Something I have never understood about my difficult children.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CrazyinVA, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Both have issues with “lack of remorse” at times, especially Oldest. Excuses for their actions and crying about why something is not her fault is a pretty common tactic. But the following scenario (or something similar to it) has played itself out so often and I just don’t get it. Maybe I never will, but I wanted to throw it out here to commisserate with others anyway.

    Scenario: One of my difficult children does something that directly affects ME and causes ME to “suffer” in some way. I get angry, and tell them I am angry. But their reaction is not to apologize and try to make up for it or fix it, instead, their reaction is to get angry at ME for being angry at THEM. Somehow I end up the bad guy.

    This morning, I get into the shower, get my hair wet, and reach for my shampoo. It’s gone. $!^*@*)^*( Youngest has taken it into her bathroom because for the umpteenth time, she’s run out of her own and hasn’t bothered to go to the store to get any. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened, with various things of hers… shampoo, conditioner, makeup, my phone charger… she either left her own somewhere or has run out, so she just comes into my room or bathroom and helps herself to mine, usually taking it with her and leaving it elsewhere. I go to use it, and have to hunt it down. It’s not even the borrowing I mind so much as her not putting it BACK. It is so freakin thoughtless it makes me crazy. So here I am, dripping wet, and I have to get out of the shower, wrap myself in a towel, and walk to the other bathroom to get my shampoo. I was furious, and I was letting her know as much verbally. She wasn’t up yet, nor were the kids.. but it was time for them to be up anyway. I slammed my bedroom door I was so ticked off, because this was a bit of a “last straw” with some other stuff that’s been going on lately. (yeah yeah I know, I threw my own temper tantrum.. but I’m entitled occasionally, right?!)

    So, I get ready, go downstairs, and she’s not talking to me. She won’t answer me when I ask her questions. Really?! Finally she tells me she can’t believe I was yelling this morning, and slammed the door and woke up the kids. She is furious about it. She says nothing about the shampoo, refuses to even acknowledge it or that she was wrong in taking it. I’m the bad guy, again. It makes me feel as though I’m not allowed to be angry, that my feelings don’t matter, that she can do whatever she wants to and how dare I get mad at her about it.

    I’m not necessarily looking for how to deal with it, because I’m working on that (something’s got to give, they have to move out of my house. somehow. I can’t stand it much longer. I feel like I’m living with a teenager all over again.) But I’m finding myself wondering about the thought process behind such actions. Do they deflect the anger because they can’t admit they were wrong, at any cost? Do they not think they are wrong? Is their self-esteem so low that when someone tells them how they screwed up, they get defensive and angry? Or are they just selfish ******* who really don’t care what others think and think they can do what they want, a sense of entitlement? Combination of all of the above depending on the day, their mood, and circumstances?

    It just makes me CRAZY. (ha). She's 23 freakin years old, not 14. And I may have to lock up my shampoo tonight.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Um... Are you living with O?!

    Yeah, the whole helping themselves to other people's stuff bit gets old. Especially when they don't bother. The "rule" in our house is - when you get close to running out, or open the last ______, you put it on the list. Simple.

    J will just not use shampoo, toothpaste, whatever. (Eww, ugh, yech.) O will help herself to whatever she can get her hot little hands on.

    When we moved downstairs, and took all our stuff into that bathroom, O started asking for things - after she'd run out. "Do you have any tampons?" (This when I was pregnant last spring.) "Uh, no, and no need for them, why?" "I ran out yesterday morning." "I have a few pads..." "EWW! NO THOSE ARE GROSS!!!" (So what's she using? Turns out nothing. Uh, pads are gross?)

    And, the kids went 4 days (that I counted) with no toilet paper (speaking of EWWW, GROSS). Not on the list. I waited for them to ask, write it on the list, whatever. Nothing. Not even any Kleenex. If we hadn't had company coming on day 5, I'd have seen how long it lasted. (We had a case of the stuff in the garage - they had to almost trip on it to get out the door.)

    So I'm very familiar with this... I started buying Suave everything, so the expensive stuff didn't get swiped. Then (tee hee) I started refilling my Suave containers with the good stuff...
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thing is, I was at Target last night picking up some fall clothes for the grandkids. I *asked* her if she wanted me to pick up anything for her. She said nope. She's an adult, and is generally responsible for buying her own stuff (she gets child support money even if she's not working now). She buys her stuff, I buy mine. When I do pick stuff up for her occasionally out of pure generosity, you can be sure I do buy Suave ;-)

    But it's the fact she gets angry at ME about this, or about my reaction to this, that drives me the most crazy. I just don't understand.

    I guess I'd just hoped she'd have grown out of it by now. But, I have found that the longer she's living with me again, the more she's regressing into many of her teenage behaviors. Hmmmmmm.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    No - it's not you. Asking to borrow something is common courtesy (well, at least it SHOULD be common...) is returning that something when you have finished using it.

    A therapist once explained to me that difficult children just cannot fathom that other people are whole, separate entities from themselves. Instead, everyone is viewed as being "supporting players" in the story of a difficult child's life.

    So yes - lock up that shampoo. (OR - fill the shampoo bottle with hair dye...some outlandish color....and just let it sit there in the shower....and then....Heh, Heh, Heh - what do you mean your hair turned pink?...Well, why did you use THAT? That wasn't shampoo....Boy, I sure wish you'd asked me before just helping yourself....I could have told you I was making hair dyes for the kids at church [or wherever] to use for their {play, halloween party, whatever}...)
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Errrr, DF? The only problem with common courtesy? Is that it, along with common sense, aren't common...
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I agree with Daisy about us as the "supporting players" in their lives. It's not a lack of self esteem-it's narcissism.

    I can't tell you how many times difficult child has blamed me. When he got caught experimenting at 16-it was my fault. If he had been allowed to got out more often & stay out later he never would've tried substances. Huh????

    His poor performance last year was the "hated" school's fault -which was my fault because I was too enthusiastic about said school that HE CHOSE! (apparently, I shouldn't have liked it)

    Things that make u go hmmmmmm
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Signorina - NO JOKE!!!

    Always, it is someone else's fault. Never is it theirs.

    Though O can certainly say the right words... LOL... She just doesn't believe them herself.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    CrazyinVA, you just described my husband to a *T* It took 10 years of marriage for him to utter the words "I'm sorry" to me, and I only manged to get him to do it for a few small insignificant infractions like bumping into me, or eating the last (whatever) that I was saving.

    Even when I didn't get *angry* and calmly and rationally explained that he did something I took offense to (leaving an open can of tuna in the fridge, using ALL my backup razors to shave his beard), he'd get all sorts of defensive and start putting the blame on ME, and then even adding in all sorts of other issues to the mix. It was a constant no win situation. Even now, HE left me, HE walked out the door of his own free will, HE does NOT contact the kids, HE has NOT come and picked up all the things he claims he's entitled to (I've gladly offered them up) and yet he's accusing me of TAKING everything from him.

    I wish I had something positive to tell you. in my opinion it falls in one of the "personality disorder" categories, but also in my opinion those are driven by even deeper mental health issues. Yes, it can get "fixed" but only if SHE recognized there is a problem and is willing to fix it. Like I said, took husband ten years of marriage to me to even minimally adjust, and even then it wasn't 100% or permanent - just enough to keep some peace in the house.

  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Keista. Interestingly enough, my kids' dad was like this too. Once when Youngest was about 2 years old (and not potty-trained yet), I was out one night at a PTA meeting and he put her to bed .. with NO diaper on. Just naked beneath her sleeper. I went to get her up in the morning and she was soaked, the bed was soaked, everything.. I was furious. His reaction? Furious right back at ME.. and blamed it on Oldest (who was 6 at the time), said she'd gotten Youngest dressed for bed and must have forgotten teh diaper. No apology, no help cleaning her or her bed up, he just yelled at me that it wasn't his fault. We split about a year after that (and he's still mad at me, over 20 years later, and makes no effort to maintain a relationship with the girls).

    I tend to agree it's part of a personality disorder. Baffling.
  10. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Another illuminating conversation about difficult child land. I never really saw the correlation until now...I can't tell you how many times I have tried to explain (sometimes more calmly than others) that even if the the results of YOUR ACTIONS were not INTENDED; THOSE RESULTS ARE STILL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!!

    Juggling too many milk jugs = broken spilled milk (not my fault) - dumb choice, bad results, your responsibility to clean up & replace
    Group project with slackers equaled a D+ in economics for all (not my fault) - your class, your project, your grade. Live and learn


    Remember my illuminating comment above? I just realized that -while I have had this conversation occasionally with each of my kids (and my H too) - I've had it over and over and over again with difficult child. Had it A LOT with him when he went off track in 2008, resurfaced again over the summer. DING DING DING
    Lasted edited by : Sep 16, 2011
  11. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Yes totally and completely familiar on all counts!!!

    I will say I think this happens on a spectrum. I have one very much difficult child son and a very much easy child daughter who is most of the time lovely, but is also a teenager.

    So I don't get really really mad at my daughter very often, because she doesnt' give me much reason to and she has never done anything on the order of the things my son has... of course when really bad stuff happens with him I end up very calm.... have to deal with it or the system or whatever. So when he is in major trouble I don't yell I deal.

    So a couple of times I have gotten really mad at her and yelled or whatever. I had good reason.... but when I get really raging mad I think she is shocked and then she gets mad at me!! One time she was mad because I don't get mad at her brother for all the stuff he has done (not true) or she will just stop talking to me. I feel kind of like you do... wait a minute she was in the wrong and am I not allowed to ever express my anger at her??? So I think for her she reacts to the level of my anger and feels the level of it is not justified given the infraction. On that score she is usually right...... OK But the easy child part of her does eventually recognize her part in it all.

    My difficult child on the other hand has always been very sensitive Occupational Therapist (OT) my anger and yes he would always turn it around on me... and not always get his part. Much harder to deal with.

  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Our difficult child didn't get it either... for years.
    But he does now.
    It depends on the cause of the GFGness, I think. Some problems, there are answers for - and if we can find the answers, then some of this GFGness goes away too. But sometimes... there doesn't seem to be a right answer...
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is pure distraction. May or may not be conscious, but it sure is effective and lots of them do it. They do something that creates a problem for you. You get upset and tell them that they have to change behavior. They don't want to, can't be bothered, etc... so they get upset and make a FAR bigger deal out of the fact that you were upset and try to convince you that you have NO RIGHT to be upset with them and that the problem is not what they have done but is YOU and what you have done.

    If you let yourself get distracted by their koi about how you are the problem, they win. Pure and simple. You go into defensive mode, explain it isn't your fault, and are far far less likely to deal with the original problem by demanding something from them. Plus, you are upset, know that they will escalate things if you have to deal with the problems they create for you, and so you are less likely to hold them accountable in the future.

    I fully agree that the do not see you in any way as a person on your own. You exist solely to do things for them and when you get upset at them because they have caused you a problem or pain, well, you have no right to that pain or to object because your sole purpose for existing is to do what they want and to give them what they want and to be their ATM/grocery store/etc... SO they attack because in their mind, you have no right to be upset because you don't matter and because the attack gets your mind back on them and their problems - WHERE THEY THINK IT BELONGS.

    It is time to be creative. Hide things you don't want destroyed. Put food color or hair dye in the shampoo/conditioner/any other bottles you have sitting out. Container of food just for you? Get a little fridge and keep it behind a locked door in your room or in a pantry. Put strong locks on your door, or when you leave figure out a way to electrify the knob to give them a good shock. Yes, that is mean. Yes, it might get the grands - but they are learning from their mom that you are not a real person and have no right to your own things so it will be a good lesson. I metniong the shock doorknob because it is one of those little things Wiz rigged to keep my parents on their toes. He didn't do it, but he arranged it so he could. He also learned, fast and hard, that doing that would end a LOT of good things in his life, lol.

    You have GOT to start embracing my parents motto: Old age and treachery beats youth and beauty every time.

    And my mother's special life lesson for all of us: You have got to sleep sometime.

    And my mother means her special lesson as a very clear threat to us. I have seen her do AMAZING things when gfgbro simply refused a life lesson - like don't sleep nude in front of the tv in the den. Duct tape from his openly exposed parts to his toes - he had hairy legs but a lot of that caem off with the tape. Tuna juice on his toes - that she tied down so he wouldn't kick the cat - and the cat locked in.

    Between gfgbro and my first roommate, I had a LOT of fun with hair dye. Sometimes really really dark colors, other times the lightest bleach around. first roommate took my shampoo all the time. Same for body wash. Plus she sprayed perfume around the room every single time I had a migraine - to this day I HATE white linen perfume. I doctored bottles of MY shampoo with the coloring. As a going away gift at the end of the year I put hair dye in every single bottle of her shampoo. Her best friend asked me about it the next year. Seemed that roommate also had a bro with shampoo filching habits - and he FREAKED when he came out of the shower with his white blond hair turned BLUE (it was blue shampoo, so I used blue hair dye!). then, to try to wash it out he grabbed another bottle, this one of strawberry shampoo. Ended up looking like a purple muppet - the pics were hilarious. Roommate had tossed several shampoos because they turned her light brown hair white with greenish undertones and she thought they had gone bad. I just laughed and asked how that happened?

    Her friends laughed and told me she NEVER borrowed shampoo again. I also turned her very expensive perfumes into nasty smells by adding various things to them. I figured if she could spray them around knowing they made me sick. She did - I did NOT ask her not to use them, just that if I had a migraine could she put them on in the bathroom or at least by the door rather than by my head? and she refused flat out and went out of her way to put perfume on my clothes, pillow, even to spray it in my face while I had a migraine. She EARNED having all her perfumes ruined, at least in my book. This is where having the parents I have either helped me or warped me - they taught me to use the creative mind I was born with to, well, enhance I guess is a good work, the natural or logical consequences.

    Anyway, you are much older and more experienced than your kids. Put that mind of yours to work and figure out what you can do to make her not WANT to live in your home, to use your stuff with-o asking and/or returning it. I know it is hard, and you want to get along and help your child more than fight or have conflict. But it is not what is best for her or for you. She may think you are losing your mind, but you can work wtih that too.

    What creative ways can you think of to make the cost of taking your things and either not returning them or using them up and not telling you cost her too much? What is she most proud of or think is her best attribute?What is she truly vain/conceited about? What does seh think she can't live without? Sit and think on those things. Send a pm if you want help brainstorming ideas about them. Those are the places that you hit to make her either want to move out or realize that if she is living with you then she is not going to take advantage of you the way she currently is. Also think long and hard about what she hates, can't stand, what makes her sick and what are her pet peeves.

    If something like chewing with a mouth open is a pet peeve, don't just do it yourself. PAY your grands to do it also. Does she have a favorite food? eat it or throw it away or feed it to the birds. "I didn't know you were saving that. I didn't see your name..".

    Also, you now know that when she is being spoken to about a way she has caused you a problem, seh attacks you for being upset. It won't be easy or feel natural, but it is time for you to do it back to her. She is upset about something you or one of the kids has done. Tells you that you have upset her. You STOMP HARD on that instinct/manners/natural niceness that would have you apologize and start in on how she has no right to question you, you do everything for her, pay her bills, support her, and all she can do is use up your shampoo and be mad and she is never nice and is always so mean to you and you don't know how to live with her and on and on and on. Do not stop when she starts on you - you dish it back to her and amp it up a few notches.

    Sadly, it won't be a lot of fun all the time - it is not your nature to be that way. BUT you can learn to enjoy some of it, like her funny new hair color or the strange color her skin turned because you dumped a bottle of food color in her tanning lotion or body wash. And you can do this because it is about the only way to get her to back off of you and start respecting you.

    You ahve got to be more upset, more demanding, more like her if you want this to stop. Or you have to toss her our and be prepared to hear how awful you are. I do think that putting locks on your doors, and maybe even alarms so you are alerted if she goes into your private area, would be a help. Just never leave keys anywhere but on your person.
  14. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Susie, this is great insight, and I think it makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    I love the ideas about the hair dye etc., but honestly it just seems too much trouble.. they have complicated my life enough as it is. At this point I want to spend less energy on these issues, not more. If this were several years ago I might have tried it, but I am just worn out over the battles. I am going to think on it a bit and come up with something, though. She and the kids are gone for the weekend and I'm enjoying the peace and quiet, and regrouping.

    I've learned that the key with both my difficult children is to remain unemotional about many of these issues, actually.. and to matter of factly dole out the consequences for their actions. I do think I'm entitled to occasionally blow and remind Youngest just how much I am doing for her, and how little she is doing for me in return, but timing those blow-ups can be key. If I do it every time she does something that bugs me, it loses its power. I did too much yelling back in the day, and it wasted a lot of time and energy and was counter-productive, I think. With my kids, anyway.

    The good thing about all this is that she dislikes living here as much as I dislike having her live here, and these blow-ups push her into making plans for getting out. I believe that she'll end up moving in with the latest boyfriend, which isn't the greatest of choices for her or her children, but it is what it is. She has a dependent personality and this will probably be the story of her life, and her kids' lives, for many years to come.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I totally understand if you don't want to do things like the hair dye. It does take a certain amount of your energy because you must do it and then there will be some conflama over the results of them using the product. I also agree that timing blow-ups carefully so they don't become background noise but continue to make difficult child want to move out is important.

    in my opinion you need to give her a move-out date. I know you want to help her, but having her live iwth you makes your life a lot less enjoyable and you have earned the right to a peaceful home with-o difficult child problems. She needs a goal, a date to move out by or she may jsut wait until the boyfriend wants her to move in, which could take a long time. I know living with various boyfriends is not great for her or the kids, but it is her choice and her right to make that choice.

    I hope you get your home back soon and you can survive her gfgness until she does leave. Keep shoving the fact that you are a real person in her face, and don't fall for it when she gets upset at you because you being upset over stuff she has done to you bothers her. Don't let her distract you by making you the problem!
  16. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Hi - I can sympathize with you. Sounds like you are really upset and understandibly so. My word - you open up your house to people and expect a little consideration, a little boundaries and what happens? You give an inch they take your shampoo. Doesn't sound like anyone has respect for anyone in the Crazy-house does it? And not to take sides? But (and you're probably not going to like this) You bolting down the stairs yelling at your daughter first thing in the morning accusing her of shampoo theft did not help. She had to be on the defensive right away first thing and well I don't know about you - but I"m not worth a damn until I've had two cups of cofffe and at least been up an hour - I don't care if I offered up the wrong sacrificial lamb - you come at me about shampoo loss? Sista WE are going to dance.

    I have a few thoughts - most of which your kids aren't going to like and I say kids but at 23? Not really a child. Childish, childlike - and since she's behaving like one, and living under YOUR roof perhaps YOU should start treating her like you did when she was a child. I'd ask her if that's the roll she would like you to resume? If not then the same rules apply today as they did then - IF IT IS NOT YOURS YOU DO NOT TOUCH IT ---OH wait - maybe those are not your house rules? What by the way ARE YOUR HOUSE RULES? Are they posted? See I hate to play a game or go to work and not understand the rules - if you don't know what is out of bounds? How are you going to know when you break a rule and make someone angry? This SHOULD be understood like you said - borrow it - return it - but honestly some people just need to be lead by the hand. Even at 23 - living in YOUR house - she's apparently missing the rules. So the fact that she got angry at you for getting angry at her? ( screaming woman about sacrificial lamb at oh eight hundred sans coffee) Yeah I can see it....being weighed out. NOT in all circumstances mind you - and I get she stole shampoo.......she was wrong to invade your privacy, steal shampoo....and that alone should have made HER the lamb - but....hence forth? Give her the rules of the crazy house. DO NOT assUME anything.

    Also along with the rules? There must be consequences. Like in Monopoly - you land on Boardwalk and I have six hotels - I keep your little silver dog, and all your money and you go directly to the poor house and I think then you have to get clothes out of the community chest or something. Just like the game; your consequences will be YOUR wishes - STEAL MY SHAMPOO - GET THE FROG out of my house in 2 weeks. STEAL MY honeycomb ceral - Guillotine in the back yard and off with your head. Touch my box of wine? ----loose a finger to my body guard Knuckles.....(now you know why he's called Knuckles - he was a lush..operative word there being WAS). And so on and so forth.

    As others have said - YES PITA to put a hinge and good lock on your door.......and keep the key with you at all times and LOCK your stuff up. Sounds absurd, but the peace of mind it gives you is unmeasurable. NOT just a knob lock either - one of those hinge locks with a master lock and make sure the windows can't be crawled into either - think also about investing in a safe. A nice heavy one. Be aware of the noises you are making when you hide your things and shove a towel under the door because I've even had them watch under that to see where I'm putting things I thought were hidden. Amazing little rats. (no offense to rodents) and through the windows....OMG incredible if they used their brains for good.

    The other alternative is to put in your rules and consequences - 3 strikes you're out. And give them a time line and mean it - then have the lock smith on speed dial.....and mean it. DO NOT say things like - I DON"T WANT TO DO THIS ----or YOU WILL PUSH ME TO THIS......

    This is what they will cause if they break the rules - plain and simple - you do this ---------this will happen. END OF CONVERSATION.....tired of everyone NOT getting along.

    Can they make rules? NO.....not their house.

    Can they amend rules? NO.......NOT their house - they're not paying bills - and they should be saving their money to get their own place by.........(and insert a date of your choosing) and stick to that....

    Explain that you love them----but it's time for them to GET OUT and be on their own and time for you to have YOUR house back.

    Outline it all in the CRAZYHOUSE handbook---------then print a copy-------for each of them......stop worrying why they have no remorse........and stick to your rules.

    They have no remorse because they've never had to stick to get angry ------blow up.......then storm CIV......blows over gets more shampoo makes idle threats and nothing severe ever happens. They've got your number. NOW give them a new number and stick to it.

    How do I know this (about the remorse) --------????? My son told me.

    Hugs n Love
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911

    My other thought is that if you are getting angry alot? It may help you to check into talking to someone.....trying to work and live with kids back in the house and dealing with everyday life? Not easy. Our employer just offered us five free counseling sessions and everyone was like - thanks so I spoke up in public and said ---"well I think I will take advantage of those - I've been out of work for a year and a half, live with someone disabled, it's been pretty tough and why wouldn't I want to dump a day in the life of on someone who isn't going to judge me? Sheesh and it's FREE? I'll take those passes - thank need to ask ME twice." and after I did that? Everyone else started asking questions and slowly but surely went up and took the amazes me how many people have "stigma" about being angry and yet won't go see a counselor to talk about being p'd off and get some help. I can't do it all alone..........why not get some passes?
  18. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks again to everyone who posted their thoughts on this, and your advice on ways to handle things. I was more looking for insight into this type of 'typical difficult child' reaction, than specific ways to deal with this behavior, but I do sincerely appreciate the various suggestions. I'm an analytical sort, and when someone's reaction puzzles me (particularly when it's overly emotional), it's my nature to try to understand where it's coming from, so that I can better react to it in the future. Sometimes of course, there is no 'why,' and I have to accept that instead.

    I know I haven't posted much about my particular (latest) situation here. Honestly sometimes it just seems too much for me to post, I keep most of the details in a protected blog elsewhere. Suffice to say, grandkids complicate things.

    I'm doing ok, really. Working with a wonderful therapist and slowly coming up with a plan of action, which tends to change bi-weekly as this or that new 'crisis' arises. My anger rarely gets to the point where it did the other morning, that was one that had been brewing awhile and yes, pre-coffee early morning Crazy is not pretty ;-)
  19. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Pre-coffee? You posted BEFORE you had COFFEE???????

    No wonder you were upset!!!

    I have coffee before I even feed the CATS!
  20. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL! No it wasn't the post that was pre-coffee, it was the "shampoo incident" that was pre-coffee :p