Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Continuing on. . .

(Whew! Writing this was tough, rereading it was even tougher. I feel very much exposed here. This is the ugly truth, the ugly reality behind closed doors.)

N is caught in the middle between W and me. W and I do not agree on childrearing issues. I think W is too harsh. W thinks I’m too soft. N plays us against each other. We are not a healthy family.

My faults, as I see them:
• I have abdicated too much childrearing responsibility to W.
• I don’t deal effectively with N when he gets belligerent with me or talks back to me.
• In my fear of doing the wrong thing and probably in part due to perfectionist tendencies, I do nothing at all.
• I want so badly to be AWAY from W that I don’t work as hard as I should on making things better between the two of us which results in further conflict to which N is exposed.
• I don’t want to have to be responsible for anyone but me even if that is incredibly selfish.
• I think sometimes I talk to N a little too much like he’s an adult rather than the child that he is and expect him to be a little more mature about things than his capabilities allow.
• I give in too easily to N’s whining and complaining.
• I have an overwhelming fear that I will never be able to be the kind of mother that N deserves.

W’s faults, as I see them:
• He does not want to be bothered by dealing with N day in and day out, preferring that N go to other children’s houses to play freeing up his time.
• He does not ask N to do things, but barks orders.
• When N balks at doing what W tells him, W more often than not gives up and drops the subject.
• W often accuses N of doing things that N hasn’t done, but when he finds out his error he rarely apologizes to N instead choosing to say something like “Well, if you didn’t normally do things like that I wouldn’t have accused you.”
• W will begin to complain about something thinking that N did it, but upon finding out I did it he will back off and be very nice about it. Don’t think N hasn’t picked up on this and pointed it out many times.
• W refuses to pick and choose battles. He perpetuates the power struggle between him and N because he wants control of everything, from what N wears to how his hair is cut to what and how much he eats. He can’t give it up even though I’ve begged him to and he has verbally agreed to do so.
• W embarrasses N (and me) with his rude aggressive manner towards others and his willingness to make a scene in public about seemingly small things.

As a result of all this, N exhibits very bratty behavior. He whines, and back talks, and refuses to do as asked. For the most part, he gets away with it. Discipline is not consistent. As hard as I try to be consistent, I get undermined by W who keeps changing the rules. Last night, as W was telling N that he was going to lose TV privileges if he didn’t do something (I don’t know what; I’ve lost track) N asked how long he’d lose TV privileges. W refused to answer except to say that he didn’t know but it would be a while. I sat there trying to stay out of the conversation, stunned that he would make a threat without definite consequences. At least if I tell you the consequences of a behavior you’ll be told exactly what the punishment will be and how long it will last.

You have no idea how it feels to get all this off my chest. I fear that one day the people I know in real life will find out what a horrid job we’re doing as parents. I fear that one day N is going to get to a point where he is absolutely out of control. He already scares me sometimes.

It’s coming down to me deciding if I can handle N better on my own than with W. I’ve tried the counseling thing to get W and me on the same page. So far, it seems to have little effect. Yet W sees things as getting better, and when I don’t I’m called a pessimist and unfair. Maybe I am. Maybe things really are getting better, and I just don’t see it.

Conversation last weekend between N and me:

TS: I don’t like the way you are talking to me. It is disrespectful.
N: So?
TS: How would you like it if your kids talked to you that way when you’re grown up?
N: They wouldn’t. They’ll talk to my wife that way.
TS: Do you want anyone talking to your wife that way?
N: I wouldn’t care. I’d be gone like Dad is (W was, as usual, in another part of the house). He doesn’t care how I talk to you.
TS: (tears welling in eyes) Please go find something to do in another room. I need some time by myself.
N: Fine. (sits down in doorway) I’m in another room.
TS: Fine. Thank you. (feeling lost and very alone)


freebird said...

Ouch! No wonder tears were welling.
TS, I can't really comment on parenting, not being one myself, but my guess is that most parents would find a few bells of recognition ringing in their heads on reading this post. It's not an easy job and nobody comes ready-qualified. I think most parents beat themselves up about how they're bringing up their kids (hopefully not beating up the kids though!). The ones to worry about are the ones who think they're doing a perfect job!

Serenity said...

You already know what you need to do and as far as dealing with N on your own remember that the household dynamic will be very different when it's just the two of you. He will have less pressure on him and that likely will help a great deal.
Access resources, counselling, books/websites on parenting after separation, etc. You are not heading into this alone.
I am making assumptions of course, that you are going to leave. I can't imagine what the argument for staying could possibly be though...

Finished Last said...

Ok I'm going to give some unsolicited advice. When it comes to N you have to be clear who is the child and who is the parent. pick your battles but when you pick one make sure you win it. Don't reward bad behavior by giving in to what he wants. If he yells let him yell. if he tells you he hates you. don't give in. Don;t let him trade his affection for you permissiveness because that will only serve to turn him into a manipulative and selfish adult. You might need to sit down with him and tell him that you have let him do things and act ways he shouldn't and that from this day on tings will be different and while he might not like some of the changes he has to trust you because you are the grown up and he is the child. It will be hard because you and W are on different pages. His barking without follow through is about the worst form of parenting outside of actual abuse I can imagine. N is practically begging for boundaries and you need to not be afraid of losing his love at the expense of teaching him how to be a man. You're the parent. You know better than he does. Let him know that and show him how much you love him by being just that.

Fiona said...

I'm not a parent, but I can feel the hurt in your words TS. Sometimes it feels, when I read how you have spoken of him recently, as though N has been forced to grow up too fast.

Three people are in this, but only two seem to really want a relationship, you and N.

Big hugs....this must be just so damn hard for you hon.

Trueself said...

FB - As always you are most kind in your comments. Thank you.

Serenity - I think you are making a darned good assumption there. At this point it is hard to see how it won't end in separation, and probably divorce.

FL - Unsolicited advice from you is always welcome my friend. I do fear I've made the road ahead more difficult by letting it get to this point, but I've definitely got to turn things around now without letting it go further.

Fiona - Yes, I believe that N has had to grow up too fast. He really needs a chance to be a kid. I'm going to try and give him that chance the best I can.

Karin's Korner said...

I so agree with finished last. Please set some boundries with the child. You are going to regret this when he is 16 and running all over you. Also, is he is any type of counseling? I think it would do him well to be in some type of therapy, this going round and round with you and W is hurting him more then healing him. Keep your chin up, I think you are doing a great job and asking the right questions.

Trueself said...

Karin - Yes I know I've got to set boundaries with him. I know that right now he sees me weak and ineffective. I am working on standing strong although it certainly isn't made easier by W undermining me. All the more reason to get out now. No, N is not currently in counseling although I do think it would be a good thing and intend to talk to my EAP counselor about it.