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, April 11, 2017

How To Get Treated Like an Adult.

ACT LIKE ONE!!

Kitty is always complaining that we don't treat her like an adult. Unfortunately, Kitty has no understanding of what an adult is, except that it's *our fault* she's not being treated like one.

She wants all of 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...), but is not capable of handling most of the privileges she wants, and discounts the ones she does get as her due. (Can you say, "entitled"?)

She also has no interest or actual ability in dealing with the adult responsibilities.

So I decided to put together a document on how to get treated like an adult, just like I've done with things like driving. I sat down and listed out things she needs to be able to do to show us she's ready to be treated like an adult. When I started the list, I was extremely frustrated, and focused on showing her concrete reasons why she was not ready to be treated like an adult.

I did something like this once before when she got the psych hospital staff to try to force me to treat her like the teenager she was physically, even though she was so dysregulated that she wasn't even able to handle almost any privileges at all, let alone ones that usually came with her physical age of 16 (cell phones, hanging out with friends at the mall, unsupervised dating...). So I came up with this document --  Chores/ responsibilities vs privileges

Here's the document I started.

How To Get Treated Like an Adult 

RESPONSIBLE
Be Proactive. Explore your options. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and abilities.

Plan for the future you want.
  • Discuss with others (therapist, parents) what it would look like. 
  • Write down the steps needed to get there - include a general timeline. 
  • Work your way through the steps one by one until you achieve your goal. 

Be flexible! If something you've planned is not working out, try to figure out why (ask for advice!). Be willing to change your goals!

Focus on your strengths! Instead of whining and complaining about your limitations and what you can't do, make goals based on your strengths and abilities. If you don't like a limitation or "weakness," find a way to work around it or change your goals.

Be positive and focus on working toward achievable goals. Don't dream the impossible dream, make it achievable!

RESPECTFUL
Ask for and accept help. Do remember that while many people are looking out for your best interest, you should not expect it or accept it at the expense of their own. What can you do for them for helping you?

HONEST
If you don't feel like you're being treated fairly, talk to the person upsetting you, or a trusted adult.

Be aware that it takes time for yourself and others to see, believe, and trust in any major changes. Please be understanding to all during that time.

APPRECIATIVE

FUN TO BE AROUND
3 Vent Rule

LOVING - Family Girl vs Adult Boarder

LEARNING

***

As you can see, I started by using RRHAFTBALL as an outline. I got about halfway done, and lost steam. Once I was done venting, I knew it was just as pointless to present this to her as presenting the level chart had been when she was a teen. (How the privileges vs responsibilities level chart worked out is at the bottom of this page)

Kitty's emotional development has progressed to about 13 on a (really) good day, and honestly? I believe this is about where she'll stay.

Which makes it even more frustrating that she will always feel that she deserves to be treated like an adult and hold it against us when we don't treat her that way. If we keep pointing out why we are doing this, it feels like criticism and shaming and reinforces her deep-rooted belief that she's unlovable, despised, and we and everyone else will abandon her for being imperfect).

She just doesn't "get it," and I don't believe she can "fix it." It feels cruel to keep saying you need to act like an adult to be treated like an adult.

I know she needs, and will continue to need extra structure and support.


SO HERE'S WHAT WE DID:

I gave Kitty exactly what she wanted.

She wanted to be independent, but also needed to feel loved and supported or she felt abandoned. (Obviously these two things are pretty conflicting)

We let her move out.
Deep down, Kitty knows that she's not ready to live totally on her own, so she did the next best thing (for her). She moved in with biofamily, who she was convinced would let her do whatever she wants. People who actually live a life of adult privileges with very few of what I would consider to be the "adult responsibilities." This time she lived with them for 4 months before she came home.

Just like last time she tried this, the second she walked out the door, she was constantly calling me for emotional support. She went from hiding in her room all day, to calling me 3 to 4 times a day (we actually talked about this "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" tendency, and she acknowledges it).

We compromised (aka I bribed her).
Kitty wants to be independent, but I believe she will never be truly capable of this, and don't want to have to continuously have to pick up the pieces when things don't work the way she thinks they will, especially if one of those pieces is pregnancy.

What Kitty says she wants: 
  • To live independently
  • To be able to drive
  • To have a nice place to live ("not a crappy one bedroom trailer")
  • To be able to come and go whenever she wants
  • To have whoever she wants come over and stay as long as she wants them to (including sleepovers with guys)
  • To be able to cook and eat whatever she wants
  • To leave her place as messy as she wants
  • To make her own medical choices (as long as she doesn't have to: fill out a bunch of forms, take public transportation to get there, handle insurance, deal with any issues that come up, find new medical professionals as needed...)
  • To pay her own bills for whatever services she wants (Netflix, hulu, and deal with her own medical
  • To make her own decisions about how her money is spent (alcohol, getting her hair done, clothes and shoes from Hot Topic or online, eating out... )
  • To have no one "judging" her if she wants to stay out all night partying, have sex, drink...

What I want most is to be her Mom, and drop all the other titles/ hats. 
What I want:

  • For Kitty to accept her limitations and not blame and take her feelings about her limitations out on me. 
  • To not have to constantly run interference between Kitty and real life. (Most real life consequences would crush her)
  • To not be the "Dream Killer
  • To not be continually taking care of and cleaning up after her 
  • To not be her emotional support/ regulator for the rest of her life (I'm ok with this to some extent, but she currently calls and texts me at least 3 to 4 times a day, usually in full crisis mode)
  • To not have to raise her children
  • To not be her caseworker for the rest of my life (scheduling appointments, handling insurance, filling out forms, transporting her everywhere, handling her money, enforcing her budget)
  • To know that she'll be OK if something happens to Hubby and I

Residential Vocational School
I finally found a residential facility designed to teach independent living and job skills to young people with mild intellectual disabilities (which Kitty was recently diagnosed with). I also found funding for it (it's $7000+ a month). The program is designed to last 12 - 18 months. The majority of the students are like Kitty, needing independent living skills, but will most likely never be able to achieve full independence.

Of course when I broached the subject of the school, she was having none of it!

After much negotiation, and with the help of her therapist, these are the compromises we've come up with: 

  1. She will attend the Residential Vocational School for at least 3 to 4 months. I have agreed to this much shorter time on the condition that she keep an open mind about staying longer, and that she doesn't tell the school or her funding source (one or both of which might stop paying for her to be there and send her home early). Since we currently have no place for her to live, that would be bad!

    ** This gives us time for the family to move and to prepare her new place (we're downsizing now that Ponito is 18 and graduating from high school this year).
    ** She will have about $200 of her SSI money that doesn't go to the school. Minus the expenses that will continue while she's at school (cell phone, medical insurance, preparing her new place...), she will have some money to spend on things she wants. We purchased many of these items in advance so she will have them at school. She will be paying back the loan of this money.
    ** Items she purchased with her "advance":
    -- Laptop (which also allows her to see her therapist weekly via a Skype-type video chat thingy.
    -- TV that works with her lap top and the DVD player she got for Christmas.
    -- "Uniforms"
    the school requires business casual wear for when she's in class (Khakis, polos/ button down shirts...),
    -- Professional Hair Coloring - the school stated that since their focus was on getting her job ready, she could not dye her hair crazy colors or something like bleach blonde that won't look professional when it started growing out, so Kitty decided to wait on this until she returns home.
    -- Tablet - I'm waiting until Kitty is more comfortable at school (she's only been there a month) to tell her about this one, and I'm hoping it will allow me to negotiate her being there for 2-3 more months while we're getting the new house ready.
    When helping Kitty repack so that her stuff would fit in the car to go to school (ex. she had a large packing box full of nothing but hangers tossed in so that they filled the box, rather than neatly stacked allowing more room for other things), I discovered a tablet that I knew wasn't hers. She gave some lame excuses about where it came from, but I strongly suspected that it was mine that had been stolen almost 2 years before. I didn't allow her to take it with her to school.
    Hubby checked it over, and it is definitely mine, minus the $80 case it had on it, and plus a ton of stickers and glitter , downloads, and apps(and computer viruses). She absolutely knew it was mine when it went missing and we have evidence she's been using it, not just "discovered" it recently. 
  2. We are moving to a new place where she can have her own "apartment." With a separate entrance, a kitchen, and a bathroom. We've had to be flexible on what that would look like, since we have a LOT of criteria our new home has to fit or can be made to fit by renovating and/or adding to the house.
    ** fit in our very tight budget,
    ** has either: a set of rooms or a garage that can be converted (ex. by changing a window to a door for a separate entrance and either has a bathroom or can add a bathroom, can add a kitchenette), or a large enough property and no deed/ code restrictions to allow a trailer/ RV/ ADU (Additional Dwelling Unit/ Granny pod...)
    ** handicap accessible for my mother-in-law who uses a walker/ wheelchair,
    ** within walking distance of a bus or other transportation for Kitty
    ** the commute to downtown Big City where Hubby works cannot be too long
    ** space for Ponito and Bob when they are back from college during holidays and summers.
    ** preferably in a county that offers less expensive legal services for getting legal guardianship of Kitty
    Notice how many of those criteria are specifically for Kitty!
  3. We haven't discussed this one yet, but if she wants to change the boarder agreement so she can have male guests, especially if they spend the night. Then I want her to have an IUD. 
  4. Of course there are many other things we'll need to work out:
    - Budgeting (food, transportation, clothing, rent, entertainment)
    - Using the family wifi and common areas
    - Pets
    - Giving us a heads up about her plans so we know when to start searching ditches
    - Family Activities (is she always invited when we eat out or go to a movie or the lake or something?)
    - Health Code violations aka how much supervision for cleaning, food storage, garbage, clutter...
    - Respecting our electric and water bills

We had her first staffing at the new school. Of course she's doing great, she always does. What interested me most is that the school has an extension program for "transitioning students." After they've completed this program, they can live in an apartment on campus, work, and practice all the skills they've learned (budgeting, cooking, paying bills...). I've asked if they can give me information so that we can try replicating this program at home (they do already know she wants to return to our city instead of staying on for this program).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to have found your blog. Our family is in much the same situation as yours. Please let me know how the Residential Vocational School experience is going! Also, how you went about finding it and the funding for it. We are in South Texas as well.