So tired of the meanness!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by graceupongrace, May 13, 2009.

  1. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    I have just had it with difficult child and his anger. Every morning, no matter what happened the day before, I'm pleasant to difficult child. I say, "Good morning," and he says, "Shut up!" He complains that there's nothing for breakfast, and when I remind him that we have bagels, English muffins, cereal, etc., he shouts, "You're an idiot!" Fed up, I say, "There's no reason to be rude," and he says, "You being alive in this house is plenty of reason to be rude!" And then the insults about how I look, how much money I make, etc., start.

    If he were a husband, I would divorce him. If he were an employee, I would fire him. If he were a friend, I would dump him. But he's my child, so I just love him and pray for him. But all the meanness is wearing me out. Intellectually, I know it's his problem, not mine, but part of me keeps thinking, "How can my own son be so hateful to me?" How do you detach so you keep from going insane?
  2. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    It sounds to me like the strategy you need to take with your difficult child at the moment is Do To Get. What this means is, your difficult child will only get something if he does something. According to your rules and expectations.

    At his age, you have an obligation to provide him with food, shelter, and the basic necessities of life. Beyond that, anything you choose to do for him is a privilege that he needs to earn by treating you with respect, following house rules, etc.

    You need to provide him with food. You do not need to have bagels, cereal, english muffins, etc. Provide just the basic fare that meets nutritional standards. A loaf of bread, a jar of jam, a few apples, tinned tuna fish with mayonnaise, milk, water. Since he's not happy with the food you provide, let him prepare his own. Do not cook for him, do not clean up after him. Make him fend for himself.

    You need to provide him with clothes. You do not need to provide nice things, or designer things. Clothes from the Goodwill or a consignment shop are sufficient. If he wants something other than what you provide, he can earn it, either by getting a part time job, or treating you with sufficient respect that he starts to earn back some privileges.

    You need to provide him with shelter. You do not need to provide him with extras. A bed and dresser. Or, if necessary, a mattress on a bare floor and a laundry basket to store his clothes, are all that's required. Just as with the clothes, he can earn nicer things by treating you with respect and following your rules.

    If he can't speak to you civilly, don't speak to him at all. The moment he starts to become abusive with you, say "Unless you can speak civilly, I am ending this conversation." And then walk away. Do not engage with him, do not give him the opportunity to hurt you.

    Keep in mind that your younger boy is suffering from all this too. Even if he's not a direct target of your difficult child's outbursts, he has to witness his mother being treated appallingly by his own brother. This can cause a lot of problems such as:
    - your easy child coming to believe that it's okay to treat you or other women the way that his brother is treating you
    - your easy child developing significant anger toward his brother for treating you this way
    - your easy child getting anxiety symptoms, etc.

    Just because your difficult child is your child does NOT mean that you have to put up with behaviour from him that you would curtail in anyone else.

    I've been down this road with my difficult child. It's not easy, it's not pretty, and it may result in him escalating his anger toward you. If you choose to do this, you need to stand your ground, so be sure that you have lots of support in place for yourself and your easy child.

    Sorry that you're having to deal with this. It's no fun at all...

  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I used this one when my difficult child was being particularly hateful. She had asked me to stop at a particular store for her while we were out running errands. After I agreed, she sat in the backseat calling me names under her breath and giving me the finger. I did not go to her stop. She got even angrier.

    Did you see the movie "Batman Begins"? Remember the scene where Bruce Wayne puts on a tough-guy act and goes to the restaurant to confront the bad guy. The bad guy is un-phased and gives Wayne a speech where he says "You come in here acting all big and bad like you're gonna intimidate me...but see, the problem is, you haven't thought it through--"

    I turned around in the car to my very angry, name-calling, finger-flipping daughter and gave her that same speech. I said "Here you are acting all big and bad--but you haven't thought it through...." and I proceeded to list for her the things that she wants from me--go to the store, buy her clothes, take her to a friend's house, etc. And I asked her why I should do any of that stuff for a person who is calling me names.

    This one speech did not work miracles--but I keep using it.

    I'll bet your son has seen the movie--try it out on him.

    Good luck!!

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Was he always this way or is it something just since his teen years?
  5. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    Thanks for responding!

    Trinity: I really appreciate all your ideas. I am trying to do many of those things. I eliminated little rules in favor of one big one: No respect, no privileges. When he asks me to buy favorite foods, I tell him that he is not entitled to make special requests as long as he is being hateful and disrespectful. Period. There will be food in the house, and it may not be what he would choose, but there will be food. I stopped packing lunches for him when he repeatedly threw them away -- the last straw was when I watched him chop a sandwich into bits because it wasn't what he wanted. That's it -- I'm done with that. He does fix most of his own meals (although "meal" is rounding it up -- LOL). I think he believes he's hurting me because I love to cook, and I'm a good cook. But I'm over that; it doesn't faze me any more. I also quit washing his clothes when he quit helping fold and put away.

    "Do not engage with him, do not give him the opportunity to hurt you."
    I do need to stop engaging in conversations when he's being horrid -- thank you for the reminder!

    You're right about the effect on easy child. Much of this happens when he's already in bed, in the shower or at school. But I will keep an eye on that. I try to spend lots of positive time with just him, and there are a few dads at church who always include him in activities, which I love -- he gets to see good role models in action.

    DaisyFace: He likes that movie! Gotta try it.

    MidwestMom: He's always been defiant, but the rudeness seems to have increased with the teen years. He's like a typical teen times 10. Occasionally I ask what Friend A or Friend B would think of him if they heard him speaking to me that way (he has very nice, polite friends), and that seems to give him pause. But not for long.

    I'm so thankful to be able to vent with people who "get it." :D
  6. Jungleland

    Jungleland Welcome to my jungle!

    Grace, I could have written this post, nearly to the word!! I feel just as you do, if my difficult child was my husband, I'd leave, if she was a friend I'd stop the friendship, if she was a business associate, I'd quit or fire them. But she is my child, I keep on loving her, taking her abuse and that is what it is ABUSE.

    It is really affecting our 5yo, she was shaking yesterday morning during difficult child's rage and was white in the face. I feel so torn between them I literally am tearing in half.

    Sorry to take over your post, I just "get it", too much so at the moment.

    Understanding hugs, Vickie
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I need this one. In fact, I'm stealing it. Well, I guess it's not stealing if I tell you huh! Thank you for sharing.

    by the way - I know. Fortunately in my case difficult child 1 has really calmed down. But hers I don't think is so much a disorder as training by BM and some really horrid experiences.
  8. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    OK, I just went to pick difficult child up and he asked for money to go out to lunch with-friends.

    Me: "No; lunch money is a privilege that you earn by being respectful."
    difficult child: "I'm being respectful."
    Me: "Yes, now that you want money. But you weren't respectful this morning."
    difficult child: "I wasn't that bad."
    Me: "Really?! :faint: You told me, 'You being alive in this house is plenty of reason to be rude!' So, no respect, no lunch money. You can eat at home or go with your friends, but I'm not giving you money."

    I dropped difficult child & friends off. He can buy food with his own money (or not) and then walk home.

    Thanks for sharing your strength, Warrior Moms. :D

    Hugs back to you, Vickie! ((()))
  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Good for you! You handled that well.

    I have also been known to sympathize with my kids when they call me names. Today I told difficult child that I am so sorry that he has a mom who is an idiot and I really do understand that if I wasn't so stupid he would have a much better life. However, he has to deal with it, nothing I can do about it. He says he did not call be an idiot. I told him he may not have but he sure made me feel like one by trying to blame me when his bowling ball wouldn't do what he wanted it to. (does that mean I should get all the credit for his 204 last Friday since I have the power to make all things good? Surely he didn't have anything to do with that one?)

    I have gone as far as tell Diva that she is not allowed to ask anything of me until she has been nice to me for one month. It took her almost one month to get through a few days without being horrid. By the time she had completed the month, she was showing signs of respect in not only her words but also her actions. Your son is old enough to put a time limit on it. It is kind of like a grounding. "You can not ask for any priviledges until you go _____ days without being disrespectful." Then when he is disrespectful, give him the new date - he gets to start all over. You may be surprised, not only will he stop being disrespectful, he may even start showing respect.

    Rudeness takes a while to build to the levels that it starts to get on our nerves and we see it everywhere. It will take a while to go away.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You handled that well.

    An apology given only when they want something, is no apology in my book. I will accept the apology but require a period of action to follow, to help me see that the behaviour has genuinely changed.

    However, it is MOST important to remain calm at all times, even in the face of hostility. Returning hostility and screamnig with the same stuff, is teaching the difficult child that this is an appropriate means of communication. It IS tempting, when a kid screams, "I hate you!" at us, to come back with, "WHAT DID YOU SAY?" when it's obvious we DID hear, and frankly asking them to repeat it is asking for trouble (let alone asking them to repeat it by shouting at them).

    HOwever, failure to respond is also endorsing this behaviour. Can't have that either.

    A middle-ground response is, "Excuse me? That is inappropriate and uncalled for. I am now removing myself from where you are so I no longer have to listen to this unpleasantness. If you want me to do things for you, you need to do things for me. Being polite is just the beginning."
    Then leave.

    I've also asked, "Where did THAT come from?"
    It's a sort of "what did I do to deserve that?" because often, the kid is just angry, and you just happen to be around, a handy target. You need to force the child to confront what is REALLY the problem and generally, it's not you. But as long as the child USES you to blame, they will never learn to truly face their problems and will therefore remain angry and uncontrolled.

    To confront - you ask, "Now, what is REALLY wrong? And don't say it's me, I know that can't be true. There is something else bugging you. Is it because I'm making you go to school? or is it because I don't always give you what you want? If I tried, I wouldn't be able to afford it, I have to make choices and you need to learn how to make the same choices so when you're an adult, you will be able to manage your own life. Or are you angry because you wanted to go out with friends and they've gone away for the week?"

    Your child may have a legitimate grievance (against school, against friedns, maybe even against you) but needs to learn how to better express it, in order to accurately resolve grievances instead of just railing against the world.
    "YOu are angry because your friend isn't available today? I can understand you feelnig frustrated, you were looking forward to the outing. But your friend didn't cancel for no reason, there was a family emergency. Your friend's mother got sick and had to go to hospital. Maybe your friend is worried about his mother. Why don't you call and ask how his mother is? If she's getting better, perhaps you can make arrangements to visit later on. Perhaps we could both go visit and I will talk to his mother while you boys talk and make plans."

    Identifying the source of the hostility can help you teach your child to use you as a tool to help him confront and resolve his frustrations and anger. First he needs to learn to identify the source of his out-of-control emotions. And there will always be times when our kids vent frustrations on us.

    It's up to us, to NOT take it on board and to not accept any of it. Same goes for a marriage - if your husband comes home and accuses you of being unfaithful, simply because you smiled at the bank teller - "What would you have me do? And why do you feel so threatened by me being polite? Are you feelnig insecure about how I feel about you? Where did this come from?"

  11. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    Thanks for the good advice. It has been very difficult to get difficult child to identify the real source of his anger/frustration. Both therapist and psychiatrist have commented repeatedly on his lack of insight. Instead, he falls back on "It's you, mom. You're the problem!" Which, of course, means (in his mind) that he doesn't have to deal with it. He doesn't connect his behavior with the consequence. He just focuses on the consequence, which makes him furious. I try to get him to see that consequences are the result of his behavior, but he refuses to acknowledge that. He is always the victim.

    I have started asking him, "What do you think would happen if you tried letting go of the anger for just a day?" But so far he's not willing to do that.
  12. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Hugs, Grace. We've been through the same thing.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Understanding hugs, sounds like the story of my life!
  14. Pammy

    Pammy New Member

    :mad:I know what you mean my sons act the same way . Try some of this advise,it dose help
  15. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    Thanks for the hugs. I need them today.

    This morning started off badly (again), with difficult child refusing to go to school unless I took him at the precise moment he wanted to go. I said you might want to think that through, but if you don't go, fine, I'll call the truant officer. So as I was leaving he came out to get in the car, but intentionally left the TV on & the front door open. I had to run back and handle that so I could get to a meeting on time. Grrrr!

    After school, he picked right up where he left off with all the rudeness, and I refused to get into a discussion with him. a few minutes ago he asked if I would print something (not school-related) off the computer for him, and I told him no, because he had been extremely disrespectful. He responded by kicking a small end table out of place, and knocking the book and the candle that were on top of the table to the ground.

    I'm calm on the outside but seething inwardly. :mad: Sick of the bullying!
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If you think you can get away with it, you respond calmly with, "And what was that supposed to achieve? Did it go any further towards getting me to do what you want? And why is that?"

    It takes time, like constant dripping wearing away a stone (although after eating bread and dripping for years, I only GAINED wight - sorry, just trying to lighten up for a bit).

    Hang in there. Learn more languages in which to count to ten. It relieves the tedium.

  17. Stef

    Stef Dazed and Confused

    I can relate to this very well. I'd say 70% of the time my difficult child behaves in a similar fashion. When it's time to get up- a very vocal I KNOW is usually my response. There are times the I KNOW is just the beginning of a longer expression as well. That may be a "I KNOW, get the F out", or something along that line. difficult child tends to go through cycles of good guy, bad guy behavior. He totaly ruined Mothers day; smashed a table he made for my SO in his woodworking class at school, adding several expletives in the process. It was just awful. SO was extremely upset as was my daughter. The next day we took him in for evaluation. He was close to being sent in for his second Residential Treatment Center (RTC), but we all decided to "give him another chance" and had him sign a contract to wit. He broke down and became "Good difficult child" which swayed the balance. It's such an emotional rollercoaster, and we are just so drained by it all.

    Good Luck to You.
  18. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    He is a tad old, but I would still recommend that you borrow from the library a book called The Manipulative Child. I read it when diva was 17 or 18 and wish I had it when she was three. I have used some of the techniques with her and they help.

    I know how scary it is when your son gets into his controlling mode. You have to stay strong and not show any fear. Send the message that he is being foolish but not harmful. Once he feels that power of controlling you life will get worse as he plays his games.

    Others have given great advise. Stay calm and stay cool. Don't let him see how you are being affected emotionally. This is all about him, not you. Keep the focus on the issue of his disrespect, don't let it turn to what he wants you to feel like.
  19. Stef

    Stef Dazed and Confused

    My son end up at your place? This is him to a T.

  20. cakewalk

    cakewalk Member

    My son's been gone almost three months. This is exactly how he behaved daily! Boy, did this thread remind me of the constant anger and bullying we experienced daily... until he wanted something, of course.