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!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Making of a "Plan"

Thursday night when Hubby got home I hid. I knew I'd done nothing but sit on my booty all day. I didn't go to work, I didn't clean, I didn't declutter/organize, I didn't sew on a project I promised a friend of mine months ago (sorry STS!), I didn't study, I didn't clean out my inbox, I didn't even do something for myself to make myself feel better. I just vegged in front of reruns of America's Next T*p M*del, and played Spider S*litaire.

Bear was outside mowing the lawn (instead of doing his chores) so I didn't need to be downstairs running interference, so I went upstairs to "nap." Didn't work. So I got up and did some laundry and that's what I was doing when Hubby got home (so he assumed I'd been productive all day - neat trick huh?!). "The game" was on so I tried to sneak around the edges of things, but Hubby noticed I was having trouble, and finally caught up with me in the garage pretending trying to "declutter" the mess that we call a garage.

He asked me if I was OK, and I told him no, but to go back and watch the game. He wouldn't leave (stubborn man!) and when he hugged me I burst into tears. We talked for a minute, and I finally convinced him to go back to the game and that I would be fine until we had a chance to "make a plan" for what to do with Bear after the kids went to bed.

Maybe it is time to go back on anti-depressants.

The Making of a Plan

Define the problem:

  • • Bear is mildly verbally abusive.
    • He is non-compliant with his chores and therapy homework - in a mostly passive aggressive way.
    • He appears to emotionally need the support and structure we give him so when we "lighten up" he acts out so that we are forced to clamp down again.
    • "Lightening up" not only puts Bear at risk, but the whole family. Currently I run interference between him and the children, but that would be even more difficult if he is escalating.
    • Currently he triggers me in a way that makes me shut down emotionally which renders me useless for handling and supporting the family.
    • He is planning on leaving home when he turns 18 in July, but will still have one year of high school left, no job skills, no driving skills, no ability to fill out applications for services/jobs, and will most likely be going off his meds (voluntarily or because he has no means to get more) and therefore will be psychotic.
    • Bear wants to go live with biograndfather in another state. It is so rural there is almost no way he'd be able to access meds and services - assuming he can be convinced he needs them.
    • The pdoc thinks we should let him crash and burn because there is not enough evidence that he cannot fundamentally take care of himself.
    • I feel a moral obligation to avoid Bear ending up in the "real world" with no supports.
    Identify Barriers:
    • Pdoc, school and Bear's MHMR support staff think we should give Bear more freedoms and less structure, and are not supportive. For almost all alternatives we will be proceeding without professional support.
    • Hubby and I do not believe that it is possible to completely "cure" Bear's attachment issues - particularly in the time remaining.
    • There are no "tried and true" methods or even precedents to refer to on how to deal with this situation.
    • Without Bear "buying in" we have little hope of success. There is little motivation on Bear's part to do so. If we choose to manipulate him to gain compliance with whatever path we choose, then we risk alienating him further.
Brainstorm Alternatives:

1. Status Quo - continue to keep Bear and the family safe by continuing the current structure and support.


  • • I can't keep this up,
    • disapproval and/or lack of support from professionals,
    • is not preparing him for "real life" by teaching him skills he'll need on his own,
    • is not giving him a chance to succeed or fail in "real life" skills to "prove" before he turns 18 what he is capable of (or not capable of),
    • Bear continues to resent us (this is a no win situation - I feel we're damned if we do and damned if we don't)
    • Most Important: is controlling the symptoms but not treating the underlying issues so we will be right were we started when he turns 18.
    • Gives Bear more time to mature without having to deal with triggers and overwhelming situations,
    • Bear feels supported and like he can trust us to be there for him and keep him "safe,"
    • Keeps Bear and the family safe.

2. "Lighten Up" - treating Bear like a "normal teen." Start teaching him life skills whether he's ready or not.


  • • Not safe for the family (realistically I would still feel compelled to supervise him when he's at home to protect the family - so this wouldn't really change).
    • Not safe for the world (puts peers and others at risk especially if we allow him to drive and choose what and when to take his medications)
    • We've tried this before and it always results in Bear blowing up/acting out - so that he ends up back in structured setting
    • Siblings witnessing him getting privileges he did not earn, behaving in unacceptable ways with no/few consequences, and choosing to mimic his behaviors/attitude or complaining.
    • More work for me: helping him get a job, drivers' ed, taking him places.
    • Bear feels unsafe, abandoned and neglected
    • Bear feels he "wins" and has manipulated the "stupid" adults
    • Most Important: Bear has no motivation to make any fundamental changes regarding his core issues


  • • Bear has the opportunity to show the professionals that he can/ cannot be successful in certain "real world" activities while still living at home
    • Bear feels that he is able to "earn" privileges

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and
expecting different results." ~ Einstein

3. Change It Up: Go back to the drawing board and find another way to approach Bear's issues. Find professionals who will really assess Bear's abilities and work proactively to make changes. Possibly pursue legal guardianship or bribe or threaten him into staying longer to give us more time.

Alternatives/ Concerns:

  • Not sure what to try next. There don't seem to be any standard treatment methods for emotionally disturbed teenage boys with RAD - do some more research into alternative treatments (for personality disorders?), try seeing a different therapist or add another therapist.
  • If we change professionals we have to leave MHMR entirely. Not sure that we've explored all the options with them yet, and don't have a better alternative.
  • We're running out of time!
  • If we pursue legal guardianship and get it: then we have custody of an angry kid, and so far we don't have a plan on how to make progress on treating his issues instead of just his symptoms. Plus it will cost between $2000.00 and $5000.00.
  • Hubby doesn't think Bear qualifies for legal guardianship.
  • We could try letting Bear know we're pursuing legal guardianship (whether we really are or not) to stop his "sour grapes," "rejecting us before we can reject him" philosophy (he thinks he has to leave, but at the same time acts as though we're kicking him out). So he can maybe relax and trust us. May not work, but he was actually attaching for a little while when he was 15 and then suddenly thought he "had to" leave at 17 and regressed/ pulled away. By the time we got that cleared up he was already thinking he "had to" leave at 18.
  • We could try bribing him (help getting his driver's license, a car?) to stay at least through high school for the same reason (to relax and trust us, to give him a little more time to mature and to learn some of the skills he hasn't mastered yet).

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