Do you agree with my therapist?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by BackintheSaddle, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    Hello All- I want your opinion on something....I went to see my therapist today who's this 'no-nonsense' kind of older guy that my difficult child's psychiatrist was this guy's idea to meet my difficult child weekly for breakfast just to keep the lines open between us and pay the difficult child his 'gas money' to and from school($20) his opinion (the therapist), parents should try and help their kids get through college no matter what because in this day and age, you have to have a college degree (if you're younger) to make anything of yourself-- so, a college degree is the only way to assure the child succeeds (?)...we agreed that there was no reason for me to keep paying for difficult child's truck insurance (something I've struggled with on other threads-- my difficult child was claiming he'd have to drop classes at school to work enough to pay for it) husband came to this session because I wanted to talk about what happens when things 'go bad' again (I know difficult child will not keep doing as well as he appears now) was great to have him there...I told the therapist that I hadn't felt up to meeting my difficult child this week because I knew the only reason he was meeting me was to get the money and difficult child had refused to come to therapy....therapist says 'so what''s just $20 and you're getting to see him...he started explaining that the way brains develop makes it so until you're 21 you're not morally mature, which I know, so now money is my difficult child's motivator and I should be willing to pay him to meet me?...I said I thought that was sending the wrong message to him-- that he can keep using me (even if it is JUST $20), not care about me, not apologize or show remorse for attacking me and oh, here's $20 just so I could see you?....I would like to see him from time to time and let him know I'd help him if he's ever willing to agree to help...but is this an approach you guys have tried? agree with? (my husband doesn't agree with paying difficult child to see me)...I agree for the most part but I did tell my difficult child I'd help pay for gas to and from school...thoughts?
  2. LoveSushi

    LoveSushi Member

    Just my opinion, but when he got physical with you, that voided any and all agreements you had with him. You call the shots now. His going to therapy is a very reasonable request. I think (forgive me for saying so) that your therapist needs his head examined.

    I was paying for my she-spawn's cell phone for a long time...until my counselor asked me why. Why would I do something kind and good like that for someone who treated me so horribly and with so much disrespect. WHY?

    I couldn't give her a good answer. Why WOULD I? Just because I spawned her doesn't mean I have to tolerate being abused by her for the rest of her (or my) life.

    Detach. Detach. Detach. Detach.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    No, I don't agree. I think it's your therapist's opinion and he is voiding difficult child's violence. in my opinion only...maybe others will disagree...your difficult child will be absolutely nothing if he doesn't get better. That is much more important than a college degree that he can get later on once he is well. He probably won't get that degree anyway and, as sick as he is, he won't be able to hold a job at McD's if he doesn't improve his mental health...forget about the high level jobs. As for what you promised him, he and you both know that you meant IF he were trying hard in life you would do these things for him. Not after he assaulted you. That's crossing a line.

    Therapists bring their own opinions to the table, but in my opinion the best ones are able to sit back and not tell us what to do, but let us come to our own conclusions. I personally would never pay my kids $1 to see me. If they needed to be paid to spend time with me then I would rather pass.

    I've seen a few therapists in my day and I'd dump this one and find a better one.
  4. TearyEyed

    TearyEyed Member

    I completely disagree with your therapist. By continuing to pay him to see you, your son is holding you hostage. That is ridiculous. I agree with MWM, forget about college at this point. He needs to get on track with the basics of everyday life first. I feel for you, if my therapist told me that it would throw me into a tail spin with wondering what in the heck I should do. This is all so confusing and I am going through alot of chaos with my son right now also. Hang in there. I am thinking of you and sending warm thoughts your way.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'd continue with the plan as it is for a number of reasons. (1) You get to observe him in person instead of imagining him in poor condition so there is less reason to worry. (2) Breaking the bond with a 19 year old often allows them to forget that their choices impact others. (3) The main reason is that the therapist recommended and supports the idea and by opting to ignore the advice it sets an example of lacking trust in professionals...which eventually you are hoping he will seek.

    on the other hand if these brief meetings are impacting your peace of mind or health then make the choice that brings you comfort. Hugs DDD
  6. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I am still trying to undo the harm a well intentioned clueless therapist caused. He told my son that it was his house as well as mine, and that I should welcome my son's pack of thieves, drug abusers, and just out and out dangerous thugs into my home.
    Your therapist does not see the whole picture.
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    The issue here is not whether difficult child gets money. The issue is that difficult child put hands on his own mother. The money should be a non-issue. Instead, its become a control issue.

    If the money is important to his education, send it to him at the grandparents' house. You can write whatever you feel like in the card, or you can write nothing. You can decide not to send the money, or to send it sporadically, any time you want. You can circumvent the difficult child entirely, and send the money to the grandparents. That way, you have regained your own power. You are no longer a beggar who has to pay your own child to see you.

    If you want to meet for breakfast? Ask him to meet you for breakfast. Just not for money. If you want to slip him some money at breakfast? That is fine, too. But to pay him to have breakfast with you? Really bad idea.

    If there is a way to do it, it would be good to let difficult child know that you have changed your mind about the whole weekly meeting thing. That until he apologizes for putting hands on you, you have decided not to see him. Your difficult child did something very wrong. That should be the issue, not money.

    The therapist is not only asking you to ignore what your son did, he is suggesting that you put your son in the position of beggar/ prostitute.

    That is not who he is, and that is not who you are.

    Sending the money in a card (or choosing not to send it) will be a good way for you to work through your feelings about what happened. More importantly, it will take the emphasis off the money/power/control issue.

    A son should not attack his mother, not verbally, and not physically. I still remember how shocked I was to realize I was in a verbally abusive relationship with my own son. That he talked to me the way he did crept in over the years because I did not address it. It seemed worth it to me, just to hear his voice, just to know he was okay. Really, I was disrespecting my son by not demanding better of him than what I got. I wasn't taking him seriously enough to demand respect from him.

    Who is going to teach them right from wrong on these issues if not their own mothers?

  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I do not agree with your therapist. I agree with MWM that a therapist should not be telling you WHAT to do, but guiding you by giving you tools and support to make the decisions that you feel are best. You are in the trenches with your difficult child, not your therapist.

    I would ask myself this question, what is it that you want and what are you willing to do without resentment.

    You would essentially be bribing your son to meet with you all the while knowing he is only there for the money. Follow YOUR instincts, it sounds to me like you may be willing to follow the therapists advice, however you agree with your husband. I might tell him that if he is willing to meet you for lunch now, that sometime down the road, because of his willingness to meet you half way, you might be willing to give him some gas money. But not contingent upon his showing up or not, just because you want to give it to him.

    And I agree that he needs to have some sense of remorse and apology for abusing you. One can only trust another who has harmed us if they offer a sincere apology, otherwise, they will continue the behavior because they don't see what is wrong with it. I would tread carefully down this road now...........really consider what you give to him under the present circumstances.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with RE and had another thought.

    If your son assaults, say, his boss or his or a roommate at college or some girlfriend and is not remorseful or says, "(Other person) provoked me" guess what? His life is about to become miserable because the cops and a judge will be harder on him for having no remorse. And, frankly, it's scary that he doesn't. This is a huge deal and your son is acting like a victim who deserves continued rewards in spite of what he did to you.

    I really don't know what this therapist's credentials are, but the therapists I have seen (and there have been many) never TOLD me what to do. That isn't their job. Since they don't live our lives or know our kids, they can't render a knowledgeable opinion. It is foolish that this therapist knows that your son attacked you, but is focused on college rather than his learning how to behave in a socially acceptable way first. And your son will not "get" how serious his action was unless it is treated with the respect it deserves. Of course this is just my opinion, but I feel it is way outside the lines to get physical with a parent.

    Here's just something to think about to yourself. What is worth it to you? Do you want to see your son so badly that you think it is worth coughing up $20 week? I know some mothers would say "yes." To me, I would feel horrible and disrespected to see my own child only because I offered him money. To me, since my child got a reward for seeing me, it has nothing to do about me or wanting to spend time with me. And under those circumstances, I would rather keep my money and not see even my own child. I have sort of been in that situation with one of my children. I got a long list of "how you have to behave" to see me. I decided then and there that the relationship between my son and I was not worth it. It was very biting and hurtful and false. He basically got his wife to fear me, although I have never even spanked my kids. I made a decision to only see him if he came to me and did not make ridiculous rules, such as I am not allowed in his home as I may hurt his child. It broke my heart, but I got over it and he is still angry at me and I don't even know why. I can see him if I agree with him that I made him pay our bills in childhood and abused him physically, but I didn't. I'm not going to admit to things that did not happen. Even then, he wants me to follow his ridiculous rules. So I see my other kids and hang with people who see me for who I really am and do not abuse me. Everyone is different. I still don't see that child, but I have a great husband and four other super kids. I count my blessings.

    Make the decisions that are right for you. Think about what is really best for your son's development to manhood. Don't let any of us or your therapist tell you what to do. We can give you other points of view. In the end, the decisions are your own.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  10. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    I knew you guys would help me think this through!...and RE is correct, I agree with my husband and would feel awful if I felt the only way my son would see me is if I paid him money...that's why I wasn't willing to see him this week because I want him to WANT to have a relationship with me and the first step would be to show his remorse for having hurt and scared me...he still hasn't done that....the psychiatrist referred me to this PhD psychologist because he's got apparently a strong reputation for specializing in helping families through the transition period of kids to adulthood...and he's a specialist in ODD which, if that's true, his 'direction' today really bothered me because it was as though he was ignoring all the abuse we'd been DDD said, he was focused on how to make me feel better about all this but I'd rather NOT pay difficult child to see me and not see him at all than have the 'used' feeling of paying him to meet and knowing that all along he's not a bit sorry for how much he's hurt me...
  11. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    This thread is interesting to me because I struggled with similar issues within the last year...I used money and resources to keep tabs on my difficult child, in multiple ways, and he used me right back. On the big scale, his SSI check came to my house...he could only get it if he came to see me, then we would go to the bank and cash it and I would let him have one weeks worth...he would have to come see me each week to get his allotment. Pretty soon he started just letting the checks pile up and begged for food and money on the street rather than deal with me one point I had somehting $2500 of checks that I couldn't get him to come get! then he arranged for direct deposit and that was that. (that was eye-opening for me...I've always had the idea that he just can't manage real life at all, that he has no competence...but he does in fact have at least selective competence, cause that was quite a coup d'etat!)

    On another level he used to call me and tell me he'd like to see me and maybe have lunch or dinner Of course that was always me buying him lunch or dinner...eventually that started to make me feel used, which is funny because of course I buy all of my PCs ( his twin and the two high school age brothers) lunch or dinner...and sometimes they even ask to go out to dinner with me....but I HAVE A WHOLE ROUNDED RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM. We have contact over a zillion other things, they return my love and affection, they aggravate the hell out of me and leave dirty socks all over the house...but there is a give and take and respect in those relationships that is lacking with difficult child. True or false, I started feeling like difficult child was just using me, following a form with no function behind it. In fairness to him (always be careful when your/my thinking starts to go that way) he does have a lot of social dysfunciton, and if we are feeling generous we could say that he recongnized meals together as a relationship thing, he just doesn't get that there is more behind it. Anyway, I started to refuse to buy him meals...sometimes I would counter with "you can come by the house and I'll make you breakfast" which he accepted about 1/2 of the time, and sometimes I would just say "we can walk the dogs together" or some other activity that wasn't beneficial to him. He would accept or not.

    I also used to get to see him by offering to pay him to do chores around the house...he was actually pretty good about unsavory chores like cleaning the trash cans, or clearing the fish pond filter of the I'm not sure still whether that was OK or not from his end, but from my end I was clearly bribing him to see me so I could try to exert some control over him. So I stopped that too.

    And in the end...I agree with the others that if he threatens you with dropping out of school because he can't manage without the money you give him...well then so be it. Adult choices. College is great for people who use it to its full capacity. Otherwise it is overrated, and there are still plenty of tradespeople and voactional workers out there with high school degrees only. Or he can go back to college later when he is ready to do it. Stopping now doesn't write the script forever.

    I guess if, like your therapist, I were going to tell you what to do...I'd suggest telling your difficult child that "this isn't working for me any more". You can stop with that, as we've discussed in other posts, or you can go into detail and let him know that it is causing you a lot of internal conflict that he attacked you and you are still in the position of giving him money, as though the victim were pleading with the abuser. That it doesn't feel good to you that he seems to only see you to get the money. That you'd like to reframe your relationship in a healthier way. And then you can decide what that reframing looks like...lunch with no money? Money mailed but not used as a lunch bribe? No money?

    I do think it is fair to give him a warning and an explanation for why you are changing the situation. But that is not me. One could also fairly take the stand that he should be able to figure out that attacking you is a game changer.

    And....sorry about the therapis. Occasionally when therapists make a bad call I go back and talk to them about it...say "this is what I hear when you tell me that, and I'm not sure I can continue this relationship until we sort this issue out". A good therapist will jump at the chance to deepen your therapeutic relationship. If the therapist takes a defensive or dicatorial stand...get out of that relationship too.

    Its hard. Take some deep breathes. No urgent or immediate decisions or actions required.

    Holding you tight in my heart and mind,

  12. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    another thought which may or may not SO supported his 24 year old daughter (who looks a bit GFGish herself when you poke her) while she was "in school" for several years...he didn't go to college himself, and was very committed to the idea that she should get a degree, but not really fluid with what exactly that looks like...after 5 years of supposedly taking classes spring, summer, and fall, and living for free room and board at daddy's, I finally said..what the heck? She should have at least an associates if not an actual bachelors by now. We started asking to see her transcripts, look at school requirements, go to the school counsellour with her...and she was VERY evasive. She does not even have an associates to show for all the school and free living (including long weekends down the shore, fancy manicures, tanning saloon, and more ugg boots that I could fit in my closet). I think she is getting student grants and loans and living off keep that going she just keeps taking introductory classese in everything she can sign up for...which is going nowhere, accruing debt, and just overall dysfunctional. She says "I'm in school"...well kinda. But not really.

    Fortunately he moved in with me (that has its own issues!!!) and she moved in with friends, and is struggling now with money and bills and real life living. I get tired of the drama of how hard it is for her (she still drives her car to work every day even though she lives right by public transportaiton, and I have yet to see her without a fancy manicure)...but nevertheless, at 24 she is making big steps towards being the adult she should have been for the last 5 years.

    Although, she came by last night and told him she didn't have the $250 for car insurance that she owes him, and he gave her a pass on on it. These lessons come slowly for both enablers and difficult children

    The point of this is...what is the school story, really?
  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Everything I read, know, hear and experience says: Stop the flow of money. I also understand how you want to help a young adult who is appearing to be functioning on some level, i.e., college.

    This is tough. I agree with MWM if you decide to still help him financially, do it separately from the visits. Take him to eat when you meet---if that's not enough, then okay. Do you really enjoy spending that much time with him anyway right now? I remember just wanting to lay eyes on my son so we even reduced our times together to going to Sonic for a drink. That was enough for me. Today, I haven't seen him in person in six months, and right now I am okay with that.

    Also realize you can change your mind at any time, regardless of what you have said in the past or decided to do. That is your right. I always though if I committed to something I had to follow through with it. That was the honorable thing to do. I have learned that I can say: I have thought about this more, and I've changed my mind. Here is now what I will do... This can be incredibly relieving, just to understand you can do this.

    There are great therapists out there, mediocre ones and then bad ones. I have been with multiple therapists in my life (thankfully because therapy can be great!). The last one I was with is a really good marriage counselor. My ex and I went to her off and on, together and separately for about 10 years, well before I learned about his binge drinking and high functioning alcoholism (another story for another day).

    As I worked and worked and agonized and agonized and grieved and finally got to the point that I wanted a separation from him---here is what she said: Oh, I just hate that. You two are both such great people. isn't there any other way?

    Really? I mean REALLY????? After all of those hours listening to me and to the both of us???? I said back to her: What would you have me do that I haven't done? I have turned over every rock looking for a way to live with this man, who is the father of my children and someone I have been married to for 29 years. Tell me one single thing I can do that I have not already done.

    Then the kicker: Well, I am really not a specialist in addiction so...

    That was the telling statement. When you are dealing with the cunning, baffling, insidious, horrible disease of addiction, you MUST have someone who is trained and experienced in addiction counseling you. If your therapist is not, go to someone else.

    You already feel like you are crazy enough with all of this, and then to have someone tell you what she said. It's just too much.

    Another thing I hear in your post is all of the back and forth and agreements and contracts, and what am I going to do and what are you going to do... All of that is exhausting and only usually results in more twisted up people---you and your son, and lots of hurt, pain and despair. It doesn't get him straight.

    Keep it as simple as you possible can. Write down what you will and won't do and what you will and won't say to him. Write it down. Read it back to yourself and post it on your bathroom mirror and tape it to your cell phone and have a copy in your billfold. When you are with him, whip it out and read from your script. Don't deviate from it. This simple (and seemingly remedial) tool can help so much. It can help you clear away the emotion and confusion and cobwebs when he starts telling you all of the reasons you need to change your mind know...just doing what they do. We are no match for them and we have to pull out every tool in our arsenal or we will be even more miserable than we are today.

    I pray good things for you and for him. Keep coming back.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I don't really care who recommended this therapist. He is a crackpot. If your son wants a college education, he can get it without your help. The money you are giving him will NOT pay for that education, and in my opinion the current problems are FAR bigger than whether he goes to college now or not. I know a LOT about this because my mother was a professor and spent many years studying retention and things that contribute to a student going to college and continuing in college until they get a degree. Gas money from a parent at age 19 is NOT a significant factor. Physically attacking a parent, esp a mother attacked by a son, shows a HUGE array of problems and at best a lack of maturity and social appropriateness that will hamper him FAR MORE in life than presence or absence of a college degree.

    My BIGGEST problem is this therapist is encouraging you to go against your instincts. That is a HUGE bad thing to me. A therapist should encourage you to trust your instincts and to follow them rather than some other set of rules set by other people. That goes for EVERY aspect of your life and your parenting. Tdocs who advise against that are NOT worth following.

    Years ago one of my professors in an abnormal psychiatric class told me to be wary of therapists (he was a licensed psychologist with multiple graduate degrees) because the main reason people become therapists is to figure out their own screwed up minds and lives and family dynamics. The good tdocs I have had have ALL openly admitted that they had to work through their issues and until they did, there was NOTHING that they did that really helped patients. WHY? They saw all their patients' problems through their own unhealthy biases. they had to sort those out before they could help anyone. Physician heal thyself, Know what I mean?? This therapist has his own issues, or he would not be focused on having you pay your son to see you esp after your son attacked you. ANY/EVERY reputable therapist should be urging you to press charges so your son can fully learn that this is unacceptable before he ends up in prison for allowing his anger to cause him to do more serious harm to someone that results in felony charges and/or someone being hospitalized or killed due to your son's anger issues. College isn't a real concern if the person is going to assault people hwen he gets angry. How to pay legal fees and damages is more of a concern than gas money, Know what I mean??

    I completely and TOTALLY disagree with the advice to follow the guy's directions because you want your son to follow a therapist's advice. You MUST make your own decisions and follow your own instincts. YOU are paying this therapist, and if his advice isn't helpful, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to do what is best for you in your judgement. It is not the therapist's life, or his family, or his bruises and pain that you are experiencing. It is your life and the responsibility for it lies with you, so you need to choose what advice you wish to follow. Only you will have to live with the aftermath if you follow bad advice, not him.

    I was once given the advice to listen to my therapist even if I didn't agree. That led husband and I to follow some truly awful, horrible advice that to this very day is one of my biggest regrets. That therapist studied books, but he does not know your life, your child, the entire situation, or what is best for you. Your mind is not immature the way a teen's mind is, and you have sound instincts and judgement.

    Do Not Ever Substitute Someone Else's Judgement For Your Own. Ever. Not Even Mine.
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  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Your therapist's advice made me think of one other thing. Why on EARTH would a rational person continue to give money to someone who disrespected them and abused them? what message does that tell the other person? That they should be paid to abuse and harm you?

    Years ago a therapist hwo was a post-doctoral student told us to give Wiz a token each time he was nice to Jess or didn't hurt her. Five tokens could be redeemed for a book worth up to five dollars according to this man. I was horrified and refused. I went to his advisor/boss about this. Why? What message did it send to Jess that her own brother had to be paid to simply not hurt her badly enough to bruise her? What would the end result of that be in HER life?

    The postdoc therapist's point of view was that we were not there to deal with Jess's issues, we were trying to deal with Wiz', not her. His boss was not just horrified, she was flat out furious. It blew her mind that the guy flat out didn't seem to realize that by diong this he would reinforce J's position as 'less than' in both Wiz' mind AND in J's mind. Boy did the guy get chewed out and he had to do some extra work because you cannot treat one part of a family without taking into account how it will impact the rest of the family.

    Your therapist's advice may benefit your difficult child (though I highly doubt it), but it won't benefit you. what does it say abut you to yourself if you must pay your child to see yu? If you must still continue to pay him to see you even after he has assaulted you? That is messed up six ways to Sunday.