I don't understand what she's thinking - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-18-2007, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:00 PM
 
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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!!
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:04 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-19-2007, 01:28 AM
 
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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.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-19-2007, 01:30 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-19-2007, 04:27 AM
 
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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 .
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:13 PM
 
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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).

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Old 11-19-2007, 01:52 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 03:44 PM
 
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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?
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Old 11-19-2007, 03:57 PM
 
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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.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-19-2007, 03:59 PM
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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:32 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:06 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:10 PM
 
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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".
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:14 PM
 
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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.

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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:40 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:32 PM
 
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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.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-20-2007, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
You are right. And I do try to do that. It is hard, though, because Desta only wants nurturing on HER terms. She wants to be done for like a toddler when SHE wants it, but woe is me if I try to use toddler/young-child strategies with her when *I* think they are appropriate. Then I'm treating her "like a baby."

The other thing is that, if it's something Desta wants to do, she's got on her coat and shoes 15 minutes ahead of schedule. It's only when it will inconvenience someone else that she can't get ready on time. I know that kids (hey, probably everyone) are more motivated when it's something they enjoy, but if she's capable of being ready on time, which she has demonstrated that she can be, then I expect that she use that capability.

My actual five year old doesn't have much of an understanding of time, so she requires a much more concrete structure to be able to get ready on time. It's not a deficit of desire or ability, it's just a lack of understanding of how long "10 minutes" is or when "one o'clock" will come.

Desta, on the other hand, gets up every day and gets ready for school, all on her own. She gets out the door and doesn't miss the bus. Dh is awake and getting ready for work, but he's not standing over her telling her "Get up now. Eat breakfast now. Put on your coat now. Go to the bus now." Desta just does it. So I know she *can* do it.

Anyway, like I said earlier, I don't mean to paint her as a rotten kid. This evening we played Paper Rock Scissors for like a half an hour, giggling like mad because we started throwing "bunny ears" or "slimy spaghetti" or whatever instead of paper, rock, or scissors. We played Rummikub (or our own version of it, at least) together, and we played with her kitten together. Once she stopped giving me the silent treatment about lunch, we had a great evening. She really is a neat kid, and I feel really bad that we don't have what I consider to be a good relationship. I don't mean to always sound down on Desta. I really want to be a good mom to her, and I want to find ways that I can meet her needs on her level while also not setting the bar of expectations so low that I stifle her growth. I really, honestly feel like I am bad at this "mom to an internationally adopted teenager" thing. And I'm not saying that so that everyone can give me hugs and tell me I'm a great mom. I'm not fishing for compliments. I just feel like I don't have the skills to help Desta grow. I was shocked by how much today, her first day of vacation, resembled her first weeks and months with us in terms of the behaviors and hostility.

dm
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:38 AM
 
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It doesn't help the other stuff, but it sounds like she likes school (she makes sure she's ready and there on time), which kinda sorta makes sense because I can imagine it being similar to an institution. But home is another ball park where she has to be herself and she hasn't learned that yet, she seems to be a mesh of survival skills and using whatever personality aspect she can to get her through the situation she's in at that time. Does the school report problems at all?

I think she does need the "flat out no, no more" stuff, at least for now. My SN DS needs it to some extent, so it's not like she's be the only kid ever to work better with such a rule.

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Old 11-20-2007, 03:13 AM
 
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I really want to be a good mom to her, and I want to find ways that I can meet her needs on her level while also not setting the bar of expectations so low that I stifle her growth. I really, honestly feel like I am bad at this "mom to an internationally adopted teenager" thing. And I'm not saying that so that everyone can give me hugs and tell me I'm a great mom. I'm not fishing for compliments. I just feel like I don't have the skills to help Desta grow.
Ah, you get a hug anyway.

This is hard, hard stuff. Loving a teenager who you raised and loved intensely throughout all the wonderful early years of her life is hard enough. You are stepping into the hardest years of parenting without any chance to form any attachment prior to getting one-two punched by teenagedom and RAD. It's probably difficult to maintain civility on some days, much less strive toward some sort of emotional bond.

I wish I had some insight or wisdom to offer.

But I will say, I did like the way your heart melted - just a little bit - for Desta in your last post.
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Old 11-20-2007, 03:42 AM
 
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dharma,

I have stumbled on many of your posts about Desta as well as the rest of your family. I never have anything useful to add. I doubt you have a clue who I am, but I am always amazed by you. You are an awesome mama. Your children are so very fortunate to have you. NO ONE could possibly "know" how to be a mom to an internationally adopted teenager. Of course you could not have known just what to expect and been completely prepared. I wasn't prepared for my very planned not at all special needs baby to become a toddler. : Her sudden toddlerhood has totally rocked my world - in a wonderful, overwhelming, beautiful, stressful, all encompassing sort of way. She hasn't done anything "unexpected", but boy it's all been a shock none the less. I can not begin to imagine how much Desta has changed your day to day life, and that of every member of your family. It's wonderful to have her and you definitely sound loving towards her, but it's certainly not all sunshine and rainbows. That's ok. Really. You are a stronger mama than I. All of this to say, I respect you more than you know and you are a WONDERFUL mother.


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Old 11-20-2007, 09:59 AM
 
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I think the answer to the whole chess matter is a simple little 2-letter word : "NO!" Just stop playing it with her.
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Old 11-20-2007, 10:03 AM
 
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It doesn't help the other stuff, but it sounds like she likes school (she makes sure she's ready and there on time), which kinda sorta makes sense because I can imagine it being similar to an institution. But home is another ball park where she has to be herself and she hasn't learned that yet, she seems to be a mesh of survival skills and using whatever personality aspect she can to get her through the situation she's in at that time. Does the school report problems at all?

I think she does need the "flat out no, no more" stuff, at least for now. My SN DS needs it to some extent, so it's not like she's be the only kid ever to work better with such a rule.
D@mn that's insightful. I agree 100% . . . so perhaps setting up her home life to be more rigid in general for awhile IS a good way to make her comfortable - and so I agree with most of the PP's that a strict boundary around this (and other) issues may be the way to go for now. Hang in there!

Writer, wife to a great DH, AP mama to one sweet boy 6/07 and expecting a girl in October!
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Old 11-20-2007, 12:21 PM
 
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I really, honestly feel like I am bad at this "mom to an internationally adopted teenager" thing.


I think that you are Desta are together for a reason. You are what she needs in mother, even though it is hard to see that right now.

I have days were I feel like I'm not a good mother, and wonder if some one else could do a better job with my kids and with my life. One of my DDs has mild special needs, and I sometimes I wonder if I had done things differently if she would be doing better. We move a lot for DH's job, and I don't handle that as well as I would like to.

May be this is a feeling that lots of moms, regardless of their specific situation, feel from time to time.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 11-20-2007, 12:27 PM
 
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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 think it isn't as simple as boiling it down to that little rule. There are a lot of factors here including a kid who has been adopted as an older child and who is struggling with attachment. I think that means a lot of the regular rules don't apply. Again I have no problem with a parenting drawing a boundary on the way they are treated. It is absolutely appropriate to have a rule against hitting, etc. I am not comfortable with a parent rejecting a child's interest when they are reaching out with it when the relationship is so vulnerable. I'd rather see this as an opportunity to learn.

As a separate manner, I see that in our family everyone making some effort to at least feign interest in the hobbies of others does make our family stronger. The other day when I was struggling with a knitting problem, my son brought up out of the blue that maybe we could go to the knitting store and he'd be happy to bring a book and wait. He knows knitting is important to me. He doesn't care about it, even a tiny bit. But, he will ask me about what I'm knitting and sit patiently while I get help. This is a lot like what he's seen me do about his hobbies that I don't care about and it makes me glad to see he's picked up that kind of consideration. If he said "I will never do another thing that relates to your knitting ever", yes, I would feel that was mean and a kind of rejection.
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Old 11-20-2007, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is absolutely appropriate to have a rule against hitting, etc.
You keep mentioning hitting. Desta does not hit me. She gets sullen and pouty and gives me the silent treatment. It's really hard to say, "The game will be over if you give me the silent treatment" because she doesn't do that until after the game is over. She complains about how the game was "not fun" and "too easy" after the game is over. It's not like she's three years old and throwing chess pieces at me.

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I see that in our family everyone making some effort to at least feign interest in the hobbies of others does make our family stronger.
If I play chess with Desta, I am not "feigning interest" (which I don't think I would want to do anyway, as that's disingenuous). I'm doing something to try to make her happy. I don't think that's feigning interest at all, nor do I think your example of your son going to the knitting store is "feigning interest" in your knitting. Going to the knitting store with you is being kind.

Honestly, I feel like I give Desta plenty of opportunities to bond with me. The vast majority of the time that she asks me to do something with her, I either do it right then or set a date to do it at a more convenient time. For some reason she is fixated on making chess an issue, and upon more reflection last night, I decided to treat the issue the same way I treated Efram's Scrabble issue a few months ago. I sat down with Desta and said, "Every time we try to play chess, it ends badly. Neither of us enjoys the game. I want us to have fun together, not get angry with each other. So for two weeks, we will choose other games to play, and you can play chess with Daddy or [best friend]. After two weeks, we will talk about it again." Desta said, "Ok." And that was that. She seemed fine about it. We'll see how it goes.

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Old 11-20-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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Have you tried simply validating her feelings when these situations arise? I'm reading a really good book right now, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. I got specifically because it said it's useful for babies through teens. I needed something to help me with my teen and there isn't much out there in the way of GD and AP with teens. Anyway, the idea of validating feelings is to let the child know you understand how she feels and that it's ok to feel that way. You don't have to fix anything. You just make yourself available to give loving attention at all times, including when the child is upset or crying or even raging (as long as they aren't a danger). This allows the child to express her feelings in a safe environment and also to learn that feelings are not permanent or the end of the world and that she can handle them, even the really intense ones.

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