April 7, 2004

I had a short and nasty meeting with n. after dinner. I picked him up at the hotel where CFS (the Child Welfare Agency) has parked him. He forgot that I was picking him up, and then began to hint, suggest, request, demand, bargain and threaten. He wanted a pack of cigarettes. My position on cigarettes and other such items is that I don’t subsidize his wishes. If he wants to have those things, he will have to decide how to get the money for them by making other choices like getting a job.
I stopped at home before going on to my meeting. I discovered that he had already phoned my wife Jan and complained about my failure to fulfil his wish. Old pattern. If I gave him something that Jan didn’t want him to have (if I told a joke or played a prank or expressed a view that she did not support) he would rat me out and she blamed me for corrupting him. If I supported her articulated values and wishes, and denied one of his requests, or disciplined him, he unloaded on her about how mean I was. In fact he didn’t have to say a word. She would react to protect him. What she has always heard, felt and seen and then thrown at me is that I don’t respect and love him, and that his pain and her pain are my fault.
This is not a conscious process with him. He has been trying to protect himself and to meet his needs with the resources available to him. In plain terms, he has been using his parents’ attachment to him – our need to feel good about ourselves and our connection to him – to get what he needs and what he feels or thinks he needs. If parents can’t manage themselves, if either parent can’t stand the bad feeling that comes from setting and enforcing rules, then they let a child’s feelings rule the family. One of our problems was that both parents needed to feel good about ourselves with n., while we had different beliefs and ideals and differing ideas about how to raise him.
That’s the history. I can’t change it.
N. still wants me buy stuff, and reacts the old way when he doesn’t get stuff …. It’s a learned behaviour and he can’t stop. If I contact him, he will react. He will ask for stuff and then accuse me of trying to control him when I don’t get him what he wants. Does this mean I shouldn’t contact him?
Do I have to be afraid of what Jan will feel and think or what Claire will feel and think? I am afraid, and I can’t manage their reactions. I have to respect my judgment and integrity now. Right now, all I can do is listen to him, support him, love him.
Tonight, I listened to him rage about his smokes and I left him at the hotel.
After that I went to a meeting. When n. ran away Jan and started going to meetings of local group of Families Anonymous. I still go. Jan has stopped. I think I know the flaws of a 12 step approach, but it is still helpful for me to go to meetings and share and listen.
Then, a new day.

2 thoughts on “April 7, 2004”

  1. The best you can do is what lets you look at yourself in the mirror. On the other hand, if a pack of smokes eases some tension, there are worse things.

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