Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I have a confession to make. I don't like this age. The struggle to independence is heightened to extremes when dealing with mastery and control issues.

Toni mentioned wanting to know more about mastery and control. Here's what I understand of it.

Adoptees have not had control over their lives. They had decisions made for them from the earliest days of their lives and there is a lot of anger and frustration over that. it isn't articulated as such, and possibly not even recognized as that in adults, but it certainly is subconscious in children who can't articulate their feelings.

If as a small person, I had never been allowed to make any choices -- if things were decided for me and I was moved from place to place -- or if strangers were the ones to conclude that I should be given a new sense of parents -- then once I land in an adoptive home I'm probably not going to be all that cooperative. If in my birth family I had never been told what to do and suddenly I was in an adoptive family with a list of rules, I might not be all that cooperative.

So all this can be described as ODD. The behavior screams, "This is MY life and you can't tell me what to do. I am in charge of me!!!"

If you think about it it requires amazing strength to be completely oppositional -- especially if you have parents who are pushy and demanding and win at all costs (pointing finger at me). It's pretty difficult to stand your ground under those circumstances.

As I mentioned before, if a kid grabs on to mastery and control and is determined to prove that they are in charge of their lives and choose to have a good life for themselves, you end up raising a child like Kyle who, though challenging as a teenager, is now a married, college-educated teacher who has the things he has always wanted to be able to buy for himself (though he will tell you that he hasn't got enough money to buy EVERYTHING he wants ;-)

If you have a child who has issues with mastery and control who is not motivated to succeed you have (fill in the blank with four or five of my kids). They prove their independence from their parents by doing things like skipping school, getting or getting someone else pregnant, moving out before they should, failing classes on purpose, etc. In the end they win the battle of proving they are in charge, but they lose the war ...

Sitting back knowing a kid is on that path is very hard for me. Teenagers assume that they know more than their parents anyway, but to have teenagers with mastery and control issues makes the battle all the more crazy. The kids are convinced somehow that they can make it in life without a good job, an education, or any money. And they tend to surround themselves with people who enable them to do so.

Wrestling season ended on Saturday -- I know, I promised pictures, you'll get them ;-) It was my concern that Ricardo would stop going to school once wrestling was over. He was absent all day yesterday. It could be coincidental --- he could be sick but since he doesn't speak to us, i wouldn't know. But it could very well be that he is done with school -- even though he can't read. So he is going to prove to me that I was wrong -- he doesn't have to have a job or go to school. really?

If you are reading frustration between my lines it is because I am very frustrated. I have one 18 year old who moved out in a huff and has people enabling him to live without responsibility and paying all his bills. I have a 17 year old daughter who has told me that I'm the stupid one if I think that anything I do can MAKE her do homework. That she doesn't care about school and she isn't going to do anything. And she didn't come home last night. And I have another 17 year old who is deciding he doesn't have to get up this morning.

I dream of a day when everyone is beyond this annoying age and I don't have to have the internal battles. I've finally gotten to the point that I have minimized most of the external ones because they don't help matters, but I stew inside like nobody's business.

And yes, if you're wondering, I have mastery and control issues now I think -- because I didn't choose to have bad things happen to my kids either. I just took over parenting them after the damage was done and have done my very best to turn a tide that may have been unturnable -- at least with the resources we had back then.

Yesterday a friend and I had lunch and she said, "So, where would the kids be if you hadn't adopted them?" And I said, "I don't know... maybe in jail? Or raising kids as teenagers? Or skipping class? Failing school?"

I know, sarcasm is unbecoming.

SOrry for hte negative venting post. I try not to do that any more, but some days....


Michelle, Dave & Babes said...

Yes, they may have been there (jail, drop-out, whatever), but they'd be there without your foundation. Without knowing that somebody loved them, cared about them and that they mattered. Even when they're turning their backs on you, you're still providing that foundation. And it's still important.

I may be there in a few years myself.

DynamicDuo said...

we found that the mastery control aspect really hit full speed around the age of 14, prior to that it was present but in lesser ways - such as what they wore, whether or not they would eat at school, whether or not they would cooperate etc...
Now that transition to adulthood and perceived freedom is on the horizon, the war they wage is in contrast to the realities they face. Anymore we are relying on others to reiterate the life lessons for us, if we say it they will dig in their heels.
I'm scrambling trying to build a support network for the girls, a net to catch them when they fall. And they will.

Jen said...

Thank you for expressing this. If people like you do not show your doubts, frustrations and mistakes, then people like me think I'm the only one... and that is a very lonely place to be.

Amy said...

Thank you for posting this - even with all the therapists, psychs, etc involved in our lives, I think I finally understand what our son is doing! Not that it will make life any easier but knowing it's not just me helps me immensely!

Paula said...

Yep, if you hadn't adopted your kids they would be doing all those things...but they'd be doing them without you and Bart. They'd be ALONE in their confused,hurt world that we find so hard to comprehend. At the very least they have had the following from being in your home: They've seen the love of Christ in action. They've heard the gospel. They have people to call mom, dad, brother and sister. They have grandparents for their children and while in your care they've been provided with all the material things they need as well. And deep down, they know you love them and always will.
Chin up girl! It's not over until it's over.

GB's Mom said...

Our kids seem to grow up late... maybe because they got such a late start on getting their needs met. You can't control what they do outside your house, but I just had to tell you that 17 year olds didn't sleep in indefinitely at my house. When words didn't work, I used ice water.

Lisa said...

I really needed to hear this! I have a 17 yo old who will be 18 in about 61 days (I'm not the one counting btw) and he thinks exactly the way you described. I just saw a form where his p-doc stated that one of his dx's was "ODD - severe". First time I saw that in writing, but it fits him to a T. He is absolutely convinced he doesn't need an education, job or money. I know that people will pity him and do for him for awhile. I am terrified of the "what if's" in his very near future, but if you ask him, he's cool as a cucumber and cannot wait to get out of this prison we call home. I have started referring to him as "severely mentally ill" when trying to explain some of his behaviors/abnormal thought processes to others who are clueless. It seems to sum it up without giving too much info or laying the blame on one specific person.

I think I hate this age too.

Julie said...

I think you need a great big HUG, Claudia. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Sending that GREAT BIG HUG your way...you are amazing.