Parenting self sabotage

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Findingmyvoice

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Parenting self sabotage
« on: August 31, 2017, 05:21:25 PM »
My wife has been trying to let the kids do some "grown up" things lately.
I think this is great!  It's a total 180 from her making them fearful to answer the phone or the door, criticizing and micromanaging their every move, judging their friends etc.
Her intentions are good and I think that maybe this is a step in the direction of her realizing her paranoia.
However she is always getting in her own way.  Her emotions take over and I think it ends up having the opposite result.

On Monday she ordered pizza and gave my son enough money to pay for it. (down to the penny including the tip)
When the pizza guy came, he opened the door and gave him the money.  But, the pizza was less than expected so the pizza guy got a big tip.
She was upset and annoyed with him for tipping too much, for not thinking on his feet and "not listening" to her.
-The fact that she had the money down to the penny didn't allow son to make any sort of decision.  It put her in control and he was just carrying out the transaction.  She could have left the money on the doorstep, it would have been the same thing.
-Something unexpected came up! Excellent, now he is faced with a decision.  He made the decision to give him the full amount anyway.
-He was made to feel wrong for making the decision, he was criticized for not doing what uPDw wanted (expected?) and for being a bad listener.
So overall I think it was a negative experience, he learned that he couldn't do it right and that he doesn't listen.

Very similar situation with the bus stop this morning.  Its the second day of school.
My wife drove kids the first day, but they returned home on the bus. 
My son got off at the stop that the driver told us.  Turns out if he waits for one more stop its much closer to our house.
Wife told him to scope it out this morning, and if there are other kids from his route at the closer stop then use that stop.
Son didn't want mom going with him to the bus stop, he is just starting junior high and he is a little embarrassed to have mom or dad hanging around.
I asked my wife to respect this.  So instead she sent younger sister with him.
Son decided to go to the further away stop.  Not sure why, maybe I'll find out tonight.
Again uPDw is complaining "he didn't listen to me".  I am urging her to be patient and let him figure this out, he got on the bus just fine.
I am sure he has reasons. It may be due to lack of confidence, shyness, being unsure.
But being told he doesn't listen (or that he has to listen rather than deciding on his own)  or that he made the wrong decision will have the opposite effect.




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Stepping lightly

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 11:48:08 AM »
Hi Findingmyvoice,

How old are your kids?

It is really difficult watching children try to make sense out of a PD parents reactions.  They are always left unstable, unsure of their own decision making, really what the PD wants (because the PDs decision making is always perfect and she may want them dependent).  What is your involvement in the scenarios below?  I would think just having a chat with the kids about what they thought of the outcomes of the situations, what did they learn, what are some of the decisions they made along they way...and what made them come to those decisions.  Maybe having a 1 on 1 with them to work through each scenario in a positive way to give them encouragement where they evaluated choices and why they made certain choices.  It may help them see that life isn't just an outcome driven process, but it's about the decisions we make along the way that matter, help give them some confidence that they can handle things.  Maybe your son gave the pizza guy the extra tip because it the weather was horrible and he felt like it would cheer him up....you never know- he also could have been terrified NOT to give exactly what his mother told him to give- because THAT would not be listening.

In regards to the bus stop- maybe the closer bus stop didn't have any kids there?  Maybe he knew for sure he could get on the bus at the further away stop and didn't want to risk missing the bus (how would his mother react to that situation?  Maybe he knew it wasn't worth the risk?).  Seems like a non-issue really if your son doesn't mind walking slightly further to the bus stop, unless there is a safety concern.   

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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 05:26:51 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.
I have three kids 11, 11 and 12.
Often, these situations happen when I am at work.
I usually get a call or text from my wife when things aren't going her way, or it will be the first topic of discussion when I walk in the door.
With her, I reinforce positive values.  I ask her to be patient and understanding.  I urge her to listen to the kids, which is often hard for her to do.
I try not to criticize or point out what I think she did wrong, this can be disasterous.

With the kids I try to talk to them about it afterwards privately.  I ask questions and guide them rather than tell them right or wrong.
I offer alternatives or I try to get them to think of alternatives if things didn't work out well.
I make sure that I help them identify what they were accountable for in the situation and that they are not accountable for mom's reaction if she was treating them unfairly. 
I try to get them to realize that they are human like everyone else and that they don't have to be perfect.  I do this by getting them to think about how other people act ie: Do I sometimes forget to do things? yes. Do I sometimes leave crumbs on the counter? yes.

In this situation, I did talk to my son about the bus stop but it slipped my mind to talk about paying the pizza guy.

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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2017, 12:38:46 PM »
So, I did talk to him about it last night.  He explained that he didn't understand what mom was telling him. 
I told him that he shouldn't feel bad about the misunderstanding. 
Often my wife is difficult to understand in the way that she gives instructions.  I find that I have a difficult time finding out what the point of her conversation is, or to focus on what is important.  She peppers her sentences with thoughts, emotions, opinions and unimportant details so you really have to have a good filter to figure out what she is trying to say.

There was another situation yesterday that turned out very similar and my son ended up being criticized for his decision making.
I talked to wife about it and amazingly she admitted that the way she deals with these situations is causing more harm than good.
She did have some good suggestions about how our son could deal with the situation, but her suggestions come out more like demands.
She told him that he has to follow her "suggestions" and he has to make goals to implement her suggestions.
I'm sure she will be following up as usual so that he complies with her suggestions.

It's hard to get my son to open up about these things, I usually just get yes or no answers.
I can tell by his responses if something is bothering him, but I have to ask lots of questions to figure out what the problem is.

I read somewhere that boys have an easier time talking about things if they are "doing" something.
Like during an activity where they have something to occupy their hands or minds.
Part of the problem is finding alone time to have these talks. uPDw loves to stick her nose in everything and make it all about her.

I have found that it helps to try to relate to his situation by explaining something similar that happened to me.
It doesn't really get him talking, but I can tell by his expressions that it makes him more comfortable with the situation.

I know that most of these things are non-issues and that's what makes it so hard.
I know that there is no dangerous, harmful, damaging outcome for any of this stuff and I want to make sure that my kids know that.
It pains me to see my wife making a big deal about it.  It hurts me to think that the kids feel bad about themselves for not pleasing her because so often that's how I feel and it's so damaging over time.
My wife truly believes that these things are a big deal.  She makes a point of having a long discussion about how she is upset or annoyed and that kids didn't listen or made the wrong decision.  Her fear is that they are not acting the way that she wants them to.
If I had dealt with these situations instead of her it would have been "Are you ok with it? Did anything bad happen? Do you think you would do it differently next time? Ok then, High Five!" and get on with life.
It becomes so difficult to just roll with things, so much effort has to be put into the minute details of daily life that its exhausting.
I have to manage my adult wife as well as do damage control on the way she treats the kids.

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kazzak

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2017, 02:33:11 PM »
I think you are right about boys talking while doing an activity. Grab a couple gloves and a baseball and go out to the backyard.

Role modeling the same tools and resources provided here is I think the best you can do. You mention time alone or with just the kids isn't usually possible. Can you find some hobbies or activities to do alone or with the kids. That space can provide some relief based on my experiences.

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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 03:04:13 PM »
My wife has been better with allowing alone time lately.
6 months ago she would have discouraged me spending time alone talking to the kids.  Its not that she would come out and say "you can't do this" but she would throw roadblocks by finding urgent things that we have to do or bedtime would come early or she would hover or make excuses why we couldn't be spending time alone or demand attention.  She still does it occasionally but way less than she used to.

last night I helped our girls clean their nail polish off and get ready for bed. Wife was making demands on blow drying hair, washing their face, cleaning backpacks and as usual the kids put up a fight because she is very condescending, intimidating and demanding.  No one likes being treated that way.
So I spent time with them doing these things. uPDw still lectured while we were doing this but it got done calmly without drama.
I have found that my wife expects kids to be autonomous and do everything on their own without help. They just have to listen to her and do as told.  If they make a mistake she feels that there has to be punishment.
However... when the shoe is on the other foot it is a different story.  She expects help with everything.  We all exist to support her.  Everything is hard on her and we should do whatever possible to make her life easier.  She doesn't like me doing chores with the kids because it takes my time away from her and it also makes her feel insignificant because she is not involved.  But if she has to do a chore on her own, you can guarantee that everyone is going to hear about how we mad it so hard for her.

This is mostly just to vent.  She has really been "nice" the last few weeks.
I think that I am looking for things to validate that the PD is still there.  She has not been outright angry, yelling,name calling, swearing or accusing but I still see her weird behaviors and strange self-centered view on things.


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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2017, 12:17:29 PM »
I think parenting is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Last night my wife was having a discussion with daughters about school.
our daughters are twins, they spend a lot of time together and their desks are beside each other in class.
Yesterday one of their classmates moved seats from one side of the twins to the other side (to be closer to two of her friends).

When I walked into the living room my daughter was being scolded for being messy, unorganized, smelly, unclean.
Apparently my wife was convinced that my daughter has a reputation for being dirty and that's why her classmate moved to be away from her.
Other sister didn't help this at all, and was actually reinforcing my wife's rant and my son was just sitting silent.
Like usual, my wife is talking over everyone, not listening, making accusations and telling everyone how to change to fit her view.
I interjected and asked my daughter how she felt about what happened at school and how she was feeling.
My daughter broke into angry tears and tried to explain but my wife just carried on about her needing to take better care of herself and keep her desk clean.
Blows my mind how someone can be bringing their child to tears emotionally and just carry on like nothing is happening.
I hugged my daughter and we left the room.

I talked to daughter afterward and it was very clear that the classmate moving seats did not bother her at all.
What bothered her is mom and sister not listening to her and criticizing her for something that didn't happen and didn't even make sense in the situation.
I tried talking to my wife about this afterwards, but I just got more of her twisted opinions.  Now she wants to talk to the teacher about their classmate because she thinks this is unacceptable that she would move to a different seat away from our daughter.  What??

I just can't handle her getting in everyone's business and effing it all up.  I want to scream.
There just has to be something every...single.....day.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2017, 01:56:54 PM »
Hi Finding my voice,

It's so frustrating having to endure these types of experiences and trying to make sure that your kids grow up with the tools to be successful and happy adults.  I like that you share with them your experiences, I have seen that really help with my step kids.  I remember telling my DSD that it's ok to get nervous, EVERYONE gets nervous at times.  She said, "do you?".  I said, "of course!"...and I saw this flash of relief on her face that she was normal (and here I thought I was an obvious nervous wreck half the time because her mother scares the life out of me, but I guess I hide it well   ;D).....  We try to relate normal emotions that everyone experiences, and how to manage those emotions.  Everyone gets angry at some time, and we all need to figure out how to manage it.  DSD said that DSS has "anger" issues.  I explained to her how when she was his age, she did the same thing and that he  is just learning how to deal with these new feelings....just like she did.  So we all need to be patient and understanding and help him where we can.  I give DSD a lot of credit, when I recall incidents with her, she acknowledges them and says "Oh yeah" (most of the time).  Last time she said, "I was a difficult child"- coming from a hormonal 11 year old, this made me laugh.

It's bothersome that your wife is creating situations where there really shouldn't be one.  If the child changed desks to be by her friends, ok..so be it.  The parent shouldn't be escalating the emotion related to it (I know you know this).  But the interesting, and hopeful, thing is that it seems like she has glimpses of understanding of her behavior (my SKs' BM does NOT have moments of rational thought at all).  Is it possible during these windows to put a plan in place for when she does start getting riled up? 




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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2017, 05:19:58 PM »
Stepping,
Believe me, I have tried to use the windows of rational thought.
We talked about how her taking control, being critical, blaming has the opposite effect of building confidence.
It doesn't seem to make any difference when she is in the moment.
We have also had discussions about giving the kids room to make decisions and asking them (and listening) whether or not they want us to get involved. 

The problem that I see is my wife can not listen and consider someone else's point of view.
She can't see that it is my daughter in this situation, not her, and maybe daughters feelings are important here.
When I was talking to my daughter afterwards and she was feeling better she then started crying again because she could see that I was hurt over what happened.  She felt that her emotion caused me to be sad and she didn't like that.  It was so hard to explain to her.  :'(

Thanks for the support as far as relating to the kids.  I do the same thing that you are describing.  It helps to know that I am doing the right thing.
Son told me junior high is scary for him, so I related a story about moving off to go to college and how I felt the same way even though I was older.
I didn't ever have to go through the transition from elementary to junior high or high school as I lived in a small town and stayed with my same classmates from K through 12.
Also related some public speaking experiences that made me uncomfortable and how doing things that are uncomfortable helps make you a little stronger.

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kazzak

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Re: Parenting self sabotage
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2017, 05:30:30 PM »
The problem that I see is my wife can not listen and consider someone else's point of view.

Well said, your awareness of the problem is important and that is a clear understanding of someone with a personality disorder that you are communicating.