Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Sep 7, 2008.
Deleted- just in case any lurkers are people I know!!
That was an unbelievable account of your life experience.
I wish I could go back in time and hug you as a little girl.
You are truly an amazing woman!
You've shared pieces of this before, but reading it all together gives us some comprehensive insight into what you've had to deal with and just how far you've come. Thank you for trusting us enough.
You seem to be asking if "family therapy" = "you all, as a group, have caused these problems" as a blanket response from lazy therapists; and also if, since the suggestions that we get 'family therapy' make YOU feel like you're the one being blamed for your child's problems, that surely there are times the child also feels he's being blamed in a similar way.
OK, maybe I made that sound MORE complicated!
Part 1 - is "family therapy" = "blame the family"?
I don't think it's necessarily so. But again, I'm not coming from your background where you WERE made to feel responsible. You grew up with your mother dumping a load on EVERYONE around her, to make everyone else responsible for HER happiness. This included you. So whenever something is not quite right, you have to always fight the sense of being personally responsible for every little thing.
I'm not quite coming from the same area. husband - different reasons but yes, I think he tends to feel far more personally responsible in making sure everything goes smoothly.
So when WE had family therapy recommended, we went along with it and gave it a go. But then - for us at the time, the family included him, me, and four kids. Mostly though, it was just him and me attending, and it was to do with difficult child 3. The therapy sessions - we only had two or three from memory, with a clinic psychologist. Same clinic where difficult child 3 was getting speech therapy and some pediatric assessment. The therapy seemed aimed at exploring our relationship (husband & I) not just to see if there was any component to how we interacted that could have CAUSED difficult child 3's problems, but also to see if there was anything that could be CONTRIBUTING to an existing problem, and to also give us tools to help us MINIMISE the impact of difficult child 3's problems. When it became clear that whatever was wrong with difficult child 3 was not due to anything husband or I have done, then the focus of the family therapy changed towards helping us look after ourselves and our relationship with each other, while still having the energy to ensure that difficult child 3 was also getting the care and nurturing he needed.
All this was going on during difficult child 3's therapy sessions, with someone else in an other room. I remember our sessions - one at least was outside in the garden at the clinic, even though they had plenty of rooms.
Yes, I did feel that perhaps part of the focus was initially to see how much husband & I could be blamed and to rectify this component as fast as possible (if it existed) but I felt that we had to 'play willing' in order to get access to the services which I felt we really needed, for difficult child 3. So we gritted our teeth and went along with it.
Possibly part of your trouble here is first, you DO feel responsible even when you know you shouldn't, and as a result your back is already up; and there is the other aspect which always gets me cranky with it, which is the "fiddling while Rome burns" feeling ("we are wasting time on this rubbish instead of getting difficult child the help he needs NOW!").
The thing is, having endured the process and come through it with a clear bill of family health, when anyone suggests family therapy we can honestly say, "We tried it. We already know that stuff. We're taking care of it. It is not the problem. We need to move on to something a bit more direct, a bit more relevant."
Now, we DO tend to feel that sense of blame when family therapy is suggested, but that is because they're talking to US. When they're talking to difficult child, they should be focussing on why is this kid like this. From what they glean from the family therapy, they get a more detailed picture of how you interact with your child, what your relationship is like and if there is any way you could change how you interact which could help (even if you're not doing anything wrong - sometimes there is a good way, and also a better way). So in the sessions with difficult child, his therapy should be focussing on how HE feels, how HE copes, and how HE could find his own ways to function better. They should be far more careful to avoid blaming the child. So far less than you, he should not be so inclined to feel that therapy is blaming him.
That doesn't mean he won't still feel it at times. But they should be working to avoid it where possible.
In your case, when someone suggests family therapy, I would ask, "Who do you mean by 'family'? Because I have chosen, for sound legal and medical reasons, to shut off from my family, because they are toxic. I have made this decision on sound medical and psychiatric advice and I am not willing to go there or to involve them in any way, it would be asking for a great deal of trouble with no benefit."
If you are managing entirely on your own, then "family" = you and difficult child. But do you have anyone else in your personal support network? A close friend? Someone who also spends time with difficult child? Someone who might go along with you to such sessions? Because sometimes in those sessions, they may talk to you about a different way to interact with difficult child, for example, and all people involved should be on the same page.
Are you still getting personal therapy for yourself? Or are you currently in hiatus? Because it could make it easier to say, "I don't need family therapy, I am currently in therapy with ... and any issues concerning family relationships between me and difficult child are dealt with in those sessions."
If family therapy is a condition of difficult child getting some sort of help, then I would go along with it, as long as it doesn't require any participation from anyone you don't want to have involved. If they insist that you have to have your brother, your mother or your uncle involved, and STILL insist after you've explained what you told us here - then I would be flipping the finger and moving on. I would also be making a formal, written complaint about them.
I am sorry you feel you're being picked on because you're a single parent. I wish I could assure you that you're over-reacting - bit I'm afraid you probably are not. I think you're correct in your assumption that you're being treated like a 'dumb broad' for being a single mother.
And that is really wrong, for anyone to treat you like that.
If you are in therapy, could you ask your therapist who they recommend? Or perhaps give them permission to talk to difficult child's therapists, to at least get rid of the "dumb female' tag you feel you might have?
Thank you for sharing your story. I second what BBK said, You are an amazing woman and a survivor.
I have never felt you to be judgmental and always appreciate yours and others in put. This is a journey and I like to think we learn something every day. I hope in turn I've never come off judgmental to others here as I feel we are all in this together with so much to learn from one another as well as offer support to one another.
I also wish I could go back and give young klmno a hug - and your mom a clue!
I am so sorry you were hurt as a child. I know how terrible it feels. been there done that.
I thinkk you have a pretty good point about tdocs that you have seen. I have not had the same experiences, though one therapist told me to deal with Wiz' school anxiety by giving him a trash can to carry around and barf in. later it was found that he had an infection from picking at his sking and hitting himself with rocks from the garden. He was vomiting because the infection. If I had taken the tdocs advice my son could have eventually died from this untreated infection.
You ALWAYS have to follow your gut. It is a gift from God or your higher power or the universe to help you raise your child. Not to say that most of us couldn't use some help and new skills in parenting, but that is not usually the ONLY problem. There really ARE problems that are NOT the fault of the parents or their style of parenting or being a single parent.
I wish, with all my heart and soul, that you could come and work with the therapist who helped us so much. She did research, learned new things, explored the latest info on the things that my kids were diagnosis'd with, and was just awesome. I pray you find a therapist like our doctor Y.
Many hugs to the adult klmno. You truly ARE an AMAZING woman. (and I do know this post was NOT about garnering compliments, but you deserve that one!)
Great post. It's so true. We don't know where we came from. In my case, I was so misunderstood and told I was "bad" when all I wanted to be was "good" and I couldn't do it. The rages were so out of my control and I felt like a total loser. I so encourage parents to try to understand that their kids are sick, not bad. I have no great love for therapists that try to blame us for our children's behavior. As much as my parents really thought I was a "bad seed," it wasn't their fault I was the way I was. I knew it. No therapist could make me blame them; I knew I was born different.
Thanks for sharing.
Wow! You have experienced so many nightmares. What a success story you are. To look deep inside yourself and know that you can do what it takes to get where you want to be. I am sorry you had to go through so much to find that one person who did help. You are a real trooper to keep up the battle, many would have and have given up because it is so hard. You are a great role model.
It also takes tremendous strength to face the darkest moments of our past to help our present. Your facing so many moments is certainly helping your difficult child. It is also helping your friends on this board. We have learned so much from you - you really are making this world a better place to live in as you assist others through their struggles.
Instead of telling kids they are "bad", people should look for the good in each kid and build on that. Just like you and so many others, kids are really looking for ways to meet their dreams. They need the positive reinforcement that there is a way, not the negative brow beating.
Thank you all for the support and actually, even for reading such a long post!
BBK- that is so sweet- I would have appreciated that hug!
Marg- when I visualize having to go thru a process of convincing people that I haven't abused or neglected my son, I am not a parent who brings boyfriends in or leaves to go party while my son is with a sitter or who doesn't pay attention that a child needs to be raised, not just fed, I really lose all connection with the therapist. It makes me feel like I'm having to prove everything again- like I did to the jusdge and the GAL and I'm so over it and I can't keep a calm, comfortable attitude with a therapist who has preconceived notions that I have to overcome. I know this wasn't why family therapy was recommended, and family therapy wasn't court ordered. I could skip it all and never be in trouble. But, the fact remains that I could use some understanding and help from a therapist on issues about hhow to de-escalate him, dealing with school, etc. It is the fighting preconceived notions that is exhausting me.
My mother and half-bro both live out of state, so the extended family issue isn't really an issue- right now. My bro dropped his custody case and my mom has become silent on why she thinks she has any right to offer an opinion on my difficult child being raised by anyone other than me. The only thing she ever says about personal family stuff is that 1) she guesses she shouldn't have let her brother come live with us (nothing about that we should have gone to therapy like the dr's said) 2) I'm better at raising difficult child than she was at raising me and 3) she doesn't want to hear anything that would stop her from spoiling difficult child and 4) she can't understand why my half-bro would stop communicating with her. Never mind that my grandfather pulled all kinds of sneaky tricks to get custody of me from her and she resented the P**S out of it- it was somehow ok for her to call my bro and encourage him to do what he did.
My half-bro has his own issues. He was led to believe that he had a wonderful set of parents, in spite of the fact that our father (who died) had divorced his mother and sent her back to Korea and she never contacted him. Then, when he was 17yo he learned that his bio-mom had been a prostitute and had never wanted contact with him after our dad divorced her. Anytime we got together as adults, he still said that our dad wanted to divorce my mom and leave me and bring his bio-mom back to this country so they could be a family again. The whole time, he would be telling my mom that she was the only one he considered a mom because she raised him from 2-8 yo and that he agreed with her- something was wrong with me. Ok- so that isn't my cross to bear.
What do I feel guilty over? maybe that if I could have gotten past more, difficult child's father wouldn't have been who he is. Maybe he would have been a amn who could care about his child. It isn't rational- I mean the part about me being able to have a healthy relationship might have been possible, but given how screwed up my family was, I doubt it. But feeling guilty over difficult child's father choosing what he did is not something I had control over. I just still feel soooo bad for difficult child about it. And it broke my heart when difficult child told me 2 years ago that the reason he had hit me was because he felt I'd set him up by telling him how lovable he was and how much potential he had only to learn that it couldn't be tru because if it was true, his father wouldn't have denied him and his teachers wouldn't be saying he was a bad kid.
You have very good insiight, Marg- any suggestions are appreciated!
Sharon & Susie- thank you so much- no I have never felt you were judgemental. You have both been very supportive of me and our difficult child issues and I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.
MWM- thank you! I really respect your opinions on things because I somehow feel a wierd connection with you- like maybe you can understand my difficult child. You are not wierd- just like I tell my son. Different- well, that can be a good thing. I hope you find a way, if you aren't doing this already, to advocate for kids. You would be great at it and Lord knows, they need someone to do it.
I think that after what your mother put you through, and then the fact that she got a counseling degree, it is amazing you trust people in the psychology field. You have been through hell and back, and the fact that you have come back is amazing.
Thank you for sharing your story. I have never found you to be judgmental, you have always been supportive. I try to not be judgmental, as I feel too many people are that way in real life, virtual life should be better.
Thanks, Andy- my only message to people here, other than please remember that as close as we might be, we haven't experienced each others' own stories, is to keep in mind that it might not be a good idea to send the "there's something wrong with you- you better learn how to act normal" message to a kid.
Crazymama- if it hadn't been for my counselor who saved me and one man who believed in me- I would have given up a long time ago. Oddly enough, all this took place years before difficult child was conceived, so he wouldn't have even been conceived if these things hadn't happened. But difficult child is/was a godsend to me- I encourage and support him to have his own life, but God really blessed me with his birth. And I'm not even so religious!
Sounds like you feel about difficult child, the way I feel about difficult child 3.
I do 'get' you on the subject of being tired of having to keep justifying yourself to people who pre-judge before you even sit down and talk about the main issue - your difficult child. Even though I'm in a stable long-term relationship, people would still judge me because of my disability which doesn't have a specific name. I'd then get psychologists (or similar) wanting to play with MY mind, instead of dealing with difficult child 3. Or I'd get people pre-judging and insistent that my health problems were all imaginary, and from there it was a short leap to the Munchhausen's by proxy rubbish.
Maybe because I was always trying to head off the Munchhausen's by proxy, I went out of my way to show that I was prepared to cooperate and that I was clearly NOT 'doctor-shopping' or refusing access to my medical history (for those for whom it was at all relevant). Not that I would throw open all my medical records to unlimited access - but when I felt the questioning beginning, I would allow them ONE phone conversation with my treating specialist, to put a stop to what I saw as the therapist "barking up the wrong tree" and get everything back on track. Because there are always idiots out there who like to play psychiatrist inappropriately, I began to limit access to my own case files - at least limited in the extent that I needed to know whenever contact had been made. I've generally had a good working relationship with my own treating specialists and so I have trusted them to be open and honest with me. As a result, my treating doctor would fill me in on whatever a therapist of difficult child 3's had asked about me, in any conversation they had.
The big difference between you and me - I doubt you get judged based o your appearance. You probably get judged though, based on your statistics on the file (where is the father, sort of thing). Also, I doubt you need to keep proving yourself to not be actually deliberately making your child dysfunctional. I am fortunate in that I don't have to prove this too often, thank goodness. What worries me is when I HAVE had to worry about it, I'm aware I've been at risk of losing my child. And for me to shut down this kind of problem - throwing open my file is the answer. For you, it's almost the opposite. If they find out too much about your history, it is just too tempting to get caught up in sifting through it to find clues to difficult child's problems.
An example - I've mentioned this case before; a little girl and her baby brother were mistreated by their bio-mum in Queensland. Bio-mum and de-facto dad couldn't cope with the "bad behaviour" of the children (who were little more than babies) and would TIE THEM UP for hours and hours. At one point the children were hog-tied (had been for about 8 hours) when the 18 month old girl suffocated and died. She was also found to be badly malnourished. The mother and de-facto boyfriend were charged with murder and are currently serving time. The baby boy was handed over to bio-mum's mother.
Then comes the problems - of course the little boy has behavioural problems. The mum gets access to a lot of help in terms of funding, therapy for a traumatised child - but when the grandma kept saying, "There's something else wrong," they stopped listening to her and gave her a hard time. It took a number of years of her arguing with authorities (and nearly losing custody of him) before he (belatedly) got a diagnosis of autism. They have finally accepted - yes, the boy was traumatised. But with hindsight, maybe the bio-mum's insistence that her kids had behaviour problems was right - if the kids were Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some way. Of course, hog-tying them was not the way to cope! But if the child also had autism as an underlying diagnosis, then it would explain a lot.
The boy is going to need a lot of ongoing care and maybe is worse than he would have been because of the abuse he received.
The thing is, people pre-judge. It often gets in the way of what children need. It happens for many reasons, across the board (I wish it didn't). It's not fair. And I don't blame you for having had enough.
I think what brings us back for more is our kids - we will endure a great deal, if there is even a hint that eventually, our kids get the help they need.
There's no easy answer.
Thanks, Marg! That was a very sad story about those kids being hog-tied, only to find one was autistic and the family probably had no knowledge or skills about how to deal with it.
I won't give up- I'm keeping the whole therapy issue on the back of my mind. I'm scheduled to take difficult child in to meet intern therapist tomorrow, unless I cancel it today- but I'll probably keep the appointment. I can also call the previous therapist, but after 4 mos of talking about diagnosis and what medications difficult child is on,etc., I don't see that one ever getting anywhere. I guess if it ends up looking like seeing intern would trigger mania or depression or otherwise make things worse, we could see the other instead to meet the court order, until I found someone else to try.
I am very sorry for the pain you're had to endure. I too would extend both a hug to the young klmno and the amazing, insightful one we have among us now. Thank you for sharing your story. I am honored that you trusted us that much. xoxoxo ML
Thank you, ML!
Marg, as another thought- I agree with the concept of family therapy like you described- I think we do need that. I've been trying to pin-point more specificaly what is bugging me about this intern. I really do think it is not what he's intentionally saying to me (ie- the well thought-out words), but what he's "just saying".
For instance, he talked about how I needed to trust him whole-heartedly in order for this to work. I know I need to trust him, but that isn't given blindly right off the batt. Anyway, then later he said, "well, let's get your son in here next time so I can hear his side of the story". That made me think that underneath it all, he really does believe that my son's "side" and my "side" are two different things and that they are in conflict. Maybe I'm reading too much into it- we'll go tomorrow and I'll try to keep an open mind. But I don't want to ignore clues if they are adding up to this guy not being open-minded enough to see who we really are and what we really need the most help with. When that happens, the focus ends up being on an issue that's about number 10 on the list of imprtance, rather than on the critical issues. I think you were saying that, too.
Maybe when tdocs have very little experience, they haven't learned that people coming to see them have a lot of various backgrounds and don't all fit the sterotype. Then, when they have a whole lot of experience, they think they already know everything you need before you even walk in the door!
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