Newbie--"bad mom" syndrome

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by emotionallybankrupt, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    I'm so glad to find this forum. It seems there is not a lot of validation out there, even on the internet, where one would think there would be an overabundance on any topic imaginable.

    I've felt so much like an island in my community, where it is so assumed that if the parents do their jobs as they should, everything turns out ok--or at least not as badly as in my case. I definitely live in "the land of the perfect children."

    My daughter is 16 but became emancipated a couple of weeks ago by marriage, because I signed for it. As I presented her choices to her, they were (1) come home and be decent (not very realistic, according to psychiatric, legal, and clergy advice); (2) be filed as a runaway (as she had esssentially been living with current boyfriend for more than a month); or (3) marry him. She chose the last option, which honestly, of those three options, I consider was in both her best interests, as well as the best interests of the rest of the family.

    Psychiatric resources have been exhausted, as I qualify for no state assistance because I have a job with insurance (though mental health benefits have been maxed). She's been on so many medications, and none have worked. She's "played" every counselor to the max for four years, because she doesn't think she needs counseling and she also enjoys watching me invest time, money, and energy getting her to those appointment. She's the most convincing liar I have ever seen, and is well able to fool the counselors as well as me.

    She really has appeared to enjoy hurting me, and has even stated that as a goal. The reason is that I am the obstacle to her doing whatever she wants. Rules simply don't apply to her, and she refuses to admit she has any power whatsoever to make positive choices for herself. Legal resources seem to have been exhausted, as nothing scares her. She doesn't mind getting in a police officer's face, and being on probation doesn't bother her. We're at the point where the judge is ready to yank her into state custody if he sees her again.

    I already feel the social "disapproval" as well as the pressure to let her back in the house if things don't work out between her and the new hubby. Actually, I have felt the social disapproval for the four years since problems got into full swing, because this stuff just doesn't happen to "good" parents, and when bad stuff DOES happen, the parents somehow find the strength to keep looking for the "magic key."

    As for me, I feel used up. I so feel like I will disintegrate if I let her back in, not to mention the damage I see happening to the younger one. My teen has become an abuser. She already has a domestic violence conviction under her belt (on me), and her 8-year-old sister is justifiably afraid of her. I'm so weary of having blue lights at my house all the time because I was unable to bring a tirade under control. It's only my younger daughter and me in the house, and my 16-year-old is about my size or bigger now. Things were escalating rapidly here, because I finally decided it was more unhealthy for my younger one to see me slink away and let the older one take control (to try to avoid esposing her to more of the violent behavior), than for me to assert myself and take control of the situation. Somebody was going to get hurt badly.

    I think it is unusual for an abuser to reform, and I think to let her back in, despite the tears and promises I anticipate, would be the wrong move. I'm so thankful to have her out and to finally have peace in my home. "Let her earn her way back in" was "friendly" advice from last week, from someone I know meant well. I don't know how that can happen.

    As the battle is over for now, the grief over losing her is washing over me like a tidal wave. I still think I'm doing the right thing and hope I will keep the strength to keep her out when the begging begins. I am convinced that call will eventually come, as I just don't see things working about between these newlyweds. They married based on the fantasies and desperation of each. I haven't figured out yet how I will respond to that call, and I think it is important to figure that out ahead of time. I have seen some very "strong" parents find that call to be too much to say "no" to, and that is quite humbling. It does mean a lot that I have the full backing of the psychiatrist, who has wanted her in long-term residential treatment for some time. There was just no way to get her there. We tried every angle we knew that wouldn't financially bankrupt me. That is such a tough decision there. I know of nothing material that is worth more than a child, but what of the other child? I would have had nothing left to provide for her.

    I don't like my teen very much, and at this particular time, I don't even see her as a difficult child. My resentment is huge. I feel guilty about the "unmotherly" feelings I have toward her. She has become my adversary, and I can't believe that sweet child I gave birth to has become this monster I am afraid of.

    Thanks again for the forum.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi there. Welcome to the forum even though I know you never wanted to find yourself here. Everyone of us here knows your pain. We may not be going through your exact situation but most of us know the pain of having kids who just didnt live up to what we wanted for them when they were first placed in our arms all those years ago. I know I didnt look down into that little face and think to myself...gosh I cant wait until you grow up to be a felon! No, I had so many high hopes and dreams for my son back then but they have fallen by the wayside.

    From the sounds of what you have been through with your daughter, I dont know what else you could have done. She seems like she was just pushing you until she was going to get what she could get. For whatever reason...we could go on forever going back and forth about whether she was tested enough to find out the correct diagnosis...but I dont think that serves any purpose at this time because she would refuse to comply with treatment anyway. She is obstinate and rebellious right now. At this point there is nothing you could do or say to change her. You had to let her go.

    You know how people say "you made your bed, now lay in it"? Well, I think that is what you are going to have to say to her when she calls. You cant want to be a grown up one minute and a child the next. Once she took that step, there is no going back. We have a whole list of responses to give when our kids call. It is in the archives here. Just go to the archives on this site and look under this heading and you will find it.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Don't worry about your clueless neighbors who have no idea how it is to live with a child who is differently wired in their brains. Let them talk. Who cares?

    We do understand I think you did the right thing. It is normal for us to get numb and even not like our kids when they are abusive to us. We can love them and not like them or their choices.

    Maybe find a Tough Love support group. If she abuses drugs or alcohol join Al-Anon or Narc-Anon. You'll find plenty of support from people who have been through the trenches and they won't blame your parenting skills. Grrrrrrrrr...that gets me so mad. It's not us, it's their choices.

    Welcome to the board.
  4. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    At this point, I'm not accepting her phone calls at all, and I think she has at least temporarily figured that out and stopped calling. Besides the fact that she and I have not for some time been able to have a conversation that hasn't become emotionally charged, I don't think I'll ever find my way out of the emotional tangle if I continue to talk with her. I even TOLD her that I can't talk with her for a while because I have a lot of grief work to do, but that I do love her very much. She, of course, doesn't buy it--preferring as always to write me off as an awful mother so she can present that "victim" front that seems to be her favorite--but that's as honest as I know how to be.

    I don't know how long this should be my position, but I'm just hoping I'll know when the time is right to crack the door. I don't think ever allowing her back in the house is an option. I've told her any get-together would have to be more like I would arrange a possibly "bad date." Neutral location where I would be able to leave if things got ugly. I feel very vulnerable in my house, and I also feel that when she chose to become consistently abusive, she chose to lose the privilege of entering my house, once I was able to get her out of it.

    I don't know how far "out" this puts me in relation to members of this forum. I've read a lot of posts with an "open door policy" theme, and I don't have one. I HAVE told her that I love her but that I cannot ever again live with her, and that the most I could do, IF she treats me decently at some time in the future, would be to offer a little help financially in keeping up her own place.

    As for the phone calls, I know that if she is determined to reach me, I will eventually get "caught." I will either forget to check the caller ID, or she will call from a different phone. I like the line in the archives, where the plan is to act as if the line has too much interference to hear anything. When I told my friend about it last night, she suggested some fingernail scratches on the receiver in conjunction with that, and then did it to show me. It really does sound like genuine static. I think that will be my plan.

    Meanwhile, no phone contact for an indefinite period of time. So far, even text messages have become nasty, with her accusing me of things I didn't do and just generally being hateful. There may be "trouble in paradise" already.
  5. hoobear

    hoobear Guest

    Good morning and welcome.

    I live in "perfect world" too. I have spent the majority of my parenting time putting out fires-not what I dreamed of. Although my difficult child is younger than yours, I've overheard more than my share of comments about my son from clueless neighbors. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. You have already been given some good advice and others will be along to help. From your description, you had no other choice than to protect your other child right now. Sending you good thoughts and strength.

  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome from me, as well. Your words sound so familiar to me, as they do to so many other parents here. I have no doubt you did everything you could for your daughter .. I can feel it in your words... and I truly understand the pain of coming to the point of, "no more." I also understand how hard it is to be a single parent of such a child.. and worrying about the aftermath and fallout on the younger child. I still struggle with some of that guilt, even though mine are older now.

    Neighbors and coworkers may not always understand, but we do. Vent away, as much as needed. We get it.
  7. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Yes, VA, the single mom thing adds a different angle. I guess there are pros and cons. Nice not to have to negotiate every decision but sure does add to the alone feeling--and the pressure. I HAVE to hold it together to keep going to work, because I'm the only game in town. Also, part of the manipulation here has been to cause me trouble on the job--inventing crisis to make me have to rush out the door at a moment's noice...making me miss work for court issues, etc. Her psychiatrist has actually become MY doctor as well, medicating ME in order to keep my emotions stable at work when the unexpected comes along, and I resent that need more than I can say. On the other hand, though, I'm so thankful there are medications to help me and that they have worked. I actually came out of my divorce feeling very empowered and would never have thought I'd soon need medication just to make it through.

    I've often wondered how different the outcome might have been here if there had been a man in the house to stifle the violent behavior. As I told the psychiatrist, having a man might help, but I think is a poor reason to go out and find one. He laughed. Also, when I told him I'd decided to quit dating and get a couple of dogs, he laughed and said that was the best idea he'd heard all day.
  8. DenitaS

    DenitaS New Member

    I am going throught the almost exact same thing. My daughter is 15 and didnt' get married but, has moved out of our home.
    We are going tuesday to file a CHINS charge on her and hope that will get her the help that she needs! I "can't" leave her on her own because of her age and this is our LAST HOPE. We also have a 17 yo daughter who has been out of our home off and on since 15. We finally had to tell her it wasn't a revolving door and we WON'T let her come back!
    It is a tough road to go down!! And I hope that WE ALL find peace at the end of it!
    Good Luck!!
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board. I'm another mom who understands.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board.

    I wouldn't worry about others who don't "get it". It's awfully hard to unless you've lived it. Under the circumstances, you made the best choice possible for all concerned. No one can ask for more.

    Your idea to have a plan in place when her fantacies crumble and cold hard reality of marriage, bill paying, and the like set a good idea. It's easier to respond when you've got an idea of what to say to situations before hand. Sounds like your daughter has a severe case of Grown ups can do as they please. Which of course we know isn't true by far. lol Something she'll have to learn the hard way because that's the way she's chosen to learn it.

    You can't control her choices, but you can control how you respond to those choices.

    Glad you found us. :)

  11. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Dear EB,
    My heart goes out to you. You have a lot going on and a lot on your mind. However, you sense strongly that you need to think about this differently and you need to go about this differently for your own good mental and physical health and the reason why you sense this is because you are right on the money.

    Your situation is a little complicated due to the young age of your daughter. However, since she is married, legally she is emancipated. And, if nothing else, all her choices indicate a young woman who needs to learn life lessons the hard way.

    What you feel is loss and grief. I am very sorry. This is difficult and normal. You must get help for yourself to get past this. You must have faith that in time things will get better. It is highly unlikely that you will be part of this change for your daughter, especially at this time. Leave the door open for therapy for her if she is willing to do the work....but don't force her and don't sit there and count the days. It is what it is. It is painful, it is unfortunate, but life moves on.

    You need to keep your head above water. Do you have access to therapy for yourself? What are you doing to nurture yourself?

    Please let go of any and all concerns about what the neighbors think. And any 'friends' of yours who do not understand or who do not support you, are simply not your friends.

    You might tell her you will let her back in the house (should her marriage break up) if she is willing to go to family therapy or individual therapy and get a job or go to school (if she isn't going to school or working currently). But make her go to at least one or two appointments first and don't bring it up unless she makes a sincere request to move back home.

    If your daughter ever has a quiet moment and you find yourself in a 'sane' conversation, you might ask her what her goals are in life are and ask her how her current behavior is helping get her there.

    IN the mean time, totally let go/ignore/chuck what the neighbors think. Adopt this attitude "what they think of me is none of my business."

    AND as best as you can, enjoy life anyway. Are you working? If not, can you go back to school to learn a new skill? Or can you take a course that would enhance your knowledge at work? Do you have any hobbies?

    When was the last time you did something fun for yourself? Do you like to read? How about buying a fun magazine or book? What about a movie? How about calling a friend and going to a movie?

    The weekend will be here before you know it...why not make a plan to do something fun with- your younger daughter in the day and get a sitter for the night and go out for a few hours and enjoy yourself. Go to Starbuck's with- a friend and talk for a few hours...anything. Just get out and do something different, safe and fun for a little while Refresh your body and soul.

    You might ask around for a local support group. We got some help from Families Anonymous. Please remember to look into therapy for yourself as well...esp. if this extreme stress continues.
    Lasted edited by : Oct 20, 2009
  12. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    I've attempted to post at least a couple of replies as this thread has gone along, and they seem to be lost in cyberspace. This is not happening on other threads, so I'm confused about what is going on. I want to try again, though, to say I appreciate so much the support on here. The validation is exactly what I need right now.

    As for nurturing myself, I have a few days off from school this week (Fall Break for us), and so I'm trying hard to just BREATHE for a few days. Literally and figuratively, I guess. I am recovering from the worst case of bronchitis I think I have ever had, and I know the stress has trashed my immune system and made me vulnerable. Plus, we are setting record absentee rates at school for this time of year--legimate illness, not kids just staying home for no good reason--so I guess I'm fortunate it hasn't hit me before now. That's a big social angle, by the way. It's not as much the neighbors. A TEACHER, of all people, should know how to handle her own child. That's what I feel in the air. I know I have to let it go.

    There's no immediate family except my wonderful mom--all deceased, so I'm well-acquainted with the grief process, and I know that's what I'm going through now. I also know I'll get to the other side, but it will be rougher than even the death of a parent. Reaction from more distant family, who I though I could count on, has been a punch in the gut. They aren't here to have lived this, but have been quite judgmental, assuming that the fault is mine for obviously not providing enough "nurture." Stunning. My difficult child was the center of my life for 8 years until her sister was born, and at that point my attention had to be divided between the two. Pretty normal in a family with more than one child, I'd say, and most often before 8 years of not having to "share" mom. I know I have to let that go too. I know in my heart I did the best I could, and also that difficult child's behaviors are WAY out of the normal range for ANY circumstance that happened here.

    Just staying in, feeling the solitude, loving on the dogs (and letting them love on me--they are SO perceptive), reading some, playing the piano--those things that some would find boring seem to be just what I need now. My little one wanted to spend some time with Grandma this week, so I have also been able to get a lot of sleep, which my body has been craving for some time.

    Still no contact with difficult child, which I think is what I need, too. In fact, I had been refusing phone calls until they finally stopped. At this point, I'm feeling that getting out of my marriage (finally) was "boot camp" for me in getting ready to deal with this, although I never saw it coming at the time. It feels like the same process in so many ways, though so much harder since it's my child. Just like in my divorce process, I think breaking the contact is key. I spent a LONG time in an area divorce support group, and that was a always a crucial piece of advice. The facilitator would always ask, "Did you feel better or worse after having the conversation? So...why are you answering the phone? This is one time you have to take care of YOU. You have to be selfish during a divorce in order to get to the other side." That is where I feel I am, and because of my experience is seeming like the only way to respond in order to finally take care of ME.
  13. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi eb,

    I could sign my name to your post, my story reads the same as most of the members who replied to you can attest.

    My daughter is now 18 and at college an hour away but has recently been arrested for underage drinking and drug paraphenalia. We gave our difficult child the same choices you did, come home and treat us with respect, or move out. We now tell her to marry her boyfriend because we think that is in our best interest and will at least keep her from living on the street.

    The past two months with her out of the house have been so peaceful and relaxing. I won;t ever go back to things the way they were. I'm not sure what we will do either when she comes knocking on our door if she flunks out or gets kicked out of college.

    Keep taking care of you! You have found a lot of understanding fellow parents here.

  14. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Janet ~ my thoughts exactly.

    emotionally bankrupt (I love your screen name) ~ Welcome to the board. I have been through much of the same as you have. My difficult child is older now but at your daughter's age she caused us so much pain. I felt like a bad mom and constantly wondered what I had done wrong. However, my younger daughter is a total easy child raised in the same house by the same parents. That helped me realize that my difficult child was hardwired differently and that it wasn't my fault.

    There is a board saying that I found very helpful . . . "I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it." That took a lot of weight off of my shoulders.

    You also have a younger child to protect. Now that your difficult child has married and moved out of the house, I would say that your parenting days (for difficult child) are over. Moving back in would (and should) not even be an option.

    If it is any consolation, my difficult child did improve with age. Things are not perfect by any means but she is light years away from the nasty, hurtful teenager she used to be.

    Sending a big hug. . . .

  15. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Along the lines of what Nancy and Kathy said...

    when our daughter moved out, we never knew such peace.
    We would not consider having her move back in under any circumstances.
    If she were younger, perhaps I would consider it, if and only if she were willing to do the hard work necessary. However, that would be very unlikely.

    When our daughter tries her best to help herself and cooperates with- us, we help her with certain things in life and things are better for her.
    She does go to therapy regularly, etc.

    husband and I have learned to move forward...and to enjoy life.
    It took a lot of thought, a lot of hard work, some support and help from others.

    Keep strengthening is the best thing you can do.
  16. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Similar experience here too. I made my dtr leave our house at age 18--she was causing so much chaos and our younger dtr was unable to cope with her being in our house. I decided then and there she could never live with us again. I love her and I am glad to be in contact with her and try to help without enabling but I cannot live with her. She lives across the country and things work better for all of us that way.
  17. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Thanks again for the support. Jane--I had already put difficult child on notice that she WOULD move out when she reached the age of 18, because that was the only way I saw for any of us to get any peace--as well as for her to have even a chance to grow up. I had told her I wanted her to have plenty of time to get a plan together (at that time 18 months), and not be holding on to any false hope that she can turn "nice" at the last minute and stay on. I still think if she's ever going to grow up, it will be somewhere besides here, because it's going to take a major shake-up to get her attention. I can't imagine what that will look like, because in my opinion, some of the shake-ups we have gone through have been huge.

    Patterns here had become so ingrained...I don't think the dynamics would ever have changed. We had both become so adamant in our positions...things were only going to get worse. I think she saw it too. It takes a lot to get me to the point of "fight mode"; I'm actually known professionally for my calm, soothing demeanor! (I don't feel very calm, but I guess I must project that, because too many people have described me that way.) Once I'm pushed too far, however, I simply don't back down. difficult child refuses to see many realities, but I think she does know me that well, and I think that hastened her move out of here. She'd already stood in my kitchen with her hands on her hips, saying, "We're going to find out who's 'head b____' in this house!" and, "I guess we're just going to have a 'b____ fest!'" I guess it's progress that I can laugh now about that ridiculous scene. The battle lines were drawn, for sure.

    Do you ever feel that some of your "friends"/co-workers at some point put a time limit on how long you could justifiably be in crisis, and that they've determined your time is up? Also a perception that if you are continually in crisis, you must be one of those people who thrives on chaos and must be somehow inviting it? I definitely get that feeling, especially on the job, that somehow it's been determined among some people that my "time is up." Some who were compassionate at first seem to have determined that I should be over it by now and are irritated when I have to take a day or two off to deal with a difficult child crisis.

    I've also begun to see it more in the framework that life just hasn't humbled those folks yet. That they haven't lived yet through enough adversity to "get it." The sincere compassion I get is from those people who have lived enough heartache to have felt all control literally snatched away. Interestingly, most of them are cancer survivors, and by far, most of them are older than I am.
  18. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    That "time is up" is an interesting thing.

    On one hand, friends are sorta right. It's very difficult and confusing for me to say this.

    The reason I say this, is because after a very long period of time, it really is up to us to take hold of the situation as best as we can. True, the "situation" is almost unbearable and totally unfair.

    However, be that as it may be, it really is up to us to figure out how WE are going to learn how to COPE.

    Each one of us has the personal responsibility to figure this out. This might mean getting on medication, getting a therapist, telling our adult 'child' its time to move out, getting into a support group, etc.

    I DO believe friends SHOULD be very patient with us, since our burdens are great and most (the great majority) of my friends are either clueless about difficult child business or do not face anything even remotely like what I face. I do think this takes gentle care.

    That is what causes me some confusion....I DO see some folks being unkind, judgmental, unreasonable, heartless...even cruel.

    So, it's a a little complicated. I do think any 'thinking' friend would realize our situations are complicated/difficult and stressful and I would hope that a real friend would have patience and whenever they are able, offer a little help now and again.

    At the same time, I do think we need to have a little empathy for our friends and not overburden them with our grief and we have a responsibility to ourselves to find solutions for our very difficult 'situation.'

    by the way, I have noticed that the more I take hold of my situation, the more my friends comprehend the difficulties I face and have faced. When my burdens are 'over the top,' I might ask for some help, but I tend only ask for help ocassionally. I find that I have more energy to help others and it is good to be in a reciprocal it should be.
    Lasted edited by : Oct 21, 2009
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! I am coming in late on this thread, but want to welcome you. I know you never wanted to need a group like this one, but you are now among the smartest, most inventive, kind and compassionate group of parents that exists! (Aren't you lucky!)

    We don't throw stones or judge. If we mess up, we apologize, we may get up on our soapboxes now and again but we don't mind if you ask us to get down.

    First things first - ((((((HUG!!))))))

    Having lived with a child who abused me physically, I do know much of what you are feeling. You simply had no choice but to get her out of the home. It is very much not safe for your 8yo. I would bet that as the little one realized that difficult child isn't moving back she will tell you more stuff difficult child did to her. been there done that there also.

    PLEASE contact the domestic violence center in your community. They can provide free therapy for you and your daughter. YOU ARE A VICTIM AND SURVIVOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

    Just because your abuser is your child doesn't make your status as a victim/survivor change. You WILL need help to handle that. the DVcenter may not have dealt with exactly your problem but they can STILL help.

    You also need to make sure your young one is seeing a very good therapist. You may want to google "sibling abuse" and read some of those books. I cannot remember which ones I read but they were very helpful with the kids at home when I went through something similar.

    Take care of you and your youngest. Keep the phone off and ignore her texts. Do NOT open the door if she comes and make sure that your youngest knows to not open the door either. If she gets mad that she cannot call you, she may decide to come over to do/get whatever it is she wants. Just don't let her in. Call the police if you have to. It is YOUR home and NO ONE who abuses you should be allowed in.

    PLEASE be careful. The time when an abuser feels you slipping away is the most dangerous time. Esp if you are now fairly settled in and adjusting to life with-o her in the house. She may want to come by to assert her control and keep you afraid. Don't play into this by letting her come in. Use the police if you need to in order to get her to leave.

    Many hugs for you and your daughter!
  20. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    Susiestar--Wow. Thanks for the wake-up call. I was already a domestic violence survivor before I got into this situation and have even helped counsel others, but I missed the obvious. OF COURSE, she will come here if she can't get through any other way. That's the EXACT situation that happened when I began my divorce process. And here I've absolutely let down my guard. I've paid little attention to locking doors and have even quit arming the alarm system. I can't believe I didn't see it. I'm locking my doors and arming my system NOW. It's night here. Thanks again.