It's another day and I"m still bothered by my negative interaction last night. I think that the main issue is that it is always concluded that we don't do anything to support him. In the shower this morning I was thinking about composing an essay called "The Parent's Who Don't do Anything" and going through the whole 13 years of nothing that we've done. As I began to compose it, I realized that if I did take time to do it it would probably just make me more resentful anyway... and the stuff wouldn't count ... all the stuff we've done. It simply isn't going to count in his mind. In his mind we owe him. He deserves way more than we have ever been able to give and nothing we have done matters. His world view says that it has always been less than everyone else, that we robbed him of his childhood because we put him in a residential placement (initially for 45 days, which his manipulation and failure to cooperate turned into several years). He sees us as being the enemy and now that we have offered him yet another chance, we are still having that thrown back in his face, even though he hasn't been keeping some of the minimal preferences I have.
I read Cindy's blog this morning, and I"m not sure that I'm explaining my tactic very well and it is probably being misunderstood by many -- cuz she's daggum smart and if she's not getting it, y'all probably aren't (Don't let her accent fool ya!)
My tactic has not been to take away rules or expectations or guidelines. In fact, my kids do almost all of the housecleaning here while I work two jobs. They do all the dishes. The minor kids obey all kinds of rules like curfews and us meeting people before they go out with them, and all the things responsible parents expect.
My tactic is to try my best to shut up when it is obvious that I"m not going to get participation at the moment. And with the adult kids, as long as they are not damaging the younger kids in anyway, or our property, or stealing from us or doing illegal things in my home, I don't want to make them homeless while they are employed.
So the tactic has more to do with me avoiding senseless arguments with people who aren't going to do what I say anyway than not having any rules. It's about trying to look at things differently and get rid of some of my need for control.
Whenever I feel myself heading back to the other style, I can feel things turning around here, and they don't turn into a positive direction.
I have a sleeping adult in my house on Sunday morning. It happens to be the same one who promised to join us for church this morning last night, while his hand was out for money. I have woken him up once. My former ridiculous behavior would be to ... as I did last week... head downstairs and provide an intense lecture about promises and how people need to give and not just take, and a myriad of other things that managed to get one adult out of bed last week, but not this one.
But today I'm not going back down. He knows the expectation. My lecture isn't going to work anyway. If he happens to crawl out and come with us, I'll be surprised and glad that he kept his promise. But if he doesn't, I"m going to just leave him alone. Another conversation isn't going to matter and would just further ruin my morning.
One of the major points that I make in my 12 - 12- 12 keynote speech -- 12 tips learned in 12 years from parenting 12 children -- is that you can't have rational arguments or debates with people who have organic brain damage due to prenatal exposure or a world view that has been scewed by attachment disorder. I really need to go to one of my own keynotes.
So Cindy, and the rest, don't worry that I have abandoned all rules or expectations. I am only attempting to abandon my need to endlessly comment to those who aren't going to comply anyway... and to let the little things go while focusing on the relationship as opposed to their behavior (another of my 12 points).
Do I expect it to change their behavior? Not at all. Do I expect it to make things in our house more bearable for the ones who live here and do comply because they aren't having to listen to their mother endlessly nag and complain? I hope so. And will it make my life more simple? If I can figure out how to do it, yes.
Most of you aren't at this stage -- where most of your kids have chosen their path and are headed down it. The only child in our home under 14 is Wilson and he is the most self-differentiated kid I have ever met. I think he will head where he will head regardless of where everyone else goes.
And so now it's time to focus on the relationship as these kids head down their path, pointing out the mistakes that they may be making, having rules about the big things, and letting them learn from their mistakes. It's probably the way I should have been parenting teens all along.
And every day is a new day.