Struggling with my attitude to difficult child


Well-Known Member
I'm shaking my head this morning, trying to work out how I feel. Last night, very very late, Oriel talked to me, poured out his heart about how awful our family is, how he feels unloved and unwanted, by us parents, his siblings, etc. etc. The truth from where I am at is that it is totally unjustified, but from where HE is at, he is very unhappy, a tormented soul. On the one hand, I want to detach (and I do, to a great extent). On the other hand, he is reaching out for help. He is in constant clashes with his father, my husband, but no more and no less than all the other children. He said that every night when he lies down to sleep, and every morning when he wakes up, he wonders what point there is to his life.

I'm feeling sad, and a little bit muddled up. He said, how can his brothers and sisters prefer their spouses over their brother? I didn't even try to answer that one. To me it is so obvious, and to him it is so hurtful. He grumbled a lot about easy child (who is just a year older than him). easy child has suffered so much over the years from having Oriel as his brother -- same friends, same school, same everything -- and all Oriel can do is complain about him. Yes, easy child has a sunny personality and knows how to make a good impression and everyone loves him. I understand that it is hard for Oriel, but for heavens sake, he is 20 years old and should understand more. He is highly intelligent.

I'm sure he is depressed, but he refuses to see a psychologist or any other professional. He wants to leave home. I controlled my tongue and didn't say "so go already, and give us some peace here at home," but that's what I wanted to scream out loud.

All of this took place at about 2:30 in the morning.

Lately he has caused us so much grief with neighbors in our apartment building -- one of the problems was with parking spaces, and he blocked one neighbor in such a deliberate manner that the following morning, when the neighbor wanted to leave, he called the police who knocked on our door at 6:30 in the morning and woke us all up (except for Oriel who was fast asleep) and my husband had to move the car and take all the flak and feel embarrassed. Now we aren't talking to that family. And all because of Oriel.

Not to mention is foul language, at the top of his voice, all the time. My good times are either when he is out of the house, or when he is asleep.

OK, I've grumbled enough. My question is really: how much to detach, when he is obviously suffering? And if I hang in there long enough, is there a chance that he will grow out of it? He has another year in the army, and then he intends to travel, so I would really like to hang on and not make him feel unwanted, until he leaves and finds out on his own that life here at home was not so bad, and I will let the world teach him the lessons of life without us being involved.

I'd be interested in some feedback. Thanks for "listening," my friends.

Love, Esther


Well-Known Member
Esther...I will come back and answer this later...Im real sick right now and cant concentrate. I can relate to your delimma tho.


Former desparate mom
Esther, at 20, it's time for him to hear the truth. If he says he feels unloved I would have to ask, "do you act unloveable?". Do you show love to others? Are you a good brother, son, friend to those around you?
difficult child's with self absorption issues(not spoiled but developmental delays) do not realize that the world doesn't end when they are out of the room and that everyone else has a life too. This is not Intelligence as much as emotional development. Many of our kids are severely lacking in this dept.
If your son will not help to find answers to his questions he will do what many of our kids do. Sit and spin their wheels in the mud. They are just stuck because they will not change to see different results. They do the same stuff over and over and are surprised that nothing different happens.

For what it's worth, I think this child gives you much more grief than 6 of your others. I know you had one other difficult child type child. I know it's difficult to admit that he may be different or has a problem but he does and has for a long time. Turn things around. What would he do if he were the dad and his son alienated the neighbors, screamed obscentities at the top of his lungs and intimidated his parents? How does this foster affection and attachment?

It's ok to say you do not like being in the same house with your 20yr old son(not to him). It's ok to be happy when he is asleep or away. It's ok for you to worry about his future.

Both your son and my son wonder why they are here. This scares me but I also think that they have contributed nothing to the world or their own development yet. They have good reason to feel bad but what do they do to feel better about themselves. Sitting around whining is not helping them but they seem paralyzed to change.


(the future) MRS. GERE
There's that victim mentality again. :hammer: It seems that most of our difficult children have it and Moms are the the sounding boards/targets of the bellyaching.

As you know, so much of this is natural consequences of their actions and that's really the only way Rob learns. Do you think it might have made a difference if you'd had Oriel go down to move the car and face the neighbors' wrath? No reason why they should be mad at you and husband- you didn't do it. But it sounded like Oriel slept through the aftermath of his actions and you guys had took the flak instead.

It's too bad that Oriel doesn't have a girlfriend, Esther. That is probably what helped me the most. Now, I hear the bellyaching about the girlfriend but she has to listen to the whining about everything else. I think they outgrow *some* of it, depending upon how much is ingrained in the makeup of their personality and how much success they have in other areas so they can feel good about themselves.

I like Fran's approach of answering a whine with a question. There is a thread in the PE archives about how to respond to our kids. I don't recall if you were a contributor but having some of those phrases handy has helped me not get too sucked into the drama.

As I read this over I don't see that I've said anything helpful at all. I'm sorry. But I do sympathize.



Well-Known Member
There have been times when Cory has claimed that he was the nonfavored child. That we loved Jamie in particular more than him or that we treated Billy better. He has always felt that we were harder on him which was probably true because we had to be.

I cant tell you how many times we have told him that we would have been just as hard on the others if they had brought the cops to our door too!

He doesnt have a problem with the Jamies girlfriend probably because he has a girlfriend. He used to hate Jamies wife but the feeling was mutual. They were too close in age I think (and diagnosis).

He does feel very competitive for his fathers approval with the other boys. He wont admit it and his father wont see it...but Jamie and I can see it.

Fran has a good point about asking him if he is acting in a way that engenders the reactions he wants from people. If you want friends you must first be a friend. You must treat others with respect if you want them to treat you with respect.

Ahhhh...these kids will be the death of us.


Active Member
My difficult child 1 also falls into this category. Sometimes I do well and don't get sucked into this and sometimes I don't. All the cliches in the world don't really help when your are looking down the eyes of a twenty something and they just can't or don't see where they fit it. In their mind it is much easier to complain and whine to someone than it is to actually make the change themselves.

Is this a personality disorder caused by the lack of emotional growth?


New Member
Hi Esther---My difficult child is very jealous of her easy child sister and has always said we treat easy child so much better. I have tried to explain that, while I love each of them intensely, yes, I DID enjoy being with easy child more sometimes. I explained that easy child is nice to me and doesn't pitch a fit whenever things don't go her way! The old saying, "You reap what you sow" is so true.

Now that difficult child is no longer under our roof, our relationship has gotten MUCH better. I look forward to seeing her, and I think she feels that way, too.

My difficult child is very immature emotionally. I'm sure that substance abuse has a lot to do with it.

Getting happier

New Member
I truly understand how you feel. My difficult child has the same type of thinking. I try to do more for him or at least the same but he still says my easy child gets the best treatment. He has a view of the world - like he is persecuted. He thinks people are all out to get him. He had a moment of self awareness when a man told him he should not be so sensitive, but it seems as though he cannot change his thinking or behavior. The language was awful, I would tell him that I do not like to hear those words, that never stopped him. Finally when he hit his sister, who he has been terrible to and whose life he made miserable, I told him he could not live here. He is 18 yr old. After few weeks of having to be late to work to take him to his job and having to pick him up everynight I told him he could come back when he works, just to sleep and go to work. His foul language is less. He is nicer to me, but continues to hate easy child for what he sees as favoritism, he thinks she has the perfect life. She works in school and is respectful. He does not see that he was rude obnoxious and did nothing in highschool, he never got Highschool diploma. From what I see the only way people with his way of thinking learn anything is the hard way and then that only reaffirms to him that life is out to get him. I think a miracle from God would change him and that is all. Nothing has altered my difficult child's negative and self defeating behavior yet. Sharon


Well-Known Member
Thank you all for your replies.

I know I'm a "softy." But it's not all that simple. The bottom line is that somehow Oriel seems to have some internal boundaries. He is not in any trouble with the police. He's not on drugs. Somehow, he just about manages not to get into any legal trouble, although I know he goes off to town and drinks alcohol, and he has a motorbike.

A few weeks ago, after a meltdown, I said to husband that I really would like to see Oriel out of the house, and my husband said to me that he agrees, but he would be worried that maybe, just maybe, he would get in with a bad crowd of kids and deteriorate. You see, the fact that he is at home somehow keeps him within those boundaries, even though we all suffer so much for it. And he is managing to hold down an evening job at the moment, at a pizza place, which is great.

And yes, I think Fran is right that emotionally he is younger than his years, and is still like a young teenager emotionally, and needs more time to grow up.

Don't forget, here in Israel, where it is compulsory for all boys to go into the military, we are far more reluctant to push our sons out of the home while they are serving, because it is such a volatile area and we never know when once again we will be at war, and then we want to be able to give our boys a warm home and a secure environment to come back home to. So we have a slightly different take on that.

Having said all that, the military does have some sort of arrangement for boys who for all sorts of reasons can't remain at home, and I know for a fact that Oriel has been looking into this option, and that he wants it. They are supposed to send someone to our home to make inquiries on behalf of the military, and believe me I will certainly cooperate with them.

I must explain why we didn't wake him up that morning when the police came: waking Oriel up in the morning is a nightmare, and we have an agreement with him that after trying once or twice, we pour a cup of water over his face to wake him up. It causes him to rage like a bull and swear something awful, but it does the trick and then he gets up and isn't late and doesn't get punishment from his officer for getting there late. I can tell you, whenever it is my "turn" to wake him up I practice detachment really well when I pour the water over him. I HATE doing it! But there just wasn't time, with the police bashing at the door, to go through that process. He is a very deep sleeper.

Today he is quieter. That's what always happens after a melt-down. He behaves very very badly to his father, not quite so badly to me.

Remember that film, "Stop the world, I want to get off"? That's how I feel at the moment.

Tomorrow I'm going to the movies. I'm going to see "The Queen," together with a lady I work with (she's 80, and she's also from England). I haven't been to a movie for six years. Last time I went was with my father, and he died about four years ago!!!! I'm looking forward to it very much.

Suz, I've printed out that link you posted, and will read it quietly later on. Thank you.

Thank you all for your input.

Love, Esther


Active Member
Glad he has quieted down. I don't have great advise for you but I wanted you to know that I understand your hurting worrying heart.

Hopefully the arrangement the military can come up with will work out and he can be out of the house, yet still be within reach.

I hope you enjoyed The Queen. I saw it with a friend about a month ago. It also was the first movie that I have seen in years.(Other than Kiddie movies) I vowed to go see a movie on a regular basis but still haven't seen another one.

It's good that you are going out with a friend and doing something nice for you. We forget to do that for ourselves when our lives are wrapped up with taking care of everyone else.

Oriel will be easier to deal with if you are feeling good.


Active Member
please do not take it personally. I am sure you never made Oriel feel unloved and that it did not come from you, but from somewhere inside himself.

when he mentions it, give him an extra hug. verbalize that you love him.

truthfully it is so much easier to love our well behaved kids. the others make us stretch our love muscles!


Well-Known Member
I would bet money that there is nothing you can say or do that would settle him down. He does not want to analyze and
solve "his" problem. He wants you to solve his problem and
that is impossible.

My AS difficult child turns to me fairly often with a similar need. In
his case he "decides" he wants to be popular and then sets
out "to make" it happen. He tried to force feed himself to
other teens and then is devestated when he is rejected.

This week (yes, I know it sound funny but I bet you do the same I tried once again to get him to understand
how society works! For four days it has remained in his head
which is probably a record.

"difficult child you alone can not be a family, a club, a group. No ONE
person can do that. You have to be a caring part of a group
to be a group member. Think of a beach. Can one grain of
sand be a beach?? Of course not! To make a beach a bunch
of sand grains have to unite with the common goal."

His response??? He smiled and said "I get it!!" (Of course
he will not continue to get it for long, lol.) "I have to think like a grain of sand and get together with others who
want to accomplish something. Thanks, Mama." Geez, DDD


Well-Known Member
Very interesting replies, and I thank you all for your input. I liked that about the beach and the grains of sand, but I don't think he will listen to anything like that from me. Maybe I'll give it a try.

Re: giving him a hug. You know, that night when he was talking to me, I thought to myself that that was what he needed, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it because he made me feel so angry. But you are so right, Janet, and I will try and "stretch my love muscles" because I know when he feels loved, that is when he calms down. It's just that I have to get myself in the right spot in order to do it. I promise I will try.

And yes, I did go to see "The Queen" today, and enjoyed every minute. It was truly worthwhile and NOT a waste of time.

difficult child is at work at the moment. I wonder what mood he will be in when he gets home. We can always hope.

Love, Esther


riding the roller coaster
PLaying devil's advocate here......
Oh mu gosh, do I understand the trauma of waking them up!!!!!! It was so traumatic to try and get B up for school. Just horrible.
But, what would happen if you didn't get him up? Wouldn't the military have some consequence that would make him realize he needs to take on this responsibility for himself? Anything to make your life easier.

I understand how hard it is to love and hate them at the same time. I swirl around in that whirlpool all the time.

Hope things get easier for all of you.


New Member
When he expresses that he feels unloved, maybe your reply should be that you love him and always will, but you don't always like things that he does. Hopefully he can see the difference.

My difficult child makes comments sometimes about what we do for easy child daughter, now that he doesn't live home, but fortunatley I think he realizes very quickly that us painting her room doesn't compare to what we have done for him over the last 1 1/2 years. I think it's just that the things we did for him weren't always visible. There was nothing visible at the end of paying attorney fees as there is when we paint a room or buy new bedroom furniture for easy child. What we did for him cost much much more.