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I wish dealing with SD didn't always complicate everything

completely overwhelmed's picture

I wish I could relax for the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy time with my family, but no, of course not. SD has to make everything a 1000x more complicated. My mom's brother and his family are in town. You'd think it would be nice to visit with them. This afternoon they were at my sister's house enjoying her pool and the 90+ degree weather here. SD is 16. You'd think she wouldn't cause more problems than my 4 year old, but she does and just ruins everything.

She doesn't want to be there, but what else can we do with her? I have a large extended family and my mom and sisters live nearby. DH doesn't have much to do with his family and they mostly live out of state. BM is currently in prison, so we can't dump SD off on her and DH doesn't want SD to have any contact with BM's relatives.

My uncle (my mom's younger brother) has kids who are much younger than me and in college & high school. His youngest is a junior in high school and using this trip to go check out some college campuses.

When we first got there, SD was standing off to the side, avoiding eye contact and acting weird. My cousin (the junior in high school) asked SD what colleges she was applying to as a way to start a conversation. SD is in special ed classes, but my cousin had no idea. SD didn't say anything and it was so awkward.

My sister's house has a great pool but SD hates swimming and can't stand getting wet. In the past she's had issues with my sister's kids (they're 5 and Dirol and she pushed one of them into the pool because he splashed her. My BIL really doesn't like SD and doesn't want her around his kids or snooping around his house. DH doesn't want to spend the whole time baby sitting SD because honestly he can only stand dealing with SD in very short bursts. After about 15 minutes, he's fed up with her.

Everyone tried to find something for SD to do, but of course that never works. She can't play video games. She somehow hit a button on the remote that switched the tv to the DVD player and couldn't figure out how to get back to Netflix. We had dinner and SD sat at the table refusing to eat anything. My sister tried to fix her something but she was uncooperative and said she wasn't hungry. It was so awkward.

I know my family doesn't want to say SD can't come or to exclude SD or seem unwelcoming, but she ruined the whole thing. My dad subtly asked if there's anyone that can take SD tomorrow so she isn't at Thanksgiving dinner. But there isn't, unless DH stays home and orders pizza. I don't want to ask him to do that but I don't want SD there.


oneoffour's picture

If she is in special ed then the family should be told. She has learning difficulties and does not have appropriate social skills.
Treat her like a little child. If she wants to sit in the corner and play on her phone, let her. She is happy, no one has to talk to her. Win/win. She doesn't have to eat. But she is told that there is nothing later at home.
It seems like she is awkward around other people she doesn't know. Lots of teens are like this and behave badly because they are totally at a loss what to do and just want to be left alone. So leave her alone. Let her find her own comfort zone. And it sounds like a win if she isn't following your cousin around like a bitch in heat. That could be far worse!

strugglingSM's picture

As annoying as it is, I would just let her sit off by herself and do nothing and say nothing. Speak discreetly to your family about how she prefers to be left alone, so you request that they respect her wishes. Don't feel bad that she's off by herself and don't feel like you have to apologize for her behavior. She's being difficult for whatever reason and that's her choice. She can be difficult in another room by herself. As long as she doesn't cause any problems (like pushing a small child into the pool or destroying something in someone else's house), then I wouldn't worry about her. Also, your DH could speak to her and tell her that she has no reason to be difficult and if she chooses to exclude herself that is her choice. She's old enough to take responsibility for her behavior and not blame others and your DH can also step in and parent. I wasn't overly thrilled to hang out with my much younger cousins when I was in high school, but my mother told me that skipping family gatherings was not a choice and she would have let me know that my behavior was unacceptable if I sat to pout in a corner. I know your SD might feel like these people are not her family, but right now, they are the only family she has, so she can choose to appreciate being accepted and invited or she can choose not to, but then she has no right to claim that she was excluded.

I know that ignoring her is a challenge, but she's not your child and unfortunately, that means you don't have the authority - in her eyes - to impose penalties for her behavior. Wasting your own energy getting angry about that will just make you upset. Try to ignore her rudeness and enjoy your holiday.

Also, having a learning disability or being enrolled in special education does not preclude college. My DH has a learning disability, but he is an incredibly hard worker and managed to go to college (to a good school, no less) and is successful in his career.

Imaginarystepmother's picture

Amen! I especially agree with you! Silence is sometimes the best medicine when laughter isn't an option. Wink

ybarra357's picture

So wait her father doesn’t want to babysit his own kid? It’s HIS kid!! Can a parent even babysit their own kid :? I would just go to my family and enjoy myself and let DH ‘babysit’ his kid.

completely overwhelmed's picture

Honestly, DH can't stand to be around his own kid. She drives him nuts. She annoys everyone.

Every holiday this comes up. I want to be able to spend time with my husband and have my daughter not miss time with her dad just so DH can babysit SD because she's unable to behave.

steppingback's picture

DH has to make a plan to keep her entertained if she is going to go. What does she do when she is home? She doesn't have to socialize. Bring her favorite thing set her up in a corner where she can keep an eye on her. He just needs to keep her safe. Not try to have her engaged since that is impossible.

twoviewpoints's picture

You have but a couple choices, the girl isn't going to poof. You can either leave DH and SD at home and go enjoy your family, or you can take SD and make the best of it.

Why call the kid to the table when you know she will not eat? You can be sure to bring her a food she will eat , regardless of what the food is, or pack her her own 'eats bag' (favorite snack and drink) that she can nibble on whenever. If someone mentions anything about it or tries to get her to do different simply say 'don't worry about it, she's fine'.

Pack her an entertainment backpack too. Whether that be a portable rechargeable DVD player with headphones, her phone, a few magazines she likes, her laptop. Whatever. Again, if someone tries to encourage she do something else, repeat 'don't worry about it, she's fine'.

If she chooses to sit under a tree and stare into space, meh, no problem. Repeat, 'don't worry about it, she's fine'.

The girl is feeling just as awkward as you and the others are. She feels just as unhappy about being there as you do having her there. If you insist your DH must attend than you have to accept his oldest child will also be attending.

completely overwhelmed's picture

There isn't a lot that keeps her entertained. She doesn't have a phone and we only allow her to use DHs laptop when she can be monitored since DH is terrified she will try to contact BM or BMs family. Her watching tv on a large screen works better to monitor what she is watching. She likes watching videos on YouTube but even with parental controls it's crazy the videos she's able to find and watch.

I suppose bringing food for her makes sense but it seems disrespectful to our hosts. DH expects her to eat what she is served but clearly that doesn't work. She refuses to eat what's on the table then cries about being hungry. It's so frustrating. And I hate being judged that we are giving her processed food because she refuses to eat what's served. Lately the only thing she's constantly willing to eat is Trader Joes tomato soup. Frozen Mac & cheese she usually will eat. it looks like we are bad parents giving a bratty kid junk food.

Acratopotes's picture

WHy are every one trying to force her to do something ?

Simply ignore her, she can sit in a corner and keep herself busy, stop trying.... she's old enough to decide when to talk to people or when to eat, why begging?

Nah simply ignore it, she has not say in the matter to come with or stay at home, and if she keeps on asking to go home, smile and say, you can go and wait int he car or the lounge but we are not going..

mro's picture

Is she not capable of staying by herself at home? If her developmental delay does not make this unsafe, why make her go if she doesn't want to? She's old enough to decide. If she can't be alone, get a sitter for a couple hours. It's nice of you to not want her to miss time with her dad, but if he can't stand to be around her, she would not be missing much. A mature high school or college student could do something with her that is fun for her, or just leave her alone if that is what she wants.

I don't know how "special" she is, but if she has a significant developmental delay, this goes way beyond holidays. She is well past the point where your DH should be working with her school, county board of developmental disabilities (DD) etc, to do transition planning. This includes planning what she will do after HS completion, where she will live, AND what she will do on holidays. Oftentimes these kids/adults will have an event they attend together. Saying this as a mom to an adult with DD.

Blue Moon's picture

I was thinking the same thing. She could be left alone at home. After all, 16 years old is old enough to babysit. So what if she watches bad videos on youtube for one day?

Again, as mro said, it depends on how late she is in her development.

completely overwhelmed's picture

No, she can't stay by herself. Her main issues are mental health rather than developmental. She has severe issues with depression and anxiety and a history of suicidal ideation.

As for planning for the future, it's impossible. She isn't someone with Down Syndrome who will be happy working at the grocery store bagging groceries. She has said she would kill herself before having to do something like that and be laughed at be everyone and treated like she's stupid. But she isn't motivated to do anything else. She says she will live with her BM and they'll get money somehow - probably from the government. DH didn't help how she feels about this because when she was failing out of regular classes he frequently yelled at her that if her grades didn't improve she would be working at Walmart or McDonalds and how embarrassing that would be so... It's hard for DH to go back now and say it would be great for SD to get things together enough to actually be able to work at McDonalds.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Is she on medication for her depression and anxiety?
If not, why not?
Seeing a psychiatrist to help with those issues may lead to a change in behavior and mood disorders.

completely overwhelmed's picture

Yes, she's been on medication for 4 years now. She sees a psychiatrist once a month. She's had three stays in juvenile psychiatric wards. Its hard to say if it's helped or not.

completely overwhelmed's picture

Also, the babysitter issue. I've tried and tried and tried to find someone who can stay with her. No one will. Professional home health aides or companies that help the elderly don't want to deal with kids with past suicidal issues or mental health problems. It's too big of a risk for them and they don't have staff trained to deal with it. I've tried to find a college student majoring in psychology or something that would want to babysit but haven't had any luck.

oneoffour's picture

Why would your own family judge you as a bad parent for allowing your SD who has mental health issues eat what she wants in a situation that is obviously stressful for her?

I have a nephew who as a young child was very anti social. He would talk to anyone. He just sat or would wander off by himself. He is 'quirky' I guess. At family gatherings he is allowed to eat what he wants. No one should be forced to eat something they don't want.

I think your expectations are that for some reason she will be the engaging nice adolescent party guest. Sadly this is not happening. You are not bad parents for allowing her some lee way. If your family think like this maybe they would like to take care of her for a weekend.

Give her a choice to take something to do. She can colour or draw of write in a journal. She can take a puzzle. Throwing her into situations where 'this is the only family you have' when she has an idealized mother and her maternal family out there she cannot see only makes it sadder for her. I know when I met DHs family and even now I get a level of anxiety. I would rather stay home and sew quilts. Actually I would rather stay home and sew than do anything else! But avoiding everyone is not possible. So don't push this as "the only family you've got" but rather "my family for Thanksgiving/dinner. They are kind enough to invite us and it is rude to not go. So let's go and be cheerful about it. Fake it till we make it!"

Or if all else fails, bribe her.

completely overwhelmed's picture

We get a lot of unsolicited advise on what we need to do to deal with SD - and letting her have Mac & Cheese isn't going to help stop that. It's going to make it seem like SD is being rewarded for being a brat. And she is. Our 4 year old sat at the table and behaved and ate things she didn't like and the 16 year old acted like a toddler.

It's very difficult to find anything SD can do. She has issues with fine motor skills. Arts & crafts, drawing, puzzles, video games are all very very frustrating for her. He handwriting looks like a 6 year olds. Trying to get her to work on improving her fine motor skills is next to impossible because she gets frustrated and throws a tantrum.

She has no patience at all so bribes aren't effective unless it's very short term and most of the time that doesn't even work. DH and I do feel judged that he behavior is so bad - everybody has all this advise like we're stupid and have no idea how to parent. The failure of SD at the RTC/ therapeutic boarding school at least showed that professionals have the same problems we do - SD cannot understand the concept of cause and effect.

Acratopotes's picture

I'm sorry but I do not see this 16 year old as disabled, yes she might have some difficulties but due to fact it was not dealt with since birth it got out of hand...

This is a girl who got away her whole life being told, there's something wrong with her and she noticed that she can get away with bad behavior, if she wants her way - she has a melt down and every one jumps cause poor poor girl there's something wrong with her...
She's use to all the attention and every one jumping for her...... now she's playing it to her advantage... she's not stupid, I think this girl is more clever then what her family thinks.... maybe because I've volunteered with really disabled children, this girl is a master manipulator..

If she was parented as a small child, none of this would've happened, and she hates other people getting attention, she wants every one to have a bad time, that's the only thing that makes her happy, other people's misery...

I might be totally wrong cause I've never met completely over and her family, but I know people like this and everything this girl does screams to me I will get my way cause I can...

completely you can tell me to piss off I'm wrong... but this is how I see it, and I want to ask yo - did you notice her behavior got worse since the birth of your child?

completely overwhelmed's picture

So much changed around the time DD was born thats it's hard to say how that impacted SD. Yes, her behavior problems got worse but that was also when DH got full custody and BM went to prison about 6 months later. Up until then SD was a below average student and kept below the radar at school because she was quiet and didn't cause trouble in class. DH started to get on her about homework and grades and that became as absolute war.

SD uses any problem - she doesn't feel good, she's itchy, her head hurts, her stomach hurts, she's dizzy, and many many other excuses not to do anything. There's endless excuses and if that doesn't work, she drops to the ground and throws a tantrum. At the therapeutic boarding school they didn't care about her excuses so she took things even further- hiding, pooping her pants to avoid doing things and then ultimately refusing to drink water or eat until the staff decided she needed to be hospitalized.

If she wanted to, she could be a normal non-disabled person but she chooses to be disabled and an asshole to everyone around her.

Disneyfan's picture

'If she wanted to, she could be a normal non-disabled person but she chooses to be disabled and an asshole to everyone around her."

This is absolutely ridiculous.

No one CHOOSES to be disabled.

completely overwhelmed's picture

She wasn't labeled as disabled until 2 years ago. She likes the label because it's an excuse for no doing anything and laying in bed or spending all day watching tv.

She doesn't try at all. She could be in normal classes and have normal if she actually tried to get better. We paid a ridiculous amount for the partial hospitalization program and she slept the whole time. She refused to participate in their group sessions. She whined that she couldn't do things when they did some arts & crafts type activities. She refused to write in a journal because writing is too hard and she doesn't feel well.

There are much more seriously physically disabled people who try very hard and overcome their disability. SD has never even tried at all. She just likes getting more and more excuses as to why she can't do anything.

Tomatoe's picture

Didn't you say before they changed her meds? Betcha that is why she slept. You say her side effects of meds are nausea and dizziness then you fault her for saying she is having those symptoms. This girl is disabled and she is struggling. The person she needs more than anything has turned his back on her and tells people he can't stand her. Whatever you do, DO NOT GET SICK!! If he can turn on his kid like this....your next.

twoviewpoints's picture

Ok, so now I am confused. When you first started posting about your SD it was :

"The list of mental illnesses she has been diagnosed with keeps growing. Anxiety, depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder. At one time Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS, AKA atypical autism) was being considered, but that something that doesn't get diagnosed as much now. She also has developmental delays, issues with fine motor skills, a reading level of about a 5th grader. "

But now it's all just an excuse and she could be perfectly normal?

completely overwhelmed's picture

None of those things should prevent her from being a normally functioning person. None of them are the type of things that should cause a person to be permenenly disabled and unable to function in life. She doesn't have any physical disabilities. If she actually tried to work on her fine motor skills she wouldn't have any issues. But if anything is difficult for her she quits, refused to ever even try to do it again and cries when anyone tried to get her to do it.

DH's take on it is the major problem with her is laziness and nothing can cure that.

completely overwhelmed's picture

She was essentially expelled from the alternative school but they couldn't expel her for behavior caused by her disability- which was why we had to get official diagnosis and professionals involved with her plan at school. The teachers at the alternative school couldn't deal with her- she would throw herself on the ground and have tantrums when they told her to do things. She constantly violated the dress code. Sensory issues were blamed but she had constant issues with hives. It's a long story. What I don't like about that whole situation was SD learned she didn't need to follow rules or do anything teachers said because she has some condition that makes the rules not apply to her.

The school district moved SD after that to a special needs classroom for most of the day. She's with kids who are non-verbal and have severe disablities but she takes up most of the teachers time being a brat.

Tomatoe's picture

They aren't going to put a brat in a classroom with nonverbal kids. This kid has a disability.

completely overwhelmed's picture

It's the only place the school district can put her because she disrupts class too much. But the special ed teachers don't think she belongs there. It's not like she can be in regular classe but she doesn't want to. All she wants to do at school is sleep in the quiet area and throws a tantrum when she's made to sit at her desk. She then complains to her aid or teachers that she doesn't feel good constantly.

Her teacher tried to set up rewards for her to sit at her desk for 20 min quietly working and she can't do it. She has to complain about something hurting or feeling bad or dizzy or itchy.