You are here

The fundamental issue with SD

completely overwhelmed's picture

I was going to post this as a rely to a comment in the last blog post, but I thought maybe it deserves a different entry because it was getting rather long and I'm rambling on and on.

I know the common reaction to SD's issues is that DH needs to do more or that he hasn't done enough. Every time she sees a new psychiatrist or therapist, I know they're thinking "how did this kid get this far without more being done!?!?".

Certainly when she was little, there were problems. But since DH has gotten his life together and gotten her full time about five years ago, the crucial element to understanding their relationship and how SD got where she is her reaction to everything.

SD’s way of dealing with anything that is difficult or challenging is to quit. This was well before she was diagnosed with depression. She has no ability to handle adversity or frustration. She gives up when anything is even remotely difficult for her or if she can't immediately do something correctly or immediately know the answer to some math problem or if she doesn't know what a word is an a book. It's too hard, she can't do it.

Almost everything is difficult for SD. We knew as a preteen when we got her full time that she was behind due to her childhood. But her reaction always has been – it’s too hard, I won’t do it.

A good example is fine motor skills issues. She can’t make very small movements with her hands. It’s frustrating for her. When she’s tried to play video games, she can’t make small movements so her character doesn’t go where she wants. So she quits. She’s never kept trying, failing and eventually after hours and hours gotten better. She always says she’ll never improve and she always just sucks at everything.

Other kids are not kind and I know she’s incredibly self-conscience about how uncoordinated she is, so she’s probably been bullied a lot about it at school but she’s never told me or DH about any incidents.

The way DH reacts doesn’t help and therapists have tried to get him to “coach” more than try to tell SD to do this or do that. He gets frustrated that SD can’t just move video game controller the “right” way and how she can’t possibly have problems playing a video games our toddler can easily play. Or why she can’t just sit down and spend 15 minutes doing her math homework rather than wasting 15 minutes doing nothing.

About 3 years ago when SD started to go downhill, she was having a lot of trouble in school not turning in homework assignments and her grades were from B/Cs to Ds. DH met with teachers and the counselor and set up a study schedule, a homework tracking system and was told to make sure he regularly checked in with SD to see if she was following through with homework.

When he got home from work, he’d go up to SD’s room and wanted to see her homework list, what she had done studying for the day and how she had done on tests or quizzes.

That lasted a few weeks and then SD started hiding in the attic to avoid having to talk to her dad about homework and school. The attic access is in the closet to her room, so she could sneak up there and then pull the attic ladder up behind her.

DH typically gets home at 7 or 7:30. Every evening for the past 3 years has been pretty much constant fighting with trying to get SD to do homework since then.

What frustrates DH so much is that if SD would just do as she's told and do her homework or take her medication or participate in therapy session (frequently she doesn't) then all the problems would be gone. His parents were immigrants from SE Asia, so he grew up in a home where there would be no tolerance for doing what SD is doing.

DH has tried to be more encouraging, but SD doesn't buy it. There have been many times when he says something complimentary to her and she calls him a liar or he's just saying that to be nice.

DH is entirely different the way he interacts with BD. BD is only 4, but there’s already things she can do better than SD. BD is very smart, very artistic, very outgoing and friendly. She isn’t going to have the same problems SD has in school or physically or making friends. As BD gets older, I know the comparisons between SD and BD will get more and more apparent.

SD essentially missing development most kids get in early childhood plus she was exposed to drugs and alcohol when her mom was pregnant and experienced early childhood neglect from living with her mom. DH worked very hard to get his life together after a difficult childhood. BM never was able to stop using drugs. DH knows he made mistakes when SD was young, especially allowing BM to raise her when he knew she was not equipped.

With something like fine motor skills, DH saw how much different BD was growing up than SD did. A counselor at SD’s school had recommended getting SD to do more activities to practice fine motor skills – like arts & crafts projects.

I remember one time BD was about 2.5 was coloring/drawing. DH told SD she should work on coloring and drawing too – since she needs practice on fine motor skills. This lasted for all of five minutes and we had one of the most epic tantrums ever – from the 13 year old, not the 2.5 year old. The reaction from BD was priceless. She was horrified and I think she realized how parents feel with kids throw tantrums.

It’s not like SD has a major disability. She could improve but she doesn’t put any effort into anything. If it’s difficult, she quits.

A friend of mine's younger brother has down syndrome and biggest thing I can say about him is that he tries so hard. Everything is far more difficult for him than is for SD but at least he tries.

So, saying DH needs to do more - he might but it's honestly better when he doesn't try to push SD so much because she doesn't and it just more arguments about her refusing to do what he tells her to do.

DH wants a list from a doctor of things to do to help SD. He wants to follow the list, that's where things get bogged down. He says over and over if SD would simply do what he tells her to do, all of the problems would go away. But she gets frustrated and quits and that's where it all ends.


thinkthrice's picture

The "you always blame the BM" and "biodad is a rat" crowd are out in full force tonight. The mating call of the indigenous free ranging my-kid-is-my-bestest-buddy "parent."

LostinSpaceandTime's picture

Has she ever gone to Art therapy or equine therapy? Perhaps those could help her. It is a very sad situation for all involved.

completely overwhelmed's picture

She's done art therapy at various inpatient facilities and it's been another fight. She has no artistic ability and my 4 year old does better artwork than SD. She's also very self-conscience about being judged and what she tries to draw or create being psychoanalyzed. I remember her refusing to participate in art sessions at her hospitalization over Christmas.

Equine therapy we're going to start when she is released from her current hospitalization in a few weeks.

moeilijk's picture

Your situation sounds awful although I am very confused about what DH seems to call parenting.

Telling a 13 yo to do colouring with her 2.5 yo half-sister, and when she's not interested, acting all surprised and resentful of her pushback is weird on so many levels.

Nobody gets a guarantee along with their kid. It's great if you can see yourself or other loved ones in your kid. It's great if you enjoy most of the qualities of your kid. But lots of parents have to deal with daily tragedies like children in poor health, with lowered opportunities, with disabilities or disfigurements that can limit their kids' futures.

To be a good parent to an easy child is a challenge. To be a good parent to a difficult child, well... I can't even imagine how stressful things have been for your family.

What boggles my mind, however, is that your DH doesn't seem to have a parenting 'game' at all that he could step up. I'd be looking for a lot more insight into himself and his daughter. A lot more compassion, creativity, research, effort... just basic interest in his kid. He just seems to whine about how she's not doing her part to raise herself. Clearly you guys have internet access - there are thousands of parenting resources, support resources, opportunities to improve himself as a parent in order to give your SD a fighting chance. But a parenting strategy of, "It's easier for our family if he doesn't try," is nothing short of shameful.

notarelative's picture

Fine motor skills
Has she ever had an occupational therapy evaluation? Insurance would cover it if she qualifies.

completely overwhelmed's picture

A few years ago after her school suggested she did see an Occupational Therapist. The problem is she's very sensitive about being judged and graded and being told she's behind or slow because DH blames her mom or her mom's drug use.

The appointments with the Occupational Therapist lasted a few weeks. We didn't see a lot of progress and she wasn't getting anything out of them. She had several major meltdowns. Because of DH's job, I was the one who had to take her and it was about 45 minutes each way due to traffic. She was given exercises to do, but won't do them.

It's not like she's severely disabled. It's minor, but the way she reacts by giving up trying to do anything that's difficult means she doesn't get any better.

There's been suggestions from doctors about pursuing more neurological testing, but DH decided it wasn't worth it if it just gives us more exercises to fight with SD about doing and she never does or more medications that we have to fight with her to take.