. Our hard to come by couple hours alone on Sunday can get skipped for weeks before we may run away to walmart for diapers as a consolation date. I'm amazed we remember each others names.

    During those long days I am 2 miles outside of a village of 270. I love taking care of the kids but some days by the time husband comes home I am beat to death. He is exhausted himself so fighting the baby diva who has hit her terrible twos for a bath, making dinner etc. etc. and forget about my own shower. I feel miserable. husband is worse off than I am so no reinforcements and then difficult child decides to pull a stunt. :sad-very:

    Saturday husband took the kids to do errands for a half hour, he needed a break just as bad as I did. It was the first time I was alone in ages. I plucked my long since gone wild eyebrows and got to clip my toe nails ALL AT ONCE. I felt like I won the lottery. Something so simple was a blessing. lol Then I soaked in the tub and almost had to pinch myself. I got to shave my legs and do my make up too. It will seriously be another 6 months before I get the time to do all of those things in one glorious sitting.

    Kind of makes me laugh and cringe when I see a soccer mom whine about fitting in a manicure and hair frosting between her pilates and lunch date.

    No pity party for me. Just wish I could spoil myself. Forget about the "normal" ways to deal with stress. difficult child and baby are in the same terrible twos stage, one just has better language skills. It is actualy hysterical how much they act alike...:D

    Tomorrow husband and I go to hopefully get difficult child his "adult in training bachelor pad" a travel trailer to park in the back yard. Now he can deal with his own mess and has to check his attitude at the door if he wants to "visit"! ;) He is very excited and looking forward to planning his shopping on the grocery budget I allow him. Monster energy drinks taste on a generic kool-aid budget. ha ha ha ha ha
  11. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Farmwife and all,

    Farmwife, you were probably doing the best you could at any given moment. I think you will agree with me when you look back on all those incidents in your life.

    I recently reached a low point. I have always been a warrior mom but had found myself completely out of courage. Bone dry. Cringing in fear every five minutes. I looked up some quotes about courage on the internet that made me feel better. They did (after a while).

    Courage can't see around the corners, but goes around them anyway. (Mignon McLaughlin)

    Courage is fear holding on a minute longer. (George S. Patton)

    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill)

    Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway. (John Wayne)

    Courage is when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. Atticus Finch, "To Kill A Mockingbird."


    Courage is a word that was created to replace the phrase "F --- it, it's got to be done." (Chae Richardson)

    I listen to music that makes me feel like my true self and not anybody's mom. Jackson Browne has seen me through my latest travails. Also James Taylor and The Beatles. What songs do you like Farmwife?

    I watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy when I need a shot of courage and humanity.

    Today our librarian, whom I've known for many years, told me when she needs comfort she re-reads Lonesome Dove or The Once and Future King. I thought those were good suggestions.

    All this stuff helps with numbness too.

    Take care, HTH some, tell us your suggestions.
  12. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    I used to be a quote junkie.

    One that reminds me of courage with a side of twisted humor is from the show "Mystery Science Theater".

    "I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid... and I went ahead anyway." :laugh:

    (story of my life)
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Farmwife, I've had to skim the other responses but what I saw didn't change what I wanted to say to you.

    You ask how to change your perspective towards your difficult child - well, to do that the person you need to change is YOU.

    It's like this in so many areas of parenting a difficult child. If we want them to change their behaviour, first we have to change our own behaviour towards them. If we want our children to show respect, we first have to model that respect toward them, even if we feel resentful about it. Because someone has to be the hero, someone has to start first.

    In your case, I think you have to forgive yourself first and to respect yourself first, so he can learn that you are worthy of respect and worthy of forgiving. Then you keep modelling it for him (and in the meantime, begin to feel better about yourself and let it show) and then just wait for it to hopefully percolate through.

    Nobody said that in learning to help our kids and learning to de-fuse raging, we have to become doormats to our kids. No way. That is not it at all. If you feel resentful and a doormat, what you are doing is not working. Yes, we need to help our kids learn the right way to behave towards others, but not at our own expense. True, reacting angrily to "disrespect" achieves very little as a rule, but that doesn't mean we let them walk all over us - that resentment would show and undermine any perceived benefit. There are ways, and then there are ways... modelling the right responses is better than ignoring it and also better than yelling at the to stop shouting at us.

    To change your mindset, you need to change your mind and to also turn around your negative feelings. You feel bad about the past, you grieve the child you now believe you've never had and never will have, and it all hurts. In there you feel guilty that somehow you contributed - I don't see how you did, but you seem to feel tat weight on you.

    Perhaps as a starting point, find something of you in your life, make it your own and own it. Take up hobby or a job, and enjoy it. It is yours, it is something you do for yourself It is not only unselfish to do this, it is actively a good thing for the rest of the family too, because again you are setting an example in self-improvement and self-respect.

    Next, and perhaps the most important - catch him out doing something good. It can be a little things, but try to find one thing each day (more if you can) to genuinely praise him for. It has to be unconditional praise. And you have to mean it. It can be something like, "I am so proud of you, planning your own shopping lit like this!"
    If he SNAFU's up, then no recriminations, no "undermining. Just "better luck next time" and if he permits it, help him work out where he went wrong so he can avoid the pitfalls next time.

    He will make mistakes and he will make decisions you disagree with. The best you can do is be there as a fallback if he asks for help.

    Something that may help, is if you can stop thinking of him as your child, and start thinking of him as a housemate, as a tenant. Think how you would relate to someone who was an adult tenant, someone who as a friend of yours, moves in for a while and you have to make some allowances for, to and fro. How would you enforce the house rules with a friend who doesn't always get it right? Now think about how you relate to your son - could it be modified to bring it more into line with how you would talk to a friend in this situation? If your 'friend' is inept at doing the laundry, wouldn't you show them how to use the washing machine safely? Everything you do at this stage is heading your son towards living independently.

    One day your son will be an adult and will be making up his own mind about things. If he is still in touch with the abusive ex, he will spend time with him and learn for himself that it's not so rosy after all. If that is what it takes, then you have to let that happen. You've done your best to protect your son and to keep him safe - now it's time for him to learn self-protection.

    Go easy on yourself. It's time for you to find your own feet and forgive yourself. You are probably your own harshest critic!

  14. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Your time alone sounds wonderful. You took care of you and you socialized. Having fun and laughing are some of the best tools for survival our difficult children.
  15. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Marg - I have to say that your part of your post kind of bothered me. There is a reason though and not at all personal. I have heard you say the house mate thing before and it just felt wrong to me. Let me explain...

    I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to my ideas about parenting. I am not at all the "spare the rod punish the child" sort whatsoever, cruelty has no place in the home. I do however look back at recent decades and how people have changed, how education here is dumbing down and how kids are acting out more and more each passing day. Violence is more common and kids seem out of control. I have to wonder if the modern "pop psychology" theories are flawed in some way. Take the 1950's or before for that matter. My Mom would never dream of back talking or even saying the word shutup to her brothers in her Mothers presence. Teens in general were better behaved and grew into generally responsible adults. Sure, they had their moments of bad behavior but it was taboo so they just did less of it. I attribue it to old fashioned rules, being strict and having high expectations. Kids weren't given choices like they are now. You did what you were told, you did it without attitude and that was it.

    Now, oh boy, flash forward to now. Most teens are mouthy, lazy, obnoxious and those are their good qualities. We have shifted from good kids being the norm to good kids being the exception. Of course they exist now but they are well outnumbered. Kids are spoiled, feel entitled to everything, don't want to work for it and give teachers and parents a lot of heck. I'm not particularly impressed with the outcome of the "time out generations".

    So, back to your post. Since I am dead set against modern parenting because I don't like the results doing something like not having control in the home and having to compromise with my child bugs me. Is the idea wrong, no. I really need to put a lot of thought into it. I want to have a long term relationship with my difficult child and I want him to break away from my influence as all young adults should. I just really hate the fact that it often feels like I have to sugar coat everything and almost kiss up to get anything out of him without a fight. I don't like the idea of him thinking our home is a democracy, it isn't. I can see how your idea facilitates peaceful coexistence but I am not completely sold. I am more of the "because I said so and if you want to be treated like an adult help me pay the bills" mentality. Doesn't mean that always works but I think it is what's right.

    I wonder if there is a third option?
  16. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    My problem with the "treat them like an adult" method is that if this WAS an adult acting this way....I would file a restraining order!

    I think that a young adult needs to be able to demonstrate a bit of maturity before you can "negotiate" household expectations with them. In some cases, ours difficult children simply cannot do it....
  17. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I've had long term respites from the tweedles via Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Saying that, over the last year it has been "suggested" that I start to concentrate on me. I stopped the therapeutic parenting - my babies were using it against me. I began demanding respect because I deserve it as the parent. I have fought for & earned it. If kt or wm cannot treat me with the same level of respect & manners I show them then I take a time out.

    by the way, I love my time outs - in the garden, at my easel or piano. I've had to detach more since husband died than ever before. I have the same expectations - I rarely take what my little wonders do or say personally. It's not worth the emotional energy.

    Am I angry - you betcha? All that time lost to treatments, hosptializations, etc when we might have been spending time as a family. The reality hit me more so since husband died ~ we were never to be the white picket fence family. My twins were hard wired differently from a very early age. I had become conditioned to a level of chaos that seems unbelievable. Yet here I am....

    Gaining a fresh perspective was through the loss of husband. The regrets are mine - not my tweedles. However, the tweedles played a huge part in my loss in many areas of my life. I don't blame them ~ it's just life circumstances & besides they are busy blaming themselves.

    A fresh perspective starts each morning - sometimes it's 15 minutes at a time. Sometimes it's one minute at a time. It's worth changing your mindset to whatever is acceptable to your beliefs or what you can handle.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sometimes the problems can be aggravated by the child kicking too hard against parental authority, on principle. As with everything - take what feels useful and discard the rest. But where I found it worked, was with a child who was determined to take as much social leeway and responsibility as they could, when they weren't really capable. By changing my overt behaviour and expectation to "OK, you want to move out of home, so let me help you acquire the skills you need," they had to either work with me, or admit that they weren't ready for independence after all.

    Also, respect for other housemates is part of learning to live independently. Nobody is going to want to share house with someone who mouths off and doesn't pull their weight.

    I often found the first thing where this method was needed, was when the kid complained about the menu. My response was generally, "If you want a go, feel free. But these have to be the ground rules - it has to be affordable, we have a budget to stick to. It has to be all bought by you and cooked by you, with no waste. We can't afford waste. It also has to be something that everyone will eat. Or failing that, you have to cater for all tastes who will be present for the meal you are cooking. And the food has to be available at the usual mealtime."
    If they still want to go ahead, then I let them go. But it's a "put up or shut up" option, no complaints are permitted if they're not going to do something about it themselves. I count it a success if the child can show me that they would be capable of feeding a household within budget for a week. Once they have a go, they tend to have new respect for the difficulty of the job.

    I don't allow disrespect, but we have a different way of requiring it - I need to be able to say to my kid, "I am not disrespecting you; don't disrespect me (or your father)". Plus there are family members who don't work this way and difficult child 3 especially really resents being teased by grandma and sis-in-law, because he finds it confusing. We are constantly working on him to say to him, "Grandma does things this way because that's how it was in her day. She is too old to change. No matter the provocation, put up with it."

    We do it that way with difficult child 3, because he is keenly aware of injustice and is very resentful of what he feels is unfair treatment. If we try "because I said so," on him, it is a disaster. But if we can channel his very strong determination into his own strong sense of morality, we find he is a harsher judge of himself that anything we can impose.

    What I propose is not a recipe for anarchy; far from it. We should never be doormats for our kids. Our aim as parents is for our kids to learn to be independent, happy, functioning members of society. When you have a difficult child, you often have to find a different way of teaching them the same lessons.

    Basically, if what you're doing isn't working, then stop doing it. But when you find something that IS working, then do it more. And if that means you think my suggestions would be disastrous for you and your difficult child, then feel free to dismiss it. All I'm saying is, it worked for us. Plus friends of mine who were using the "because I said so" to control their kids, had problems that they could have avoided. My kids would tell me things those other kids were telling them about the lengths they had to go to, to do what they wanted anyway.

    But really, you are the person at the coalface of your family. If what you are doing is something you're OK with and you have confidence in it, then clearly it works for you, and who am I to say differently?

  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Something I forgot to add - even under my "housemate" system, the home is still not a democracy because the owner of the home (or the person whose name is on the lease) has to have final say and ultimate responsibility. But it is also common space and that must be respected. After all, who sets the budget? The parents need to, because they are the ones who have a better idea of how much money is coming in as well as what the expenses are. But involving the kids in this, is a step on the way to them learning how to manage for themselves.

    I'm not promoting instant consensus and equal votes, but a move towards that. How far you move towards it depends on what the child is ready for. And they should always respect the person in charge of the house, or they risk being asked to leave in favour of a housemate who is more polite, more cooperative. Of course, we can't throw our own kid out to bring in someone new, but they can still learn the need to work as a team, to cooperate, to respect others (personally as well as their property) if in turn they want the same respect and allowances.

    In this world we all need to learn to live together in harmony. Whatever works, whatever it takes. But never at the cost of our own self-esteem and self-respect. Never. We as parents set the standards of behaviour. All I'm saying, is that there are multiple ways to do this, some of them can be a bit surprising.

    What we find with difficult child 3 (and found with our other kids) is that the lesson that sinks in permanently, is the one he teaches himself. The lesson I impose is one he resents and won't accept. But when he has to face the fact that his problem is entirely his responsibility, then we have made progress at last.

  20. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Timerlady- I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how that must be for you. You helped me realize that the single most important way to spoil myself is to find my husband again in all of our chaos. I know it doesn't help you or ease your own loss but knowing what you have had to endure really made something click in my mind. In my life the thing that brought me the most joy, comfort and purpose was my marriage. Saying "was", as in that was the past and knowing my difficult child is the main source of negativity in my world and the breakdown of all familial relationships is unnaceptable. I AM willing to go to bat for my difficult child and go to great lengths to help him. However, I MUST draw the line when it comes to personal damage and unneccesary hardships for myself. I deserve a life after difficult child I don't deserve to be left in ruins as if he was a parasite that fed off of my soul. I need to come first from now on. I always thought being a good Mom meant sacrifice without complaint. I simply have no more left to give up.

    Marg- After you took the time to delve deeper into what you meant it did start to make more sense. I liked the menu analogy and can see how that makes complete sense. That would work with my difficult child if he were to complain, which he wouldn't. I know for a fact he would love to help in that way so although it isn't a "do it yourself or be quiet about how I do it" situation it is a way for him to feel as though he is contributing in an adult way. Helping that feels good for him.

    The rest makes sense too, that I deserve equal respect as a house mate as well it isn't just some concession on my part to make him quit being awful. I guess I saw it as a bribe or caving in as if it were just one extra privilige. I see now that it comes with extra ability or responsibility.

    It does make sense when I look at it like that. I think I was seeing it differently because all our difficult child's present behaviors in different ways. My difficult child is usually pretty cooperative lately which is a huge milestone. My problem is his ongoing moods that border on nasty, negative and plain dark/brooding. While I understand teens are like that to a degree I get tired of the constant tension in the house that has a way of eroding at everyone elses moods as well. My difficult child although not much for words can express his contempt very loudly through body language.

    When difficult child is miserable to be in the same room as the rest of us are forced to leave which becomes an issue because it is our house as well. We shouldn't feel compelled to lock ourselves in our room to avoid his wrath. If I send him outside or to his room he will sleep an entire day (even on our concrete porch) and not do one healthy activity unless I pursue him and hound him every 20 minutes. It gets exhaustive following him like a toddler. Some days my entire day is spent monitoring difficult child and it makes me very frustrated. It's like driving a car with no power steering, all day long I have to pull at the wheel non stop for an adjustment here and another there. it's like he flat out refuses to function without someone breathing down his back but he hates it when people do that.:mad: So I essentially get the abuse and anger because he absolutely will not carry on in an appropriate fashion and gets tired of being micro managed.

    How that applies to the house mate theory, at least as best as I can guess is this. I tell him that overseeing him is neither a fun nor easy job. (generally after he has a meltdown because I am on his back) I remind him that I don't tell him things because it is fun or I like the sound of my own voice. I mention that I have other less irritating things to do besides babysit him such as read a book, take a nap etc. I also mention that as soon as he wants to take the reins so that I don't have to anger him by being the difficult child monitor he is welcome to do so. I make it very clear that as soon as he does the basics of what he should (no perfection expected) that I will thank him profusely for being able to shut up and trouble him no more. ;)

    My difficult child is attention seeking and clingy yet he has a problem with authroity and resents being parented??!?!?!?!? Try and figure that one

    I do welcome suggestions. Honest!

    Duct tape, a gag and tranquilizers are already on the list.:laugh: