So very tired of all the koi, having trouble functioning...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by greenrene, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    I'm exhausted. And I'm starting to think that my sister in law isn't the person I need to be talking to about this stuff. I don't want to villianize her - she is one of my closest friends, one of those "brutally honest" people, and I know she cares and means well, but she just seems to have this opinion that all would be peachy with difficult child if husband and I just made "some changes" in our family life, etc. I'm not saying that our family life is perfect - there's always room for improvement. But it seems that no matter what we do, difficult child is still a difficult child. She is showing signs of Borderline Personality Disorder, which scares the koi out of me.

    99.9% of the conflict/tension in our household is because of her. She's not awful all the time - there are times where she can be helpful and almost pleasant. I try to acknowledge those times and reward her for making good choices - sometimes I try to reward in advance (bribery?). But I'm still always waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the seemingly random, inconsequential incident that will set her off on a ranting tangent about how stupid we all are, how much she hates our stupid family, how unfair it is that she has to follow rules, etc. Like the other day, we were going out to lunch with the whole family (my inlaws and my sister in law's family). She got mad when I told her that she had to roll down her shorts (they were at crotch level), change her footwear (she was wearing high-heeled knee-high boots, which looked hooker-esque even with the rolled-down shorts), and put on a clean shirt. The attitude carried over into lunch, where I had to tell her dad 3 times that intervention was needed (I was in earshot of her, and her dad can be oblivious).

    She blames EVERYTHING on me. Everything. It's exhausting and absolutely infuriating. For example, she hates taking medications. Sometimes I'll tell her it's time to take her medications, and she'll blow me off. A few minutes later, I'll tell her again that it's time to take her medications, and she then gets pissy, disrespectful and accuses ME of having an attitude. I send her to her room to calm down, and she blames ME for making her life miserable, then goes into her room and rants about how she wishes her dad would divorce me, she hates this stupid family, she wishes her dad had never met me, she'd throw a party if her dad divorced me, etc. Whereas if she'd just gotten up and taken her dang medications when I first told her to, we wouldn't have an issue!

    She is SO jealous of her brothers. SO jealous of her cousins (we're a very close family). She can be really mean to my older son. My sister in law says things that make me feel awful, like how I love my sons more than I love difficult child, I treat them with favoritism, it's obvious that I don't really like difficult child... That's easy to say from the outside looking in. I do love difficult child. It's very hard to like her, and it's been that way the entire time she's lived with us. She isn't my biological child - of course I have a bond with my sons that I don't have with her. The bond with her has been hurt even more by the fact that difficult child has been SO VERY DIFFICULT the entire time I've raised her - she came into my life very unexpectedly and suddenly at a time when I was barely used to even being her dad's girlfriend, much less a MOTHER to his daughter! I feel like I've done the best I could with what I had to work with regarding her. It may seem like I treat my sons with favoritism, but my sons are, for the most part, very well-behaved. They rarely, if ever, get in trouble. My toddler is a challenge at times, but my 9-year-old is a dream child. Neither of them is perfect, and I feel like I discipline them appropriately when I need to. To say that difficult child's problems are because I parent her differently (because I HAVE TO) is unfair.

    Last week I got a call from the guidance counselor at difficult child's school, and he told me that he was concerned because that morning difficult child had been telling her classmates and teachers that she had spent Thanksgiving in Canada with Justin Bieber, that someone had tried to attack him but she saved his life, getting stabbed in the process, that she ended up passing out and woke up in the hospital with all kinds of bandages and stitches, etc. She was very earnest in her story and wouldn't back down, so she got sent to the nurse's office to get checked out. When it was pointed out that there were no bandages or stitches, she STILL insisted the story was true, that her stitches were on the inside, and she didn't know HOW the doctors did it, they just did.

    So much for making a good impression at a new school. It's a very small school too, with only 3 girls in her grade (it's a military school), so I daresay her reputation took a pretty big hit with that stunt.

    If you've read this far, thank you. This isn't even the tip of the iceberg with the difficult child koi here. She started with a new therapist last week.

    I'm just so, so tired of it all. And sister in law didn't help matters when I talked to her this morning, although I do know it came from a place of concern and caring. Ugh.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I don't have experience with a difficult child like yours... so take this with a grain of salt, because you've probably tried this.
    Is there any way to get some form of medication that provides 24 hour coverage? Or can they be taken twice a day (half dosages overlapping) so that she always has something in her system?

    And with that latest incident... there's NO possible way that is due to parenting. Sorry, sister in law.

    Hmmm... would sister in law be prepared to take difficult child for six months and give you a break? (just kidding but sometimes stupid ideas work)
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    greenrene -

    Oh been there done that. And yes, I, too, have been told tooo many times that I "favor" DS...or I need to improve my relationship with difficult child.

    Well, pooh! It takes TWO people to have a good relationship. If DS talks to me, shares his day with me, wants to do things with me - then heck, yes, I am going to have a much better relationship with him than with a person who hates me, calls me names, and does everything in her power to avoid me at all costs. It should be a no-brainer...but instead, was usually interpreted as a parenting failure on my part.

    What helped in our household seems counter-intuitive - but things improved immensely. I started shutting difficult child out. Yep.

    Instead of trying to include her and bend over backwards and make things nice and try to entice her...I did the opposite. I did what *I* wanted and I ignored all of difficult child's baloney. And if she couldn't bring herself to cooperate enough for the family (or me in particular) to particpiate in some event? Then other arrangements were made for difficult child (aka babysitter - YES, even at her age...find a family friend to watch her for you) and the family went on as planned.

    As far as the outrageous stories?

    We still get those. *I* do not get drawn in...nor do I try to rationalize difficult child into admitting the truth. I try to let natural consequences prevail. If others get drawn in? There's not much I can do...
  4. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    sister in law has 4 kids of her own, all neurotypical, all great kids, so she thinks that she is an expert and has done just a FABULOUS job parenting. She and her husband are good parents, but I think that luck also plays a huge part. My husband and I are good parents, I do believe, but we have a difficult child.

    Part of difficult child's big problem is actually my sister in law's oldest daughter, difficult child's cousin, M. M is 6 weeks younger than difficult child. M is a grade ahead of difficult child in school, even though it started out that difficult child was a grade ahead of M in school (difficult child repeated 1st grade and is repeating 8th grade this year). M is easy-going, sweet, very mature for her age, very talented artistically, has an above 4.0 gpa, in AP classes, works very hard in school, CARES about school, and has aspirations to get advanced degrees in college and possibly become a veterinarian. IOW, the polar opposite of difficult child. difficult child is over the moon jealous of M, especially now that M has an iPhone and a Facebook account (difficult child had both but couldn't handle either, so she now has neither).
  5. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    Just saw your post, DF - will respond more after I get back home. Interesting approach...
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    First off, hugs. Many of them.

    Second, both IC and DF have great suggestions. Perhaps you need to back away for a while and let your husband handle her issues for now.

    As for the sister in law, she may mean well, but she clearly doesn't understand. And talking to her about difficult child's junk is inviting her to weigh in with her opinion. You may need to find another outlet for your frustrations with difficult child (like US. We're here, and we understand), but sharing with her seems to be causing more stress than it's relieving.

    Of course you're going to have a different relationship with your difficult child than with your other children. It's a different dynamic. I have a completely different relationship with each one of my children. I love them all, but they need different things from me. And yes, someone looking in would likely assume that I don't love difficult child as much as I love the others. That person would be wrong, but I certainly don't spend as much time with difficult child. When someone lies, and says and does hurtful things over and over again, sometimes the loving thing to do is walk away until they learn how to treat you properly. That's still a lesson-in-progress with my difficult child, but things are MUCH better than when I was heavily involved.
  7. isis

    isis New Member

    Well, first of all, as you know, sister in law is totally wrong. There is not a simple change in your house that will suddenly change difficult child's behavior. You know this, yet it sounds like her comments are bringing you down and raising self-doubts. She is just wrong. So, I agree with trinity that these conversations with sister in law aren't helping because she does not understand that children like difficult child do not respond to typical parenting strategies.

    I have a very similar situation with my 13 yr old son, in that the entire family is basically in thrall to how he shows up: good or bad mood, congenial or oppostional, which will it be the next hour?
    He has way more than just ADHD and I suspect that your difficult child does too. Her negativity, irritability and defiance could easily be depression and/or anxiety. Simple behavior modification tools may therefore not work. My first thought about her jealousies is that she is negatively comparing herself to all of her siblings and cousins and feels terrible about herself, and instead of becoming withdrawn as some kids do, she lashes out to try and build herself up.
    This is probably over the top diagnosing and hypothesizing, but I guess my underlying point is that you are saying in your post that your entire family is continuing to suffer and that you are totally depleted. That suggests to me that she is not optimally treated. Let her therapist know how bad things are. Maybe they should consider further diagnosis.

    In the meantime, it can help to let go of some of your angst by picking your battles so that there are fewer of them. Just let some of it go (I'm making it sound easy, its not, but when you're really tired it can help to just not fight as much). And I totally agree with flat out ignoring those behaviors/comments that you can. Not respond, or one word answers work best. I have a list of one liners ("I'm sorry its hard for you". "Youre a smart kid, you can figure it out" "I'm sorry you feel that way" said as dispassionately as possible.) difficult children are sometimes looking for the verbal engagement, so cut it off when you can. I"ve been doing the same thing as DF: I invite him along and if jhe says no I leave it (and make other plans for him, not us). This has even included going somewhere else for thanksgiving. Yep, he got out of our family thanksgiving. I think it was better for all of us, though I still felt guilty. Note: I sincerely invite him, like I really want him to come along with whatever we are doing (which I do if he can be moderately pleasant!), but if he says no, I end it there.

    I really feel for your exhaustion.
  8. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I think we can all agree with your sister in law means well, but she does not know what it's like to have to parent a child like this. I think that most of us have had to deal with a family member or friend at one time or another who felt that if we just made some little changes to our parenting style out lives would be perfect, just like theirs. I would take her suggestions with a grain of salt and move on.

    As far as the story that your difficult child told about how she spent her Thanksgiving, I would just ignore it. It sounds to me like she is fishing for attention and is looking for it anywhere she can get it, be it either good or bad.

    I know how hurtful the disrespectful behavior can be. I deal with that from my son on an almost daily basis. Yes, it's exhausting because you go out of your way to do nice things for all of the kids and then your feeling get trampled on. If she balks about taking her medications, I would make her father deal with it and get him to get her take them. Does he do any of the parenting, or is it left all to you? Can I ask where her bio mom is?
  9. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    Thank all of you so much for the responses and support - it is so nice to know that others understand.

    The Thanksgiving story was most definitely fishing for attention. I just hope that there isn't too much backlash with her classmates thinking she's crazy. She has always been an attention-fisher, good or bad. She actually seems to thrive on negative attention and has been that way since I met her. It's mind-boggling.

    (sister in law thinks that she's fishing for negative attention because it's the only attention she can get, you know, because husband and I aren't parenting her like we should. I KNOW that's boloney. It doesn't matter HOW much positive attention difficult child gets, it's never enough apparently.)

    Back in the early years, most of the parenting was left to me. husband was self-employed in the remodeling business and worked ALL the time. When the economy took a downturn, it got to be really stressful - he was still working all the time, I was the one who dealt with a very difficult difficult child most of the time, AND we had massive financial stress. Then 3 1/2 years ago, my father in law offered husband a job in the family business. This meant we had to move to FL, but it was an offer that we would have been idiots to refuse. Since we've been here, husband has been able to be much more involved in parenting, and I've been able to "make" him be more involved. There's still much room for improvement, but at least that part is on an upward trajectory.

    Biomom lives in NC and is pretty much out of the picture except for phone calls a few times a month. husband was "with" her during a time in his life when he was really struggling with his own difficult child-dom, a time when he didn't care about anyone, including himself. He was a major difficult child back then, but once he knew he was going to be a daddy, it was the kick in the pants he needed to get his life on track. I met him a couple of years later. Anyway, back in 2000, husband and I had been dating for a few months when he decided that he wanted to move to NC to be closer to difficult child, who was 2 at the time and living with biomom in a pretty rough situation. He asked me to go with him, and I agreed - we knew we wanted to be together and eventually get married, so we both moved to NC and rented a house near biomom. We ended up with difficult child a LOT, and I was able to see just how dire the situation was for difficult child living with biomom - they lived in a tiny, filthy house, biomom couldn't ever hold a job, etc. It was bad. One day, a few months after we moved to NC, biomom showed up with difficult child and pretty much gave her to husband, saying that she knew she couldn't handle the job of raising her. She signed custody over to husband, and that was that. BAM, I was a full-time mom to a kid I barely knew, whom I loved dearly but had a really hard time with. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into.

    We ended up moving back to KY with difficult child. She has been difficult the entire time I've known her. She has always greatly struggled socially and academically as well. Her behavior issues have caused ME to struggle socially, and I'm only just now coming out of that shell now that my own sons are getting more involved with school stuff.

    One more major thing - difficult child is OBSESSED with celebrities. Like, way beyond "normal" teenage obsession. It's so very annoying, but it's also one of those issues we've had to just put in Basket C for our own sanity's sake.

    Anyway, I'm rambling... that's the very condensed version of difficult child's history. I really, REALLY appreciate the support here. It means SO much to be understood and not feel so alone in GFGdom.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Negative behavior gets fast strong results from everyone so we can be working our bottoms off using positive attention methods but they are still getting tons more response from the nonsense. And ignoring generally doesnt work because it in and of itself is so different they know you noticed, plus it requires every person or even animals to be able to not even glance or make a facial expression etc. There are some "planned ignoring" things that can help for us we can say, I won't talk about x ...but then act normally about anything else.

    Your sister in law is just spewing pop psychology ideas that only apply to a certain subset of behavior challenges/situations.

    That said, there are times I have to work hard to find things that should get attention. Often my son hates compliments. It can backfire. So positive attention may mean giving him extra time doing whatever he is doing without even mentioning that's what I'm doing. Gets exhausting right?
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh, the celebrity obsession, common in spectrum disorders. Heck I had one student who wrote long reports on the computer about Michael Jackson from grades K through 9! My own son thinks he can see Selina Gomez if he moves to CA ...just see her daily like the neighborhood kids. LOL. He takes pictures of himself by pictures of her in Kmart. Listens to her music all the time, etc. ....Does she have other high interest obsessions? Does she go on and on not noticing if others would rather be done with the subject? Certainly some people without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have obsessive hobbies, just wondering given the history of her difficult to change behaviors.
  12. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Isn't it amazing that no matter how muc positive attention you give these kids, they always seem to revert back to needing the negative attention? It's almost like they NEED to be noticed for making poor choices. difficult child does this and it drives me crazy.
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I wonder if the negative-attention thing is a way to achieve something? It's as if they know they cannot stand out from the crowd by getting the best grades, or being the best athlete (no doubt, someone else is already ahead of them in those areas) - so they are going to excel at being BAD! They are gonna be the best, most outrageous, bad-axx ever!

    The things my difficult child used to brag about - sheesh! Imaginary hospitalizations, drug overdoses, severe abuse, beatings, satanic rituals, witchcraft, it just went on and on...! She seemed to enjoy being classified as a freak.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If you don't know "who you are", if you don't have some defining skill or ability... it is REALLY hard.
    Our difficult child hit defining-skill #1 in about Grade 5... and defining-skill #2 just before HS.
    And not only does HE identify himself that way - his classmates do, too.
    No longer is he "the outcast", he's "the guy that's really good at XXX and YYY".
    Sure, he's still really different, but... he's "useful".
    Which brings less bullying and more working-relationship acceptance (nobody minds if he's assigned to their class project anymore, because he "has good ideas") - it doesn't necessarily bring a social life, but it makes school manageable.

    But if you can't find that... I have no idea what we'd have done.
  15. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    She does (or would, if we let her) talk about celebrity stuff ALL the time. It got so very irritating to everyone, and these days we have to tell her "Okay, that's enough about celebrities - find something else to talk about." Sometimes I've wondered if the celebrity obsession stems partly from her social issues. She's always been difficult socially. She was mean and bossy to other kids when she was little, and since becoming a tween/teen she just seems to have no clue whatsoever how to conduct herself or be a friend. She talks about her "BFFs back in KY" as if she had wonderful relationships before we moved. Part of why I'm GLAD we moved is because it was getting really bad with the neighborhood kids - they all played together, went to church together, etc, and difficult child was becoming more and more excluded from their little group. The same thing happened at her former (again, very small) school - she got more and more alienated from the kids because she is just so socially inept.

    DF, my difficult child has also bragged about the most outrageoous stuff - that's part of why she isn't allowed to use the Internet and got her cell phone taken away. She would tell tales about breaking limbs and being in the hospital, she would brag about boyfriends that didn't exist, etc.

    She very much identifies with her "meanness." It's really sad, and the perplexing thing is that it doesn't seem to bother her one bit that she is rude to us, especially me because I'm the evil stepmom. She almost seems to brag about it at times. I don't get any sense from her that she is remotely interested in bettering herself - she thinks she's just hunky dorey; everyone ELSE is the problem, again, especially me.

    One thing that I'm trying really hard to do (and it is SO hard) is disengage from the back-and-forth bickering. I don't like for her to get the "last word" because to me, it seems like allowing that gives HER power. My husband sees that as perpetuating the problem, but I really have a hard time not snapping back at a rude, disrespectful jab from her (not in a rude, disrespectful way, but in a "you can't talk to me like that, I'm the parent" kind of way).

    As to the knowing who you are/defining skill thing, yeah that is hard. She is the kid who makes bad grades, the kid who talks about celebrities too much, the kid who tells outlandish stories, and the kid who has to go to tutoring every day. She does have some positive attributes, but the negative is so pervasive. She is very good with and loves babies and small children. She is very good at finding things that are missing. She CAN be a very good helper (when she's in the mood). I've been letting her do more in the kitchen, trying to give her confidence in that arena.

    It's all just exhausting, though. She is SO hard to parent!
  16. buddy

    buddy New Member

    So has she ever had an autism evaluation at a place that truly specializes in autism??. If that's it, her learning about it can really shift the neg. Self esteem and the social skills and learning style could be a new lease for her. I'm on my phone so don't have easy access to past posts. Maybe you already addressed this. It seems like you have listed some issues that define the disorder even under the new criteria (just mh-mommy-o of course).
  17. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    She had a full evaluation and several months' worth of therapy sessions at the Center For Autism Treatment (also a child psychiatric center) at a local university (I'd give the full name, but I don't think that's kosher on the boards...). They said that she is not on the spectrum, but the results did indicate a slight tendency toward NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD).

    She has a lot of Borderline traits.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  18. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    She sounds so much like my daughter...I always swore she must be on the spectrum, but multiple tests said no. At one time, she too had a diagnosis of NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). Now the specialists are pretty decided on Borderline...
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Greenrene, I'm so sorry you are going through this.
    I second, third, fourth-whatever the motion to not share too much info with-your s-i-l because she is totally clueless. Her kids are fine. There is NO comparison.
    When she asks about your difficult child, just say, "Fine, a little difficult yesterday, but how are YOUR kids doing?" and just listen. It's just not worth it.

    Whether your difficult child ends up being on the autism spectrum, or suffering from mental illness, or both, it is something biological, so perhaps that will help you deal with her. Sometimes, she truly can't help it. Other times, she is manipulating you and others. She doesn't "get" that when she concocts huge stories, they are so out of touch with-reality that they are going to backfire on her. It is frustrating to watch her self destruct, but it is also something you can pity. I mean, how can you not feel sorry for someone like that?

    I agree with-DF and others, you'll have to back off of a few situations and let her dig her own grave. However, the medications are non-negotiable. We went through the medication argument for years with-our difficult child, and finally, between having him talk to the therapist, the family dr, and taking things away from him (computer, for ex.), we came upon the idea for husband to give difficult child his medications at 6 a.m., rain or shine, school or vacation, and then I would deal with-difficult child a half hr later, when the medications kicked in.
    husband was more patient, but he was also more firm, and has bigger muscles than I do. :)

    You're in the thick of it. I feel for you.
  20. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh, I missed the nlvd thing.....yes, many many overlapping social issues! That makes sense. Thanks.