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Different behaviour with each parent

Fusedale Lass February 14, 2021 19:41

Hi. My ex and I separated about 7 months ago and our AD7 has found it very hard. It was myself who had to leave the family home and set up a new home but we share parenting her. Our daughter has always struggled to regulate her emotions and transition are very hard but what we have found is that when she is with me she is very aggressive, destructive, rude and controlling but she is not, or at least less so, with my ex. I am assuming that what lies behind the behaviour is fear related and I need to double my efforts in making her feel safe and re-attaching (which can be really hard when the house has been trashed once again and I'm hurting from being attacked). An added problem is that I am trying to therapeutically parent my daughter whilst my husband tends to use more traditional parenting approaches. I'd be really interested in finding out whether other parents have experienced this and how you tackled it?

Edited 17/02/2021
Safia February 25, 2021 12:30

I’m sorry you have not had a reply. I know on the old boards there were several people in this position and similar questions had been asked. You might find something in the archives. Have you thought of asking for therapy for your daughter? Or some joint sessions for the two of you with someone who knows about adoption and can help you put her behaviour in context and agree the best way forward? Maybe contact post adoption support who can apply to the ASF for funding. Also maybe do some research first to see what is available. I have no personal experience so can only offer general advice. Have you looked into splitting - the good parent and the bad parent? Sounds as if she is angry with you and maybe blames you for the break up of the family. If she can be helped to see the family continues but in a different way that might help her but you and your ex would need to work together, which you can do as you must have done so to make the arrangements you have in place at the moment

Edited 25/02/2021
Bee February 26, 2021 12:45


Sorry for the late reply, not been on here for a little while. This is a difficult one for me.....DH is much sterner than I am with AS (11). I try to be as therapeutic all the time, whereas DH is much quicker to go to stern voice and offer consequences if AS refuses to do something, or will point out rudeness or poor choices much more quickly.

As a consequence, I get much 'worse behaviour', excuse the language but this seems the easiest choice of words. AS will be much more likely to push the boundaries, talk back, use abusive language with me than with DH. I try to go for natural consequences but get a lot of 'I don't care' type responses. whereas He just seems to accept what DH does e.g.' Think about if you really want do want to do this as I have asked you not to, and if you do this I will take half an hour off your ipad time this afternoon'

DH and I have had quite a lot of discussions around this as it has its pros and cons... am I allowing AS to 'get away' with it so he is learning that I am a soft touch, and therefore respecting what I say less... and maybe me too? If DH is stricter is AS doing what he is asked as the fear of stern voice (AS calls it shouting but DH is a very quietly spoken person who does not raise his volume ) seems a big driver in him. I feel that AS moves into toxic shame very quickly at a stern voice or being picked up on something, however, how do you teach a child what is and isn't 'acceptable' behaviour ...especially as the world outside of the home is not very therapeutic. I also wonder if the therapeutic approach does not offer the 'safe' boundaries that the more traditional approach and sometimes I feel that AS is scared by not having these boundaries in place.

Personally, and this is only my opinion, but I was brought up in a very traditional, consequences driven, 'children should be seen and not heard', 'do as you are told now! - I don't want to have to tell you twice', type environment and I found it very hard as I was growing up to understand or interpret my own feelings, I used to feel, when I was told off for something ' I am a rubbish person, a waste of space, I have done it wrong again, I always do it wrong'. This was even if what I had done wrong was out of a genuine mistake or lack of understanding and not a wilfully carried out unacceptable act. I could not step back and think , 'OK I have made a mistake here, I feel embarrassed, uncomfortable and sad about this..... but I didn't do it on purpose as I didn't understand the rules, so I also feel angry that I have been told off as that seems mean. Now I do understand that's a lesson learned and I'll know what to do next time'.... the reason I couldn't think was that I went straight into shame mode. My parents didn't model behaviour that helped me to be aware of how I was feeling and to understand it, accept it and process it in a way that supported me and didn't make me think I was a 'bad' person. Its taken me many years, and is an ongoing process to be able to do this....and I am acutely aware that I don't want AS to feel that way, therapeutic methods support me in that - but I am also aware that I can be reacting against my own childhood hurt feelings...its difficult sometimes. One thing that I try to do is to tell AS how what he is doing is making me feel so that at least he can see that the behaviour has consequences. - When he recently told me he hated me after I suggested he have a shower, I said ' I see that when I ask you to do things that you don't want to you sometimes say things like I hate you and this hurts me inside and makes me feel very sad. I know that you don't hate me really and I wonder how you are feeling inside to make you want to say something like that when I ask you to do something that you don't want to do'

DH on the other hand was bought up by a single mum who he loved to bits but who was very strict - and he just did what he was told first time as that was what you did - and it was never a problem to him - he wasn't scared of her - in his house you just did what your Mum said as she was the boss! DH Has a much more positive feeling about himself and his worth than I do... but DH can really struggle when he tells AS to, say, 'tidy your room up before we go out so its tidy before bedtime as we may be back late and there wont' be time' and AS may respond ' No I don't want to now its boring' . DH will repeat the request a bit more sternly and AS may or may not do it and then the may be consequences introduced to make AS comply with DS request. Sometimes AS will accept the interaction and sometimes he gets upset about it being unfair etc and in can end in tears which I hate...

I don't know the answer but I like my way better, AS has enough stress and anxiety dealing with the day to day challenges of school and life in general without us adding to it - but AS really loves DH and they spend a lot of happy time together doing all sorts of shared interest activities so both seem to work.

A relationship split is a massive change in home life for any child and they will have all sorts of feelings about it. Perhaps you are getting blamed subconsciously by her if you have moved out of the family home and hubby is still there as she is feeling that you have made things change?? She could be blaming herself for the relationship split and as she knows her Dad won't let her physically express how she feels, she does it with you, where she knows it is safe for her to do so. We have a couple of long thin pillows (from IKEA I think and AS can bash them on his bed when he is getting physical - no one gets hurt and it helps relive some of the angry. I've done it with him sometimes. Changes are even more upsetting and massive for our children as there is so much additional baggage and memory attached to change that is all tangled up in their heads and hearts. It all takes time and longer for them to get used to.

My closing words I think would be go with your gut and parent how you think is best. I feel that when AS is grown up, if he tells me I was a rubbish parent, at least I can say to myself and to him that I always did what I felt was the best for him....

Hope this is of some use, I am feeling for you and sending you a big hug x


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