This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

When an Adult Child Moves Out

Kitty has decided to move in with her boyfriend. I know it will not last (her relationship with him is already volatile) and she already feels guilty about moving in with a boy (emotionally she is still only 12, despite being in a 23 yo body). I believe this will end in the same way as when she runs to biofamily {Running to Birth Family} -- the second she moves out, the grass will be greener on our side of the fence. At most, she's made it 4 months with biofamily. I'm suspecting this will last at most 6 months, probably less.

In addition to providing us some much-needed respite, my current thought is that this may actually help. She has been fighting to get off her medications so that she no longer needs Medicaid because she wants off SSI {Getting SSI for an Adult Child}.

She feels like I am controlling her (which I am because she is legally a disabled person who is unable to handle more than the most basic care for herself). I've made it very clear that she needs to stay on SSI to keep Medicaid so she can afford doctor appointments and her medications (without insurance the meds alone would cost over $1K a month).

She desperately wants to be "normal," and to her, that means being able to spend her money how she wants to and do whatever she wants to do. The main problem is, she has no concept of money, budgeting, saving...

She is not able to fill out even the most basic forms (insurance being a big one). She does not have the ability to hold more than a part-time job. (She currently works 15-20 hours a week at $8.50 an hour). She cannot drive

When I try to explain budgeting and the costs of living independently, especially if she no longer receives any income from SSI, she just says she'll get a full-time job or 3 part-time jobs. It's like having an argument with a 2-year-old. Reality does not compute.

I decided I would tell her that a condition of her moving in with him is that we all sit down and discuss her circumstances. under the guise of discussing her budget. Since she's actually fairly compliant and I control her SSI money, I can do that.

I decided to create a list of points I feel need to be discussed.

A mom from a Facebook group for parenting young adults with FASD, made some awesome suggestions about how to handle this discussion, and these are some of the takeaway points I got from them:

  • Maintain a positive focus about how great it is that they're going to be working so hard at this relationship.
  •  Emphasize how impressive it is that he loves her enough to be willing to take on a relationship with a disabled person and is willing to take over her caregiving.
  • Let them know that we plan to be supportive and will help with this transition because we want them to have a successful relationship. 
  • Let them know that we will be there for Kitty if things don't go as planned.
  • Pull him aside and subtly put the fear of God in him that we will report him if he takes advantage of her physically or financially. With a reminder that legally she is considered a disabled person and as such there could be additional criminal charges if she is not protected.

These are my planned talking points. I do intend to hand them a list/ agenda, but the following has notes I don't intend to share with them. I'd love it if you would note any additional suggestions in the comments:

  1. This is a Trial Period (just like it was with biofamily). It will be 3 to 6 months before I will transfer Medicaid, SSI, whatever, to her new address.
  2. Contracts. During the trial period, she CAN NOT sign any contracts that will obligate her to pay money (lease, new phone, non pre-paid credit cards...).
  3. Caregiver Duties. If they stay together, at some point, he will be expected to step in as her caregiver. I don't plan to emphasize the access to her money part of this and I don’t really think they will make it long enough for it to happen, I just want to use it as an excuse to explain her medical and mental health issues, as well as her budget and why I maintain tight control over her finances. I will tell him that he needs to be aware, that this is a legal position. Taking advantage of a disabled person financially has serious legal consequences.
  4. She has a Brain Injury (Learning disabilities, ADHD, cerebral dysrhythmia, FASD...),  This is a serious, permanent condition. Among other things, it means she cannot handle her own money. She is not able to budget. While I will continue to handle her actual finances at first, he will be expected to help her manage her money, including making sure she has enough money for groceries and bills; she doesn't spend the money she gets from her job until the money for SSI has been taken out; she will need help keep track of receipts for things like her rent.
  5. She has Bipolar Disorder. Severe enough that she can never go off mood stabilizers and can't use "herbal supplements" or a special diet, or whatever hooey might work for someone on the mild side of the spectrum.
  6. Current Meds and Diagnoses pageI plan to show him this one-page document we give to therapists, medical professionals, and people "on her team" (like teachers and administrators when she was in school). It details things like her IQ and her mental health diagnoses (BPD, FASD/cerebral dysrhythmia/ brain injury). I will be explaining what each of these means and will strongly encourage him to read Stop Walking on Eggshells (which explains more about living with Borderline Personality Disorder from the family's point of view).

    {This may seem like oversharing or even an invasion of privacy to some, but I think he needs to understand how severe her issues really are if he's going to be living with her.}
  7. Rent and Utilities. While she will definitely pay rent (as much as she can afford, which will probably be less than 1/2 if you include utilities), if she moves out, her rent money goes with her. Period. Her name cannot be on the lease or utility bills. If this doesn't work out, then she can't afford to be financially obligated.
  8. Receipts. As part of my Rep Payee duties, I need to document where her money goes. Any money she pays, like rent, will go directly to who it's owed to (like the leasing company, or the gas company) rather than her boyfriend. I'm still debating whether or not I'll do this during the trial period. It's going to add some complications, since we won't be reporting the address change yet.
  9. Teaching Her to Drive. If he helps her get a driver's license, which we strongly discourage due to her issues that affect her ability to drive {Co-conspirator Dreamkiller} They need to understand she will not be going on our car insurance. She'll need to go on his insurance rather than paying her own because she's on a fixed income (and even then, she can't do that for at least 6 months of them being together).
  10. Full-Time Job. She cannot *plan* to get a better paying full-time job and get off SSI. She has to *HAVE* a full-time job for at least 3 months because historically she has not been able to handle a full-time job (despite what she thinks). She currently works only 15 hours a week.
  11. Budget/ SSI. We will look at her budget based on her income from her job and SSI (which will show him she doesn't make enough to pay her half of the bills and food).

    Her take-home last month was $375. The month before that was $325. Currently, about 1/2 of that has to be saved to make up the difference in her SSI amount (they reduce her check by 1/2 of her gross pay, so she won't have enough money to pay her bills if she blows her whole paycheck).

    I plan to show BF how more than half of the money from her job has to be saved (“paid”) into a separate account because her income doesn’t affect her SSI money until 2 months after she’s earned it. I will also show him the careful financial record-keeping and monitoring I do to ensure that her SSI money is reported correctly and comes in on time -- so she doesn’t lose it and Medicaid. We will also look at how much her medications and doctor appointments would cost without Medicaid.

    I will continue to have control over her finances and SSI, until such point as I decide he can handle taking over (probably never!), which means I will be kept in the loop.

    Part of her SSI money will continue to go to us to pay for things like her phone, private insurance, and bank fees, things that don't stop just because she doesn't live here.
  12. Getting to Work. Currently, she's planning on having him drop her off at our house when he goes to work. Since she usually doesn't have to be at work until 10:30am at the earliest and sometimes not until 4:30pm, that means she'd be sitting around our house for hours. When I asked what she'd do if he couldn't bring her over here (it's a 25-minute drive from his new apartment to here), her plan was to take an Uber.

    {After reminding her several times to look into the cost, we finally looked up the cost together. A round trip uber from her apartment to work is about $30 - not including tip. Working a 4-hour shift at $8.50/hr means she only makes $25.50! She's very excited about a recent promotion, which means she'll sometimes make $9/hr. She can't grasp that this means she's still only making $27 a shift.} Despite my best efforts, she does not understand that even if she only takes the Uber one way (she would get a ride home from BF). that still means an uber would not be cost-effective.

    I reminded her that our town is now on a bus route that connects to the city that the apartment is in and suggested she should confirm the bus route goes to her new apartment (it is within walking distance on this end). She needs to see where the bus route goes and how much it costs to get a commuter pass. She refuses to do this because she doesn't want to ride the bus.

    She also needs to *ASK* me if it's OK to stay here (she's planning on having BF drop her off on his way to work and have her spend hours here before and after her shift).
  13. Doctor Appointments/ Medication. She needs to know how she will get to her doctor appointments which are here in our small town. She cannot change to a new doctor during the trial period. I will continue to attend her psychiatrist appointments. She needs to confirm with me that her appointments work with my schedule. She needs to figure out how she'll pick up her medications.
  14. Pregnancy. If she gets pregnant, he *WILL* be paying child support. He needs to be sure she is on birth control. If she goes off Medicaid, he will be responsible for paying medical bills.
  15. Moving Out. She will be taking ALL her stuff. Nothing left behind at all. We're not a storage unit for her crap. She will also be putting the room back to "move out" condition, just like she would if she were living in an apartment.
  16. Moving Home. If it doesn't work out, she is welcome to move back in with us, but in the meantime, I will be moving my fabric stash into the "Hobbit Hole" (a small study she has been using as a bedroom) as originally intended before she had a mental health break down and had to unexpectedly leave the fantastic residential 18 - 24 months long vocational school the state was paying for. So she will have even less room until her "Apartmenette" is done (maybe next year).

    As a condition of returning, she will be expected to sign the Boarder Agreement again.
  17. Physical Abuse/ Taking Advantage of a Disabled Person -  If he lays a hand on her, we *WILL* be calling the police. We will report him if he takes advantage of her physically or financially. With a reminder that legally she is considered a disabled person and as such there could be additional criminal charges if she is not protected.
  18. Chauffeur Services. She will be expected to find a way to get to me if we need to go to the SSI office or her psychiatrist. I won't be driving her anywhere unless she's already at my house, and she verifies it is convenient to me *before* she makes an appointment.
  19. Family Events. They are invited to attend Friday night family dinners, but if the place is expensive, they may be expected to pay their own way.

What Actually Happened
Aaannnndddd.... none of this worked.

Apparently, the boyfriend has no idea she's on SSI and she doesn't want him to know. He has no clue how severe her mental illnesses are. He thinks she's paying us rent and supporting herself with her paycheck and he has no idea how few hours she actually works. We thought it was him pressuring her to get off her meds and SSI, but it was actually her choice because she doesn't want him to find out (and also because she thinks it's keeping her from being an adult).

She saw no need for me to talk to him because she's "going off SSI anyway so he doesn't need to know about it." She refused to let me meet with him and speak to him about any of this.

She's supposed to move in in 3 weeks when his new apartment is ready. Her current "plan" is to go off all her meds (we're talking 2 major mood stabilizers and an antipsychotic) so she can get off Medicaid and SSI. She also plans to get a full-time job (By the way, this month she made all of $375, last month it was only $325).

Of course, all of this is totally unrealistic and unfeasible, but she's 23 years old and she wants to be treated like an "adult" (of course, this is just what she thinks being an adult is like). *sigh* It's like arguing with a 2-year-old.

I told her if she's going off her meds to start now (because I don't trust her not to try to sabotage her SSI as soon she's out of the house). Right now, she's still stable on her meds and so thinks she doesn't need them.

If she manages to get off SSI, it would take months to get her back on, and if she has a psychotic break and/or gets pregnant... someone is going to have to pay all those medical bills.

I told her she can't sign any contracts, including the lease. I also told her I would be paying the leasing agent directly. She asked me a legitimate question - if she's not on the lease, how will she pay rent? I'll have to figure that out because I don't want to hand the money over to the boyfriend. She will need receipts of payments for SSI.


The next day, after dropping her off at work, the boyfriend stopped by to pick up her phone that she'd forgotten. He doesn't talk much, but he asked if we were OK with Kitty moving in with him.

We told him that it was her choice, but if he hurt her... I didn't actually finish this sentence, I just told him to fill in the concerned parent threats here. We all laughed.

I mentioned that I didn't want her name put on the lease or any other contract until we knew for sure this would work out. He said he understood and at most would be listing her as a roommate.

I told him that I planned to send in her payments directly to the apartment complex, but I wasn't sure how that work if she wasn't on the lease. I told him that we'd have to have a receipt for the government, and we talked about whether or not a receipt written by him would satisfy the government. I told him I'd look into it.

Even though he started it, during this brief chat, he couldn't get away fast enough. I can only wonder what Kitty has told him about us.

Flash forward to this afternoon.

Via text, Kitty accuses me of telling the boyfriend all about SSI and stuff. (I hadn't exactly, although I did hint at it).

She then starts in on how it's against the law for me to not pay her rent for 3 months and I could get arrested.
Say WHAT?!

{I'm going to paraphrase our conversation and change things up a little, because Kitty has difficulty writing what she actually means to say due to spelling, grammar and cognitive issues, and sometimes we're responding to a text while the other one is typing)

Me: I never said I wouldn't pay your rent with BF. In fact, you and I talked about me paying it directly to the leasing agency rather than giving the money to BF. Although your comment about not being on the lease possibly making that difficult was valid, and that's why I mentioned to BF that you'd need a receipt and I would look into whether or not it would be OK for him to write a receipt. 

I did say that this would be like when you went to live with Biofamily, in that this would be a "trial period," but I also told you that I was referring to not telling SSI that we were changing your address for 3 to 6 months in case things didn't work out, because your moving causes a ton of issues when dealing with SSI, so we need to wait until the trial period is over.

This is why I wanted to sit down together. So we'd have numbers in front of us and I could put stuff in writing so you didn't forget or misremember half of what we talked about because you were triggered.

Kitty: But I want to get off {SSI} anyways. So why does it matter? I'm not going to be at your house

Me: Wanting to get off SSI and being ready to get off are two different things. You are not ready to get off for at least 6 months. That's how long it takes for your meds to get out of your system. You need to stay on it until you're sure how your body is going to react.

Me: Did I mention that I think it's a bad idea to try to keep these major issues from BF? If you trust him that little, then you should rethink living with him.

Kitty: I trust him a lot.

Me: Obviously not. From what you said, he doesn't know anything about your medications, disabilities, income, living situation... no wonder he thinks I'm a controlling bitch. He has no idea why I handle your finances.

Kitty: {Responding to my comment, "Wanting to get off SSI and being ready to get off are two different things."} 
Then let me have more control let me pay him and let me give you the receipt but you haven't given me a chance to like be an adult.

Me: Obviously you don't remember what happened over the years when your meds weren't right; otherwise, you wouldn't even consider going off of them completely.

Me: {Responding to her comment, "
Then let me have more control let me pay him and let me give you the receipt"}

We can talk about that. You haven't mentioned it before now. You've just stomped your foot and acted like a 2-year-old saying, "All by me!!"

{I admit I got frustrated and said some triggering, non-therapeutic things during this part of the conversation} 
Me: I'm ready to have rational, adult conversations. Instead, most of the time, you're demanding things that you have repeatedly shown you can't handle, and talking about things like getting a full-time job as though you could walk in to any place tomorrow and be handed one, and going off your meds as though your doctor was an unprofessional idiot and giving you prescription medications, because she thought it would be funny.

Just because you want things to be a certain way, does not mean they are. No matter how badly you want them. 

You are physically an adult. Legally, you are an adult too, but there are limitations set on that by the government that say that you need extra help and have a right to it. It doesn't have to be me providing it, but someone has to, and so far no one else is willing to step up and be there for you.

Kitty: {Flipping the switch!} And I love that you have helped me over the whole time I've lived with you, but I feel stuck cause of the meds and SSI.  I'm tired of. Being stuck.

Me: I totally get how frustrating it is to be stuck. I truly wish that it weren't the situation you've had forced on you by your past and your genetics. 

I feel like you're blaming me for your diagnoses, trauma, and issues instead of acknowledging that it is what it is and working with me to help you find ways to work with it and around it and get what you want. 

I think you will not find happiness until you find acceptance for the things you cannot change (your diagnoses ) and courage to take the steps needed to change the things you can.

 I hope you know that I will always be here for you to help you figure out what your dreams are, and how to work to achieve those dreams despite, or sometimes because of, your limitations/ disabilities.

I know that you can achieve great happiness. I just wish you would work on it instead of jumping off a cliff and assuming you'll be able to fly just because you want it so badly.
Does that make sense?

Kitty: Yes. But that's how life is. Birds push the babies out and let them learn on their own. And most parents do the same.

Me: When they're ready. Shoving a baby bird out of the nest too soon or if it has a broken wing is evil.

Me: Have you seen this video? You remind me of Karamel the squirrel. 

She was badly injured through no fault of her own, but she was a fighter, and her adopted family wanted her to be able to run and play. They helped her deal with her disabilities and found ways around them. 

She's a happy squirrel who can run and play. She can't climb trees though. Does that make her any less of a squirrel? Do you think she's miserable because of what she can't do? 

She worked hard to learn how to use what she was given and taught, and now she's in a loving family, being a squirrel that can run and play.

{I wish that was where the conversation stopped, but there was a lot more lather, rinse, repeat...}

It boiled down to:
  • Kitty doesn't want BF to find out she has "issues" because she is afraid he will leave her. Which means he can't find out she was on medications and that someone has to handle her money for her.
  • She wants to be an "adult." She wants to be "normal." She desperately wants to believe that if she gets away from me,  and gets off SSI, then that will magically happen. That she actually will be normal, because she wants to be - she needs to be. That I am all that's keeping her from being normal.
  • If she gets off SSI, then she loses her Medicaid. She has to have Medicaid to pay for her medications; therefore, she will get off her medications so she can get off Medicaid. Her magical thinking kicks in and she convinces herself that she doesn't actually need her meds.
  • She feels "controlled" because I handle her finances and where she lives (in that I can fuss at her if she leaves a mess).
  • A lot of my "control" over her is actually her controlling herself because subconsciously she doesn't want to make Mommy upset because then Mommy will leave her (again). {If You Find out I'm Not Perfect, You'll Leave} Half the time it's not even something I'd be upset about.
  • She projects her own fears and guilt on me. She feels guilty about moving in with her boyfriend because she thinks it is wrong and terrified that he'll leave her, so she accuses me of trying to break her and BF up because I want to "control" her.  I point out that while I do tell her when I think she's making a mistake, especially if it's a major mistake, that's all I do. I give her my opinion. She projects her own feelings of fear, guilt, and/or shame, and "hears" ultimatums and threats.

    As an example, I pointed out to her that while I did tell her that I don't think moving in with BF (or Biomom or Biofamily) is a good idea, I didn't stop her. I didn't disown her. When she was ready to come home, I allowed her to come home and didn't say, "I told you so."
  • I admit that I have "threatened" her with ultimatums and tried to force her to not make certain choices, but those choices are either life-threatening or severely affect her future or both. When she wanted to move in with biomom with less than 2 weeks notice, that meant she would be without medications and not under a doctor's care. At a vulnerable time, she would not have any supports.

    I've seen what happens when she is not on her meds. It is life-threatening. She becomes suicidal, she rages, she hallucinates.

    Pregnancy is equally life-threatening - If she's on her meds, then in addition to her genetic toxic soup, the poor baby is being "pickled" in major psychotropic medications. If she's off her meds, she will become psychotic or suicidal, and the baby is being "pickled" in stress and anxiety hormones. When the baby is born, if she is allowed to keep it, then the child is being raised by a seriously mentally ill mother. Either scenario is dangerous for both mother and child.

    I've tried and tried, but nothing less than an ultimatum works {usually the threat of us getting legal guardianship} and even that rarely works, and of course it triggers her even more. {Running Again}


In the end, we agreed that: 
  1. I would put the money in her account so she could pay her rent on her own. She's supposed to contact the social security office to see if they will accept a handwritten receipt from BF. Hopefully, she won't tell them that she's moving, but she might try to sabotage her SSI that way.
  2. I told her that she can't just call and tell SSI that she doesn't want SSI anymore (I hope I'm right and/or I hope she never tries).
  3. At some point, we will have to talk about budget again with numbers she will get from BF. In general, if she asks me for money, then I will give it to her, as long as it is in her budget.
  4. We kept getting stuck on the fact that I won't just hand over the SSI money or let her cancel SSI. I finally hit on the fact that if she wanted to get rid of it, all she had to do was make more than $1400 a month (the max you're allowed to make and keep SSI). 

One month later:
 When I finally got all the numbers, I realized that Kitty's monthly SSI money covered her share of the rent and utilities and about $60 for groceries. Rather than me having to tell her that she can't afford things, I can just transfer the full amount at the first of the month. When it's gone, it's gone. There was no extra, so there was nothing to argue about.  

She's still taking a half dose of one of her mood stabilizers (and possibly more) because deep down she knows she needs her meds. 

She's also decided to stay on SSI/ Medicaid for now. 

Biomom shared the link for this post with Kitty (I do not block anyone from reading this blog because I think transparency helps other parents, which is the whole point of my blog), but generally, my kids don't bother to read it.

I thought it was interesting that the only thing that upset Kitty about this whole post was that I mentioned we would push for BF to pay child support if Kitty got pregnant?!! 

Oh, and that we won't automatically pay for her and BF's dinner if she joins us for family dinner. That one doesn't surprise me though, it's about food.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

FAIR Club Writing Assignment: Trust and Lies Article

10 Things You Need to Know About Lies & Lying

  1. Lying is the number one reason that people lose trust.
  2. The most common reason that people lie is to avoid confrontation. Getting in trouble is never fun but lying to avoid it is always a "band-aid" solution. When the truth comes out the confrontation is guaranteed to be even more unpleasant than it would have been without the lie. A lie compounds the problem, it doesn't solve it.
  3. Another common reason people lie is to make themselves seem "better" or more interesting. This sort of lying can be a sign of low self esteem, problems at home, or depression.
  4. Lies are like dominos - one lie can knock out whole relationships, destroy entire aspects of your life or even limit your future in unforeseeable ways.
  5. Lies are a gamble. Every time you lie you gamble with being caught.
  6. Lies have a way of getting out and coming back to haunt you.
  7. The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself. When you lie to others you are also lying to yourself.
  8. Chronic lying can signal a psychiatric or social disorder. If you find yourself "lying for no reason" or to cover up behavior that you know is harmful consider seeking professional help.
  9. Lies can damage your self image and cause inner conflicts (like dissonance) that drastically change the way you view, and act upon, the world and other people.
  10. "Little white lies" are lies that are told about superficial things and are told when the truth would only serve to hurt another person. They ARE NOT told to avoid confrontation or cover up the harmful actions of another person. For example: telling another friend that a haircut looks good when you don't really like it is a "little white lie", telling your parents that you are spending the night at a friend's house so that you can stay out past curfew is NOT.

The Real Reasons Parents Ask So Many Questions

(No, it isn't just to drive you crazy!)

Parents ask a lot of questions and it drives teens crazy. Despite what teen culture says parents don’t make inquiries in order to invade your privacy or control what you do. Parents ask questions because they care, because they’ve been a teen and want to spare you some of the more unpleasant experiences that seem to be common during adolescence, and because they want to keep you safe.
It is not a verbally inquisitive invasion of privacy that prompts your parents to ask, where you’re going, what will you be doing, when you expect to be home, and who you’ll be with, no, parents ask these things for one simple reason – they want to protect you. So it is a sad reality that many teens lie to their parents when they are asked questions about their plans. If you lie to your parents it could be yourself that you are harming the most.
Why? Not only does lying to your parents damage their trust but it has the potential to put you in real danger.
Let’s look at the four most common questions parents ask that teens lie about and examine how being anything but truthful could harm you in the end.

Common Question 1:
"Where are you going?"

The reason teens think parents ask this question.
The three most common reasons teens think parents ask this question are; to be nosey, to stop them from going, or to know where to go to check up or spy on them.

The real reason parents ask this question.
Parents really ask this question so that they can be sure that where you are going is safe, suitable for somebody your age and properly supervised. While it is possible that your parents would stop you from going somewhere unsafe, unsuitable or poorly supervised their motive for asking is not to ruin your fun but to make sure that you won’t be put in harms way.

The danger to YOU if you answer this question with a lie.
Teens who believe that their parents wouldn’t allow them to go where they want to go will often lie when asked this question, but lying could have some dire consequences. If you feel you have to lie about where you are going you should take a moment to reflect about why you are lying, do you know that where you want to go could pose a danger, even a remote one, and is this why you are covering up? If you lie to your parents about where you will be you put yourself at risk of not being able to get help if you need it, of your parents not being able to locate you if there is an emergency, of them being unable to give accurate information to law enforcement if something happens to you, and you will be more likely to engage in further risky behavior in order to keep your lie from coming to light. One example, if you lie about going to an un-chaperoned house party and find that your ride home is too drunk to drive you may be more likely get in their car because calling your parents for a safe ride home would expose the lie.

Common Question 2:
"What will you be doing?"

The reason teens think parents ask this question.
Again, the most common reasons that teens think parents ask this question is to invade their privacy or to exercise control over what they will be doing.

The real reason parents ask this question.
The reasons that parents ask this question are very similar to the reasons they ask where you are going; namely, they want to be sure you will not be taking unnecessary risks and that you will be safely supervised.

The danger to YOU if you answer this question with a lie.
When you lie to your parents about what you will be doing you may think it is harmless, after all if you are truthful about where you will be what does it matter what you plan to do while your there? But there are several things that can go wrong when you lie about what you will be doing. You may be afraid to tell your parents if something bad happens, you may be afraid to ask for their help during a crisis or unforeseen event because of your lie, and you may make it impossible for your parents to help you if you’re hurt since they won’t have an accurate picture about what led up to your injury. Also, if you lie about what you are doing chances are good that you shouldn’t be doing it and regardless of whether your parents ask you for details or not this should be enough to give you pause about your plans.

Common Question 3:
"When will you be home?"

The reason teens think parents ask this question.
As usual teens think parents ask this question to exercise control over their lives. More than lie about this teens are likely to say something like, “I don’t know,” “Before curfew,” or “I’ll call and let you know.”

The real reason parents ask this question.
Parents ask this question because they want to know when they can expect you home (duh!) but not so they can send out a search party if you are 20 minutes late. In fact the real reason parents ask this question may be a little bit selfish on their part. Of course your safety is important to your parents and knowing when to expect you home makes it easier for them to know when you may need help but there is another reason parents ask you this question. Parents ask this question because they never really rest until they know you are safe and knowing when to expect you home gives them peace of mind.

The danger to YOU if you answer this question with a lie.
The danger of lying when asked this question is pretty obvious; if you don’t tell your parents when you expect to be home they won’t know if you’re missing. If you get hurt your parents will know to sound the alarm sooner rather than later if they have a time to expect you home or a time when you will check in. Lie about this and you could end up losing precious time if you land in harms way.

Common Question 4:
"Who will you be with?"

The reason teens think parents ask this question.
The parents v. friends conflict is as old as time. While most parents like the people their teen is friends with there are times when friends and parents don’t really mesh. Sometimes the reasons behind the feud are valid and other times they are not but regardless if your parents don’t like one or more of your friends you should ask yourself why before continuing the friendship. The most common reason teens think parents want to know who they’ll be with is to stop them from being around friends they do not approve of.

The real reason parents ask this question.
Yes, there is some truth behind the idea that parents ask this question to make sure you aren’t spending time with people they do not like but the more pressing reason behind this question is much less ominous. The most common reason parents ask who you will be with is to know where to start looking if you are late or missing. Parents may also want to know who you’ll be with so they can touch base with other parents about where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing and when you’ll be back.

The danger to YOU if you answer this question with a lie.
When parents don’t like your friend or friends 9 times out of 10 it is with good reason. If you have fallen in with a bad crowd or are engaging in risky peer activities your parents will be unable to help you if you lie about who you are with. And again, because you told one lie you may continue to tell lies to cover it up and you may be less likely to ask for help when you really need it or when you know something is wrong out of fear of having to come clean about the initial lie.
Remember flat lying about your plans or who you’ll be with can do some real harm but leaving out important details, lying by omission, can do harm as well. Lies of omission are the kissing cousins of outright lying and the negative results are often one in the same. Honesty is always the best policy when your parents ask questions no matter why you think they may be asking. Giving away a little of your privacy is a small price to pay for building trust between you and your parents and for keeping you safe.

Recently you have lost many privileges because you have lost trust with the people who give you these privileges.  Answer the following questions as honestly and completely as you can.
1.  You are unable to go to the skating rink for 6 months
Who decided that you could no longer go to the rink? ______________ What was his/her stated reason? __________________________________________________________________________________
There were other incidents that happened before this one that led to this person losing trust with you and making this decision.  List 3 choices you have made that led this person losing trust with you and making this decision.



 List 2 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) that the skating rink personnel might be trying to avoid by suspending kids they can't trust.


2.  You are not allowed to use the internet.
List at least 2 stated reasons that your parents gave for making this decision.


List 3 choices you have made that led to your parents losing trust with you and making this decision.



List 3 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) that your parents can't trust not to happen if you use the internet.



3.  You must be supervised at all times when you leave the house.
List at least 2 stated reasons that your parents gave for making this decision.


List 3 choices you have made that led to your parents losing trust with you and making this decision.



List 5 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) your parents might worry about if a child they cannot trust lies about being supervised or sneaks around. 





4.  You cannot use your cell phone or talk on a cordless phone.
List at least 3 stated reasons that your parents gave for making this decision.



List 3 choices you have made that led to your parents losing trust with you and making this decision.



List 4 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) your parents might worry about if a child they cannot trust uses the phone.



5.  Your parents must do random searches of your stuff.
List at least 3 reasons that Arrow and child protective services gave for making this decision. 



List 4 choices you made that led to these people losing trust with you and making this decision. 




List 4 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) that these people might be worried about.




6.  You must be supervised when you are around money.
List at least 2 stated reasons that your parents gave for making this decision. 


List 3 choices you made that led to your parents losing trust with you and making this decision. 



List 2 possible dangers (different from the stated reasons and choices you made leading to people's distrust of you) that your parents might worry about if a child they cannot trust is around money.


7.  Write at least one paragraph, including a minimum of 7 things, that you can do to start regaining trust.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Detachment Parenting an Adult Child with Special Needs

Attachment Parenting

There are 2 types of "Attachment Parenting." One is mostly about "crunchy moms," breastfeeding, wearing your infant (sling), cosleeping... which is all great, but not the point of this blog.  

The other type of attachment parenting is more about children with "attachment challenges," kids whose attachment has been damaged by trauma. This type of Attachment Parenting aka Therapeutic Parenting or Connected Parenting is the focus of this blog. 

Detachment Parenting
There's a new trend in parenting called Detachment Parenting. When I first heard of it, it sounded like heaven to my burned out, PTSD suffering, guilt-ridden self. I'd been trying to parent my attachment challenged children the way society told me I should, the same way I parented my neuro-typical, totally attached bio-kids - nurturing, child-focused, self-sacrificing... and it was killing me. {Giving Until There's Nothing Left - But My Child NEEDS Me!}

In a lot of ways, I was already doing detachment parenting. 

Prioritizing Yourself, Your Family, and Your Child - In That OrderI had started to prioritize my life differently in an effort to function again - to get a thicker skin about ignoring other's expectations and "shoulds", and stop being reactive or even proactive about my child. I needed to parent my attachment-challenged child calmly and with perspective about the needs of my family and myself. 
Stop Walking on EggshellsOne thing that really helped me with becoming a Detached Parent with all of my teens (even my neurotypical biokids), was one of my favorite books, Stop Walking on Eggshells. I still reread it often. It helped me with setting boundaries for my children and for myself too. 
Finding The JoyI once heard a house parent in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed girls tell a teen that she was a "bottomless pit of need." At the time, I thought he was a horrible person. Now I get it. If we drain our emotional reserves trying to fill a child who can't be filled, then we're empty. You can't fill from an empty cup. Our kids need a different type of parenting and society's "shoulds" can suck it! 

I see Detachment Parenting as a small step beyond all of that. A step I desperately needed. A way to validate not feeling guilty about not prioritizing my child's needs over everything else - even though I knew my child would most likely fail without my constant intervention (and remember that my child would most likely fall whether I was there or not). {You Have Not Failed}

Detachment Parenting: A New Trend in Parenting by JustMommies staff
 On first glance, you would think that a “detached parent” was an uncaring or uninvolved parent. Detachment parenting seems almost as if it was created specifically to rebut the attachment parenting model that has grown to be so popular. However, according to Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D., author of Detachment Parenting: 33 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Kids Melt Down, detachment parenting is nothing of the sort.
Luedtke explains in her book, “Rest assured, detachment parenting is not the opposite of attachment parenting. It doesn’t require you to deny your feelings, keep kids at arms’ length or let them cry it out when they’re distressed.” She says, “Detachment parenting does not prescribe choices about how you feed, cuddle or care for your kids." 
What is detachment parenting?  
Detachment parenting has less to do with the lifestyle decisions you make for your family, such as feeding, diapering, or sleeping choices, and more to do with how you as a parent respond to your child’s emotions, as well as your own.
The main premise of detachment parenting is that you become more “detached” from the emotional scenarios that, as a parent, you encounter, and not allow your kids’ or your own high emotions affect how you parent. 
It’s very easy to react to parenting scenarios with your emotions, rather than taking the time to calm down or think things through before you respond to your child.
“Break out of fight-or-flight mode.” Instead of reacting to situations emotionally, Luedtke shows parents ways to tune into their bodies’ “natural relaxation response”. Once a parent is calm, she is naturally better able to respond to her child’s needs.
"Staying Calm." Some of the methods of detachment parenting are common sense. When you or your kids get angry, you need to take steps to stay calm. You can use simple things to help you get your mind in a calmer place, such as counting to 100, taking a time out of your own, or deep breathing. (Calming/ Relaxation Techniques}
"Structure and Caring Support." Other ways to keep your family running more smoothly include having structure and rules. Routines and rules help children know what to expect. They keep things more predictable, and there is less likelihood of tension or friction when kids have structure. {Structure, Support, Routines, and Boundaries}
"Prioritizing Self-Care." Detached parents tend to want their children to be independent and are not completely absorbed in their children’s lives. Of course, they love their kids and spend time with their kids, but they also make time for themselves. They try to make time for “me time” so that they are happier, more relaxed, and better able to deal with the situations that come up with their kids. {Self-Care! Caring for the Caregiver}
What detachment parenting isn’t
Although some detached parents use methods considered to be the opposite of “attachment parenting,” many do not. Being a detached parent doesn’t mean you ignore your child when he cries or that cosleeping is off limits for you. It just means that you have chosen to use a more structured and less-reactive type of parenting style.

How We Handled It

I wanted/ needed to be a Detached Parent, but the pressure to prioritize my children's needs was immense. Every time I tried to step back, there was someone there guilting me, shaming me, to do more. (I will admit that often that person was myself - like most women, I'd been taught practically from birth that it was my job to be the nurturer). What kind of horrible parent doesn't do everything possible for their child?

Finding the JoyWhen I decided to choose joy, I was finally able to step back and became more of a detached parent. I gave myself permission to change my priorities. To put myself first, then my marriage, then the family as a whole, and then my child. {Prioritizing Yourself, Your Family, and Your Child - In That Order

The rest of my children were suffering from my inability to do it all. There weren't enough hours in the day for everyone. I had to stop prioritizing based on the "squeaky wheel" principle. It was benefiting no one. Not even the squeaky wheel. 

Parenting with Love and Logic 

This book gives lots of practical advice that is great for helping me stay calm, and stop rescuing and controlling my kids.  It also gave me ideas of consequences and realistic expectations, and I used it to help me devise logical consequences for the FAIR Club (Parenting Teens with Love and Logic is good too!).  

HOWEVER!  You have to keep in mind that these books are written for kids who are attached and capable of feeling guilt (and therefore want to please their parents and care if Mom and Dad are upset with them) and are cognitively able to understand consequences.  {Using the FAIR Club with Kids of Trauma}

Detachment Parenting with Teens/ Young Adults

At What Point Do You Let Go?
It took me quite a while to understand and accept the fact that my son was going to need Structure and Support the rest of his life and a little longer for me to feel it was OK to fight for him to get that structure. For many years, I had so much angst about how to handle my son turning 18. There is a LOT of pressure to "lighten up" and give our kids the "freedom" to make mistakes, because "he's going to have to deal with the real world soon."  {18 Is Not The Finish Line

While he was a teen, we provided that structure, and let him know that while he lived under our roof, this was the type of parenting he would receive. When he moved out (which was inevitable since he didn't think he needed this level of structure) we were all relieved, even as we worried what would happen to him. 

Maintaining the level of structure he needed is exhausting, even when you're as detached as possible. Once again, I had to focus on Self-Care to heal from the Caregiver Fatigue.

Detachment Parenting Children in Adult Bodies

The Unattached Child
With my son (13.5 when he came to us, now 25), it was easier to detach once I accepted that I hadn't failed. {You Have Not Failed} I didn't/ couldn't have a loving relationship with my son  - it's not possible to have a relationship with someone incapable of having a relationship (especially when you meet that child as a raging, mentally ill teen). {Relationships, Relationships (Cont.)} Of course, I didn't just decide this and give up, but I worked hard to stop stressing out about it.

Outside Structure

I admit it was validating when he was quickly incarcerated after leaving our home. He finally got the structure that I'd been saying all along that he desperately needed. There are really only 2 ways to get the type of structure that he needed, and he wasn't eligible for the military. He will most likely be in and out of prison for most of his life. (He was arrested almost immediately after graduating high school, and has only managed to stay out of jail/prison for a few months since then - He is 24 and currently incarcerated). 

The Attached Child

Now I'm struggling with my son's sister (11 when she came to us). She IS attached (anxiously attached, but attached). I'm really interested in Detachment Parenting because this is what I've been struggling with for the last few years with her. Emotionally she's only about 11 years old, but in the eyes of the world (and the law), she's 22. 

Stepping Back from Therapeutic Parenting
The world says she's an adult, but she is not. How do I detach from a young child? {Giving Until There's Nothing Left - But My Child NEEDS Me!}

9 years of Attachment Therapy, me providing most of her emotional regulation (and being her frontal lobe!), accommodating the world for her, being her case manager...  And now I'm having to redefine what our relationship should look like.

Therapeutically Parenting the Adult Child 

I tried to continue to be a therapeutic parent after my daughter turned 18 and it worked somewhat while she was in high school (she graduated a couple of months after turning 19). 

After graduation, she still desperately needed the structure and support of therapeutic parenting, but society was telling her she was an adult and therefore had a right to have all the adult privileges (driving, living in her own place, being able to come and go without telling anyone, getting a pet, handling her own money, going to college, drinking, sex..) even though she could handle none of the responsibilities (paying bills, dealing with insurance, budgeting, housing, health, and hygiene...).

Running to Biofamily

She ran to biofamily because they promised to let her have all those adult privileges. She found that they would let her do whatever she wanted but they also did whatever they wanted too. They definitely didn't provide the support she was used to and were busy struggling with their own issues. 

Both times she's run to biofamily, she ended up returning home within a few months. 
{Running to Biofamily}

I've struggled for years with where to draw the line. 

Fighting Society's Expectations
Because of her disabilities, my daughter has almost no understanding money, basic hygiene, protecting herself from those who would take advantage of her... she believes that I am controlling her and have only put this structure in place because I'm "mean." 

Unfortunately, most people around her don't understand her limitations, they only see the good-natured, slightly immature, young adult that we worked so hard to help her present. She would literally rather die than let others see her "issues" and struggles. She comes home to fall apart. 

These people try to "build her self-esteem" by telling her she can do anything she puts her mind to. They reinforce her desire to be "normal," by telling her that I'm the one preventing her from being/ doing all the things she wants to do. I understand their motivation, but they have no idea how detrimental it is to her to be told she can do things she doesn't, and will never, have the skills and abilities to handle. 

{Chores, Responsibilities, and Other Things My Kids Can't Handle}

Accepting Her Limitations

All the desire in the world will not overcome my daughter's:
  • Low IQ, Brain Injury, and learning disabilities (she doesn't even have basic math skills or the ability to read contracts or handle complex paperwork), 
  • FASD (you can't "fix" or outgrow permanent brain damage), 
  • Bipolar Disorder (she will always need health insurance to cover her expensive medications - which means she needs to stay on SSI which provides Medicaid, since the type of jobs she can get don't offer health insurance and even if they did, she can't afford co-pays), 
  • Anxiety Disorder (she needs someone to help her emotionally regulate and talk her down when she's suicidal and/or having a panic attack), 
  • ADHD (she has no executive functioning abilities - she needs someone else to handle organizing and planning...)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (she will always struggle with relationships)
  • ... 

Legal Guardianship
We've looked at Legal Guardianship, and while she is eligible, it is too expensive. 

Housing and the Future
Because she is both mentally ill AND borderline intellectually disabled, my daughter does not qualify for group homes or other residential facilities. At the same time, she is not high enough functioning to live independently.

We're in the process of remodeling, and the current plan is that when it's done, she will have a little apartment with its own kitchenette and bathroom. She will be living "independently," but under our roof.

It is not ideal, but we're still searching for alternatives.

Excerpts from Codependency and the Art of Detaching From Dysfunctional Family MembersBy  Codependency and the Art of Detaching From Dysfunctional Family Members. A codependent relationship can benefit from detaching with love.
Detaching is the opposite of enabling because it allows people to experience the consequences of their choices and it provides you with needed emotional and physical space so that you can care for yourself and feel at peace.
Why do codependents need to detach?Codependents {in our case, therapeutic parents with a now adult child} often find themselves in dysfunctional relationships where they spend an inordinate amount of time worrying and trying to control or fix other people. This is done with a loving heart, but it can become all-consuming. The problem is, sometimes your loved one doesn’t want the help you’re offering; they want to do things their own way. This creates a maddening push and pull where no one’s happy and you’re both trying to control and force. This can feel like an upside down roller coaster ride that never ends!
Because of their caring nature, codependents can become obsessed with other people’s problems. They have good intentions and a real desire to help, but this fixation on problems they can’t actually solve (like your Mom’s alcoholism or your adult son’s unemployment) isn’t helpful to anyone. It’s a distraction from taking care of yourself and solving your own problems. It also prevents your loved one from taking full responsibility for their life and learning to solve their own problems.

You can’t solve other people’s problems
According to codependency expert Melody Beattie, “Detachment is based on the premises that each person is responsible for himself, that we can’t solve problems that aren’t ours to solve, and that worrying doesn’t help.” (Codependent No More, 1992, page 60)
Detaching is a way off of the “relationship rollercoaster”. Detaching allows you to take care of yourself, honor your own feelings and needs, and let go of the guilt and shame that result from taking responsibility for other people’s bad choices.
What is detaching?
Al-Anon (a 12-Step group for people affected by someone else’s alcoholism) describes detachment with this acronym:
Detaching means you stop trying to force the outcome that you want.
Detach with love
We use the term “detach with love” to remind us that detaching is a loving action. Detaching doesn’t mean pushing people away or not caring about them. Detaching isn’t angry or withholding love. It’s letting go of controlling and worrying and putting responsibility back on the individual.
Detaching also isn’t cutting ties or ending a relationship (although, at times, that can be the healthiest choice). Detaching helps you to stay in relationship and not lose your sense of self.
Detaching is similar to setting boundaries. Detaching puts healthy emotional or physical space between you and your loved one in order to give you both the freedom to make your own choices and have your own feelings. I think of detaching as untangling your life from someone else’s – so that your feelings, beliefs, and actions aren’t driven as a response to what someone else is doing.
A popular Al-Anon reading advises: “I must detach myself from his [the alcoholic’s] shortcoming, neither making up for them nor criticizing them. Let me learn to play my own role, and leave his to him. If he fails in it, the failure is not mine, no matter what others may think or say about it” (One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, 1987, page 29).
Detaching is a process
Detaching is something you do over and over again in relationships. Like setting boundaries, it’s not something you do once and then forget about!
Examples of Detaching
Emotional or psychological detachment:
  • Focus on what you can control. Differentiate what’s in your control and what isn’t.
  • Respond don’t react. Take time to figure out what you want to say and say it when you’re calm rather than being quick to react in the moment.
  • Respond in a new way. For example, instead of taking it personally or yelling, shrug off a rude comment or make a joke of it. This changes the dynamics of the interaction.
  • Allow people to make their own (good or bad) decisions.
  • Don’t give advice or tell people what they should do.
  • Don’t obsess about other people’s problems.
  • Set emotional boundaries by letting others know how to treat you.
  • Give your expectations a reality check. Unrealistic expectations are often the source of frustration and resentment.
  • Do something for yourself. Notice what you need right now and try to give it to yourself. {Self-Care!! Caring for the Caregiver}
  • Stay on your side of the street” (based on a 12-Step slogan). A reminder to deal with your own problems and not interfere with other people’s choices.
Physical detachment:
  • Take some space from an unproductive argument.
  • Choose not to visit your dysfunctional child (or arrive late and leave early).
  • Leave (potentially) dangerous situations.
It gets easier
As I mentioned earlier, detaching is something that you will need to practice. It goes counter to a codependent’s {parent's} nature, but it’s possible when you work at it. You’re stronger and more capable than you may think. Detaching is a way out of the chaos, worry, and emotional pain you’re experiencing. Detaching isn’t something that you must do “all or nothing”. Begin where you are, practice and learn, and in time you’ll see that detaching is not only possible, but freeing.

What Our Lives Look Like Now

There's a possibility that Kitty will move in with her boyfriend at some point. While we doubt seriously that will end well, we haven't decided if we will interfere. The respite would be greatly appreciated and might be worth the fallout when it falls apart. 
When an Adult Child Moves Out

SSI (Social Security Income for people with Disabilities)

I have worked hard to get and keep my daughter on SSI. It requires almost constant case management. I am her Rep Payee, which means I handle all of her finances including managing her living expenses (rent, food, utilities, miscellaneous). How this looks has varied over the years.

While she has managed to independently find and keep a part-time, minimum wage job, I'm the one that handles her finances there too.

The Little Red Hen

Recently, I have decided to back off - To be a Detached Parent.

It's frustrating as hell, because I know I'm making more work for myself in the future (when she's pregnant, when I have to deal with yet another marathon session of helping her through an emotional breakdown, when I have to completely strip and remodel her room again, when she possibly burns down the house or we get overrun by bugs and rodents...).

I don't feel I have much choice.

My biggest fear is that she will get pregnant and I will be raising her child (a child for whom there is a strong likelihood that he/she will have most of the same issues/ and diagnoses that she does). I have tried to convince her to get an IUD (most birth control isn't effective with her medications), but have had no luck.

I still handle her case management. 
I make and take her to doctor appointments.
I handle her SSI and Medicaid and other issues with insurance when they arise.
I usually help her manage her medications, but currently, she thinks she doesn't need them.
When she lives at home, I buy her groceries, clothes, hygiene and hair products...
if we eat out, and she's home, she's generally invited to eat with us.
I take her to get her hair cut. 
I take her and pay for her dentist bills (it's not covered by SSI)..
I fuss at her when she leaves the kitchen and or bathroom disgusting, then just clean it myself.
I no longer request she does chores...

At midnight on paydays, I access her account and remove the portion of her paycheck that she needs to cover her bills. Leaving the rest, knowing that she's blowing it all on crap, despite saying that she wants to save it.

I usually listen when she vents about her boyfriend, friends, and co-workers, and give her my advice, but just as often, I cut her off and let her know I'm busy.

I try not to let my resentment color our relationship.