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So upset. Rel between DSs :(

(74 Posts)
Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:16:35

Background.
DS1 - 11. Aspergers. No SEN in fact in top sets for most subjects. Very easy child, biddable and sunny natured. Charms everyone he meets.

DS2 - 10. NT. Smart but not particularly academic. Struggles a bit at school, not, I suspect because he lacks ability but because he's too interested in mucking about with his mates and being seen to be "cool".
Pretty sure he feels a bit overshadowed by DS1 at times.
They have their spats like most sibs but tonight has really upset me.

It'll probably be quite long, sorry!

I had a crunchie on the work top last night and this evening realised it had gone. It wasn't DH so clearly one of the boys. Both denied taking it and I was pretty pissed off. I hate lying. They know this. If someone had owned up I'd have gone "Oi - hands off my bloody chocolate next time!" and that would have been it. They know that too.
So anyway they go to bed, with me still a bit muttery and chuntery about my crunchie.

Then DS1 came down, saying he wanted to tell me something. I assumed he was about to tell me that DS2 was the culprit - he's got form for lying and pilfering has DS2 - but instead he starts confessing to taking it himself.

I said something reproachfully like "Oh S, why didn't you just own up to start with!" and then he bursts into tears and basically retracts his confession, says it WAS DS2 after all,, gets all upset (he hardly EVER cries) and dashes off upstairs....

Me and DH are left looking at each other like WTF??? when DS2 comes downstairs with his iPod. He says he wants us to listen to something he's recorded. The recording is of DS1 chanting "Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you".

Odd eh? DS2 clearly expects DS1 to be in trouble but he hasn't thought it through. The recording sounds odd - strangely emotionless given the content. How come DS2 happened to be recording when this outburst occurred?

So I go upstairs to DS1 who bursts into fresh tears. I get the whole story:

DS2 was annoying DS1 by not getting out of DS1s room when asked. So DS2 tells DS1 that if he says "Fuck you" five times, he'll leave.
So DS1, whose picture is next to the word "Gullible" in the dictionary, does. Not realising DS2 is recording him.

DS2 has been using this recording to blackmail DS1 for 2 months. The trigger tonight is DS2 telling DS1 "Go and tell mum it was you who took the chocolate otherwise I'll play the recording" sad

So poor DS1 tried but he A) hates lying and B) hates being naughty.

Naturally DS2 denied this "HES LYING NOBODY EVER BELIEVES MEEEEE!!!" but eventually admitted it.

He's just so nasty and unlikeable sometimes. To his friends but mainly to DS1 sad

How could he do such a rotten thing? DS1 was sobbing "Please please do something about him....he's so horrible to me! He's supposed to love me!"

Thing is I can see how, to DS2, we are softer on DS1. To DS1, on the rare occasions he misbehaves, a stern telling off is enough. He hates being told off. He's always genuinely sorry. Whereas DS2 pushes and pushes, back chats and defies until he ends up with an xbox ban or whatever. If he just kept his lip zipped and didn't argue back he'd have got off with a milder punishment too!

They both know that to DH and me, the worst things you can do are lie, steal and be unkind.

I've raised an unkind monster sad

lizzzyyliveson Mon 11-Nov-13 22:49:01

DS2 has done a bad thing with the iPod and should lose all computer related privileges for at least a week. DS1 needs reassuring that he can say the word 'fuck' without the world falling in as long as he doesn't swear at people. Give them both lots of love and reassurance. The outcome you want is for them to have a strong brotherly bond and to get past this little hiccup.

mercibucket Mon 11-Nov-13 22:50:07

i feel sorry for ds2, it must have been hard all those years not knowing why his brother was different, and perhaps getting more attention/less punishments than he was? he maybe has a lot of resentment towards ds1? i dont know, just throwing it out there

personally i would be taking this as a sign ds2 needed a bit more 1:1 attention in some way

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:51:07

Oh the Crunchie is a speck on the horizon now. We're so far past it. As I said, it wasn't that big a deal to start with. I was miffed that nobody owned up but hey oh I just resolved to hide them better.....

The Crunchie was just the fuse on the stick of dynamite really. In a way I wish I'd had a Bounty. Nobody else likes those.

Downfall Mon 11-Nov-13 22:54:15

Ha, that's the solution! wink

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:54:23

Lizzzzy - yes I did point out to DS1 that whilst "Fuck" isn't the sort of thing I'd like to hear him say in polite company - if at all - it is after all only a word and as such not the end of the world!

RandomMess Mon 11-Nov-13 23:01:29

One day far far in the future you may look back at this incidence with a smile on your face and a "do you remember the day... "

Def buy bounty's from now on wink

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:05:00

Oh Random I do hope so!

Maybe it's safer to give up chocolate altogether but if I try that I fear that not only will my family suffer - I'll end up in the town on the rampage with the tin opener.

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:08:52

Ok given the circumstances what does everyone think is a suitable punishment/duration of punishment?

I may not be in a place to be rational yet.....

Downfall Mon 11-Nov-13 23:09:07

God I fancy a crunchie now.

Gutted I think your humour will see you through. Hope the boys are brighter tommorrow.

peggyundercrackers Mon 11-Nov-13 23:13:20

I would be a little concerned the blackmailing went on for so long, a day or so I wouldn't be that bothered about but for 2 months? that's bang out of order. I fought with my brother all the time and we get on fine now but I don't remember anything going on as log as 2 months between us - I think we would be lucky for something to last to the end of our day before we had moved onto whatever else we were bickering about. your DS2 has obviously relished being in power over DS1 though and used it to his advantage and I think that's a little cruel.

Downfall Mon 11-Nov-13 23:13:29

I suppose punishment will need to fall within a scale that's usual for you and DH. lizzzyy made a fair suggestion.

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:26:44

Peggy I agree it's really cruel. That's why I'm so gutted sad

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 11-Nov-13 23:31:03

Punishment...if your younger son is so manipulative then perhaps this is going to take more than punishment as he will just take it out on your older son

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:32:12

See as it stands I've banned pretty much everything for the foreseeable future which on reflection is asking for him to respond with a "Fuck it I've lost everything" attitude <hmm>

I will sit them both down tomorrow, extract a proper apology to DS1 from DS2, have a talk and formalise a realistic punishment.

"Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time".

Too true, Calvin's dad <hmm>

Thank you all x

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:32:57

More than punishment??

Do you mean sell him??

Gutted123 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:36:48

.....sorry. Flippant. Tired and emotional. Bedtime.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 11-Nov-13 23:41:16

No, not sell him. But some sort of intervention, he had been planning and performed sustained bullying and blackmail of your other kid. Possibly a psychologist might be needed here.

Cabrinha Mon 11-Nov-13 23:45:32

My older brother blackmailed me after finding a piece of paper with a poem I'd written on it, which included the word fuck. We were about 10 and 12. The blackmail went on for months, until another sibling found the paper and it all came out.

I remember it so well, and the unfairness of my parents response especially. I was told I wouldn't be punished for writing fuck as the blackmail was punishment enough. On the surface, that might seem fair. But they said nothing to me about how it was wrong, they gave me no sympathy for what I'd been through. It's awful. I don't want to make you feel bad about DS2, but please support DS1 - it's horrible being blackmailed - the fear, the unfairness...

To my brother they just said "don't do it again". Hmmmm.

For punishment - absolutely do not punish him. You can't punish a victim of blackmail for lying, especially when it was retracted so quickly!

For DS2, I'd ask him all about what he gained from the blackmail and match the punishment to that. So if he got DS1s sweets, or use of a games console - make him give up his for 2 months, to his brother. My brother made me do things like come out and play cricket (always bowling and fielding of course!) when I didn't want to. Sounds minor but it's horrible to feel controlled and fearful. In that sort of case, I'd let DS1 choose what he wanted - might be doing his chores.

And also a big chat with DS2 about why he did it.

Cabrinha Mon 11-Nov-13 23:51:49

Incidentally, I still remember my four line poem word for word.
Blackmail - sustained - is a big deal. My brother was a nasty bully, who made me unhappy, and then two younger siblings miserable. For one, it has affected her relationship with our parents terribly, as she was badly let down by them effectively letting him get away with it. Think - physical violence and just being told not to provoke him.
I really don't want to make you feel any worse, you clearly are taking it seriously. I just wanted to emphasise that in so doing, you're doing the right thing. I wish my parents had set my bully of a brother some boundaries.

perfectstorm Tue 12-Nov-13 00:08:34

I agree the 2 months is the off part here. 10 is still primary years, and it is sustained and systematic bullying in a way that would worry me, even between siblings, especially when it's not a case of one grabs the poker and the other the tongs - it isn't equal levels of aggression at all, from what you say. It's not what he's done - any savvier sib might do the same, and kids do lie, and get one over on one another, and actually the brains behind this are fairly impressive. Even a week, and I'd be pissed off but not concerned. It's the preparedness to use it over so long, and then to carry out on the underlying threat when the blackmail failed that would bother me. There's a real anger there, it sounds like, or he'd have got bored or guilty or just moved on. Wanting to hurt his brother and control him over such a long period, in such a clearly very thought through way, is worrying IMO.

But here's the thing: I don't see any point in punishment over this. All I can see it doing is making him even more pissed off and resentful of his brother and more convinced he's the golden boy. It won't teach him anything about being nicer or make him reflect on what he's done, which is surely the aim. I don't mean let him get away with it. I just mean that simple cause and effect (if you whine when I turn the computer off and throw a tantrum, then no computer tomorrow) punishments seem out of place with this one. I think it's generally a good idea to look at what you really want to happen, and if a punishment is the last thing likely to achieve that then maybe an alternative needs to be looked at? What you want is him to actually feel some empathy for DS1, how he's made him feel, what a horrible thing it was to do to him and over such a long period of time, and how he'd feel if someone did that to him. And I'm not sure how you do that, but I don't think a punishment of the traditional kind has a hope in hell.

I hasten to add that I'm not saying there is anything dark or sinister happening, or that your family isn't perfectly functional. You sound lovely and very sensible parents and both boys great in lots of ways. It's just that I think your kids could grow up to dislike one another on an ongoing basis if whatever is making your DS2 feel second pegging, and in turn treat his brother in such a way, isn't addressed. No idea how, but maybe talking it all over together with a professonally trained person to mediate could help DS2 see where DS1 is coming from, and DS2 grasp that he's actually very much loved and has his own appreciated qualities? It sounds like he at heart thinks you love your eldest more - he won't get that he is easier, and more obviously vulnerable, and not liked or loved any better, because he'll see different treatment and not get that it's simply down to different personalities. Maybe? More constructive than punishment, hopefully.

The books also sound great - I've seen them recommended a lot on MN which is generally an effective peer-review process! grin

As for someone suggesting a kid should be punished for being blackmailed... um, what? I think that's pretty much the apogee of unfairness/victim blaming. Coercion is a rather strong defence, especially in a kid who already hates lying and was being made miserable by being made to lie to get himself into trouble - what on earth would any punishment over that achieve? Quite bizarre suggestion.

Don't be sorry you got a Crunchie, though! It was how you found out - the whole could have gone on another month if you hadn't. I think that Crunchie was rather fortuitous for your DS1, in the end.

perfectstorm Tue 12-Nov-13 00:09:53

X posted with several other people saying similar, sorry. Perils of verbosity.

charitymum Tue 12-Nov-13 00:21:42

There is a great charity called Sibs aimed at supporting siblings of children with SEND. Really worth a visit and maybe accessing some support for your DS2 www.sibs.org.uk

steppemum Tue 12-Nov-13 00:37:38

Op I have pm you

dozeydoris Tue 12-Nov-13 05:50:20

Checking out the charity supporting siblings of children with SEN sounds a good move.

I think that perhaps DS2 is angry/embarrassed that he has this different older brother. If his friends are the cool dudes at school this innocent and lovable older brother is not what he needs for his image. They are very close in age so he can't pretend he doesn't exist. That's not to say he doesn't love him but that he isn't what he wants just now as DS2 heads into puberty.

Also, being able to bribe DS1 so easily, perhaps DS2 dislikes that his brother is so gullible.

Has DS1 gone to secondary school or are they at the same school?

Both need lots of support and love and an opportunity to vent I think and 'big chat with DS2 as to why he did it' as mentioned above.

Lifeasafish Tue 12-Nov-13 07:45:42

Disclamer - I do not have children and my siblngs are so much younger that I may as well have been an only child but...

OP - have you thought of a... Open mediation? So no punishment for DS1 but get him to explain to DS2 how he made him feel? Try to appeal to DS2's sense of morality? But give them both some control over sorting their relationship with you and DP as mediators?

So, I am also thinking to let DS1 suggest punishment with you and DH giving final say. For example, helping DS1 clean his room, help him with game? DS2 doing something DS1 enjoys. Something that looks like punishment but makes them work together?

I'm thinking that such a method will give ownership of the relationship breakdown back to them, hopefully DS2 will appreciate the kindness of his brother and DS1 will learn that he has some power in the relationship.

Maybe DS2 is really struggling with the concept of a SEN older brother and feels ashamed, disappointed or feels DS1 isn't a 'real' person to be treated accordingly but can be used as a whipping post. He seems angry towards him?

I'm sorry if I've any incorrect terminology or caused offence - it really isn't meant but I have no experience of aspergers or sibling relations in this way. Your post touched me and I wondered if taking another angle would help.

I'd start this intervention with x4 crunchies on the table as a snack to lighten the original issue and maybe call it crunchiegate to take out the 'poison'.

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