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AIBU?

In thinking that I crossed a line and I'm a monster?

41 replies

ARealMicrowave · 28/09/2022 00:39

Sorry for the long post. I just feel like I need to get this out.

Some background: I have a 9 year-old daughter who has ADHD and is incredibly defiant. You can tell her the sky is blue and she will insist that NO, it's actually yellow, even if you show her as much evidence as possible. She's been refusing to go to school in the morning lately, and we've been working with her teacher and the school counselor to get her situation figured out. We're also finally having her start in therapy to see if we can get some insight into what's going on with her and see if it helps her mood swings and overall defiant attitude towards life. It's all been incredibly stressful for our entire family.

Normally she and I get along pretty well, though we've had our moments of power struggles because we're both headstrong and tend to dig our heels in in challenging situations. That being said, I've done my best to always be as patient with her as I can and try to understand where she's coming from, especially because she's just a kid and I'm the adult, so it's on me to model how she should be acting. I also always do my best to always apologize if I overstep or overreact.

I also grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive household with a father who basically seemed to hate me. When I became a parent, I vowed to NEVER talk to anyone the way I was talked to and to never lay a finger on my child no matter how frustrated or angry I got.

Now for the situation that led me to create this post - A few weeks ago we came home after being on vacation for a few days, and we were all pretty exhausted from traveling and just all of the vacation activities (plus all of the people at the hotel where we were staying). That evening, we were getting situated for bedtime and I was asking her to brush her teeth and get ready for bed like I always do. Normally, she puts up a little bit of a fight but eventually gives in because I start to joke with her or do a dance for her to convince her to brush her teeth. This night, however, she was being extra defiant and just stood at the mirror repeating "No" over and over and over again. At one point she stomped her feet while repeatedly saying "No" and shaking her head.

After about 10 minutes of that, something inside me just finally snapped. I raised my voice at her and said "Fine! Then it's time to go to bed without brushing your teeth!", and I grabbed her under her arms, lifted her up, and tried to carry her to her room. After a few seconds she was yelling "Stop! Put me down! You're hurting me!", and I let her go. As soon as I did, she immediately started crying and ran to my spouse. I felt HORRIBLE the moment I realized what had happened - Her arms and shoulders were sore because she'd been swimming a lot, and I completely didn't think about it because I was so frustrated with the situation. By grabbing her the way I did, it put pressure on those sore spots. I absolutely did NOT intend to hurt her, and getting physical in that way is not something that normally happens in these situations. Normally I'm good about taking a breath and walking away to not let the situation turn into a time bomb.I have never struck/hit her, shaken her, or anything like that. I've carried her to her room for a timeout a few times when she was acting out (which is where my head was going in this situation), but I don't even believe in spanking as a reasonable punishment! It was just so out of character for me.

For the rest of the night I beat myself up. I got so frustrated that I ended up burying my head in my bed and punching the mattress a couple of times (also not a normal thing for me to do). Eventually we all calmed down and I apologized to her and told her that I absolutely overreacted. The worst part is that she started apologizing to me because I was sad, and I told her that it was not at all her fault and that I should have kept my emotions and response under control better in the situation. I ultimately ended up sleeping on the couch because I wanted to give my spouse and child some space away from me. I've vowed to myself to just walk away next time no matter what, even if it feels like I'm "losing" the battle, because I don't ever want to put myself in a situation again where I could potentially hurt my child or cause them some sort of trauma.

As I said, it's been a few weeks and I'm still really beating myself up because I feel like I abused my daughter. I'm also meeting with a new therapist, and I'm afraid that if I bring up this situation to talk about it that they'll call child protective services because of the incident (in the US therapists are mandatory reporters if they suspect abuse). It's really been eating at me because this is not the kind of parent I normally am nor is it the kind of parent that I want to be, but it feels like I crossed a line and I'm having a really hard time figuring out how to come back from it and see myself as anything other than an abusive monster.

OP posts:
WallaceinAnderland · 28/09/2022 00:46

That does not sound like abusive behaviour to me. I don't think you have anything to apologise for but if you felt you needed to, that is done now. It's over and time to move on. Next time, if she refuses, just walk away until she's ready to co-operate. No point trying to man handle kids anyway as one day they will be too big, so you need other ways to resolve differences.

KeepOutingMyselfAnotherNameChange · 28/09/2022 00:54

Forgive yourself op she is fine. My son was a changed child when he started adhd medication. He only started them his gcse year as i didn't want to medicate my child but I wish he would have started them earlier.

Aus84 · 28/09/2022 00:55

Gosh you’re hard on yourself. Agree with above poster, doesn’t sound abusive, just human.

ARealMicrowave · 28/09/2022 00:57

WallaceinAnderland · 28/09/2022 00:46

That does not sound like abusive behaviour to me. I don't think you have anything to apologise for but if you felt you needed to, that is done now. It's over and time to move on. Next time, if she refuses, just walk away until she's ready to co-operate. No point trying to man handle kids anyway as one day they will be too big, so you need other ways to resolve differences.

Thank you for saying that.

I absolutely agree about not trying to manhandle them, and 99% of the time it wouldn't have even crossed my mind (mostly because I feel old now and picking her up is a chore anyway). I just lost my cool in the moment because I was exhausted and just needed her to cooperate for 5 minutes after a long trip. But I also recognize that I should have handled the situation differently, and in the future I plan to just walk away and take a few minutes to calm down before re-engaging.

OP posts:
Thedogscollar · 28/09/2022 00:58

@ARealMicrowave
Gosh you are being way too hard on yourself here. I have a child who has ADHD so I know exactly where you are coming from. He is 22 now but was diagnosed age 6/7.
You really did not abuse your child please cut yourself a lot of slack, it is extremely hard work parenting an ADHD child.
Like you I loved my son unconditionally still do but we are only human and need to decompress too.
You sound like a amazing Mum doing a fantastic job. ⚘

Peashoots · 28/09/2022 00:59

Op you sound actually really over the top yourself. Screaming and punching a mattress? I get being overwhelmed and emotions are heightened in situations like this but calm down. You picked her up and caused her harmless discomfort, not nice but she won’t die.
honestly it probably won’t do your daughter any harm to see the impact her behaviour has on you. It sounds like she actually considered her behaviour and felt empathy, and apologised to you. Not a bad thing is it ?

Discovereads · 28/09/2022 01:01

I agree, that wasn’t abuse. You had no intent to hurt her, picking her up would boot normally hurt her and as soon as she told you stop because it hurt, you stopped and apologised. No therapist is going to call social services on you for suspected abuse.

The aftermath is more problematic…punching a mattress, sleeping on the sofa,- I think you need to explore in therapy why you think perfection is the minimum.

On a side note, ADHD doesn’t usually cause defiance…have you considered Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Even if your DD doesn’t have this disorder, there are tons of parenting resources with tips you can use to handle her defiance. ( Occasional defiance is normal). One I found very useful was to always present things as a choice to the child so they can exert control over things. So, in a bedtime routine, you’d say “Would you like a bedtime story before or after you brush your teeth?” “Do you want your blue PJs or the purple ones?” “Which toys are taking a Bath with you tonight?” “Time to put shoes on….Wellies or trainers?” Strangely this usually works really well….

ARealMicrowave · 28/09/2022 01:03

Peashoots · 28/09/2022 00:59

Op you sound actually really over the top yourself. Screaming and punching a mattress? I get being overwhelmed and emotions are heightened in situations like this but calm down. You picked her up and caused her harmless discomfort, not nice but she won’t die.
honestly it probably won’t do your daughter any harm to see the impact her behaviour has on you. It sounds like she actually considered her behaviour and felt empathy, and apologised to you. Not a bad thing is it ?

I don't disagree with you. Looking back at the situation, my response was WAY over the top, and again, it's not something I would normally ever find myself doing.

OP posts:
ARealMicrowave · 28/09/2022 01:06

Discovereads · 28/09/2022 01:01

I agree, that wasn’t abuse. You had no intent to hurt her, picking her up would boot normally hurt her and as soon as she told you stop because it hurt, you stopped and apologised. No therapist is going to call social services on you for suspected abuse.

The aftermath is more problematic…punching a mattress, sleeping on the sofa,- I think you need to explore in therapy why you think perfection is the minimum.

On a side note, ADHD doesn’t usually cause defiance…have you considered Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Even if your DD doesn’t have this disorder, there are tons of parenting resources with tips you can use to handle her defiance. ( Occasional defiance is normal). One I found very useful was to always present things as a choice to the child so they can exert control over things. So, in a bedtime routine, you’d say “Would you like a bedtime story before or after you brush your teeth?” “Do you want your blue PJs or the purple ones?” “Which toys are taking a Bath with you tonight?” “Time to put shoes on….Wellies or trainers?” Strangely this usually works really well….

I agree that the aftermath is incredibly problematic, and honestly it's embarrassing and shameful for me to admit it even happened. It's not something I would normally ever do (I don't even think about punching pillows or whatever else), but I think my brain went haywire because of the stress of the whole situation. That being said, I think my perfectionism comes from being from an abusive household myself, so anytime the behavior even approaches what I think crosses a line I tend to be really hard on myself.

For the ODD question - Yes, we've considered it and we're hoping to chat with my daughter's therapist about that once she meets with them. Normally just taking a different tone with her or making it a "game" seems to help, but that night she was not having it at all.

OP posts:
CactusBlossom · 28/09/2022 01:07

The worst part is that she started apologizing to me because I was sad, and I told her that it was not at all her fault and that I should have kept my emotions and response under control better in the situation.

You were not being abusive - you were at the end of your tether. You were asking her to brush her teeth and she refused to do so (more than once). If she had brushed her teeth, none of this would have happened. At 9 years old, she should be able to brush her teeth without being instructed to do so, and certainly without being difficult about it. OK, you could have responded in a less emotional way, but this was the proverbial last straw. The fact that she apologized to you seems to indicate that she knew she played a part in this. Please don't beat yourself up about it. Next time, you could ask her to brush her teeth once, and if she refuses, say "suit yourself", then disengage. If she realises there is no mileage in it, that might have the desired effect. You've cut her a lot of slack - give yourself a break!

TheWideningGyre · 28/09/2022 01:08

@ARealMicrowave I have a daughter with ASD.

When she was young my husband was away for three nights with work. I'd been up and down all night putting her back to bed.

I was exhausted.

She called me again and I went up.and she was smearing excrement all over her wall.

When I laid her down to clean it and her up, she kicked me in the face.

And I nipped her really hard under her arm. I absolutely did it on purpose.

It was the first and last time I ever did anything like that. But I did do it.

A decade later I still think about it.

I've never done anything similar since and she's now doing very well!

I do think that one day she'll maybe bring it up in therapy, and I'll never deny it if she does.

At the time though I just didn't have any other response. I was completely spent. There was very little left of me but an instinctual violence.

'Please stop doing that to.me'.

Retrospectively, my nip was minor and actually helped us both, because is made me realise that I wasn't coping and it made me able to ask for help.


So see this is a line, that's now been crossed, for yourself. Ask for help.

Nymeria6 · 28/09/2022 01:15

You honestly sound like you're doing a wonderful job. Don't give yourself a hard time. You didn't abuse her at all. Hope you and your family are OK.

Summerfun54321 · 28/09/2022 01:38

You are human too and you have your own emotions and do things wrong yourself sometimes. No one is perfect. It’s fine for your daughter to learn that.

SpidersAreShitheads · 28/09/2022 02:18

I think what might help you OP is to consider what your reaction might be if another parent told you this story. If this wasn’t you, how would you judge the mother? I think you’d see that she did nothing wrong, accidentally causing her child momentary discomfort. By accident. Immediately reacting as soon as she realised. Could she have handled the situation better? Yes. But that doesn’t make her a monster. Every single parent in this world has had times when they could have handled something better. No harm done. And actually it turned into a learning experience for your daughter.

But you need to consider your response. No one needed “space from you”. And actually it won’t help your daughter to see you modelling that kind of self destructive attitude. I meant this kindly.

I am autistic and have adhd. I have two autistic/adhd children. It’s hard at times. Trust us all here when we tell you you’re not abusive or a monster. Show yourself the same love you’re showing to your daughter. You deserve kindness too.

SpidersAreShitheads · 28/09/2022 02:19

Ps - agree with exploring ODD or maybe even a Co-diagnosis of autism/PDA. It presents very differently in girls.

scarletisjustred · 28/09/2022 02:22

My eldest has ASD. He used to have mega tantrums as a young child. My husband used to try to jolly him out of them and they got worse and worse. (I don't think he was so far gone that he'd do a dance though.) I eventually lowered the boom on my husband and told him that all his behaviour had contributed to a child who was a spoilt brat and we were going to do it my way. As soon as he started we walked away. It's not much fun rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming if nobody takes the slightest interest. The incidence of tantrums decreased remarkably.

My younger ADHD child has always been remarkably easy going. I agree with the posters who said this didnt sound like ADHD.

Mariposista · 28/09/2022 06:43

You’re not a bad person. You were pushed to the limit by your child’s dreadful behavior. You’re human.

Sciurus83 · 28/09/2022 07:34

It wasn't your finest parenting hour but we've all had those times where we've not responded as our best self and it certainly wasn't abusive and you really don't need to be punching things and putting yourself through the ringer like this. You're not your father, this wasn't abuse and you recovered from it fine, let it go.

newtb · 28/09/2022 07:38

The défiance and having to make things a game sounds like PDA. Might be worth having a look at the PDA society website.

AngeloMysterioso · 28/09/2022 07:43

All you did was pick her up, OP. Stop being so hard on yourself.

Suzi888 · 28/09/2022 07:48

CactusBlossom · 28/09/2022 01:07

The worst part is that she started apologizing to me because I was sad, and I told her that it was not at all her fault and that I should have kept my emotions and response under control better in the situation.

You were not being abusive - you were at the end of your tether. You were asking her to brush her teeth and she refused to do so (more than once). If she had brushed her teeth, none of this would have happened. At 9 years old, she should be able to brush her teeth without being instructed to do so, and certainly without being difficult about it. OK, you could have responded in a less emotional way, but this was the proverbial last straw. The fact that she apologized to you seems to indicate that she knew she played a part in this. Please don't beat yourself up about it. Next time, you could ask her to brush her teeth once, and if she refuses, say "suit yourself", then disengage. If she realises there is no mileage in it, that might have the desired effect. You've cut her a lot of slack - give yourself a break!

^ Agree with this

Fullsomefrenchie · 28/09/2022 07:48

Yes of course it’s abuse. You can’t physically do that. Stunned folks are saying there there hun it’s not abuse. But it doesn’t mean you’re an abusive person. It was one episode of it.

however all the drama around it , the punching your pillow. Sleeping downstairs will also have been damaging. You need to work with your therapist on how you can control your anger better.

ItsNotReallyChaos · 28/09/2022 07:53

But your response is still way over the top now.

I'd look at putting things in place so that you don't have to play silly games every day to get your DD to do necessary everyday tasks.

Yes, you have to be mindful of ADHD but don't make allowances for behaviour to the extent that you don't have good boundaries. You think you're being kind but as a parent we have to think about our job to prepare them for life.

I think you deserve to find the time to speak to a therapist as you've had years of making a superhuman effort to be a perfect parent and the level to which you're beating yourself up about this small incident weeks down the line isn't ok. You have to look after yourself as well.

Parenting with the aim of just keeping our children happy and avoiding upset at all costs isn't always the best plan.

10HailMarys · 28/09/2022 10:12

I grabbed her under her arms, lifted her up, and tried to carry her to her room. After a few seconds she was yelling "Stop! Put me down! You're hurting me!", and I let her go. As soon as I did, she immediately started crying and ran to my spouse. I felt HORRIBLE the moment I realized what had happened - Her arms and shoulders were sore because she'd been swimming a lot, and I completely didn't think about it because I was so frustrated with the situation. By grabbing her the way I did, it put pressure on those sore spots.

I think your daughter was being a drama queen to be honest. Putting pressure on sore muscles is really not something that warrants that level of reaction.

You were at the end of your tether, her behaviour is exceptionally challenging and you did not do anything abusive. No parent is perfect. You need to move past this.

ClappyFats · 28/09/2022 10:16

Be kind to yourself. At times I have felt like stuffing my DS up the chimney! You've done nothing to beat yourself up over at all and this type of hand-wringing parenting isn't going to serve your daughter well as you move forward. She may well have ODD or other challenges, but you're human and you are allowed to model that too!

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