Guilt, anger, impact on wider family - downward spiral?(34 Posts)
Anyone who's read my threads on this board (and elsewhere on mumsnet) will know something about the journey we've been on the past couple of years with dd.
I'm posting because I've been mulling on the issue of dd digging herself into a hole regarding her responsibility for the problems she's having at school and at home. Following a meeting with her HOY at school last Tuesday, there's been no let-up and she now has an ongoing exclusion from two lessons, with a permanent exclusion on the cards for the end of this term. Yesterday she phoned me and told me that she had shoved a supply teacher out of the way when this teacher tried to keep her in the room (she wanted to talk to dd about her behaviour and dd wanted to leave). The teacher told her it was assault. As far as I'm aware this incident hasn't got back to her HOY year yet and may not get back, if the supply teacher doesn't mention it, which she may not. If it does get back to the HOY I don't know what will happen, as this is a very serious accusation, and it may result in immediate temporary exclusion, or perhaps will accelerate a permanent exclusion.
DD is adamant it's not her fault. She's adamant that NOTHING is her fault. She said it's illegal for a teacher to hold her against her will, and that if a taxi driver had done this to her I'd consider it a criminal act. She's never really acknowledged, explained or apologised for anything she's done and will talk until she's blue in the face, shouting everyone down, talking faster and faster to try to justify her behaviour.
She's been staying with my mum and sister (who live together) since a violent episode at home a few weeks ago, to give us all a break. I was talking to my mum this morning and I can hear the sadness, disappointment and exhaustion in her voice. DD hasn't been anywhere near as bad at my mum's as she has been here, but she's still incredibly selfish, moody and obstructive. My mum is nearly 80 and I just don't know how much she can take. My sister has a very full-on job, is a recovering alcoholic and is over 50, and I know that dd's behaviour is affecting her too. In addition to this my inlaws - who are both very frail - are worrying about dd. We are a close family and everyone knows what's going on. DH sees his parents 2 or 3 times a week (he is helping to care for them as they're both currently disabled and in poor health) and they can see the impact of dd's behaviour on him - he is very stressed and saddened by it. My two younger children have been affected by dd's aggressive behaviour - how could they not be when DH and I are so affected by it? Ds1 has been very anxious of late, neurotic and moody himself, and I keep thinking about what it's like for a child of 10 (who has health worries) to live in a house where there is screaming, shouting and violence going on on a regular basis.
My SIL, who has been incredibly supportive of all of us, is now obviously also starting to feel angry with dd - she can see the impact of dd's behaviour on DH and is aware of her parents worrying about DH and dd. The ripples just spread out, and out and out.
And I'm starting to wonder if dd is too scared to take responsibility for her behaviour, because that would mean acknowledging how much harm she's done and is doing to everyone who loves her, and she can't face it. So she's digging herself into a trench, turning her face away from everyone who's trying to help her, and is on a downward spiral which will end - who knows where?
My dd is very close to my mum and sister and sees DH's parents regularly. She was named after my mum and my mother adores her. My IL really are in poor health, and my mum is facing a very serious operation at the end of this year. I keep thinking about what it will do to us and to dd, if we lose one of the grandparents this year, and dd has to live with the knowledge that all she did in the last few years of their life was make them feel sad and worried. She will have a very big burden of guilt to carry, and I wonder what that will do to her already very poor self-esteem.
And yet we can't really pretend her behaviour isn't impacting on the rest of us, or stop mentioning it to her, in an attempt to help her overlook the harm she's doing. To try to avoid her feeling guilty.
OK… you’re probably not going to like this but…..
I’ve read quite a few of your threads, I do feel very sorry for the situation you’re in but I also find your postings quite frustrating. Your DD does have a very difficult personality. But apart from your DD herself you have described enough other trauma in your family (a) to stress all of you out and (b) to make even the most calm and relaxed child act out, and (whether she is diagnosable or not) clearly your daughter is not by nature a calm and relaxed child. You argued in an earlier thread that none of this family stress (to which we now add an auntie who is a recovering alcoholic, and your mother’s operation) should really affect your daughter. But plainly it has.
So that’s one bit of it. Your daughter has responded in one of the common teenage ways – instead of being nice and helpful to her exhausted over-stretched worried parents and her ill granny, she has iced the cake by acting out all her own stress and making your lives worse. I’m afraid it’s often what they do.
Another bit of the problem is that there is a long queue of very needy people in your family who rely on you and your DH for care and attention. You said yourself (earlier thread) that you want DD to behave better so you can give more attention to other people. Which means (from her point of view) that if she wasn’t behaving so badly, she’d just be further back in the queue. So why wouldn’t she act out? That’s where the attention comes from. You do need to disengage from some of her behaviour and its consequences – if she needs to be in a PRU, well OK, that’s where she needs to be and perhaps she’ll benefit from the individual attention she’ll get there.
And I can see you are exhausted and yes you need respite and rebuilding, but you seem to have been saying that you and your DH could both cope if only it wasn’t for DD. Well that’s quite a destructive notion - why is your DD more responsible for your stress, and more to blame for being the way she is, than your diagnosed ASC son is to blame for being the way he is? Surely you need respite from all of it.
Her father threw something at her and pushed her over and feels bad about it, and in your mind she seems to be to blame for that too. I know she’s a pain in the bum but your husband needs to think hard about what happened in him that made him snap. One hard fact that your DH may have to face, is that it will probably be easier to find good quality professional care to support his parents, than the same to support his daughter. And that might also be true of your ASC son – yes services are very patchy but maybe his diagnosis could open doors to support and respite.
And I’m sorry if this comes across as unsupportive. But I have tried hard to pay attention to what you’ve been saying, over several threads, so I’m honestly not saying it carelessly. And I do feel your pain – it’d be so much easier for everyone if you had a nice helpful DD!
It doesn't have to be a downward spiral - there are ways out, even if it doesn't feel like it now. Maybe the previous poster's point is true, that your dd needs more (positive) attention, not less, but you seem to wish she wasn't taking up your time as others are "more important" ie more needy. Also agree with natural consequences - if school is not for her then maybe other options will be better - lots of time to make good of her ducation in the future - I teach in adult education and it's full of people who messed up the first time round but are now more mature - not everyone gets it right first time round.
and and to you - you sound like you really need some tlc - try to take advantage of your dd's absence to relax, be nice to yourself - then when your dd returns you can hopefully take her behaviour more in your stride without feeling like you're about to keel over.
Honestly, she can get over it - don't give up hope in her.
You may have read some of my other posts but I don't think you've got a very clear understanding of what's going on in our family. You are creating a picture of a intrinsically difficult child reacting in a fairly predictable way to family stress. This is not the case AT ALL
Starting with this:
"Your DD does have a very difficult personality".
She does now. She didn't used to! She was a very easy going child up to puberty.
"But apart from your DD herself you have described enough other trauma in your family (a) to stress all of you out and (b) to make even the most calm and relaxed child act out"
Except the 'acting out' has been happening since the start of her adolescence, long predating my middle dc's health scare, and DH having to provide regular care for his parents. Both these things are very, very recent. DS2 was diagnosed with asd last year, but he's very high functioning, and by a normal 8 year old's standards isn't really challenging. Really - dd is not 'acting out' to gain attention because we have other stresses in our life which are distracting us from her needs.
"So that’s one bit of it. Your daughter has responded in one of the common teenage ways – instead of being nice and helpful to her exhausted over-stretched worried parents and her ill granny, she has iced the cake by acting out all her own stress"
I know many teenagers. I don't know any 14 year olds within my social circle who have responded to their parent asking them to hand over a mobile phone by calling them a cunt and throwing something at them, hitting their mother around the face, regularly walking out of lessons and arguing with teachers, kicking holes in doors, shoving teachers around, throwing glasses around the kitchen - all things dd has done in the last 4 weeks. NOT in response to us not giving her time and attention as she has had plenty of this. Her stress is entirely created by her own bad behaviour - not from being unloved, ignored, unpopular, as she is none of those things. Her behaviour is not a normal teenage response to family stress. DH is NOT stressed about caring for his parents. He's tired, but he loves them and is happy to help them. He IS stressed about his dd bunking school, swearing at him, kicking holes in doors, being violent, and the constant phone calls and letters home from the school about her behaviour
"and making your lives worse. I’m afraid it’s often what they do."
Patronising, much? No - they don't often do what dd is doing. She is not neglected or sidelines. And her behaviour is the cause of most of the stress in our home. We feel we're living in a war zone, and have been for well over a year now.
"that none of this family stress (to which we now add an auntie who is a recovering alcoholic, and your mother’s operation) should really affect your daughter. But plainly it has".
No it hasn't. My dd wouldn't think twice about my sister's alcoholism because it has never affected her. She has never seen my sister drunk, and when she was drinking heavily even I wasn't fully aware of it. She has been dry for two years now and is a very, very strong person. She has been a rock for me and my dd. Not needy. The opposite. But she is 50, knackered from her job, and I'm worried about piling loads of extra, unasked for stress on her. As for my mum's operation - I doubt it's even made the slightest dent on dd's consciousness - we haven't discussed it with her, and nobody is talking about it or openly worrying about it. But I obviously worry about my mum's health because, hey ho, she's 80. But she's strong too. I'm just worried about dd swearing at her and pushing her, as she did last night when my mum asked her to hand her phone over. My mum sounds tired when I phone her, very tired, and very worried about dd. This doesn't make her 'needy' or an extra burden on us that takes us away from dd. She is trying to help us by giving us some breathing space. But she's copping all the crap from dd that would be coming our way if she was at home.
"why is your DD more responsible for your stress, and more to blame for being the way she is, than your diagnosed ASC son is to blame for being the way he is? Surely you need respite from all of it."
She's to blame for much of our stress because she's causing so much of it! She doesn't HAVE to behave like an arse at school. She's popular and bright and doesn't HAVE to be obnoxious to teachers. And yes - we do need respite from her aggression and obstructive behaviour. Sadly the only way we can get that is to send her around to my mum's, but then I worry that her behaviour will impact on her instead.
"One hard fact that your DH may have to face, is that it will probably be easier to find good quality professional care to support his parents, than the same to support his daughter."
They have carers who come in in the morning and at mid-day. They just can't find one to come in for the evening, cook and stay to put his dad to bed. Carers simply won't do that type of work unless they are live in. Or the person being cared for is happy to be put to bed at 8pm every night. Of course DH could just duck out of doing his turn, and leave his sisters to do it. Which is probably what a lot of men should do. But he doesn't want to. Why should he? Why is it stressful for DD that he is caring for his parents? It doesn't impact on her, except in so far as it makes him less able to cope with her screaming at him, throwing things at him and calling him a cunt in the middle of the night for taking her mobile phone, because he's tired. It doesn't take him away from her. She could go with him to her grandparent's house when he's caring for them. They only live around the corner. Her 16 and 15 year old cousins do this.
"it’d be so much easier for everyone if you had a nice helpful DD!"
That's really fucking patronising. I don't want her to be 'nice' or 'helpful'. I just don't want her dominating and terrorising everyone in the house with her moods, being physically aggressive, and making her teacher's lives impossible.
I have got some experience of an over-anxious child, not sure if it's relevant or not, but am putting it down for what it's worth.
Dd is usually very considerate, but the two times when she really got quite unpleasant was when ds was diagnosed with the same chronic joint disorder and when I had to have an operation. You could say that neither of those things took anything away from her: ds didn't need that much extra help and I was still around and certainly emotionally available. Yet somehow it scared the shit out of her, just the thought that somebody else might need some consideration and propping up. Her needs for support just seemed boundless.
And yes, it made me very angry with her. It seemed so monstrously unfair. But then the anxiety that was ruling her life was like a monster; it was just devouring anything that was around, not allowing for anything beside itself.
Cory, my dd is NOT anxious.
But my middle child is. Unfortunately dd's behaviour is aggravating his anxiety.
Your DD sounds really angry
In my experience, when there is distress within a family unit, there is usually at least one child who will act as a sort of barometer for this stress.
A few things are really standing out for me here. Your sister's alcoholism will have affected your DD, of course it will. Don't underestimate the impact of such an illness on all the family. You still seem to talk with the language of an enabler: worried about your sister, who didn't ask for this stress. I have no doubt that your sister will have generated enormous amounts of stress that family members did not ask for, yet you forgive her easily. Why her and not your DD?
Your DH is a carer for his parents, while this is very admirable, he is clearly needed at home. You will be able to find carers who can do separate dinner and bedtime, if the money is right, or his parents will have do have combined visits, as do a lot of elderly care receivers. Your children need him more.
There is a real sense that your DD would make your life easier if she just behaved and allowed you to continue to worry about and care for others. She is telling you she needs you
What about some counselling, has that been tried? Are there other avenues you could try to find family counselling?
What does your DD say when you ask her why she swears or is violent? Does it calm the situation down, or does she not have words for her feelings...or could there be some problem she has, or a trauma she has experienced that you don't know about?
How is your DD's health in general? Is she eating and sleeping well?
Haven't seen your other threads but feel sorry for your dd. Seems everyone is allowed to be streseed or anxious but her. her bbehaviour is awful from what you imply but she also seems to be regarded as the one whose absence would make everyone better. If a random stranger can see that,do you think she cant
I remember your thread about the PRU. I think she should go.What does she say about it herself?
The family stuff is just hard all round. I don't have any answers but you have my sympathy.
Minifingers Wed 02-Oct-13 07:40:57
"Cory, my dd is NOT anxious."
Obviously she is not anxious in the same way mine was.
I was just thinking about some past posts of flow's (who will hopefully be along soon) about how her son translated stress into anger. Could there be something similar? That there is some kind of inner tension/anxiety that she is acting out in this way?
Do we ever know what is going on in somebody's head?
"Your sister's alcoholism will have affected your DD, of course it will. Don't underestimate the impact of such an illness on all the family".
No it hasn't.
My sister was an alcoholic for a few years while living with an abusive partner. Prior to this relationship she didn't drink. At the time she was drinking heavily she was living 50 miles away and we only saw her a few times a year. She was never drunk when we saw her. DD has never seen my sister drunk. After leaving her abusive relationship my sister moved in with my parents and stopped drinking. It is only since then that she has spent much time with dd.
"I have no doubt that your sister will have generated enormous amounts of stress that family members did not ask for, yet you forgive her easily. Why her and not your DD?"
Actually she didn't. She was a functioning alcoholic who hid her drinking from the rest of the family. She lived miles away at the time and we rarely saw her. When we did see her she was sober, which is why it took such a long time to realise that she had a problem. By the time she admitted she was an alcoholic she was ready to stop drinking - which she did overnight. She has been dry for several years.
"Your DH is a carer for his parents, while this is very admirable, he is clearly needed at home."
He's at home plenty enough to care for his other children. His parents live - literally - five minutes drive away. He goes over two evenings a week and one day at the weekend. Often the kids go with him so they can spend time with his parents. DD goes with him sometimes, when she's not being objectionable, and spends time with MIL and FIL, who she loves, and who are very good to her. DH still finds time to take dd out for meals and take her shopping.
Seriously - why are people looking for a story that doesn't exist: of a family mired in problems who are neglecting their teenage dd. DD's behaviour is our main problem, not the grandparents, who are lovely, not either of our ds's, nor my sister - who has been incredibly supportive, loving and helpful to dd.
"There is a real sense that your DD would make your life easier if she just behaved and allowed you to continue to worry about and care for others. She is telling you she needs you"
FFS - dd has PLENTY of attention and time with me and DH and all her other relatives. She is NOT neglected. For a start she is perfectly welcome to go with DH when he goes round to his parents. The other teenage grandchildren do when it's their parents time to help out. It's no big sacrifice. The grandparents have Wi-Fi and flat screen TV's! ARe you suggesting that impoverishing his parents and leaving them in the hands of professional carers is necessary so he can spend those two evenings at home staring at dd's closed bedroom door instead? (she's a teenager - she doesn't want to spend time with us).
"but she also seems to be regarded as the one whose absence would make everyone better"
Sadly - when you have a situation where a child has for several years been generating HUGE amounts of stress within the family by consistently terrible behaviour - way beyond normal stroppy/obstructive teen stuff, then I'm sorry to say everyone does eventually get to the point where they're happier if she's not at home. She's been staying at my mums for 3 weeks now after an episode at home where we ended up having to call the police because of her violence (third time in a year). My two younger dc's are so much more relaxed and less anxious without her here. And now I'm phoning my mum and hearing the tiredness in her voice - dd has sworn at her and pushed her because she asked her to hand her phone and laptop over at 11pm on a school night, and dd didn't want to.
"Do we ever know what is going on in somebody's head?"
No. None of us know what's going on in DD's head. None of us are anywhere close to understanding WHY a child from a loving, supportive extended family, a child with everything going for her - friendships, intelligence, talent, good health, should be on a mission to ruin her life chances and make everyone who loves her utterly miserable. I think this is what's torturing us and making life impossible. None of us know why. I'm not sure she does.
All I can say is that the things that people are implying here are behind her behaviour - emotional neglect, family stress, bullying: none of these are at the root of what's happening. There is stress in ALL families. Caring for extended family, having busy full-time jobs and other children with special needs - these aren't unusual responsibilities. This is part and parcel of ordinary day to day life for loads of people, and we would manage it well if we weren't having to also be constantly dealing with violent and abusive behaviour at home from dd, and with the difficulties she's now creating at school.
What is it you want from this thread then?
Everything anyone has said you've picked over & denied
So leave your dd with your mum until she's too ill/ old to cold anymore
Dd is 16, in 2 years she'll be an adult & can live on her own
If your mum wants rid of her then worry about it when it happens
I think the OP wanted some support in a difficult situation, not to be picked apart by people who think they can solve such a challenge in a few patronising posts. However well meaning. I also think she has the right to vent and this in itself may be helpful
Minifingers, I think it all sounds incredibly difficult. I am sorry I have nothing constructive to say, except I would stop trying to justify myself to people who clearly don't get it.
I have no relevant experience but I am sympathetic, for what it is worth. Hope someone comes along who can help without judging. This is not AIBU.
I don't understand what you hope to achieve from this thread.
She wants some support. Is that so hard to understand, or to do?
Sorry if I offended with my post
I felt the op was attacking earlier posters who were trying to help
I'm wondering too if maybe your sister is enjoying having dd around op?
Maybe it's a focus for her, to take her mind off her own problems
I think it's great your extended family is helping you out xx
Hi Minifingers, I have read your other thread and also this one. You have a lot on your plate and you have my sympathy. It is an intolerable situation and it's a key point to ask about the impact of your daughter's behaviour on the wider family.
This is going to look harsh written down, but would the best thing be for you to discuss this with a family therapist? For you to explore these lines of thought with someone face to face? Someone who can listen and let you expand on the situations and who has most likely seen clients with similar family problems?
You are writing a lot in response to MNetter's replies and that does make me think that unloading in a different environment than this may help you. Online we can't do nuance and subtlety very well.
I think that the point is letting you have the clarity and also support, even for some difficult decisions that may arise, from someone who is not involved. Look after yourself, it's hard being the back-stop to the rest of them. Really hope that things work out for you all and that life takes a better turn for you. Too early for even for me so . Really, really hoping that this doesn't read as patronising.
I agree Leo35, I think getting it off your chest can only be helpful. At least it will help in the short term
the fact that this began in puberty may suggest that it is a hormone imbalance? This may be massively inappropriate/wrong parallel for me draw, but I've seen young mares turn from nice, rideable youngsters to horses that stress out/panic about things, explode dangerously/violently when asked to do something they don't want to do and can endanger their riders, with whom the horses normally have a good relationship. No amount of praise or punishment stops it. It is literally a Jekyll and Hyde type of change. It is also nearly always due to hormone imbalance (discovered through blood tests) and can be helped with magnesium supplements for milder cases and medical intervention (hormone treatments or a horse equivalent of a coil) for more serious ones. I am really, really not trying to belittle your situation and please don't think that I am simply comparing your dd with a horse, but the behaviour/transformation parallel seems apt and is perhaps worth exploring medically as add/ADHD may not be an issue but, as this has been going on since puberty it may be hormonal. I don't know if there is an equivalent for humans that would work (going on the pill?) but maybe a gp or even a specialist might be able to help.
Minifingers, I think you are perhaps over-interpreting other people's posts into reading criticism where none may have been intended.
I for one was not suggesting that your or anybody else was responsible for your dd's (possible) anxiety.
I was just thinking that some teens do seem to carry enormous reserves of anxiety or stress inside themselves which finds an outlet in anger because they don't know what else to do with it.
That is not the same as saying that your family is anxiety inducing.
Out of dd's friends several that have gone to pieces come from families very similar to the one you describe: loving functional families with no obvious stress triggers. Otoh of course most children from such families do not go to pieces. And some children from families with severe obvious stress triggers cope perfectly well.
After all, she is hardly likely to be behaving like this because she is happy and enjoying herself. There is some level on which she is not happy. If that could be identified and treated, you would all be a lot better off.
I do think you need some outside help, here. It sounds like you've gone round and round in circles. Mini, and its made not a lot of difference.
Is there someone (either a professional or someone out of the loop) who can take DD aside and ask her exactly what she wants? She's doing a good job of running you all ragged. She needs to understand the effect she's having on you (whether she likes it or not), and you all need a plan of action.
It may be a hormonal balance thing going on... Has DD been to the GP recently? Does your GP know whats going on?
I do sympathise - I have a 15 yo DS. Its a hellish time.
I had a sibling that behaved like your dd. nothing made the slightest difference.
I have the utmost respect and sympathy for you, I have followed some of your threads.
I do think that deep unhappiness lies at the bottom of this and the reason your dd cant tell you what the problem is because she doesn't know.
Can you afford private therapy for her?
What outside, professional support do you have with your dd? Sorry if I missed that somewhere but it sounds like, apart from school, there are no qualified professionals helping any of you with this terrible situation.
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