Up and Down, Good and Bad kind of Weekend...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I posted last week about how difficult child was going to be in for a big surprise when husband and I did not just hand her shopping money after the way she has been bashing us to her friends (and right in front of our faces, no less!)...

    Well, when husband told difficult child she would have to earn her shopping money by doing extra chores--she was FURIOUS! Began to yell and stomp around about how that wasn't fair and we are HORRIBLE parents. husband calmy explained that she had plenty of time and could earn up to $$$ by raking leaves, washing the cars, cleaning off the siding, etc.

    difficult child yelled that no, there simply wasn't enough time to do anything--so she just wouldn't bring anything to her friend's birthday party. We said fine, we didn't care--it was her friend, not ours.

    So difficult child did absolutely nothing Friday night.

    Saturday morning, she slept in late. Then when she finally got up, she decided that she DID want some shopping money to get her friend a gift after all--but since there was no time left to get everything done....we'd just have to lend the money to her....and she'd pay us back "later". husband was not only going to cave in to this, BUT he wanted to offer to give her "back pay" for chores she had done previously....like wasting water over a sink full of dishes instead of actually washing them (what a wuss!). UGH!!!

    But I stood firm. I reminded difficult child (and husband!) that husband had calmly spelled out exactly what she needed to do to earn maximum money. The fact that difficult child hadn't bothered did not mean that Mom and Dad were supposed to compromise. difficult child could still squeeze in a few hours of work before the party--but I was absolutely NOT giving her money with the vague hope of maybe being paid back later.

    But, difficult child did not even do that. She worked a little bit--then quit. I paid her $6 (the rates for the chores had been spelled out earlier...so she knew that's all she was getting for what she had accomplished).

    I drove her to Wally-World...and difficult child made it clear she did not want to be shopping "with" me--and she began to race through the store ahead of me. OK--fine. So I just followed, keeping my respectable 20 paces behind. O and she was really working on staying away from me! She circled the entire store several times--I felt like we were doing laps or something the way she was "power walking".

    Well, eventually, I just couldn't keep up the pace and I fell behind. It occurred to me that perhaps difficult child was going to do some shoplifting and that's why she was so desparate to ditch me. I couldn't be sure...

    Eventually, I was paged to the jewelry counter, where I met difficult child--who was ticked off that I hadn't stayed right behind her! WTH??? She now she's all mad at me again. OK--whatever.

    Then there was a fiasco trying to find the party, because difficult child didn't have the correct address...or know what time she was supposed to be there. OK--whatever.

    And then when difficult child finally made it to the party...she was AMAZED to discover that the other teens in attendance had also worked to earn the money they spent on presents.:surprise: Shocking!

    And even more shocking:

    The next day (Sunday)--difficult child helped around the house! AND did a good job...

    well...sort of...

    I was trying really hard to look at the positives. difficult child helped by unloading the dishwasher. YAY!!! She swept the bathroom floor. YAY!!! She spoke respectfully. YAY!!! I even had one pair of underpants in the laundry for the week--big improvement. YAY!!!

    So I'm feeling all happy until I learn that difficult child wants to talk to me about special-ordering a custom-made prom dress from Europe. (Yeah, right! Like that's gonna happen!)

    So, it looks like that was the motive for "helping"...

    And then I discovered that she only partially swept the floor...and only wiped the front part of the counter-top in the bathroom..and when I walked into her bedroom (I know, I shouldn't have) she had a huge stash of nasty, dirty underpants that hadn't been washed in how long...and she had "put away" her clean laundry pretty much on top of the stash. AARRGGHH!!!

    I told her she needed to get that stash cleaned up and out of her room--it was disgusting! She said OK--she was gonna hand-wash everything. Fine.

    Few minutes later (after no water runs at all)...she says it's all taken care of. What? You washed those?

    Well, no--she just moved the stash to a different spot so I wouldn't have to see it when I walked into her room.

    I really wanted to be happy and proud....instead, I just feel kind of "deflated".


    Thanks for listening...
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I am sorry your weekend was somewhat stressful. I am very proud of you for sticking to your guns about the money and for trying to find the positives. I admire you for that. Finding positives isn't always easy for difficult child households and in our house I sometimes don't know what a positive looks like.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks, TeDo!

    That means a lot!!
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    DF, you did a great job in standing firm. AND in making sure that husband did too. Our difficult children can be master manipulators, and it's way too easy to cave in just to avoid the conflict of the moment even though you know you're setting yourself up for worse battles later.

    Your difficult child really does have it down to an art form, doesn't she. She's on a par with my difficult child a few years ago. The grandiosity and self-centredness are so hard to live with. Your daughter seems to really get a rise out of pulling your strings, and "making" you do things. She walked faster and faster, in order to make you walk faster and faster trying to keep up with you. She pretended to do just enough chores to get back in your good graces, in the hope that she could make you buy her an expensive dress. Etc. etc. I wonder what would happen if you simply stopped. Let natural consequences completely take over. After years of battles and heartache, and nearly losing my mind from stress and situational depression, I just stopped. And difficult child's behaviour -- at least in front of me -- improved dramatically.
    Interestingly, when other family members saw how much better he was behaving for me, they started being hard-nosed as well, and difficult child's behaviour has improved across the board.

    Here are the "laws" I laid down for difficult child:
    1. I always assume that you're lying, unless there is independent proof not provided or coerced by you.
    2. You are not in charge, I am. Our family is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship, and I am the tin-pot-dictator-in-chief. That means that whatever I say goes. No matter how arbitrary or unreasonable it seems to you.
    3. If I haven't given express permission, you're not allowed to.
    4. If your behaviour is unacceptable, then fun stuff is cancelled. Not for the rest of us, but for you. This might mean that I take everyone else and go elsewhere, or it might mean that you have to go elsewhere. It depends on what we're doing and who's involved.
    5. You are responsible for regulating yourself. That means bathing, doing your laundry, taking your medications on time and properly, controlling your behaviour and moods, getting to bed on time, getting up on time, etc. I will not nag or remind you. If I see (or smell) that you're not doing these things properly, then fun stuff is cancelled (see above).

    Through lots of trial and error, we've learned that we can never (I mean NEVER EVER) get lax with those rules. It's very tempting to lighten up when your difficult child starts behaving properly, especially if they've been doing so for a while. But I've found that the minute you bend even one tiny rule, that puts all of the rules into question. If one rule is adjusted, it invalidates not just that rule, but every rule ever established. And then the hard work of re-imposing the rules begins again.

    I long ago gave up hoping that my difficult child would behave properly because he loves me and wants to please me. I've learned that the only thing that motivates him is self-interest, specifically pleasure vs. pain. So, I've structured all interactions with difficult child so that behaving badly involves a lot of grief (but no drama or conflict, because he feeds on that), and behaving well gives him pleasure. His needs are pretty simple: he wants his younger siblings to look up to him, he wants to spend time with the family, he wants us to buy him video games and car models. If he behaves well, he gets all of those things. If not, not.

    I don't know if any of this is of help to you, but your difficult child sounds so much like mine was a few years ago.

  5. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    if only I had had you to help me about 9 years ago! I think if I had handled things the way you did I would have had a little more success and if nothing else I would have not felt like such a wimp! Your rules are excellent.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jane. Those rules were learned the hard way, and were really our last resort. We had tried pretty-much everything else, and were just about ready to give up. After a spate of completely over-the-top behaviour from difficult child that led to his being handcuffed and hauled away by the police, and then sentenced to a year's house arrest, I figured that we may as well try to make home as jail-like as possible if we had any hope of getting through to him. Lo and behold, jail-like conditions with that level of rigidity and structure, and he started thriving and became a much happier young man. Who knew? I suspect that's also why he thrives in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/Assisted Living environment -- strict rules, routine and structure, order, 24/7 support.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks, Trinity!

    Yes, I think you are right. difficult child is a master manipulator and I am always getting sucked in. Part of the problem is my optimism - I am SOOO vulnerable to hoping.

    I am trying to get better at skepticism, though...
  8. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Maybe start keeping a very visible "Promise made..... outcome" chart to remind yourself (and her)?