Please share your stories about how you were able to tell your difficult children "NO"

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scent of cedar, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Recovering is helping me stay the course regarding enabling in a post on Watercooler. I am going to post that question here too, because that is the essential question with kids like ours and I need to hear your answers and opinions. Thank you in advance.

    Before beginning the discussion:

    husband and I enable one another to enable the kids. Is this happening to you, and how do you deal with that?

    It seems wrong to complain about helping your own kids. Though we don't give alot all at once, it adds up really fast. Since husband retired and I stopped working twelve years ago, we have been bled regularly and have nothing at all to show for that money. We have learned to live in a kind of fearful expectation of what the next crisis will be. Part of the reason we do this is to keep the kids from coming to live at home.
    I feel a little shame at that. It seems we should help. I know that other parents welcome their children home for as long as they need to be there. They have come home before though, and I am so fricking glad they do not still live with us it isn't even funny. They are overwhelming, their problems are overwhelming, never-ending, totally engrossing.


    I understand the concept of detachment. I know what I want to do regarding the kids, but I cannot make myself do it. When we say no, we don't stay with that position. The money gets to seem inconsequential compared to the dire consequences ~ or the threat of the adult moving home, which would be the gold ring for both my kids. The thing is that the money adds up, it is never enough, and no matter how much we give, it never does anything more than prevent the immediate bad thing.

    There is always another, even worse bad thing, around the corner.

    And that is why the kids say we do not give enough.

    When husband and I do tell them no (as we told difficult child daughter no regarding renting a hotel room for she and the bad man during a blizzard last winter when she was homeless ~ and we still are not hearing the end of that one), we suffer as much as the kids do. It is hard to remember that they had the option of a shelter and did not choose to use it. Whatever resolve we had crumbles when the kids need something to prevent what really are dire consequences, or to get themselves back on their feet after (yet another) setback.


    How do you handle the accusations that you are uncaring parents? I don't even mean what do you say to the kids, I am asking what you tell yourselves and each other about that. I am thinking you will say that is a manipulation and that we have to see beyond it. It so sucks though, never to have anyone home for the holidays, never to have all those things that everyone else seems to have.

    Perhaps, they did not enable their kids.


    Verbal abuse we know about, from MWM post on that subject. It is so easy for me to spot it and advise someone else. When I finally got that, and told difficult child son that the last money he got was the last he was going to get...he asked for money without dishing out quite as many bad words. As I continue to refuse, giving him numbers for social organizations set up to help him, he has switched tactics, and begun asking for money to prevent his eviction and pay his light bill quite politely. (As opposed to the usual sort of you never do anything for me, you guys are dysfunctional, and it is your fault that I am where I am, which is desperate moments from total annihilation.)

    Sometimes, I figure things out pretty well just posting about it and seeing what I wrote. The above would be one indication of that.

    If you have been accused of this, how do you handle the "There is something wrong with our family. It is dad, or it is you mom, that set me up for the kind of life I am living."

    Those are my primary concerns. Please add anything you know to have been helpful to you.


    P.S. This morning, husband wants to give difficult child son the money.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    Belle will tell us we are horrible and she hates us... Obviously we don't care... But we look at how much we HAVE done and how much we ended up neglecting Pat and... That does it for us. Adding up what I have spent keeps me from sending her anything at all. When she was in jail husband put $20 on her phone account and she did not spend a single cent on calls to us... Yeah.

    But our situation is, of course, different as all of them are... My parents have spent tens of thousands of dollars on us and I want to pay them back SO BAD... But perhaps that is the difference.
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    One of the things to remember when saying "no" is that an adult difficult child child is NOT like other adult children. When you compare yourselves to those "other parents [who] welcome their children home for as long as they need to be there," you are comparing "apples and oranges." Our children aren't in the same category of those who have stumbled in their adult lives and need a little assistance -- we're dealing with a completely different animal (ha). Part of detachment, for me, was learning to stop comparing my kids, and my parenting techniques, to those "other" families.

    The other part that makes it easier to say "no" for me is to ask myself how well it worked last time I gave in and helped. Did it make a difference? Was my difficult child any better off? Did she take my help as an opportunity to make herself better, or did she just use it as a crutch to limp along until the next crisis came along? Sometimes reminding myself of how it turned out "last time" helps me strengthen my resolve for the next "no." It goes back to that infamous "definition" of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    Some of our difficult children are downright bullies. They're emotionally and verbally abusive. I know mine were. I had to believe that I deserve better treatment than that, and get ticked off about it. The words used to cut like a knife, but I learned that my difficult children words were the ultimate in button-pushing. She knew just what to say to guilt me into giving in. Eventually, I learned to get ANGRY about that button-pushing, instead of reacting like the victim that she wanted me to be. I let my anger strengthen me -- the more she threw horrendous insults at me, the more determined I was NOT to help.

    Just a few of the things that helped me, eventually. It takes practice, though -- lots of practice. In my case, it was just me -- I didn't have to worry about another parent having conflicting views on the situation. I imagine that makes it much more difficult, and I feel for you there.

    Hugs. One day at a time.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am not good at saying no. You all saw how I continued to talk to 36 even with all the verbal abuse and threats he dished out to me. Never once did he say "sorry" or "I shouldn't have said that." It was always "You made me say that." However, putting the phone to my ear while trying not to care what he is saying is different than destroying my life for him by giving him our last penny, which we don't have much of, or even thinking that he could ever live at home again. He can't, for any reason.

    Fear of him is one big reason I can say "no" to him ever living with us again. It wouldn't work out. When he lived with his father he got into a few shoving matches with him and, although he has never been off-the-wall violent yet, I believe he has that potential if he is ticked off enough. I have seen him fling a poor cat he used to have across the room for getting on his beloved videogame system. I saw him sort of kick the cat at other times too. I say "sort of" because it wasn't really hard, but it was a kick and swearing at the cat. And animal abuse is a step away from people abuse.

    Money is an easier issue. We don't have much money so nobody really asks us for any. I have given Julie some bucks at times. By "some bucks" I mean thirty dollars to, at the most, a hundred, not often. She doesn't ask. Sometimes I just know she needs it and if it is a rare time when I have extra, I may send money to her and tell her later. For those of us who do have enough, you need to ask yourself if this grown child who will not be saved by your money is worth going broke over in retirement. Sadly enough, I believe these difficult child kids would be the first one to forget about our care in our very old age and either neglect us or put us into a rotten nursing home. Maybe I am being too hard on our "differently wired" kids. Maybe I am only thinking of 36. But...we all need a nest egg.

    I would let my other kids live at home with me. I'm not against it. Times are tough now. But 36? No, it's too big a risk. I finally believe that I matter as much as him, and I care about my life. And other people do love me and would miss me if anything happened while I enabled 36.

    I feel fortunate that 36 lives so far away and is phobic about driving far. Makes it tons easier.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have never been very good at saying no to Cory but I have gotten better in the last few years. It is much easier for me when he isnt living with me. My therapist helped me to learn that NO is a complete sentence and I dont have to explain. In person he is much more pitiful.

    The other two really dont ask for anything. One time Jamie called me, or I called him I cant remember, but I found out he was ticked off because his wife spent money on some trivial things and after all his bills were paid out of that check they were pretty much broke and he was feeling really badly about that. They didnt have much money left to buy groceries for the next two weeks. I offered to send him some money but he refused and said they would deal with what they had in the freezer. I did send him 2 large pizza's from Pizza Hut along with a few of their sides and two 2 liter Pepsi' I can order those online from here and have them delivered to his house. He was very appreciative.

    I do have to say that we have kept this fairly large double wide just in the awful case that we ever needed the entire family come live with us. As you know, we dont think Billy will ever move out, or if he does it wont be for quite awhile. I dont like having Cory here and he has been at the house since last Saturday night and I am about sick of He left this morning and I hope that means he isnt coming back. I say that we could have everyone here but it would be a very tight fit with all the families and I am sure I would be past nuts in a very short while but if something really bad happened we would deal. Something bad would have to be very Jamie getting hurt at work and not being able to pay the mortgage and losing his home. I wouldnt let them be homeless, not when he has worked so hard at being self sufficient all these years.

    You know that I have always had some guilt when it comes to Cory but I know I didnt do anything on purpose. He has only tried to say anything bad to me one time and I really laid into him in return. I have always been amazed that my kids havent blamed me much. I wasnt a great mom.
  6. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    My therapist is very helpful. For example, when he was in the hospital and wanted to go to a different place I was able to be firm and tell him that he was going back to where he came from to face his (in his mind) problems there as he is getting excellent care there and it is more affordable. If it weren't for my sessions with her helping me to hold the line I think I might have backed down.

    And I have a cousin who is a social worker who has been so supportive and helpful to me.
  7. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I felt I said "No" to difficult child when he was younger so, so often. More often than the others. It was the whole "do to get". He didn't get that concept, he resented us, took what he wanted, and hated us with every pore, you know? It got worse as he got older. We were sad, horrified and continued the cycle where were bullied because we loved him. We loved him and were always freshl y heartbroken when he upped his game, he was smart, he played us well. I had gotten some good was this "How many other kids do you have? Oh you have more, well thank goodness." At that point he became lost to me. I backed off until he fixed his own life. I was sad but, you know, I can't just stand there while he ruined us all. He was 18 but he was this way at 4. It was his wake up call and he thanks me for doing it now. The option of mommy and daddy taking care of things was'off the table. Once he knew it, he did what he had to. Your difficult child still uses "mommy and daddy will fix things" as his first option, he ups his game each time and curses the hand that feeds him. C'mon let him get on with his life.
  8. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    We are beginning to think that way too, Annie. About how much we have done, and more importantly, about the things we have neglected ~ like all the nights spent in misery instead of cherishing and enjoying our youths. I wish I'd been healthier, sooner.

    We've been there too, with the phone thing and the no calls to us AND THE NEEDING MORE MINUTES. Cheesh.

    You know Annie, if difficult child son was respectful, cherished us as we do, him ~ even seemed to be picking up ~ we really wouldn't mind the money. difficult child daughter always makes an attempt to pay husband back. He excuses half of it, and that works beautifully for us. Until this past winter, anyway, when drugs were the issue, and difficult child daughter changed so much. I'm sure your parents are so happy to have been able to help.

  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Crazy in Virginia ~

    I read almost your entire post aloud to husband. He likes to pretend he knew that already, but he didn't. :O) Validation is so important, because it feels wrong to do this, to make these changes. We feel so much clearer and cleaner, though. You are right. Anger, once we finally acknowledge and allow it, is strengthening.

    Thank you, CIV

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    This has been a struggle. We tend to give in when it is an extreme matter of health or safety. It is a judgment call. But, a hard one and I think at some point, we have to develop more and more boundaries and push our difficult children into doing as much as possible into learning how to help themselves.

    We have set strong boundaries...some never to be crossed under any circumstances. Our situation is different than yours, not as extreme , but also confusing and difficult. When we do make a final decision about a boundary, it is usually a long, difficult process....but we are firm.

    That lack of gratitude....I've mentioned this before.Entitlement, lack of appreciation, etc.
    this seems to come naturally to them, and our enabling makes it worse.

    The example below of putting $20 on the phone card, but difficult child not using any of that $ to call her parents. ......sad, frustrating....

    What about this one....difficult child calls me almost monthly crying that she is starving and without any food or that she hasn't eaten any food all day. So, our food store had a great deal on some soups buy one get one free and I got some and gave several to her and told her to use them for emergencies. So,next time she called "starving," I asked her if she had any of her emergency Ramon Noodle Soup and she said " I don't want to eat any of that yucky soup!" WTH?!? So, she would rather starve? I must be the sucker of the year. The girl apparently doesn't know the meaning of starving. #%!$ No more emergency soups etc. from moi.

    On the positive side: One thing we have done with our difficult child that has done very well, is we GREATLY limit engaging with her if she is disrespectful or threatening suicide. She cut herself the other day (more like a scratch) ....a suicide threat because she wasnt getting her way.

    husband sent her a text and said to be sure to clean that up with disinfectant and if she did it again or even had thoughts of doing it again or anything else that was self destructive, to immediately get to a hospital. Funny, she was fine the next day.

    in my humble opinion, in MOST cases, it is a good idea to learn to say NO to a difficult child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Lasted edited by : Dec 10, 2013
  11. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    MWM your post gave me alot to think about. Like you, I hold a picture of who difficult child son is in my heart that is very different than who he keeps proving to us that he is. For so many years, it was like I was holding that person difficult child son really was safe. It seemed that if I believed in him, it would be possible for him to believe in himself. I am beginning to realize though that it is this belief that keeps me enabling someone who chose, long ago, to be someone who is not very much like that image I hold of him, at all. It's a strange place to be, MWM. Do I turn away from the son who does exist because he is not the son I knew? Or do I continue pretending the person who now exists, the adult who created himself from the very same child that I knew and loved so well, is anything like that little boy I raised. Scott G posted something about accepting that our kids are who they are and not judging them for it.

    I cannot do that. If I let go of that imagery I still nurture about who difficult child son is.... I don't know. There is so much hostility in acknowledging what the man who now exists did with that little boy I loved.


    Rageful thinking.


    I need to think about it, though.

    How does that old thing go, where someone slaps someone, and the guy who gets slaps sputters: "Thanks! I needed that!"

    Ew. Ouch. Thanks, MWM. I did need that.


    "I finally believe I matter as much as him, and I care about my life."

    That is huge, MWM.

    Ew. Ouch. And etc.
  12. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    "He was very appreciative." I may just be down on difficult child son, but all I could think about when I read that is this: There was a time, after we moved difficult child son out of our house one time (to a job and a city about three hours from us) when, after difficult child did well for awhile and then, quit the job and started doing not well, but we still thought that was about a poor upbringing and not the drug use it turned out to be, that we would go there and bring difficult child son to dinner and grocery shopping. We bought those big bags of frozen broccoli spears from Sam's for him, along with whatever else. Know why I remember the broccoli? Because for years afterwords, difficult child son was so explosively angry about that stupid broccoli we always bought instead of just giving him the money.

    I am making him sound like a real jerk. Surely, that cannot be true. Maybe he meant it to be funny. (Said Cedar, not having managed to manufacture an adequate defense mechanism fast enough not to see this.)


    On keeping the large house, Janet. That is what my kids mean when they talk about people in the South who welcome their families home. We did have a bigger house. There were so many horrible memories associated with it that we sold it when it looked like we no longer needed the room, because both kids were gone and things were not going well. husband retired, and we moved to our cabin ~ a little log house on a pretty lake. Two beds, one bath.

    And do you know that within a month, both kids (one of them pregnant), a grandchild, three dogs, two cats (one with a litter of kittens) and a cageful of parakeets came to live with us in that little house with only one bathroom?

    I see that I don't have a point in telling that story. (Or, says Bad Cedar, I don't want to know what it is.)

    I am going to opt for that latter choice.



    I do feel that there should be a safe place for the kids to come home to, if they need to.

    I don't ever want to live like that again, is the problem.

    Source of conflict, for me.

    The house here is bigger. We could take difficult child son in. difficult child daughter probably will come here later this year.

    Dread the thought of it.

    Definite source of conflict.

    I admire you Janet, for being able to do it. I hope I never have to take anyone in, again. Even difficult child daughter will need to set about recreating her own life, though we will help her to do that.

  13. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    husband and I may have to access outside help, too. With the site, with all of you, I am able to think through things so much more completely than I remember being able to do in therapy. This site is like being in group therapy, everyone getting better together because we hear our stories reflected in yours.

    I hear what we should do, but there is so much of me that wants everything to be okay. It really is very hard to sit with these feelings.

    I feel like a volatile gas compressed into something barely able to maintain its integrity, this morning.

    These are the feelings Recovering posted about. I need to remember that there is nothing I need to do. Nothing to fix, nothing to mourn, nothing to change. The one person I have any influence over is myself. I am going to read through your posts, which teach me so much, and then, am going to begin taking care of myself in a conscious way.

    Each of the postings I have received in response to my question have been of immeasurable value in helping me see how to come through this without lapsing into playing the fool or the tragic victim or even, the supportive wife and/or perfect mother role. This is right where I need to be. No cookie baking, no house cleaning, no shopping spree. Just going to sit here. Yoga later, and Tai Chi.

    Here is a funny thing. I told husband this morning that I was in a bad mood. In his usual way, he tried to joke around a little and so on, first to find out whether it was something he had done {{{( :O) Power to the people, baby!)}}}} and second, to figure out what he needed to reflect back to me, if the problem wasn't him. I didn't even respond as I usually do. So he made us breakfast, which is something I usually do. Which is a good thing, actually. We are both just sort of sitting here, seeing what this feels like. Probably the healthiest thing, given that I have all of you to process these thoughts and feelings with.


    husband did FB with difficult child son last night, and called him this morning. I can't imagine what difficult child son thinks has happened, but trust me, the conversation was a very different thing than he is used to.)

  14. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I like that thought about your having more children, thank goodness. In other words, what you understood through that comment, and what we are still struggling with, is that it was the child/adult/difficult child who needed to accept responsibility for his personality, for his responses to the challenges everyone faces, for his drug use or his rudeness, for his successes or failures, not you.

    "He was 18 but he was this way at 4."

    And this is true too, Up. Adding drug use to who difficult child son was at 4 created an essential unbalance. Punching holes through the strength and the good in him, the drug use left only the parts he would have worked through as he matured, the same challenging things all of us come to grips with as adults. I have read that anything we do instead of sitting with the feelings prevents further maturation. This is as true for those of us who abuse drugs or whatever, as it is for those of us who do not. Part of what fuels my dysfunctional adaptation to our family's dynamic is that I don't acknowledge that my kids are as responsible for who they are as adults as I was for who they were as children.


    "C'mon let him get on with his life."

    You are right. The responsibility for who and how difficult child son is now, at 37, has nothing to do with me. Whatever my gifts or shortcomings as a parent, difficult child's life is a thing of his own creation, now.

  15. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Given that a lack of gratitude is almost universal for our difficult children...could it be that they are struggling in their own way for us to let them fall and learn to pick themselves up without us to depend on? I would go for the easy mark too, if I were living hand to mouth as so many of our difficult children do.


    Oh, Nomad! Ha! This whole food thing must be something universal to our difficult children, too. Never have I had anything like this with difficult child daughter ~ but oh boy, difficult child son!!! I just had to laugh at the Ramen Noodle Soup thing because I saw myself looking exactly like you must have, Nomad!

    Our Ramen Noodles were frozen broccoli. I just mentioned that stupid broccoli in an earlier post on this thread. Good for you, that you aren't giving her any more soup.

    It's so darn hard to parent a difficult child. I sent banana bread to my granddaughter a few weeks back, and we had so much fun around that whole issue. If you reread Up All Night's post on this thread, you will see that she was fortunate to realize early on that it was not that she needed to parent differently, or that she had parented inappropriately, but that this child was different from the beginning. Think how much grief all of us could have avoided, had we been taught (and been able to believe) this one simple truth back when all this began?


    I haven't had that (cutting) with either of my kids. I have had reports of suicide attempts with difficult child daughter, but I only hear about those in passing, and long after the attempt has been survived. ("What is that, a scar on your wrist?" "Oh, Mom, blah, blah, blah....) What I have had though is difficult child daughter's relationships with more and more abusive men, and her fascination with that whole subculture of violence thriving beneath everyday life in the city. She has gone looking for, and found, that kind of life, and those kinds of people, since she was 14.

    Could these beatings be difficult child's "cutting"?

  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, when difficult child 36 was married and barely spoke to us, I deluded myself into thinking, "He has grown up and become responsible and mature and even a nicer person." Before that it was, "Well, he is mentally ill."

    The excuses and fantasy wishes made me feel better, but they weren't true. He is what he is. This is middle age man who thinks of himself first, with the exception of his son (I hope that lasts, but no more delusions for me). Right now, because he isn't under stress, his verbal abuse is way down. But the fact that he is capable of such violent speech and disrespect at all is scary. Plus I am pretty sure he is a daily drinker, possibly a functional alcoholic because he never misses work. I can no longer play games of "let's pretend." I have other family who needs me to be in good shape. And I have to do it for myself too.

    I have few memories of 36 being a nice little boy. He was the best baby until maybe fifteen months old. He always smiled and was very playful and social and EXTREMELY smart. After that, once he started playing with other kids, the kids started getting hurt. And it goes on and on. I saw what a truly SWEET toddler was after Julie came home from Korea. She was the first lovebug toddler I had. Then there was Sonic and Jumper. If I hadn't had other kids, I may not have been able to compare, but I had them and I can't help it. As adults, Sonic, with his autism, is already far more mature and polite and unfailingly kind than 36 will ever be. I hate to compare kids, but it is so glaring.

    Jumper, Julie and Sonic can come live with me anytime they have a need. It's never easy to live with grown kids, but they are well-meaning, goodhearted, loving people who I wouldn't hesitate to help in a any way that I could.
  17. Mechdonna2

    Mechdonna2 Mechdonna2

    I would like to answer your meaningful question about learning to say "no" to my difficult child. I have one child. I can't imagine dealing with more than one difficult child. My heart goes out to parents that have more than one.

    It has been a long, hard process that has lasted over 20 years. My difficult child says he began drinking at age 12. I knew about it by age 15. I am not sure that he is telling the truth about when he started. He has been using the drug spice mixed with pot. I don't know how long he has been doing that.

    He claims that he wants disability so that he can go back to school. His brain has been fried too much to be able to go back to school. His girlfriend has been supporting him for many years on a salary of a medical assistant. I know that she drinks too much and uses spice mixed with pot. I am shocked that her boss has not popped a drug test on her. She has been working since May of this year for a doctor.

    He has reached "rock bottom" at least three times, in my mind. He has never said that he would like to recover.

    That is why I am able to say "no." I believe it would be more difficult if he was willing to get help. If he went into recovery, I would help him emotionally, but not financially. I understand that it is not a good idea to give money to an adult who wants to recover. It would be tempting, if I had the hope that he could recover. I am not "riding the fence" right now. That is why I am able to detach after 20 plus years. Sometimes it seems we are alone with our problems with our difficult child. But, since he has moved back to my city, I am finding out that nearly every family has at least one difficult child.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013
  18. Scott_G

    Scott_G Member

    My parents supported me through college and told me I was on my own when I graduated. I took that to heart Only once since then did I ever have to ask them for money, and I was completely ashamed and embarrassed to have to do so. A parent is only obligated to support a child up until the age of 18. A parent is not obligated to their children for their entire lives. I don't care if the kid won the "world's best person" award, I am one individual who does not think it is okay for kids to live at home rent free after 18 or move back home indefinetly as adults, and I certainly don't condone abuse behavior on the part of adult children when their parents don't give them their way.

    It usually isn't too difficult for me to tell my son no. I set that straight with him when he was in his early 20s. He won't even ask me for the time of day because he already knows my answer. Being the master manipulator he is, he goes right to his mother when he wants something, and I eventually give in to her. Just like an addict needs to hit bottom before getting clean, I think we need to reach a point where we truly have had enough, we tried everything many times only to see it fail every time, and we are so mentally exhausted that "no" is the only thing left. When the kid was going through all of the latest drama over the past year, the idea of him (and even his girlfriend too, LOL) living with us again came up a couple of times, and initially my wife was behind it. This is where I finally reached the point of enough is enough. I was no longer going to give in to him through my wife. He lived with us twice before as an adult, and both times ended badly. I had no reason to believe it would be any different this time. I was also extremely angry at how he was lying to us again and being verbally abusive toward his mother when she questioned why he needed to borrow money just two days after payday. I was extremely angry at all the advice he was given and help he was offered that he simply ignored. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Finished. If my wife wasn't getting on board, our marriage was done. It had gotten to that point, and as much as I didn't want to do it, I basically told my wife that she had to choose between her husband or her adult son, be cause he would never live under MY roof again, and the only way I would contribute to any financial support for him at all was if he went to rehab and demonstrated that he was serious about getting his life back on track. I will also say that the 8 years where he was married made it a little easier as well. We had gotten used to not supporting him or having him ask us for anything that it was simply easier to not start again, or cut it off much more quickly. When his own mother told him a few months back that the gravy train left the station, it may have finally started to sink in for him. We are basically no or minimal contact these days, and that is completely by his own choice.
  19. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    As I've been reading this thread, I've been struggling a bit with how to share my thoughts. I think this is another "from the difficult child side of the fence" post (tee hee. fence post. Sorry...)
    Anyway, please know that my words are not meant as a criticism, or to be hurtful, or to judge. They're just my experience and perspective, and I hope you can find something helpful in them.

    My mother was (is?) as difficult child of the first water in her own right. I've mentioned her neglect of me, but she was also a co-dependent writ large. And I think I was always the target of her co-dependence, except that I wouldn't play along.

    Throughout my childhood, I always felt somehow that my mother's emotions were my responsibility. If she wanted company but I wanted to be alone, she heaped on the guilt and implied that I was selfish for wanting to look after my own need for space, time and quiet rather than her need for company and constant noise. If she was sad or angry about something and she needed an ear to bend or a shoulder to cry on, it was my ear and my shoulder that she turned to. She sought my input, asked my advice, wanted my company. Constantly.

    And I resented it. Constantly. I always felt that it was unfair of her to burden me with her emotional baggage. The harder she clung, the more forcefully I pulled away. The more she tried to manipulate me, and to involve me in her drama, the more I removed myself from it and from her. I worked very very hard in school and finished high school a year early, all so that I could go away to university that much sooner, leave home in the one way that would not cause a scandal in our old-world, traditional community.

    I remember the pain of having my mother try to squash me into a mother-shape. Her little girl, just like her. But I wasn't her. I was nothing like her. Actually that's not quite true. We have an astonishing physical resemblance. I look just like her. At 45, I look just as she did at 45. At 10, I looked exactly like she did back then. It's hard to tell pictures apart -- except for identifying details like furniture, and other people. I think that contributed. She saw herself in me, and tried so very hard to turn me into her. And it backfired. Badly. Very badly, to the point that in 8 or 9 years now, I haven't spoken more than 10 words to her, nor set eyes on her in all that time.

    I guess at the heart of what I'm trying (badly) to say is, each one of your children seems to understand that they have power over your emotions. Instead of abdicating the seat of power like I did, they use the power the way a malevolent dictator does, to bend you to their will. They use the weapon of your own emotions against you, to get their way.

    I love my children to distraction, with every fibre of my being. BUT, my emotions are not theirs and they do not have power over mine. I wear my Meanest Mom In The World tiara with pride. I think it goes nicely with my outfit. If my child says, "I hate you!", I say, "That's nice dear. I love you." If my child says, "Mom, you're mean and heartless." I say, "Why yes, I am darling. Would you prefer peas or corn with dinner."

    ***EDITED: This statement, "my children do not have power over my emotions" is so wrong. They have tremendous power. I just don't let them play me like a violin. I don't take personally all of the nasty teenage BS that they can dish out. I wrote the rule book back when I was in my teens, so I know all too well how the game is played. ***

    I love me. To distraction. With every fibre of my being. Every bit as much as I love my children. I don't look to them for validation of myself, but step back and let them be themselves.

    You need to love yourselves. Fully and completely. Without reference to your children. Then you'll be able to weather their storms, because you'll be whole without them.

    Then, saying "no" is easy.

    Hugs and love to all of you.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  20. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I have few memories of 36 being a nice little boy. He was the best baby until maybe fifteen months old. He always smiled and was very playful and social and EXTREMELY smart.

    Ironic, isn't it? My difficult child was the BEST baby. Slept through the night at 6 weeks. We took him everywhere with us. Struggled in school, but wasn't too bad until age 15, when his depression issues started.