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!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

RADish friends.

One big issue with kids with RAD is lack of social skills. They have very little empathy.

My 16 year old RAD son has friends. Usually kids with issues that he gets in trouble with. He also apparently has a sign on his forehead that says "if you're petite and have major issues - then be my girlfriend!" We call them Kleenex girls - because he goes through them like Kleenex. He demands total devotion. She can't do anything but worship at his feet, or he dumps her. Some get sick of his controlling behavior and dump him. Those that don't, HE dumps because they get "too close." No one can convince him that he has too many issues to date right now. I do supervise his every move - there is NO way I'm going to be a Grandma at 39!

Our 14 year old daughter is different. She is super friendly. She makes friends quickly - but can't keep them. She has no social skills at all. She wanders off when she does have friends over.

She sees the world as black and white and can't handle the social nuances of teenage girls. If she thinks someone is mean then she HATES them. She calls boys she likes obsessively - then forgets they exist for months. She gets along better with younger girls because developmentally/ emotionally she's only about 5 years old. She can't hang out with too much younger kids though because they are immature and self-centered too. This irritates our daughter and she could lash out.

Friends are also a big deal for her because of the jealousy/ competitiveness factor with her sister. They are in the same grade, but luckily are not too much alike. Kitty is in almost all special education classes and her electives which are mainstream, have tended to be with kids in younger grades because she is a beginner. This year she is in advanced choir (last year was beginning) so she is in with some kids she knew from 5th grade.

When Kitty first got here she wanted to be popular. Bob has been with these same kids since preschool so she warned Kitty that they could be mean. Kitty chose to try to befriend them anyway. That didn't work well so Kitty decided it was Bob's fault. She decided Bob was telling people mean things about her (well, true things, about the horrible behavior she was showing at home - including a cat fight between the two that ended up with Bob's arm being covered in jagged claw marks and gouges). Kitty began to spread nasty rumors about Bob, probably hoping to make herself look better. Luckily most of the kids knew Bob and didn't believe Kitty.

So do I try to help Kitty foster friendships? She doesn't think she needs help. She doesn't see that wandering off when they visit would bother them. When they play with other family members because they're alone, Kitty gets jealous of the relationships. We have a rule that says if you have friends over you have to stay with them (partly because of this and partly because some of the kid's friends have taken things or gotten nosy when left to their own devices).

I've had to say if they are interested in Bear then they cannot be the girls' friends. The girls think that's mean, but it's become a big issue. I always have to worry about who is where and doing what. If he dates the girl briefly, they of course break up, and the girl keeps coming back to our house or calling. Some girls have even become stalkers. It upsets him greatly that they're allowed in the house after the breakup (yes, his problem, but I also don't want the girls being used this way). It really upsets Kitty when they call and ask for Bear, or they drop her because they're not dating her brother anymore. One of my biggest concerns of course is that he dates girls with major issues, they usually cuss and have other attitudes and issues that I do not want to expose my kids to (including him, but what can you do?!).

Bob is an introvert. She has a few friends that she eats lunch with at school and sometimes talks to on the phone, but most of the time she reads her books and is happy being a couch potato.

Ponito is an outgoing kid with tons of friends. The neighborhood is full of boys his age and he's always outside playing, or has friends over. Kitty is jealous of his playdates, sleepovers and general freedom. Frankly I think Bear is too. But what can I do? Emotionally/ developmentally they are younger than he is! I can trust him. Them?! Not so much.

How do you handle your child's friendhips, or lack thereof?

Mary in TX
Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(13)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
Finalized on her brother Bear(16) 7/08. He turned 15 the next day."
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

1 comment:

a said...

My daughter behaves like yours, wandering off when they come over. Parallel play I think its called. I only have one so I pretty much shadow her with friends feeding her lines like telling her to ask how they are, basically cueing her with social tips and conversation. Otherwise the kids think she's weird and won't come back. However I'm not sure if she'll ever be able to do it independently, we help her so much but still left to her own devices she is impulsive and does what she wants to do. Even though she desperately wants friends, she can't control herself in the moment so a piece of candy or a toy suddenly becomes more important than the visiting friend. So I'm not sure if it will do much good.

So far friends or relatives' kids who are more understanding are the only solution, but as she gets older they may not put up with as much. I've seen adults with poor social skills and its very hard for them. Even though I want to its still very hard to be friends with them, so I'm worried about the future for my daughter.