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ODD and ADHD - honesty the best policy?

(39 Posts)
OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 08:26:59

I have a good friend with a son aged 10. He was diagnosed with ODD and ADHD several years ago. It's fair to say my friend's life (and that of her kids) has been fairly chaotic. She has an older son with whom she is NC. She split from their father before I met her and has been having a lengthy affair with a married man which ended about 6 months ago. Neither of us live in the UK at the moment, but I am planning to move back shortly.

My friend (let's call her Deb) recently had a whirlwind romance with a guy originally from the UK and they are getting married next month and will also be moving to the UK. They are likely to live within 1 hour of DH and me.

This will sound awful but I want to end this friendship because of Deb's son's behaviour. I know he has SN (and I deliberately did not put this in AIBU - I know I am), but although I feel very sorry for Deb and him, I cannot stand being around this child. Some recent examples of his behaviour:

- at the beach, he runs up to me and wobbles my belly fat and makes "blubber" noises. Is told off. Ignores and carries on.

- says "when I get older I want a wife who isn't fat like her" <points at me>. (I am size 12 - not skinny but hardly whale-like either).

- I offer to buy him an ice cream. He demands something pricey from the adult menu of a nearby restaurant. Is told to behave by Deb. Has full tantrum ("But SHE is paying! So who cares?")

- tells me how much nicer his mum's engagement ring is compared to mine. I agree it is very beautiful. Deb (embarrassed) comments that mine is 2 carats and hers is only 1 and I say yes but size doesn't matter. Has full tantrum because I am "bragging".

Reading that back it sounds as though he hates me which might be the case. I have only gone nuts at him once - walking along the beach, he picked up a sharp stick and deliberately speared a sea urchin with it. ("They're disgusting anyway!")

I am increasingly disturbed by his behaviour and - to be frank - I just don't want to be around either of them any more. I have tried to help but Deb lets so much of his behaviour go past without comment, probably because it is so extreme and difficult to manage. However, I also feel that she sets a really bad example sometimes. They have had numerous pets all of whom have ended up rehomed - a German Shepherd that got "too big", a cat that peed on the floor once and was then locked in a 2 foot cupboard 24/7 (and now lives with me hmm). Deb's son has already been thrown out of numerous schools and suspended more times than I can remember. Usually the punishment is for violence.

Although I care about Deb, I really want to distance myself. Although it's cowardly I am increasingly just ignoring her calls and cancelling plans to meet, because I can't cope with her kid. (She wanted to bring him to my apartment for a sleepover at the weekend and I made excuses). I think it would be more honest to explain why I can't be around her at the moment and/or offer to see her without her son. DH thinks this is what I should do. However, given Deb's son's diagnosis, I think it is unlikely to make much difference and it might make them both feel worse. He has no friends at school (and usually gets kicked out before making any) and I suspect it won't help if he knows Deb's friends hate him too.

Any wise words or suggestions? Should I take the coward's way out or tell her her kid's a horror? Or just make other excuses?

Isetan Tue 08-Dec-15 09:40:00

Your friend sounds like a flake and I pity her son more than you, or her. End the friendship if you want but blaming her son for his mother's poor parenting is disingenuous.

summerainbow Tue 08-Dec-15 09:55:07

If you can't handle a SN kid just tell the mother . You don't want to freinds with her any more . So tell her the truth.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 10:21:10

Thanks for the replies. Isetan I am not convinced it is all caused by poor parenting (or SN for that matter....), but he is a deeply unpleasant child to be around, irrespective of who or what is to blame. He is obviously very disturbed (in a "There's something about Kevin" way iykwim).

I suppose I need to woman up and tell her the truth. I think I do owe her an explanation rather than just this endless "something has come up" cowardly excuse making I have been doing.

And summer it's not a case of not being able to "handle" him. There are 2 SN children in my immediate family (admittedly not with OD/ADHD) with whom I have a very close relationship. I just think that kids should not be verbally and physically abusive to adults and I don't particularly want to be around any that are. I also know that my friend must be struggling terribly with him and I wonder whether not telling her the real reason why I want to distance myself is kinder.

KeepOnMoving1 Tue 08-Dec-15 10:58:20

I think in this case it's best not to be honest, what will telling her child his horrid behavior is the reason. No one has to put up with this nasty behaviour, it doesn't really matter what is the cause because there's nothing you Can do about it.
You also don't want your own children to pick these ways up as well. Your friend sounds flaky and tbh she doesn't really sound like someone you would want to be friends with anyway.

KeepOnMoving1 Tue 08-Dec-15 10:59:22

*what will be gained from telling her that her child's horrid behaviour is the reason.

Cassimin Tue 08-Dec-15 11:07:47

Parents with children with SN can feel very isolated. I would feel awful ending a friendship because I as an adult could not cope with the behaviour of a child.
As for her being flakey, she may well be. But as a parent of a child with ADHD I understand that you need to pick your battles. You can get sick of hearing your own voice and feel like you are constantly telling your child off.
She needs your support.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 11:15:21

Thank you Keep. The more I think about this, the more I blame my friend. I don't have any DC at the moment - currently having IVF. Friend has announced that her and new man will be trying for a baby next year. I have tried to suggest that she fix/help the DC she already has but she seems to think it's jealousy prompted by my need for IVF sad

I agree that nothing will be gained from telling her. It's just that she is really bad at taking social cues. EG I have just emailed her to say this sleepover doesn't work for me because I have an early start on Saturday. She has suggested that she and her DS "just hang in the [my] apartment" whilst I am out.

ouryve Tue 08-Dec-15 11:19:00

I think this kid would be better off without you in his life.

loveyoutothemoon Tue 08-Dec-15 11:20:23

Tell your friend that you're not keen on him staying because you find her child very difficult. You need to be honest. Is it possible to see your friend when she's on her own?

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 11:27:51

Cassi - I know, and she has been a single mum for a number of years too so I realise she must be especially isolated. That is the main reason I have perservered for so long, but it's getting to the point where he is so openly hostile and aggressive that I dread spending time with them. It's one thing to deal with a defiant 6 year old, but now he is older and bigger he is becoming more difficult to "control" if that makes sense.

I feel especially sorry for them both when I am not with them, but after half an hour of antics like the above, my magnanimity kind of drains away. I don't know what the hell to suggest she do about him either.

lorelei9 Tue 08-Dec-15 11:28:08

um...could you say you feel you've grown apart or something?

I can see how hard this is - it's not the child's fault but in the end, the facts behind the case don't change the reality, which is that you can't do this friendship anymore.

I was recently on a training course with a lady who told me she knew she had lost friends because of her son - who was similar, interestingly, SN but sort of violent - and she said "I don't really blame them but I jump at days like this because it's a chance to meet new people". I certainly got the sense that she was isolated but she seemed to be understanding of it, so even tactfully phrased, your friend might know and might even have heard it before?

pocketsaviour Tue 08-Dec-15 11:29:24

TBH I would not want to be friends with someone who was neglectful of both their children and of animals they adopted sad

I don't doubt this lad has SN but he is also the victim of appalling parenting and examples.

You have no obligation to keep this woman in your life, with or without her son.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 11:34:49

ouryve Nice, thanks. So you are in favour of letting children hit/kick/punch/scream at adults without boundaries or consequences?

You're right though - he probably picks up on my feelings, especially after the sea urchin incident. On that basis, it's probably better for him not to be exposed to that. Incidentally, she has lost many, many friends over his beahaviour. I am seemingly the only one who is actually considering how best to deal with the situation rather than just dropping them both like a hot spud.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 11:40:03

pocket - yes ironically it's the animals thing that has pushed me over the edge. I encouraged her to take up riding with me and now she is planning to buy a bloody horse when she moves to the UK. DH's first reaction was "we're not taking that in when she gets bored!" sad In some way she is like a child herself with no concept of the consequences of her actions.

I want to be supportive and a good friend, but this poor kid is increasingly out of control. Frankly I think it is only a matter of time before he hurts someone. Hopefully he will get the help he needs when they move here.

lorelei9 Tue 08-Dec-15 11:46:52

Old, in spite of how you've phrased it, I think it is her behaviour just as much as that of her son that presents a problem.

MatildaTheCat Tue 08-Dec-15 11:55:14

Very difficult. Bear in mind that ODD is a form of ASD which may help to understand some of his behaviours. Having said that he is well able to understand that it is wrong to be cruel to animals or to openly insult others. Your friend is probably both worn down and also slightly immune to it all as she gets it all the time. It sounds as if she does value your friendship which would mean she will be sad if it ends.

However, and a big however,mw hat does she bring to the friendship which is good for you? Not a lot from what you write. Maybe she is a fun aquaintance but not so much fun as a real friend. She has a partner so she isn't alone. I believe that if she is failing as a friend then you move on even if it is sad that her life is a bit of a car crash in some respects. That isn't your fault.

I very much doubt she wants to hear any views you have on parenting, she will think, 'how do you know if you haven't got kids?'. Even if it's glaringly obvious I think you have to keep your thought to yourself. So you either become distant and unavailable. Or you only see her alone and don't discuss her child. Or you tell her you can't be friends anymore because of the above.

I'm a coward so would go for distancing.

Good luck with the IVF.

ouryve Tue 08-Dec-15 11:58:47

Not at all, OldFarticus but you're right, he probably does pick up on your hostility.

Isetan Tue 08-Dec-15 14:18:28

His SN will represent a challenge for both him and his mother but it appears she's too busy distracting herself with married lovers and whirlwind romances, to really engage. The incidents you describe and your description of this child suggests you are the last person to be of any support. Her parental disengagement is harming her child and your main focus is him calling you fat.

If you really want to be supportive, stop making it about you.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 14:20:10

Thanks Matilda and everyone. I am indeed a coward so I will probably just continue to be very busy hmm and avoid the awkward conversation. I think that is the best way to preserve the friendship so that I can support her if the shit hits the fan.

And Matilda - you are so right. I feel like I "get" ASD somehow because my DN has a spectrum disorder, but I really struggle to understand how an otherwise bright 10 year old can display so little empathy towards others.

OldFarticus Tue 08-Dec-15 14:25:29

Isetan - as I said upthread, 30 minutes in a room with him would probably give you cause to reconsider how "supportive" I am. I am no Mother Theresa, but his behaviour is intolerable. I used the "fat" example because it is recent - but yes, I am disturbed that a pre-pubescent boy thinks that is an appropriate way to talk to ANY adult. There are many, many more examples of his behaviour that I could have used, including racist incidents at his school(s) on more than one occasion.

You're right - it's not about me and I could just walk away like most of her other friends. I was trying not to do that, hence starting the thread.

Handywoman Tue 08-Dec-15 14:28:41

It it were me I would keep distancing myself from this friend.

My opinion (and it's just that) is that s diagnosis of ODD is pretty meaningless. It's not really given over here as it's just a description of symptoms.

He clearly has needs that are unmet and his mum sounds a chaotic too. She probably also has an ASD. Both the mum and the kid need more help. But that's not your role.

NettleTea Tue 08-Dec-15 14:30:32

It may be PDA you are thinking about Matilda, not ODD, which is a behavioural issue, NOT an ASD one.
That said PDA is only just getting the attention it deserves and ODD and PDA can look quite similar from the outside.
Mother sounds as if she could have some kind of issues herself, but without someone who is really in the know it would be hard to say if she herself is on the spectrum or has a personality disorder. Or a combination of both.

Handywoman Tue 08-Dec-15 14:34:22

I reckon all these diagnoses will eventually come under the umbrella of ASD. PDA is just ASD as far as I'm concerned.
<brain freeze>
As you were...

cece Tue 08-Dec-15 14:46:47

As a mother of a son with ADHD and ODD I think you should distance yourself. You clearly don't want to be supportive anymore.

It is extremely isolating to have a child who's behaviour leads to people making judgements about your parenting. Luckily for me I have friends who understand just how difficult it can be. Many of them see me without my DS. That's fine. I understand but would feel deeply hurt if they didn't want to see me because of my DS behaviour.

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