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is having a teenager supposed to feel like being in an emotionally toxic relationship?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
ds1 will be 16 soon. lately it feels like i'm back in a bad marriage. i have to walk on eggshells constantly. i cant ask him to do a chore or say anything that could be perceived as criticism. i get nothing out of the relationship, but i give and give until i am ready to give out.

am i alone?
post #2 of 28
No, you're not alone! And your description of it made me lmao. Mine are 17 and 20. They each find their own way to exasperate me. Being around them sometimes makes me feel like a complete idiot, and they can be so deadly and scathing. I have felt sooooo unlikeable around them at times! And I'm saying this about two of my favorite people in the whole world. You will stay sane, and even in the hardest seasons they'll give you flashes of great joy. (You will, however, question the sanity.)

It's a great ride, but a rough one.

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Here it is almost 10am and I can't get him out of bed. And once he gets up it's not like he's going to do anything useful, like dishes or laundry. The way he speaks to me isn't a huge problem, it could be a touch more respectful, but for the most part that's okay. And we laugh and joke together, but when he's in a mood I'd better watch out! It's like the wrath of God! LOL

I haven't felt joy in parenting in so long, maybe never. He was such a high-need baby, and then a hyperkinetic toddler. As soon as he hit kindergarten the moodiness started. I really think he has depression, and he is in therapy. Still, I feel just like I did when I spent 3 years married to a jerk (not his dad, though his dad was kind of a jerk, too) who had zero capacity for empathy.

I guess I just feel like I gave so much of myself because that's what it took to give him to level of care he needed. Honestly, I was brought up so not AP. If ds had been a more calm, complacent baby I doubt he would have been worn constantly. If he only cried rarely, it would have been so easy to CIO. My mother was in my face for the first few months telling me to stop spoiling him. But he was just sooo demanding. you couldn't not attend to him. So I learned APing even though I didn't hear that term until he was much older. I did it just to survive. Later, I learned more about the practice and Attachment Theory in general.

So where's my happy, well-adjusted, confident child? I did everything "right". I still do. I back off when he seems to need it, I drop whatever I'm doing if it seems like he wants my attention. I'm involved at school, we read the bible together. When will he snap out of this and be a normal person that isn't so sensitive he gets mad when I buy him something (anything) without him there to approve?

It's really wearing me out. And the worst is, I've only got him for another 2 years and 3 months. I know the minute he turns 18 he's moving in with his dad. There aren't any rules there, of course! So I guess I feel like I've already done all this work for nothing and I don't know if I can emotionally handle the next 2 years knowing he's going to just desert me in the end.
post #4 of 28
Gah! I had this long, brilliant response that disappeared into the ether!

To summarize: I sympathize. This is certainly normal! But its not OK for him to be dumping on you like self centered toddler anymore.

I suggest you don't drop everything for him anymore. Start focusing on your self, for your health's sake. It'll do you both good.

Like any adult he wants as much control over his life as possible. But he's not in complete control yet, and it's driving him up a wall. Can you spare him some more control?

Maybe you can tell him you'll make every effort to make sure he gets to choose his stuff, but when you have to decide for him, he MUST treat you respectfully. Even when he doesn't like what you chose.

At his age one of the best lessons you could teach him is how to get along with the other adults in his life. The best way to do this is to simply require him to treat you with respect, all the time. He can disagree with you but he needs to treat you kindly and respectfully. The world, and his future wife or partner, will thank you.

I wish you the best of luck. I'm full of wonderful thoughts but I'm right there with you struggling with a moody, sullen 15 y.o. Daughter.
post #5 of 28
I have the same experience with DD, and she is only 12
post #6 of 28
I have felt like this, too, OP (my daughter is 15). One thing that puts my head in a better place about it is remembering that she is going through so many changes physically, mentally and emotionally and that it is normal for her as a teen to be self-absorbed and moody. Being partnered to an adult with everlasting teen syndrome would be a whole other story and one that wouldn't make sense for me to participate in.
post #7 of 28
I think just like with a tough season in a marriage...back off and take care of yourself.
Let him sleep as long as he wants. Set some clear boundaries around responsibilities and respect and stop walking on egg shells.
I have a daughter who can get into a similar dynamic. She uses blowing up and stomping away as a manipulation...a tactic to avoid being called on her sh*t.
I don't fight anymore but I don't retreat.
post #8 of 28
My favorite mantra during the teen years is "teens are 2 yos with hormones". There is the same imperative toward independence but with one difference. The consequences are way more long lasting with more serious results. It's not just "mom is a different person and not an extension of me" but "I can make different but equally valid decisions than mom". And for a parent who knows the potential long lasting, life altering consequences to some of those decisions (underage drinking, underage sex, drugs, etc.), it can be hard to allow their teens to explore those decisions. Even having different views on politics and food choices can seem to be a slap in the face to the parent. They are no longer children but near adults (and in the past, they would have been treated as adults with all the responsibilities of adults. Modern American culture draws out childhood way too long, imo) who are learning who they are apart from their parents. And I compounded everything because we taught them how to argue their point of view. So I have no one to blame but myself when they turned their debating abilities into weapons against me. On the other hand, I didn't have to worry about them following the wrong crowd.
post #9 of 28
My dd is 13 and has bipolar NSI- not on the severe end. Living with her is worse than living with my verbally, emotionally, financially, and approaching physically abusive drug addicted ex....who happens to be her father. I had some PTSD issues from that relationship that have reemerged to torment me.
post #10 of 28
Yes . . I've found that taking care of myself has become very necessary in this dynamic. My daughter actually has taught me that. She tends to (sometimes ruthlessly) push me away when she doesn't need or want me for anything and this has shown me to give to myself that which I'm wanting to give to her at those times.
post #11 of 28
Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
It's really wearing me out. And the worst is, I've only got him for another 2 years and 3 months. I know the minute he turns 18 he's moving in with his dad. (
Maybe he's a PITA because he wants to live with his dad. ???
post #12 of 28
I am finally enjoying my almost 17 yo dd. We had a lot of icky stuff for the last several years with her. I think for us the potential for loosing her in a bicycle accident snapped us all out of it.

Now her just turned 14 yo brother is sullen, disrespectful, entitled, rude, you name it. He too has always been a high needs little sprout. Always sweet as pie though. Just last Friday he decided he doesn't want to go to the $500 a week hockey camp that he couldn't wait to go to in May. And of course it's not only too late for a refund of any sort but I have planned my (and his brother's and sister's) entire summer vaation around this camp. He is really making me pay for making him at least give it a chance.

I have a button that says " Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree". So true.
post #13 of 28
That reminds me of the bumper sticker that says -- Nothing scares me. I have teenagers.
post #14 of 28
I don't know if it's supposed to, but it sure felt that way to me.


At 18 and 21, they're still too young for me to have words of wisdom or comforting words about how it was all worth it in the end. I can tell you, though, that it amazes me how much I was able to accomplish (cooking for those appetites with very little money, homeschooling, hard physical labour, learning new skills because i had to, etc.) and how harsh and unsupportive our society is to mothers of teens.

So I just want to thank you all for raising the people who will be taking care of me in my old age and acknowledge how much it costs you and how much it hurts sometimes. You're amazing and you should be very proud of yourselves.

blessedwithboys, my son also wanted to live with his (alcoholic con artist , emotionally, physically, and financially abusive) father. I wish I had been able to keep that from happening until he was 18, but I couldn't. It took awhile, but I think he sees through exy now and he's looking forward to getting his own place so he doesn't have to deal with the UAV any more.
post #15 of 28
I could have written your post a couple of years ago!

My oldest is 16 and I finally told him exactly how I felt. That in my real life I didn't have friends who spoke to me the way he did and if they ever did - I wouldn't have them in my life.

I would tell your son exactly what you posted.

I do agree that it is a work in progress and that teenagers need some latitude in order to figure things out - but just like I told him when he was 2 - it's okay to be disappointed - it is not okay to be ugly about it.

The same applies now - he needs help getting control of his emotions and disappointments sometimes. I have started giving warnings and then telling him if he doesn't cooperate with me then he can't expect me to cooperate with him. Just like you do when they are toddlers - 'DS - I don't like the tone of voice you are using when you speak to me' usually is all I need to catch him.

good luck!
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks all, lots of good stuff to read here.

Yes, I think he would chose to live with his dad if given the chance. Four years ago when ex sued me for custody, I asked ds what he wanted and he said he didn't want to leave. Now, he and his dad have always been close even though we haven't all lived together since ds was 3yo. In fact, the day I was in court for the verdict, my friend who stayed with the kids texted to tell me ds1 was curled up in bed with stomach pains bc he was afraid he would have to move out. I guess a lot can change in four years...but his dad is a good guy, he has a stable salaried position, a nice home, a very nice wife. Ds wouldn't suffer there, but he also wouldn't necessarily take daily showers or brush his teeth regularly. And I would still need to be the one putting in the required volunteer hours at school and be the one keeping track of doctor and dentist appts, bc I have asked ex to help with this type of stuff before and he has proven that it's not something he can do.

I think the big thing with ds is that he hasn't fully outgrown his ADD/ADHD-like tendancies (never dx, never on meds). He still is very inattentive, so when I calmly explain why I don't appreciate his tone of voice, he only half-hears and then promptly forgets (he was dx with CAPD). And then he is super impulsive, so even if he remembers that I don't like being snipped at, he can't control the urge to do it.

And then the depression...he has always has periods of sadness, but this one is just the worst yet. He literally sleeps every minute I let him. I've allowed him to sleep a lot this summer, and even planned my days around his need to sleep, but last school year it was bad and I can't see dealing with it again this coming school year. He'll be a sophomore and will have more HW than ever before. I can't just let him come home, shower, and crash at 4pm. It keeps him up all night. He seems to have my sleep troubles, so it's hard enough for him to fall asleep at a normal hour for bedtime and taking an after-school nap basically means he doesn't sleep at night. But how do you prevent a 135# person who is a full 3" taller than yourself from getting into bed? I've asked him to sit on the couch with me so I could keep him engaged in conversation to keep him awake and he literally nods off in the middle of talking.

Do I let him sleep in the afternoon, stay up all night, and just fail school? This is what happened to me. I left school at the end of 10th grade bc of my sleep disorder and the onset of fibromyalgia. Ds has the early symptoms of it, but I can't find a dr who will seriously accept the fact that an otherwise-healthy teenage boy could have it. And I can't HS bc his not-so df has a court order preventing it.

So nothing makes this kid happy. Not taking him to 6 different theme parks in the last year. Not the family road trip to NY this summer. The child actually fell asleep on the top of a double decker tour bus in Times Square! He has so completely checkout out of life. He is in counseling, but it just started up again this summer and between being out of town and all the time he spent with his dad, I haven't been to too many of the sessions (at least ex takes him, but he sort of has to to comply with his own court order). And they're only every other week, which I don't think is enough.

I have a suprise planned for my boys tomorrow. We are going to spend the day at in indoor virtual reality arcade. If ds1 doesn't seem to get any enjoyment out of the day, then when we are at counseling on Thursday, I'm going to tell the dr. I am ready to consider meds.

Sorry for the novel, but even if no one reads it, it feels good just to get it out.
post #17 of 28
I mention this frequently on MDC, only because my son (and our family) suffered for so many years....

DS1 carried several labels as a young child. ADHD, ODD, possibly bi-polar. We went through family counseling, read tons of books on "explosive" behavior, tried behavior modification therapy, and eventually turned to psychiatry and medication. Nothing really helped. Life was tumultuous and frequently unhappy.

When he was nearly 12, he began complaining about physical symptoms that sounded similar to my own. I have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Restless Leg Syndrome. My mother has severe sleep apnea, and I have borderline apnea. DS was hooked up for a sleep study, and was found to have moderate-severe apnea. Neither he nor I exhibit the stereotypical signs of apnea....we're both of average build, with no snoring and no obvious throat obstruction. After meeting with an ENT specialist, who told us that throat surgery may or may not help, we opted to try it. DS had his tonsils and adenoids removed, and his subsequent sleep study was within normal limits.

I can't tell you what a difference sleep makes when it comes to mood and attention span.

I completely understand about doctors not listening. I had to push for quite some time to get a sleep study for DS. We have moved a lot, so continuity of care has been a problem for us. But eventually finding a doctor who is open-minded was worth the search. Feel free to print my post and let your doctor read it. I knew that something was wrong with my son; I live with him every single day. I also knew that the prescribed treatments were ineffective. A 15-30 minute visit isn't enough, in these cases, to make a diagnosis. Doctors HAVE TO listen to anecdotal evidence from family members, unless they want to move in and observe for themselves for a long period of time.
post #18 of 28
My mom used to say of my teenage years

"If you were a man I would have divorced you"

oops sorry mom, love you
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
2xy, both of my kids have had a sleep study. They both have mild apnea, but I knew that already, it was the reason I begged for the study. So far, I haven't found a dr who will rx a CPAP, just tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. I get their throat swelling to go down by eliminating dairy and reducing wheat, but my two exdh's (they have different fathers) won't co-operate on their weekends. I am about to try an MD family doctor 90 minutes away in a different county bc she is super-AP, super crunchy and I think she will be more open to less-invasive treament options. Maybe if he gets on a CPAP he will be able to stay awake during the day.

baileyann3, TOO funny! LOL
post #20 of 28
Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
So far, I haven't found a dr who will rx a CPAP, just tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.
Our doctor was more than ready to prescribe a CPAP. We opted for surgery because I've watched my mother and my husband struggle with their CPAPs for years, and I really couldn't imagine my easily frustrated 12yo complying with regular use. I couldn't see him dragging his CPAP for sleepovers and camping trips, hauling it on the plane when he goes to visit his dad, or keeping it clean.
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