Update from Ceph

cephApril 19, 2011

Things have been pretty good around here, so I haven't been on GW very much. I creep around, reading up on what everyone's doing, but haven't needed to post much.


DD is six months old now and is fabulous! She's quirky and funny and cute as bug. DH is doing great with his first time as a "real" dad and I lovelovelove being her mom.

It's been a stressful spring - DH just got laid off and then his mom died. But we are doing OK; he gets a good severance package and MIL's death was not a surprise.

SS is a more complicated part of our equation and I need to have a ramble about it.

His mom is at the end of her rope with him - he's been really mouthy to her and acting out at school. She's ready to ship him off to a behavioral correction camp this summer.

We get some sass from him of course (he's 12, so it's par for the course), but nothing major. We only have him EOW, so part of the difference in behavior is that we don't have the day-to-day build up of tension. Another part is that we respond differently than BM and SF do (SF is incredible, btw; I have to hand it to him!), and he responds differently to us than he does to them.

SS and I had a real downturn in our relationship for awhile and weren't getting along well, but we are back on track now and getting along well. We both put in a lot of work, and have some ups and downs, but we're reconnecting.

Anyhow, we have SS tonight because his school counselor was coming over to talk to BM and SF about how they can work better with SS. (Recall that he has ADHD and bipolar disorder.) When he was dropped off, he told me right away that he had a bit of a rough day at school and got in trouble for being disruptive. This led to a really long and honest talk about what's going on with him and his relationship with his mom... Wow, he's in a rough spot. His mom has her mind set that he can't change for the better and isn't being at all supportive of any of his positive efforts. The poor kid is constantly on egg-shells and can do no right (this isn't just from him - she said the same thing to me this afternoon). The only attention he gets is negative, and that's only IF he's allowed out of his room. He said he wants her to acknowledge when he tries and/or is good (like we do) but that she got mad at him when he tried to tell her that, and will only do it sarcastically to mock him.

We're going to keep him for a good chunk of this week to try to give them a break from each other. We're going to try to give him a safe place to vent about his mom without criticizing or defending her, but being frank and honest about the reality of the situation. But we're at a total loss! We don't know what to do or how to help them, or if we even can.

To be honest, we don't really want to have him too much more. We enjoy the time we spend with him, but aren't overly interested in increasing it. We live in a small apartment condo and we don't all fit for more than a few days at a time. We like our quiet little life and aren't currently ready for the hubbub of a high-strung 12yo boy.

Now, that said, obviously we will do what's best for SS and would take him more if that's what we need to do...

I don't think I'm asking for advice... But I definitely need some support and maybe some guidance on how to help SS smooth things over with his mom.

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Glad to hear that your baby girl is doing fine. I feel awfully sad for a boy. I hope he on correct medication and is in therapy. It is just awfully sad. Children could be difficult even the healthy ones. I am not surprised he complains about his parents, don't we all. LOL

I think he needs to be in therapy and that's where he could and should vent about his mother. I think him venting to you about his mother could back fire and generally is not a good idea. You aren't a neutral party. If he at least shares with school counselor, hopefully school counselor can advice mom how to parent a difficult child. I feel bad for both mom and him, parenting is tough without ADHD and bipolar disorder. I hope he gets all the help he needs.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:42AM
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It's good to hear from you, and I'm glad the baby is doing well.

I think you're going to be helping SS just by giving he and his mother some time apart, if things are that stressful for them right now. I was wondering if there is some sort of parenting class that you could maybe suggest that you all go to (so it's not so obviously directed at BM.) It could be that SS's behavior is that different at BM's, in which case she could probably use some tips in learning how to parent him (like PO1 said), or it could just be that her expectations/standards are higher than is going to work with SS.

Are there any support groups for parents of kids with ADHD/bipolar near BM? If BM could get out to one (if there is one) that might help defuse the tensions a lot. I've noticed sometimes that if SS is doing something particularly aggravating, when I talk to someone about it, it ends up sounding silly and amusing and I feel so much better. Maybe that would work for her as well?

What would happen if either you guys or SF worked with SS on a "secret" slightly longer-term project to surprise his mom with? Would SS be able to do that (with adult help)? I can see how it would be really frustrating to BM if she is not seeing any day to day improvement; would it help if SS could do/build/create/learn something new that BM had no part of until the grand unveiling? (Of course, you wouldn't want her to be completely in the dark about it, but parents are very good at being "surprised"!) BM would see the end result without having to handle the day to day struggle involved in the creation, and maybe that would help her and SS to see that he really can make progress. Sort of like when you're on a diet and nobody notices, until you see someone who hasn't seen you for a few months and they notice right away and tell you how great you look.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:43AM
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I think his behavior is different at moms because he actually lives there. There is a difference between how people behave at home and everywhere else. My DD was excellent in school and never talked back or never ever had any disciplinary action against her, but I wish I could say she was as well behaved at home LOL, she wasn't. She occasionally gave lip service to dad, but not nearly as much as with me and dad was often surprised if I complained. Day to day interaction is not the same as visiting no matter how often.

I hope having bipolar disorder he sees therapist/psychologist on a regular basis and takes his meds regularly.

I like mattie's suggestion about working on fun projects. Bipolar people often feel bad about themselves and it would be great if he can make something nice.

I also hope school has some good suggestions. They see him every day and might have some good ideas.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:24AM
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I agree with PO1 about his behavior being different at home because he lives there. My ds will tell you how wonderful his dad is and how his dad never gets mad at him or lectures him as I do. But ds also does not have to do homework, study for tests, clean his room, or be reminded to clean up after himself there. He does not have any other kids there to disagree with. Its fun time. They play video games and watch movies and just relax. Nobody tells ds what to do because there is nothing to do when he is there.

I know that Ceph is more structured than my ds's dad is. But I am just saying that day to day life is stressful for kids, I would imagine even more so when they have adhd and bipolar.

After my son was diagnosed with ADHD and was having issues at school I got him into counseling....which I used to be against. It has made a big improvement. The therapist lets my ds vent, they discuss problems, and the therapist always gives ds something little to work on in between sessions. The therapist also gives me advice and ideas on how to handle difficulties with ds. I feel like it has been a big help and has even brought me and ds closer.

I think it is sad that your ss's bm does not point out to him when he is doing a good job and is giving him all negative attention. That has to be hard on the boy!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:20PM
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Hi Ceph!! Glad to see an update from you.

My nephew has ADHD, bipolar and also has ODD. Oppositional defiance .. Talk about WOW

My sister also does not point out positive behavior. Just seems like the kid is in constant trouble. When he is good and life is going fine, no one hears anything. As soon as he has an episode -- which are getting fewer now that he is older, but when they do happen she flips like he has just been bad all this time... The poor kid needs some positive reinforcement to know and feel that he is worthy.

Good luck!! I think therapy is wonderful. I hope the week goes well for you. Stop by more often!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:38PM
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Ceph! So good to hear from you again... congratulations on your DD! Sorry to hear about your FIL... and the layoff. I hope things (and the economy) get better. I'm sad for your SS. I hope his BM doesn't send him away (even if it's just a camp) because that is only a temporary solution (for her) but won't help him, unless she learns how to deal with him. My first thought would be to take him in before letting him go to a boot camp... but then I tend to take on more than I should sometimes & it's not always best for everyone involved. But, I hope the BM will work toward a long term solution & try to learn as much as she can to deal with his behaviors. I was so impressed with how much you learned about his disorders & implementing ways to help him... I wish his BM would do the same. Take care & keep in touch.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 1:00AM
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oops, I meant MIL. Sorry.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:26AM
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"We like our quiet little life and aren't currently ready for the hubbub of a high-strung 12yo boy."

I mean this in a nice way, I really do, Ceph. Take it with a grain of salt. (or sugar! :) )

DH doesn't have the luxury of being "ready." He has a highstrung 12 yr old boy. End of story.

Now, I'm not at all saying him moving in with you (or even just spending more time with you guys) is the answer. Believe me, I understand it is a big decision.

But don't write the idea off just because it doesn't fit into your family now. DH is your SS's father and, at the end of the day, if it's a choice between boot camp or your home, well....I second Ima.

I hope this doesn't come across as harsh, I don't think anything negative of you at all! I have always been so, so impressed with how well you have handled everything and really worked hard to help your SS.

I know you're in a tough spot and I hope it all works out.

So glad to hear your baby girl is doing well! Enjoy! :)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 1:16PM
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hey lovehadley, we haven't heard from you for awhile, hope all is well.
I hear you love. SS is not ceph's DH's bioson. But still he made commitment to be a dad, I don't know how it really works for them or a kid though. Heck when DD was 14 maybe I fell at times that I want my quiet life and am not ready for a mouthy teenager. LOL Didn't have that choice though. Parents simply cannot be "not ready" for the kids, quiet life is nice, but that's not why we have kids.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 3:58PM
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Yes, I did forget that Ceph's DH is not this boy's bio-dad.

I kind of took a break from the boards (and a bunch of other internet distractions) for awhile. Still around, though. I'm doing well. Hi to you, too! :) Hope you're doing well.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:59PM
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Thanks everyone!

SS has a counselor at school, but is fed up with talking to him because the counselor tells BM what SS said. He also says "I will talk to your mom about yaddayaddayadda and try to get her to datdatdatda," but BM just tells him off and then gets mad at SS for that the counselor told her what to do. He says he just wants to lie and say everything is fine with his mom to try to keep the peace.

LH, no problem. But remember that in the next breath I also said we would take him more if we needed to and it would benefit him.

Yes, part of the difference is because he's at BM's most of the time and not with us as much. When we have him for longer stretches, we get more lip from him and so on. But at that point, we respond differently than BM does.
Also, we would take him more if it's best for him, but we don't want to change things just because BM has decided she doesn't like him anymore and is too lazy to deal with his troubles over the miserable tween years.

Mattie, we would do something like a project with him, and have in the past, but BM pooh-poohs it and makes him feel bad about his work.

I'm just so frustrated and sad for him.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:20PM
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