Dealing With Difficult Children During Covid-19

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ChickPea, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    My husband and I are so tired. Thankfully we went to the counsellor the other day. It helps.

    But now everything is pretty locked down here, and there's not many places to go or things to do. And our Difficult Child daughter is rearing up.

    Before C19 hit here we enforced a 2 day per week (plus our one family meal day) for her to visit. Start small and work up. She hated it, and has cursed us ever since. Since we have custody of her child, she wants and open-door policy, but it can't happen. She just got off a 3-day training this week, but due to the outbreak, is not working.

    So she, again, feels alienated and says she should be here with her child as much as possible. I can't say I don't feel for her. But I also can't say that --after finally setting and enforcing a boundary-- we are ready to cave and go into "emergency mode." She thrives on emergency mode. Drama.

    But it makes my heart even heavier. I have to remind myself if she would have kept a job and got responsible months ago (like she promised), she'd be in a totally different position.

    Is anyone facing similar issues - Difficult Child want to move in (or have)?
  2. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I don’t know if my situation is similar, but the virus outbreak has me worked up too.

    As background, Hubs told Son we were cutting off contact until Son had a few years of making better choices.

    Son has been living in a Sober Living facility since November.

    Son initiated contact out of nowhere a few days ago to text us how much he loves us and hopes everything is back to “normal” soon, etc.

    Hubs and I did not respond to these unexpected overtures, though I missed sleep and peace of mind thinking Son might finally be “getting it.”

    How I hoped he was. My heart aches for him sometimes, especially now.

    A couple of days later, Son texted Daughter saying his Sober Living facility was kicking people out who were sick and he would soon be next (obviously not true, since he is court-ordered to be there) and it was obvious Hubs and I “wanted him to die of the virus” (obviously self-pity mode, which is his drinking mode), all because we didn’t respond to his overtures.

    I wish I COULD respond to his overtures, but I can’t... because I know he is gunning for more—a place to crash, an out from rehab, a few weeks off work until I force him to find a job...and he can’t come here, because he lies and steals from us and gaslights us, and we are just starting to feel some peace after the last time.

    It’s a cruel and scary time right now. I wish we could pull together, but I know it would make things even worse.
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  3. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    My situation isn't exactly like yours but I do have homeless son living in his car. Lately, I'm so exhausted from my mental and emotional anxiety about him, that I keep in all day at work, that I'm ready to crash when I get home.

    Homeless son also sent a text at 10:15 last evening when I was in bed...saying I love you Mom with heart emojie. I get how vulnerable he must feel and my heart goes out to him but I just want to shake him at the same time. I want to say...if you had only done your part these last 3 yrs. on the streets you could be in a better situation. Now, I just take the guilt upon myself knowing I can't ever have him live with me. I'm sure in his mind, he thinks he's "normal" and sending me a kind text and so why in the world wouldn't I want someone so kind and loving to move in with me?

    BUT the past cannot be erased, I keep telling myself and reminding myself for my own protection and well-being.

    It's very hard. There's no doubt about it.
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  4. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Yes, this is exactly what I mean/how I'm feeling as well. It's very hard. My daughter, too, is looking for a "way out" of her boredom and circumstances, likely. Our bars are closed, which makes a difference in her lifestyle.

    Same. Had she followed through with the things she was supposed to, she would have her own place, or at least a room in a place. If anything, I hope the stark circumstances help her to see what she needs to do. I can't say that it doesn't break my heart a little more, though.
  5. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    I am feeling the same as Alba. Different circumstance, but similar experience and feelings.

    I think now more than ever it's important to be objective and logical in all our relationships, especially our Difficult Child. I dont want to jeopardize the gains from the boundaries to be lost.

    All O can do is what I think is right. My Difficult Child and I are polar opposites in the way we view life. Often, it doesnt matter what I say, she will find fault.

    It really is a time when every adult should protect themselves first in order to protect everyone. I think that applies to us too.
  6. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Same here. My Difficult Child did basically same thing. I am choosing to be grateful that if only for one moment, manipulative or not, she considered our needs.

    Sticking to my boundaries.

    In healing
  7. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Praying for all of us here effected by the virus - which is all of us everywhere.

    I'm not in the same situation as ya'll right now but want you to know I'm thinking about you all and my heart goes out to you all.

    I have compassion for myself too because ours isn't all sunshine and roses either.

    Hugs xoxo
  8. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    My daughter (seems to be) taking this as a time to better herself, get a job (hasn't started yet, but still...), and use drugs/alcohol less. I'm stressed because of the virus and everything, and then also having a hard time navigating the changes and what that means for us. I'm trying to be hopeful, but it's not my norm.
  9. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Oh JayPee, I'm so sorry! This is the quandary so many of us live with, isn't it? That constant tension of wanting to protect and nurture versus protecting ourselves from the inevitable harm that comes from having them in our home. I just wanted to acknowledge your sorrow right now.
    Josh is in our home and has been for the last month, and it's going okay, but I will never forget the last two and a half years of fear and worry and all the other emotions that come with these situations.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son would do this too.

    I don't have answers. But let me try....

    Our children do love us. And they are in touch with those feelings fleetingly. I think each of us has within our psyche poles or opposites. For example, our kids struggle between dependency and independence. Their independence shows up unfortunately in their motivation to keep living in the ways that cause us so much stress and pain. Their dependency shows up in reaching out to us to get their needs met, principally through manipulation or bullying.

    I think they hate their dependency on us. And it may be that this dependency even fuels to some extent their self-destructive and destructive lifestyle. When we don't immediately cave to their manipulation (to take care of them) they get angry rather than feel their dependency.

    Anger is a screen emotion. It's like a pillow we use so that the full brunt of the real feeling which it conceals does not crush us (all of us do this) as there are emotions all of us experience as too painful and threatening to feel.

    Let me put it another way. Your son, Albatross, wants to be able to depend upon you to get his needs met. It's the same for all of our children, I think. At the same time, he hates the feeling of dependency. And when immediately you don't give into the manipulation he uses to get his needs met, he distances himself from the feeling of dependence, and punishes you for it, (in his mind) for not acceding to his wishes.

    I do not believe this is conscious on their part. I believe it's a knee jerk behavior. But the thing is THE EXACTLY RIGHT THING IS TO NOT JUMP TO FIX IT. The only way any of us have to transform ourselves is to FEEL each part of this emotional/behavioral sequence. I am dealing with this in my own life, over emotions and defenses I've long been vulnerable to.

    I think part of the reason that this is so hard now, in this time of Coronavirus, is not because of our children's vulnerability. It is because the mechanisms of our own, through which we protect ourselves from feelings that make is feel bad and vulnerable, are not so readily available. Our routines. Our diversions. Combined with elevated fear and anxiety, make it so that our usual ways of insulating, protecting ourselves, diverting our attention, our own "pillows" so to speak, don't work so well for us.

    We're more vulnerable to everything right now. Especially to our children.

    All I can for my myself is I'm glad my son is in the Sober Living House right now and I'm glad for this thread. Because it's giving me a dry run. To think through and to practice. I don't want contact with my son at all. If he reaches out to me, I will not be available. I will refer him to whatever resource is appropriate, including the emergency room, if need be. That sounds cruel and cold-hearted. I am neither. Right now my responsibility is to myself. I need to stay strong. We all do.
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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  11. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    This sounds like a good thing, Copa. I didn't realize he was in something like this. Was this his choice?
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Beta. I think about you all the time and pray that there is peace, safety and health in your home right now. Who could have imagined when Josh came home, that our world would come crashing down as it has?

    To answer your question, as to whether the sober living home was my son's choice, the answer is yes and no.

    What led to this was that we decided (and finally followed through) to cut off all help with food, even. My son was using his SSI money to buy his substances, and then after a week or 10 days into the month, would have nothing to live on. And he turned into a beggar. We stopped buying food, loaning money, or any other things. And with this, within a day or two, he entered the sober living home. It was his choice. But heavily weighted by external reality as opposed to choice.

    However, he could also have gone homeless in the metro near us, and that he did not, fills me with gratitude. I cannot imagine right now having to deal with this Coronavirus at the same time as he was on the street and so very vulnerable.

    I pray that you and your family and everybody stays healthy and safe. And me too.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  13. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Well-Known Member

    I also think about all those without a safe place to be. I am glad my son is working in a fairly safe place. I pray for all of us and our troubled kids and for protection from this horrible virus.
  14. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Copa, this is exactly what has been on my mind the last two weeks since so much has come to a standstill. If Josh had waited two weeks to contact us, I'm not sure how we would have gotten him here, other than getting in the car and making a 15 hour drive to get him. And when I think of someone homeless or practically homeless (I'm not sure which since he won't elaborate) in this current environment...well, that's the stuff of nightmares. I thank God many times that He was merciful and got him here just before this whole thing struck us. I'm so glad to hear your son is in a relatively safe environment and maybe he will respond to this program he's in. I know it was excruciatingly hard for you to make that decision to not extend help anymore. It's one of those "between a rock and a hard place" situations we face with our kids.

    Fortunately, we live in small town that does not have mass transportation or any of the things that can cause the virus to be transmitted faster, but we are being very careful. Obviously, our trip to Israel is history; that's a disappointment, of course. We had a move planned for just after our return from Israel; to move back to the southeast. Now that move has been postponed until we can get a sense of whether jobs will be available where we plan on moving. There is not one person on this planet I think whose life has not been disrupted and altered by this.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I live in a small city and county without the amenities you refer to. But the people are not heeding the cautions urged by the State government. I believe that the fear is that the virus will very badly impact rural and suburban areas. I am not exactly sure why. That said, be safe. And it seems that today the whole country seems to have started to pay attention. I guess following the president's presentation yesterday. I think the only thing we can do is try to survive this day by day and hour by hour, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Whoever reads this: You're not alone.
  16. Overwhelmed1

    Overwhelmed1 Active Member

    ChickPea, my situation is the opposite. I am try to get my son out of my home and this virus is making it more difficult.
    He is suppose to start working Monday landscaping. Since he would be outside and not interacting with people closely, I am hoping he can start Monday.
    I can tell you my experience when I did let my son move back in. I thought this time it would be different. Time showed me this wouldn't be the case.
    Comfort sat in and before I knew it, life living with my son would go back to the way it did before he was removed from my home.
    I wish I had a " do over"
    I am not familiar with your situation but I sympathize with your struggles.
    I pray that you and your husband can get through this without to much emotional strain and that your family stays healthy.

    Peace and Love
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  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    There was a song many years ago when I was young. I think by Dusty Springfield. Actually I checked just now. It was Dionne Warwick. The refrain, and probably the title, had the phrase wishin, hopin.

    Governor Cuomo today is talking today about wishin and hopin. How we would all wish the Coronavirus away. But it can't be. Because we are living in a world of reality. Reality must be coped with, must be faced, and dealt with, and planned for.

    Our children don't live in reality. They don't face reality. They don't want to. But they force us to live in reality. We must. For them and for us.

    When I think about it, all of our stories with our children hinge upon this word, if. And it is the word that our children will not accept. They will not accept conditions. They want what they want from us. Without conditions. Without taking responsibility for their behavior or the consequences of that behavior for us or for themselves. They want what they want in their lives without thinking of consequences, what their choices will lead to, do lead to, for us, for themselves. The idea of contingency, that one thing gives rise to the next, or one thing, requires another, is foreign to them.

    I am struggling with this same thing with my son. Trying to get him to see, that if he does things without thought about what they will lead to, he will continue to destabilize and fall. And it will lead to disaster. And then it will lead to disaster for me. And I cannot bear more disaster. Because it makes me sick. And here in the time of Coronavirus, I can't bear to be destabilized more.

    It's like our lives with our children become a runaway train, and we are forced to basically torpedo the train because we can't bear what it destroys as it careens out of control. We will just do almost anything to stop the destruction. That's where I am.
    Of course this makes sense.....If.....

    But your daughter Chickpea, does not have the concept of...if....

    On the contrary, you understand the concept of if. If you give an inch you have a runaway train. That is careening off the tracks. And with that your life and health and sanity are at stake. Your family, the baby, everybody is at risk. Unless your daughter comes to understand if, and take responsibility for it, she is a danger.

    As I see it, you can't take on responsibility for a runaway train.

    Of course she would want to be with her child. But she does not ever want to take responsibility for her behavior and choices, for if. Because in this case, if means drama. It means imposing her disordered choices on the family. I means that she does not care about the consequences of if. This makes her a runaway train.

    Until she is able to take control of that train, and to take into account the consequences to herself and others, she is wishin and hopin. And that's her business. And not yours. Can you take on her wishes, if she does not take responsibility for them?

    Your business becomes to stop the consequences to you and to your family, of a runaway train.

    Our children are dangerous to our health. As well as their own. Until they get control. And take responsibility for what they do, for themselves and for us.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Wishin' And Hopin'

    Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
    Plannin' and dreamin' each night of his charms
    That won't get you into his arms
    So if you're looking to find love, you can share
    All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
    And show him that you care
    Show him that you care, just for him
    Do the things he likes to do
    Wear your hair just for him
    'Cause you won't get him thinkin' and a prayin'
    Wishin' and hopin'
    'Cause wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
    Plannin' and dreamin', his kisses will start
    That won't get you into his heart
    So if you're thinkin' how great true love is
    All you gotta to is hold him and kiss him
    And squeeze him, and love him
    Yeah, just do it and after you do, you will be his
    You gotta show him that you care just for him
    And do the things that he likes to do
    Wear your hair just for him
    'Cause you won't get him thinkin' and a prayin'
    Wishin' and a hopin'
    'Cause wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
    Plannin' and dreamin', his kisses will start
    That won't get you into his heart
    So if you're thinkin' how great true love is
    All you gotta to is hold him and kiss him
    And squeeze him, and love him
    Yeah, just do it and after you do, you will be his
    You will be his, you will be his
  19. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Good read, Copa. Thank you.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    It makes me sad to look back at my posts on this thread because shortly after I commented that my son had been at the sober living for over 3 months--he left. He left to return to the big metro where he has gone repeatedly for the past 9 years and where he goes homeless. This time he could not resist it. His old friend offered to let him stay with him. There's marijuana. And other guys to hang with, without the baggage (yet) of the men at the sober living. There's freedom. At least for a time. Until my son gets thrown out, and has nowhere to go. So. He will find a shed to sleep in. Or somebody's truck. Or an abandoned car. Or he will sleep on the subway. Or on a carton at starbucks.

    And he will have stopped his antivirals. And either he will want to come back to the place I own, or I will not be able to bear it once again, and the dance will start all over again.

    All of this compounded by Coronavirus.

    I tried so hard to help my son see the reality of his situation and how he's not in the place to take these kinds of risks. He can't because he doesn't have the judgement or motivation or functioning to make it in such a competitive place. He doesn't have the money. And he can't land on his feet. He doesn't have the resilience.

    I wrote him a text today, (ignored) saying: Maybe 1000 people in that metro are fluent in 3 high demand languages like you, are as intelligent, and have the social skills (when you want to.) If you've decided to live there, you will need to get a job to support yourself. You can do it.

    The thing is he doesn't want to. Either he lacks fundamentally the capacity to function or he doesn't want to. I know this. It's just hard to watch the freight train coming and be tied to the tracks. It's like involuntarily I need to beep the horn and keep beeping, just to do something. Because I feel so helpless.

    All of this during Covid 19. Sorry to highjack your thread, ChickPea.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020