02-28-2022 03:20 PM - last edited on 02-28-2022 03:40 PM by Philippa-RO
Mum of 4 ranging between 3 and 18. Older 2, have abusive behaviours like 18f explosive anger with a history of damaging property, gaslighting and anxiety. 14m has stonewalled, given silent treatment when talking about changes needed or mistakes made. As a result for the past 4 years there have been minimal changes to behaviours.
I have turned myself inside out trying to be the best parent to compensate, as a result am almost constantly unwell and burnt out. Younger 2 (3 and 6) are beginning to settle into the same behaviours.
Family all interstate, no friendships due to isolation, I have sought counselling and re-engagement I to the community but home dynamics not changing. In fact the more I re-engage with society the worse home environment appears.
I do everything. 18f will not commit to anything, she was washing dishes after dinner but usually is very vocally annoyed so to keep peace for younger ones I do it.
14m will not do anything unless asked. He will do if asked but has to be reminded because will 'forget' after 5 minutes.
We have 6 monthly rental inspections, each time I ask for help, at minimum for the older 2 to put away what they use and encourage the younger 2 as well but they don't. Each time I end up doing everything including repairs from 18f. I am studying externallly so it's an exhausting 2 weeks with myself always sick for about 4 days at the end.
So now, 8 days out and asking for help, my son stares at me, my daughter changes the topic, the writing is on the wall and it's the same as always but worse as the younger 2 start copying.
I am considering not repairing the holes my daughters made, not doing a thing except my studies and daily parental basic requirements and HOPING that we get evicted.
That it will dissolve our unit and see myself move in with just the younger 2 and the 18f can fend for herself and the 14m can go to his father's or grandmothers.
EVERYTHING is telling me to throw my hands in the air but it's heartbreaking.
Things were getting better for a bit when my youngest 2s dad started actually spending time with them outside my home but he managed to get back in to seeing them here and will stay over. My older 2 don't respect me because of his presence I understand that. I feel very trapped and each time I stand up for what is right and in our best interests, collectively or individually, I am shot down for the benefit of those considering their own needs.
I'm worried for my babies and worried for me.
Need perspective and happy to answer questions
It sounds like an overwhelming situation and I can understand why you feel like giving up. You’ve been fighting a battle on multiple fronts - trying to manage the behaviour of four kids, dealing with rental inspections and studying all at once.
It makes sense that the deadline of the inspection would be the last straw for you right now. Unfortunately, with a situation like this which has developed over a long period of time there usually aren’t any quick fixes. You can only do what you can do, and if you can’t get things to the standard you would like them to be in time for the inspection, this isn’t your fault.
You mention things have gotten to the point where you find yourself hoping to get evicted, because that could result in you living with your younger two children only. It sounds like you would feel more able to manage things if you were able to focus on the two of them.
I’m wondering if there is a way that elements of this could happen without eviction happening, and if this is something you would want.
Is there a possibility of your 14 year old son spending some staying with his father or grandmother to provide you with some respite? I suggest this because you mention that he would stay with them if you were evicted, so it sounds like they would have the ability to look after him in some circumstances.
I don’t know if the thought about your daughter fending for herself does mean that you would prefer your daughter moves out. I know that this can be a really complex situation for parents of adult children, and I am not suggesting that you should tell her to move out, or that you need to let her stay. Only you can decide what is right for you and your family.
I am concerned about how you describe her behaviour, and although you mention that you have had counselling in the past, I would encourage you to speak to someone who is experienced in working with people with abusive family members. This could help you identify how you can feel safer in relation to your daughter, and provide some space for you to talk through the situation. Since you mention that when you do try to stand up for yourself you get shot down, having someone to talk to who can support your decision making can also help you feel less trapped and alone.
1800Respect can provide some initial support as well as more specific referrals.
The more tired we are, the harder it is to deal with stress, and sometimes when feeling overwhelmed it is hard to do anything at all, and hard to feel like anything you do is enough. It sounds like you have been tired and overwhelmed for some time, so trying to tackle everything that is going on just isn’t practical at the moment. Sometimes it can help to pick one thing (the thing which feels easiest), and focus your energy on this. This can provide you with a sense of progress and make things a little easier. I don’t know the situation well enough to work out what would be easiest and what would be more tricky for you, because this is very individual, but I encourage you to have a think about this (once the inspection is over and done with) - whether this is setting a boundary (the kid’s dad not staying over if you’d prefer he didn’t), deciding not to do a task, or something else.
Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.