What was your most difficult boundary to set AND enforce?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Bean, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Bean

    Bean Member

    Follow through and consistency with difficult child can be so stressful and difficult. But then at times it can be a blessing.

    I'm curious what kind of rules/boundaries you've had to set for your difficult child children, and then had the joy of following through on? what was your child's reaction?

    As I've said in a different thread, my (almost) 19-year-old is back living with us. Her behaviors have not changed (staying out all night, using goodness knows what, disrespect, sloppiness...), it is more US that has changed. So now, I'm having the difficult task of setting boundaries and following through with them.

    We talked with her yesterday and explained that staying up all night running the streets and sleeping all day (only to get up again and do the same thing) is not conducive with a healthy adult lifestyle (not will it help her finish her GED or get her a job), and it won't work in our household. She was to come home at 11pm last night. She did not. She called saying she was "on her way" (famous words), was obviously using, and then called at 2am to say she was coming home. Dad said "no way" and told her to stay at her friend's house.

    This morning she called to get a ride home/to see if we were here (she has no key), and my husband informed her that she was not welcome to come here today to shower, change and eat, because she did not make it home last night, as promised. He told her she would be welcome to come tonight by 11pm and sleep here, if she could manage that. But if she was going to be running the streets at night, she was not welcome to be here during the day.

    She screamed, swore, threatened and put on a sickening display.

    But he didn't budge. And God bless him, he did it all himself. She didn't even bother calling me to try and bully her way through me.

    It's really sad, frustrating and infuriating the decisions she's making. But we can't be held captive by them. If things continue this way, we will have to follow through on kicking her out, which will be very, very hard-- just like today has been. Can't stop the worry, can't help but feel bad. But I hope that consequences will help her see her behaviors for what they are a bit.

    How 'bout you?
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Kudos to the Man!!!!!

    Boundaries aren't easy... I'll have to think about it... But... I had to say good for him!!!
  3. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    When my dtr was about a month shy of turning 18 she moved out and into an apt. with her boyfriend. They ended up getting kicked out--lived in a tent, moved to New England, lived in homeless shelters there, etc. This was from May til mid August. She then wanted to come home. I let her come home but told her she had to get a job or go to school, something. Well, she didn't. The boyfriend wanted her to go out to Long Island where he was. I told her she had to be out of our house by the day after Labor Day.

    Labor Day night the boyfriend showed up (I didn't know he was there). In the morning I went down to difficult child's bedroom and saw men's shoes outside her door so I knew boyfriend had come. Well, I was so angry that it was actually not that hard to throw her out. I made the 2 of them leave and then I locked all my doors. I told her she could never live here again. That was 4 yrs ago and she made one attempt to come home but I wouldn't let her (she was trying to come visit from Seattle with a one-way ticket--I told her no.)
  4. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    difficult child is only 10 so most of the time we have some sort of control .... Our biggest dilemma/boundry is that is he obsessed with being at our neighbors house. He wants to be there 24/7. Neighbors have 5 kids and lack of rules and structure. ALL the neighborhood kids want to hang there. Some kids even get dropped off from other neighborhoods. It's not as if we dislike our neighbors but advise difficult child that it is not in his best interest to be there all the time (too much chaos) It has been a battle for years now. We have had MANY discussions with our neighbors and explained in a very diplomatic manner our concerns. There are WELL aware of difficult child's issues ( they have a difficult child too but they are unaware of it) anyhow it has kept me up many a night ....
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Bean, this is a very interesting question...

    I guess the most significant thing, and the most difficult, that I've learned in setting boundaries with my difficult child is that once I have set a boundary it is forever. No second chances, no breaks, no easing up because of good behaviour, no changes at all.
    It's easy to think, he is doing so well, I can lighten up now. Or, she's been so helpful and polite. Maybe just this once I can let her <whatever it is>. But that defeats the whole purpose of the boundaries. If I lighten up on one thing, then my difficult child assumes that the rule no longer applies. He also figures that if the one rule is off, he'd better test all of the others to see if any of them have come off as well. difficult child seems to do best when all choices are removed, and he can only behave properly because there's no alternative.

    As far as specific boundaries, I guess the most difficult one has been No Touching. difficult child has had many issues over the years with unwanted and inappropriate touch, most of it directed at me. I tried all sorts of methods to limit it (a 2-second hug counted out loud, arm around shoulders only, etc. etc. ad nauseam), but difficult child was forever pushing at the boundaries. So finally, I just put a moratorium on it. For the last few years, I have had a strict "no touching Mummy" policy. It is very difficult, especially at a big family gathering when everyone is hugging and kissing hello or goodbye, and difficult child gets a little wave from across the room. I would love to be able to hug him or to let him hug me, but he can't just leave it at a hug. I've been subject to unwanted and forced touch by others, and I will not put up with it from anyone ever again, not even my son. So, unless and until he can get a handle on it, he's not allowed to touch me.
  6. cakewalk

    cakewalk Member

    If I took away his cell phone, my house phone disappeared.

    When I asked for his keys to his car, he told me he threw them off the deck into the snow. After looking for way too long and freezing my behind off, he dangled them in my face when I got back into the house.

    When I password protected my computer, he blocked me in my office.

    After his umpteenth time running away, I said something like, "This is the last time I come looking for you and the last time I bring you back..." He responded with, "Maybe I'll run away tomorrow."

    He ran away a few days later.

    That was February, 2009.

    I didn't go get him.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    There are so many at this point...can't remember them all.
    For example, difficult child is NOT to call before 7:30 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends. If she calls before these times, we do not answer the phone. She can call a million times...doesn't matter. If the phone annoys me, I put it off the hook until the designated time.
    If she is behaving inappropriately right before a holiday and this includes rudeness, she is 'univited' for the holiday.
    If she runs out of food money (she has enough per week + a little extra)....all we will give her is Ramen NOodle soup (we periodically buy a case from HER SSD money and leave it at our house for emergencies. If we legitmately have any leftovers at the house AND it is convenient for us to get it to her, we will give her that. We will not purposely provide left overs, take her out to eat or give her extra food money. She is to budget her food money and if she messes up, she often has to miss some meals.
    If she takes the bus somewhere in the middle of the night (has been told at least 100 times NOT to do this/that it is dangerous, etc.) and gets stranded somewhere unless it is convenient for us to do so (and it rarely is) we will NOT pick her up. We will suggest that she calls a friend.
    There are more items...but these have been scary and very hard.
    She has shown slight improvements...but it is slow going.
    Lasted edited by : Jun 22, 2010
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    For me the absolute hardest thing is no second chances. Once it is a rule it is a rule. There is not a time we can stop enforcing a rule because there is not a time he will stop testing a rule. If one rule is given an exception then we start at ground zero all over again because he "decides" that all the rules are null and void forever from that point.

    One reason it is SO HARD is that almost every single therapist, psychiatrist, teacher, counselor, etc says make it Basket A and when it is a habit move it out of Basket A and make something else Basket A. The idea is that if you enforce no popsicles on the furniture for a period of time it will eventually be something the difficult child follows with-o thinking about it so you can then ignore it or make exceptions. It is incredibly hard to admit to yourself that if you ever again allow difficult child to LOOK at the furniture while he has a popsicle, even 10 years later with NO exceptions ever given, then every rule will stop existing in his mind.

    Getting extended family to realize this is almost impossible. My mother has a few things she is "working" with difficult child on. Quite a few of them are the same as she was working on four years ago. She will swear one minute that he has grown and matured and these things mostly are not problems. Then, ten minutes later she starts to tell me each of the items that he is doing that are problems. They are the same stuff over and over. It makes me very sad.

    I often wonder exactly why he has to keep doing the same stuff over again. I doubt that any answer would help in any way.

    Bean, Kudos to you and husband for telling difficult child she cannot be there to eat and sleep all day and then spend all night out partying. Stick to your guns!
  9. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    The most difficult and hardest to keep boundary is the one I set for myself. And that one is to stay neutral with the difficult children. I need to do this one for my own sanity. So when difficult child-A stops by the house to tell me how high he is, I smile and say "that's nice"..... when I'm told whatever lie of the day he is handing out, I say "that's nice". When husband had difficult child-A home for a talk, I went out and didn't come home until he had left.

    With difficult child-S, since she's made it clear that she wants nothing to do with me, including ignoring me on Mother's day... I don't even try to make contact. When husband tells me that he's gone to see her, I say..."that's nice" and "glad you had a good time visiting". I don't even want to hear about her right now.

    I love my children so much and it's really hard to keep this wall in place. But it's the only way I can survive. Otherwise, I'm torn up inside so bad, I can't function right. What little I do hear about or from my kids is enough. difficult child-A is a high school drop-out with no intentions for the future except to continue his reign as beer-pong king. He's so smart and so talented, but he won't use it - for himself. He has no problems doing huge projects for his friends so that they get A's.

    difficult child-S is the hardest of the two. She's my little girl and I love her so much. But she has written me off as her Mom. After all, I was evil enough to make her do her homework, go to counseling and do the dishes. Now she has straight F's, is still doing drugs, not taking any of her medications, but she's happy according to mother in law and husband.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    <==== What M2O said.

    Keeping myself from letting them escalate ME is the hardest. Noncommittal, "if that's what you want", "not my decision", and so on is hard to do!!!!!
  11. Bean

    Bean Member

    Wow, yeah, I do the same thing, trying not to let her get at me. It's really hard.
  12. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    The most difficult one for me was to RE-SET the boundary for physical violence and intimidation, the raging in the common area of the house.

    I know this may or may not have been a smart way to handle this. Could have backfired in my face, and it probably would have by now if she'd not moved out. But I finally told her I could no longer keep any self-respect as long as I continued to slink away when she behaved like that and that she WOULD go to her room and have her fit in there by herself. I remember one defining moment when I wouldn't allow SOMETHING--don't even remember what--and as I continued to say no, she moved closer, refusing to back off, and eventually was towering over me as I sat in a chair. I stood up right in her face where we were practically nose to nose, put my arms behind my back, and literally backed her into her room, pushing her with my chest as she yelled at me to back off and not to "touch" her, told me I had no right to tell her where to go in this house, and threatened to put me in the hospital. I told her she'd just have to do what she had to do, and I would do the same. Also reminded her that if I were in the hospital, there'd be no telling where she'd go, as no legal authority would allow her to stay in the house while I was in the hospital.

    Smart or stupid, it worked. I think she was so absolutely shocked that she didn't know what to do. BUT I also think she saw me in a different light from that day on, because she knew she wasn't going to be the very effective bully anymore.
  13. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    EB - I don't think I'll ever forget the day my BIG 6ft+ difficult child was in my face (like an couple of inches away) telling me that he would be choking me right now but I'd hurt him back. I looked up into his face and said "You're darn right I would!" ...all the while quivering inside, scared to death that he'd decide to try it. (I had nightwares for the next few nights of difficult child pushing my down the stairs... difficult child starring in the "Shining" except my bathroom doesn't have a window, etc...)
  14. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Like Mom2, my toughest boundary was the one I set on myself. My difficult child does almost everything underground. Her behavior with guys is very unsettling and she especially enjoys "secret" relationships. She thrives on the drama and the secrecy. When she was in high school, there were several situations where I stepped in and told her she couldn't see/talk to one guy or another. This was either related to her grades or to the fact that she'd lied about the guy. All this did was cause more drama and it never stopped the behavior. When she started last summer with an online relationship with a guy she'd be meeting when she went off to college (they met on the college facebook - he lived in TX, we are in Ohio and the school is in Virginia), I said my peace (I'd seen some very inappropriate stuff on my monitoring software), disabled the monitoring software in front of her (I'd warned her it was installed), and told her she was eighteen and clearly choosing her path. She was taught self respect and was not following that path, but I loved her and from now on, I was staying out of it. I did. When she took off with a guy she met online, I told her she could either come home or be completely on her own financially. She chose to come home and continued to be in contact with him. I kept my mouth shut about the guy. He is now out of the picture and she is juggling a couple of guys from God only knows where online. My mouth is firmly closed. It is very difficult but I have come to accept that it is out of my control. I do draw the line at her inviting anyone she's met online here and she knows it. If she breaks that rule, she will be moving to her dad's.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Mom2 mentioned keeping boundaries with- ourselves. This is a great point. I think we set an example when we set a boundary and keep to it.
    This teaches our adult children many things starting with- that there are lines not to be crossed, that we respect ourselves, that they should respect themselves, that they should be self sufficient...the list goes on and on. It certainly can lead to more health/more hope.