Not sure how this all works!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BigMamma3, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. BigMamma3

    BigMamma3 New Member

    Well, I am new to the board and I guess just looking for some support and somewhere to vent when I am overwhelmed with my life. After 20+ years working with children of all ages and issues, I decided as a single mom to adopt 2 sisters who were at the time 2 & 5. They have been a blessing and joy to me and can't imagine my life without them. They are so loving, beautiful, intelligent and they are also the biggest challenge of my life! I had convinced myself that all my "experience" had prepared me to become a great Mom. This lasted a couple of weeks. About one year into our journey together as a family, after having to move, losing my job, having my care stolen and house broken into- I reached my breaking point. I am still struggling to get to the point where I feel like I am a "great mom" has been a rocky road. I guess it is unreasonable for me to think that at some point all my love and parenting efforts will pay off and the difficult behaviors will diminish...or better yet disappear!

    My older daughter definitely has her moments still, but her kind and loving nature and desire have made it easier to deal with her "moments". My younger daughter form the beginning was a handful and I used to think to myself (and share with trusted confidants) that she seemed to have a "mean streak"...and I can understand with the rough start in life she had. She is now in kindergarten, regular therapy and attends a very unstructured after-school program. She was issued "in-school suspension" last fall for following the teachers instructions and "handing" the pencil back to her schoolmate a little too forcefully and basically stabbing her palm with the pencil (actually drew a little blood reportedly). I really don't think she understood the consequences of her actions as she has never been violent beyond a little kicking, hitting, biting.

    Two days ago she hit 2 classmates and when her teacher tried to redirect her, she kicked her teacher (not too hard). She refused to comply with teacher and go to the office until the Principal was on her way. She was suspended for a day and we had to meet with the principal upon her return today. She sat there slumping, angry, glaring at the principal trying to nod her answers. I was so angry with her defiance and disrespect. If she had acted this way at home I would have told her to go to her room and come back and talk to me when she has a better attitude (which she does comply with after initial grumbling). But we were stuck and so after being prompted by the principal, she finally answered with "yes" and "no" responses and was sent back to class.

    Lately she argues with every statement her sisters make, huffs, puffs, stomps, rolls her eyes at every direction I give her (she did this with the principal too). Cries & wines often. She is extremely controlling and always wants the authority role when playing with others. She even on occasion speaks to me as if SHE is in charge. When I went down the list of indicators for ODD she met almost every one of them! She is scheduled to have a formal psychiatric evaluation which her therapist is coordinating...but meanwhile I just have to beleive I can be a better parent to her.

    I am jeapordizing my job with all these absences due to my children and their needs. I use up all my paid leave dealing with their behavioral and medical needs leaving no "vacation time" to unwind, de-stress and relax.

    I think I just need to vent and work on getting more balance, but how do I do that in addition to working on improving my parenting skills? It's a catch 22.

    By the way...what the heck is a "difficult child":confused:
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi and WElcome! You did a great thing adopting these two girls! I'm in the middle of watching something on the stove so can't respond much right now. But, there are some members on the board who have experience with adopting children and then trying to help understand some difficulties the children are experiencing. They can give you excellent advice. You aren't alone!!
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome--

    difficult child is "Gift from God"--the child(ren) that test/s us as parents.

    And I am afraid that if your expectation was to be this "Great Mom"--you may be putting too much pressure on yourself. Relax. It's not a contest... There are days when many of us don't want to be the Mom at all--much less "Great Mom". So just do your best...

    I am sorry to hear that your daughter is having difficulties. Have you sought any kind of help/counseling for her?
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You have adopted older kids (children who are not infants) and that presents problems of it's own. I did this also and it's not the same as infant adoption nor is the problem probably "Just ODD." Were they severely abused physically, sexually or both? Did their birthmother use substances when she was pregnant? This affects their brains. Did they have many caregivers before going to you? Do they remember their birth relatives?
    Adopting older kids goes beyond experience and "great mom skills." I learned the hard way that it takes more than love. Some kids, in fact, are afraid of love and fight it. I suggest reading "Adoping the Hurt Child" by Gregory Keck and learning about various attachment issues. Chances are your two little ones have a lot on their plates and you can't fix them just by loving them. It does seem logically that giving them a good home, your undying love, and caring for their needs would "heal" them, but it isn't always simple like that. I won't go into one of my horrific experiences because it doesn't seem as if your girls are in that category, but I do think you should get them into adoption therapy (not just regular therapy). Even the kids I adopted at birth have some issues relating to adoption, but at least they were loved from the beginning. Also, do you have any information on their family tree on either side? Genetics counts! It would be a rare older adopted child who only had ODD, and I recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation first and then seeking out a therapist who is adept and knowledgeable about older adopted children. Not all therapists get the "adopted" issues. It will be worth your while. Welcome to the board! ;)
  5. BigMamma3

    BigMamma3 New Member

    Thanks for the welcome & all your advice...I will check out that book.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    While you're looking at books, also look at "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene, it's one that gets recommended a lot here. It's a different way of discipline for kids who seem to have difficulties with the usual methods. It's not saying you've done it wrong, just maybe used a method that is not the best fit for these kids.

    My sister adopted two kids (not siblings) as older children. They were still babies, under a year old, but damaged in ways that never could be healed.

    So don't be too hard on yourself and don't be too hard on them. There's something else going on here.

    I really loathe the term "ODD". I'm not saying I don't believe in it (I have to!) but the term makes you feel VERY resentful of your child, when often the child is NOT doing this deliberately, is NOT in control of their actions anywhere near as much as we think. But the "defiant" component of the name makes us think that the child is being deliberately obnoxious, just to be ornery. And that is just not so.

    The first time it was suggested to me that difficult child 3 was ODD, I was very angry. I looked it up and found a few parameters that didn't fit but I had to accept, he sure fit the description. However, I could see he wasn't being nasty on purpose, he was just at the end of his tether. Trouble was, so was his teacher and she had begun the year with more patience than most.

    The oppositionality becomes most obvious when we clash heads with our kids, when we meet their oppositionality with our own stubbornness in response. We deal with it by using "I can be stubborn too" and then wonder why this doesn't stop it, it only makes it worse.

    Some kids do learn by being told. But other kids need to be set an example, and when the classic strict parenting is used on them, they use it as a template for their own behaviour and we find ourselves on the receiving end - not good, coming from a child.

    We can continue using equal and opposite force with our kids like a tug of war, or we can stop the competition and let go the rope. It's a game that rapidly goes nowhere when there is nobody on the other end of the rope. Or alternatively, you can stop pulling, and suddenly go in the same direction they are going. This can throw them off balance and tey isinctiviely cling for support, then (if you're lucky) let you lead. Once you have tem letting you lead, even if it is where they want to go, they are more likely to let you begin to steer in a subtly different direction.

    It is a little more complex than this, because your own parenting instinct has to come in at some point because YOU are the person who knows your children best. But it is a different approach which teaches the children to use their own stubbornness positively, rather than to fight everybody else.

    Whatever the diagnosis, it doesn't matter too much at thispoint, you can do what you feel needs to be done. A diagnosis is important for school and to get services, but to parent - your child today with a diagnosis is the same child yesterday without one, your methods that work will not change. A diagnosis can help you have more clues, but if you are already studying your child, what you observe will not change.

    Keep us posted in how you get on. Sorry you need to be here, glad to have you on board.

  7. compassion

    compassion Member

    Welcome from another mom who has adopted two wondorful children. Your daighter that you supect, BiPolar (BP) that sounds consistent with my experince with my daughter who was rx with BiPolar (BP) this summer but diplayed what I now know as BiPolar (BP) tratis since age 3.