(New Member) This child is going to ruin our family.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Desperate Sister, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Desperate Sister

    Desperate Sister Not a parent

    Hello group. I am an older sibling, not a parent.
    I am going to spill my guts now.
    Here is the story:

    My mom and dad have been absolutely amazing parents. They have always affirmed their love for us and encouraged us. I feel that they are very emotionally healthy people. We do not deal with conflicts by fighting. We have always been calm people, expressing our emotions clearly, calmly, and verbally.
    Then, when I was in 3rd grade, my sister was born.
    She was a great baby, although she cried insanely, and we suspected she had colic. My parents didn’t know what to do. And, fatigued after hours of trying to help her, they would sometimes let her cry in her crib for a while.
    Then she learned to talk. She has pretty much been stuck in her “terrible two’s” ever since. She is 11 now, and in 5th grade. She is quiet and well-behaved at school. She enjoys learning and loves to read. She has a few friends, but only those who are willing to do what she tells them to do. My sister was so different from my parents’ experience with raising me because I was a well-behaved, quiet, obedient, overall “healthy” or “normal” child.

    She is manipulative, controlling, rude, distracting, unpredictable, possessive (about us spending time away from her), and deceitful. She denies her negative actions/behaviors. She never gives up in fights. She sometimes pushes and hits to get her way. She doesn’t consider other people’s feelings. She holds grudges like no tomorrow. I have never seen another human being who seems so…inhumane and evil, let alone a child.
    It also doesn’t help that my parents can be forgetful and inconsistent. Especially my mother. Whenever my dad is not around, my sister really takes advantage of her. It kills me to see my little sister have complete control of my mom.

    Two years ago I encouraged my parents to “get help” because our family was going crazy. They started going to therapy, and she was diagnosed with "traits" of ODD. She started getting neurofeedback. My parents and I also learned how to deal with her. We handle situations differently. It has made a dramatic change in our lives. For the first time, she and I were able to hang out, and have kind, loving days and weeks, and not just rare moments. She also started taking anti-depressants about six months ago. This has also helped her mood become stable and positive.
    I started noticing the positive effects when my little sister actually randomly told me that she loved me. I almost cried. Whenever she tells me that now, I have to hold back tears of shock, amazement, and thankfulness. When she goes to school, or when I am out for the weekend, she tells me that she doesn’t want to leave me and that she misses me. She has also improved with her maturity and self-awareness. Occasionally (but definitely not always) after a fight, she would sincerely apologize to me of her own accord! No one prompted her to do so. This greatly shocked me, and of course, I forgave her immediately. These things have been so incredibly absolutely amazing, because for 9 years, we dealt with nothing but conflict and anger.
    My little sister and I are now best friends. Although I am almost ten years older than her, we usually get along great, and I spend a lot of time and effort really trying to invest in her and love on her. I want to be a role model for her, someone whom she can trust and turn to during her teenage years.
    So that is a great success story. BUT.

    She is very dependent upon her anti-depressants. If she ever misses taking them one night, we all suffer the day afterwards.

    She has ruined all of our lives, in a way. Both of my parents spend so much time, energy, and effort on her that their marriage has suffered slightly as a result. We have spent so much money on her, both with buying her gifts (bribing her to behave), and helping her with neurofeedback (which our insurance does NOT cover) and therapy. She stresses us all out. My mom suspects that this is one of the causes of being overweight. My dad is constantly worn out. I don’t get to spend very much time with them because they are either spending time with her, or too exhausted from spending time with her. We also deal with an unnecessary amount of emotional turmoil dealing with her.
    But then we also think that she was probably put into our lives for a reason, because most other families would probably have given up on here, and would have not supported and loved her the way that we do.

    And she still has her moments. When they happen, they happen HARD.
    For example:

    She got angry at me five days ago. I tried to work it out with her. But she refused to talk with me. I tried ignoring the argument, and treating her like normal, smiling at her and trying to talk with her. But she would scowl at or ignore me. She would not let go of this grudge. Another disagreement set her off yesterday. We had a family talk. My sister denied ever being angry about the first conflict. She somewhat shared her emotions, and she kind of listened to what my parents and I had to say, but not without a lot of interruptions, distractions, rude facial expressions and noises, etc. My parents handled the situations beautifully by appropriately instructing and correcting her. So it was a good convo in that she didn’t get away with all the BS that she usually happens. But it was unsuccessful in that nothing was resolved. She was the same person afterwards that she was before: angry, denying, apathetic, and rude.

    Similarly, today after a family meal, I tried confronting her. She acted the exact same way. After some careful attempts to resolve the conflict with our ‘rents being referees, I ended up walking away, crying, out of hurt, frustration, and desperation.

    I am so upset. I rhetorically think to myself, "How long will this happen? Will she ever grow out of this? Why do we have to put up with this bull? How can this little child be so cruel? How can this small person, who is kind, sweet, humorous, loving, even, adoring most of the time just turn so suddenly against those who love her the most?" I understand that her brain has a chemical imbalance, plus, it is partially genetic (my dad says that his mom acted the same way, as an adult, while he was growing up), but it still hurts so much.

    I am thankfully having an emergency appointment with the family therapist tomorrow. I have an amazing support group consisting of my parents and my boyfriend. I also have strong spiritual beliefs, so I most importantly depend upon God for strength.

    But I thought it was about freaking time that I look for a support group. We need people who can relate to us specifically. It’s easier to deal with problems when you know others are dealing with similar situations.

    Gosh, I pray to Jesus that my children will not be like my sister in this sense.

  2. Stella

    Stella New Member

    Hi there. Just wanted to welcome you to the board. You have found a wonderful, supportive place where you will learn a lot. It's admirable that you are seeking help and you sound like a great sister.

    Firstly, I know one of the first things that others on here will say to you that a diagnosis of "ODD traits" is not very helpful as ODD rarely stands alone and is normally a symptom of the bigger diagnosis. Your sister is on anti-depressants - has she ever been diagnosed with bi-polar or has it been suggested? I know you say your sister can seem "evil" and "cruel" but the fact that the anti-depressants work so well for her prove that she probably does have a chemical imbalance so it's really not her fault that she behaves this way. I know it is hard to keep this in mind all the time, especially when she is being particularlly nasty but do try keep this in mind - all children do well if they can. This is a key point in the book The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene. It is an excellent book that probably the majority of people on this board have read and found extremely beneficial. Also, there are plenty of mothers on here who have kids with bi-polar that can recommend other books...

    It struck me that before the medications you describe your sister as being very "possessive" when ever you or your parents left the house but once she started the medications she was able to express the fact that she would "miss" you. So, it would seem that she defintely had a very hard time expressing her emotions. This was very frustrating for her and she only seemed to express her emotions through anger. Maybe now and again, when she does still act out it's because those frustrations are creeping back in. When she feels frustrated she feels out of control - that's when the trying to control your mom etc creeps in. There is a great book called The Manipulative Child -I can't remember author off-hand but your mom might find that a good read. It's not that she wants to be manipulative but she has learned to be this way to maintain her control.

    She is very dependent upon her anti-depressants. If she ever misses taking them one night, we all suffer the day afterwards.

    When does your sister miss taking her anti-depressants. Does someone supervise her taking her medications every night? I honestly think that if the medications are working so well for her that you shouldn't worry at the moment about her being dependent on them. She obviously needs them. I think that if your sister can be this sweet, loving and thoughtful child with the medications then this is her true personality. SHe just needs a little help to balance her out. in my opinion you are very lucky that you have found something that works this well for her.

    Welcome again, and i'm glad that you have found us.

  3. I am not a professional but I have never met anyone who have found comfort and help by the "ODD" diagnoze. Please correct me, if you know of any.

    But I have several friends where the child has been ill or the parent has been. Now I know that some of the problems in our family have been caused by me. I was ill for period and I was operated. I felt bad as a mother for not having been in her life 100% for a period. But it was me. She never missed food or clothes and her father took his share of the workload. Anyhow I spoiled her with gifts and I paid the price.

    Things have changed here lately after our intervention and while it is going rather well, I don't know if it will last.

    It is rather normal for kids with problems to choose friends they can command. If they are badly suited to deal with conflicts, they will choose friends who obey at all time.

    According to my daugher she had a eye-opening experience during a weekend and perhaps you should allow yourself to go with her to a kind of team-experience for a weekend away from the home. Out-patient therapy is the best but in some cases disturbance in the home can destroy the progress and call for a "out-of-the-box" experience.

    Are there any short outdoor programs nearby, you could attend both? While you have no problems your presence when facing challenges can make her to use you as a role-model instead of peers.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome. THis is the good part :D

    Now for the lecture.

    Your sister is mentally ill. ODD is not a stand alone diagnoses, perhaps your parents should take her to a neuropsychologist to find out the rest of what's wrong with her, BUT she is not "bad" she is sick. If she had cancer would you begrudge her the time she takes up and the angst she puts your parents through?

    Having been a mentally ill child myself, who was no picnic, I can tell you the most miserable of all of us was me. I wasn't getting the right kind of help and I couldn't stop myself from raging, being angry, having terrible moodswings, crying, demanding, etc. I was just a mess and I knew it and I hated it, but I couldn't stop it.

    I have a brother who has Crohn's Disease and the entire family is sooooooooo sympathetic toward him because he's "sick." Well, guess what? I have bipolar, and that is also a very serious illness with a suicide (death) rate of 20%. It makes me as sick as the Crohn's makes my brother, however in my family I am seen as "selfish, manipulative and a taker." My friends know this isn't true, but family can be the most unkind of all to it's ill members.

    Mental illness is inherited, so you are NOT off the hook. There must be something on your family tree on one side or the other--psychiatric issues, substance abuse, neurological problems (autism/Aspergers)...or your little sister wouldn't have these problems.

    My word to you is to encourage your parents to get your sister BETTER help. As for "being dependent on anti-depressants" would you say that if she was a diabetic and had to take insulin? Would you think she is "dependent on insulin?" I have taken antidepressants now since I was 23 and I'm 55 and they are the same to me as if I took insulin for diabetes. Peole have the WRONG attitude about psychiatric medications. If your sister is ill she needs them and in my opinion you should encourage her to take them.

    I came from a family where having a chemical disorder in the brain was seen as being a bad person and I really dislike seeing other kids talked about as being "bad." I hope you develop a compassionate attitude toward a sister who is struggling very hard to survive, even if she is not easy for the rest of you. And I hope your parents take her to a neuropsychologist to get a full picture of what her problems are--that makes them easier to help.

    Trying to reason with a chld (or adult) who is unstable mentally is a waste of time until they are calm. I would back off. You seem to think you can cure her. You can't. This isn't curable. It is treatable. Again, you need to know what you are treating. ODD does NOT stand alone.

    Welcome to the board ;) You are brave to post and I hope you post more in the future and are not put off.
  5. Desperate Sister,

    Welcome to the Board! I'm sorry you had to find us, but this is a wonderful place to learn and find support. You are obviously an awesome sister and a great daughter. I'm very impressed by your message.

    I'm sad to say that in many ways your message could have been written by my easy child, my eldest. His life has been taken up with the needs and demands of our youngest, our difficult child, for many,many years now. Although we have attempted to keep our time with our easy child sacred and totally separate at times, circumstances have made this very difficult to do. He always "understands", but he holds a lot of feelings about this issue. He was in therapy for a while, and that seemed to help him in many ways.

    Do you live at home, or are you living away at college? I think the best situation would be for you to have some distance from home. Our easy child has lived away from home for five years now and it has greatly helped him ,and improved his relationship with our difficult child.

    I think that there is hope for your sister to change somewhat as she matures, but she will always be the person that she is. Our difficult child has "toned down" somewhat as he has gotten older, and his medication helps him tremendously. Most importantly, my husband and I have learned how to work effectively with him. The book , "The Explosive Child" has offered us tremendous help. Our home is much more peaceful now that we have learned more about our difficult child and changed our priorities. None the less, our easy child holds many feelings about difficult child, and really, rightfully so. Much of his life has been turned topsy-turvy due to difficult child's issues.

    I agree with Stella, it is important for your sister to have her medication. I suppose this could be viewed as a dependency, but it is one that truly has a biological imperative. Many folks take antidepressants throughout their lives, and they make their lives much more bearable. (for themselves and those around them). I liken the need for medications for psychological or neurological issues to the need for insulin for Diabetics. Is that a dependency? Well, yes, but we don't view it the same way because it is a "physical " need. I have no doubt that Science will definitively prove the same about medications for the psychological and neurological issues as well. It helps me to look at it that way.

    Desperate Sister, you family is truly blessed to have you as a member. But, it sounds like you have taken on a lot of responsibility here and could use some respite yourself.

    Take care...

  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! You are a good big sister. But, it is important to remember you are the sister and not the parent. Make sure you do not take on any parental duties. Even if your parents are not doing what you think they should - she needs you to be her sis and not her mom. Know what I mean??

    Your sister sounds a lot like my daughter. My mother used to tell me 'she marches to the beat of a different drummer'. That always bothered me when she said that because it felt like it was just her personality and nothing I could change. In fact, she was right - moms usually are! LOL!
    My difficult child is different. And I have come to realize that I do not necessarily want to change that. In fact, she told me once 'stop trying to change me'. She could tell that was what I wanted to do. But, she insists she likes who she is. It was beyond my comprehension to like being miserable and mean, but whatever.

    So, now I just realize that she is not someone I would choose to put in my life - like a girlfriend. But, she is my family and families stick together. I now accept that she is different. Will never be student of the week. Will never get on the honor roll. Will never be as social as I was. But, it is OK. She is not me.

    That acceptance does not mean it is OK for her to be disrespectful though. So, while I accept her for who she is, I do not allow her to infringe on my morals or values.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Good on you for trying to find ways to help.

    A few thoughts from me. I'll try to be quick because it's late, I'm tired and I need my sleep!

    1) From things you say, and the things MWM reacted to, I think the entire family understanding of your sister is skewed possibly incorrectly and this means that the help she IS getting isn't in the right direction or enough. Sort of like marking time instead of marching forward.

    This isn't anybody's fault - some conditions are really hard to diagnose, ODD is a handy label which really isn't answering your questions. The treatment she is getting - helpful, but possibly only to a certain extent. If you're not working on the underlying condition, then treating the fragment of it is like a builderpainting over mildew on the wallpaper, which is being caused by a leaking pipe in the wall. The more you try to paint over it, the more the water will get dammed up behind it and eventually break through with fresh mould. It still involves expenditure of money and effort to do the painting and it may make it look better for a short while, but the underlying problem is still there and untreated. However, if you can identify the cracked water pipe in the wall, dig in and chip it out (looks awful and messy in the process) then repair the pipe, re-plaster the wall and then paint over it, the problem will be much more long-term solved.

    In the same way, it could be time for your sister to get re-evaluated, possibly with someone different for a different opinion. On this site we often suggest a neuropsychologist assessment because it can reveal so much about any underluying learning problems. Such learning problems can lead to a deep sense of self-loathing and insecurity. Needless to say, depression is also common.

    Try to imagine what it must be like for someone with an undiagnosed learning problem. Even a diagnosed one - management and support is often either not enough or not applied correctly, parents have to contantly watch, monitor and tweak. So a child with a learning problem, who sees other kids surge ahead with confidence andanswer questions in class, who do well - this child can often feel dumb, stupid, a fraud, and afraid of people discovering this.

    Kids want to be normal, they want to be like everyone else. That's how fashion can get such a hold on us - we see pictures of someone who looks good (or who we're told looks good) and we want to be seen to be like them. We want what they have. Even my youngest autistic son puts a HUGE effort into watching other kids and trying to talk like they do, behave like they do and 'blend in'. And he's not good at it, makes a real hash of it. Doesn't always choose good role models, either. However, back when he was in Grade 3 he said to me, "I'm getting better at pretending to be normal."

    A lot of the bad behaviour you describe, including the grudge thing, the resentment, the not letting things go, you could also find in autism. You could find it in bipolar, you could probably find it in a number of conditions. Finding out what the condition is makes it easier to know exactly what you're dealing with so you can focus your energies more accurately and effectively. It's the equivalent of fixing the leaking pipe directly, instead of simply painting over the recurring mildew.

    2) The depression - that can be a factor of whatever is the underlying condition, or it could be her reacting to the fallout from her condition. But whichever it is - antidepressants clearly are making a positive difference in her life. And in our lives, sometimes we take medications if it means we can function better.

    I take strong painkillers. I do this under the supervision of a pain specialist. But one of my other specialists actually referred to me as an addict. I was angry with him because I don't feel that it was an accurate statement. True, people who take long-term opiates can so easily develop an addiction. IN suchcases it becomes a problem when the patient goes looking for ways to get more of the pain medications in order to feel good, even when the pain isn't severe enough any more to warrant te pain medications. Also, opiates (and a lot of other medications) lose effectiveness after a while and yo get the same effect you have to keep increasing the dose.
    I don't take my medications to feel 'high'. In fact, I hate any such feeling and I hate the slight muscle weakness feelings I can get, if I've taken more than I needed. I feel my throat muscles going slack and I hate that feeling. I've learned that I function best when I still have a low level of pain, when the pills have knocked most of it but not all of it. As a result, my opiates help me function. If I don't take them, the pain is so crippling I can't move and I end up in hospital. Withdrawal - it would be a snap, compared to what I go through if the pain is not controlled. If I stop taking my medications, I will go into withdrawal, because my body has become dependent. But I am not an addict - I take my medications only to deal with the main problem - pain. If my pain was gone, I would be able to stop the medications. Ofcourse this would put me into withdrawal so ZI probably would choose to wean off and not just go cold turkey. As a matter of fact, a new treatment I've been on has reduced my pain levels and as a result I have chosen to reduce my own opiate dose. When the new medication regime is stopped (it has nasty side effects) I will probably need to increase the pain medications again. But the period of time on the lower dose may have reduced the overall dose I will need to go back to.

    As I said, that is not addiction. Because when I take these medications, I function better.

    In your sister's case, she may well be dependent on the antidepressants but it's a dependence of "hey, I can function on this stuff." It's not a "gimme the drugs so I can blot out the world" type of dependence.

    Some drug dependence can be a positive thing. If you function better on the drug, then it's a good thing. If you take the drug regularly and your quality of life is deteriorating as a result, then it is a problem. And that is the critical test - does she function better on the medications? If so, then they are a good thing.

    My difficult child 1 takes Zoloft. He had his dose drastically increased some years ago when he broke up with his girlfriend and was suicidally depressed. The Zoloft saw him through a tough couple of years. Then when his mood was better, the doctor said, "Let's try and take you off it, let's slowly cut you down until you can cut it out entirely." But we found that if the Zoloft dose dropped below a certain point, certain Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms (the main reason for originally taking Zoloft) came back. So difficult child 1 made the decision to stop stepping down the dose and to instead maintain a dose at his current low level. We talked it over with the doctor and it's all been medically okayed.

    3) While you're waiting for someone to tell you more specifically what is wrong, you can follow your instincts and work on the symptoms yourselves, using what you read and glean from books, websites and your own instincts. Your parents sound wonderful, but you all sound burned out. We can help here, I would strongly recommend you share these threads with your parents and get them to post or at least lurk here too. It's amazing just how much it can help your communication with each other, even if you think it is already so good it doesn't need improving. If you're not sure, just go back over what you wrote and realise - you probably didn't express it to your parents in such a condensed, effective way. Written communication IS different, it can make quite a difference to how our words are perceived.

    4) For some general assistance on behaviour issues and also getting a glimpse into how she is feeling (which is always useful - "know your enemy" even, is worth considering) read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. A lot of us on this site have found it made a big difference in how we manage our difficult child(ren). You can use the same techniques more widely, too. I've even considered it as applied to bureaucrats, even organisations! It's not only effective, for us it actually was easier to implement, than what we were already doing.

    5) You as sister, especially with only about 7 years between you - in her mind you are equal, therefore you have absolutely no rights to correct her. But in YOUR eyes, you can see what she is doing wrong and the fledgling parent in you is trying to step in and take over some of the burden for your parents. And coming form you, she is really kicking hard against this because she resents it, even if you are doing it exactly right. We went through this with our kids. It was interesting to see the different relationshjips with our kids, according to their relative ages. easy child could correct difficult child 3 but when easy child 2/difficult child 2 tried to use the exact same techniques and even the same words, he wouldn't take it from her at all, he would scream blue murder. easy child 2/difficult child 2 of course felt this wasn't fair, and of course she was right. But we couldn't do anything about it, she simply had to use a different method because easy child was in a different place.
    In the same way, you yourself are probably going to have to develop your own techniques for your sister, techniques different to your parents. Like everything else, use what works and forget what doesn't. Also be prepared to challenge ideas and change your techniques as you and she both change as you both grow.

    6) Something we suggest - write it down. Take notes of her behaviour, of what you observe. Do a PMI - Positive, Minus, Interesting. Note what sets her off, note what calms her down. Not the fun stuff, note the bad stuff. And if you can, lock it away with a password so she can't access it and get angry with you for it. This is all going to be valuable information for your sister and her parents. It's also useful when you're planning to implement the techniques in "Explosive Child".

    You sound like you're all struggling financially - so get the book out of the library, at least for now. There are several editions, and surprisingly they are somewhat different. If you can, read the 2nd edition as well as the 3rd.

    Stick around here, you will find support as well as help.

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  8. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Sister and welcome!

    Thank you so much for posting this. We don't very often get a chance to hear from sibs and your words very eloquently bring home the fact that when there is a child with challenging behaviors, he/she affects the entire family. I applaud you and your parents for making sure that *you* have supports in place.

    Please bear in mind that none of us are experts or have "the" answer. We have opinions based on our experiences, successes, and not so successful results. Please take the info you can use and skip the rest, ok? ;)

    My opinion is that when there is a family member who is "different", it can very much feel like the family is ruined. The frame of reference changes. "Normal" gets turned on it's ear. My younger 2 kids spent the first 10 years of their lives in ERs with one or the other of their older brothers due to the disabilties that we live with. I don't know if we did it right, but we've tried to acknowledge that we're not "normal" (but really, what is normal?), that they younger 2 kids have had to deal with- expectations and experiences that their peers haven't. But we've also tried to emphasize the positive aspects of our different kind of family. Compassion, empathy, understanding, problem solving, tolerance, patience, advocacy - these are traits that I hope my younger 2 understand firsthand, certainly more so than any of their peers. We've also tried very hard to keep the lines of communication open with the younger 2 about the very normal feelings of anger, resentment, and embarrassment. It's okay to feel that way - the important thing is what you do with those feelings. Like I said, I don't know if we've done the right thing and only time will tell how much of a negative or positive impact their older brothers' disabilities will have on them as adults, but it's definitely something my husband and I have spent a lot of time and thought on.

    There are a lot of positives in your post. Sounds like progress has been made in terms of everyone working together to help manage her behaviors, and that there's a good medication on board as well. That's huge, truly. I mean, *huge*. The fact that she is doing well in school is another really really positive sign.

    Your sister is still so young. There is a lot of time for her to grow and mature. Unfortunately, she's on the cusp of puberty which can make things even more challenging ;) but also maturity *does* come - it may be slower steps for her but any progress is still progress.

    As far as concrete advice, I would tell you to focus on your life. Nuture your family as you can but not to the exclusion of your own goals. Your sister may well be a challenge into her own adulthood. Your parents sound like they are working hard to get your sister the support she needs, and having some real success there. You're right in that they do need to remember to nuture their marriage, but that's something I think most of us have struggled with. It's an evolutionary process, in my experience. And don't be too hard on your mom about her inconsistency ;) . I have to tell you, that was a really hard concept to get down and took me years. It's not something you think about when you have kids, and I suspect that you didn't require the same level of structure and consistency that your sister needs. I found it hard to adjust my parenting style to the needs of each of my kids. It can be done, but takes practice.

    You sound like a loving sister and very level-headed young woman. Keep up with getting support for yourself.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Welcome to the board. I see you've already gotten some good advice.

    Your little sister sounds like my youngest difficult child Nichole growing up. In answer to your question, can it get better as they grow up and mature......... I used to wonder that myself. But yes, it certainly can.

    Nichole has become stable, and with it has developed a good relationship with both her sibs, especially my easy child, her older sis.

    I think one of the biggest lessons Nichole had to learn was that the world, and the family, don't revolve around her. This was difficult because since infancy her older sibs spoiled her rotten. (notice I said sibs, not parents lol) Once her demands stopped being cute as she exited toddlerhood.....it became more of a "do to prevent a rage" sort of thing. But as she approached teen years....

    We learned to recognize when we were catering to her behavior. After a lifetime of doing so it was often hard to see that we were doing it, especially her sibs. And we learned to stop. If she reacted, so be it. Natural conscquences for unacceptable behavior. But one thing I found to be super important was for Nichole to learn that her behavior effected other people. So when she'd do her normal routine of being rude, mean, and sulky......she got the real reaction from the people around her she was being that way with. Don't rage at me one minute and expect me to smile and want to do something for you the next sort of thing.

    Sounds like you and your parents might benefit from reading Walking on Egg Shells. A good book that give you new insight and perspective.

    It is extremely difficult to parent a difficult child, as well as being a sib to one. It takes it's toll on the whole family. But there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. Your sister has 3 huge things going for her.....her parents and you.

  10. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Lord, did your post sound familiar. Are you MY sister? Here's my first post:

    I'm another one of the rare siblings on here. I know exactly what you mean about how it can spread out and affect the entire family - and the mental exhaustion, and the drama over how it may be genetic and hardwired, but it still hurts to see them so "evil" and out of control - and how strange it feels to want to protect your PARENTS.

    Feel free to message me if you need ANYthing!
  11. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Wanted to add my welcome.

    My daughter K knows she is different and we try so hard to help her feel "normal", but we also focus on her differences and quirks. We can't make her like what most people would consider "normal" so we have to help her feel great about herself and find the positives.

    This is so much harder as it sounds which all us know, these kids take up over 100% of our time at times.
    But like you said, there is a reason.
    Make sure you take care of yourself. :)
  12. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    It was very interesting to read your experience of the situation as a sibling. You sound like a wonderful sister, and a wonderful daughter.

    I see from your signature that you are a full-time college student and have a boyfriend.

    As an older parent (my difficult child, my youngest child, is 22 and a half, my oldest child is 40), I wanted to express myself from a slightly different angle, from the angle of the parents of the children who are not difficult children: Please make sure that you look after yourself, that you complete your studies, gain a profession, are able to find a good job, that you get married (if that's what you want) and have a functioning family. What I am trying to say is: yes, it is wonderful for you to help your sister and to be there for her, but please not at the expense of your own emotional health. I'm not sure how to put this, but what I am trying to say as a parent is that what gives us the most satisfaction from our children when they are fully responsible adults is to see them happy and settled with a partner and a family and living a fulfilling life of contentment. So please don't let your sister's problems disturb your own getting on with your own life. If that sounds selfish, that's not how I mean it to sound.

    You say you have an emergency appointment with the family therapist tomorrow. I hope you find it helpful.

    Love, Esther
  13. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Welcome to the crowd. You sound like a truly dedicated sister that's been through the ringer.

    I agree with the others that your mom and dad need to get a neuropsychologist done on her. If she's bipolar, there are all types of things to be done. If she's an asperger child, sensory issues could be a HUGE factor.

    In the meantime, I'm going out on a limb and not telling you to read a ton of stuff. This is for several reasons.

    1. you're a full time student. Study study study!
    2. you're working part-time. Cash cash cash!
    3. you're not sure what's wrong with her, so where would you consentrate your research? The Explosive Child is a pretty easy read - not a bunch of technical terms.

    Again! Welcome to the crowd! Make sure you pop in on the Watercooler, we have some fun there!

  14. Desperate Sister

    Desperate Sister Not a parent

    Thanks to EVERYONE for the warm welcome, encouragement, and support. When I first read through the responses on Monday, I cried. It was so beautiful to finally have people besides my parents who can directly relate to me with this situation. The past week has been emotional.

    I forgot to mention that my mom and sister left yesterday morning for a week-long vacation visiting relatives back East. This was a major reason that I was particularly upset about our conflict and it not being resolved immediately.
    On Monday, my sister acted neutrally towards me. Not malicious as the past few days had been, but nice in the way that she usually is. Yesterday morning when they said goodbye before they left, my sister willingly hugged me. So it seems like we said goodbye on a good note, thank the Lord.

    Several of you guys recommended the book, The Explosive Child. I think we have it, along with a few other ODD-related books. I think it is in my huge pile of books to read! Haha. I will try to make that one a priority.

    When I mentioned her being dependent on medications, I didn’t mean that in a negative way, as if I thought it was wrong. I merely meant that it’s scary to be reminded of what she is like when she is not on them. I fully support her takings anti-depressants and I’m definitely NOT saying that she shouldn’t take them.

    Also, I’m not quite hip with this lingo. Based on the context I can figure out things fine, but what does easy child, difficult child, husband, and Know what I mean?, stand for?
    I tried looking through the FAQ for shorthand references, but couldn’t find any.

    I’m not sure if she has ever been diagnosed with anything else. I will try to look into that.
    My sister still is possessive, even with the medications. I make a big effort to spend a lot of time with her, and I know for a fact that I try harder than the average older sibling. Yet, whenever my boyfriend comes over or I go to his house, or even if she just hears that he and I are hanging out, she becomes distant, detached, and angry.
    I have talked about this with the therapist, and we have concluded that perhaps my sister feels that my boyfriend is stealing me away from her. So I have been trying a variety of tactics to reinforce/remind her of my love. This includes telling her verbally and hanging out with her, both with and without my boyfriend. She has been pretty receiving to all of these things, even asking to hang out with us. But for some reason whenever my boyfriend and I first get together, she gets real angry.
    I’m not sure what the circumstances are of her sometimes not taking her pills. I guess occasionally she and/or my parents forget. Like I originally said, my ‘rents are somewhat forgetful and inconsistent. .

    What exactly do you mean by a “weekend away team-experience”? Are you talking about a specific type of program, or just any “camp” in general?

    Yes, I understand your comparison with cancer, but at the same time, cancer doesn’t necessarily affect family members emotionally in the same way that these behavioral disorders do.
    Definitely not comforting about mental illness being inherited! Yikes! I will keep that in mind. And I will ask my 'rents what our family history is like.

    1 Day At a Time,
    Yeah, I can relate to the description of your older child.
    I live at home with my family, which makes things both better and worse, haha. I love being close to my family when we are at peace, but yeah, when **** like this happens, I do feel more motivated to hurry up and move out.

    Good word usage. I had to look up what the word “respite” meant, haha. Yes, I do feel that my parents are somewhat incompetent at times, and therefore have sometimes assumed the “supervisor” role over my parents, asking them to punish/discipline my sister for me. Which becomes tiring and can turn into a mess of its own.

    Yes, I have actually talked with the therapist a great deal about sometimes acting as the “supervisor” and not a sister to my sister. I get so angry when I see my sister get away with SO MUCH. Taking control of the situation is my impulse.
    Yeah, I appreciate and agree with your last paragraph. An odd, negative personality crosses the personal boundaries when they hurt other people.

    Are you saying that my sister has possibly gotten a wrong diagnosis? I mean all the treatments she has gotten so far have helped her a lot.
    Hmm, good point. It might be time for a re-evaluation.
    And yeah, the management and support is exhausting.
    Ah, I bet that was difficult with your son. It’s painful to see kids hurt for being who they are, and pitifully trying so hard to “fit in”. I am definitely not normal, so I can understand why someone would want to try to be normal. Constant rejection and judgment is way harsh.
    If I follow my instincts, I would hit my sister each time she was mean to me. Hahaha (kind of).
    Yes, we are all definitely burned out. Having busy lives outside of dealing with my sister doesn’t help, either. Yeah, I definitely think they should get involved here. I was thinking of that already. :) I will wait until next week when my mom has gotten back from her vaca. And yes, I will talk with them, too. Yes, I love written communication because it allows me to carefully think over each word and sentence, and I love doing that.
    Hmm yeah, sounds like I’ll have to somehow find another method of working with my sister. I usually resort to channeling through my parents, a.k.a. asking them to correct her for me, therefore taking the steam off of me. But then, sometimes my mom still uses my name, “Your sister told me that you did this.” Which kills the whole point of me asking them to discipline her because then my sister still ends up mad at me!
    My dad suggested that I offer something to my sister when I want something from her. I think it sounds manipulative or like bribing, but he says that she sees what she can get out of the world, and that it is merely “her language.” But I am still not comfortable with that, so the therapist suggested I find some “creative” way to deal with her. :-/ I have no idea, though. But I will try to look into it.
    Taking note of her behaviors is a very interesting idea. I have often mentioned/described particularly upsetting instances in my journal, but I will start a log of her.
    Haha, so much for being brief, eh? ;)

    I agree with you about teaching good values and accepting feelings.
    We have been dreading her puberty for a while now, especially what she will be like while she is PMS-ing!
    Yeah, I should probably give my ‘rents some slack. I shouldn’t judge. It’s just so difficult when I witness their incompetence daily.

    Yes, my sister needs to learn that, too. I guess most children do, because kids are naturally egocentric and then gradually grow out of it as they mature and become aware of the world.
    Yeah that sounds like a real good idea.
    Hey! The therapist actually just recommended that book to me specifically on Monday!

    I read your post. I can relate to a lot of it!
    My sister considers herself a “tomboy” and brags that she will “punch any boy that comes close” to her. She prefers baggy clothing and fights with my mom about wearing tights or dresses for church. And a lot of things that I originally said match with your post, too.
    Haha, my mom had actually recently said she really wanted to send my sister to a boot camp or boarding school to “get a taste of her own medicine.” My mom has toyed with this thought for years but is now actually considering using it as a threat. I don’t know if it would make the situation better (make her realize how lucky she is) or worse (possibly kill her soul).


    Oh yeah! I have a billion personal goals, and I definitely plan on accomplishing them, Lord willing! I am very pro-active and goal-oriented. Yeah, thanks, I agree. I definitely do not want to sacrifice my entire life for her. I do definitely have my own life, as I am involved in many things separate from her and my family. Nah, definitely not selfish!
    My therapy appointment. went very well. I always feel better after a session. We discussed several things regarding my sister. We defined children’s behaviors. And how if the kid’s motive is to get attention, then the behavior should get ignored. But if their motive is to have control and power, then that’s when ya gotta be creative and find a way to deal with the behavior uniquely.
    She emphasized how I shouldn’t engage in a power struggle. That is a tough one because I am a fighter and I refuse to back down while fighting with her. Both physically and mentally.
    We also talked about how I have such an urgency to understand everything. This might have stemmed from growing up in such chaos with my sister and not understanding anything. But I need to be patient with trying to figure everything out.

    Haha, thank you.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Desp Sis, you've really had some good feedback. You've got a lot to do while your mother and sister are away!

    I only have a few minutes, it's just before midnight here and I desperately need sleep.

    But just quickly - easy child = Perfect child, although nobody's perfect. difficult child = Gift Frpom God, the child that brought us here. Sometimes we have more than one. husband = Dear Husband (some not so dear, although mine definitely is). SO = Significant Other. Know what I mean? = Know What I Mean, although that one took me a long time to work out. There is a list of abbreviations somewhere on the site, I'm rusty and out of time tonight, if I'm to be in bed before midnight!

    There is more I do want to say to you, you need to protect yourself from being seen too much as the parent because this will have long-term ramifications for you in your life, in your future relationships, in your work - in a great deal. You are a wonderful, caring sister and daughter, but you do need some counselling for yourself in order to cope, and to heal.

    have you thought about where you want to go in life? Possible future career path? From my own experience of my easy child (a lot like you) - she decided notto study medicine (because she felt too much responsibility) but has still gone into the health professions as an Occupational Therapist. She is amazingly effective in dealing with people, in looking after thma and in getting things accomplished. She is a whirlwind! She is a Carer, met her fiance at Young Carers camp (they are the first couple to come out of these camps) and both of them have had too much responsibility, far too young. But it is a major part of hat they have in common.

    Interestingly, easy child 2/difficult child 2 & BF2 also met at a (later) Young Carers Camp. He also is a Carer. He's also a bit of a difficult child.

    Heredity. It has a lot to answer for!

    G'night. Talk later [yawn]

  16. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Have you considered that the way your parents are parenting your sister IS the best way? Perhaps your parents have decided to detach from your sisters behavior's as a way to help keep some peace in the house.

    I think you really need to step back and think about the sister-to-sister relationship and what it really should be. Never mind her behavior. That is not for you to correct. Just be friends with her and go out and do fun things together.

    As far as the boyfriend thing....and the stealing away from her....don't put too much energy into getting her to see this in the way most of us see it. You are doing nothing wrong. She may never get that you spending time with your boyfriend is normal for you.
    My boyfriend has been 'stealing me away' from my difficult child for 6 years now. It gets old. I finally had to just say 'too bad'. We tried compromising, including, jumping through hoops...you get the idea. Still can't get her to see it the way most teens would see it.

    I really am trying to imagine the relationship with me and my sister if she had tried to parent me. I just think it would be non-existant. I really hope that does not happen.
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Desp Sister.
    You've gotten some great feedback here!
    I am so glad Eekysign saw your note. I immediately thought of her when I saw your note.
    And I agree with-Marg--don't be too much of a parent in all of this. There is something called detachment,and it's something we all learn sooner or later. It takes lots of practice. It means that you have to let your sister's moods bounce off of you. You cannot control her moods (although it looks like the medications are doing a decent job) but you can control how you react to those moods. Try not to take it so personally. She is manipulating her environment because she doesn't know any other way to react. With a better diagnosis and different therapies, she will learn.
    That is up to your parents, not you.
    I love that your mom has given you a break for a wk. Please don't spend the entire time talking about your sister, LOL! When my husband and I went on our first vacation alone, we spent the first day talking about the kids, and we looked at one another and said, "Why didn't we take them with-us?"
    That is normal, but it's more pronounced when you are in a dysfunctional situation.
    Bravo that you are going to therapy. It really helps.

    There are lots of diff dxes on this bb and if you scroll through some of the notes, and read the profiles at the bottom of our notes, you'll see we're all dealing with-diff dxes but oftentimes, use the same therapies. Some therapies are just good, basic processes.
    One thing your parents seem to do right is to not allow your sister to get away with-her meanness any more. They call her on it. But she needs more than that--to be sent from the room, or for others to walk away. One thing I have my son do is write 10X on a piece of paper what it is he has done. It has to be very literal for him to understand. He will apologize for yelling at me, for ex, but misses the point that there are other things going on. For ex he may make us late, or not be dressed, or be unable to finish something and blame it on us, and his whole view of life, or at least, the events leading up to a meltdown, are skewed. So we help him see things more clearly.
    He also needed to understand that it is okay to get mad, in general, and at people, specifically. It is human. But how you express your anger is what is important. That is something we are still working on, but it has gotten much better .
    Yes, maturity does help. Your sister's brain is developing and some maturity will kick in. But she has learned some bad habits to cope with-her illness and has to relearn behaviors and thinking patterns.
    This is something SHE needs to learn, not you. All you can do is change your response to her.

    Feel free to start another thread when she gets home and tell us how it went, and how she reacted to seeing you after an extended time away.

    Again, nice to meet you!
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Walk away is good. You're depriving her of an audience and also removing yourself from the strong temptation to slap her.

    It'salso a strategy we try yo teach our difficult children, to walk away instead of raging.

    A really important thing you can do (it's something I learned from Explosive Child) is to model the behaviour towards her, that you want her to show to you. Of course she isn't going to begin by being polite to you, YOU have to be the hero, as Dr Phil would say. You have to start first even if you think she doesn't deserve it. The biggest thing I've found - respect. If you show respect to her, then she has NO excuse to not show respect to you. But don't rub her nose in it. It takes time, but eventually you will be able to quietly say, "I'm not shouting at you; why are you shouting at me?"

    Also, these are really good strategies for you to practice now, to help you learn to get on in the big bad world of the adult workplace. because there are difficult children there too, and you're currently getting a crash course. When you meet them in the workplace, it's definitely not your job to fix them Occupational Therapist (OT) make them behave. You really do need to practice the 'walk away" approach then!

    I hopw you're getting some much-needed rest. Do something good for yourself. A manicure, perhaps. Enjoy.

  19. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    What an interesting post.
    I'm rushing at the moment...will do my best to take a re-look.
    I'm THRILLED to see that you live an active life...college, work, etc.
    As it should be.
    I think you spoke of family therapy...I agree...make extra apts. whwen there is extra turmoil.
    But...does your sister go? Does she go with the family? Does she go privately?
    There is a GREAT support group for parents called families anonymous.
    You could google a location for them. If they wont go..you could go to one mtg. and get literature and leave it for them.
    However, the bottom line is that you are responsible only for yourself.
    You can give your parents some loving advice...but that's about it.
    My guess, you are a breath of fresh air to them...because your sister has been so difficult.
    Please take very good care of yourself. REad spiritual literature...stay with responsible and loving friends.
    As you get older...you might make a decision to move out of the home.
    Just continue to stay in close contact with your folks. Respect and love yourself...ALWAYS.