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, December 30, 2010

Great Expectations

Foster Abba over at The Final Maze, wrote a post called Reasoning with the Unreasonable in which she quoted Cindy over at Big Mama Hollers,

"I'm just so out of patience with year after year of so little progress, some older kids are distressing me terribly with their ridiculous thoughts and attitudes, crappy criminalism, best if I keep my distance, and my opinions to myself, let them learn their own way about employment, bill paying and relationships.

They think I'm the stupid one for following rules and obeying laws.

How does one reason with that?"

Foster Abba's response was,

"I think the reality is that you can't reason with that. I think the problem for so many of our damaged children is that they are incapable of understanding logic or consequences."

I think I've finally grasped that you can't reason with our children, that they don't understand consequences, and that their logic is based on defense mechanisms and learned behavior that are no longer useful, but that are now such a part of their thought processes that they can't get rid of them. I think I've grasped it... but there are days when I realize my expectations are not in alignment with that reality.

But for me the hard part is watching others deal with my children who HAVEN'T and WON'T grasp it, and think I'm a horrible person for "giving up" on my children and "not allowing them to reach their potential" because I have grasped it.

On paper my children are CAPABLE of being productive, successful members of society. Technically they COULD go to college, get a job, and have healthy relationships. However Kitty and Bear have so many issues that the odds of them actually being able to do this are astronomically against it. I don’t want to hold them back by saying they can’t, but at the same time I feel we’re not preparing them for reality and the practical things I'm being forced encouraged to allow like driving my kids are not really ready for.

The high school especially is helping my children plan for a future that includes college, and in Kitty's case, medical school (she wants to be a surgeon "because they make lots of money"). Both of my kids are in special ed. and not just because they are emotionally disturbed. Maybe college and tradeschools are possible with lots of help, but extremely unlikely (especially since Bear would not be willing to ask for or accept that help).

Bear is half way through his junior year of high school. He does not have realistic life goals. This is so wrong, but the school doesn’t see the need in assessing him or helping him find realistic alternatives, and he can’t accept that help from us. I don’t know what to do about this. Last time we challenged one of his life goals (told him he wasn’t eligible for the military) he gave up (skipping school, drugs, fights…) and we almost didn’t get him back.

His life goals still aren’t realistic, but now no one wants to tell him. I too want to make sure he has a ”backup plan” before we tell him, but I can’t get anyone to help me help him explore his options. I don’t know what to do next.

I don't think my kids are capable of living on their own, particularly not any time soon, but we’re unable to get them diagnosed with anything that will get them the support they need to make it in the “real world.” Because of their attachment issues they are unable to trust us enough to stay home with us and let us help them. Bear is also in denial about his issues and diagnoses so I know he’ll stop taking his meds and getting the therapy and support that he needs. There is a strong possibility that Bear will most likely end up in jail (if he’s lucky) because that is the only place that can provide the support, structure and regulation that he needs.


My greatest fear is that there is something I could have done to make them better and improve their chances of being happy, healthy and productive.

In what ways do you find yourself limiting your other children (if you have any) to accommodate the needs of your special need child?

I find myself being overprotective of ALL of my kids, not just the ones who need the additional support, but my younger ”neurotypical” biokids too. It’s so hard for me to draw the line.

When I treat the kids differently, then they think I love the other kids more (ALL of them think that). I truly can’t win. How do you handle this?


Lulu McCabe said...

When you say:
"My greatest fear is that there is something I could have done to make them better and improve their chances of being happy, healthy and productive."
...I think, "Exactly!" Thanks for putting it in words! On the one hand, our kid wants to go to UC Berkeley and be a doctor. On the other hand, we can barely get him to go to his classes and he's at risk of failing several despite his intelligence. He needs to see that I believe in him, but he also needs to prepare for adulthood and understand the options before him and grapple with his self-sabotaging behaviors. I worry about it every day! All I can say is, when you put it as you did above, it strikes me as the most profound maternal sentiment. Of course we worry over that, because we love them and see them so clearly. (Also, this might make you wince, but our social worker told me once, "Be prepared to parent him until he's 25. Kids like him need a lot more parenting in their early adulthood and they aren't prepared to leave home for awhile.") Happy New Year!

GB's Mom said...

25 is my experience too. Don't count on him really leaving at 18. My two oldest left because they could, but it didn't last more than two weeks and they were back.

marythemom said...

The therapist has said this about Kitty, and I firmly believe it about both of them, but the case managers, school, and most importantly, the kids, don't believe it's an option. I think Kitty might stay (although we might need to sabotage her going to live with her biograndmother, which shouldn't be too difficult), but Bear cannot and will not allow himself to stay. I think once he graduates high school and leaves, he'll prefer to go to jail rather than come home.


FosterAbba said...

I think the real problem is that nobody wants to admit that there are some problems that cannot be solved. People want to hope that every child has the same opportunities as another.

It makes it very hard for those of us who are parenting kids who really can't become a rocket scientist, doctor, or physicist, because everyone is telling the child he can.

I've written another follow-up post on this thread, called Setting Reasonable Expectations.