What makes us so different?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by goldenguru, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    As I was out walking this morning - I was mulling over the question of what makes "Warrior Moms" different.

    I have seen parents who have gone through similar - very painful circumstances with their children. Parents who have kids addicted to drugs, failing scholastically, with unplanned pregnancies, in prison, homeless etc. who somehow manage to remain amazingly objective. Parents who have adult kids making poor choices who manage to say "Well - they are adults." Parents who possess an amazing ability to detach. I mean really detach - not just in word - but in deed, and emotions.

    I am not one of those parents. Don't ya think that by virtue of even being a member of this board makes us all unique?

    I was talking with my mom a few days ago - and asked her why she never worried about us as we left the nest and struggled with really hard stuff. She was so matter of fact. She just never worried. Somehow when we left the physical confines of her home - we left her emotional worry radar. I envy that, but I don't get it.

    Why do we intellectually understand detachment 101, but can't get our hearts/emotions to follow suit?

    I so want to be better at this. I don't want to spend my entire lifetime worrying about and trying to fix stuff for my kids (and others close to me).

    So what does make us different? Childhood experiences? Personality traits? A strong desire to control? A lifetime of loving 'broken' people?

    I'm considering therapy to help me figure this out. But, I thought I'd throw this out there first - sometimes the best insights come from those who are in the same boat as we are.

  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    My answer: Because we recognize our GsFGs needs. We know that they are living in a world not set up for them. We look to find how to meet our difficult children's needs. We love our special people and see the good in them. We see that they don't like their behavior anymore then anyone else does. We accept that kids grow in different ways, that kids do not learn the same way, that behaviors are often medically charged.

    Our difficult children need creative parenting - the normal disciplining just doesn't make sense to them. So, warrior mom's strive to understand where their kids are coming from and use their understandings to help them grow.

    Some of us do find the need to detach when we have done everything we could and difficult child personally hurts us, betrays our trust, starts abusing those around. However, warrior moms work harder to first give another chance, to find another way. When we do need to detach, it is not because we have given up but it is because we recognize that difficult child has started to use us to keep from growing - we have the habit of helping rescue too often and too soon - so to detach and take away that resource, difficult child is forced to take on more responisibility. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    It is just as hard for non-warrior parents to detach. It is usually because their child has deeply hurt them or they don't know how to parent the bad behavior. They don't know that "bad behavior" is really a call for help and there are avenues to look at in the medical field to help. They may have fallen into the belief that because their child does not fit the "normal" then there is no use to ever reaching the kid. Society still does not understand mental health - it is still a feared area by parents, "No, my kid is just like everyone else. Just needs punishing to get it."

    So GO Warrior Moms GO! Your love for your child and willingness to figure your chld out will be the chance he/she needs to succeed.
  3. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I suspect that those parents who remain objective despite their kids being addicts, or in prison etc., went through the same hurt and anguish as any of us and have now reached a place where they have detached. I think any parent (I mean caring, attached parents, not those who are abusers or drug addicts themselves) would go through this process.

    I understand completely about intellectually understanding detachment 101, but not being able to get heart and emotions to fall in line. It seems to be a process more than a one-time achievement; we detach in theory, then in certain situations where we can manage to do so, and gradually become more able to be objective as harder situations arise. A process of one step at a time, I think.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We have no idea what really goes on in their hearts and minds or how much they suffer. That's my take on it. I never try to guess how somebody else feels or lives. It's like when I see a family that looks like the Cleavers. I never assume they are and, more often than not, I find out I'm right...that sometimes these families have the most problems of all...
  5. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    Very well put, Katya.

    What a wonderful question, Guru.

  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I guess my question would be do we admire those people, or do we wonder why they aren't more involved? My answer would be "admire".
  7. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    I understand completely also. I could have written the post Goldenguru did. I think that personality traits have something to do with it and the need to control others. I feel the need to control especially the ones that have risky behavior because I feel I would lose control of myself if something happened to them and that is a scary thought to me. I have told my counselor this and will continue to delve into why that is so scary to me. Everytime I am with my son I feel this almost panicky feeling. To try and change him to what I think he should do or what I want him to would be nice for me because then I wouldnt have to worry! Does that make sense?
  8. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I think I've evolved (note: operative word here- "evolve") into a fairly detached parent. It doesn't mean I'm not involved emotionally, but I no longer take Rob's actions as a reflection on me.

    What a relief it was to get to that point- and it sure didn't happen overnight or without the support of members here (and sometimes having concepts beat on top of my head ;) ), Rob's therapists, our wraparound behavior specialist, and Rob's PO.

    And, to be honest, it also took my divorce because once divorced my ex FINALLY understood that Rob's actions had nothing to do with parenting but had everything to do with Rob's decisions.

    GG, I would heartily recommend therapy to help you work this out. One of Rob's old therapists really helped me through some tough times and tough decisions. And it was an hour I could spend indulging solely on MY feelings- what a luxury it was at the time.

  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I was able to step back and detach when my kids reached the age of 18. I have no trouble letting them stumble and fall. I have no trouble with them dealing with concequences of their actions be they good or bad. I have no trouble seeing them as adults.

    I started the process of detaching once each child entered high school. As each of those 4 years passed I did less and less for them, so that by the senior year I was doing very darn little in the way of decision making and such. During this process I was preparing myself for the enevitable as much as I was them. Although I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time.

    This doesn't mean that I don't worry. It doesn't mean that I don't get mad or frustrated. Because as you all know I do. lol But I know that what I feel and want for them doesn't matter. I have no control over their actions any more than I do that of a complete stranger. I did my job for 18 years. It either took, or didn't. I did my utter best. Now it's up to them to take the ball and run with it, or not.

    I know that their actions as an adult are not a reflection of my parenting. I know that because my actions as an adult are not a reflection of the parenting I recieved. That was my foundation. I made my own choices based on what I felt was right and good for me, not my parents. I made mistakes, some huge and some small, but I lived thru it and I think it made me a better person. I didn't make those choices thinking Ohhhh, this will make my Mom miserable. Or this will thrill her to death.

    I'm like any other parent. Except I do my utter best to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. That's it. (often that's the hardest part) And I don't let myself rescue. The single time I did I got burned so badly I will never, ever let it happen again.

    If that's cold hearted. Well, then I am. But I look at it this way.........

    If I don't take credit for their successes in life.....why on earth would I want to take credit for their mistakes??
  10. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Great post, Lisa! I especially liked what you said about your adult actions not being reflective of the parenting you received. I think my parents were the furthest thing from my mind when I was a young adult living my life! I did stupid, careless things but there was a sort of invisible line inside me which I wouldn't cross. I knew right from wrong and if I chose to do wrong it wasn't my parents' fault, it was despite what they taught me. And, it wasn't up to them to rescue me or lecture me or try to save me from myself. And, further, they didn't even know what I was up to so they couldn't do anything anyway!

    I don't feel guilty anymore either. My difficult child 1 is her own person and will do what she wants--she always has. She wasn't raised to be a thief or liar or a con artist, yet that is what she seems to be. It really helps to have her far away so I don't have to actually see her in action. Yes, I think about her and worry some about her but it doesn't keep me from living my own life and enjoying my life. I don't think my life should just come to a standstill because she is a difficult child.

    I also like what Lisa said about not taking credit for their successes, why would she take credit for their mistakes? Yet, that is what so many people do. You see the smug parents who only have pcs and they feel it is because they were great parents. They live vicariously through their kids. I know many of my difficult child 2/easy child's friends' parents have their identity totally through their kids so they put a lot of pressure on them to succeed. One good thing about having a difficult child is it teaches you humility! You see that you are not as powerful and important as you thought and that your children really are their own people, they are not little puppets under your control. I find I have a lot more empathy for others now and am not so judgmental.

  11. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I absolutely agree, one thing I have become over the years is less judgmental! When I was a young adult everything was black and white; my opinions were strong and my judgments swift. Uh huh. Fast forward to now, and my motto is, 'the older I get, the less I know'. No more prejudgment. No more assuming I know what's going on with others. Lots more empathy.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Good question and I do think therapy is a good idea.
    For me, it was mostly about turning a certain age and putting things in perspective.
    I just didn't have it in me to keep going at this speed and I love myself too much to continue.
    I have horrible moments where I question things and I have the advantage of a husband who takes care of much.
    But generally, it is the notion that I just physically and emotionally can not do it.
    I wish to be productive in this world and can not drain myself by putting all my energy in one place.
    difficult child will have to step up to the plate and make a way for herself with the assitance provided to her by her family. She might need a little extra and that is okay. When you are a family you should be willing to pitch in for the weaker fellow. But there are lines to be drawn. It should not be to the extent that you suffer. Sure, there are ups and downs, but life was meant to be good.
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Okay Guru -

    I thought about this ALL day - and on the way home tonight I thought - if she were sitting right here in the car with me (scared to death because I am a defensive driver and I have a button with horrible phrases I push instead of using my finger and fist) HOW would I answer her as to what makes me /us different. I say we, because if I had 40 years I could not explain to you what makes ME different...:tongue:

    And here's my thought.....

    What makes us different from your average parent of an average child (avereage here means no major issues, goes to school, gets along with mostly everyone, good grades, has fear, has goals, doesnt' allow disappointments to be the end of his life, wants to be and strives to be happy and adjusts well to change)

    The difference is - I have spent my time in quarters. I've had to. I had to for us (self and son) to survive in an average world. Because the world can feel pity for a child with a bald head - they know it's cancer, they know there's a chance he or she may perish. The world can feel pity for a homeless child, because they blame the parents. The world can feel something for a child in a wheel chair or who uses crutches or has braces, because they can see an impairment. The world makes exceptions for children that are hard of hearing by learning signing, and offers braille to blind kids. But the world is persnickity and it looks at my child and sees - hair, 2 legs, 2 arms, eyes that see, ears that hear and their brains are so conditioned to average children who behave average OR handicapped children who LOOK handicapped that when they meet my handicapped child that looks average it doesn't compute or register or make sense.

    So instead of spending 1 whole of my life enjoying my son as any mother should - I've spent 1/4 of my Mother's life trying to figure out what in the world is wrong and praying for an answer so I can get a lable so I can get services. It spent the next 1/4 trying to understand this child that I was given to parent and raise to be a decent human and that's kinda hard when they are kicking and screaming and breaking things and beating on you in rage and calling you ugly names; but I persevered. I spent the next 1/4 of my Mother's life ADVOCATING and PROVING to the world that yes, he looks normal and average, but he's anything BUT - and trying to find new ways to educate the world; sometimes to the point of my own exhaustion because I want them to understand - he didn't get a crutch or a chair or droopy eyes, or slurred speech - he got NO telltale sign that said "I'm ill." So people never understand and they blame the parents. And the last 1/4 of my Mother's life - has been spent sick to the core of my being for wondering and second guessing myself and finally attempting to learn the fine art of detaching before the rest of what life I have left flys by me in a blurr and before I know it I'm 70, alone and mentally ill myself from guilt or raising my own grandchildren when I should be looking forward to taking it easy and enjoying my life and having a life.

    The same world of average people who look at other handicapped children at 6,7 8 and feel pity or say things like "I'm so lucky my kids aren't." are the same ones who will be kind to those types of illnesses their whole lives - those handicapped people will always be understood and made exception for. When THEY are 18-20 people will "WEAR A RIBBON" for the cause and make sure those kids and young adults get housing, food, clothes, services. But those same average people look at OUR kids at 18-20 and wince their faces and whisper to each other or just flat out say ugly and hurtful things like "Looser, get a job and Well you can't use what happend in your childhood as an excuse. Even the tone of their voices in reporting the news is that of total disgust." It's a biased world and I've spent a lifetime trying to undo the bias - but bias and prejudice take hundreds of years if ever to heal. Throw into the mix that most of our kids "look" normal - and now it could become full blown segregation.

    So if you want to know why WE are so different - as in US as parents of children with invisible disabilities? That's my take. The saddest part for me isn't knowing that I have to allow life to happen so he'll learn. For me the saddest part is knowing that as I allow those lumps to happen without interfering - I know he can touch the stove 101 times and burn his hand and STILL will touch the stove 102 times. There is going to be little change and when he was 9 years old? I could explain it to people by saying "He has PTSD and a rotten childhood." at 18 They (the WORLD) doesn't want to hear it - they don't care. TO them by NOW - he should be different, drug free, employed, happy. And we all wish they would be. TO me BY NOW - I know if nothing is not different by now - it probably never will be and THAT is the struggle. I'm past dreams and wishing - I KNOW.....and that my friend is what makes us different.

    Mothers of average children HOPE for a future for their children and they may miss the mark by a little but for them it will be okay that they are a dentist instead of a lawyer. For me? I find my hopes are now - not wishing he graduates, never got to play a sport, or go to a prom, drive his own car - but hoping he doesn't serve 15 years in a federal prison......but maybe just 5 or 7. Or worse yet if he does go to prison for 5 years not 10, or 15 - that with his personality and skewed thinking due to his invisible disability - that he never joins a gang or is raped, or is beaten....your expectations sure do a 180 from "Look at the picture he drew in 2nd grade - he wants to be a veterinarian - I'll frame that." To laying awake at night, angry with the world, God and life - because you went from dreams like that - to "I hope he lives to get out. and I hear you board family - this is ALL his own doing."

    There is nothing average about that and THAT makes me different. VERY different.

    Hugs -
    A very different Star
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  14. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Wow. I am overwhelmed by the amazing insights from you all.

    To recap:

    Detachment is a process - not a single decision. I suppose the more I am required to detach - the more like second nature it should become. There are those of us who appear to detach with less struggle than others. Daisylover - I admire your ability to "let them stumble and fall" with such amazing objectivity. For some of us it sounds like detaching is/was a matter of personal survival. Nomad - I appreciate your idea of perspective. Certain of our children may need some extra support - but our goal should be to make them more self supportive over time.

    Oh Star - I wish I could come and hug your neck. I can just feel your pain. I am so sorry. Your words make so much sense to me. Our kids are broken and nobody seems to understand that. Our prison population is comprised mostly of broken people. Not bad people - broken, misunderstood, maladaptive, hurting people. Maybe in spending 3/4 of our Mother's lives advocating for them - we lose the ability to do anything else. Even when they are adults and making their own choices we still are drawn into the fixer - advocate - make the world understand mode. Gosh this makes so much sense to me.

    There is something so helpless in the realization that we can no longer advocate/fix/rescue our kids. Ya know?

    My hope for us all - is that as we struggle to understand our new roles with our adult children we will have enough personal insight and wherewithal to move toward detachment.

    Thanks again for the wisdom.