On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A provocative question

So... I'm going to stir up the pot a little and ask a provocative question.

Emotionally I'm at a place where I find myself saying HOW can these children be helped? CAN they be helped? At what point is it medically unethical for the system to continue to place children like this in home environments at the welfare and safety of everyone else in a home?

But there don't seem to be answers. It seems to be hit and miss and I think it also comes down to which families have the stuffing to put up with these behaviors from their children.

I, for one, am not one of those tolerant moms. I've learned that truth the past few weeks and that makes me sad too. So many of the moms I'm following on blogspot have put up with behaviors like this from one or more children for much longer than 10 years and either you are superhuman or you have been unwilling to make the hard choices.

I'm not sure which it is and it seems rude and improper to ask these blunt questions but I'm going to.

Are you superhuman...
or unwilling to make the hard choice to relinquish children to placements when they need it? When the safety and welfare of the rest of your healthy family, yourself and your marriage demand it?

I'm not accusing, just asking. Because I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that either I'm a crappy woman that can't handle my kid, the whole lot of you are as insane as your kids, you have truths and successes you're withholding like Sissy holds her poo or your families are suffering and you don't recognize it.

For the record, I don't think I'm a sorry excuse of a woman that simply isn't willing to handle her kid. And honestly? I don't think personal homes were intended to be set up as institutions.

And yeah, I'm angry and no it's not directed at any of my readers but good God Almighty, it's a bitter pill to swallow when you're faced with the glaringly obvious truth that you are insufficient to help your child no matter what you do, that to continue to try is at the detriment of every other family member and your own well-being. And that's not just yesterday's panic attack talking. That's being honest because seriously, someone has to state the truth and it sure as heck isn't going to be Sissy.

I'll leave anonymous posting on as long as it doesn't become a mad lynching. I'm not in the mood to be strung up in martyrdom today.


GB's Mom said...

I don't think you are a sorry excuse of a mother. I do think everybody's individual circumstances are different and nobody has figured out which ones contribute to a family being able to manage the stress of living with these kids. I have used RTCs when it has been necessary and I don't consider myself a martyr or a failure. {{{Hugs}}}

Integrity Singer said...

@ GB's mom - and not intending to be offensive, just flat out asking - did RTC placements HELP? Because Sissy continues to demonstrate model behaviors in every venue with the exception of the home. Is it the length of time of placement that matters? The type of placement? The child's desire to get better? The parents' ability to embrace therapeutic parenting wholeheartedly, 24/7? The constitution of the parents?

*sigh* I know you don't have the answers either. I'm just so emotionally bent out of shape about it right now. I am not what Sissy needs. Period. I am not helping her. Period. Sissy is not improving nor does she desire change while she stays at home. Period. Sissy continues to behave for every other adult except her dad and I. Period. Sissy shows her rage and violence only in our home. Period. Sissy is emotionally detached from any dialogue that addresses the need for her to alter her behaviors. Period.

LK said...

Calgon take me away!!!

missjenngirl said...

You and I have talked a little about my situation with my step daughter. Grant it she is not homicidal or RADs (not really, and she does has some illness that she can not help.
However, with all of that said. Hubby and I have had to make the dicission that because of her willful behavior, she can not come to our home right now. We love her, and I think that honestly the decision has been harder for me than hubby. I feel that i should have been able to do better for her, meet her needs better, maybe not have children of our own, and she would not be like she is today.
However, after several (5) years of justifying her behaviors, thinking the problem WAS me, and having her behavior almost distroy our family, and on at least two occassion but her sibling in danger. We have had to say.
We love you, and it is okay to be manipulative, disobedient, sneaky, a liar, selfish, mean when you don't think anyone is looking and self absorbed if you want to...But... you can't do it here.
Hubby and I have had to come to the agreement that we have two children that need us, that want us. And we are not willing to harm them just to make the step daughter happy, when she is making the choice, to make things difficult.
She has been given 2nd chances, and I know that my husband lements the past in regards to her.
But the truth is we have here and now.
In you case I understand that you wanted her for so long,that you begged God for her...
But you are not acting like she is a puppy and she is not paper trained and you just don't want her anymore.
At some point self and family preservation needs to happen in your household. You have done everything, you have tried everything, you have read every book, spent countless hours researching, or in counseling, letting people into your home, to tell you what to do...
That is what YOU have done...
What has sissy done?
The fact that she can be well behaved, proves to me that it is a choice. Sure she has issues, but this particular issue is a choice.
If someone was holding a knife to AB or WG's throught would you hesitate for a minute to protect them? It is time for you "knife" to take a vacation.
I'm not trying to be mean, just honest. You are the strongest best mother I know and have put up with more crap than most mothers.
As a Spec. Ed. teacher I look into the future. How many more years will it take for her to be bigger and stronger than you? What will stop her rages then? And what will happen when she realizes that the look in your eyes after that confrontation was fear. How will she respond to the knowledge that she scares you. She will like her new found power and she will want to use it more and more.
just some food for thought.

Cyndi said...

There comes a time when the line needs to be drawn in the sand. We have decided as a family what that line looks like. we have also made it clear to the people who govern the funds which are needed to provide services for our kid that this is where we stand and if, or as I believe when they quit providing the basic level services we need to function in a healthy manor then she will need to live some where else. That does not mean that we do not want her or love her or are throwing her out of the family, it simply means that we are not going to allow one kid who can or will not get her act together to destroy the other nine of us who are able to function well as a family. This is tough, very tough but for the safety and well being of our family we HAD to do this. The kid who this affects has also been clearly informed of everything that is going on. She is developmentally disabled so she may not understand, however I think she does understand and chooses not to want to hear any of this. Maybe she is just daring us to go through with the plan which we fully intend to do when needed.

Meg said...

I have not used an RTC but I do think they have a time and a place, as do therapeutic boarding schools. And it really does not matter what any other family does with their child or what any other family 'puts up with' from their child. Only you know your situation and only you know the needs and limits of your family and if you all have ben trying and tring and trying and it's not working and you all aren't safe, then it's not working. RTC's don't cure children. They don't heal them, they don't foster attachment, and they don't ease mental illness. Using one, however, may save your family and they may be able to teach Sissy how to live and deal in the world so that she can effectively take care of herself later in life. And they may keep her out of bigger trouble that could be on the way if she stays at home and really starts to act out as a teen (drugs, pregnancy, legal problems, etc).

Bren said...

I think it is impossible to put yourself in that place unless you are already there. I love Cyndi's answer. Here, it is not a matter of safety anymore. There is no risk of harm to anyone including herself. That being said, her behaviors so negatively effect the rest of the household that I count days sometimes til that 28th birthday comes. If it comes down to safety and making sure no one in the house (including her) is harmed, you are not being the mother you need to be if you do not seek treatment for her. RTC and other out of home placement options can be the ONLY safe alternative in some cases.
When C was in RTC at age 5 (she did not need to be there as she was not a danger, but DCFS placed her there wrongly) they only saw perfection in her behaviors. I had to give them triggers. Those triggers worked and they were able to see what I lived with. She came home on Concerta....I know, don't take me there!
The next time she is hospitalized or in RTC, give them her triggers that would make her true colors shine. With C it was as simple as telling her, "You can have your sugary dessert after you eat all your dinner." They set the chocolate cake in front of her and she ate her whole meal waiting for that cake which sat within her reach. When she finished, they took the cake and said, "I changed my mind. No dessert tonight." This put her in the kind of rage that I dealt with on a daily basis. Now I never did the mean dessert thing, but I knew it would trigger a rage so they could see the actual behavior. PLUS once she raged the first time, she raged often over the normal things that would bring on a rage cause her cover was blown.

Bren said...

HA I meant 18th birthday. If I had to do this til she was 28 I would need RTC myself!

Anonymous said...

I am an outsider. I have a bio-child, and became an ad-hoc 'foster mom' to an 18 year old homeless student of mine. So please take my statements as such, not being an expert in anything that you do day in and day out.

I believe that the only children that can be helped, are children who will help themselves. Children who can embrace at least some basic truths about themselves, their family, and the way the world works.

I also believe that when families are in crisis, they are so deeply entrenched, that they don't question alternate realities. This is why you don't hear much about this from other families in your circle. Everyone keeps plugging along, because this is the hand you've been dealt. Functional adults work this way - all of us do. Some of us have a great hand to play, and some of us are stuck with a three, an eight, an errant Uno card, and the pinochle rules card that should've been taken out before shuffling. Because Sissy was just out of your home, you had a glimpse at an alternate reality, and now you are seeking answers. I don't blame you.

I'm going to stick my neck out here, and say, you need to save what you can. Save yourself, save your marriage, save your other children that can be helped. Sissy needs a RTC or therapeutic boarding school to look after her, and give her the life skills she needs to survive in the world. She won't learn them from you, because she chooses not to. You are actually helping her, by giving her the chance to learn the rules of life. And you are helping yourself, your marriage, and your children, by getting Sissy out of that situation. It isn't working for anyone, that much is clear.

I have a lot of respect for you, and wish you peace.

missjenngirl said...

To bad you couldn't go live at RTC for a couple days with her. That would set her off.

Debora said...

I.S., you have made it as far as you have by the grace of God and your determination and love for Sissy. Our daughters have been with us for 14-1/2 months, and I don't know how much longer I can handle our eldest's behaviors. My huge bruise from her last rage five weeks ago today finally disappeared the other day. I don't think people really realize what you or we are going through. They say, yeah, but all teenagers have their blow-ups. Not like our daughter! Indulgence and lack of teaching from her family of origin (as well as neglect and other things), coupled with living four or so years in an orphanage, have to be the huge shapers of her character. Pride and selfishness and meanness are not becoming to her!

To be brutally honest, I would love to send her to another family or back to the orphanage as she demands so often (I would even choose boarding school, but I think it would just be a glorified version of the orphanage). All we want is to love her and help her, but she says she doesn't need help from anyone. The Lord is faithful to get us through, to help us to enjoy our times with one another without her, but this is also taking a toll on our younger daughter...eldest is quite mean to her, and she has witnessed the rages.

Eldest is making these choices. She says she can't change, but we all know she really won't. She's even said so a few times. She was nice as you please when she visited us, but once we had that court decree and custody of her, her true colors came shining through. I know that Sissy is making the same choices. Has she been read the verses in the Bible where God says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" and "Honor your father and mother," among others? Our daughter knows these things and wants to obey God, but often throws out these commands and ignored God's clear Word because she WANTS TO. CHOICE.

We can't change a person's heart. They can choose to walk a destructive road their entire life. We try to teach and steer them; we pray a lot; but ultimately, it is their choice. Choose, through much, much prayer and discussion with your husband, the right place for Sissy such that the rest of the family is no longer in harm's way. I'm sorry it has had to come to this.

Big hugs to you. We're here to support you and pray for you.


radmama said...

I don't want to offend anyone, and I certainly haven't been at this as long as you have, but here's where I an with my son, who's already hit rock bottom at age FIVE. I've read everything I can about outcomes (because research is my coping skill). Kids with 'disinhibited type' RAD (that's the kind we're all dealing with), they don't get better. There. I said. Add FASD, mood disorders and well, yeah. They don't get better. Our kids do better in RTCs because their staff isn't trying to bond with them, or asking for love, or asking them to fit into a family or society. Our kids are allowed to just exist. They control the one thing we're trying to get at--their inner selves. The damage to their brains is structural (we can demonstrate this now with fMRI) and PERMANENT. Hopeless? Sure feels that way. But my sons behaviors are most in check when HIS life is like RTC life. His. Not ours. He eats alone. He lives in his room--watching movies, reading, hoarding toys (because he doesn't really play). We act like his staff. This is heartbreaking to me, but allows the rest of us to have time outside the virtual prison of his behavior. Have I given up? Maybe. But I think I'm giving him what he needs?wants?

Anonymous said...

I dont think anyone has the right to judge you. You are just getting by the best you know how with the few resources you have. Maybe some people have different resources or some superhuman strength but you are just being honest-I have no wisdom but to say hang in there and you are doing the right things byt always questioning---

Lisa said...

I am not superhuman. I've been dealing with some form of crapola for 15+ years and the kids are now 16 1/2 and 17 1/2. I have begged for services. I have jumped thru hoops. The help I need is not available in my state (MI) unless my kids either set someone on fire or rape several non-family members. I am serious. I have been told that my kids are not as bad as other kids - so why am I complaining?? I have been told that their behaviors are annoying, but not life threatening. Tell that to my younger kids who have to listen to a child rage for 4 hours because he doesn't like the book I asked him to read or threaten to kill us all in our sleep because I won't let him have a 4th helping of food because he's ate every last bit and I am not making more. When my daughter screams that she is leaving the second she turns 18 and if we try to stop her she'll make sure we lose all our kids (her veiled threat to make false allegations), please come comfort my kids who are terrified of being removed from our home. How about the child who only hears negative stuff (no matter what you say) and then blames you for being so mean or blames you for every damn thing that rains down on her head when she makes crappy decisions and no amount of logic or explanation will convince her she is causing her own problems?

If there were services to be had - we'd take them. As it is, I have two kids who will have to get into a teen shelter program when they turn 18 because they will not live here any longer terrorizing our family. I have 4 younger kids who are looking forward to them leaving and I find that so.... sad.

I think YOU are doing the hard stuff right now and you have my outmost respect.

sweethoneydoo said...

i have been telling you for at least 3 years i wish you could place her outside the home to the betterment of the rest of the family. so you know i am never going to judge you on that. with her out of the house, a place that she obviously loves to do harmful things in, the rest of you can heal and be a real family, not this fake thing you got going on because they all seemed, forever it seems, to think home was the best solution for her when it wasn't. *hugs* i'm just a phonecall away girlie.

Bee Burg said...

I know I might be asking for the impossible here, but you need to find a way to let go of this "guilt". Yes, this situation sucks, and I understand you must be feeling awful for wanting to send her away after you were the one asking for her to become a part of your family. But the truth is, SHE is doing this to herself, not you. And it's not like you didn't try. It looks like this is completely out of your hands now. Because no matter what you try and how much you want to love her, she is just pushing back, and in the end your love for her will just turn into resentment all the way. You cannot let her break you marriage and your family. You have a husband and 2 other kids who deserve a life too, just like you do...
This is a heartbreaking situation, but sometimes you have to "sacrifice" an individual for the wellness of the "group". On top of it in this case she seems to be much happier when away!! I don't think anyone should have the nerve of judging you, unless they have walked a few miles in your shoes. You are doing the best you can, and you already went beyong call.
You're in my prayer, and I hope you will all heal from this. (((hugs))) <3

m said...

There are some kids that can not be helped and do not belong in families...ever. Sad to say, but true.

Apparently Sissy is one of them. I am sorry for you and your family and everyone else that goes through this, but again, some things and people can not be fixed. The sooner the system recognizes this, the better.