Thursday, April 21, 2011

Never Say...

Never. It's more than a popular preteen song, it's parenting advice.

I would never send a child away.

I would never make a child leave.

I would never believe bad things about my child.

I would never blame my adopted child for his behaviors.

And so on.


How do you know?

Where is your limit?

I recently had someone post some rude things on facebook first about people who write about depressing things rather than cheerful things, and then about people who give up on the children God gave them.

The better "never" might be, I will never judge another mom since I'm not living her life. But I sometimes catch myself doing that. I see a mom scream at a child in the grocery store and I congratulate myself on being smart enough to shop alone and to not yell at a child in public. But maybe that mom has no one to watch her kids and this child has been acting out all day. Maybe she's just too frazzled to deal with it calmly.

I don't always make the right parenting decisions. In fact, 13 year ago when Jeff came home, I made some bad ones. I tried to use logical consequences--You stole his treat, you use your allowance to replace it. This made no sense to him. Because we weren't dealing with a child who thought about actions and consequences. Little was known about attachment. Or maybe it was but you couldn't just go on Internet and look up the topic and get ideas and support like you can now. Our nearest attachment counselor was 3 1/2 hours away and she wanted to see the whole family every day for an hour the first week. Oh, and it was about $300 a session not covered by insurance. Couldn't do it.

We went through the lies, manipulation, stealing, false reports to teachers about abuse, threats against the other children by his "friends" and so on. I hated getting up in the morning. And I was beginning to hate being a parent. I love that now there are some respite care options for parents, and those are great. But two children were bringing our whole family down and we decided to get one out-of-home care for one. The place we really needed to send him was $3,500 a month out of pocket and we couldn't do that. So we settled for somewhere that would at least keep him, and my other children, safe.

We assumed he'd be home in a year or two but the years passed and they never felt it was to the point where he could make good decisions outside of a very structured environment. I agree, and unfortunately I do not think he's to that point yet. But he graduated high school in December, and we decided to bring him home until he went into the army. We thought it would just be a couple of months, but it turned out to be a five-month delay.

So we had him get a job. The money went to his head. He was buying trash and watching it, refusing to get rid of it even though it violated our values and rules. He refused to buy anything he needed--undershirts, socks, etc but spent $45 on "man spray" and the same on T-shirts. If we tried to give him rules, he'd say he was his own man. If we tried to get him to take responsibility, he'd say he was 18 and didn't have to.

We could not continue living that way. If you have children with attachment issues, then you know what that feels like. And when they are just weeks short of their 18th birthday it gets very, very complicated. I did not feel like I could keep either him or the younger ones safe any longer.

Two of the other children decided to use the chaos from this situation to try and get away with some things of their own. One lost privileges he had just started earning. He needs to prove he is trustworthy to be allowed to just hang out at the mall and around town again. He will be driven and picked up from activities and from the job he starts Saturday.

Although some parents believe in never removing a child from the home, our family is not the best place for Jeff to be. And it is not healthy for the younger ones to watch an almost-adult challenge parents and absolutely refuse to do something. What can you do? If you physically force them, they cry abuse. Take away stuff, he buys more. There is no option when a child absolutely refuses to obey. If they are younger, there are things you can do. Not when they are almost an adult. And I cannot allow his anger to be turned toward the younger ones. When he got angry at a friend at the camp, hit put his fist through a wall and broke his arm. 'nuff said.

Hope to have a happier post soon, but needed to address those who feel they can judge our family without being in this situation. It looks different from the inside. If you don't think so, just go to a high school and pick an angry, rebellious senior and move him into your home and force him to follow your rules. Because an unattached child feels like a stranger, especially when he hasn't lived with us since he was 12.


One Crowded House said...

I agree... you never know what it is like until you have lived the same exact situation.

Kathy C. said...

Thank you Tanya. I know you've had some interesting challenges of your own!

Felicia said...

I am dreading the time between school getting out and Joselin turning 18 in will be a long summer.Hard decisions have to be made to keep everyone safe.

Kathy C. said...

That's a tough one Felicia.

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

PRAYING!!!! I know I used to be very judgmental about a lot of things, but now....not as much. Just more prayerful about a lot more!!! It is NOT fun to be in that situation is really really hard.

PRAYING for you and know that you have friends that understand :)

Kathy C. said...

Thank Dawn.

Karen said...

Kathy, we can only do what we know and can do at any given time. The Lord gives wisdom, and many times that widom is not easy. God is our judge, not us.

Blessings, friend.

Renee said...

Praying! Wow, it is so evident how much you love your children every day. I am sorry others can't see that , but sometimes love means letting them go. The Father let the Prodigal Son go, and he is the picture of love.


Kathy C. said...

Thanks Karen and Renee. It has not been an easy 13 years--but no one promised it would be.

kayder1996 said...

Somtimes it just stinks! Thinking of you tonight...

Kathy C. said...

Thanks kayla