I'm going to ask some very uncomfortable questions-

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by zba189, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    Please forgive me tonight, these questions are weighing heavy on my mind. I know that these are purely opinion and each person will have a different viewpoint depending on where they are at in their journey but would you please consider these and give me your advice:

    After checking my difficult child into the psychiatric hospital again on Tuesday, I'm very down and sad.

    What do you do when you're not sure if you can live your life like this for the next some odd years?

    How do you triage a situation? What I mean is what do you do when you see that your difficult child is damaging all the relationships around you? Who do you save and at what cost?

    Do you change the core of who you are to save your difficult child when you're not sure he wants to be saved or even understands what that means?

    I love my difficult child, but I also love his older brother and his little sister. I love my husband, I need him. My problem is that difficult child would be more stable in a home where it was just a one on one situation and that's not possible with me. difficult child thrives in a hospital setting, he is happy there. He is not happy at home. He rallies and fights very hard to be stable when he's here but it's exhausting to see him fight so hard and it's exhausting to help him fight that fight.

    I'm slowly realizing that when people say, "it'll be alright, it'll be okay", maybe that my idea of what is okay is not the reality for my difficult child and that breaks my heart.
    Lasted edited by : Dec 19, 2010
  2. Frazzledmom

    Frazzledmom Guest

    I am not where you are but I've certainly asked myself the same questions recently. You've got to wonder just how much someone could take and how do you sacrifice other relationships? I spoke recently with someone who relinquished a nine-year-old ten years ago and seems to have weathered the storm but of course, continues to struggle. I like to think that somehow I'll just know when I can't give anymore and I'll go to saving my other son and my relationship with my husband. Of course that's what I like to think but the reality is probably really different. For me I can't let go of the "what if's" and I think that's what I need to do to be more effective as a mom. No answers tonight, that's for sure.
  3. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    Oh honey so sorry you're feeling down. My initial response to your 1st ? was "eat chocolate" which isn't even a joke as my 100 extra pounds can attest to.

    I have two difficult child's and X aka Y was an adult difficult child, which I finally realized he wasn't my "gift" to bare. difficult child I has left the home and is struggling, and difficult child II continues to struggle. There are days where I literally here the "what about me, it isn't fair" song playing on a loop through my head.

    Based on the fact that you said you can see difficult child trying when he's home, that makes me feel hopeful for you. What is your H's stance on difficult child? Is he supportive?
  4. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    My husband is amazing and I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression- I'm not doing this alone by any means. My husband and I are also blessed with supportive parents on both sides, sisters and brothers on both sides that would do anything to help. But, I'm difficult child's security blanket. He will and does suck me dry. I need to create stronger boundaries with him. It's just hard to sit in a meeting with yet another DR. who says, "difficult child is doing wonderful here, we aren't seeing those behaviors here, it might be time to look at somewhere and something else for difficult child". And not feel sad and not begin to think that what might be best for difficult child is not what we thought would be best 7 years ago when his sweet birthmom placed him in our arms.
  5. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I have never had to put difficult child in a hospital, but I have to say that I have thought some of the very same thoughts that you are thinking. Sometimes I say to myself, "Okay. when is enough?" I have said to husband many times that I can't wait for difficult child to go away to college, and I say "go away" because I just can't imagine him going to college and living here at home. I think by that point I will need a break, and so will the rest of the family. I have also said to husband that once difficult child finishes college he can not come back here to live. If he is still behaving the way he is now, it just won't work and I will not have it. I do everything that I can to protect easy child from difficult child's rants and rages, but I can see that it's been very hard on him. He knows that his brother is very mean to everyone here in the house and he has said on more than on occasion that he wishes he could live with his cousins so he doesn't have to listen to difficult child screaming. It just about breaks my heart to hear that, because I think if I ever lose easy child I would be devestated.

    I think you will know when it will be time to save yourself and the other people in the family. But if you don't bring your difficult child home, where will he go? Who would raise him? It's very hard when he displays certain behaviors at home, but not in other places. I have told difficult child's teachers what he's like at home and they look at me like I have two heads and am from Mars. They don't see that side of him so they can not understand how truly diffucult it is to parent him. And when you are sitting there asking, or even begging, for help and the answer is that they don't see what you are describing you sort of feel like you are adrift out there somewhere. I have had that happen to me, too, and that was how I felt. Alone. Adrift. Left to figure it out for myself, but if I could do that I wouldn't have come asking for help, now would I?

    I don't have any answers for you. While I have never been in your shoes, I have felt some of the same things. It's hard because this is your child that you are talking about. The child that you are supposed to love unconditionally, but when he behaves in ways that are destructive to everyone around him that love is tested, sometimes daily. I have felt more guilt over the negative feelings that I have had for difficult child than I have over anything else in my life. It is very depressing because it's not really what we signed up for when we decided to have kids. But it is our life.

  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I am looking at this issue from the other side of the time line. There were many a time when I wondered how I was going to meet difficult child's needs and parent him to be the most independent person he was capable of being. In he years of early puberty I just wondered how we would keep him from being institutionalized for the rest of his life.
    He was at a time, in a very structured boarding type program. It stopped his downward spiral. It's not a cure. It's about function.
    At 26, it's still work to help difficult child be the man he wants to be. He is a work in progress. I believe if I push off because he is an adult, he would revert to being an unkept, unfocused, unmotivated and dysfunctional. He absolutely needs structure without giving up independence and personal responsibility. There is no perfect environment
    that I can see.
    I still wonder if I can continue this for the rest of my life but the alternatives are something I'm not able to live with.
    I can also run the risk of being co dependent and I really, really, don't want to become that person who has lived to save her child. I want parenting to be part of my life and not my whole life.
    It's very difficult to see a 7yr old difficult child and wonder about what you can survive and what you can't. You just get up each morning and try again and try to do better.
  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Have you considered that the best environment for him would be a residential treatment center?

    It is not on you to make him 'do better' at home. It might not even be possible for this child. And that is OK. Accepting that he might not be what you thought he would be 7 years ago.....well that is most parents reality. I am sure I am not what my mom dreamed I would be when she was pregnant either. Letting go of those thoughts is part of normal parenting. Us warrior moms have a harsher reality than most. We not only let go of the thoughts, but we lower our expentations so far that it is exhausting.

    Seriously, think out of the box and consider what is truly best for difficult child. It may not be in your home. And that is OK. It will be what is best for him.

    Imagine you feel so stuck in the norm of things that you force him to live in a situation where he can not possibly grow - what will happen? What if he has to be a 35 year old man that realizes he sucked the life right out of his mom and ruined her life. You don't want him living with that on his shoulders forever, either.
  8. I have a few thoughts here. I hope I don't offend with my bluntness -- I don't always manage to get e-mail to sound as "soft" as I'd like.

    I went back to read your posts in one block and am left with some vague uneasiness about your psychiatrist and some of the things you've been told. Others have questioned them, too, such as the lack of belief in the NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) diagnosis or how aggressive behavior was supposed to be gone "immediately" after starting a new drug. Since you've seen other professionals as well, you do have some other data points, but I have to question if you are really getting the best advice. Perhaps you have a lot of faith in this person, but you may ask the neuropsychologist people about some other options.

    The other thing that really struck me was your statement "But, I'm difficult child's security blanket. He will and does suck me dry. I need to create stronger boundaries with him." Coupling this with another professional's opinion (from another post) that you were "too emotionally involved" with your son does make me wonder if you couldn't benefit from a therapist of your own to help you sort through your feelings and options. A good therapist can really help you identify the issues that you can control and serve as a check on your view of reality. Of course a parent is deeply emotionally involved with her child but perhaps the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) was picking up on something. Your child is suffering; of course you are going to have a lot of emotion investing in helping him and protecting him. But maybe you're losing a little of your sense of identity and need some help in re-establishing those boundaries between you and him. Then you can be more effective in dealing with him and more objective about the things you can't do.

    I sympathize with your struggles on the medication/diagnosis carousel. My son is Mood Disorder - not otherwise specified for insurance reasons as well. His psychiatrist freely states there isn't currently a good diagnosis for people like my son and that this is a failing of child psychology at this point in time. The label isn't the child. If the label gets you the services you need and want, great. But it's still not the child and it may not be right. We went through many medications to find one that worked for my son. When he was four, he could truly rage. If it weren't for Lamictal, my house probably would have been destroyed by now. Risperdal was a flipping nightmare for us. Abilify did us no favors but didn't make me want to open a vein like the Risperdal weeks did. Psychotropic drugs for a child are a high-stakes form of roulette, but that's the state of medicine today. It can take a while to find the right mix.

    Finally, the tool that worked for me when I ran out of other ones was telling myself over and over, He didn't ask to be this way. No one would ask to be born with this brain chemistry. He didn't choose it. This helped me separate the currently infuriating behavior with who my son actually is. Yes, I do feel significant responsibility -- he got the brain chemistry directly from me, after all -- but my little mantra did help me keep a little perspective on him.

    So, for whatever that was worth. Keep what you like, toss the rest. Best of luck to you.
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Have you looked into options that lie in between the home and Residential Treatment Center (RTC), such as therapeutic foster care, day treatment, and respite?
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I think most of us have felt and thought what you are going through right now.

    My son has been in the psychiatric hospital and did very well with-their structure.

    They introduced him to clonidine, and I have to say, between regular sleep and that medication, it was the first time I'd seen difficult child smile in yrs. It was like a miracle. However, if he doesn't get sleep, and/or eats wheat, all the clonidine in the world won't help.

    I still have hopes of an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or boarding school for difficult child in HS. Frankly, just daydreaming about it keeps me sane. {blush}

    In the meantime, over the yrs, I have implemented many changes.

    1) easy child moved out to live with-a friend for 6 mo's. It was socially embarrassing but necessary for her mental health.
    2) We focused on a routine for difficult child.
    3) I hired tutors and also took difficult child outside the house for tutoring. I was driving everywhere with-him but I could see progress. 1-on-1 with-a pro was vital.
    4) We did therapy every wk when we were in crisis, and cut back to every 2 wks when we were calmer.
    5) I go to my own therapist (but haven't gone lately because I can't sit down with-this sciatica).
    6) I started taking medications, which was very hard ... I wanted to think I was SuperWoman, but a friend, who has a son who is autistic and nonverbal, came into the house one a.m. when difficult child refused to get into her van, and she watched us in action. She told me not to engage him, and to get on medications, "Do whatever it takes," she said. She also told me that her husband spends way more time with-their difficult child because "he's better with-him." :) Hint.
    7) I made sure that my husband was on the same page with-therapy and with-spending time with-difficult child. That took yrs. Still not perfect, but better.
    8) I went to Al Anon to learn more about detachment, which I was also working on with-my therapist.
    9) I followed through on rules with-difficult child no matter how huge his meltdowns; he finally realized I was more stubborn than he. :)
    10) I installed locks everywhere. (Partially successful.)
    11) I changed psychiatrists for difficult child ... an excellent decision, based on lack of performance, and my Mommy Gut.
    12) I totally lowered my expectations when he was asked to leave 2 private schools 2 yrs in a row ... and he loves public school!
    13) I put him in sports ... and took him out of sports :(
    14) I have engaged several friends and colleagues to help out; no more hiding under a rock and pretending to be The Perfect Family.
    15) I have disengaged from toxic friends, or even friends who don't have children and who "don't get it." I just don't have the time right now.
    16) I studied the notes on this board, and took some advice ... and ignored some, too. ;) I also had to convince my husband that this board was necessary and vital and not just a daytime soap opera (see other thread about wanting to maim and murder husbands ;))

    Hope you get some ideas here!
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I will be perfectly honest, I think my son did much better in secure settings than he did in the unstructured home life. I know he did. In the ideal world, he would have been able to have gone into the military and I think he would have thrived under their structure. It couldnt happen though. He also did quite well in jail. Go figure.

    We were lucky I guess in that our difficult child was the youngest. Yours is the middle child.

    Do I think a family should sacrifice all just to save one? No. I cant tell you what to do. There are many possibilities out there. Maybe you could get him into some long term placement such as Timer Lady has WM in. Sometimes you just have to be families of different addresses.
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Are you asking about treatment options? Or disrupting the adoption?
  13. zba189

    zba189 Guest

    Thank you so much for all your ideas- here is what we have decided to do.

    difficult child will be entering day treatment (again) and then at the first of the year he will be doing an in home behavioral treatment program with a therapist who will be coming for 10 hours a week for six weeks along with the day treatment. If at the end of that program, difficult child is not functioning better then the home program will help with a theraputic foster care placement. If difficult child is doing better, the in home program will be available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for a year for any help.
  14. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    zba-Sounds like you have a plan in place! As you can tell you are not alone in asking those questions. They are questions I often ask myself because I know difficult child has had such an impact on easy child/difficult child. Sending gentle hugs your way.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I didn't get to put in my or before, so I'm coming in now able to piggyback on everyone else. To a small extent, I will summarise a little, so to you others - if I seem to be stealing your own ideas, take it as a compliment. If I fail to mention what someone else did, it's still worth considering; it's just not where I'm looking right now.

    OK, first huge point - you and your child are very tightly connected. He has anxiety issues and other mood disorder issues, and sees you as the only help. That is a huge burden on you, and is also taking away from him, the chance to learn some self-management. I know he's only 7, but there will be some things he can begin to learn. You and he do need to have boundaries. But you can't do it all right away, you have years ahead of you with him still seeing you as the solution to everything, then getting angry with you when he still has difficulties. So in everything you do, learn to make progress slowly, piecemeal, and don't try to do too much at once. Too great a change will cause more problems - the anxiety is where it will manifest, and this can seem to us to be raging, to be out of control temper, violence, rudeness, intolerance - you name it. But the root of it is anxiety. Panic, if you will. Think of his anxiety as panic, and it might make it easier for you to know what to do for him.

    Second huge point - as I was beginning to say in the previous paragraph, you can't fix it all overnight. And if his brain simply isn't yet capable of doing what you want him to do, you won't be able to do a thing in that direction. No vast amount of motivation and therapy will work, if the person just can't do it. Yet. Example - child with broken leg. You need to wait until the plaster cast comes off, before you teach the child how to swim in a competitive relay medley. The child could be highly motivated; you could be paying the coach huge sums of money; you could cajole, use threats, offer bribes - it is simply a physical impossibility and therefore no amount of motivation will give you compliance.
    Similarly, a child who has serious anxiety coupled with impulse control issues, is often WANTING to behave, can go through the steps with a therapist and say, "If I get upset, I will do X instead of raging,." but in the stress of the moment it all flies out the window. It's not lack of motivation, it is lack of capability. At that time. It does come, but it does take longer.

    Third point - the more you pressure a child to perform, when he is not capable, the worse the anxiety will be and therefore the worse will be the very problems you are trying to correct.

    There are still moments when I catch myself dreaming what life would have been like if I had normal kids. This time of the year, when we get the annual Christmas brag from friends and relatives about how little Johnnie has almost finished his Masters degree in Cybernetics, or young Sarah just got Dux of the school but was too busy with her social whirl of very nice friends, to bring the award home to show grandma when she visited last week from her palatial mansion in the Bahamas - that is when I look at my kid who struggled this last year to scrape through school despite having a very high IQ; a kid whose obsession with computer games fills the house despite our efforts to involve him in other things; a kid who finds solace and comfort from anxiety in these games, so when we pull him away from them, he has more panic attacks - this is our normal and I have to ignore the brag letters and concentrate on the now and here in our family. The reality of what is.

    People tell us we have done wonders with our kids. Maybe they don't see how far we still have to go, even with our two now-adult difficult children. I'm considering removing the easy child tag from easy child 2/difficult child 2 - her anxiety seems to be getting worse, when we last saw her I was horrified that her legs were covered in spots from her picking at her skin. Trying to live independently of us, as a household of two just her and her husband, is stressful and I am scared she is not coping. I can't count on her husband to have the same understanding, the same ability to get her help, that I have - he's just a kid himself, and has his own issues. He's a lovely guy, but he's young and inexperienced. Plus she can be difficult, as I suspect he has already learned.

    difficult child 3 - when I look back to where we have come from, I am amazed. He really is doing well, but I have to keep reminding myself to not let my expectations for him get out of control. At his school presentation day about ten days ago, a classmate of his (who is now a year ahead - difficult child 3 is now studying at half-pace) said to me, "difficult child 3 is a lot more distractible these days, isn't he?" This friend (who does not have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), he has ADHD which is now almost completely compensated for with medication) cares about his friend but is very aware that difficult child 3 can't keep up and really struggles. Friend was talking to me as an equal, and to difficult child 3 as a little boy. Sad, but that is life.

    I know I can't turn my Pinocchio into a real live little boy. Not today. I have to accept he is still a wooden puppet, who desperately WANTS to be a real live boy and who is working towards that goal.

    In the meantime - we support him, care for him, actively work to reduce his anxiety (and in so doing, teach him how to manage it himself) and guard against woodworm.

    I don't know if I have said this to you before; I know I have said it to a couple of others. But I think you need to have a working hypothesis of autism, for your son. It would explain so very much - a child who knows he is different but who wants to be like everyone else, is going to be depressed. If you had your right arm cut off by an axe-wielding madman and were given no medical attention (other than stopping you form bleeding to death) you would also be depressed. And probably very angry. Also very nervous every time someone comes near you with an edged weapon...

    You can't make this child normal. No therapist can, no drug can. But you can bet that somewhere in there, he wants to fit in and is desperately trying to find a way. His way is not going to be good, because he's only a kid. He might get it right sometimes, then 'fall off the wagon' at other times. He's scared, angry, anxious, and very sad at being different and having to struggle. And you, so connected to him - you feel his pain but you're also the meat in the sandwich, you're between him and the others in the family who are also requiring things from you.

    I'm not saying he can never be helped - far from it. But it won't happen by trying to make it happen.

    difficult child 3 had a "Behaviour Team" at his school, working intensively with him to teach him how to behave more appropriately. It failed - not because they were incompetent, not because difficult child 3 was non-compliant, but because he simply was not yet capable of taking those required behaviours on board in the heat of the moment.

    A baby who is learning to walk, needs to be protected from sharp table edges and flights of stairs. In the same way, a child who has behaviour problems and anxiety issues needs to be protected from social situations which are likely to be dangerous for him. Over time, he will learn how to be safer.

    And that is the final point - time will help. Give him time. And give yourself time.

    In the meantime - Ross Greene helps with everything else. "Explosive Child" is very much indicated in your situation.

    Hang in there, Christmas is an even harder time for most, because of all the other families seeming so very happy, and so very normal. Trust me - they're not, it's all a front!

  16. Jena

    Jena New Member


    sooo late to this. I know an older couple, by older I mean he's about 75 shes about the same. really sweet and friends of my family. their oldest daughter who is my age has bipolar. they wake her each day for work, help her with her clothing choices, make appointments for her cook her food etc. now this is the extreme. yet point is they have no life anymore. Their entire life revolved around their daughter. They never cut the cord at any point and said ok i've done right by you, i've brought you to the doctor's and i've given you the medications, and i've done this that and the other time for you to stand on your own two feet.

    in reality everyone has a version of "normalcy", or functionality I think. It all depends on who you are, what your goals are and that drive you have to make them a reality. I think and I often have sat pondering same questions yet mine is 11 and i'm starting early......... that i've done this that and the other, so now it's time for you to stand up, self advocate for yourself. yup it's sad our kids have chemical imbalances issues we couldnt' see from the great picture or sono we got while pregnant there are no blood tests, its all perfectly grey matter and grey sucks.

    Yet i guess in any life it's all about our boundaries, where they are, where we should put them. I"m sure i'm not helping you with all this junk lol. yet i guess it also depends on their age. for me 11 is too young to let go totally. doctor's at hospital she was at suggested i do so and put her in a home. i said no way!! i wasn't ready at all for that, draw boundaries best you can. i get it easier said than done. make time for you and husband if it kills difficult child. if you two are ok the house will be happier overall. i know unfortunately from experience how no time can lead to a nightmarish marriage.

  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a good plan, zba! Let us know how it proceeds. I think it sounds good.