Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Lil, May 3, 2015.
I've told him these things so many times. He doesn't listen and doesn't believe.
Lil, he doens't want to put in the effort.
Lil, if you could make friends for him and arrange playdates he would like it better that way.
He doesn't BELIEVE. Yes, that is what it is. He has gone through his growing up with enough challenges that he didn't learn to believe in himself. He didn't really find his strengths. He has no reason to believe.
You are trying to give him an opportunity to prove himself. But first he has to believe that at least he has nothing to lose by trying.
Just another thing I don't understand. He's been told his whole life that he is bright and capable. He was trusted at home alone from a young age because he was responsible and able to do things for himself. He was told by every teacher he ever had that he could have A's if he just did the work...which he didn't...but that wasn't because he wasn't capable. He wanted to do something, Tai Kwon Do, guitar, drums, we let him, encouraged him, and he would simply quit one day. It isn't that he couldn't do anything. The only thing he was ever bad at was sports...but the fact is he didn't like them so he didn't do them...and making friends. He wasn't good at making friends. At least not real friends. He's personable enough when he wants to be.
I wish I could crawl inside his brain and figure out where this inferiority comes from.
I still think he is an Aspie. Which would explain why you can't figure out what goes on inside his head.
In the modern educational model, social skills are presumed to be at least average. The whole teaching approach is geared to the neurotypical extrovert. If you are different and have dxe and support, like SWOT's son, you survive. If you are different and have no dxes and no supports, it's just plain ugly.
Being personable isn't the same as making friends. Adults LOVE my kids (well, adults except for most teachers). Peers? Won't have anything to do with them. They do well in a work environment as long as it doesn't involve peers.
You see, he has learnt that those things he has going for him, do not matter. What do matter, are things he isn't too good at. For a kid, from rather early age on, their social standing in their peer group is more important than what adults say. And, unfortunately, to have a good social standing in your peer group, especially if you are a boy, you need to be good at sports and social games. And if you are a girl, it is another way around. If you are great at something, that may become your niche and you get some status in that peer group, and if you are really great, some of it can drip to your bigger peer group.
Kids are also very good at understanding that your mom says supportive things, because they are your mom and that teachers will tell any kid, that they just know that kid would do great, if they just applied themselves. So mom or teacher giving positive feedback doesn't count much.
Lil, as much as good ole Dr. Spock, that guy from our time, told us that telling our children positives will MAKE them feel positive, it's not true.
When I started school, with a nice load of learning challenges, I knew I was behind the other kids. If I had a normal mother who would have told me I was smart and I can do it, it wouldn't have mattered one bit. I was behind because of challenges other kids didn't had so they caught on much quicker than me. Not only did *I* know it, but the other kids in the class knew it too and I got teased for it, along with getting teased for not being able to pay attention and going "What?" when I was called on by the teacher to answer a question. It was hard for me not to daydream.
No matter what Dad and Mom say to you that is soothing, and I do think it helps at least emotionally, there is a world of teachers and peers and TV and now the internet out there letting you know if you don't measure up. I knew I wasn't measuring up. In time, I gave up trying. At that time, they had no help for learning differences so it was too difficult for me to keep up with my peers. I'm honestly amazed I graduated high school. Each year I'd flunk one class and have to go to summer school and the only reason I went was because my school crush always was at summer school too.
My self-esteem was in the toilet way before high school. The only things I felt I had going for me were my creativity, which even the other kids who didn't like me admitted I had, and my looks. I shudder to think of how much more ostracized I'd have been if I hadn't been pretty. I was so I did what I was good at. Whenever I could do it, I'd drive at night to a library that was in a college and actually sort of a hangout. I could write my novels in silence there and every so often a cute coed would flirt with me. I did not lack for boyfrieinds, although they did not stick around long as I refused to have sex. So my self-esteem points were that I was a very good writer and I was pretty. In spite of my fat ankles, Cedar...lol.
Back to you, Lil.
You are but a small reason your son has no self-esteem. There is a big world out there and he knows he is different. That doesn't mean he has to wallow in self-pity forever and never learn skills to do better. And that's where he is falling short. When he gives up, he really does give up. I actually did give up on school, but not on life. Your son has given up in all areas and wants you to do everything for him. You can't. He has to get some motivation to improve his life. He is the only one who can do it.
But you did nothing wrong to make him insecure. In your son's world, there was much more than you.
Lurking in the background is his birthfather who left him at five and never came back. He may never talk about him. He may hate him. But he probably does think about him. If you have a challenged attention span, if something is on your mind, that can make you ruminate and be even less productive.
Did you son get good feedback from teachers, peers, sports coaches, girls? If not, that's where this is all coming from. He can make it better, but rght now he won't. I hope he decides to get angry and tell himself, "I can DO this thing called life. It may be harder for me, but I CAN STILL DO THIS!" That's what it takes when you have challenges.
Since he is an adult, you've already done all you can and you did well. At least he doesn't hear his mother's voice telling him, "You're stupid!" And that help.
Your child is twenty. I would be doing everything the same way you are. That you do these things now, while he truly is young enough to turn everything around, will help you stand your ground if things get tougher in future. Each of us needs to do what feels right for us because sure as anything, we are going to be facing ourselves in a mirror somewhere one day saying, "What if I'd...."
We have to be able to face ourselves. Ten years from now, we have to be able to know we did the right thing as we believed the right thing to be. Because there may not be a good outcome, somewhere along the line. I know everyone hates when I talk like that. But I have had it happen, to me. So I know what I am talking about.
It is never wrong to try when a child is young. It gets to be enabling when we have been through it and through it already, or when we know for sure we are dealing with an addiction, and we keep doing the same things all over again. What I hear in your posts Lil is frustration that your son is not taking full advantage of the paths you have opened for him. I do not hear resentment from you that you have made those paths available. So bless yourself and do what your heart decrees.
Enabling is when we have made their paths so many times that we resent making the path again. Enabling, from what I can figure out and it seems like I might be the only one who sees it this way, is when we feel so done helping, but we try again anyway, resenting the stuffings out of it the whole time.
I think twenty is when we still try with our whole hearts. Unless it's an addiction. If D H and I had not tried with our whole hearts and these things still happened (which they would have, because now we know the underpinnings of our situation) I would not have been able to stand on my integrity and practice detachment without believing in it when I finally took that leap. I knew there was nothing, nothing at all, that I hadn't tried.
But you know where all that got our family. Each of us has to get there, to that place that works for our own family, on our own.
What would work to motivate this child? That's the only thing that matters, here. For right now, that is the only thing. Would it help him if you said something like:
Clarification Family Conference. Set a time limit. Create an agenda. There is time for him. There is time for you. There is response time and then, the conference is over. Have one every week, if you like, before Game of Thrones.
1) Describe (really briefly) the paths available to him. You can even say: "The paths I opened for you." You would not be remiss in this. Without your intervention, your child would have spent a brutally cold winter living in shelters or worse. He would be saddled with fines or probation or worse for the things he has done, for the acts he has committed. Or he may have stolen you blind, or a thousand other things.
So, given all those things that might have been, you are all doing really well. This is a true thing, and you and Jabber need to give yourselves credit where credit is most assuredly due. There is every possibility he will do Job Corps and it will help him. The clarification I think needs to happen is the part about what your son has decided to do if he does not stick with Job Corps or finish his community service. This clarification is necessary for your peace of mind and for no other reason. I think I hear him rebelling against mom in not doing the community service. So don't present it that way. You can be honestly curious about what he plans to do instead. You can even say something like: You are an adult. I get that. I am a mother. Ease my mind.
Either he has a plan, or he is planning on Job Corps. If he is not planning on Job Corps, what is his plan? If he chooses not to discuss it with you let go. If he has no plan, let go. He may choose to be homeless right where he is. Until you know, you don't know.
You have done what you can, everything you need to do to be able to meet your own eyes in the mirror, and he has asked you to butt out.
That is what you and Jabber need: To be able to meet your own eyes in the mirror. That is your only objective.
Don't catastrophize. At twenty, whether he has learned to make friends or not cannot be something you are involved in. Let go. At twenty, playing on your maternal instincts is a manipulation, Lil. For your child's sake, recognize it as such and confront it: "We all have days like that, honey. It's what being an adult is about. Bad things and good things and standing up to both. You can do this."
Then, let go. Unless a better response comes up, you already know how to respond to those kinds of conversations. Good. One less thing.
I guess that is what I am seeing, Lil. You are a good, strong mom. I love the way you get all cranky when you haven't eaten and then, you are back to yourself when you have.
That was so real.
So basically, you and Jabber are batting a thousand as parents. Your son is not picking up and you can't make him. You can talk to him about these things, you can have him over for the celebration of food and togetherness that is what family is all about but when you do, let it be from a sense of curiosity and goodwill. You could even say that as a family, issues regarding the future will only be discussed at Family Clarification Conference.
You could do a decision tree. You know, where you draw a tree, and they see how this choice branches out and how a different choice branches out. My kids did an eye roll on all things having to do with decision trees. What they wanted was money. That is all they wanted, every time. So, for me and for them, cutting off the money was what needed to happen for them to stand up. There was no need to manipulate me, because NO MONEY took away the need to manipulate me.
This next thing I am going to post might offend you. How involved is your son with drug use? Our son was "using recreationally". What I didn't know and refused to see is that the recreational use was daily, and the recreational drugs were acid, meth, cocaine, and whatever that cocaine substitute drug was that poor people use. My son was absolutely offended that I believed he was on whatever that one was. That is where I learned only poor people use it. Crack, I think it was. For our son, though I had it worked out in a thousand ways how his problems were a direct response to the problems at home during his teens, the problem was drugs.
That's it. There was no other problem.
So I would like you to take a second look at that, because if the core problem is drug use, then that is where you need to be applying your attention now, while he is young. I think some intellectual or emotional deficit would not lead a child to steal from his parents.
So I would like you to take a look at that drug piece again.
You know that, like all of us here on the site, I am pulling for you and your family to come through this quickly, and in one intact piece, Lil and Jabber.
This is something my father told me regarding our son. I was like, all over the place trying to figure out why he "couldn't" take advantage of what his father and I had to offer him. He was like, blazingly brilliant. No one else seemed to see this? But I am his mother and I know this is true.
Where was I. So. My father said: "You know? I am an old man. Who is to say, at the end of a life, whether it should have been spent working and doing the responsible thing and squeezing in the things we enjoy, or blowing all that off? If difficult child were not happy doing what he is doing, he would do something else."
Comfort. I was able to take some comfort there.
As always Cedar...you've said so much (in a good way) and I have much to think about. But off the top of my head:
Drugs. I really don't think that's the issue. Did he used real and synthetic pot and really, really like it? Yes. Summer of 2013 he was stoned most of the time and probably thru college too. Harder drugs? I doubt it and if he did I don't think it was habitual, maybe trying something once or twice but he actually speaks very critically of people who use meth or heroin and such and he actually refuses narcotics even when they're prescribed for pain. He recently said he hadn't smoked pot in a over two months. He was drug tested for the job he just started and he knows they drug test at Job Corps.
I just don't know if he's not doing anything different because he's happy with what he's doing.
I think he just doesn't know what to do.
Well, he's only twenty. The brain keeps developing. Its not fully developed until the late twenties or even later. And I think the neuropsychological testing which SWOT mentioned is a very good idea. Our kid is 28 and he's just starting to develop a work ethic. He came over Saturday to help us move furniture (third time in the last two months he's done work for us) and he was talking about getting a second job! He used to be such a slug.....
After reading and posting on this forum for quite a while, I really believe there is something to be said about age. I know there are exceptions but it seems that for many, the mid twenties is a time of more positive change. I don't think this is insignificant.
So did my son, Lil.
I do, too.
Identifying the problem will give you the information you need.
Sneaking this post. If D H finds out I am back on the site during his time?
He wont even see a counselor, much less allow himself to be tested.
Any clue as to WHY?
I'm going to make a guess: He knows there is a stigma attached to many diagnoses, and he already has enough stigma.
(been there done that when conundrum kid was mid-teens)
Apples and oranges. A counselor makes you talk about yourself and if he has a neurological glitch, he won't be able to express himself well or be comfortable doing so and it won't help him.
A neuropsychologist tests your abilities in various areas. It is not a psychiatric pep talk. It is TESTING only. It can dig up why he has so little motivation to do ANYTHING and help him without the flavor of psychiatry. If he is on the spectrum, this is significant. He may need services to launch...people who work with adults who are on the spectrum and know how to handle them and deal with their quirks.Typically they do not know how to deal with people and are afraid of things we don't understand and have high anxiety and are delayed in social development.Their interests tend to be very limited and obsessive and, although they can do poorly in school, many are very smart.
You can get tough and tell him he will not be allowed back into your house or car and you will not help him at all in a ny way until he gets the testing and that he has to sign a consent form that you be there for the results. Some things are really worth it. I think, for your son, this may be.
You don't understand. We've tried this before, he wont do it. He will hear psychologist in neuropsychologist and rail against being placed on anti-depressants even though, as you said, its only testing. He is at the point right now that HE is doing nothing wrong, its everyone else. HE is doing what needs to be done, it just isn't working. In other words, he is in complete denial about the FACT that he has a problem and until he can admit that he wont even consider this type of testing. Believe me, if I thought he would seriously consider it, I would be all over getting him tested. Unfortunately the best case scenario for now with testing would be that he did it, discovered his diagnosis, and continued doing what he is doing now but instead of blaming his problems on those around him like he's doing now, he would blame them on his diagnosis while continuing to do exactly what he is doing now.
Don't get me wrong SWOT, I agree with you completely. You just need to remember that, like everyone else here, what we actually mention happening on this forum is only the tip of the iceberg. His pattern of denial and blame was firmly established LONG before we realized there was a serious problem. I wish with all my heart that he would seek professional help, I really do. But right now he seems to only want validation of his choices and lifestyle.
Thank you Honey for saying that so well.
I keep having a problem with the "he's living his life on his terms" and "he's living the life he wants to live" portions of people's posts and what you said is exactly why!
He's NOT living the life he wants to live. He's not living on his own terms. He hates his life for the most part. But he blames everyone and everything for it and doesn't believe he has any power to change it.
Except us. He has yet to blame us. Which I guess is a little unusual for most of the people on this forum.
True but he is starting. What he did this weekend when he called you at work instead of me at church to say he wouldn't be there. Granted, he is only starting to blame me right now because he knows I'm the one spearheading the "NO" campaign but its only a matter of time.
Part of his problem is that he honestly thinks that he's living life on his terms, and in a twisted way he is. That is why he is blaming EVERYONE besides himself. Since they aren't acknowledging HIS terms and they have more power than him, he fails. False logic but it works for him for now.
This is key.
He doesn't like himself, or his life, or anything around him. But he sees no hope, no chance to actually change. Others around him see him not trying - but will have no idea how many times he's actually tried in subtle ways to change, and failed.
He is between a rock and a hard place. It's not nice for him or anyone around him. I'd love to give him a hug.
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