One very unhappy mother & her DSs(12 Posts)
DSs - 17 and 21 - giving me hell. Youngest rarely off computer - so revision is up the spout - certainly an addiction which we are attempting to deal with - it is serious and he is socially very, very isolated. Older DS on hol from Uni - playing a particularly nasty blame game.
Giving me hell about brother and the upset he is causing instead of helping us by eg taking brother out - helping to ease the tension - anything. He himself has made life difficult by not working over past couple of so years and thus finding himself in financial difficulty at Uni - we are having to pick up the tabs with eg his rent and often day to day expenses.
This evening has been hell on earth. DS 21 came down only to rant at me about having bought - (yes, it was stupid of me but DS 17 plied and plied the pressure and I was at a weak point) the computer for him in the first place - about being anxious about money - about turning lights off - about, about, about - he was very harsh indeed. Even smashed a cup ... after DH had bought boys take-away (they wouldn't go out for a meal en famille) and they'd eaten it in their rooms.
Younger DS went early to bed - unhappy - won't talk to us.
Older DS then asked for more money (his birthday today - god, what a day) - and yet another lift to a friend's where he'll spend the night.
DH has lost his job recently and I'm left having to put in more hours and work my socks off. I am so tired - tired of all the work - tired of impossible family life - tired of DSs barely speaking to me (one cos of his computer obsession - the other cos he's very angry with me) - tired of DH being perfectly nice to me but unable to say 'No - no money till you make it up to Mum' - 'till you help around the house' .... 'till you treat this place a bit like a home rather than a hotel where you're permanently cross with the proprietor.'
Would have liked a break before going back to work next week but can't afford it - really, really tired. The boys can't see it or they don't care. It's not like me to whinge at all - I'm usually very stoic - but most of all, I want the love and light to come back into this family. (Seen the post about 'Be the change you want to see in your kids' - will think long and hard about that - but I'd like to think that they actually want me in their lives at all - )
Sorry, so long - any words of support, encouragement, advice would be welcome.
Oh Cerys that sounds grim. I know exactly what you mean about 'wanting the love and the light to come back into your family' - that's very eloquent.
I have two quite different responses to your post. On the one hand, I feel quite protective of you and think "He's 21. He's an adult. If he can't be civil, he can bugger off!" But I do know it's not as simple as that.
It does sound like it might help to think a bit about your 'bottom line'. There is quite a lot of his behaviour that distresses you - he is behaving badly and nastily. If you can identify what things you can tolerate, and what things you really cannot stand, that might help you to 'pick your battles'. I found it gave me a lot of strength to work out what I absolutely would not tolerate (violence was one thing - I called 999 three times; stealing from me was another) and I knew there was a point at which I actually would tell him to leave. Somehow this was quite empowering: it meant that although I put up with a lot, I knew my limit, and knew there were some things I wouldn't ever have to tolerate again, because I would take action - even throw him out if that was what it took - to stop those intolerable things from happening.
(Does that make sense? Sorry - I'm tired - I don't feel like I'm explaining myself well).
My other response is to think that this kind of nastiness is quite normal. Not pleasant, not acceptable, but normal. As our kids grow older, they need to distance themselves emotionally from their parents (and especially their mums, it seems to me), and some of them seem to create that emotional distance by being horrible. It feels really personal, but really it isn't: it's nature's way of preparing everyone for the moment DC's leave home
by making you delighted to see the back of them!
You need to look after yourself and be kind to yourself. If no-one else is doing this for you (and it doesn't sound like they are) then it is all the more important for you to do it for yourself. (I speak as someone who took too long to discover this, and I'm currently recovering from anaemia, osteomalacia and various other stress-related health problems).
Treat yourself, do nice things, do something that will make you laugh, spend time with a friend... This is not a luxury, it is a survival essential. It will help you to deal with your DSes' difficult behaviour better, and it will improve your health and happiness.
You say you can't afford a break, but you are bailing your DS2 out (a lot). If money is tight, tell him you will be reducing what you give him by £XXX this term, and take yourself off to a spa (or a B&B by the sea, or a cheap hotel in a city you love, or a friend's house, or wherever) for a couple of nights. I know your instinct is to say "We can't afford it"; but the thing you really can't afford is for you to get ill... Your health, well-being and happiness are worth looking after. Really they are, Cerys.
Thank you very much, Flow - especially for writing so lucidly and encouragingly at that time in the morning!
Have woken up exhausted - though on a slightly brighter note DH got called in for some work today - maybe things will look up for him a bit, too. Battle weary - I'm sure many of us know the feeling. Your point about knowing your limits and adjusting your reactions accordingly is well made.
I want my family - rather fractured and at present stressed out but nevertheless family - to get along, to pull together, to enjoy each other's company whenever that may be (older DS has taken to being up much of the night and then not getting out of bed till mid to late afternoon ...).
Today need to deal with fall out from the horribleness of yesterday - with DS2 when he gets home and with DS3 when he wakes up after going to bed so unhappily cos of the atmosphere last night. I think your related point about having an almost strategic plan in place - picking battles etc which is what I've picked up from others elsewhere in these threads - is very positive. It makes sense and is probably the only thing that will keep me in one piece today. I can do it as I'm quite good at organisation ...
Yup - it is important that we give ourselves a break. We go on relentlessly it sometimes seems, championing our children's causes, keeping things together in our families and then dealing with all sorts of, and often very difficult, teenage and older behaviours and emotions. Thanks again.
Apologies if I'm talking rubbish, as my DS is much younger than your's but a couple of things struck me about your original post:
DH had bought boys take-away (they wouldn't go out for a meal en famille) and they'd eaten it in their rooms - why did they get a take-away if they wouldn't go out to eat as a family? If you have a plan to go out to eat and they won't come, go out without them and they can sort their own food out. I wouldn't be doing nice take away, and certainly wouldn't tolerate it being eaten upstairs - for the smell and grease if nothing else.
Giving me hell about brother and the upset he is causing instead of helping us by eg taking brother out - helping to ease the tension - anything. He himself has made life difficult by not working over past couple of so years and thus finding himself in financial difficulty at Uni - we are having to pick up the tabs with eg his rent and often day to day expenses - if your older DS isn't living at home, I wouldn't let him wade in regarding his brother as he won't have to live with the issues. I would seriously look at taking your older boy out for a drink on his own - as you're more mature now, I need to talk to you about how we as a family are handling our budget. Explain that dad's lost his job, you are earning x amount, the mortgage is y amount, council tax is z etc. Show him a budget and what is left at the end fo the month. Divide that money between 4, one quarter for each family member, and 1/4 is therefore his allocation. If he can't live on that money, then he needs to find work. If he argues, ask why he should get more than 1/4 of the "spare" money in your family when he's one of the 4 people who make it up. Stop paying for his day to day expenses, he needs to be given a budget, help to plan his money if needs be, and to see what money you're working with. Particularly now his dad isn't working, he can't just moan and ask for money. Set up a standing order to give him money each month and then ignore all pleas for further cash. Oh, and his money for January can be minus the cost of the cup he broke.
I guess I'm saying work out what you can fix. Your younger DS's addiction can be worked on when older DS isn't around if he's adding to the stress. Get yourself a family budget so you're more confident about what money you do have, and step back from your older DS - you can have X amount of money, you can converse with me as a human being but I am not discussing your younger brother's issues with you, or any further needs you have for money. Do you want to go to the cinema with me, or ask how my week at work's been? No, then leave me in peace please, and if he won't go out.
Show your DH this thread - he needs to know that you need him to back you up and be consistent. He can't be giving your older son extra cash if you've said no etc. You both need to be a united front. At present, I get the feeling that you're fighting all corners on your own.
You say that you can't afford a break, what about on your own? Take a good book to a youth hostel and ignore the lot of them for 2 nights, cheap and cheerful but it's a break for you at a time when you need it.
So where are you going to go?!
Be careful with that 'strategic plan'... >> Speaking with the wisdom of hindsight, here! << Make sure it's focussed on what you need and want, and what you will do... Remember you can't control them; you can only control you.
Also be careful of planning yourself out of any breaks/time off/respite. (I'm pretty good at organising too, so I recognise the risks!) It's easy to think that if only you plan it right, you won't need a break. But you do. You need a break precisely because you need to deal (day in, day out) with teenagers who won't ever fit with your plans...
I too am a long way off this situation yet, so do feel free to tell me I'm talking out of my backside - but it sounds horrible to live with. Regarding your older son, I would have thought that this time at uni is an ideal opportunity for him to learn how to manage his money. If you keep on supplying extra money when he runs out, he will never understand that money isn't unlimited. I understand that you don't want him to go without, so how about you assign a budget as suggested upthread, and when he asks for more you could give him half of what he asks for? He will then have to decide what he needs most.
I do believe that people will only take advantage when they know they can. He asks for money because he knows he will get it.
Another possible example of bum-talking, but you mention that your younger DS' revision is up the spout because of his computer usage.
What would happen if you told him the PC will be going away from tomorrow and has to be earned back at a rate of 2 hours revision for 1 hour PC usage?
Thank you all - especially for practical suggestions re computer use (DS3) and behaviour/money management (DS1) - also for the invite to join Maryx' thread.
And of course for encouraging me to take time out for ... me. Fire - we used to youth hostel a lot when the kids were younger. Booking myself in for a night or two is such a good idea. Above all, you tend to meet really interesting people, all ages, and from across the globe.
Your suggestions re drawing up clear budget with DS2 are good and that's something I'd want to share, in a suitable way, with DS3 as his computer use is for sure contributing to our increasingly large electricity bills. Most of all, he can't possibly be using his pre exam time sensibly by discarding books and notes and rarely leaving his room. Some things have got to change and I've got to summon up the energy to make that happen. Just so, so tired right now!
Yesterday was so bad that I have a heavy heart about DS2 coming home at some point today. But he's my son, I'll miss him when he's away again next week and I want both boys, coming up to exams, to be less hostile and angry. If they won't climb down, then, yes, I will take myself off - actually, I will anyway - thanks again all for your encouraging words.
One thing about being on here makes you realise you are not the only one in these situations.
I have felt exactly the same over Christmas, in fact it has left me feeling depressed.
Two DD's, 18 and 19 and both causing such heartache in different ways.
The 19 year old is home from uni over Christmas and still here as they aren't back until the end of January. No money of course, she spent all her loan within a few weeks of getting there and I have had to help her out despite struggling financially myself. She is complaining all the time about everything, wanting lifts all the time and in trouble over an out of control New Years Eve party she went to. It looks like it's going to cost me quite a bit of money.
The 18 year old is at college but apart from that she hardly ever goes out. I am constantly worrying about her lack of friends and confidence.
On top of all this they dont get on or even appear to like each other. They are jealous of any time I spend with either of them.
It's such a nightmare I have honestly felt like walking out and leaving them. I actually think they would be better without me, they would have to get on with things and not just sit back expecting me to do it.
I feel bad because I can't wait for her to go back to uni. I love them both but dread the thought that they could carry on like this forever.
Blimey - we could (just about) be talking about the same kids - expect mine are a bit younger/older and male ...
Actually, your children do need you - very much so. You are mum, home is home, the two together a massive anchor in their young lives. (I could put that better but it's so late!)
I think a lot of us have kids at Uni or similar who have overspent - Fireover (in an earlier post) suggested I showed/discussed a realistic budget with my DS2 - the one at Uni who has left us, like you, with having to pick up a lot of pieces through his bizarre attitude towards money. Have you managed to do something like this - explaining that there are consequences, rather obvious ones, if a budget isn't stuck to.
And my DS3 doesn't get out - very worried about him.
But don't for a minute think that your kids would be better off without you - very far from it. In just the few days since I posted here, I've tried to detach a bit more - to be more confident in my parenting - and actually I feel a bit less exhausted. Hope things work out well for you, figray.
Thanks, I have been thinking about how I can change things. I want to be more detached and get on with my life. It's just so difficult, I have always been there all the time.
I have suggested that she hands over most of her loan money to me when it goes in this month and then I give back so much per week. It sounds ridiculous that I would have to do this but she will just spend it all again if I don't.
The younger one I am trying to get out doing things. We do spend a lot of time together as she doesn't go out much due to social anxiety problems.
This causes problems as they are so jealous of each other.
I just hope things will work out as they get older.