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Parenting Question

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by Tigger » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:39 am

Hi--

I have a question about parenting my 11 year old child with bipolar 1. For the past year we have been trying to create a low-stress, consistent household for him. The times when he has been seriously depressed (i.e. "mom, I wish I could be swallowed by the earth and disappear.") or hypomanic or agitated (making odd noises, holding his head in pain, flailing limbs, crying) are times when we are heartbroken for him and wish we could take the pain away. We're understanding, gentle and wait it out with him.

But then there are times when I suspect he is triggered by something and basically has a weepy tantrum. Case in point: I told my sons today (there are three but I was really having the conversation for the benefit of the 11 and 13 year olds) that they both needed more exercise. Neither are into sports. The 11 was until this disorder kicked in last year. Anyway, he reacted by feeling pretty sad. He later told my husband that our talking about getting exercise made him feel bad about himself. Ugh.

A little bit later I told the three of them that they needed haircuts. He ended up on the floor, crying, wrapped in a blanket. Complete over reaction. In other words, asking him to do something he doesn't want to do resulted in a weepy, down mood. I suspect, however, the real trigger was my letting them know that they needed to get outside and play. I think it he still felt badly and asking him to do something else he didn't want to do was too much.

My response to his weepy meltdown about the haircut was "OK, I was going to take you to 5 Guys and then a haircut but if you don't want to go I'll just take your older brother. No problem." And I moved on. I'm not about to force anyone to get a hair cut. It's just hair. He got even more upset because he wanted to go to 5 Guys but not get the haircut. I said it was a package deal and he could either come or not. I left him lying there on the floor to work through the problem on his own. He wasn't despondent. He was safe. Not the kind of kid who would hurt himself anyway. My husband, on the other hand, tried to rub his back, talk to him and tried to get him to join him in a project on his car but he refused.

I'm very curious as to how you think about this situation and how you would want to be treated, and what's the most helpful. Obviously, you are no longer kids so I'm asking you to do a bit of creative thinking and projecting backwards. I'm also not asking if my husband or I handled it better, because sometimes the roles are reversed and I'm more gentle and he's fed up.

We go around and around about this. Are we being too lenient? Is it better to lower his stress, no matter what? Are we wasting our time being more hardass because he can't process the cause and effect of the situation? Should we make him work through these emotions if we think he's up for it (we can't always tell when he may be)?

My husband and I just sat down again as I was writing this to try to puzzle out if we're handling this right. I'm just so tired of trying to figure it out. :(

For some context, neither my husband or I are helicopter parents naturally.
_______

Mom to 12 year old boy with bipolar
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by Mocha » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:09 pm


Tigger please take anything I would say with a grain of salt, and talk to your son's tdoc about everything you told us, ok? I raised two boys (grown men now), so my experience is nothing like the situation you're in. I'm a perfect stranger and have no idea of your family dynamics, or what it's like to raise a young boy with bipolar.

All that said.......do you think your boy is aware enough to 'play' the situation? I'm just asking so please do not take offense, ok?

Like him wanting to go to 5 Guys but not wanting to get the haircut. He felt just fine for that.

Again, please do not take offense, and it was just a thought. I do not know your boy or your family and I'm not trying to overstep. You know him the best.
Not A Professional of Any Kind ~ Just Your Garden Variety Nutjob

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

~Martin Luther King~
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by Tigger » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:57 pm

Oh gosh, Mocha. You are so sweet. I'm not offended at all! But thank you for being so careful :)

Yes, he absolutely could be playing us. But I don't think he is. Or if he is, I don't think he realizes it.

The thing that makes this so hard to get our arms around is that when he's stable, he's FINE. He would never over react to something like a haircut. And I've mentioned this to the tdoc before, and he says, basically, that we need to use or judgement because there are times when he won't be able to be pushed, and times he will. Not really helpful.

And maybe that's just what parenting him now will look like--confusing.

Thanks for your response. I appreciate it. :)
_______

Mom to 12 year old boy with bipolar
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Tigger
 
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