Looking for some advice, please

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lovingmum96, May 30, 2010.

  1. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    I'm new here but could really use some advice.

    difficult child has always been "sensitive" and rigid; now she's 12, screams in my face (pupils dilated almost entirely at times). She hates me and husband (EX "helps" : "you don't have to listen to him, he's not your father). She attends religious school and is usually a "rules" girl (rigidity), but lately has been having lots of melt downs and is entirely oppositional (recent boundaries crossed are hitting mom, calling us retarded, idiots, f--- bit--).

    she hasn't been evaluated yet (EX says everything's fine at his house although we know it's not). We are stressed out from the every day difficulty of this and the increased aggression -- I am an educator responsible for lots of kids (while our religious leader told my husband this is a blessing for me (yes, it is, since the kids love me), I miss my daughter very much).

    Advice? please. I am so sad about this. EX has resisted even an evaluation and will make medications difficult. However, daily screaming matches, banging, physical intimidation and ongoing hatred of one's mother (and my husband) are not close to normal. We are loving, giving and patient (accused of "being too soft" -- etc ) but human... I don't have much of an idea of what may be going on with my daughter but she distorts things (truly believes we are doing x, w and z to her), has rapid mood swings, aggression, doesn't care about consequences much, manipulative and her pediatrician described "oppositional behavior" so at *least* ODD. Not sure what else; certainly unable to feel the love coming her way. She behaves almost exactly like EX, who is very manipulative, highly convincing, but rewrites history, blames others for everything and is physically intimidating. Oh, and he's highly successful.

    Sigh (about daughter). DS is so used to being screamed at by sister that he says "give her what she wants"... Sad, worn out. Thank you for any advice.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Can you evaluate her without him?

    The rigid part is a big red flag for Aspergers. Untreated Aspergers can lead to all the behavior you are describing and more, but medications are not the primary treatment.

    At any rate, I think you have to find a way to get her to see a neuropsychologist, even if you need to pay out of pocket. It sounds like she is going downhill. On another note, a lot of kids don't like their stepparents because they aren't their parents in their eyes. We had the same thing here. THAT is the only thing I think is normal.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  3. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    working with the pediatrician, I finally got EX to agree to an evaluation, but that's going to take several weeks to set up, so with our schedule we are probably looking at the Fall.

    Not sure about Aspbergers since she's a social butterfly (?). We tried therapy (twice -- the first time EX pulled out the kids after a month by threatening the provider because he felt that the information disclosed would be used against him in court) but since we always have to work with EX, health care providers are stuck in the middle (he's extremely manipulative and a liar who will do anything it takes to "get his kids". Lately, that has been manipulating difficult child through the phone -- ds is able to see through it more than difficult child who has simply unravelled as a result.)

    yes, it's true about the step parent thing, but husband is mild with the kids. Kids have told us in the past that EX has told them they don't have to listen because he's not their dad....I agree lots of kids don't like step parents, but they don't call them retard, f--ing id-- or various other extremely nasty comments designed to humiliate and bully. The strange thing is that she can go from 0 to blowing her top in seconds then laughing with friends on the phone (or her dad, describing how evil we are, asking her to clean her room or how she can't go to the field trip because she cussed us out (he offers to pay....)), then striding across the house just taking what she wants (because we are intimidated or avoiding another "incident"). It's just really bizarre.

    does anyone have any advice on how to deal with a child like this? people tell you that you are not disciplining her enough and yet she doesn't care about consequences anyway. She's taller than me by several inches and looks me in the eye when I tell her "you can't talk to me in that manner/have that/do that" etc and she says "I just did. What are you going to do about it?"

    it's like difficult child transformed, gradually. How do you live with/set limits with a child like this? do medications help if therapy didn't? (or both together?)

    really mourning the loss of my child, who I've lost before my own eyes. In the past, she's been remorseful of her angry outbursts but now she feels justified and doesn't "snap back" to herself. She has a distorted sense of what is happening and simply can't feel the love coming her way from me....she's always been one of those kids that could never get enough time/love/affection to feel "whole" but the past few months have been awful (coinciding with puberty -- ).

    thank you. It's sad, but helpful, to know others are experiencing similar (or worse) challenges. May God give you patience and strength.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Well, since her little brother is giving in to her to keep the peace, that's one sign that the entire family needs therapy. Everyone reacts differently when there is a difficult child around, and giving in to your daughter is adding fuel to the flames. I can't blame him, believe me, I know how much easier it is in the short term. But long-term, it makes it worse.
    So I'm wondering if you're giving in, too ... she's tall, she looks you in the eye ...
    Say, for example, she screams at you, then laughs with-her friends a moment later. When she hangs up the phone, what do you do?
    It's got to be addressed somehow.
    You've got a serious issue with-your ex horning in on everything.
    Does she ever stay with-him? Is that what you mean when you say that he claims everything is peachy at their house?
    It's hard to say what is biologically inherited and what is emulated, but it could be both in this instance.

    by the way, when you say your daughter is a social butterfly but is rigid, I wonder if she's parroting what her friends are saying or if the words and gestures she's using are really hers. I'm thinking a bit of Asperger's, too. Of course, it could be much more than that ... or Asperger's plus a mood disorder.
    Until she gets a thorough evaluation, you won't know.

    I'm sorry you have to wait until fall for an evaluation.

    I would start reading books like The Defiant Child, by Douglas Riley; Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood; The Bipolar Child, by Demitri and Janice Papolus.
  5. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Your hands are full with your difficult child. Out of curiosity where is she with her menstrual cycle? I ask because when ktbug started her periods her moods were out of control; more so than ever before. pediatrician doctor with psychiatrist's permission started her on hormones to level things out the minute kt started her periods. It helped to an extent to level things out.

    Who are your difficult children friends - like Terry I wonder if she isn't emulating her friends attitude & behaviors at home. Because she continues to "get away" with her very verbal aggressiveness/ emotional battering she's controlling your home. Giving in to an emotional bully only makes things worse.

    While waiting for your evaluation consider the books Terry suggested along with The Explosive Child (I think that's the name). Put those things into place for your difficult child. It's important for your entire family to stop this verbal aggression before it escalates. It's important for you & ex to come to terms & not use your difficult children issues to hurt each other.
    Know that I say that with all the consideration of your circumstances ~ not to criticize.

    Good luck & keep us updated, please.
  6. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    Hi Terry,

    thanks for sharing your ideas.

    I've been reading the defiant child, explosive child etc <sigh> for a number of years. DS is actually older (13, almost 6 feet). The reason we give in to difficult child, is that lately she seems to be spiraling more out of control and more violent (banding, shoving, pushing, intimidating using her size --). I've been spit on, thumped, (rarely, but more often now) but blocked from leaving the area or getting to where I want to go countless times (often followed when I want to leave the area, and even had my bedroom door lock picked once for her to gain access). For discipline I've done all kinds of things but mainly grounding or taking things away. Nothing seems to work. It used to be that she would feel some remorse, but not any more. She feels justified internally somehow.

    Screaming at me for something is practically a daily occurence. If she's not on a bad binge, she'll snap back to reality and apologize and that will be it. If not, we have a protracted battle for her to go to her room or downstairs to watch tv. The reason I found she was laughing and talking to friends (or complaining about me to her dad, which she does (he gave her the cell phone at age 8 and the court mandates I allow her to keep it -- )) was that she had threatened to jump out the window...we didn't think she was serious, but at the time she was very upset so I went to check on her. She's a button pusher and knows what makes us upset (and uses it ...)

    difficult child and ds spend long vacations with EX (1/2 summer) where he claims everything is fine (his wife moved out to a hotel after an argument with difficult child last long vacation so I hardly think that's accurate). by the way, the intimidating stuff difficult child does mirrors my EX --

    I think that perhaps I'm using rigidity in a way that in confusing since I really don't think difficult child has Aspbergers (I could be wrong though --). What I mean by ridigity is that she doesn't like change of plan and the smallest requests (unpack diswasher, do homework, move your sock) can end up her screaming. She's very social and relies on her friends a lot (she's good at organizing people but tends to want to take over). Its' really impacting our health. I'm thinking more mood disorder and ODD but honestly I don't know. It would be so much easier just to difficult child go to EX but that won't help her in the long run. At least I don't think so. She screams that she doesn't want to live with me then asks me if I registered her at her school for next year. A therapist friend, who knows difficult child but does not treat her, is concerned about her distorted perception.

    it's so hard to talk about this -- I really believe difficult child is ill in some way and it's so hard to help her now that she believes I am the enemy. As I explained, I'm an educator and whle I get lots of hugs in the day from my charges (thank God), I miss my daughter.
  7. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    Hi Linda,

    yes we have our hands full and our hands tied because of EX. difficult child just started her cycles about 4 months ago. Her friends are girls at a religious school who would never dream of acting this way and in fact tell difficult child to "be nice to your mom" if they are around (she says "you don't know her" (meaning me)).

    I think our biggest challenge right now is to get difficult child the help she needs. EX muddies the waters by claiming that there is no problem, but also by convincing difficult child and anyone that treats her that we are somehow responsible for her behavior (he also denied ds's sleep disorder which has been clinically documented). Following her lead, difficult child does as well. It seems overwhelming, seriously. It also seems somewhat like the twilight zone -- we live with her, husband has been kind and caring toward difficult child and ds, I'm a respected and well regarded educational leader and EX didn't even want to visit regularly with difficult child until she was 10 (and now, because he can use her for leverage, that's all changed).

    it's not just verbal aggression any more. It can be serious intimidation during one of her episodes (for me) and while my head says "all children do well if they can" (meaning that these kind of behaviors are indicative of inner problems that they need our help to solve) it's scary and stressful.

  8. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Thinking out loud here. Discipline, punishment, time out were words that just escalated my children. In some cases it pushed them to meltdown mode.

    I'm also offering this to you while you wait for the evaluation.

    I wrote out consequences for various behaviors & this has hung on my fridge for years (edited when necessary). Just rephrasing one word has helped in so many ways around here. It's de-escalated kt; she knows the consequence for not completing her chores or being disrespectful. Knowing ahead of time works around here.

    Just a thought for you.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    think that perhaps I'm using rigidity in a way that in confusing since I really don't think difficult child has Aspbergers (I could be wrong though --). What I mean by ridigity is that she doesn't like change of plan and the smallest requests (unpack diswasher, do homework, move your sock) can end up her screaming.

    This is my son to a "T."

    I learned yrs ago to write things down. Somehow, the sound of my voice is enough to set him off.
    Then, as Linda said, I set consequences and rewards. My son responds much better to rewards.
    In regard to lists of chores, I have him mark off each chore as it's finished, making sure the I physically check it, since his idea of complete is not my idea of complete. I told him I want him to make the check mark, though, because he is in charge. He likes being in charge. Or at least, thinking that he is.

    Just some thoughts.
  10. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    thanks I appreciate you sharing your ideas. Therapist friend says difficult child not Aspberger's because of her social nature and affect...but writing down consequences may help, thank you. It's just when I implement them get the melt downs. She completely does not acknolwedge my authority as a parent, and I'm just a little bit fed up of hearing "you must allow it." I certainly don't but there are limits, especially when consequences don't seem to matter since she's so defiant.

    It's exhausting.

    thanks for your advice.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son is the same. You can't change plans or transition activities without fair warning...he is getting help for that, but it's his natural inclination to have trouble with changes so it's a tough one...and an Aspie trait (again, not saying she has it). You say she's a social butterfly. Does she know how to socialize appropriately? One can be very friendly, but pretty clueless about socializing and still be on the spectrum.

    Also, our kids do not normally respond to conventional parenting. We usually need to try to get inside their heads and think outside the box. Often, they don't care about natural consequences or loss of privileges, or they CARE but don't change (or CAN'T change) anyway.
  12. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    sorry, I don't know what Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is :)

    yes, difficult child does socialize appropriately (interacts with others, is kind and giving, thinks about their thoughts and needs, but can be overpowering and wants her way. When she doesn't like you, kind of targets you but can be corrected by reminders of obligations to be kind (religious) ). She's constantly texting and has a good circle of friends and her bff she's had for almost a decade.

    difficult child I think cares, but is unable to control herself when on the route to being angry. Once she is angry she completely melts down and doesn't care about anything. But in the past few months, coinciding with her growth spurt, she's become vindicitve and bullying, primarily to me, and recently this has spilled over to husband. And after, she is completely convinced that she reacted appropriately by calling us names or acting threateningly. It's very bizarre.
  13. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I don't have much advice. My younger child tends to be verbally abusive when he feels like he is being criticized. For him we do seem to get better results when we write down a list of what he has to do before he gets privileges. Then he checks it off. At least it seems to reduce the arguing.

    When you say that the court has mandated the cellphone, have they mandated that she have it on her person all the time? I am thinking that perhaps you could require her to check it when she comes home and get it for an hour in the evening. Or perhaps you could find out if she could have it but be limited to 3 or 4 numbers to call (not her friends?). That way she could still call her dad.

    Seems to me that the real crux of the problem is with your ex and how that makes everything so difficult to negotiate. What are the options if the evaluation recommends medications?

    Finally I am just wondering whether there is a long standing pattern and it has just escalated or whether this is pretty new behavior --in which case it could be the combination of hormones and the whole adolescent thing topped off with a very difficult relationship with her dad.

    I'm sorry, I know what it is like to be on the end of verbal abuse day in and day out. We wouldn't put up with it from our spouses, and it is terrible to have to put up with it from our kids.
    I am also thinking that it might be interesting to see if you could get your husband to take little videos of her yelling at you to show in the evaluation. When we tried to do that with my son he went totally ballistic so it probably has to be done discreetly.
  14. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Another thought. I know how hard it would be to let your daughter go live with her dad. But from what you describe, it is ruining your mental health, not helping your son, and I can imagine it not helping your marriage. Your ex's wife may not want it. but it seems like the only leverage you have at this point. It seems like your daughter needs a big wake up call. I am betting that within a certain period of time she would be back with you and perhaps yo would have greater bargaining power. Perhaps in the long run it would be better off if the alternative is no therapy or medications because of resistance from ex.

    Also-- I am not an expert in divorce law by any means. But when children get to be a certain age, don't they get more freedom to choose? Is there any hope of getting a guardian at litem appointed for her that would mandate evaluation and treatment? Have you looked into what your legal options are?

    It is hard enough to deal with our child difficult children much less our spouse difficult children. Let us know what happens.
  15. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    we've worked with the list idea before and yes, it does seem to work better. The phone was given to the kids by their dad when ds was 7 but he kept losing it (not much of a surprise), so he gave it to difficult child when she was older, supposedly so their dad could reach them at any time (who called them once a week ... but I guess the house phone couldn't be used for this purpose ...?). Basically I have no control over the phone and difficult child uses it to threaten us ("I'm calling my dad" -- ridiculous court system here, and entirely my mistake not to describe a decade of abuse -- as a professional, just wanted to forget it. Big mistake. )

    Yes, you are correct, the ex is the true problem in getting the help or in managing the situation. However, if she is evaluated and the psychiatric. thinks medications will help, I'll just have to take it to court so she can get the help she needs. She's always been a challenge, but lately it's intolerable really. Seriously.

    we've tried recording her (audio) and taking pictures (and yes, it makes her ballistic too) but I agree, we need to find a way to have some visual evidence.

    thank you for your kindness.
  16. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    Yes, you are absolutely right about allowing difficult child to go live with her dad; the only reason we (thanks to husband, who has a grown child with special needs) are hanging on. We are sure from the level of aggression that difficult child has something going on that would not be treated if she lived with her dad, which would lead to all sorts of repercussions later in life.

    If she goes to him though, it's not likely she will be back. He's not much into truth (insists she is fine with him, and literally just makes up stuff which the overwhelmed court folks can't/won't sort through), plus he earns something like $400 k a year (tons more than us). For years he controlled my finances by inflating legal bills until finally I just said I'm not having legal representation -- didn't do any good anyway (once our judge made me sign a completely blank passport application in open court because claimed I wouldn't cooperate). After that, and a completely ineffective parenting facilitator ($$$$$$), I decided the legal route's not the way to go. My seasoned attorney said this is the worst case she's seen. Sigh. Can't do much with someone that's really not interested in resolving the issues, which is what my lawyer said.

    sadly, difficult child is acting just like ex spouse difficult child. We are trying our best to hang in there until she is evaluated. We are sure he had/has stuff going on and that apparent difficult child has too. She will have a lifetime of suffering if we can't put her on a path to healing and this is our last big effort to find out what's going on (it's always fraught with tension/ problems dealing with ex.....for goodness sake, what's the problem with just getting an evaluation?????) . If we are not able to help her though, it's time to let her go. But not quite yet.

    thanks. It really helps --
  17. idohope

    idohope Member

    Hugs to you. She sounds so much like my difficult child. "You can't make me" is what I hear over and over. And the verbal abuse (you stupid jerk; f'ing this and that) has escalated to pushing and hitting. When she rages she follows me and I can not get away from her. And the rigidity is my difficult child as well. Yet she is also very dependent on me. We have mostly given up on consequences, which I know is not right, but imposing them would lead to such a physical battle I am not sure how to do it. I am not divorced but husband is in denial. He recently agreed to have her see a psychiatrist but has now said he will refuse to give her medications. So I really feel for you.

    One thing that a prior therapist had us do was PCIT or parent child interactive therapy or play. You might want to google it. We did it as play when she was younger and now (since difficult child) is a great athlete, I have asked her to lead me in stretching or conditioning every day. It is a time (15 mins) each day that she leads and I follow and compliment her. We have seen improvements in the past when doing this. It can break the cycle of every day being about negative behavior. I think my difficult child will need medications, along with therapy (which she now refuses) to over come her issues but the PCIT can be a small piece along the way.

    I hope you are able to get the evaluation.
  18. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry you're going through this. Both of my difficult children had similar reactions when in their teens, particularly to the word "NO." They are both bipolar. Their dad was a manipulator too, so I can certainly empathize there.

    The only other thing I can suggest is that if she becomes physically violent with you, or threatens to jump out a window again, call 911 and request a crisis evaluation. It's possible you could at least get an initial diagnosis that way, if she's committed for a temporary psychiatric hold. It will of course open a huge can of worms with the ex (been there done that), but it's an option and may open some doors, depending on your locality. If she is becoming increasingly violent, it may be necessary.
  19. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    thanks for the hugs, which I really need. Last night difficult child kept us up until 12:30 a.m. (screaming until 11:30 a.m.) ; husband had to stay home from work, ds begged his sister to let him sleep and I slept with my door locked and had to work on about 4 hours sleep. I made some calls this a.m. and we are going to have an initial evaluation next week (emergency evaluation). The intake sw told me to call the psychiatric ER if that happens again, at least for advice. So sad. Can't believe this is happening to us and difficult child but I hope this will be a way to get her some help. If she wants to live with ex, fair enough, but not under these circumstances. Poor kid, trapped in some kind of hell. Yes, she follows me around too and I remember eating in the bathroom since it's the only room I can lock the door (that she doesn't pick). If my ex refuses medications, I'll take him to court. We are not medical experts and I won't allow him to deny her the help she needs (largely because of him).

    thanks for the idea of the play therapy :) Today we did retail therapy which always works. I didn't impose any consequences because frankly I think she will erupt any time now and I think that I just need to concentrate on de escalating the situtation. She will be really mad with me when we go for the evaluation but since things are escalating I would really feel negligent if I wasn't able to do something. She doesn't really seem tuned into the level of her behavior and "forgets" the swearing, threatening etc which must have something to do with what ever is going on with her. So I'm seeking advice from a therapist for husband and I (how to handle the situation best) and thank good ness we have an initial evaluation.

    I am sorry you have this situation too -- I see your difficult child is 11, and ours in 12. The severity really escalated with the onset of her periods in the last 6 months to the point where it simply has to be addressed (the sw said "sounds like you are frightened of difficult child" and I said "yes" ....truthfully). Children do well if they can and while it's so hard to remember that as a parent when difficult child is pushing the buttons, it's so much easier when the kids are not yours (I never get "angry" with the kids at school -- just a problem to be fixed, so different when it's at home!).

    thank you and good luck
  20. lovingmum96

    lovingmum96 Guest

    thanks for the advice. I had to make some calls today since we were up until late (12:30 a.m.) with difficult child ...... all because I said "no, you are not going to wash your uniform now (10 p.m.) I'll wash it tomorrow a.m.").....Sigh. What is been there done that? I thought about calling the psychiatric ER but didn't really know if I should. Intake sw at the psychiatrist said if it happens again, I should (at least to ask whether it's time to try to bring her in) so now I have some context. I wonder if difficult child is bipolar....I spoke with a therapist today with whom I've had various discussions about ex, and she asked me today (when I told her that difficult child reminds me of ex's behaviors, which is why I think he is in big time denial...) and I said I thought he (she) may be bipolar. She thought that may be a direction to look into too. But then again, dear friend, who knows something about ADHD says it might be that too.

    Not knowing much about what is going on makes it difficult to try to solve the issue. Hopefully we'll have some answers soon. Thank you --