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I don't understand what she's thinking

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
So, Desta is 13 and she really likes to play chess. I am 33 and I really dislike playing chess. Dh is 32 and he loves to play chess.

So, who does Desta constantly ask to play chess with? ME!

I have explained to her several times that I don't like chess. She thinks my reason for not liking it is stupid (I don't generally enjoy strategy games; I prefer games that are less "work") and tells me, "But you're wrong, Momma. Chess is fun!" I have told her, "We have a lot of other games that we both like to play. I'm happy to play those games with you, but I don't enjoy chess." I have also told her, "Yes, I will play chess with you, but Daddy really likes chess, so you'll have a better game with him."

When I do play chess with her, she gets angry with me because the games are generally short and not challenging for her.

I don't understand what she's thinking in all of this. It's not like I won't play anything with her, and it's not like we don't have scads of other games she likes. She just seems hell-bent on making me play a game I don't like or pouting about the fact that I don't want to play it with her. Actually, this seems to be part of a pattern on Desta's part to only be satisfied if Momma does something for her; Daddy's not good enough. She will ask me to help her with something and if I am busy, I will tell her that Daddy can help her. No, not good enough. She will ask me read a book to her at bedtime and if I tell her that I have to go somewhere (or whatever) but Daddy can read to her, no, not good enough.

I understand that she wants to spend time with me, and I am not constantly brushing her off. But, sometimes I am not available right when she wants me to be, and then she'd rather sulk than get what she wants from Daddy. (And she and dh generally have a much more amicable relationship than Desta and I do.)

I don't enjoy chess, I don't want to play it, and it's not a situation where, if I just give it a try, I might learn to love it. I don't like chess. I also don't like having to go through this situation several times a week. I suspect it's a power struggle with her, so I have even tried just playing with her without mentioning that I don't like chess or that Daddy does, but then she gets mad because the games aren't fun for her because I'm not very skilled at it.

I'm honestly about to tell her that I won't play chess with her so she's not to ask again, but I thought some of y'all might have better suggestions.

dm
post #2 of 42
I guess I don't have any great advice. Maybe just a set day a couple times a month where you both know you're going to play chess? That way maybe if she knew you WERE going to play it with her she wouldn't bug you so much. My ds also loves chess and I am terrible at it and don't like to play it. He went through a phase of asking me all the time to play it. I felt bad, but I eventually had to tell him I didn't want to play it all the time because it wasn't enjoyable for me. He mostly plays on the computer now. Too bad our kids couldn't play chess together--problem solved!!
post #3 of 42
I'm jealous that your daughter likes you so much that she wants to share her passion with you. I never had that close a relationship with my mom. I'm hoping I'll have that kind of relationship with my four year old in ten years or so.

Maybe she should be tutoring you so that you learn more about how to win at chess? Perhaps she can teach you to beat someone at it? That might be less stressful for you than waiting to disappoint her with your poor chess-playing skills.
post #4 of 42
I don't think it is about chess, but about some emotional thing.

I don't think that we have to do everything with our kids that they enjoy. My 9 year old likes to catch frogs. I don't think that means that I need to develop a love for catching frogs with her!!! If you really don't want to play with her any more, then I think it is OK for you to say so.

As far as her saying that your reason is "stupid," I would point out that we all like different things, and that she could try to be as supportive of differences as she would like other people to be supportive of her differences.

May be you could find ways to be supportive of her chess playing without actually playing. You might find her a chess club so she has an outlet, get her a computer chess game, etc.
post #5 of 42
I don't have any great advice. I hate playing games with other people in general. I'm a solitary person. I like solitary sports like weight lifting, ice skating, skiing. I like solitary activities like reading, knitting.

My 16yo ds likes to try to convince me that my feelings about things are wrong if they don't agree with his. That sounds like at least part of what's going on with you and your dd. I actually just told him last night that it was okay for me to not like something that he liked (I can't remember what it was now). I had to tell him I am a separate person from him with my own likes and dislikes and feelings and such and neither one of us is right, just different. Maybe it's just something about the age where they all think everyone is just like them or would be if they just tried it.
post #6 of 42
To me it sounds like

1. she likes chess, and
2. she likes you

And she's trying to combine these two interests.

But the reality isn't matching the fantasy because you're reluctant and not a very good or motivated chess player.

So she's frustrated having to compromise by either playing with someone she's less interested in, or else playing a game she's less interested in.

She just wants to share her interests with you, dh .
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed View Post
She just wants to share her interests with you
I'm honestly not sure it's that simple. Desta has a long and well-documented history of trying to manipulate me to get what she wants. It is a behavior that I am sure served her well in the orphanage (she was a favorite and had lots of allowances made for her), but it doesn't work well in a family and we have spent 18 months trying to help her learn appropriate family behavior.

My relationship with Desta, although better than it was, is still heavily dependent on me doing exactly what she wants me to do in order to get any positive treatment from her. It is a very a much a "I love you when you do something for me, I hate you when you expect anything of me" relationship. And yes, it is that black-and-white.

I don't mean to paint Desta as a terrible child. She is funny and friendly and can be a very good big sister to my little ones. Sometimes we have a lot of fun together. But Desta has a lot of emotional issues, and control is a big one for her. Regardless of whether I understand (or believe I do) the reasons for her extreme need to control and manipulate, it's still a behavior I have a hard time tolerating and one I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to humor.

I recently had to tell Desta "I will explain this to you one more time and then we will never, ever talk about it again" about an issue that she kept bringing up, over and over and over and over and over and going from dh to me and back again, trying to get the answer she wanted when that answer was not possible. So far, she hasn't brought that issue up again, and I am wondering if I do need to just sit down with her and say, "I will not play chess with you. I will play any other game you want. You are not to ask me to play chess with you ever again." I know that seems harsh, but it always ends badly when she asks me to play chess and she also seems to really need extremely concrete boundaries, guidelines, and consequences. She does have some cognitive processing difficulties, and she really seems to need to have things spelled out extremely precisely before she understands.

I talked to dh about it last night and he said, "Just tell her you won't ever play chess with her." It sounded really easy the way he said it, but it seems more complicated to actually do it.

:sigh:

I want to be a good mom to her and have all the right answers, but I don't want to be manipulated and guilted.

dm
post #8 of 42
Some kids do need very clear and very strict guidelines. My 16yo is like that. I have to be precise about what he can do. I try not to even tell him what he can't do. If I do that, he thinks everything else is fair game. It still amazes me that we have to go through every little behavior as a do or don't when they all seem clearly related to me.

Part of it may also be the age. 13 can be a very difficult and very demanding age. From what I've experienced and what I've been told, all 13yos exhibit that, "I love you, I hate you" behavior to some extent. They are very self-involved and have a hard time truly considering anyone else. Very much like a 3yo in the way they relate to the world. Compound that with some possible attachment issues from being in an orphanage and I can imagine you've got some struggles. Are you in therapy?

Maybe you can add a little about why you will not play chess with her anymore. Explain shortly and consicely the fact that it ends up not being enjoyable for either of you so you will not do it anymore. Period. End of discussion. She may be angry and hurt but she'll get over it after a while of getting positive attention from you in other ways (although it may be a long while simply because she's 13).
post #9 of 42
I think telling her you won't play chess with her anymore is good. she may think that if she gets you to play it enough you'll like it/get good at it or it may be this power thing you mentioned but right now it is unhealthy for both of you to keep playing it.
post #10 of 42
You won't like my answer, but here goes. Parenting isn't all about what you want. This seems to be serving an important need for her. Maybe it is to set up a situation where she can safely be mad about you something that isn't that important in the scheme of things. Maybe it helps her get out something she needs to get out. Maybe it is helpful for her to see that you still love her even when you stink at chess and she's mad at you about it.

While I understand there is complexities in her situation that may be playing it out a bit differently, you certainly aren't the first parent to experience a kid wanting to do an activity you don't want to do or being mad about how it plays out. I'm sure many, if not most of us, have had the experience of playing pretend with a young child who desperately wants a parent to play and then is highly mad no matter what they do that they aren't playing right. What you are describing with chess was almost identifical to the way I behaved as a preteen when my mother tried to teach me to sew and I'm grateful she didn't just shut me down and tell me no more ever.

It is frustrating no doubt, but it is also doing something important that the kid needs to go through. If a parent said they would tell their six year old that they hate pretend and will never play again, I'd tell them it is overly harsh. Given her history she is no doubt emotionally delayed and less mature than her cognitive age and in this situation I think it is overly harsh to refuse to ever play chess with her again. I think it is fine to be clear that you aren't getting better. It is fine to set limits that if she yells or hits the game is over. This could be a good learning place for both of you - it might help you become more flexible and willing to compromise and help her to be more aware of the feelings of other people. But, if you totally shut down the activity for all time you shut down the possibility of that learning and you are rejecting her which it doesn't sound like she needs.

Are you getting therapy?
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
You won't like my answer, but here goes. Parenting isn't all about what you want. This seems to be serving an important need for her. Maybe it is to set up a situation where she can safely be mad about you something that isn't that important in the scheme of things.
I disagree. I think it is totally fine to draw limits and boundaries with our children based on our preferences.

While parenting isn't *all* about what we want, it should be at least *a little* about what we want.

I believe that acting like a doormat teaches our children to treat us, and may be others, like doormats. Or that once they are grown ups, they should act doormats. We can instead choose to use our natural preferences to teach our children how to interact with people -- so that no body has to be a doormat.
post #12 of 42
Personally, I think you are being fairly reasonable in telling her you do not want to play chess and then going the extra step to suggest other games. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if the few times you did play chess with her she didn't pout about it being too easy. Nothing like getting your way and still being unhappy. It sounds like just another area she is making a power struggle.
post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
Are you getting therapy?
Yes, we are.

Roar, I appreciate what you said and I do agree with you in part, which is why I am reluctant to just tell her "No more, ever." But on the other hand, I feel that this is a toxic situation that just plays out over and over and over again with no real benefit. It's like we're stuck in a rut and we're not going anywhere. We just play out the same scene over and over and over again, and no matter how I vary my part, Desta responds the same way. And honestly, after 18 months of being the target of her anger every day, I'm weary of continuing this way.

In fact, a few months ago, my four year old went through a phase of wanting to play Scrabble with me. I found online a children's variation of the game and tried to play it with him. He wasn't satisfied because he knew it wasn't the way Desta and I played it, and he would get beside himself with anger and frustration when we tried to play it the traditional way, no matter how I tried to help him. I finally did tell him that, because he would yell at me and throw tiles during our games, I was not going to play with him for a week. After a week I asked him whether he wanted to play, and he said no thanks, and we played Spanish Bingo instead.

I feel like Desta is repeatedly setting up a dysfunctional situation, and I really don't think she is benefiting from it. I don't think it's actually meeting a need of hers, and I wonder if it's a way of putting distance between us by making us angry with each other. It's been difficult for Desta to adjust to the intimacy of a family situation, and I know that our relationship improved a lot after I put her in school and removed the pressure of her being with me all the time. When I was homeschooling her, she seemed to be deliberately trying to provoke my anger, and I know that that is not uncommon in kids with attachment issues.

Anyway, Roar, I appreciate what you said because I know that it is another valid way of looking at things.

dm
post #14 of 42
I don't completely get Roar's post. If my husband dragged me out to play golf and then got pissy because I sucked, I would not play golf with him any more until he was going to change. I wouldn't say he needed that interaction to work through some issue in our relationship. I don't want to model too much in my interactions with my kids that I wouldn't tolerate in an adult relationship because I am the model for all adult relationships (just so you know I know that I am godlike). Obviously our relationship is supposed to get more and more adult as they mature. So yes, I take a lot from my kids when they are little, but flat out ugliness from a teen, I don't think I would do. Obviously you don't hold grudges or end the relationship, but you do have the right to set boundaries to the child's benefit, not just yours. Of course "never" is a bit long when it may only take a week / month / year for her to become a bit more aware of how she's acting.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I believe that acting like a doormat teaches our children to treat us, and may be others, like doormats. Or that once they are grown ups, they should act doormats. We can instead choose to use our natural preferences to teach our children how to interact with people -- so that no body has to be a doormat.
If you read my post I wasn't suggesting she sit there and be hit in the head. I have zero problem with setting out specific conditions like I won't play with people who hit me or I won't play with people who yell at me. That is really different from saying I reject this thing that is important to you no matter what you do.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post
I don't completely get Roar's post. If my husband dragged me out to play golf and then got pissy because I sucked, I would not play golf with him any more until he was going to change. I wouldn't say he needed that interaction to work through some issue in our relationship.
Do you really think it is appropriate to apply the same rules to an adopted teenager as to an adult husband who voluntarily entered into a relationship. To me these aren't even apples and oranges. More like apples and pencils or something. It may be reasonable with an adult to draw the line that you will not do x until they "change". Kids have a much harder time committing to "change". It is a pretty vague concept and they may not have the skills to put that change into place. "I'll never play with you again" feels like nanner nanner I've got power and I reject you. I would prefer to see specific limits with the intent of using this as a place to learn and grow. I might be tempted to put a sign around my neck that says "Love you, love to play with you, but remember I stink at chess".
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
Yes, we are.

Roar, I appreciate what you said and I do agree with you in part, which is why I am reluctant to just tell her "No more, ever." But on the other hand, I feel that this is a toxic situation that just plays out over and over and over again with no real benefit. It's like we're stuck in a rut and we're not going anywhere. We just play out the same scene over and over and over again, and no matter how I vary my part, Desta responds the same way. And honestly, after 18 months of being the target of her anger every day, I'm weary of continuing this way.dm
I think this could be an good issue to work in in therapy. A third party might help you set up some specific goals for improving this interaction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
I feel like Desta is repeatedly setting up a dysfunctional situation, and I really don't think she is benefiting from it. I don't think it's actually meeting a need of hers, and I wonder if it's a way of putting distance between us by making us angry with each other. dm
What I was trying to get at is that I don't see this as a random behavior. She is doing it for a reason. And, she's continuing to do it for a reason. Just telling her no more playing with you ever, isn't going to change the underlying condition that leads her to this behavior. It will come out another way. That's why I'm suggesting viewing this as a learning opportunity to try to find a way to improve this.

Hope you see some improvement soon.
post #18 of 42
Thread Starter 
Here's another example of Desta setting up a situation where she "gets" to be angry with me for something that's not my fault.

Today we had to leave at 2:30 to go to speech and then hockey. I told Desta when we would be leaving. At 1:50 I reminded her that we were leaving in 40 minutes and that she needed to eat before we left. She came down with 10 minutes to go and got out stuff to make hard-boiled eggs. I said, "We don't have time for that, sweetie, we have to leave in 9 minutes. There's leftovers from dinner last night."

She got that ready and sat down to eat, watching us all as we got our shoes and coats on. I said, "All right, Desta, time to go," and she got all mad and said, "You won't even let me eat my lunch??" I said, "You can bring it with you if you like, but we are walking out the door right now." She chose to leave her lunch behind and had to leave the house in socks, carrying her shoes and coat. Of course she's been mad at me for 4 hours now.

We do work on these issues in therapy. Apparently we aren't hitting on the right solution, however, because, as Roar suggested, as soon as we "solve" one issue, it comes out in another fashion. :

dm
post #19 of 42
As a parent to a post institutionalized child, what occurs to me at this point is the concept of parenting to the child's emotional age rather than physiologic age.

I strongly feel that the overriding principle that needs to govern my interactions with dd is that of strengthening and reinforcing our bond. That will form the framework that will let her then build onto with more mature and age appropriate social behaviors.

This behavior sounds typical for a five year old. Not *most* 13 year olds.

Desta will need many years and a lifetime to overcome her reactive behaviors and immaturities. I tend to think that building trust with her will allow her to slowly release the strangle hold of expectations that she has for you. I also tend to think that encounters that keep her at odds with you keep her stalemated, with nothing learned and nothing gained.

I'm picturing the above encounter with you approaching it with the same patience as you would in dealing with a toddler. Anticipate that she will make poor judgments and will require gentle prodding, reminding, good natured encouragement, and a little assistance. As Roar suggested, it's not fair but it's part of the sacrifice of parenting.

Now, I say all this as I stand here parenting my one single, sweet tempered non-RAD three year old rather than a not-very-endearing, insolent 13 year old. I'm not in your shoes and cannot see from your perspective. But that's the view from here, anyway.
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
That is really different from saying I reject this thing that is important to you no matter what you do.
I think it is OK to tell our kids no about something we don't want to do. I don't think that is the same as "rejecting this thing you do." There are lots of ways to be supportive of an activity without engaging it in.

I was supportive of swim team practice today by making sure that my DDs had everything they needed, got there on time, staying while they swam, etc. I didn't get in the water. I don't have to do something *with* them to be supportive.

I think that you are framing a parent setting a boundary in an incredibly negative light.
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