Over a year ago I wrote this post about Teens and Attachment on my Everything Adoption blog. I reread it this morning and it so pertains to us once again.
Salinda has gone through this cycle almost weekly for the past two years. It has been exhausting. But I am happy to report that at t his moment we are at the develop trust stage, heading for another screw up ... eventually. Process asked me if I could articulate my "approach to Salinda." I think that you have read my approach as it has changed over and over and over again trying to find what works. And I should have known better. One of the things I learned over the years is that it takes over six months of consistently trying the same approach before you can figure out of it is going to be effective or not. So, here is my current "approach" which I am attempting to follow.
1) Realize that it is a long, cyclical process that is going to take a long time to get through. For some reason, she is not "figuring things out" or learning. So I am trying to remember this and prepare for the long haul.
2) She is an introvert, so she needs time and space to think things through, so I can't pressure her. The best thing for me to do when she is out of shorts is to shut up and ignore some of the small things she does. I used to be so perplexed as to why she seemed to be making things worse for herself by breaking little rules, distancing herself, etc. Now I am learning that for some reason this is part of her cycle. It is part of her "rage" segment. It's passive aggressive defiance which, if ignored, passes fairly quickly.
3) She is hoping for a reason to explode, so if I don't give her one, she often doesn't. I was unknowingly provoking her which made her escalate. I am being careful not to do so.
4) I cannot compromise. I sometimes give her choices (an idea I got from Parenting Teens with Love and Logic) but once I give a consequence I don't negotiate and I don't back down. This was my biggest temptation and I admit it was lousy parenting. She freaks out at the word no and so I tried to avoid the huge melt downs by negotiating. (Ironically, she just walked in and I had to tell her no and yup, nastiness pouring forth like a hissing cat or a venomous snake). I don't know why her responses always get to me more than others -- because I have a whole bunch of kids that meltdown at the word no and have for 10 years. But she is bright, and mean, and vindictive, and very personal with her anger. I guess that's why.
5) I have to control what I can control, which is my response to her, because I can't change her (or anyone else). She is going to do what she is going to do and I must control my own emotional response.
6) Finally, I am finding ways to attempt to make connections with her when she is not angry (which is a window of opportunity of about 5 minutes every other day. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating. 3 minutes. just kidding).
I am sure this parenting approach isn't going to make it into any books, but it is what I've come up with for now. Parenting her is very difficult for me, and the whole story is so multilayered I could never tell it all. But surviving her teenage years with both of us alive is the primary goal, and so far, I'm being successful with that much at least.