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they have broken me and I don't know how to carry on

(66 Posts)
exasperatedemma Tue 15-Jan-13 17:17:34

I have two teens - DS 16 and DD 14, who have won. I don't have the strength to carry on. If I hadn't had a glass of wine last night, I would have got in the car and driven. anywhere, checked into a hotel, anything just to run away. At the moment, I still want to go. last night I just went for a walk around the block to calm down. didn't work. luckily my very supportive husband was at home. when I write this is sounds pathetic, but I can't cope with the daily conflict in our house. mostly over the tech - our simple rules are that no phones/ipods etc at mealtimes, or after 9.30pm or during homework. They never comply. this results in daily conflict, every day. We have tried doing zero tolerence, eg if phones etc aren't put down at certain time then they get confiscated for the following day. very hard to do in practice as first I have to get them off them and short of having a wrestling match, I can't get them. they hide them. they are obsessed and addicted. we row about it all the time. I can't see how to change it. last time we tried being firm, my daughter didn't come home and the police had to find her. I know this sounds like they have control over me, and they do. I just don't know how to get it back.

jessabell Wed 16-Jan-13 19:40:40

Son is fourteen. We take everything off him laptop/xbox/tablet. When we go to bed. he's allowed them on friday/saturday night. Daughter spent hours on it in first year of college. Disappointed with grades. Seen a difference recently. She leaves it downstairs now. Finds facebook boring. Eldest now at uni can not be without phone. Does not go on facebook as much now.

mathanxiety Thu 17-Jan-13 02:08:25

Cory -- wishing you courage and strength.

flow4 Thu 17-Jan-13 23:38:14

I will come back and answer you again emma, when I can... I have been thinking ... Had a difficult week with my own DS, so haven't quite had the energy to come to any conclusions (wise or otherwise!)

exasperatedemma Fri 18-Jan-13 09:39:11

thank you flow 4, hope things resolve with your DS.

febel Fri 18-Jan-13 18:48:29

Can I just put in my half pennyworth..and it's not a solution...but would just say I work with post 16s and we have trouble with some of them because they are used to being on laptops/x-boxes etc and are not regulated at all. Consequence is they are exhausted and can't concetrate in class. One lad was appalling the other day...and i found he'd got up at 3AM to play x-box live until he came in. Can't be right....

flow4 Sat 19-Jan-13 12:44:21

Hi emma, thanks for your good wishes. smile It wasn't a big deal with my DS - he was just being an arse!

I've been thinking about you on-and-off all week... I think the 'technology issue' is almost beside the point, to be honest. It sounds to me like you are struggling badly and totally miserable - your title shows me clearly how bad you feel. sad I have been at that point, and I do know how awful it is, and I really feel for you.

You say you "don't know how to carry on", and that's the phrase that's been going round my head, so I'll try to address it, and suggest a possible way forward... smile

I think the key may be to take the focus off your kids for a little while, and prioritise you. I know this sounds shockingly neglectful, and no doubt many people will disagree with me, but it sounds to me like you are exhausted and your self-esteem is rock-bottom, and IMO no-one can parent effectively when they're in that sort of state. Teenagers scent weakness like a pack of hyenas are not generally known for their kindness, empathy and compassionhmm so you can end up feeling like a total failure - and that is what I am hearing from you.

So (if you think I might be right) what I suggest is this...

- Do go away by yourself if you possibly can. You talked about wanting to, so try to make it happen... A visit to a friend, a spa stay, a youth hostel, a B&B by the sea... Whatever takes your fancy grin... Just two or three nights, or even just one if guilt gets the better of you or more if you can get away with it! Everyone needs to recharge their batteries, and yours are almost flat. You owe it to yourself, and (ironically enough) to your kids.

- Whether or not you can get away, start to do things for yourself regularly. A very wise and experienced health visitor once said to me that "Children are happy if their mums are happy" - and I think that's true. Also, looking after teens often takes a huge amount of energy, and can be really horrible, and make you feel rubbish - but you can sort of 'balance out' some of the shit by doing nice things for yourself. Over the years I have come to think that looking after yourself is not a luxury for the parent of a teen, but a survival essential. So do some things you enjoy, that will make you laugh or relax - a swim, a walk, a sauna, a coffee with friends, a comedy club - whatever makes you happy! every day is best; every week is essential. I honestly think that any mother of teenagers who doesn't do something nice for themselves at least once a week will become miserable, and probably ill.

- Find someone to talk to about how you're feeling. I really recommend counselling. You can ask your GP to refer you. Some people see this as a sign of weakness, but personally I see it as a sign of strength to recognise your own limits and get some support when you get near to them.

- There is an old saying: you can't control anyone else's behaviour and reactions, but you can control yours. I have found it incredibly useful to remember that with my own DSes. In emotionally-charged/difficult/conflict situations, teenagers tend to behave so dramatically that all your attention is drawn towards them. As an experiment, try focussing on your own reactions instead. I try to behave in the way I would have chosen to behave even if they weren't screaming or carrying on. I don't always manage it hmm grin but when I do, the results are great! I feel calmer and more in control, and often handle the whole situation better.

- Also, learn to detach from what your kids are saying. It feels incredibly personal, but it isn't. It's aimed at you because you're there, and because they trust you to keep loving you even if they're horrible the little buggers . hmm confused When one of them screams abuse at you, learn to say (as calmly as poss!) "Oh please don't speak to me like that". When your DD gets hysterical at night, learn to say "Oh dear, you're upset. I hope you feel better in the morning darling" and walk away!

- Have you come across this book ? If not, I'd recommend it. It doesn't tell you what to do; instead, it tries to explain what goes on inside teenagers' heads! I found it interesting and useful smile

Good luck! And remember, however difficult it feels, it will pass, and one day they'll grow up! grin

exasperatedemma Sat 19-Jan-13 17:08:10

febel-I share your view, I just know that if I let my DS and DD have their tech in their bedrooms at night, they just don't have the self control to leave it to one side and go to sleep. Given that they have it from about 7am when they wake up, to 9.30pm at night, I think that not having at bedtime is no hardship - they need their sleep. The reason we try and get them to put it down at 9.30pm is to give them enough time to get the stuff out of their heads so that they are calm enough to sleep. but it is SO tough to do.

exasperatedemma Sat 19-Jan-13 17:13:51

flow4 - I'm going to print out your post and refer to it when I feel weak! your advice is sound, and yes I do fantasize about booking into a seaside B&B and walking for miles! I think I have allowed myself to get sucked into the drama and certainly do need to learn to detach a bit - I will remember your words when the hysterics occur late at night! I did have about 5 months of counselling last year when I realised that whilst I wouldn't be able to persuade my DD to have counselling (this was during a long period of very irrational behaviour and threats of suicide from her) that perhaps I would benefit. It was very good and I finished it in September, things had been pretty good since then but have deteriorated over the last month. Perhaps I need to go back to counselling. I do have that book - need to re-read it I think! thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to help.

flow4 Sat 19-Jan-13 17:34:12

You're welcome emma. Glad it's useful. smile

AnyFucker Sat 19-Jan-13 17:50:07

wow, flow you are damn good grin

flow4 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:20:51

Blimey AnyFucker, I'm flattered! grin

mathanxiety Sat 19-Jan-13 21:36:56

Terrific post, Flow. I second every word of it.

Mama -- if anyone threatens suicide, you would be wise to call for an ambulance and let the staff in the A&E decide how to deal with her. Suicide threats that someone has no intention of carrying out are the height of disrespectful and bad behaviour. Suicide threats that are real need sorting out by professionals.

It is very hard for anyone lacking professional training to tell the difference and absolutely unfair for a teen to expect a parent to deal with it, plus unrealistic for a parent to try to deal with it herself or himself. Therefore the ambulance to A&E is the way to go.

marriedinwhite Sat 19-Jan-13 21:55:58

That's a lovely post Flow4. We all need to keep it and read it when they are driving us to distraction. Mine do all the time although I love them to bits. My DS knew every dodgy shopkeeper who would sell fags and booze to under aged kids South of the Thames. He's 18 now.

I don't think it matters where you are, who you are, or what you do - they find the buttons to press and bells to pull.

ElectricSheep Sat 19-Jan-13 23:17:25

That's very very good advice Math.

Suicidal feelings can stem from serious mental health problems and cannot be addressed by parents on their own.

As math says it can be hard to work out the difference between serious problems and dramatic overstatement with a teen - and it may be that the teen themselves aren't too sure how serious they are. But I too would err on the side of caution and get professional help.

cory Sun 20-Jan-13 10:49:28

slight hijack: thanks for kind messages, marriedinwhite and mathanxiety; dd is now out of hospital and we will pick ourselves up and start again

back to OP:

I do hope you are feeling better now, emma. Flow is absolutely right that you must find time somehow to look after yourself. Is there any way you actually could dump your dds and get away for a few days? Any way you can plan me-time into the week? Even if it's something small. I've just had two days in bed after a minor op and even that small amount of cosseting has made a big difference to my resilience- and also to family dynamics! Somehow we needed to get it established that I am allowed to have needs too- even if our whole world is breaking down around us. It's far too easy for the family to get used to the idea of mummy as a piece of equipment that simply doesn't need any servicing.

flow4 Sun 20-Jan-13 11:29:37

Blimey cory: "mummy as a piece of equipment that simply doesn't need any servicing." is absolutely chilling... And spot-on. sad

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