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"It's not fair! What am I getting if she's getting that?"

(37 Posts)
greencolorpack Sat 28-May-11 23:22:58

We have a new member of the family, my nephew. Came to live with us last year. He has to fit in with two new siblings, my ds and dd. Previously he was an only child, and quite spoilt and pampered. He was allowed to eat meals by nibbling a bit, going away, running around, coming back, eating a bit of pudding, going away, coming back and nibbling the first course again etc... I never liked the way he was indulged before. Now he lives with me, we all sit down to meals together, we all stay seated until the end and he has to ask permission to leave the table. He's adapted well to those changes.

However- he spends a lot of time watching us like hawks for signs that he's being hard done by. If dd comes in from school and eats a banana, he says "What can I have if she's having a banana?" It's said with a tone, like he's saying "I'm missing out and have to argue my corner!" Now we deny him nothing and try to be scrupulously fair. But the stress and strain on myself and dh are causing problems.

So what should we do? Should we discipline him when he comes out with this anxiety/tone of voice/bubbling indignation waiting to burst out to make a big deal out of how hard done by he thinks he is - or should we ignore it - or should we just say "Sometimes life's unfair and your cousin gets the bigger piece of chicken - *GET OVER IT!!!!*"

How do we take the anxiety out of mealtimes and food/treats etc? What is the answer?

It may sound like I don't like him, but I really do, we love him to bits and show it as much as we can, but we are intensely irritated by some of the things he does. By his actions you'd think he was an orphan from some draconian place where he got fed once a week. He wasn't. He's away this weekend and I've noticed how unstressed I am. **guilty aunty**

MumblingRagDoll Sat 28-May-11 23:29:29

You do sound rather hard to me. My DDs both do that thing..."Why has she got a biscuit/the bigger apple/the pink bobble?" ALL the time.

It's normal. How old is he? Has he been through a lot of stress?

Madlizzy Sat 28-May-11 23:31:03

I'm not a foster parent (although my mum was for years). It seems to me that his asking what he's going to get is him trying to ascertain that he has a firm place in the family, and he's a little anxious that he's going to be left out. He's had a massive upheaval and there are going to be lasting effects. I would say that as long as you reassure him and love him, he'll calm down. Please don't ignore it, but do play it down in a loving but practical manner.

greencolorpack Sat 28-May-11 23:36:46

Fair enough.

How to play it down?

Dn is 10, nearly 11. He has had a lot of upheaval.

He tends to do well with rules, he likes rules and regs, once he knows them he enforces them by bossing about my two children, he has done this all his life and my children are used to it now. (We lived across the road from nana and dn when we lived somewhere else. We were in each other's lives constantly, so he's been close to my two since he was 1.) So if we made a rule of it, it might help. He stares all the time and is constantly watching my face - doing something naughty then staring at me to see if he's got away with it. I find that very irritating because I want him to know right from wrong without referring to the adults to see if he's got away with it. My response to this is sometimes to sit there saying nothing to any of them and refusing to look up and doing a poker face. I don't do this all the time, just sometimes when I'm incredibly stressed.

RCToday Sat 28-May-11 23:44:31

What have the Foster Care Team said about this?

Madlizzy Sat 28-May-11 23:47:01

It's going to take time for him to settle down and he's at a difficult age too, hormones just starting. Sounds like he's looking for constant approval from you to validate that he's a worthwhile member of your family. I'd add more, but I've had a couple of glasses of wine so am not at my most articulate. Rules and regs do represent security, so that may be why he's so good with them.

greencolorpack Sat 28-May-11 23:48:59

We don't have one. We don't have any help from anyone.

I have tried. But we are "kinship carers", we don't even get carer's allowance that MIL got when dh lived with her. The granting authority have washed their hands of dn. We have huge financial pressures and are often too knackered to try and take on the system.

When MIL moved to the area to be near dn, it led to loads of stress and further upheaval. I phoned the duty social worker in my area, explained the whole thing to her (cos we've got the vexed issue of dn's mum and her getting access, what if she comes off her meds and turns violent again, etc, how do we set up safe boundaries for dn, etc) - and the social worker said "It sounds like you're all doing fine, it's just the stress of Christmas (FFS!!!) and we wouldn't take your case on."

So.... there you go.... what should I do?

Madlizzy Sat 28-May-11 23:55:18

Just to add - you deserve a medal for accepting this lovely lad into your home. It's not an easy thing to do.

greencolorpack Sat 28-May-11 23:56:23

Hi Madlizzy, yes, hormones. I dread the teen years. Dread them. He's still young enough to be impressionable and willing to do things we tell him so I've got him into violin lessons and he's learning another instrument and he's a very happy member of the community group we are in. It's a great place for keeping teen boys and girls on the straight and narrow, gives them pride in their achievements and a supportive environment of adults and other young folks. I hope he stays.

His Mum was a perfect schoolchild up to the age of about 11 or 12, she went to high school. got bullied, played truant, drank, hung out with a bad crowd, and wasted her brains away through extreme anorexia over a long period. She was in and out of mental hospitals. Turned violent, used to beat up MIL. It wasn't til dn was born that the social got involved and since the social were involved, my SIL is more stable. She's on anti-psychotic medication. MIL keeps her on the straight and narrow, they now share a place in the same town as us. MIL is very frail and may imminently die, and SIL is physically able but not really able to live independently without help.

MIL is hugely proud and hugely defensive about the state of SIL, and about us taking on dn, and when she dies, it will be a massive disaster for our family. Because then we will have grieving dn and also mentally unstable SIL who is unable to function independently, and they have little or no help or support. MIL bought a place with SIL, so SIL will have to move out when MIL dies. It will be a huge mess. MIL's pride means she will accept help from nobody and thus relies on my poor dh, phoning him up all hours of the day and night complaining about her health.

GastonTheLadybird Sat 28-May-11 23:56:57

I'm no expert but it sounds like he is just trying to make you repeatedly prove to him that he is as important and loved as your own children are, possibly understandable in the circumstances.

It sounds like dealing with issues on a specific mitt help - everyone having a piece fruit when they get in from school if they want etc. I can see how it would be annoying but when it is something like the chicken example just brush it off and casually say you'll make sure he gets the biggest bit the next time. Or you could even just chop the end off of another bit of chicken... It might help him realise that it's a bit silly!

Maybe try and contact the foster team again, it doesn't seem right that you get no support at all. Could you perhaps go via your GP?

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 00:00:51

You sound like you really need someone to talk to about this. I wish I had the expertise to advise you! All I can say now is just reassure him that you love him, be silly with him, reassure him. The wine is now hitting my braincells so am definitely not as eloquent.

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:00:52

Thankyou Madlizzy.

All I get from the previous authority that gave the Residence Order to MIL is "You may get help through the court, if the court are first satisfied with the state of his environment." In other words, "We don't care how you raise him and will only figure out if you're abusing him if and when we are pressured into giving money for his upkeep."

We could be anyone!!!! We could have taken him off MIL and sold him as a white slave! We could be a paedophile ring! We're not! But how does the State know? I'm amazed how little care or support we've seen from the state.

ChippingIn Sun 29-May-11 00:02:34

He's been with you for quite some time now & he's known you all his life. I think it's time to put your foot down about some of his behaviour. You need to explain to him (again) that all of them get what they need, when they need it - not necessarily at the same time (bigger things like shoes etc), sor smaller things (like food) all he needs to do is ask if he can have what he wants - that the others can have things without him needing to have something and he can have things they aren't having... that food is there for everyone when they are hungry, not just because someone else is eating. Tell him that his attitude is deeply unpleasant and unnecessary. If you keep shielding him from accepting this, he will become the sort of person that no one wants to spend time with.

Maybe you should call SS again and try speaking to someone else - you might get some help that way.... you certainly deserve it!

How are your two coping?

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:03:27

Thanks for advice so far, you're still writing straight even with the wine! smile

I did go to my GP back in December, the GP just said phone the social, so that's when I phoned the social.

I know it's evil and wrong but I sometimes think I should tell the social that we have a drug habit or something, anything to get them interested in us. We're capable, intelligent parents, but we still need a whole heap of help. And could do without the monster-in-law and her histrionics and dramatics.

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:12:02

ChippingIn, I do wonder. At the moment, I fear I'm getting it wrong, so is dh in that we are strict, and we tend to make it plain we find this sort of thing irritating. There's reasonable boundaries and then there's us pulling our hair out with the stress and irritation of it all, and I know he needs love love love. This is why I'm asking on this thread, just to see what others might do.

Dn is a very precocious child, a Nan kid as Russell brand would say, he has always been very articulate, and every now and then I'll go and have a good heart to heart with him, and see how life looks to him, and these are good times. But a lot of the time, I'm the grown up and have to keep three lazy, grumpy kids in line and the irritation gets on top of me. So I have two roles to dn, the shouty aunty and the friend who gets alongside him, I think I'm too much the former and not enough of the latter, recently.

My children took to dn living with us very well indeed. My ds still says he doesn't get enough of alone time with myself or dh, so we try and address that, having one on one days out together sometimes. The three of them have always had a great dynamic - my ds is Asperger's, very technical, into science, quite a typical boy, whereas dn is very neurotypical, musical, gossipy, interested in what people are thinking and saying, so they're chalk and cheese and hopefully don't feel they need to compete with each other. Dd is musical and creative like dn so the two of them are best of buddies while ds is more off on his own (by choice). We are very lucky with their personalities.

We never say any of this out loud ie "He's the scientist, he's the flighty one", I don't believe in labeling children to their faces lest it encourages them to pigeonhole themselves too young.

Might try the social again... what to say... should I tell them I'm suicidal with all the stress? It's not true, I hasten to add.

lisad123 Sun 29-May-11 00:12:47

I think you need a sit down and clear the air. HIs old enough to understand that his actions cause reactions.
I would make it clear that you love him, yes sometimes one might get what the other doesnt, but then he might get something later, its how life is.

I would also say you have noticed he looks at you to confirm, and does he know the rules of the house? Is he concerned about your reactions? Is he confused because its different rules in your house.

YOu can access help via "normal SS", because he is a kinship placement he doesnt come under "care team" anymore.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 00:13:09

I think you're doing marvellously. I know it's a struggle, but you're functioning, you're caring for him and for your kids. Would it be worth taking your DN to the GP and getting him a referral for CAMHS? As he's had a lot of upheaval, some help for him to work through what he's had to cope with would be good, methinks. He really does sound like he's constantly seeking approval, especially with the doing naughty stuff in front of you to get attention. Might be worth saying something like "I can see what you're doing, and I know that you want me to notice, but I'd really prefer to give you lots of praise for making me a brew/tidying up/folding clothes because you're a clever lad and are capable of doing a lot of good stuff". This may help him feel useful and part of the family.

Balls, I'm now a bottle of wine down! grin Last thing to go is the grammar and punctuation. grin

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:23:06

lisad< I fear he tends to look to me or any other adults around because he doesn't think about his actions. When he does something naughty, and I ask him about it, he always says he "doesn't know" why he did it. I know I have a very different reaction to his behaviour than his Nan, because her response was more to sigh in a martyrish way and move on, like it didn't matter.

I'm trying hard to get him to THINK because it's not long and he will be old enough to go out on his own, he already walks to school without us, and I want him to learn to think "Is this right or wrong?" instead of thinking in terms of what he can get away with. I dread him being the kind of kid brainlessly scratching his name on cars or spraypainting graffiti, that sort of thing. I once caught a child in the act of this and berated him for it, he looked blankly at me like he had never thought it was a crime before. At the moment dn wants to be a school teacher when he's older, and I can see him doing that, but he's very impressionable and in the wrong kind of company he could very much go off the rails. He's always behaved so well for us, I thought he might kick back and rebel at some point with all the upheaval but so far he's a good boy. I wouldn't blame him at all if he did act out.

A referral for CAMHS would be a good idea, I suppose I should go to my GP? I explained things to my kid's school head teacher and she said there's mental health help I could access through school... she seems like a sensible person.

Madlizzy, I've got all the children doing the dishes/putting away laundry. He's very good at helping with housework and even tidies his own room sometimes! Amazingly. He lived at MIL's which was always an incredibly tidy space whereas here we live in chaos. He's learnt the hard way that we never know where anything is, if he doesn't look after his stuff, we haven't a hope in hell of knowing where it is. In his old house, Nana knew where everything was. At all times. Of course there were only two of them, whereas in my home there are five people. All as chaotic and disorganised as each other!

lisad123 Sun 29-May-11 00:27:03

my daugther has autism and struggles with the rules of social situations (not suggesting he has autism btw) and we use social stories to explain to her how she should behave, and the others reactions.
If you google social stories or behaviour mapping you should come up with something. You have to write the stories yourself as they are very indivual.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 00:29:14

Some of the daft stuff is just boys. I've an 18 year old lad and 12 year old bgb triplets, and I do reckon that 12 year old boys can be pure stupid 50% of the time. They don't tend to do thinking that much. I know that I do tell my boys to THINK before they act. Mine don't tend to know why they've done daft stuff either, so it does sound like he's showing some very normal behaviour in there.

Oh, could he come and teach my boys how to tidy their room? Bed for me now. A bottle of wine is a tired Lizzy grin

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:35:21

I remember something about that from the autism course the school sent me and ds's one to one helper on, but that was quite a few years ago. I will look into it. Dn is very socially intelligent and I know he would probably like to find a way to not irritate us. It just happens all the time, so often, and we haven't really got to the root of the problem.

Often I try and get dn to think about what he would do if he were the parent and he had to deal with this whatever problem it is. I got them to do this recently about "who gets a fair turn on the Playstation". I said to them, "you can't appeal to me to decide whose turn it is, I'm never watching you on the playstation, I'm always upstairs, all I care about is that you don't come to blows about it, so how are you going to resolve this?" and they came up with a chart saying ds - 10 minutes, and the time, and then the others get 10 minutes in turn, and they would then have evidence to present to the adults about unfairness. I want them to own the problem themselves, there's no way I could be fair cos I just don't care enough about the Playstation. I never sit and watch them on it, I find it dull.

A typical teatime thing is.... we all sit down to tea, and ds reaches for sauce bottle, and dn says loudly and sharply "Can you pass the sauce bottle?" and did this recently so aggressively that my ds got startled and spilt sauce down his front. Leading to ds, crying, and us shouting at dn, because he had made ds startled and made him spill something. Now I know we handled that badly, but it's how to calmly resolve this so it doesn't happen again and dn feels loved and not just the subject of intense anger and irritation. My argument is.... dn could see ds was using the sauce bottle... the bottle was nearly full so it's not a matter of running out... there was no earthly reason for dn butting in so aggressively at that point.

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 00:37:21

I'ld better take out my contacts now, and I was waiting for midnight so I could access the streaming I=player and get a look at Doctor Who so I'll retire for the night. This has been a HUGELY helpful discussion, thanks all on this thread. I realise just how I have been struggling on with this without really having enough supportive people to talk to. It helps to see what other people think of it all.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 00:39:47

Use the word 'chill' a lot. In that instance it would be 'chill, matey. There's plenty for everyone, don't worry about it, no need to stress', keeping the atmosphere low key. He really does sound anxious. Say the same to your DS, because there's no need for him to cry and shout about it, it's only sauce.

I'm now off to my bed, but I will revisit tomorrow. xxx

shaz298 Sun 29-May-11 09:00:04

Haven't read the whole thread yet ( will do in a minute) but wanted to to give a suggestion re the 'she has what do I get?' issue.

If it is something as simple asd a banana or another food item and is a day to day situation then how about responding,' oh do you want a banana too, help yourself' in a light happy tone and not making an issue of it. You may find that in time, when he is reassured through this reinforcement, that he won't feel that he needs to make these kind of comments because he'll know that he can have one too, or a sometihng else.

If the situation occurs that he makes a similar statement after another child has gotten a special treat because she has done something special ( school award etc), then I would suggest explaining thew reason she got X and give him something to aim for ( behaviour, school, helping out?) to earn a little something for himself? When he does achieve a goal then make a big deal about it, how proud you are of him, how well he's done.

I think the most important thing (difficult though it will be) is to try and not convey to him that it really irritates you. Sounds like the wee fella needs LOTS of positive reinforcement to help him to feel that he is important in the family and to help him to accept that he is loved equally.


shaz298 Sun 29-May-11 09:13:59

Just wanted to add, that is sounds like you are really feeling stressed by your DN's behaviours. He will be experiecing your stress at him in a very personal way.

By reading the whole thread it would seem that your DN definitely sounds like he feels insecure about his place in the family. Maybe part of the reason he continues to do things he knows irritates you, is to see how far he can push you before you send him away. He is trying to reassure himself that he is loved unconditionally. He won't be rationalising al of this of course, but all behaviour has meaning. If you can figure our what it is he gains by conducting himself in these ways, you may be able to give him what he needs in another, but positive way. Maybe if you actually confront the issue head on and tell him that you love him ( which I'm sure that you do) and reassure him that even when you're not feeling happy with his behaviour that you still love him. And make it clear that you love him, bit don't like his behaviour sometimes. Tell him about the behaviours you do like.....

Obviously don't know his background but he obviously came to be living with you for a good reason. None of these things will 'cure' the situation but maybe together with some input from CAMHS you will all get through this.

For your own sanity I think it would help to remember that he won't be doing these things specifically to annoy you, just because he feels like it. It's because he has a need which needs to be met. Maybe that will help you not to feel so annoyed/irritated which can't be pleasant for you either.

Good luck and hope you can all find ways of coping/managing which help you live as harmoniuously as possible, xx

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