DN wants more than I have left to give

(51 Posts)
pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 20:51:10

I really hope this doesn't turn in to a flaming. Please believe me, I have worked hard at this, not only to look after him but to be a great mother. We have had DN living with us since he was 12 (the same year I had a baby). Over the past 3 years we have come a very long way. He was refusing school and now he is top set everything. DH (his uncle) does not get very involved because he is working very hard and I have officially given up on that score. THe problem is he just wants me around all the time, he follows me around the kitchen, literally between the sink and the hob and I can tell he is looking for topics of conversation which breaks my heart. In the evening after I've put DS to bed, I eat with him (DH still working at this time) and then I just want to go upstairs and watch something on my laptop but I know he's downstairs wanting company. If I go downstairs and as soon as he hears footsteps on the stairs he comes out of his room. He has no mother or father. He is obsessively attached to this granny (my MIL, seriously, don't ask how that situation works). Previously he painted a very bleak picture of our family life to her in their nightly telephone calls, and to be fair to him we were fairly tough on him at first, we had to be, he was behaving very badly at school, but I worked so hard to connect with him, cooking him lovely food, helping him with his schoolwork, trying to show him he could trust me (hideously undermined by MIL at every step). Now I feel like he needs me to fill the emotional gap. There is no therapy (I have had a couple of sessions but they all just say, you're doing great, it was never going to be easy). I know he's downstairs now but I need some time on my own, DS is 3 and all over me all day plus I work from home. I feel guilty because I know that if he were my 'son' I would probably love to be curled up on the sofa watching a film but the interaction I have with him is difficult sometimes.

harverina Sun 03-Mar-13 21:33:33

What were the circumstances of him coming to live with you? I assume he had a difficult time beforehand?

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 21:40:38

Well, actually he didn't really have a difficult time, although obviously not having parents is in itself a bad time. Both died before he was one and DP's mother took him and his sister and brought them up. She was very loving but no rules, very hippy upbringing. When he got to 12, she told us he was behaving badly at school and in fact had missed the previous few months, and that's when we took him. In fact we had offered the previous year but it didn't work out (he didn't want to).

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sun 03-Mar-13 21:44:22

I feel really sorry for him sad

Why can your DH not get more involved (work is no excuse IMO?)

Your DN won't be young forever and you are being a tad harsh IMO.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sun 03-Mar-13 21:45:05

And I would say both parents dying before I was 1 and my DA not wanting to spend time with me is difficult

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 21:45:36

I feel sorry for him too. But it's a matter of what I can give. He's 15.

You think I am being harsh by not spending all evening with him?

Earlybird Sun 03-Mar-13 21:47:33

Does he have any interests, hobbies, friends?

How does he spend his time (other than in school and waiting for you)?

Perhaps it would help if you developed some sort of verbalised routine. Let him know when he can have your undivided attention (evening meal etc), and then let him know that after the meal, you are shattered and want some quiet time to yourself.

I think when he knows exactly what he can expect from you, he will gradually learn to respect your needs. Also, once you've spelled it out for him, he will hopefully stop hanging around waiting to 'pounce'. Just be very firm and clear. And, I expect it will take some repetition.

Fwiw, I often have to tell dd to go find something to do on her own (read, etc) because I am going to have some time to myself. I realise when she is pestering, it is often because I have not told her what I want/need. Once I've been clear, she tootles off. But if I haven't told her (and simply become irritated and short tempered), she can become anxious, clingy, demanding and insecure.

thornrose Sun 03-Mar-13 21:48:31

Oh god, my dd lost her father when she was 10. It has a profound effect on her. Losing both parents before he was 1 is heartbreaking.

Maryz Sun 03-Mar-13 21:54:00

I think you should timetable your time.

So you should have a set time each evening for your son, putting him to bed etc. Then have, say, half an hour undivided time with your dn, then an hour to yourself.

What does he do when you are upstairs?

When does he do his homework?

If you could timetable a definite half an hour to give to him between, say 9.30 and 10, after which he goes to bed, that would be easier than you spending the whole evening avoiding him, and him spending the whole evening frantically trying to get your attention.

I'm sorry your dh hasn't managed to step up more sad.

ItsallisnowaFeegle Sun 03-Mar-13 21:54:13

Not a flaming, but this thread made me so sad for DN.

I just wanted to point to your admission that if he were yours you'd love to cuddle up and watch a movie.

I can't imagine how hard it must be for you, to try to be his parent, aunt et al, without much support from your DP but to me, the behaviour you describe suggests your DN needs to feel wanted and 'part' of your family unit.

Please speak to your DP & extended family on how best others can support you, in supporting him.

Ledkr Sun 03-Mar-13 21:54:36

Oh bless him.
I think you should explain to him that you do like a bit if time to yourself and explain in a way that doesn't sound like its just him you can't be arsed with.
Could you do special DVD nights twice a week or something maybe get him popping popcorn or suchlike then have the other days free.
He sounds as if he doesn't like being alone with his thoughts which is very common in children with difficult circumstances.
I assume he has the usual entertainment in his room? Tv etc?
I'm wondering if the step parent boards would be a useful source if support.
Your dh should be doing more with him too.
BTW I have 5 dc three ds who are grown now but I like time without them too smile

Maryz Sun 03-Mar-13 21:54:39

x-posted with Earlybird - similar ideas smile

Maryz Sun 03-Mar-13 21:55:58

Oh, one other idea - was it you who was talking about this before, and we talked about maybe getting him a dog? Would a dog fit into your family life?

LadyWidmerpool Sun 03-Mar-13 21:57:13

I think your DH needs to pull his finger out. Is he too busy for her own child? How is DN supposed to feel secure and attached, and hence become independent, when his uncle, who ought to be his primary carer, has checked out? I think Ophelia is being harsh, it sounds like you spend lots of time together and you sound like a lovely aunt. I can see that the situation might feel like very hard work. I expect you have encouraged hobbies, friendships etc. To me it feels like your DH is a missing part of the puzzle.

Ledkr Sun 03-Mar-13 21:58:06

Was life erratic pre birth and in the first year?
He may have an attachment disorder!

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 21:59:11

It is a tragic story. He has tv, xbox, etc. Since we moved out of London to get him in a better school he has made good friends, proper friends, he was out with them today all afternoon. We made dinner together and I helped him with his Spanish. He asked me to have dinner with him even though I always do, which makes me feel like he doesn't think I will want to, unless he asks, iykwim.

Maryz, we let him choose any pet and he got 2 guinea pigs. He loves them to death.

FarelyKnuts Sun 03-Mar-13 21:59:58

So he lost both his parents as an infant and then when his behaviour became difficult with his grandmother he moved in with you and lost his primary caregiver? TBH, and this is not a judgement on you, but its not surprising he is clinging on to you for dear life. He is probably wondering when you are going to leave him too and can sense your agitation to get away which is making him hang on even harder.
There are good suggestions here. Start verbalising your feelings to him, explain that you would enjoy spending X time with him of an evening and then would like him to otherwise occupy himself so you can do something else. It will eventually help him feel more secure of he knows that is his time and have the knock on effect of less guilt for you and more time to get a breather as well.
And can I ask why is your DH not stepping up to the plate more? He is his DN no?

thewhistler Sun 03-Mar-13 22:00:33

You are obviously doing a brilliant job. And it's tough.

This age of dc is very needy, even more than when younger.

Can you get him to join in with your lovely 3 year old and look after him a bit? I know that our Ds adores the little ones. That might give you both something to talk about, and you a pause, and them a great relationship in the future?

I know our Ds gets lonely without us and I am exhausted from work. And go to bed. And he is ours.

So I do try to spend some time, while he is doing homework, or just reading. I think you do need to explain you need you time as well.

piprabbit Sun 03-Mar-13 22:01:45

Is there a reason why he hasn't had counselling, either alone or with the family? It does sound as though you are both struggling, maybe he is worried about growing up, becoming independent and where he will fit and is looking for reassurances?

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 22:04:56

DH has a very special kind of job. He is literally glued to his desk until about 10pm. They chat a bit, but are not particularly close. He finds emotional stuff quite difficult. His own upbringing was problematic (both bought up by the same woman!) plus losing his sister, etc. The circumstances surrounding her death were traumatic for him.

I told him I was going upstairs to have some quiet time as I was feeling a bit frazzled. DS is very full on.

Everyone wants me to feel about him, like he is my own son, and that I am letting the side down if I don't 'love' him. The past 3 years have been hard but they have paid off. He is doing really well but he is so needy I don't know how to cope. I have no support.

amillionyears Sun 03-Mar-13 22:07:46

ooh, this pulls at my heart strings.
No flaming for you, you are giving all you can give.
It doesnt help anyone to give more than they can give.

Is there anyone else who can help share the emotional side of the caring?
Anyone at all?

Also, and I know this may sound silly, but do you ever give him a hug?
Most 15 year old boys would run a mile from that, but he is not most 15 year old boys is he?

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 22:08:36

He is very very close to DS. That has been our saving grace really.

Ledkr sorry I didn't answer your question. I think he was already spending quite a lot of time with MIL before DH's DSIS died. I have talked to him about it, but it's hard because his mother was never mentioned and they were not told the truth about her death until he came to us and I insisted someone had to tell them.

No counselling. It's hard to make a 15 year old boy go. DH and I went a couple of times, but all the therapist says is carry on what you're doing.

FarelyKnuts Sun 03-Mar-13 22:09:07

Have you thought about counselling for yourself pussollini?

Earlybird Sun 03-Mar-13 22:10:51

If your dh is unavailable (due to work) on a regular basis, could he do a special day out with dn every once in a while? Could they go to the cinema together or do something they both enjoy (football match, etc)?

pussollini Sun 03-Mar-13 22:11:50

I have no physical contact with him whatsoever. I try to do things, like use a nickname, to build familiarity, but boy, that is hard. I have been clear with him that I'm fine to talk about girls, sex, drugs etc. and sometimes I think he will open up to me.

thwhistler good to know this happens to parents too.

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