It really is bigger than I am

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ML, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. ML

    ML Guest

    I think as manster is approaching 12 and adolesence is in full force, the reality and noticability of his differentness is greater.

    I am fighting every day for him to get outside his comfort zone which seems to be getting smaller instead of bigger. He doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything, especially if it involves other people.

    husband is still not fully on board. When I allow manster to "win" a battle, husband gets mad at me and says I'm allowing myself to be manipulated. For instance we are playing tennis later with some friends and manster pitched a fit/meltdown about not wanting to go and begged that we allow him to do his WI fit instead since the main reason we want him to play is the exercise. I can't fight both these battles all the time. I let him manster off the hook and now husband is in a mood.

    Today I am anxiety ridden about the future and not feeling too good about the present either.

    I like to think i'm doing the best I can but maybe I should fight more and take these battles to the end despite the exhaustion they bring.

    Don't know what I'm looking for except perhaps another way of looking at this.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    What a tough situation! It sure sounds like you could use some help. What is the therapist suggesting?
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm wondering if your husband is mainly concerned about you sticking to something once you say it. If that's the case, maybe letting M off the hook with some of this before you say you expect him to do ABC, knowing he's not going to want to, would be preferable. I think I would let some of the "push" for him to exercise and get out more go for the time being. Do some CPS with M about how he can take care of his physical health along with his spritual, mental, etc. Then maybe ease up a bit- he really is at a very sensitive age and these boys suffer at least as much as girls thru it. Maybe talk to husband about this and discuss this "plan" so that when you do tell M that you expect him to do something, you don't then let him talk you out of it. The school year is starting up and you will surely have bigger issues to contend with over the next few months.

    Just a thought....
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    (I apologize if the following comes across as harsh. I have the flu, so my ability to string words together AND be tactful is impaired, to say the least. I think I might understand a little bit from Manster's perspective, so I feel the need to weigh in. Well, here goes...)

    It's important to remember that interventions, socialization practice etc. won't ever make an Aspie "normal". With adolescent hormones going crazy, a new school year to worry about, concern about his weight and possibly even about his appearance starting to spring up, Manster already has an awful lot on his mind. Asking him to socialize on top of all that might simply be too much for him.

    For me, and the other Aspies I know, socializing is like speaking a foreign language. You may be fluent, but it's still really hard work to understand the ebb and flow of the conversation around you. You have to pay attention all the time, and if you miss something, you might lose the thread entirely. It can be exhausting. If you're well rested and don't have a lot of other things on the go, it's a lot easier to devote your whole mind to the "foreign conversation" happening around you. Getting out and spending time with others might feel like that for Manster. And his capacity to deal with it is diminished by the very fact of being an adolescent, let alone anything else that's going on in his and your lives.

    I think forcing someone to endure a bad social interaction can do far more harm than letting him be withdrawn for a while. Maybe Manster needs to conserve his socializing energy for critical interactions, and other things can slide a bit until he feels more capable of coping.

    I do understand your husband's wanting to stick to your guns and be consistent, but sometimes it's also important to be flexible. Both are good lessons to be modeled.

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Is husband "on the front line" with manster? What I mean is, does your husband spend much of his time carping at you from the background while YOU handle the day to day difficult child stuff? Or is husband right there doing things, going to the tdocs, docs, schools, etc... and doing a lot of the first level interacting with manster? I know not all husband's are on that "front line" for a wide variety of reasons. If husband is on the "front lines" with you, then in my opinion his thoughs should hold quite a lot of weight, and before you say something to manster you should be sure it is something you will enforce and not give in on.

    If, on the other hand, your husband is carping but doesn't actually do a lot with manster, either in limit setting, rule enforcing, backing you up and just spending time with him, they maybe you need to consider all the time you spend on that so called front line and see if you really ARE out of line with letting manster talk you out of stuff. It is really easy to pick on problems if you are not dealing with them in any real way. Sometimes dads slide into that mode, for whatever reasons.

    Another thing to think about - are you letting yourself be talked out of a lot of stuff because it is easier? It is NOT always a bad thing, and in my opinion kids of any age need to win once in a while in discussions about stuff. But sometimes we get to a point where regardless of what we say about firmness, we are going back on a LOT of stuff we say. Then it is time to make a commitment to ourselves and our kids that we will be very careful about what we say, but once it is said we must stick to it. Not said as in a discussion where you discuss what would happen if you did this or that. More in the terms of making less commitments to go do things, but insisting on follow through for the few that are important enough to insist on.

    It calls for speaking more mindfully, which I know would be good for ME, and then making sure that if you have said something that you follow through on it. It can help kids because they know you won't commit with-o thinking it through and if you commit you will follow through. They begin to pay more attention to the words that mean NO, because they realize that YOU are also paying attention to them. Know what I mean??
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I agree 100% with Trinity. With Eeyore, we limit his 'forced socialization' to times when it is absolutely necessary. This allows him to be far more capable when he does have to interact with others. For him, just knowing that the 1 hour at the-important-event is going to be the only time he has to be social this weekend gives him the strength to get through it.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    PS- If you are referring to adolescence and puberty in general in our sons- OH YEAH!!! It is WAYYYyyyyyyyy bigger than us.... and there's no stopping the changes it will make in our difficult child's. We might be able to influence them some ( a little) by how we coach them and what we teach them, but it really is a "force" that takes over as our "boys" start down the path of finding their own identity as men. And it does appear to start out as extreme sensitivity and self-consciousness. I have heard that somewhere in the early teen years, there will also be a phase of challenging adult men- especially fathers, father figures, or male role models. Why? Apparently they believe that once they "win" that challenge, they have crossed over into manhood. So don't be shocked if at some point M is challenging husband in some way(s).
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is difficult at times. It doesn't sound like you necessarily went back on what you said if you said the tennis was for exercising and let him do Wii Fit after a discussion where he discussed his points and you agreed-sounds more like collaborative problem solving.

    In our family, husband tends to be the one to to let difficult child talk him out of things more than me. Sometimes I think too much so yet I understand where he is coming from. He doesn't want to "fight" the battles (difficult child is relentless).

    Argh-either way I know how difficult it is-sending gentle hugs your way.
  9. ML

    ML Guest

    Thanks so much. You've all given me good things to think about. Unfortunately we lost our therapist when we changed insurance and our current provider doesn't provide much in the way of MH supports. They barely understand "the spectrum". I'm flying by the seat of my pants these days. I don't know what I'd do without you.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    ML, you're still at a stage we've managed to overcome with difficult child 3, at least in part.

    Manster does need to get out more and socialise, especially doing things he likes or is good at. But I can also understand the need sometimes to back off.

    First and most important, never turn it into a confrontation. Always involve Manster in the choices. But if you don't ever say, "You MUST do this," then letting him back off isn't letting him win. ONce the thinking gets to the winning/losing stage, the war is over and you have all lost.

    difficult child 3 just came in and added his comment. "Yes, it's easy to get into habits and always do the same thing in the same place at the same time. But sometimes even I do want to be among other people and if I make the effort I do enjoy it."

    I've mentioned before, the 'trick' that SIL1 introduced while we were on holiday together in New Zealand. We were in foreign territory, with different foods to try; but difficult child 3 didn't like change too well, he wanted the same food he got at home. There we were on holiday and difficult child 3 wanted me to cook a large batch of his favourite bolognese sauce that he would LIVE on given the choice. Eating out (which you do on holidays) was a nightmare - difficult child 3 was ravenous, but his menu options were very limited.
    SIL1 introduced a game (I guess you could call it) where difficult child 3 had something available that he liked to eat (chicken nuggets for example) but we asked him to have a taste of the new food (kumara fries for example). The rule is - have a taste. Yes, you can have a glass of drink available to take the taste out of your mouth if you don't like it. No, you don't have to have the new food for your meal if you don't like it. But think of this, difficult child 3 - what if you had never tasted chocolate, or strawberry? What if you were too afraid to try it? How many years would pass, before you learned how yummy something could be?

    The next thing difficult child 3 has to do is tell us, after he's tasted it, what he thinks. Of course the initial reaction always is, "Yuk!" But you don't stop there. Its OK for him to say, "I don't like it." But he must say WHY he doesn't like it. What is it about that food that you don't like? Is it the texture? If it's the taste, what factor of the taste don't you like? Is it too salty? Too sweet? Too bitter? Too spicy? Often as he tries to describe what it is he doesn't like, difficult child 3 analyses it and realises that his instinctive reaction is talking, and not truth.

    We were in New Zealand for a month. By halfway through the trip, difficult child 3 was trying a new food at every meal. About half the time, he liked it a lot. By the end of the trip difficult child 3 was ordering a meal in a restaurant and calmly explaining to the waiter to please not give him gravy or sour cream or onions, but otherwise bring him the chosen meal unchanged. It was a huge breakthrough for us.

    Another thing you can use, a technique difficult child 3's therapist is using on him right now - the new experiences spreadsheet.
    difficult child 3 is a computer nerd, and will happily organise spreadsheets for this or that. Every year for Christmas or birthdays difficult child 3 will set up a spreadsheet of what he wants, how much it costs and where it can be found. He sets up another (password-protected!) which lists what he bought for each person and how much it cost.

    So we got him to set up a new spreadsheet for experiences. The rule from the therapist is - you must have two new entries between appointments (that's one entry per week on average). Each entry is a new experience.
    The headings are - the experience itself. difficult child 3's belief/concern about the experience ("I will be laughed at. I will be afraid. I will be sick."). Then the experience itself, now he felt at the time. Then how he felt after it was all over, and whether his expectations were real or not. You could also include a column for what he liked about the experience and what he didn't like about the experience.
    For example, we had tickets to go see "Mama Mia" on stage. difficult child 3 was NOT wanting to go, he really fought hard. But we weren't going to waste the money. However, we were also concerned that one of us would have to take him out of the theatre, which would affect our enjoyment. difficult child 3 talked it through with the therapist and explained his fears that he would be afraid, or he would be bored. We discussed what he could do in each case. We discussed what he would be afraid of and how he could handle his fear - how real would the fear be? We also noted that difficult child 3's DS helped him cope, so we let him bring it with him. We let him play it at the restaurant table (the restaurant was noisy and crowded, the DS helped difficult child 3 feel grounded and calmer). We let him play the DS before the lights went down in the theatre.

    Outcome - difficult child 3 was calmer to begin with, because he knew that if he got scared he could close his eyes and block his ears. He also knew that nothing would really hurt him. We also pre-familiarised him to the music and the story line, so he had some idea of what to expect. Because difficult child 3 was calmer, he had more chance of staying the course. As he did - the music hooked him in, it is such an exhilarating show. So when he wrote up his spreadsheet, he was able to say, "No-one of my fears were true. I loved it, I've now seen a live stage show."

    We have talked tis through with difficult child 3 and he knows he needs to have one new experience every week. He knows he must take one risk every week, a risk he has discussed with us and that we approve him taking.

    For Manster, going to tennis is one such risk. Get him to write down a list of new things to do and what his concern is (if any) about each one. You can modify this method to suit, perhaps include a category of reasons why it would be good to do whatever it is ("If I go to tennis, it means Mom & Dad get to spend time with their friends, with me too as one big family. It is good to do things as a family.")
    Also build in an escape option - if it gets too difficult for Manster, can he go sit in the car for a while? Or can he be the one to go fetch out of bound balls? Give him a job to do, or discuss with him ahead of time what his fears are and how to minimise them.

    Don't be tempted to use tis method in a less formal way - from what you describe, the situation with you, husband & Manster needs something formal like the spreadsheet. It needs to be in writing and you need to follow through. Doing it in your head will be far less satisfactory and far less effective as a result.

    What is needed, is success. The best way to have success is to set him up for success by building in escape hatches in case they're needed and pull the plug BEFORE there is a problem. Then you can look back on the afternoon at tennis and say, "We had fun for a few hours, you played two games and scored well. We left before we got too tired and we left still wanting more, so we'll organise to do this next weekend too."

    Also as difficult child 3 looks back over his spreadsheet, he can now see a large number of experiences he's got under his belt. HE can see the evidence of how scared he was (he can scarcely believe he felt that way before) and can remember how much he enjoyed the vast bulk of it. For the experiences he did not enjoy, they are now outnumbered by the good ones. And none of his worst fears ever came true. Having it in writing makes sure it always stays in perspective.

    Make putting it in writing, a condition of getting out of the activity he doesn't want to do. This time. But he has to take up the challenge. He can control the list of new activities, he can choose activities to do. For difficult child 3, watching a movie he has not seen before, is a big risk for him. it gets listed. Or reading a book he's not read before. Or writing an essay, or poem. But each time he accomplishes it then looks back at what he wrote about his fears "I can't do it, I will make it look stupid" and then sees that he succeeded and it was easier than he thought- success breeds more success and optimism.

    If tis isn't clear, let me know. We've come a long way thanks to difficult child 3's therapist and I'm happy to share as much info as you need.

  11. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Hi ML,

    I want to write lots but I have to get to bed. I want to say that when adolescence comes around and the reality and noticeability of the differences of our kids is greater -- it is really and truly terrifying. I remember awhile ago I had this tiny glimpse of what it was going to be like, but I think my subconscious protected me because I kind of shrugged it off and thought "Naw, it can't be THAT bad." But gradually my subconscious allowed me to process what was in store for me during adolescence. EEK! Honestly I think I was in shock when I realized the extent of it.

    All I can say, ML, is you will get used to it. I had a very steep learning curve but I did get used to being a parent in this time of transition. You're getting a good start - I think you made a great decision about the Wii vs. the tennis. Also, I've found that the teen years are harder for me and husband to be on the same page. I'm not sure why that is. It's hard to tell what is "normal teen stuff" and what is difficult child stuff. They really resemble each other. And remember your husband will be on a learning curve too.

    It will get better. It won't get any easier, but you'll get used to it. It has been in these years that I have finally learned the lesson of taking care of myself first. Otherwise it's just too exhausting.

    You got some great advice from the others. I like the advice, I think from Trinity, about manster needing to save his energy for other things rather than the tennis.

  12. Jena

    Jena New Member

    ML - Hey, i'm sorry i missed this..... i'm still getting used to this place it's different lol.

    i know how you feel i think the same soo often, you aren't alone. Yet dont' kid yourself your doing the best you can and it isnt' always easy. I too look towards the future, way too often think of how will this work or that with-her, how will she survive have a life etc...

    than i have to put the brakes on, deep breath and basically tell myself live in today, not tmrw or yesterday just in today.

    you can't fight every battle and win. you just can't you would be gone and buried lol. it's way too consuming. i'm sorry husband is in a mood iv'e been there too it's like you feel like your screwed if you do and screwed if you dont' scenario not fair at all.

    i dont' normally push difficult child into social situations playdate etc. if its'a group thing i will tell her she needs to go if its' a family get together. takes her 3 hours to warm up than we're leaving lol. can you make a wii schedule for him to follow as opposed to open game time?? that might help a little bit.

    just a thought have you had a medication check lately, could it be a medication side effect or is this the regular run of the mill behavior? i find their biochemical make up does change with-the influx of that wonderful hormonal surge and re evaluating medications helps around this pre puberty time for us. than again hey i want medications and cant' find a pyschiatrist for difficult child lol.

    you never want to create negativity surrounding a social interaction. i find with difficult child if i push too hard it's a negative experience and she attaches that to the overall social interaction getting out of comfort zone thing.

    ok i will pm if i can think of anything usefull,d i'm just waiting out difficult child again to go to bed.

    hoping your well and ok,,
  13. ML

    ML Guest

    It's just that he is getting to where he doesn't want to do anything. He fights the normal day to day stuff and has already awakened with a "stomach" ache for school. I have to pick the battles. Lately husband has been scheduling lots of activities with his program friends and gets irritated if I don't agree to them and will say "my parents never let me dicate the events they went to because of me"... and once again I'm at the beginning trying to convince him of the anxiety issues because he minimizes them and to him they're all power struggles that he sees we're losing and that's the reason manster is so skrwd up.

    Maybe I just need to let husband know we don't do spur of the moment in this house lol. He is always welcome to go and it mostly does. Another post for general.

    More to say but getting late for work... ML

    PS I'm still reading and re-reading these wonderful respones. They help tremendously.
  14. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    ML, I know where you are coming from. As a parent of a difficult and complicated adolescent, there was no handbook or guidelines. My difficult child was an incredible ball of emotions, rage, oppositionality and energy. It was a very, very difficult time. There were times when I feared that he had lost his toehold in reality and would have to live away from us forever. Of course, it was the fear of the unknown future and all the boogeymen that conjures up.

    In the end, every parent wants to help guide and shape their child to be the best they can be. We can offer support and suggestions but ultimately we can not control them or their lives.
    I keep nudging difficult child but I also did not force him into situations that obviously was too much for him. I keep asking myself "what does he need?". The whole exercise thing was too volatile. Eventually, if he did anything physical, even walking, I was happy. I wish my difficult child weren't heavy but it is also something I can't or won't control. Heck husband and I could afford to lose a few pounds. I threw out the whole who wins and who loses.

    I often thought maybe if I weren't so black and white, difficult child wouldn't have felt the need to fight me. I tried to be reflective of my own behavior and motivation and tried to make myself learn better parenting skills. If I "win" and lose the child, what is it I have won?
    I think we will always question ourselves and wonder if we did something different if it wouldn't have changed things. The truth is we can't cure our kids and make them less needy of help to function in the regular world. I think treating them with dignity, respect, and holding them accountable plus trying to help them to problem solve is the best we can do. I have some lines in the sand so to speak of where I won't be flexible. Physical violence or verbal disrespect is a biggie in my house because that isn't how he is treated. However, there is a lot of sarcasm and humorous ribbing. It's difficult for difficult child to do this without sometimes ending up rude. It's up to us to point out the difference between funny and hurtful. He can't see it.

    You and husband should ask yourselves why does he need to play tennis? What is the goal? Is there a way difficult child can meet that goal that appeals to him? What are the advantages and consequences if he doesn't follow through with the stated plan?
    I know my difficult child can talk the talk like a professional. It is very difficult for him to turn that into action without a step by step plan.

    You love your son. You want to be a positive influence on his life and exercise is important but ultimately he has to buy into it. It turned into a basket C for us. We were his role models and he knew the reasons why we thought he should. We provided him with equipment, time and positive feedback. It's still not one of his choices.

    Ask yourself what he needs and go forward. husband and you will have different approaches for the same goal. It's good that way. My husband tends to help buffer when I am standing firm and I buffer when husband is standing firm. I don't dismiss husband's opinion but sometimes having someone help translate what parents want a difficult child to do is a good thing. We do this with easy child too. I am far too blunt for his sensitive nature but he also counts on "my truth" as a bit of a moral compass. husband often filters what I'm saying into a way that easy child can handle. We are a team and we love our children.
  15. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I, too, understand the complexities and anxieties of adolescence. Like Fran (when I was the primary parent for seven years)
    I was the one who called a spade a spade and enforced basic guidelines. In retrospect I think I did my best. on the other hand, I did insist that he join the cross country team as a Freshman in high school because it seemed like an individual sport that would get him in contact with peers. He survived the year and earned a letter (for regular participation) but he prefers to walk alone to the sound of his different drummer. I had him join Interact at the high school and although he liked referring to the group and did participate...he didn't bond with the other kids and decided to run for President. :redface: He
    was angry when he wasn't elected to their Board. The most successful effort was a summer theater group where he
    "almost" formed some friendships. Acting gave him an opportunity to express himself via another personality. He was proud of their productions and his roles.

    The reason for all the details in this post is to share that even if you step up to the plate and try your best, sometimes our
    difficult child's are more comfortable with their own choices. in my humble opinion you hope for the best and prepare for a rollercoaster. Wish it
    was easy. Wish there was an answer. It's just darn hard work..sometimes with little reward. on the other hand my difficult child knows he has always had me at his side and that gives a sense of safety that he would not have had otherwise. Meanwhile my hair turns grayer each year. ;) Good luck. DDD
  16. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{ML}} There are a few complex issues at play here. H is not involved to the extent that you are and rather than complement one another's approaches in handling issues with Manster, you butt heads...(just like my H and I used to, em, still do at times, with difficult child/easy child). Perhaps if you were on the same page, he would have tried to see your point of view instead of berating you for 'giving in'. Are the things that are important to you concerning Manster also important to H? And vice versa?

    Another issue at play is Manster's age and temperament. Remember that you've already established patterns in the way in which you deal with one another. And then suddenly, his attitude has an extra twist called adolescence. This may or may not be the case, but are you reacting the same way you always have, or have you changed your approach? Sometimes shaking things up a bit, catching them off guard, can help them see things differently.

    I really do not think that you backed off. And furthermore, not everything has to be a battle at this stage of his development. It's okay if he chooses to not do some things and participate in others. Perhaps BEFORE an event is planned, you can discuss with him about choosing between two events, both social, but he must choose at least one where he is isolated.

    Based on your posts and the way in which you've handled things with Manster in the past, I would say that you are doing very well. You choose your battles and you go with your gut. It's all we can do, really, is trust our instincts with each and every passing moment. There have been times when I've had to confront one of my daughters (or H) and I've already mapped out my approach, what I will say, how I will say it and believing all the while that I am rational and calm. And then when I actually make that approach I may be accused of being overbearing or controlling or even ridiculous! To me, the issue may be the most important ever but to them, it's just a small blip on the radar.

    After you discussed playing tennis with Manster, he told you how he felt and why and you compromised to a degree. I see nothing wrong with that. I firmly believe that it's very important to remain flexible, especially with our difficult children.

    I really loved the way that trinity explained it - that my my difficult child to a T. We always had to plan her social calendar very carefully. Often she would bow out of birthday parties and my H would really get a little crazy as to why!!! He never ever got it - still doesn't.

    Hugs, and best of luck, hang in there.