Maybe my love is conditional (?)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by auntalva, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. auntalva

    auntalva Adoptive Single Mom of 2

    Somehow in recent confrontations with my angry, temperamental difficult child I have allowed myself to become a 'victim.' I hate conflict, and tend to avoid or run away from it, and frankly, lately I've felt as if I am in a bad marriage and I wish to just escape it! However, I know that the parent-child relationship is not a marriage. I am the adult and I should be the strong one, and yet, here I am feeling like my daughter is abusing me. The level of disrespect, hatred, insults, defiance, and above all, the sneakiness, lies and manipulation coming from the child are unbearable. I understand a little independence-seeking behavior, at her age (16), but this is too much.
    I have always said that adoption is forever and that I would never 'give up' on this child, but in all honesty, I now think I would be more committed if I had given birth to her or had raised her from infancy rather than just for the last 8 of her 16 years. This thought fills me with guilt and shame. I am weak, I guess, battle-weary and exhausted (being overweight, lack of exercise and diagnosed with Sleep Apnea adds to the problem!)
    The child had been sneaking out at night to see her boyfriend, skipping several classes at school, and giving me excessive backtalk. She flew into a rage over my taking her cellphone away on weekdays because she had been running up the bill for too many minutes during peak hours. And I caught her in a few deliberate lies.
    Four days ago I put her in a shelter for troubled and runaway teens, because I was desperate for some respite. I confess that I am feeling ambivalent -- It seems like her recent hostility towards me (she was even threatening to stab me or beat me up, more than once) has deadened my love and I am afraid that all trust has gone out of the relationship. This too, disturbs me, the idea that maybe my love for her was 'conditional.'
    I'm sure that I am making mistakes. I could be more proactive (rather than reactive) in my parenting style. I guess that teenagers need to be given respect and choices, and sometimes I have been too harsh and critical. (But I often do praise her for her abilities and strengths.) Also, I suppose that I need to "set expectations" more clearly in the future; perhaps she didn't realize that her cellphone (which is her life-blood) would be taken away if she did nothing to control her minutes. That still does not excuse her behaviors. We had some family therapy sessions planned, but she refused to go at the last minute. (Only I and my 13-yo difficult child went.)
    She is trying to be conciliatory when we talk on the phone, but I am still angry over her behaviors and will not be satisfied until she takes responsibility and admits she was wrong or explicitly apologizes, which she appears unready to do. Am I expecting too much? In fact, I ended our phone call tonight by telling her I am exhausted, I need a break, and don't call me anymore. Oops! Now, she probably really does think she has been abandoned.
    I feel terrible. I thought I had courage, but this parenting of an out-of-control teen is much harder than I ever imagined it would be. I am trying to get help. Does anyone have any advice or insights they can share?
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Parenting any teen in difficult. Throw in adoption issues, mental illness, and behavioral issues and it becomes downright exhausting. I am so sorry. Has she see a psychiatrist? How is her behavior out of the home? How does she interact with your other child? I have no answers right now. I can say you have found a place that will offer tons of support and information to help you through the tough times you are experiencing.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hello and welcome!! in my humble opinion, anyone who chooses that avatar is capable of loving unconditionally. :D
  4. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I've struggled with the thoughts about unconditional love. It is so easy for me to have unconditional love for a baby, spit up, pee on me, what ever, they are still precious.

    Have a child come at you with a two by four, its impossible for me to feel all warm and fuzzy, it is impossible for me to like that child at that time....but, I still want the best for that child, I'll still require that child to go in the house...or I would search him down. I'd call for help if I thought it best and not because I am afraid of the child but because I have unconditional love for him, because I won't quit on my job to parent him to the best of my abilities. To me, that is unconditional love, occassionally minus the "like them" part.

    I do believe there are situations where the love is destroyed, I don't have any answers for that, except to understand that there must be a ton of pain all around, but I don't get the sense that you are talking about that, it seems to me that you are being too hard on yourself looking for warm feelings from your heart while being treated badly, hope youi are having a better day today.
  5. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    There were times I think I wondered that too when my difficult child 1 was about 15 yrs old. I remember wishing I had not given birth to her and feeling like I hated her. I expressed those feelings to my husband (her stepdad) but to no one else. I did not feel that way forever, just for awhile. I'm sorry for what you are going through, it is so hard.
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I had to double check that I had not written your post. We adopted Kanga when she was 5. I have/had the same feelings. In fact, just this weekend I had a therapy session with her therapist where I layed it all out there -- that there were times that I truly hated having adopted her, that we strongly considered walking away. She told me she would be shocked if we didn't have those feelings at least some of the time. The feelings are normal. They are overwhelming. I'm glad you were able to find some respite for her.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    First off welcome and hugs! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now. I agree that the feelings you are having are normal. I'm glad you found us but sorry you needed to. You are not alone! I wish I had some advice but I have just had a day from Hades and have little to offer right now. by the way, I love your avatar-it actually made me laugh which I desperately needed right now.
  8. ML

    ML Guest

    I think you'll find us a very understanding group. Your feelings sounds natural to me. It takes courage to admit to our less desirable feelings and I applaud you for your honesty. Hugs and welcome. ML
  9. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Hi & welcome.

    I have to say that I fully understand your feelings.......our difficult children & all their antics tend to deaden our feelings of love for them. Sometimes, as with my tweedles, the adoption issues have gotten in the way of bonding.

    There are days I really don't like (sometimes I think it's hate) my children. Like you, I've been to the edge & back.

    I'm glad you used shelter to find some respite. What type of help can you receive in the way of services? If respite is the only thing grab at it ~ respite is the only way I've survived the last 8 going on 9 years.

    I feel like the worlds worst mom confessing these feelings; I've done it before & will feel that way again.

    You're human ~ in need of a break. Take breaks when you can get them.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can't speak for anyone else, just myself.
    I've given birth to one child, and adopted six. Two are no longer with us due to one of them being dangerous and the other one wanting out because of the dangerous one. We adopted the kids at ages newborn, five months, two, six, seven and eleven.
    In my opinion only, the bonding between parent/child is much stronger--the same as a bio. child--when the child is an infant or very young (like my two year old). It was far harder for me and hub to both bond, reign in, or help the older adoptees. None of them worked out well. That doesn't mean it's like that for everyone, but kids who have been in the system for eight years have tons and tons of baggage--sometimes we don't even know all of it. Some are sexually abused in foster care.
    I don't blame you for your feelings and it doesn't make you a bad parent. It's harder to get a handle on a child you didn't raise from birth than to raise one from birth.
    But any difficult child is hard.
  11. robinm1922

    robinm1922 One day at a time

    I know exactly what you are saying and my difficult child (soon to be 16) is my birth child. She is very hard right now to love, she is always negative and very rarely happy. She can take a happy event and within 5 minutes ruin for me. I love her always but I can't say I always like her. Friends of mine don't get that concept. I am married for the second time and I have major concerns for the health of my marriage, my husband and difficult child are not getting along and it is slowly killing me!
    I am tired like you and have found myself asking if she weren't born to me would I love her? The answer is scary I don't know that I would. I can understand if my husband doesn't because this last year she hasn't been easy to love. I will do what I am sure you are going to do voice our feelings here and do what is best for our kids in the long run. I have let my difficult child steamroll me this past year, now I need to figure out how to become the brick wall that can't be rolled.
    I have taken my first stand, we have an IEP meeting today and my husband is coming. My difficult child demanded to know why he needed to be there. I was very clear and told her I didn't like the way she was asking, he was going to support me and no matter what she thinks he loves her. Her response was all he is going to do is give me a hard time. My final response I love my husband and he is going because I want him there end of discussion.
    Melt down here we come!
    Ok so I hijacked your post sorry! Guess I needed to get that out.
    Hang in there and know that most of us have felt the same way, it is a challenge raising teens but add all the other stuff and it increases so much! We have each other here and that in itself has been a life saver.
    I wish you luck, and sending you hugs and offer a cyber shoulder to cry on!
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Auntalva, nice to meet you.
    Funny avatar!
    Since my son was adopted when he was 2 days old, it was pretty easy to bond with-him, so I can't really address the older adoption issue. You've gotten some great feedback here already, though, on that issue.
    I think a lot of your feelings are normal and I can definitely identify with-your emotional and physical exhaustion. been there done that.
    The only thing I would change at this time, is to perhaps allow ph calls from your daughter once a wk, and you can actually script yourself after having been to the therapist. I would try to be a bit more detached. You can learn that. Really. :) It will help with-your other child, as well.
    I would keep the ph calls light and not address any blame. This could be a good time for healing on both of your parts.
    From reading your post, it does seem that your daughter was shocked that you took the ph away. Some time when you are in counseling with-her (because this home she's in isn't forever, right?) remind her in a calm, authoritative way that you are the mom and you are in charge, and the more she can demonstrate responsibility by showing up for school every day and sticking to her schedule and being respectful, the more privileges she will earn.
    I would encourage her to get a PT job and earn some of her own $ so she can pay for her own min and earn her ph back more quickly.
    Just some ideas ...
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    First of all - welcome! ...I don't think any human is ALWAYS totally 100% capable of unconditional love... I did get to pick my kids - husband made it clear on our first date (which was with the kids) that they were a package deal and they would always come first - and I love them. I have never given birth to any and honestly do not want any more (!), but as I explained to both, I love them anyway.

    That said, sometimes I want to kick the whole passel out. "Go away and figure out your own lives, you're ruining mine."

    Especially last year with difficult child 1's massive behavior issues. Now that we know the cause and she has figured it out, too, without our "help", things have gotten better. But last fall... And even into winter... I was almost at the end of my rope. I actually looked husband in the eye and told him that if someone somewhere wasn't willing to help her then I was going to have her charged with domestic violence and taken to juvie. I couldn't handle it any more. My job was my only respite. I hated going home after work. He actually agreed with me. Sort of.

    She spent some time in a youth psychiatric hospital (less than a week). Spent most of December and January suspended from school. Finally lost it at school and got arrested and sent to juvie. I was relieved that I didn't have to do it. But they only kept her one night and I was sure that wouldn't help. And it really didn't, although she had to go back to a PHP for the rest of the school year. So it was better but not good.

    And then she figured out who was causing all the conflict, and it was not me - nor was it husband or difficult child 2. It was biomom. The light came on like those at a stadium. And I am so grateful (as I told husband last night) to have a teenager instead of a raving homicidal maniac {female dog}.

    But it's taken years. husband and biomom split 7 years ago. She has played games since and it's taken a major toll on the kids. Every couple of years we get a little more... To begin, supervised visits. After 1st year, unsupervised, every other weekend & Wednesday for 3 hours. After 3rd year, 50% time (sort of) plus 75% of summer. 5th year, residential parent... And this year... FULL CUSTODY! In the 2 weeks since court the children have really made strides, too.

    So don't feel bad. I'm pretty sure my Mom (bio) wanted to throw me out on my rear a lot as a teen... And I was fairly calm!