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!

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's all about trust

So I got everything I need to get started on the trust jars and then started really thinking about how to implement it. I decided that rather than having them earn their way up to levels I would just start them out where I think they are - so now I have to figure out where that is.

I asked Grandma - who watches them after school. I asked the kids, which actually surprised me. All of them agree that Ponito (the 9 year old) is completely trustworthy. I don't know what to do about Bear though.

Bear is 15, he is diagnosed with RAD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADD, cerebral dysrythmia... He came into our home at age 13, and spent 8 months in RTC (which helped him a lot and got his meds and diagnoses straight - he's been home 8 months), his adoption was final in July. He attends a special school for emotionally disturbed kids that has only 20 kids in it and is doing great!

The school is pressuring me to put him in out classes at the high school - I've been saying no because this Summer we tried Summer School and he got kicked out after 2 weeks for bringing a toy gun (that looked real) that he'd stolen and was intending to trade to a kid that sells drugs for drugs!

So my dilemna. On a normal day, Bear is fairly responsible and semi-reliable - does his chores, behaves in school. When no one is watching, he sometimes orders his siblings around, borrows their stuff without asking (or tells them to give it to him), breaks it, and then returns it. Not malicious, but definitely not appreciated. I trust him about as far as I can throw him (he's 5'9" and about 200lbs), because he is so inconsistent and doesn't seem to understand the consequences of his actions.

He thinks I am "holding a grudge" and knows that I will not let the school give him out classes (which makes him angry, but he never lets us see that - he just stuffs it all inside). He sees himself as fairly reliable and trustworthy and having "earned his way up" (gotta love all the levels at school and RTC).

I love the idea of a trust jar, particularly for him, because I think having a concrete, visual reminder of his trust level will make it seem less vindictive. Because his level would be so low, my sister feels that this will be a big punishment and self-esteem damaging. The more I think about it, the more I think maybe he is not actually capable of building trust with me - because when he's good, he's very good, but when he's bad -he's scary. This trust jar may actually be punitive and damaging for him.

So what would you do? I realize this is part of his illness, and I am not mad at him. Despite what he says, I am not holding a grudge. He has recently begun asking for priviliges like going to the highschool for homecoming, and I keep having to say NO. I know it is damaging our relationship. I've talked to him a little about why I don't trust him, but he doesn't get it. Again, part of his illness, and years of building high levels in school and treatment centers gives him a feeling of entitlement.

He maxes out his level card every day. This is why I succumbed to the pressure this Summer to let him take classes out of his special program. Now I feel that the reason he is doing so well is because he is in the right place for him, school wise and structure-wise at home too. He is no longer under line of sight supervision, but he's close. This seems to be what he needs. How do you tell that to a 15 year old boy who's being told that he should get "normal teenage boy" privileges?

I really think the other kids will benefit from this concept for many reasons, and definitely want to do it for them, but maybe I shouldn't for Bear. Advice please?!



Torina said...

That's a tough one. Especially if it is a "trust" jar. Maybe you should also do a trust jar for yourself, to show your kids that you are playing, too. It would be really interesting to see what the kids with attachment/trust issues would do about how trustworthy you are. As for the jars, maybe you could start them all out as empty (I forget what you said about them in the original post). And also keep them in a private place in each kid's room so that they can't compare which could damage self-esteem or create sabotage. This way, each kid starts with a clean slate. Really, I have no clue. Just talking out of my butt right now. :) Not very helpful am I?

Emma said...

Agreed that you should not let the school convince you to send Bear to a "less restrictive" environment. Sounds like you are right in that he's doing well BECAUSE he's in a restrictive environment.

Teacher/Mom said...

Hi there,

Found your blog off of pioneer woman. Just wanted to say Bless your heart for adopting special needs kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God will reward you in heaven, although I'm sure there are many days when you just don't care. I won't post any advice because my oldest is a girl, and only 9 at that. But, she is a spitfire and we have lots of trying issues with her. Keep on hanging on - the Lord will carry you through. Blessings.