Monday, October 18, 2010


Sean is the child who is breaking my heart.

Sean is 11 years old.  He came to live with me from another state a few days before he turned 9.  Our adoption was finalized when he was 10.  He was in foster care for 6 years.

Sean is brilliant.  He is a math whiz.  He reads on a high school level.  He is an incredible writer.  He is an artist who draws beautifully.  He has a mind for Science and can build and create things out of any objects.  He is talented in so many ways. 

Sean has extreme ADHD and takes medication which helps him immensely.  He has at times been my most cooperative child.

Sean is an anomaly.

Sean has a history of stealing from me, lying to me and disappearing for hours.  His room is full of trash, food remnants and bugs as a result of this.  I have to have a lock on the fridge.

Sean's intelligence makes him a frustrating person to deal with once he's determined that he is right.  He is argumentative with me.  He can be outwardly defiant and passive aggressive.  Sean cannot be left alone at home because he will go in my room (or any other room) and take stuff.

Sean wants to do well in school.  But his disorganization makes this difficult.  He does his homework and doesn't turn it in.  In middle school, he is on the advanced track, but it's kicking his butt.

The hardest thing lately is Sean wants to have power over me.  And he does on a certain level.  He purposely makes me late for work.  I am a middle school teacher and I have a homeroom.  I must be at work before the kids.  But I have not been there lately.  He will not get in the car and he tells me he wants me to be late. I start my day with this stress and then I end it with stress when he has to stay awake until late at night.  I can't go to sleep until he is asleep.

Sean is loud and obnoxious.  Sean is quiet and contemplative.  If I told him this, I can hear him now, "Mom!  I'm a walking oxymoron!"  Yes, son, you are.

I love this boy.  I will feel really bad about my lack of parenting skills if he does not grow into a wonderful and responsible man.

Yet, I feel my overstressed, sarcastic parenting style is creating some monsters.  And Sean seems more than happy to star in my horror film (well...maybe psychological thriller).  I know parenting has its ups and downs, but I am getting more and more worried that there will be no happy ending to this story.


Psycho Mom said...

HARD STUFF!!! Couple of things I will throw out, some you may have tried, may not be interested in trying or something else. Everything doesn't work for everybody and I get that!

The sleep thing, that sucks. Until we got that kinda under control, it was killing us. Akila now takes melatonin at bedtime- a nautral herb that most bodies produce on their own, unless they have been pre-natally exposed or abused. She is 11 and currently takes 6 mg. Our Dr. said 3-9 mg is ok for kids. It helps her to fall asleep. She was having a hard time staying asleep also. So eventually, she was started on Trazodone also at bedtime. Sleeping is so much better and so now is our morning routine. Might be worth a try, if you haven't already tried it.

The morning thing, I don't know. There are a couple of things you could possibly try, and again, you may have so ignore me if you'd like (or you may know that this wouldn't work for Sean for reasons only you know). Could you sit down and have a heart to heart with him and tell him that if this happens again, something will be taken away (again- you probably tried this- just saying). Like no video, TV, baseball, etc. W/e he likes or is into. Or, what we have had more success with our daughter on, when she has been doing some horribly annoying thing like Sean is doing, is we have the heart to heart, and write out an incentive chart type of thing. If you get ready and don't delay us in the morning for two weeks, you can "fill in the blank". We brainstormed with her what ideas would be in the fill in the blank part. Getting her nails done, picking out new jeans, going for coffee with dad, etc.

Or maybe you could tell him that you and he are going to have to start getting up an hour earlier than you already are, if he continues this behavior. Would that be incentive? Does he like to sleep in? That might not help, just brainstorming.

Would it work to give him a chore he has to do for every 5 minutes he is late in leaving? A chore he has to complete after school? This works with my typical brain children, but not with Akila. Just a thought.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this, it is so stressful!!!! I will pray about it also, good luck.

mindfulness said...

Psycho Mom (Hey, I want that name!)-

Thanks for all the thoughts. You have no idea how much it means to me to have someone respond.

One thing that I thought of after reading your comment is that lately, I just tend to bark at him and then get pissed when he doesn't follow my orders. A one to one honest discussion is a good idea. He is obviously crying out for attention...and he is getting it.

Sean and I are both sarcastic types of people and part of our problem might be somewhat similar personalities. A heart to heart is a good idea. I think he also needs more Mother-Son time which is so hard to provide with 4 kids and a full-time job. But I know it could pay off with more time due to less stressful interactions.

Psycho Mom said...

I hear ya on the barking! I have been guilty of that, and am pretty much every day. It is hard not to sometimes when they push every button!!! A good book I read this summer is called The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis. It had some great practical stuff in it, in case you're ever in need of some reading materials- or can find the time. I usually hit the wall with one of Akila's annoying behavior, and a heart to heart usually does us both good. We also do date nights in our house- we all love them. Mom and dad rotate and take one kid out for the night. They get to pick a place to eat, an activity and get to buy one item (toy or clothes usually). It is a great time to connect with just one kid. Helps in the long run with some of the junk. You are doing good work. Really hard work that the majority of the world don't get and will only make you feel like a failure as they tell you how to parent a typical kid. That junk doesn't work with our kids!!!!! Good luck warrior mom!

mindfulness said...

I have read "The Connected Child" and just about everything else. And then I reread. But in the heat of the moment, I am such a bad parent.

My son Sean once said, "Mom, how come you read all these parenting books, but our behavior doesn't change?" LOL!!! I had to admit that I'm not consistent enough.

I have admired your dealings with the challenges with your daughter, Akila. AND you have 3 other children with their own challenges as all kids have I'm sure.

You are right about getting advice from parents who haven't experienced our challenges. The parenting is SO different. When I told my mother about the kids destroying EVERYTHING or throwing all their trash on the floor, she said, "Well, that's your fault for letting them do that." It's a bit more complicated than that.

Denise said...

I can't get over the intensity of his eyes in the picture of Sean in the pool.

We take 6-9mg of Melatonin here, too. It's not the answer but it helps.

Denise said...

I meant to say the intensity of Sean's eyes in the picture of him in the pool.

Very, very little sleep last night...