Need some Help, sympathy, or perspective- long

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tessaturtle, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. tessaturtle

    tessaturtle New Member

    SOrry this will be so long. I had it a LONG time ago with-difficult child's emotional and verbal abuse, but as many of us here know, its not like you can just get up and walk away.

    Earlier this month, SO and I had to meet with-difficult child's therapist for the start of her once monthly sessions with the parents of difficult child (bio mom in CT and difficult child is with-us full time). I was all for it because I am/was willing to do whatever to help difficult child. Well, my first reaction during the session and briefly after it, was "wow that felt like an abush on me!"

    The therapist's theory of why difficult child treats me so horribly (now mind you, he is nasty and controlling to his mother, his sister, and our good friend's girlfriend when she was up visiting), is that difficult child sees me as the enforcer of rules. She asked us if besides the buying a new house (he had always lived in small apartments being shuttled back and forth), moving in with us full time, and then his mom moving so far away, was there anything else we could think of that was a change for him. WHen we answered no, she asked us if he to adjust to more rules in the house and how did we go about setting the rules. SO agreed with-me when I answered that any rule that may be in place at our house is agreed on by both of us (obviously, how could it work otherwise!) I also pointed out that some of the rules are new to them for many reasons such as they have never had their own true bedrooms to take care of before.

    difficult child's therapist then asks if I enforce the rules more often then SO. I tried to explain I am the one to get them ready in the morning, I am the one who picks them up and then starts dinner at night, I am the one that is watching them on Saturdays when SO works, I am the one that is with-them all weekend during hunting season, so I guess that would mean that I enforce rules more often..because I HAVE to. THerapist then says, well, ok well nobody is right or wrong here, but maybe its just different styles. THen she tells SO that she remembers that he makes things games (such as racing to see who goes pee first). Thats all SO needed to jump on the bandwagon and say to the therapist "yeah and I don't pick on every little thing." Like I pick on every little thing! As you all know, our lives would be consumed if we did that with-our difficult children!! THis therapist obviously does not see SO when he is at the end of his rope (which is sometimes very short)(he believes in spanking - I don't, he yells, he swears) I love SO to death, but I was sitting there saying to myself "c'mon!!"

    THerapist asked if we were at least consistant, I tried to point out that sometimes he is stricter than I think he needs to be and that He sometimes thinks I am stricter than he is. THerapist tells SO that difficult child needs strict limits (this was in response to SO saying he does not pick on everything) but the message needs to be consistent between the 2 of us. I don't think SO got it (and I know he didn't because I talked to him about that suggestion later), because then SO (who is on a roll now) says, the other day difficult child asked him for something and so SO asked him why he didn't ask me for it and apparently difficult child told him that I would say no. SO then says to therapist and me, that his friend (who comes up a few times in the summer and winter) says that i am stricter than he is. I have not told SO this but that same friend said to me that SO is one of the nicest dads he knows, but that (in his opinion) difficult child needs more discipline. I was incredibly hurt by SO throwing that out to difficult child's therapist, I didn't know how to react. THe way he said it, I know he wasn't saying it to be mean, but it did come across as he was excited to have someone to blame for difficult child's excessive disrespect and rudeness to people.

    THis is just completely not fair. If I take therapists theory, then difficult child perceives me as the evil ruler. Could that possibly be because I am the only one with the kids the majority of the time. Am I supposed to just let him abuse his sister, not brush his teeth, not pick up his things, not get ready for school,etc.????? ALso, on reflection, this theory does not explain why he treats his sister so badly, his mom, and any other female (he listens to males more). I can honestly say that he hasn't learned that bx from his dad either, because SO is not a cruel person towards me or easy child at all (he opens doors, he helps out, etc). Of course we have disagreements, but they are normal, verbal, run of the mill (mostly they are brought about by difficult child) with us making up afterwards.

    I just don't know how to handle this anymore, I love SO and easy child, but I can't even see the good in difficult child anymore. He has ripped away nearly all of my self worth, most of my happiness, and he has really torn me up with his spiteful looks he gives me; his outright disrespect; his words; and his actions. I used to run a Boys & Girls CLub and specialized in working with the really tough kids (he was one of them). BUt living with him is just too much.

    ANy feedback, thoughts, suggestions would be most welcome!!!
    THanks for listening :)
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    It definitely wasn't fair of your SO to position you as the nagging rule enforcer. He probably didn't intend to do that, but he probably (guessing here) also felt defensive in having to justify his own parenting style to the therapist, and that was an easy way to lift himself up at your expense. I probably would have felt the same way you did walking out of there.

    That said, I have to agree with what the therapist said about parenting styles because I see it in my own family. My husband is similar to your SO in that he makes a game of things in trying to get kids to cooperate. That makes it fun and makes them more likely to cooperate. It's easy to take that approach with kids when you're not with them 24/7! I am trying to learn from husband because I see that his style often works better than mine, especially when a difficult child is being difficult. And he is learning to give me more breaks because he's seeing how easy it is to get burned out with kids like this.

    The therapist is also right that difficult child's need well-defined rules and consistent enforcement of the rules. That structure, knowing what's expected of them, makes for a much smoother life for everyone. Perhaps if your SO understands that as a team, the two of you would do well to work with eachother and try to blend your styles so that difficult child gets the structure, consistency, and "fun" he needs to be the cooperative kid you both need him to be?

    Just my 2 cents :)
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am not a big talk therapist fan. They are taught certain theories (1+1=2) and spout them off (in my experience anyway). And I don't trust any theory. I had much better luck with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They work on the behavior and a different way of looking at things rather than "you are a bad parent" which I don't believe anyway. You may want to pick up the book "Feeling Good" by Dr. David burns to understand CBT. I would probably have stood up and walked out of the room. I've had about twenty therapists myself and, I have to say, most of them didn't do squat for me. They would tell me things I knew weren't true, then insist they WERE true. So how did THAT help?
    If you feel she is off-base, I would find someone else. Maybe someone with CBT training.
  4. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry it was such a frustrating appointment. I would have felt ambushed too even if he didn't mean to do it. It is different when you are with them more. It is important to be consistent. Sending gentle hugs your way.
  5. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Oh sweetie.

    I'm in the same boat, as you read.

    Very understanding hugs.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you're so frustrated.

    I'm a little confused. Why would it be bad if you were stricter? I'd rather that my husband and are were identical in terms of discipline and rules, but since we're not, I have no problems being the enforcer.

    There must have been something in your SO's tone of voice or the length of the conversation that made it seem as though you were the bad guy.

    So, did the therapist have any suggestions? Or does s/he just tend to open a can of worms and then leave it unresolved? THAT's the part I dont' like. It doesn't sound like you accomplished anything.

    P.S. DETACH!!!!!!!!! I've gone through many periods of loathing my difficult child and sometimes, just one night away at a friend's is all I need to regain my balance and strength.

    P.P.S. I hope your SO and you don't start working against one another ... difficult child's have a sneaky way to making adults do that ...
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Yep, what Terry says comes to my mind as well. I think you need to detach as much as possible from difficult child's attitude toward you. Do NOT let it get to your self esteem. Instead, develop your own interests and let "his stuff" go over and around you. It is NOT about you anyway, I would be a "united front" with husband when it comes to discipline. difficult child needs to know that the rules have been set up together. Is it possible that husband is going out a little too much? Esp. with a "special needs" child in the home, this child might need to see more of dad consistently. Whether that happens or not, he should know that dad agrees with any and all rules enforced.
    With reference to the therapist...I don't think it is right that you felt ambushed and you have every right to tell her at the next appointment. I would not make a big deal about this, but explain where you didn't feel comfortable and your hopes that the session will be smoother. She will get the hint that you wont be back if there is a repeat performance. In addition, I would tell the therapist that if she says or implies that you are doing something incorrect, that you would like specific examples or even would be willing to participate in a role play on how you might do something differently. Don't let difficult child come between you and husband. Instead, do the opposite. Nurture your relationship with your SO and work together.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Who was with the kids the majority of the time before you and SO got together? What can SO do to take on some of the responsibility for HIS kids more of the time. I would be pretty upset if I married someone and then got bashed for getting things done wtih the kids if I was the only one with them all that time!

    I have found that many therapists buy into what the difficult children tell them until they have the manipulations of a difficult child happen TO THEM! So until this therapist realizes how cruel difficult child can be, she is going to think one of the parents is just horrible. Or both parents. Until the realization, tdocs can work wonderfully in difficult child's plan to turn parents against each other. They really can, because we see tdocs as "experts" when they are NOT.

    Did that make sense?

    Anyway, big hug, and I hope you and SO can talk it out.
  9. So Tired

    So Tired Member

    I also bore the brunt of difficult child's anger because I would be the one here at home trying to get difficult child to do the things he was supposed to be doing. difficult child is smart and will use the "divide and concur" strategy with you if he can, playing one side against the other. I agree that setting up rules and consequences with SO as a united front is the way to go. Write them up if necessary so there is no wiggle room on interpretation.

    My therapist also told me to be less involved,to let my husband handle some of the situations. It was hard to detach, but I really tried hard to change the way I handled difficult child -- like NOT getting involved with argueing points with him, and not saying a word if he was going to be late for work, etc.
    (I realize it was eaiser for me since my difficult child was already 17, and therefore I was less involved in the everyday stuff. Like I stopped bugging him about brushing his teeth -- if they rot out of his head that is going to be his choice. I can't keep harping on a 17 year old about the simplest of hygiene issues) Lo and behold, since I backed away and husband has had to handle more of the issues, difficult child has gone from "Mom's a #&%&*" to "Dad's an @%*$*"!! So I think that they just have the biggest problem with whoever is telling them "no" at the time( basically whoever is being difficult child's conscience). It is nothing personal and DO NOT let it make you feel bad about yourself!!

    As far as therapist -- maybe she was just trying to get you to detach a little or to approach difficult child differently, but it came out sounding accusitory. It is hard to describe and get someone else to understand the constant battle that living with a difficult child is. They give you these simplistic techniques that seem so logical and they don't understand that difficult child just doesn't operate from a logic platform. When you are dealing with a difficult child on a daily basis you get so worn down you don't even know which way is up anymore!

    I wish I had some sage advise to offer -- but I can't only offer my understanding and sympathy.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm with Susie on this. You are a recent change in difficult child's environment and he was definitely a difficult child before you came on the scene. SO has to wear that.

    husband did something similar to me once. It wasn't done out of a desire to "put me in my place" nor was he doing it to be mean. He was just being "a bloke" and trying to maintain the appearance of a man in charge of his own life and family, but SOMETHING is wrong and we've got to work out what it is so we can fix it.

    This particular therapist - what is it about the guy that had SO scrambling to be seen as a man in control? Was the therapist the sort of bloke that SO would see as a rival in any way? Someone he felt he needed to impress? Because that's how this reads to me; SO was trying to impress at all costs (almost at an instinctive level) instead of staying focussed on the task in hand - getting REAL answers for difficult child.

    I suspect this kind of ineffectual easily distracted response to counselling and therapy has perhaps been a common feature of SO's involvement in the past, with difficult child's care. He's happiest with the quick answer, the easy answer, the "let's get this over with and out of here" answer. Which tells me that you being the "fall guy", the one who takes on the lions share of the day-to-day management of difficult child is no coincidence. For pete's sake, he's SO's kid! So how come SO gets away with leaving you to handle everything?

    What husband did - he'd been feeling tired and wrung out for weeks, months even. It had been on and off previously too and he kept complaining to me about it. I finally said, "If you feel that bad, don't just complain to me - go see a doctor!" (cost in Australia to see a doctor is minimal to nothing).
    husband said to me, "OK - will you set up the appointment for me please?"

    So I did.

    Day of the appointment. husband is still feeling wrung out and tired. We go down to the doctor. husband asks me to come in with him (we both often go to each other's appointments). We sit down opposite the doctor who says, "Now what seems to be the problem?"
    husband says, "I don't really know why I'm here; she MADE me come see you."

    I tore strips off him later and told him next time he wanted to see the doctor, he could make his own darned appointments. husband was profusely apologetic; he says now (and I believe him) that he simply couldn't remember why we were there, his symptoms were so vague.

    So in SO's case - it's possible that he isn't as much in touch with the problems of difficult child as you are (because you are so much more on the spot) and possibly feels a need to seem more involved at least to the therapist, hence agreeing and finding the "evidence" for this makes him feel more justified. Plus there could be the "bloke" thing of needing to seem in control with his finger on the crux of the problem.

    I'd be tearing strips off him.

    But before you get TOO upset with the therapist, there is one very strong point in his favour - if you ARE the one on the spot so much then OF COURSE you're going to seem the ogre. Just think of the movie "Mrs Doubtfire", especially in the beginning. SOMEONE has to set the rules and enforce them. OK, maybe SO isn't as undisciplined and undermining as the character of Daniel, but you could be still having to cope with a degree of this. And he DID undermine you with the therapist. A lot of the stuff he mentioned in support of the therapist's point of view was pure trash. The opinion of one person, whose opinions seem to change with the wind direction anyway, shouldn't be considered.

    The trouble is, if you're being painted as a controlling harridan then standing up and walking out, or turning to SO and saying to him, "Stand up for me and be a man, you wimp!" isn't exactly going to convince the therapist that you aren't the problem he believes.

    It's the person on the spot who tend to bear the brunt of difficult child hostility. I'd be saying to SO, "Darling, since he's YOUR child, and since the therapist feels that I'm too much the one at the coalface and therefore responsible for this hostility we're getting from difficult child, I am going to do you all a big favour; I am going to totally detach and leave ALL the parenting up to you. From now on, YOU are the enforcer of rules. You and I still need to agree on the rules because this is OUR house, we are a team. But YOUR child now needs YOU. Because I am going to continue to help in the background I have typed up a list of the rules so you have a ready reckoner. So off you go, honey - remember, I'm behind you, all the way. A long way behind you."
    [and do not remind him that to stab someone in the back, you first have to get behind him]

    Without the sarcasm, husband & I have had to agree to similar tactics (in reverse). difficult child 3 too often sees husband as the enemy, because husband can be very abrupt and has been very stern and strict in the past, often demanding instant compliance when as we all know, that is NOT a good idea with autism. So as a result, difficult child 3 tends to react to husband with more hostility, when husband asks him to do something like take out the garbage.
    So husband will quietly say to me, "X task needs to be done. difficult child 3 will make a huge fuss if I ask; will you ask him please?"
    And I do. It works that way for us.
    But a very important aspect of this - we support each other, to difficult child 3 we always present a united front.

    Good luck with this one. I really do think you need to persuade SO to be the stay-at-home parent while you go out to work full-time. Even if you only leave him fully in charge for a weekend, SO needs to have THE LOT dumped in his lap.

    Go book yourself into a spa somewhere. And leave your mobile phone turned off for the entire weekend.

    Enjoy. You deserve it.

    So does he.

  11. tessaturtle

    tessaturtle New Member

    HI all,
    Thanks everyone for responding with thoughts, suggestions, questions, etc. I am at work now (SO and I both have full time jobs - he has way longer hours than I do) so I can't respond fully right now. I hope to have time this evening to post and answer some questions, but I wanted to acknowledge the support and say a quick thank you beforehand!
  12. tessaturtle

    tessaturtle New Member

    THank you everyone for your kind words, encouragement, and thoughts!

    Update: difficult child threw a chair at summer school last Tuesday in response to earning a time-out, so he was suspended for the next day. I got the phone call at work from the school so I had time to get in touch with SO at his work so i could tell him and so we could come up with appropriate consequences when difficult child got home. WHen difficult child returned home from his outing with his home based therapist (who is a complete loon, I don't trust, and ever since she came in the picture difficult child has had all these "perceptions" about how "I" have too many rules and I rule the house...she is a whole 'nother story!), SO met them outside and sure enough, the loony lady starts in again about how difficult child is nervous about what sort of consequence "I" will give to him for his behavior at school! SO stopped her and difficult child immediately and told them that he has no idea how difficult child EVER got that idea in his head and that BOTH of us come up with rules and enforce them and that SO already had decided what the consequences were going to be. Later on, while difficult child was stewing in his room, SO went down there to tell him again that there is not one "ruler" in the house and that we both are equal etc.

    SO and I had a talk before he chatted with difficult child and I told SO how I felt ambushed at that meeting and it wasn't fair. I also pointed out that the majority of the "rules" in the house were there before I came along anyway and the ones that were new we both agreed on. He agreed and also said he didn't want me to feel ambushed and he apologized. He said he has no idea where difficult child has been getting these "perceptions". He told me something that difficult child said to him outside. I can't remember the exact words, but I pointed out to SO that they were (big) words I have NEVER heard difficult child use and it sounded suspiciously like something the loony lady might say. I then said to SO that it seems awfully coincidental to me that this all started coming out since home-based therapist lady started. I had pointed out weeks before how difficult child always blows up at me for no reason after he visits with this loony lady.

    ANYWAY, we have a meeting with difficult child's therapist today. THis is the meeting she set up to discuss what she had brought up before (at the ambush meeting!). Lovely. SO and I talked last night, and we both agreed that with difficult child throwing chairs at school and kicking SO in the groin this weekend, this other stuff seems a tad insignificant. SO also shares in my frustration that this therapist and this home based loon keep saying this is difficult child's "perception", however, they don't do anything to help dispel it, they also are not at our house to see what really goes on.

    WIsh me luck!!
    THanks again for listening!