Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Parents Who Don't do Anything

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.


a said...

Mine asks for things that make no sense also, but I've stopped lecturing so much b/c yes it doesn't get us anywhere, though its hard to stop. She asks for things or whines and is extremely ungrateful, or demands things after poor behavior. So now when she asks I ask her to first write a list of all the things I did for her (sometimes compared to the miniscule list of things I do for me), and slowly after a million repetitions of writing lists it is slowly sinking in how much she gets. Or sometimes she's too lazy to write the list, either way we avoid the same lecture.

I'm torn too. I kind of feel that they are more immature than most kids their age, so should not have the same freedom of average teens, so I'm sticking to the rules more than normal. But I only have one, I can't even imagine with more. Still if they have jobs that is so great, it is good that you're facilitating an environment where that can happen. Its a tough balance. Maybe say sure you'll give them a loan as long as you manage all future paychecks?

But don't be hard on yourself, at least your motivation is to help vs. their motivation.

Annystribe said...

I have learned that I have to remind myself, that for most of my kids with FASD and alphabet soup of issues is that we talk to much.
They don't process what we are saying, they won't remember most of the information and will only hear what they want to hear. Then I remind myself that I have to simplify and connect the dots with our reflection or house rules sheets to cement anything into their brains.

We as a society we expect that we should be talking through things with our kids, but for kids such as mine, simple, written, and talking when not disregulated is much better.

The other thing I often have to remind myself, is "They Forget to Remember".

Hang in there you are not alone in your walk and the lessons they learn along the way, and our connecting the dots and when we become right with age and life maturity we become trusted.

GB's Mom said...

I think your explanation is clear and I am glad your "failure" is not really a failure, as you are not giving up. I am not quite in the same place as you, as my youngest just turned 7, but I still have a 24 and 18 year old at home, so I am always looking for paradigm shifts that work :)

Cindy said...

Dadgum then I didn't express myself well enough. I thought I said, "I get it," because I do get it. I don't like though the way we're (the parents) not allowed to express our opinions. I experience the same thing here. If I SAY anything, it appears as if I'm controlling versus giving advice. Right?