Oops, my bad!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Robinboots, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Last week I posted about how GFG17 was doing SO WELL. A completely different kid, TH-F-S-S. Today is Monday, honeymoon is OVER.

    Thought it was going well, he was up about 8:45, medications, breakfast. Said he had to go to FFM's office and was back in an hour or so. Then he came into my office and said: We have to talk.

    Around there, them's fightin' words!

    He needed a windshield wiper blade. Now. RIGHT NOW. Why did he ask me? Well, he needs permission to go anywhere, but he certainly could have stopped in-between places when he was running hither-and-yon all weekend. Suddenly he now has to work tomorrow morning and NEEDS that wiper blade THIS MINUTE. So he asked because of that, but also because he needs money.

    Normally, I'd give him $5 or whatever to go do this. However, we've (he's) had serious issues with money and we decided, some weeks ago, that we'd manage it for him. He is supposed to give me his checks, he gets 10% to spend/blow, and a gas allowance. 10% goes into long-term savings, and the rest is for stuff like this, short-term savings, car payments, insurance, phone, etc.

    His whole attitude, natch, set badly with me. He was rude, demanding, telling me what a crappy mom I am, how I don't ever do anything anyway, how I could make a phone call to the bank so he can make a withdrawal, etc. On and on and on. You all know, right? Twenty minutes of this, at least. He was on a roll.

    FINALLY, thank God, he went to his room.

    See, he only has $35 in the bank. The $78 check he was SUPPOSED to give me, kept being "not there" last week when he went to get it. Turns out he got it, blew it, it's gone. So, technically, he's about $10 short in his 10% savings.

    But I'll be darned if I'm going to give in to rude, demanding, entitled behavior, ESP. when I'm being insulted left, right, and center!

    So, guess he got what he wanted (the overnight on Saturday), and by now is back to his usual self. Or maybe he could control himself for a few days and is just having a setback. Either way - CRUD!
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, here's where you and I would have handed this differently. Maybe it's because our kids are different - I don't know. But we get this attitude a lot from difficult child 3. Used to get it at times from the others (easy child 2/difficult child 2 mostly).

    What I figured - a lot of this apparent attitude is coming from anxiety. It really does come across as extreme rudeness. But I don't bite. I don't buy into it. I won't wear it. But neither will I let it get to me, either. I will look at the FACTS of the matter and keep the tone of voice, manner etc right out of it. FOR NOW.

    In this case - I might have gone with him to buy new wiper blades, which he would have to pay for somehow. OK if it comes out of his savings. If it's too much hassle to sort out through his savings immediately, then I would pay for it then make him sit down at the computer and do an Internet bank transfer. HE does it. Me looking over his shoulder. And that gets me seeing the level of his account.

    Now, as for his blowing that check - HE did that. The natural consequences - HIS account is down. One day that will sink in and he WILL value what you have been trying to do for him. I know, because with this sort of stuff, I went through it with difficult child 1. He was useless with money and would rapidly empty out his account if things weren't set up exactly right. And yes, he would argue and argue if he wanted me to help him get money out. We had it set up so he needed two signatures to access his locked-away savings.

    Now it's time to go back to his insults. Right before you hand over the wiper blades, the money to get them or whatever - you look him in the eye and say, "Now, what was it you were saying before about me being a bad mother? Would you like to reconsider at this point in time?"

    Yes, it's blackmail. But all's fair in love and war. And this is both.

    I NEVER react back when my kids are rude to me. I don't give back what they are dishing out. I simply carry on being a loving parent, but I make sure their words come back to haunt them.

    I don't bite. But I'm no doormat, either.

    Considering how the older three are going, I think this has been working for me. But I know it isn't easy to do, because husband still struggles with it. As a result of husband still struggling, difficult child 3 gets angry with him and says the meanest things about husband and it's not fair. But the more husband learns to play this game, the more it is working.

    It does take time, but I can assure you, it is a worthwhile investment.

  3. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Handled it differently? I didn't buy the wiper blades OR let him do so, is that what you mean? And you would have?

    See, I don't let my kids, difficult child or any of the other four, tell me what I'm going to do. If I choose to do something for them, fine; if I choose to wait, fine. If I choose nothing at all, again, my decision.

    First, this is a common ploy - he needs something. Nine out of 10 times it's not a need at all, it's a made-up story so he can go somewhere doing who-knows-what. Second - I looked at the wiper blades. Gee, guess what? Part of the rubber on one had come out of the clip. NO need for a new one, just a 2-second fix.

    Why in the world would any parent drop what they're doing, immediately, to give in to a rude, demanding, verbally abusing kid? Even a difficult child?

    Turns out, after his little episode, he went to his room and slept for four hours. Fine by me. With this kid, you can't give an inch. We've tried that. The answer is no. You want a reason, fine, you're broke. What do people in the real world do if they have no money? They wait. If he can't wait for me to finish my work without insulting me and going off the deep end, he's got bigger problems than a wiper blade or being broke.

    Of course, we all know he has bigger problems - that doesn't mean every second of my life is going to be devoted to his demands, or to a "teaching moment". Oh, and re having him do a bank transfer? No way. Not happening. He and banks don't work - he's cost me hundreds already in fees, he gets zero access, period.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Robinboots, I wasn't having a go at you. Merely giving you an alternative viewpoint with the proviso - my kids may be different.

    As I said, my kids may be VERY different to yours. Perhaps that is why the way I do things works for me. I can't say if it would work for you. All I can do is share it with you.

    We gave difficult child 1 limited access to his bank accounts but then - we could trust him to a certain extent. He wasn't constantly trying to think up ways to get money out of the system we set up for him; he realised it was HIS money, there was a limit to the supply. But also at some level, he kept forgetting that there was a limit and the few times he got access to his card before the transfers happened, he drained his account. Nasty. He just didn't think beyond the moment.

    However, we were able to set up his bank accounts so all his money was paid directly into his bank account (and he was not given cheques - he would have quickly learned how to cash them and blown the dough) and for the few days between pay day and the automated transfers we set up - WE had custody of his debit card. The transfers were taking money from his accessible account (where all his money went to begin with) into the locked away savings account that needed two signatures.

    We had to have custody of his card for three days every fortnight. We had our computer set to remind us to ask him for the card. "I've lost it" would not wash. We set his little sister to watch him and would have probably made him stay home from school
    (which in no way was a good thing, not the way I made him work instead) plus grounded him for the three days I needed.

    Maybe the difference here for me - difficult child 1 was motivated to do the right thing most of the time. He really did not want to empty out his account and then cop the fees. However, when there were problems which incurred fees, I was able to approach the bank and get the fees reimbursed because in Australia, people in receipt of disability are supposed to have fee-free accounts. I had been frank with the bank in setting up all these safety catches so they knew what we were trying to do; they had no excuse if they fouled up.

    What this meant was that over the two weeks between payments, difficult child 1 had access to about $50 in total. He could withdraw it all and blow the lot, or he could manage it better. If there was a special event (such as the annual convention he liked to go to) I would go with him to let him withdraw some money from his savings account. But as a rule, if the money was gone in the first week, that was too bad. He had to manage. And it was this that taught him how to manage his money. He's still not brilliant, but he's vastly better than he was, and although it was us putting the safety catches in place, it made it easier for him to learn faster how to manage.

    Back to your son - I find it interesting that you noted that all your son's wiper blades needed was a repair. Well spotted. Is that what he did? Or did he blow someone's dough on a new set? Was he not thinking about an alternative way to handle the situation? Or was he wanting new stuff because he doesn't like having something imperfect on his car?

    I might have bought him the wiper blades - but as you did, I would have looked at the old ones first (with him) and been glad of a free repair opportunity. No way would I have helped him buy the wiper blades if they weren't needed. He'd have to make a darn good case for me, and from the sound of it - there was no case.

    I would have been possibly more lenient with my kids, if I knew it wasn't just "I gotta have it NOW!" but "This is a safety issue, it's really important," plus I could trust them to not abuse the special circumstances. If your son was likely to abuse any leniency, plus especially since you discovered it wasn't needed anyway - then you clearly did the right thing.

    What we've had to deal with in our household, is autism. Primarily. A lot of impulse control, but also a strong need to recognise the anxiety speaking (and not react back to the apparent insolence - we get a lot of it sometimes still, from difficult child 3). Also a strong need to be clear, precise, calm and firm in our responses.

    You've given me some interesting new information. He went to his room and slept? OK, so he wasn't as heightened as he seemed. Or his outburst exhausted him - that can happen.

    Have you asked him how he DID handle it? Have you replayed it with him and told him where he went wrong? Or would that set him off again? (I quite understand not wanting to do that!)

    What you had, and what you did, was a teaching moment whether you made it one or not. It's called Life. He asked, you said no. He (hopefully) should have learned, just a little bit more.

    I think you may have misunderstood me in my attitude to apparent rudeness. I don't accept it. I just avoid giving back to any extent what the kid gave me. I've heard too many parents respond with anger and loud voices saying, "WHAT did you just say? Well it will be a cold day in purgatory, boyo, before I give you anything, if that is going to be your attitude!"
    I have found that if things get to this stage in our family, we've already lost. Because what has happened is the topic gets shifted from the first issue, "Mum, I want X" to one of dealing with disrespect. The first issue is still in the kid's head and they won't make the shift easily to "Oops, I just spoke disrespectfully to Mum, now THAT was a mistake." It means I could be ranting about disrespect, but my kid is not on the same page. Anything I say about timing and disrespect will be utterly wasted. The kid will be thinking, "Mum is trying to change the subject - she's doing this on purpose because she is trying to get out of giving me what I want." End result - screaming match with nothing achieved, both of us feeling resentful and even bigger barriers between us.

    If I can, I will say, "I am busy at the moment. I will be available for you in five minutes." I do try to give my kids time though, if only because once I've got them dealt with, I can get back to what I was doing and be more likely to have no interruptions. If what I get up to deal with is really trivial, THEN I will say, "You interrupted me for THIS? It could have waited."

    I emphasise - I strongly recommend against any parent making themselves a doormat for their kids. It's not doing them any favours. But I won't ask for an apology while my kid is raging.

    Exactly. But I will tell my kids what I'm doing and why. Maybe because what I'm dealing with in my kids is different, and this is what works - for me. If it makes no difference with your kids - that's good. It means you are doing what works - for you. And what more can anyone do?

    What is important to a kid, is often trivial in our eyes. it can be trivial in their eyes at a different time. (very frustrating!)

    I hope this was just a temporary blip in how things are going, and he gets back to better behaviour again for you.

  5. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Thanks, Marg, and I'm sorry if I came off a bit ticked. My difficult child is 17, which here in the US means he CAN be prosecuted as an adult if he screws up, legally speaking. Right now he's on probation as a juvenile because last spring he hit me and yes, I pressed charges. Only way we could start to get some help.

    He probably wasn't tired from the episode, tho, more likely he stayed up very late online. Or, like you said, maybe it was just a blip. I try not to talk about things unless HE approaches me, and is reasonable and calm; husband and I prefer to have witnesses, after all he's put us thru the last couple years.

    Last spring he blew thru his money (typical, for him, but this time it was a bank account). I had to pay $350, as I said. He's always had issues with this, living in the moment and all. It's just a bigger issue now, because he has a car payment, and insurance, and a phone - and needs gas money. He's not on disability, so no recourse there even if we have that here in the US.

    His issues are CD, maybe Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). Goes back to the psychiatrist in a month or so. Speaking of, they didn't call me back last week so I'll call them tomorrow.

    What we decided was to take his checks, he's supposed to be setting up direct deposit, and give him $75 gas money and 10% of his checks (2 jobs) for spending money. Those things he is supposed to budget, himself, and we do nothing. 10% is long-term savings, and the rest is just saving - for stuff like wiper blades.

    If he had come to me and been calm and reasonable, I could have said: I'm on deadline, I have a lot of [whatever] to do, but I'll holler at ya in [1 hour, 2, whatever] and we'll take a look at them.

    He did not. It was straight off the bat, right into it, verbal smackdown time.

    The worst part is that it throws me off for the whole day. I keep telling myself it's no big deal, get over it, etc., but it doesn't work - I lose my concentration, get more tense, etc. Seems like it shouldn't affect me like that, not every time, not when he isn't even threatening or violent. Maybe it's comparable to spousal abuse, Know what I mean?? My first husband did that a lot - just verbal put-downs, nagging, jumping all over me.

    Anyway, husband did speak to him this evening...difficult child didn't respond much, but he came out for dinner and has been watching TV with us. Pleasant enough when addressed, but I asked about a couple things and he was pretty terse.

    Not looking forward to tomorrow....
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I have found that for me, meditation helps. Nothing too zen or weird, just learning to relax and slow my breathing. I actually modified my exercises from childbirth to suit my medical condition but a payoff has been my ability (most of the time - not always!) to take a deep breath and relax, throwing off the tension in the neck and across the shoulders.

    It does sound like he's got different problems to my kids, even though superficially it resembles them.

    When my kids are anxious and panicked about something they have to have NOW, they do come across as rude and insolent. But for them, it is secondary. I do know, however, that there are kids out there who use the insolence and aggro as a front, as a tool and leverage to get what they want faster (or so they think).

    It's a fine distinction, but yes, it does require a subtly different response.

    At least he has two jobs. How long has he been in those jobs? Because with all the other problems, if he is able to hold down the same job continually, there IS hope for him.

    Hold that thought. You sound like you need something positive to hold on to!

  7. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    I do relaxation, deep muscle, every day. And I exercise - well, not as much as I should!

    You're right about the differences, and mine is one of the latter....

    These two jobs have been for about 2-3 months. He had one last year for about 7 months and another for 3, overlapping. Got fired from both, and one now is in question. Sigh. Not looking good, but he seems to be able to GET them easily. Guess that's something, too!