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My Challenge, My Love - Page 36

post #701 of 913
Thread Starter 
Hi Ladies,
Just wanted to post quickly tonight and let you know that I've been reading, reading, reading all the recent posts. Of course, I always feel the need to take much more time with my thoughts when replying to this thread that has given me so much over the past year (YES, MAMAS, almost a year old!). Sooooo, much more when I can.
post #702 of 913
post #703 of 913
Hi Andrea~
I don't have much time but here's our family's astrological make up:
me: sun in leo, moon in picses, sag. rising
dh: sun in leo, moon in aries, scorpio rising
dd: sun in leo, moon in scorpio, picses rising
ds: sun in capricorn, moon in capricorn, aquarius rising

: : :
We are no strangers to intensity.
Surprisingly, my triple fire dd is the most mellow so far, but she can throw a great tantrum when she needs to (like the library yesterday : )

I've been having great success with these books:
1) NonViolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg*
2)Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
3) Playful Pareting by Leonard (sorry spacing last name!)

And this thread, of course.
post #704 of 913
Thread Starter 
Just checking in and continuuing to catch up on posts. Andrea-a big welcome and a GIANT And all I have time to tell you is: NO, you are not crazy. Please keep reading the thread and all its many pages. There are challenging kids here that fit in at every point in the spectrum. Those that are simply, very, "spirited", and those that may or may not have something neurologically going on. Please keep coming here, and I'm sorry you've had such a hard time with your dd. My best to you. And I'll be back ASAP.
post #705 of 913
Welcome Andrea.. I think you've found a good match in this tribe.

I don't have a lot of interesting stuff to share today but I like checking in and sharing just how great my challenging one is turning out.

Nate and I had a really honest open talk this week about his relationship and I was so able to hear how much he loves her and wants a good life for them. She is 24 and has a 2 year old... just like I do and of course she wants another baby... who can blame her for that right? So the fact that I don't want him to be a daddy, or me to be a grandmother made it really hard for me to listen, not control, not argue and really support and love. He wants to wait for a few years and I agree but I have a fear that she just might get her way on this one... hormones are a powerful thing.

All I know is that loving and accepting and being there is all that has worked, and it has worked. I am so proud of him. I love the grown up he is being. And it certainly helps me let my little ones be who they are and have faith in the grown ups I see deep inside them.

Hope everyone is well... this thread is a bit slow lately so either you are all melting and overwhelmed or things are going so well that you haven't thought much about the thread... I certainly hope it is the later.

Love you all.
post #706 of 913
Maureen, I'm so happy to hear all these great stories about how wonderful a young man Nate has become. It's inspirational! What a great thing, that you two had such an amazing talk about his relationship. And how difficult for you. But how wonderful!

Andrea, More to say but no time.
post #707 of 913
Am I posting in the wrong area? Is this not the kind of thread this evolved into, I guess I should have read all 35 pages before posting.... ?
post #708 of 913
Originally Posted by andrea
because Im so ashamed of what a crappy mother I must be to have created such a broken little girl.
andrea, just want to let you know that this is a very common scenario in our house too. my daughter (age 5) rages for hours over similar requests and becomes aggressive if I try to come near her (or even if I don't, sometimes). the only thing that works is letting her work through it for a loooong time until I think she might accept some 'playful parenting', and then she is sometimes willing to get silly with me in order to get out of the situation. I'd sure love to hold her instead.

I don't know you, of course, but I CAN tell you that I struggle with the same awful feeling you describe above almost daily. when I'm thinking clearly and a bit more objectively I am able to realize I'm not an awful parent, but it's hard not to feel fundamentally at fault when our kids are so intensely unhappy (and so seemingly dissatisfied with us!). I'm guessing that the distress you're feeling means you are probably a very GOOD mother - your daughter is lucky to have a parent who is so concerned for her, and who wants so very much to do right by her. it helps me to get feedback on my parenting from people around me who *know* my parenting and whom I trust to be honest with me. maybe this would help you to keep your perspective, too.

take a deep breath and try to hang in there. I think *this* variety of difficult tends to ease as they get older. it's getting better over time for us; the bad days are less frequent. we'll have to cross the bridge of the replacement challenge when we come to it. here's hoping it's one we can actually help our kids through in a way that allows us to feel good about ourselves as well. it helps me to look at the big picture, too. I remember talking to my mom when DD was a colicky 6-week-old: 'this is NOT your life,' she said, meaning basically that this too shall pass. I remember hearing her words but not really believing her. now I barely remember that very difficult time - there have been better patches and worse patches since. this is a rough one, but it will pass. I hope others here have more practical advice to help you get throught the days; I've mostly just got LOTS of sympathy.

you're not alone!
post #709 of 913
Andrea, I want to first say that you have not created a broken little girl, and I'm quite sure you're not a crappy mother. We mothers have a lot of influence over our kids, but we aren't the sole factor that determines who they are and what they do. I think your daughter's issues are probably more a matter of temperment (spelling?) than your parenting, or even possibly other more serious issues. I also can relate to your first post where you said you don't necessarily think your daughter needs fixing. I feel that way too, as if my daughter doesn't need fixing. What she needs is acceptance and support and she does need me to provide some help that will allow her to learn and grow. Mostly I need to learn to live more peacefully with her, and she will grow and mature and learn to handle life better as time goes on. Easier said than done. You're doing the best you can. With time, it's very likely she will begin to outgrow this.

I know you've read lots of books (I have too) but I'm going to recommend you read The Explosive Child if you haven't already. Also, there's a great website with a lot of information about parenting explosive kids (and a great description of what traits the term 'explosive' includes according to the book-chronically inflexible, easily frustrated come to mind) at http://www.explosivekids.org/ . There's also a good description of the "pathways", which are the difficulties/deficits/reasons that result in a child being "explosive". And then there's the Collaborative Problem Solving method (also from the book) for parenting explosive children, which is something I am not super-skilled at but which is helping our family even though I'm muddling my way through it (sometimes pretty poorly). The CPS method focuses on finding doable, realistic, mutually satisfactory solutions to conflicts-which helps children learn to problem-solve and become more flexible over time. Basically the site provides a good synopsis of the book-on the home page there's a caregiver handout in PDF form that you can print out that's a great little summary of all this information. The Explosive Child is one of just 3 books that I keep going back to for help/reminders in parenting my child (the others are Nonviolent Communication and Connection Parenting).

It has helped me a lot to learn to focus less on what's wrong with my child and what I must be doing wrong, and to focus more on accepting that this is what is and on how I can live with what is more peacefully. That doesn't mean not working toward change, but in order to move toward change and to move toward helping my child I have to first accept her as she is and accept myself as I am and accept what is happening as it is. That acceptance is necessary in order to see clearly and to move toward an understanding that leads to insight that leads to knowing what it is I need to do to help my child learn and grow. I highly recommend the book Peace Is Every Step just for helping you, yourself, find some peace. And finally, I think it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your family needs some outside help. We finally reached the point where we've begun that process, simply because it finally became to anxiety-producing for us and too hard on our family to keep going it alone. Will it help us? Don't know. But it was a comfort just to step onto that path.

One thing that comes to mind from your most recent post about blueberries is that perhaps it's possible that when your dh said "when you're done please pick them up" that what she heard was "pick them up" and thought he was telling her to pick them up now and be done playing. I don't know how old your daughter is (eta that now I see she's nearly 3), but this type of thing can still be a problem with my 6.5 year old. Often we have to start out immediately by saying things like "I'm not saying no" (part of what we've learned as part of the collaborative problem solving method) so she'll hear what we have to say, otherwise she is likely to hear only part of what we're saying and to think/assume we're telling her "no"-and then she'll start flipping out because she thinks we're saying no and when things don't go her way she just has very little ability to deal with it in an effective manner. (This can be a problem for my 2.5 year old too, though her behavior is not nearly as extreme. She'll hear only the "put it away" and not the "when you're done.") Does that make sense? There are so many skills one needs to have in order to deal with frustration or disappointment in more appropriate ways. You need to actually hear accurately what your parents have said, you need to be able to keep your emotions from overwhelming you (set them aside a bit in order to think), you need to be able to think flexibly enough to think of other solutions, to identify and articulate your feelings/the problem, etc. Lacking any of those skills can result in an inability to respond in any way other than tantruming. The other thing that comes to mind reading your last post is that my daughter also, not so much now but when she was younger, would not let us touch her or hug her or comfort her when she was having a tantrum/rage. I think it was too overwhelming, too much sensory input. She needed to work through it herself. She would let us comfort her later, but some kids don't go for that either. Is there any other way to comfort her, after she's done? My child would only go for my "drawing" letters on her back.

WRT things like the wrong banana or being the wrong way in bed or moving the phone, I can certainly think of times when my current 2.5 year old has flipped out over similar things. Sometimes my little one gets upset over things and I have no idea why those things are upsetting. I'm sure she has an idea but she can't articulate it. I think stuff like that is normal childhood stuff (mostly), but some kids react in more extreme ways than others. Probably especially those kids who are so sensitive to everything, including changes in their environment.

I will say that as difficult as it is, two things that are so very important to me and my child are 1) for me to find time and ways to connect with her and enjoy her company and 2) for me to take care of myself. Caring for oneself as a parent is so important, because if you're depleted you have less to give your child. If you don't have empathy for yourself, you can't give it to others. If you're tired or hungry or burnt-out, you have less energy to give to others. And finding some way to connect with your child not only helps her feel loved and encouraged and valued, it helps you too. I know that the more I am able to find ways of connecting with and enjoying my child, the easier the whole journey feels. It's always a struggle with my child (or so it seems, and life will always contain some struggle) but as Bearsmama once said, we can struggle for peace or we can struggle for misery. So knowing that inside the struggle is this kernel of happiness and beauty that is both my daughter and the good times waiting to be born, I can find the will and enough peace to muddle through and do the best I can to help the struggle pass and the good times be born and my daughter thrive. The uspide to living with a challenging child is the growth opportunity with which we are presented as parents. I am eternally grateful for that.

Time to run. Big s, Andrea. Hang in there. And remember, you're only a human being like all the rest of us moms. You do the best you can and sometimes it's still hard (okay, let's not sugar-coat it: sometimes it still sucks). But this is not your fault.
post #710 of 913
Originally Posted by andrea
Tonight started with dd playing quitely on the floor, dh asking her "when youre done with those blueberries (that she had spread out all over the floor) please put them back in the fridge" She immediety started screaming and didnt stop for about an hour. She was kicking the floor and screaming "dont say that" "dont talk to me" "go away" "leave me alone" "thats hurting" "mommy/daddy I dont like you anymore" "let me go" ...
even though she was all alone in the bedroom.
This sounds so much like my niece (and to a lesser extent my ds) so I thought I'd chime in. My niece has been known to completely flip out like this in this sort of situation. What seemed to be the trigger was telling her something that she knows. My ds also went through a milder phase of getting upset at anyone cautioning him about things he was aware of, like saying the iron is hot. I trained myself to not repeat myself and to not say obvious things (like saying the iron is hot if he saw me plug it in). I'm not sure if the problem is that the child is sensitive to being treated condescendingly (both my ds and niece were treated respectfully, but all I can figure is that by telling them things they thought were obvious they thought we were implying they were stupid?) or if there is something more. Both kids are intelligent (but not "gifted") and fall into the catagory of highly sensitive.
post #711 of 913
4evermom, that's a good point to consider as well. My oldest is rather perfectionistic and super-sensitive to anything that she perceives as criticism. She sometimes perceives things as criticism that are not meant as criticism. Sometimes she's just got her thing going on, exploring the physics of blueberries or whatever, and any interruption bothers her-especially anything that insinuates that she should be done or that we're criticizing her/being condescending.

Andrea, have you read The Highly Sensitive Child? (As if you need more books.) That's another good one that helped me understand some of my child's issues. She is sensitive in so many ways-to the feel of clothes (I cannot begin to describe the difficulties we used to have with clothes), smells that I can't smell, sounds, certain types of touch, all sorts of sensory input. And she's very emotionally sensitive as well, and very intuitive. She picks up on so many nuances of life and relationships and conversations-and sometimes I think being able to notice those things but not being able to understand them is frustrating and confusing to her. For example, I think sometimes when I'm trying to be patient and kind and saying things like "when you're done with the blueberries please put them back" she can sense my frustration/exasperation/irritation (because I, for one, do not like the mess that blueberries all over the floor tends to create)-and my feelings/body language do not match my words and voila, she is one confused melting down kid. There are numerous other times she's picked up on subtleties in other situations, not just our direct interactions with her. I think that can be tough for a child.
post #712 of 913
Andrea, I'm mostly a lurker on this thread, but I just wanted to say you've had some great responses and this is the perfect place for you to come. My 5yo DD is our extremely challenging child, and she sounds much like your DD. I found a lot of help from reading The Explosive Child, and I'm getting better with time at just accepting who she is. I spend a lot of time and energy shielding her from others (my MIL and my mother for example) so that she doesn't get unnecessarily frustrated.

I'm sorry I don't have anything to add to the wisdom that others have offered. Just a . Hang in there.
post #713 of 913
As usual, Sledg has great advice! And welcome to the thread, Andrea. I don't think I got here in time to say that before.

But to reiterate something Sledg pointed out, I think your daughters temperment is largely at play here. I looked at the links you posted from your other threads and from the sounds of it, I think this is definitely WHO she is. I'd like to bring up again here (and no you don't have to read all gazillion pages of the thread but if you ever get time, do. there's some good stuff in this big long conversation ) how important it is for you to be confident in your approach. One thing we've seen with a couple of our challenging kids is that the more sure we are of ourselves and what we're asking of them, the better things go. They seem to be able to smell uncertainty! I also see you said you had a sad childhood and one thing I'd suggest is that you work very hard to not compare your childhood to your daughters. I know I've posted this before but somewhere on this board is a thread about beach towels ... One of the mamas posted that she never had nice towels to take swimming with her when she was a child and felt inferior, so she made darn sure her girls never experienced that and they had GREAT beach towels. Guess what? The girls couldn't care less about towels. The towels were HER issue, not theirs. Your daughter will not have the same experience as you, she isn't meant to. So try to let go of thinking that you are creating a broken person, when you're obviously trying to figure out how to help her. I know how it feels to think you're making it worse, but again, that's about us when we do that, not the kids.

Additionally, well for me, up until the past couple of months, life with my son has been ridiculously hard. He's now 6 1/2. Sometimes all you can do is keep going. And to be honest, some of the behaviors you describe aren't really abnormal for a 3 year old, even those that aren't spirited. The ability to control emotions and/or to even clue us in on what the problem really is doesn't come for while. I'm not sure why handing my (the most mellow child in the universe) 2 year old the cup he was asking for the other day ended in it being hurled back at my face and him screaming "I so angry right now mama!" but alas, it did. I think at these young ages all you can do is keep helping them with being able to express themselves and giving them a safe area when the emotions are too much or things cannot be the way they wish.

Ok, I've rambled enough ... hope you find some things that will help you get through!

On a side note, we're closing in on school starting and my boys have started playing football. I cannot believe the difference it has made in Cole. And now, I hate that I didn't let them do this last year. Finally, a place he can be as rough as he wants (he loves firm physical contact-where the hell was my brain?!) and get all that extra stimulation he craves. I hope this helps keep him calmer during the morning hours at school.

More when I can! to everyone.
post #714 of 913
Me again. I'm hiding out inside with a migraine today, while my kids watch a lot of tv. Bad mommy! :

Jennifer (emblm) brought up confidence, and I really do think that cultivating that confidence is really important. I was thinking about this recently and what I was thinking of is how nervous/anxious/worried I tended to be for the longest time, always fretting about whether or not I was doing the right thing or whether or not something is wrong with my child. Now, I still do worry (of course) but not in the same way. I think when I'm just filled with doubt and anxiety my kids sense that, and then they feel anxious which leads to worse behavior and the whole cycle feeds on itself. Now, that's just something to be aware of, not wracked with guilt about. It's not easy to cultivate confidence, but worth the effort. And for me, much of that is learning to trust that my best effort at any moment will be good enough and that when my kids are grown they'll turn out all right despite the mistakes I've made and inevitably will make. Another piece of it is letting go of these ideas about what's "normal" and "appropriate" and "good"-both for me and my kids. We all can't fit that very narrow definition of "normal" that our society clings to and uses to evaluate everyone, and the ideas of "normal" and "good" and "appropriate" are very subjective really. When I can stop evaluating myself (or my child) and instead focus on our relationship, on our needs and how we can meet those needs and on how we can connect, things are so much better.

ETA: Once upon a time I had this idea of what my children would be like, what kind of mother I'd be, what parenting would be like. And that really was a fairy tale fantasy. My firstborn showed me that mothering is nothing like I imagined it would be, my firstborn was nothing like I imagined she'd be and continues to shatter my imaginings about what each next stage will bring. My younger two kids, my second is mellow and easy and I thought my third would be too (simply because surely I wouldn't have another who was so challenging, and anyone is mellow compared to my first). My third is somewhere in between, and when she began to show signs of being more like my first at times I was scared to death and disappointed. And I have certainly found out that I do not parent in the way I'd imagined I would (I'm not perfect enough ). It has been so helpful to let go of those fantasies of what my kids should be like or how I'd like them to be, and to let go of what I should be like, rather than keep comparing us and our life to them and finding reality wanting. Letting go of that frees us all to grow and love and be confident.

Jennifer, I'm glad that football seems to be helping your son. I hope it carries over and helps with school too.

**oh, and, uh, sorry for being so post-y today.
post #715 of 913
I wanted to thank you all for your posts and thoughts... It really really did help.

I think you are right she just couldnt deal with being interupted when she was in her "zone" with the blueberries. I get that way when I am interupted from my work as well.

I put a hold on the Explosive Child book at the library, I havent read that one yet.
post #716 of 913
Andrea, I'm glad you found some things helpful. You are so very right, IMNSHO, to question those people who blame mothers and keep asking what's wrong with your daughter. There is no magic formula that creates an always well-behaved child. And society's definition of normal is way too narrow. It's good to learn the art of letting all that just roll off like so much water off a duck's back.

And mothers were never meant to do so much all by themselves. IMHO.

Glad you had a good day yesterday, hope today got better.
post #717 of 913
Check this article out... it is about the necessity of struggle... gives you pause to think about our job as parents.

post #718 of 913
Thread Starter 
Maureen-Just had a chance to read that article. I agree wholeheartedly. There's another author, I think his last name is Hallowell (he writes about ADD/ADHD) who wrote about adversity and the necessity of it in one of his books. I think it was his book that's called something like the "7 Things to Make a Happy Adult", or something like that. The flip side of this is that, like you've mentioned before, is that you don't want your kids to disporportionately learn only this adversity at home. And sometimes I wonder what the balance is. I keep going back in my head to another thing you've said regarding your experience parenting Nate. About how being there, and loving him, are the only things that have worked. It just feels like such a crapshoot sometimes, YKWIM? There's no formula. No grand scheme that's going to work for all kids. And our challenging children blow any of these expectations out of the water. It's like they are teaching us what parenting is all about. They are screaming/crying/acting nutty/tantruming/causing us concern/making us make doc appointments/etc., etc., etc., saying JUST LOVE ME JUST LOVE ME JUST LOVE ME!

Andrea-I'm so glad that you've found some support here.

emblm-You're reminding me that when the kids are going nutty-both of them-not just Bears, having them do something physical really, really helps. For Bears, it's just running around with sticks in the grass. My other one seems more inclined toward more structured activity.

More when I can. Can you all believe that this thread is almost a YEAR OLD? Shouldn't we have a cocktail/ice cream or SOMETHING to honor that??
post #719 of 913
Maureen, I liked the article too.

Originally Posted by Bearsmama
The flip side of this is that, like you've mentioned before, is that you don't want your kids to disporportionately learn only this adversity at home. And sometimes I wonder what the balance is.
Good question. Is there an answer, though? I wonder about this too.

Originally Posted by Bearsmama
I keep going back in my head to another thing you've said regarding your experience parenting Nate. About how being there, and loving him, are the only things that have worked. It just feels like such a crapshoot sometimes, YKWIM? There's no formula. No grand scheme that's going to work for all kids. And our challenging children blow any of these expectations out of the water. It's like they are teaching us what parenting is all about. They are screaming/crying/acting nutty/tantruming/causing us concern/making us make doc appointments/etc., etc., etc., saying JUST LOVE ME JUST LOVE ME JUST LOVE ME!
Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn said that children are like live-in zen masters, teaching their parents about parenting/life. I think that's really a good comparison. It's like having a zen teacher ask you "what is the sound of one hand clapping?", and of course you can't approach that question with any sort of logic formula (for lack of a better phrase) or scientific experiment or any of the "traditional" ways of answering a question we typically rely on. No, instead it's this very mysterious question, and even understanding the question requires simply breathing, being mindful, being present in the moment. And sometimes, I hear, it can take years to realize an answer-and I say "an" answer because of course there is no "the answer." Parenting is like that. It's not a method, it's a process and a relationship and a question and a challenge to grow.

Originally Posted by Bearsmama
Can you all believe that this thread is almost a YEAR OLD? Shouldn't we have a cocktail/ice cream or SOMETHING to honor that??
Is it really? Wow. It should be honored somehow, definitely. I am so grateful for this thread.
post #720 of 913
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