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difficult time with foster child(18 Posts)
Hi, I would like some help from sympathetic peops. I've tried posting elsewhere but the responses I've been getting don't work for situations where there is attachment disorder and other complications.
We have looked after my DH's nephew since he was 12, both his parents are deceased, he was with my MIIL from age 1 - 12. He is 22 now but emotionally a bit immature despite being neurotypical.
Graduated university last year. He is now living with us here (was going to go traveling then get a flat) and behaving really badly. Rude, angers immediately if challenged on anything, bit aggressive, shouting, swearing. He is much bigger and taller than me now. There are months ahead of us now his travel plans are cancelled.
Over the last week or so we have had big rows because he almost certainly (obviously no test) has corona wtih very mild symptoms. Went to the gym all week, didn't distance or wash hands, just selfish and petulant (well you've already got it so no point, stop treating me like a second class citizen, fucking shut up etc. ).
I was obviously angry with him although not shouting. I said if he can't behave sensibly and consider others, then he can go and stay in his GMs house as she is away. It is in another city. Now he is holed up in his room, not answering messages from GM, coming out after we've gone to bed and raiding the fridge.
I feel so uncomfortable that he is hiding and obviously I know that I have to get him out and talk to him. But what can I say?
I need to think through a plan.
Sorry this is long, but also, such a very short version of the situation!
If you think he has coronavirus then leave him in his room for 7 days. After that you can talk.
You can't always make people behave as they should. Especially not a youngster with that background. You aren't responsible for protecting the world from him.
He'll be extra anxious and unsettled, so be patient.
And you don't have to get him out, just leave him be. Reassure him it isn't the end of the world and it will get better.
The advice I am giving you is not about who is right and who is wrong. It is about getting you all through this situation.
Try to de-escalate and take the tension down. Ask how he is, offer sympathy and TLC. Take a physical step back before answering, if he is becoming angry. Do not escalate rows, make him look small or have to have the last word. Be as kind as you can be to yourselves and to him. Good luck.
You describe him as a foster child instead of your nephew? Perhaps that’s where his anger is coming from, pretty big kick in the teeth there!
The foster child part is relevant. If OP hadn't said that people would not have understood the behaviours are being influenced by his past experiences.
@picklemewalnuts but he’s not a foster child, he is their nephew who’s tragically lost his parents. Calling him a foster child removes his connection to them and makes it seem as if they view him as an outsider they don’t consider part of the family.
I know what you mean, and if OP constantly refers to him that way I'd agree.
I'm assuming she's used the term to draw attention to his having needs above and beyond most young people his age. We have no idea of the background to this story, the pressures that the family have been under. I don't think indirectly accusing OP of 'othering' him is particularly helpful.
Point taken, I think perhaps I’ve had enough internet for the day. Attaching personal emotions to situations I’ve no real knowledge on.
Sorry to derail OP, don’t have any useful advice I’m afraid. The only thing I really know about young adults and a lack of parents is that there is a lot of anger there and it will take a long time to burn out. I hope you find a better solution though
Has he always been like this or has something changed that has set him off?
The threat to reject him by throwing him out will likely have been extremely painful and triggering for him. On the other hand you can’t live with someone behaving aggressively in your own home. I would try to realise you can’t control him, he is a man and as selfish as he is being it’s his choice you can’t make a adult man follow the guidelines if he doesn’t want to. Try to deescalate as much as possible for now and build bridges then work towards a mutual plan to get him somewhere he can live independently with a positive vibe not a rejection.
Thank you picklemewalnuts.
I really, really need support so can you please take it as read that since the day he came to live with us I have striven to care for him and nurture him kindly and warmly, to put down boundaries and to start each day afresh regardless. I don't call him 'foster child' I call him by his name. I'm just trying to find some place where I can talk about the issues.
I have never threatened to 'throw him out' I said if he refused not only to self-isolate but to wantonly endanger me when I have been hospitalised for asthma, then I would send him to self-isolate in a safe place.
We had built a mutual plan for him to get his own flat which included us paying for it plus maintenance to allow him to study. This is now not possible so I have to make a plan for us all for the coming months.
The corona issue is cast die now, as presumably we have had it asymptomatically - more than two weeks have passed.
I talked to him after this post and talked as positively as I could about us all giving each other a bit of a break at a difficult time, but stressed that his aggressive behaviour would not be tolerated. Yes, this does contain a kind of threat but as I explained to him I can't have a grown man squaring up to me particularly if I am going to be expected to make that grown manner dinner shortly afterwards. I talked to him about his anger issues (denied) and his very defensive attitude, and said he could be assured that we would always be on his side and looking after him, but that adults have to understand their actions had consequences. He said he was really sorry but this is always what he says. I offered to pay for him to see a counsellor either now online or in the future in person. He scoffed at this (sadly and imo wrongly he was never offered any counselling before he came to us).
I have always tried to build bridges, he has always been like this.
I mean, thank you to all posters who have taken the time to comment, I am grateful, just particularly walnuts. I just really need people to understand that this is a complex situation and I'm doing my best.
Its a shitty situation and you are doing everything you can. I wouldn’t assume because he doesn’t seem to take everything on board that he doesn’t process it in his own time. But changing behaviour is hard especially when he clearly has considerable difficulties with emotional regulation.
For what it’s worth OP he sounds lucky to have you.
Because of the shame response, he's unlikely to be able to cope with the idea that he has behaved badly. That doesn't mean he won't process it quietly in his head, as That's says.
It's good that you reminded him that you all need to make allowances for each other. Everyone is struggling, not just him, and you will all probably say and do the wrong thing over the coming weeks.
Can you plan some fun stuff for lockdown? Maybe have film nights and popcorn etc. You can take it in turns to choose the film, so you get to see each other's all time favourite movie for example (though maybe avoid whatever each of you would hate- don't make him sit through seven brides for seven brothers unless you are willing to watch whatever ultraviolent film is biggest at the moment!).
We are doing cooked breakfast on Saturdays, and fancy puddings on Sundays. Board games after lunch when if aren't working etc. It all helps.
I will try pickled. He sleeps all day at the moment and I am frazzled after work plus homeschooling his much younger brother so perhaps I neglect him and could carve out more time. He won't make it easy though. I think subconsciously part of his deep insecurity is that he tries to push me to reject him, so he can say how awful I am. His GM says used to paint me very bleakly to her, even when we'd had a really good day. It's a complex web. I've seen a therapist about it but they just say keep on doing what you're doing.
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