I guess meanness can be a reaction to knowing you are different and a disappointment

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by PiscesMom, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    I just want to share. I started going to NAMI (finally!!!). It is just a friendly class, information sharing and support for people who are close to someone w a mental illness. Or for someone who has one. There is no dogma, or religiosity at all.

    What I learned is the mean behavior often is about protecting the self. They are different, they don't get the casual social support the rest of us do. They also criticize themselves terribly. They tend to have very low self esteem.

    My son is very mean. Very intolerant, scornful of anyone who is different, or anyone who uses drugs besides weed. His teachers, the police in some cases, tended to see him as a "bad kid" and wanted me to be a lot stricter, etc. (How can you be strict when your child is dangerous, and out of control?)

    This morning, I am wondering if he is angry, and acted out because he is stubborn - does have ODD, but also was a sweet kid, we used to be so close! But right when it was time to start making his own identity in the world - middle school - the world didn't make sense to him.

    I wonder what I would have done differently if I had been going to NAMI since he first started acting out. I don't know if mental illness, or not being neurotypical is obvious in the younger or mid teen years. A "bad kid" really might be frightened, angry, etc, and to get angry with them makes it worse, I think now.

    He lives with his dad. I know it is not healthy, but he just can't be with me.
  2. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    You do what you have to do. My son is arrogant and highly reactive. The world isn't going to cut him any slack so how will it help him if I do. I am empathetic to him. I try not to blame and point fingers at him. I try to be constructive and supportive but I refuse to enable his drug use or his Conduct Disorder.
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  3. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    I understand, and I am not saying that you should. I am just saying NAMI has been very helpful. I don't know what I would have done differently years ago. But I wish I had went.
  4. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    Actually...I may switch to a teen NAMI group. I think NAMI is great - but then I start ruminating about my son, who doesn't even want my help. I have to focus on my daughter, keep her on the front burner, he needs to stay on the back burner.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    NAMI helps the entire family, not just the person with the diagnosis. One of my mom's friend's helps run the local NAMI bipolar family support group. She started attending years ago when both of her children were diagnosed bipolar. She and her husband have had absolutely horrible times with their two adult children who are bipolar. They raised their grandson because his mother was always going on and off her medications, getting stable just long enough to get custody back, then going off of medications and going psychotic and trying to hurt the boy, etc... The Grandma went to NAMI to get help for her daughter, and stayed because she got help for herself. She now runs a lot of the services for NAMI in our area as a volunteer.

    What you will learn at NAMI will help everyone in your family. It will eventually even trickle down and help the mentally ill person. At least it will help you detach and help them not be codependent on you, which in the long run is best for both of you.
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  6. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    I have heard mixed reviews about NAMI but I am happy that you are getting something positive out of it.

    My Difficult Stepson sounds very much like your son. Hyper-judgmental, even of himself, but lazy as ever and unwilling to take any suggestions offered to him. He knows everything, except that he knows nothing. LBL my DS is very arrogant and reactive as well. Some of it is male adolescent bravado but some of it is about his mental illness. He got a bad hand from the genetic deck of cards and his environment multiplied the damage tenfold. PM I totally understand well-meaning (or even not so well meaning) strangers offering advice that would probably be effective for most teens, but not for a very strong and violent kid with mental illness besides. The truth is nobody understands unless they have gone through it themselves. And even then every situation is different.

    Here's to all of us doing our best one day at a time.
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  7. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    Yeah...I learn a lot, and it is nice to be around other people who have seen their dreams die. But also, it did make me think of him more, which is maybe a kind of bad for me. I don't know. I have an anxiety disorder myself, so I have to be careful.
    It is so easy for me to get caught up in How can I save him? I am the only parent there that has a child with conduct disorder. Everyone else, its depression, schizophrenia, etc. Nobody is afraid of their child, not like I am. And they are all relatively treatment compliant. My son is not. Your stepson sounds like my son, yes. My son has terribly low self esteem, and I guess it is expressed by him hating on almost everyone - every minority group, anyone who is not straight, etc, etc.
    I wonder if I am trying to see him thru the prism of mental illness - maybe he is not mentally ill, just kind of different, and not a very nice person? I don't know.
    Bad hand genetically, plus stressors, the same.
    Does he live with you? Do you "let go"? My therapist says he's safe, and asked me how you can help someone who doesn't want to be helped. He lives with his dad. If his dad dies, do I say you can't live here? He can't really fend for himself. Maybe I shouldn't even think about that, since his dad fine.
  8. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    My difficult stepson and his younger brother both live with their father, also. This was the custody arrangement agreed to by my wife and her ex husband when they divorced. They share joint custody but for a variety of reasons decided residential was best with Dad.

    My wife and her ex husband had a very high conflict divorce. There are great resentments on her ex husband's part and he has alienated the boys from my wife over many years, for his own dysfunctional and selfish reasons. He is the type who sees himself as a great guy and a rescuer, but is very passive-aggressive. Part of this extends to DS.
    His father refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of his issues and DS has never received real consequences or, to be fair, help. He has been in and out of therapy since fifth grade and it has not made much difference. He did better when he was compliant with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, but he has refused to take those for some time. I believe he is self-medicating with pot and alcohol. I found posts of his on Reddit where he bragged about his alcohol intake in particular. The details were very specific and I believed them to be true accounts of his behavior. I still do. I took them to my wife and together we showed her ex-husband. He denied it all, and told DS that "someone" was reading his posts and to be careful. So of course he no longer posts there.

    DS is very intelligent but is crippled by anxiety. I also believe he is a sociopath. In 2015 he strangled my wife in our home, which brought me to this community as I sought advice and support dealing with the situation. He was angry with her because she woke him up from a mid-day nap. My wife was injured seriously enough that she had to visit a doctor. I wanted to call the police but instead my wife and her ex husband took him to the hospital. He was in a partial hospitalization program for a few months. We asked that he be evaluated for an IEP due to our suspicion that he had an emotional disability. During the meeting he lost his temper and began screaming and swearing at my wife. He was escorted out of his own IEP meeting!

    In the end he was not eligible. After that he stopped speaking to my wife and to me for about a year. During that time his father bought him a car without our knowledge. DS began to use the car to cut school. He was failing every class and due to previous problems with failures, he was no longer on track to graduate on time. We learned from his counselor that he was talking about dropping out. We texted him and suggested online school, which prompted him to break the estrangement and reply. We did allow him to leave his high school and enroll online. We figured it was better than watching him fail everything and then drop out at 17. At present he is still enrolled online, but he is not doing his work (a lifelong pattern) and I predict he will probably drop out eventually. He sees no value in school and instead wants to work. He has a part time job as a dishwasher and that is his priority. He is looking for additional part time work and won't listen to anybody who tries to explain that a HS diploma is a MINIMUM requirement even for many menial labor jobs. His father doesn't care what he does and is also, we believe, fearful of DS because DS has attacked him physically too. DS is HUGE and can easily do a lot of damage. Father is unwilling to involve authorities so this situation will probably go on as long as his father is alive, barring a miracle.

    How do I deal with it? I avoid him. As a step-parent, and given that he does not live here, that is very easy to do. The custody agreement calls for us to have them every other weekend but that stopped happening around the time of the strangulation incident. My wife speaks to him weekly and sees him roughly monthly. Sometimes I go with and sometimes not. I keep the conversation very neutral and spend most of my time with them focusing on my other stepson who is much more pleasant and enjoyable to be around.

    If he ever becomes aggressive in my presence again I am calling the police immediately regardless of my wife's wishes.
  9. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    Wow, Culturanta. Just wow. I agree you should call the police if he aggresses.
    There is similarities - my ex keeps my son in food, shelter, and weed. He is no longer aggressive, just mean and pretty strange. We also had a high conflict divorce - thanks to my ex. We had a divorce trial. Of course that is not good for children. At the time, I was trying to survive, and the kids seemed ok, so I didn't think too much of all the drama and how it affected them. My ex also has been trashing me since, to anyone who will listen, including - especially - the kids. And I have been advised to "co-parent" with him. There is no possible way!
    I can't imagine why your stepson couldn't get sped services. Maybe they knew he'd be expensive. It is too bad.
    I am sure this is heartbreaking for your wife, beyond awful for the younger one.
    Your signature mentions how it all affected his siblings, same here.
  10. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Thanks for the understanding words, PM. It is such a comfort to come here where everybody just gets it.

    My Difficult Stepson does know that he is a disappointment. I would love to say that isn't true, that his biological family loves and accepts him regardless of what he is, and while that is technically true.....he is very loved ......and he knows it..... there have been high expectations of him from the time he was conceived. And he is highly intelligent, was in the gifted program in his elementary school, got his first F in fifth grade (Art because it "wasn't important"), started to flame out in middle school and then went into a tailspin from the moment he walked into his brick and mortar high school.

    He cares very much about what others think and wants to live up to the expectations but he cannot. I have accepted that he really cannot. The stubbornness and aggression are just as much a part of him as his anxiety.

    So I agree that his meanness, and violence, are partly triggered by the shame that he feels about being different and disappointing to himself as well as his family.

    Hope you are doing well today. You are doing the right things, detach with love, take care of yourself. Your son's destiny is his own and I've learned, in general, that the more I meddle the harder I make it for others to figure it out on their own. Check out Al-Anon, it has been very helpful for me.
  11. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    I might do that. Interesting, my son also changed in seventh grade.
    Yes, this is maybe the only place - al anon is good, but this is the only place I know of for conduct disorder.
    He ignored my friendly text messages - I guess I won't try to fix him, or even connect w him for the time being.
    My son knows he is loved, too. Maybe that is all I can do now - know he is loved, and let him live his life.
    I think that is true about meddling. Maybe he - and your son - will find their way eventually.
  12. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    So much of what you describe is Conduct Disorder and can indeed lead to the development of Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) (antisocial personality disorder), also know as being a sociopath. I see a lot of the same traits in my own son. The anger the aggression his willingness to start or get involved in altercations. As I say this he has a a good 3 day run. Hopeful and optimistic with no expectations and my detachment armour at the ready. I know that he is definitely not on any drugs bar smoking pot which he admits to. Not in my house nkt in my yard and I definitely do not condone it. I pray he gets off the drugs and allows his brain a break and to develop.
    100% you should call the authorities if he acts out again. I know how difficult this is. Been there done that.
    You are an excellent support for your wife. Take care of each other!