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, May 29, 2014

Adult FAIR Club

So Kitty, (now 19yo - diagnosed with RAD, bipolar, complex PTSD, borderline personality disorder, brain injury, borderline IQ,...) graduates high school this weekend. This has been causing a LOT of stress for a kid who has a low tolerance for change and stress. We've always provided a lot of structure and support, which she needs, but with her distorted perception of reality, she doesn't agree with us --especially because she believes we don't treat her the same way as our younger, neurotypical bio kids, Bob - 17 and also graduating, and Ponito -15.  She thinks this is because we love them more, but of course that's not true. 

She hides her issues from everyone (but us) and gets lots of validation from the school and her friends that she's being treated badly.  Mostly because she tells them how unfair her life is - and that it's all our fault.  I do realize this is because her expectations aren't based in reality.

So for the last few months she's been surly, isolating, and missing a ton of school (2 or 3 times a week!  She says it's because she's not sleeping, vomiting at night and has migraines.  We've ruled out physical reasons.  It's all stress and anxiety.). 

We've talked often in therapy about Kitty becoming an adult and making the transitions to adulthood. She's told us straight out that she wanted adult privileges, but was not going to act like a respectful, responsible adult. She said if she lived with anyone else she would be respectful, but refused to do so with us. She doesn't quite meet the qualifications for group home, but is not able or willing to do what needs to be done to live outside the home. So she will be living with us, but will be nasty and resentful about it. We understand that she's not really capable of a lot of the normal adult responsibilities, and will probably never be able to live completely on her own, but we are hating that we're going to have to live with this crap.

Sunday night she informs us that she's going to stay late at work (Hubby was supposed to pick her up at 10pm) and she'd get a ride home. She didn't come home at all. Monday morning (a holiday) she asks Bob to bring her her meds (to wherever she was), but her sister didn't want to - so she missed both her evening and morning meds.  Not the first time she's missed her meds in the last 7 days.

Monday evening, after weeks of being "too sick" to help out around the house or do pretty much anything but go to work and school (sometimes), she informs us that she's going to Subway with friends and walks out. She didn't show up for hours, and her only response to my texts was that she wasn't dead and she'd be home "Later." She didn't come home until 2:30am.

Tuesday she overslept and missed a final exam, but she's special ed so no one at school cares. I warned her there would be consequences (FAIR Club). When I went to pick her up after school for therapy she wasn't there. She refused to answer my texts, but told her sister she was with her new boyfriend. I have no idea where she spent the night, and honestly was convinced she'd decided to try to live on her own (well, mooching off friends).

Wednesday afternoon she had a meeting with a state agency that helps with employment and she showed up just in time for me to take her to the meeting. The guy told her she needed to start acting like an adult (paying rent and bills, writing checks, and reminded her that her parents loved and cared for her. She came home like all was forgotten. She did semi apologize for taking off, but blamed it on her friends' influence and us being controlling. She was not happy when I told her there would still be consequences.  She did the crime, she'll do the time.

So I told you this long story, because I need some ideas for consequences:


Dear _Kitty_,

Welcome to the “Adult” FAIR Club!  The FAIR Club is designed to give you boundaries and additional support while you practice and gain (or regain) the ability to be Respectful, Responsible, Honest, and Fun To Be Around, Loving and Learning Adult (RRHAFTBALL). First, we, your parents, want to apologize to you for not making you feel safe enough to be part of this loving, healthy family.  We are making a commitment to you to help you become a RRHAFTBALL adult.  
Transportation – You will be given transportation to approved suitable events arranged prior to the actual event.  This can include therapy, doctor appointments, appointments with service providers, job interviews, work and school. This is to keep you safe and remind you to be aware of the welfare of others.  
Curfew - You will have eaten, taken your meds, fed the dogs, and be in your room by 9pm.  You will be up, taken meds and have eaten breakfast by 10am.  This is to help you get the rest you need (learning to be RRHAFTBALL is hard work!).  Wandering the house, getting a drink of water or something to eat, shows me you still need more time to learn to be RRHAFTBALL.  Do these things BEFORE room time!  
Electronics – Viewing electronics an hour or less before trying to sleep causes great difficulty with sleep.   TV, computer, phone will be stored outside of your room at night.  A radio alarm clock is acceptable
Family Time - You will need to hang around the family a LOT so we can show you by example how to be RRHAFTBALL.  You will need to make lots of eye contact and use a pleasant tone of voice when speaking with others.  If you need any help, hugs, or just someone to talk to – ASK!  That’s what we are here for.
Chores - You will be expected to do all of your chores (including cleaning the bathrooms you use on a regular basis), laundry, and to pickup after yourself.  

If you no longer wish to be part of the FAIR Club, you must SHOW us that you are ready to rejoin us a full member of this loving, healthy family by:
1. Being RRHAFTBALL!  And following the FAIR club and family rules without complaint, reminders, whining or argument.
2. Complete your writing assignment (listed at the bottom of this page).  Use neat handwriting, complete sentences and good spelling and grammar.  You can ask a parent for help and use a dictionary.
3. Sincerely apologize to all parties involved (including both parents).
4. Sincerely offer restitution to all parties involved (how can you make it right?)
Writing Assignment: _ Review and sign the Boarder Agreement.  Write a 1 page essay about what the responsibilities and common courtesies of an adult living at home should be, and what the consequences ought to be when you don’t act like an adult.   Ex. Letting people know where you are and when you’re going to be home.
Extra Chore:  Work with parent to finish laying the flooring in your old and new room.  Deep cleaning of kids’ bath and both ½  baths.
Mom and Dad


Lisa said...

I think that all of your requirements seem reasonable. Based on what you have disclosed about Kitty and her issues up to this point, I would not expect her to follow many (if any) of these requirements on her own, without many, many prompts and many, many meltdowns.

While you are right that she may never be able to live completely self supporting and independently you also have to imagine what life in your home will be like if she continues to come and go as she pleases, until all hours, with anyone she deems appropriate. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I wish I had the name of a great facility that helps transition young adults to the real world gradually, with high supervision - you know, like families are supposed to do (in theory anyway, not possible with some of our kids who don't trust us enough to believe we are trying to help them and not just limit them).

Having Bob so close in age and with the abilities to do typical, age appropriate things must be hard for Kitty to handle, but you can't let it get under your skin. Celebrate Bob's accomplishments whole heartedly - Kitty is the one who needs to stop comparing and critiquing how you handle things.

Good luck!!!

Anonymous said...

Will the boarder agreement be the same one from last fall?

marythemom said...

Kitty is not handling this well, but this is not surprising, since she believes that being an adult means you can do anything you want, and instead we tell her "if you want to be treated like an adult, you need to act like one."

Anonymous - Yes, the boarder agreement is basically the same one from last fall.

Miz Kizzle said...

New boyfriend plus being away overnight sounds like trouble. I hope she's on some form of birth control.

Anonymous said...

So you are going to fleece her for her social security money as per that ridiculous "boarder agreement".
I hope she wises up and leaves before you get her to sign that ridiculous document.
Run Kitty, RUN!

marythemom said...

Miz K - sort of. She started taking bc, but doesn't remember that the doctor warned her that it wouldn't be very effective because of her meds (they keep it from working well). On top of that, she's not taking it regularly (because she's not coming home and also just forgets).

Anonymous - I know I'm not going to convince you, but I'll state our reasoning again.

Paying rent is essential for her for many reasons:
a) She learns an adult independent living skill (paying rent is something she'll pretty much be doing the rest of her life).
b) If she has more than $2000, (including property/ assets), she LOSES her SSI, including Medicaid. Since her medications alone are almost $2K a month, that cannot be an option.
c) She NEEDS something to spend her money on, besides junk food and stuff from Amazon.

If you're referring to the uber detailed rules and restrictions... these are because she lives in a black and white world and needs concrete rules that are well spelled out. What seems so obvious that it doesn't need to be said (like don't create a giant health hazard in the space we used to call your bedroom...), must be spelled out so she understands that we're not "picking on her," we're just enforcing the rules. She may not be happy about them and it is difficult for her to comply, but if they're not written out, then she assumes they're not real.