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Holding on to the end of the rope; life in the bunker with the Po Ts, where parenting a teen is having an adverse effect on our mental health

(998 Posts)
Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 08:31:14

With thanks to Billybagpuss for inspiration for the title and to Ticklingcheese and many other parents of teens who are emerging from the worst, or currently going through it, this is a support thread for parents who are being driven to despair by their teens. It is a continuation of this previous thread where many of us clubbed together to exchange experiences, possible strategies and understanding of what can be a very draining, isolating and distressing time for all!

Tin hats on everybody for round two! smile

mcmen71 Mon 13-May-19 08:40:11

Thanks @pegs for starting new thread hope we can all continue to post
Good luck to all students and parents starting exams.

Xeroxarama Mon 13-May-19 09:21:18

Shiny new grumbles! Good luck examinees. I am finding sleeping really hard after yet another evening with horrible insults- it sets my heart racing and I can ‘t settle down. I’m doing a good job of staying calm in the moment though.

billybagpuss Mon 13-May-19 09:31:14

Morning all

Whattodofgs Mon 13-May-19 09:53:16

Morning all, nearly have one school refuser in school. Just need to work on the other one.

Thanks Peg for thread

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 10:18:52

Waves to McMen71

Oh and I forgot to thank TheGodmother for our group name, the PO Ts grin

I should probably also explain that the "holding on to the end of the rope" reference comes from Billybagpuss's post at 01/04/2019 15:09 in the previous thread linked above which quotes a letter from "a" teenager who entreats us parents to stay solid and strong and hang in there while they thrash about and fight the line as they make the difficult transition to adulthood.

Several other helpful things emerged from the previous thread. First, so many of us are experiencing the same challenges or extraordinarily similar behaviour from our teens, in all sorts of different households and circumstances, that it can't all be down to poor parenting, despite what a tiny fraction of posters tried to tell us! smile So, whilst acknowledging our own mistakes and less than perfect parenting, and trying to find solutions and expert guidance, we also need to try and ditch the guilt and feelings of failure.

Second, we feel isolated because there is a tendency for parents of teens not to share the difficulties they are going through in rl, as openly as they would about a toddler or baby.

Third , it is evident there isn't as much state help available for teens as required, CAMHS for example is very over-stretched and under-resourced.

Also, it was suggested by some posters distancing ourselves from the very personal remarks and being slightly less "available" can be helpful and Tarragonsauce (25/03/2019 17:04 ) said that picking our battles, addressing our own symptoms, keeping in mind (with reference to school non-attendance, exam failure, bf issues) that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and remembering that "this too shall pass" can be helpful strategies.

Daintytoes explained an extremely helpful model of parent-child interaction at 07/04/2019 23:O6

And Corona posted a helpful guardian article at 05/04/2019. 09: 19

And last but definitely not least, thank you to each and every contributor to the first thread. I don't think I have ever read a Mumsnet thread that was so heartfelt and where each
poster was so helpful, all at the same time! Most of all, it's just so great to feel we are not alone flowers

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 10:21:41

X post waves to Xerox Billy Whattodfgs (great news!) smile

Ticklingcheese Mon 13-May-19 10:26:23

Thanks for new thread pegs.
Wishing you all good luck with exams and hopefully a peaceful week 😀.

Just had a mother's day from heaven yesterday, wish I could send you some of that good karma. There is hope 🥰.

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 10:29:17

NB I realise I haven't addressed the very real and distressing issues of alcohol, drugs, self-harm and serious mh problems in thread "summary" below, partly because I didn't want to mention any particular poster and partly because my e-mail has been down recently and I haven't checked to see if there has been a reply to our request to Mumsnet HQ for a web chat with experts in these fields. Going to get that sorted this morning.

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 10:32:39

Aw that's great to hear Tickling! smile

<wafts good karma around thread>

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 10:48:22

Argh, sorry, don't know how I have forgotten this (menopausal fog really kicking in today), what I meant to say in last point of "summary" below, very importantly, was to thank all the posters like Tickling and Billy and so many others who have "come through the other side" and taken the time to come on here and give us hope that things will be ok in the end flowers Thank you!

And the point about the guardian article referenced below that it contained a very useful nugget about "listen to the emotional content" behind the words, which I personally have found very helpful.

Wish all of that had been contained in one more cogent post, but never mind blush

Right you lot, I'm leaving you to it and and am off to sort my tech issues! Hope the week is as stress-free as possible, given that exams are afoot!

Ticklingcheese Mon 13-May-19 10:56:16

pegs 😂🤣
At this rate, you will get to thread 3 in no time.
Have a lovely day.

MrsBlondie Mon 13-May-19 11:30:20

Hello all, a lurker and a reader with a 13 year old boy who has turned very hard work in the last 6 months (I hate you, worst parents in the world etc etc).
How old are all your teen's? Reading other thread I fear I have years of this ahead of me and not sure I can cope :-(. All friends don't seem to have any trouble, all have the perfect 13 year old boys.

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 11:43:01

grin grin Tickling don't worry I'm going to give the bird brain a rest now and back away now and drink gin leave everyone to it! grin

Have cranked up the old main frame and kicked it in to shape. *No e-mail from Mumsnet HQ as yet about *Xerox's idea of a webchat though. Here's hoping!

Pegsinarow Mon 13-May-19 11:46:18

But, while I am here wink welcome MrsBlondie! It varies so much, that the best advice is to take it day by day I think and try not to worry too much about the future! And as mentioned previously, other parents will be starting to experience problems, you are not alone, they just aren't talking about it flowers

notontopofthings Mon 13-May-19 13:24:49

Pegs Young Minds might be a good organisation to tap up for a webchat. Another poster on MN recommended them to me, and I had a 1-2-1 with a consultant which helped a bit.

Blondie I suspect very few families are perfect!

TeenTimesTwo Mon 13-May-19 13:45:01

I've only been dipping in and out, as my DD1's issues seem a bit different from others, and I don't really have anything useful to add.
But this thread is definitely helping me feel less alone.

Also, DD1 (19), having been off work with back problems for 8 months, has started a new job today. Fingers crossed.

billybagpuss Mon 13-May-19 14:19:27

Dear Parent:

This is the letter that I wish I could write.

This fight we are in right now. I need it. I need this fight. I can’t tell you this because I don’t have the language for it and it wouldn’t make sense anyway. But I need this fight. Badly. I need to hate you right now and I need you to survive it. I need you to survive my hating you and you hating me. I need this fight even though I hate it too. It doesn’t matter what this fight is even about: curfew, homework, laundry, my messy room, going out, staying in, leaving, not leaving, boyfriend, girlfriend, no friends, bad friends. It doesn’t matter. I need to fight you on it and I need you to fight me back.

I desperately need you to hold the other end of the rope. To hang on tightly while I thrash on the other end—while I find the handholds and footholds in this new world I feel like I am in. I used to know who I was, who you were, who we were. But right now I don’t. Right now I am looking for my edges and I can sometimes only find them when I am pulling on you. When I push everything I used to know to its edge. Then I feel like I exist and for a minute I can breathe. I know you long for the sweeter kid that I was. I know this because I long for that kid too, and some of that longing is what is so painful for me right now.

I need this fight and I need to see that no matter how bad or big my feelings are—they won’t destroy you or me. I need you to love me even at my worst, even when it looks like I don’t love you. I need you to love yourself and me for the both of us right now. I know it sucks to be disliked and labeled the bad guy. I feel the same way on the inside, but I need you to tolerate it and get other grownups to help you. Because I can’t right now. If you want to get all of your grown up friends together and have a ‘surviving-your-teenager-support-group-rage-fest’ that’s fine with me. Or talk about me behind my back--I don’t care. Just don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on this fight. I need it.

This is the fight that will teach me that my shadow is not bigger than my light. This is the fight that will teach me that bad feelings don’t mean the end of a relationship. This is the fight that will teach me how to listen to myself, even when it might disappoint others.

And this particular fight will end. Like any storm, it will blow over. And I will forget and you will forget. And then it will come back. And I will need you to hang on to the rope again. I will need this over and over for years.

I know there is nothing inherently satisfying in this job for you. I know I will likely never thank you for it or even acknowledge your side of it. In fact I will probably criticize you for all this hard work. It will seem like nothing you do will be enough. And yet, I am relying entirely on your ability to stay in this fight. No matter how much I argue. No matter how much I sulk. No matter how silent I get.

Please hang on to the other end of the rope. And know that you are doing the most important job that anyone could possibly be doing for me right now.

Love, Your Teenager

billybagpuss Mon 13-May-19 14:20:00

Just thought I'd repost the poem so the title makes sense to any newcomers.

billybagpuss Mon 13-May-19 14:30:16

@Mrsblondie, you never know what goes on behind closed doors, I can pretty much guarantee what you are going through with your DS some of his friends are going through too.

One of the biggest issues with handling teens is no one talks about it, it is this massive taboo to admit that your teen is less than perfect, because ultimately if you admit you are struggling with the behaviour of your teen, on some level you are afraid that it is your fault, it is a result of your parenting. The previous thread was derailed for a while by a smug poster saying, 'my teens would never behave like that because I taught them to do their own laundry' this is rubbish the one thing the previous thread taught me is it is not your fault (my fault). My kids are early 20's now and they have always been good kids, but we had a few years where they were struggling and I took the brunt of it. It hurts and this thread has helped me forgive and move on so much.

@teentimestwo hope the new job goes well.

Good luck to all with the exam period.

Tinkobell Mon 13-May-19 14:35:12

What a lovely thread and wise words, thank you! Just what I needed 😁 Love the thrashing on the end of a line analogy. My poor DH and I are doing mental gymnastics ATM with a 16 and 17YO. It's bloody knackering. About a week back I blamed myself for DD's woes, but now I don't and am starting to step back a bit and observe the phase!

vjg13 Mon 13-May-19 14:58:13

Thanks for the new thread Pegs <bare-faced placemark!> smile

Parsley65 Mon 13-May-19 15:24:46

Yes, thank you Pegs and all the other regulars who are helping to keep me sane throughout my DD's turbulent teens for the past months!

She has her first GCSE tomorrow...

When she first started self harming a couple of years ago I was very reluctant to talk to anyone about it. As far as I knew, none of of my friends teens had gone through any angst and were all sailing along in calm waters.

Then I remembered many years ago how I'd broken the news about a miscarriage and by talking about it the floodgates opened and suddenly several other people were telling me all about their experiences.

This gave me courage to broach the subject about DD's MH problems and I've been very surprised at how many other seemingly perfect families have stories to tell. Then there are the friends who don't have any experience, but have been very supportive of me.
It has been a very tough time for us, but DD has been taking her AD's regularly and there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Good luck to all other parents - especially those on the exam treadmill
flowers

Waterandlemonjuice Mon 13-May-19 15:46:53

I’ve just skimmed the last thread and so much of it resonates. I have one child at university and a teen at home. She is mostly not hard work at all but has had MH issues (self harming) so that’s been tough. The one at university was v v v hard though and whoever said on the other thread that a bit of them dies every time there’s another drama, that’s how we felt for a long time.

Waterandlemonjuice Mon 13-May-19 15:48:53

@Parsley65 - when I talked to friends about self harming it seemed very many had some experience. A friend who volunteers for The Samaritans says it is so common that they have a tick box on their firms for it, it’s completely usual rather than unusual 😰

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