on a more serious note

Old 07-29-2012, 03:43 PM
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on a more serious note

Something that has been creeping up with D6 and D4 a lot lately is the following...

In any given event (I lose my keys and am trying to find them, someone stubs their toe and yells in pain, one kid gets a compliment first etc...) one of the girls will say something to the effect of:

"it's my fault I know... sorry, sorry" (and they say it in a sad way like they actually believe it's their fault that my keys are lost of that one of them is in a bad mood etc..)


"It's okay I know X (one of the girls names and they take turns in this role) is better than me/loved more than me/nicer than me. It's okay...

I swear to god I do not make a huge deal about this when it's said-- I stop and validate them and assure them it's not their fault and that both are loved and great kids, but it is NOT getting better. They both say it more and more frequently.

D6 has been going to a therapist and the T has said to me that she doesn't see or hear D6 talking about being distressed in any way and thinks that her being an anxious kid is something that will work itself out once home is stable for a long period of time (of course visits with Dad are never stable).

I'm not trying to create a reason for the kids to be in T if they don't need it but blaming themselves like they do is alarming to me.

It's upsetting to me that there's no al anon stuff for young kids-- I guess I wait until they're teens and then al anon cares?

I am kind of at my wits end about how to help my girls and don't know what more to do. I suppose that loving them, assuring them, validating them is all I can do but I am impatient and a fixer and I don't like that I can't just make it all better overnight.

If anyone reading this has young kids and is debating whether or not to leave... take my advice (not that I listened to those who gave me the same advice)... I had 2 perfect innocent little girls who now because of their dad and I are damaged.... They doubt themselves, they are uber people pleasers and they feel they are to blame. And they are 6 and 4.

Tonight was an especially rough evening with them both apologizing like little mini versions of me for so long for everything under the sun. I wanted to just cry and hug them and say I was so sorry for screwing them up so badly in their short lives. I put on a brave face and hugged and kissed and assured them but now that they are in bed I'm kind of letting it all out...

Thanks for listening...
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:52 PM
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As the Mother of two girls, who were 3 and 7 when their Dad and I divorced, I never coddled them. Not that you are - but you are offering a lot of reassurance and this need is only escalating...have you stopped to think it may be manipulation and it is working?

Just a different viewpoint here, WTBH, but you seem to think they are so damaged and maybe you are treating them as such?

I would humbly suggest instead of the reassurance - state once, in a very firm not-kidding-around voice that you have heard enough, you have explained over and over again, and you'll hear no more of it.

I did this recently to my 18 yr old, who is anxiety prone - to stop asking me if she is overweight - that if I think she is overweight, I will let her know. In the meantime, not another word. Period. She has not said anything since. Sometimes we have to be firm with our kids and behaviors that are not healthy.
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:58 PM
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Good points TG... The "i'm not good enough" stuff started maybe a few months ago and I really have been conscious of not trying to make a big deal of it... I took the advice of the T D6 was seeing and just encourage them and let them know they're loved (at times other than when they say they're to blame etc... too) and thought that was a good idea... But maybe I am coddling them..

It's really hard to know...

And as much as I'd like to think that I'm making more of this than it is, I had a long talk with D6's 1st grade teacher at the end of the year about her concerns about D6's anxiety and excessive apologizing (bumping into a desk and saying sorry about 10 times to the teacher and asking if she was mad-- stuff like that). So I am genuinely concerned that this mentality of apologizing and worrying about people being mad at her is a definite issue. When I look at characteristics of ACOA's some of these things are straight from that list and it worries me that I am seeing this in my girls...

Most of the time I don't get too worked up about it but something about tonight really hit me hard...

I will definitely consider though that perhaps I am making more of it than there is.. Thanks for your feedback
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Old 07-29-2012, 04:06 PM
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I worried a lot too early on about my kids during the divorce from their Dad. And I do have a lot of guilt over marrying an alcoholic when they were teenagers. But aside from some issues (they are human after all) both kids are doing really well. Try not to feel too guilty about it all.

One thing I do know is kids can be master manipulators, especially when they realize Mom and/or Dad is preoccupied or feeling guilty. And its not because they are bad kids, its because that's what kids do.

This is a huge change in their lives...its not uncommon to see things crop up that resolve themselves over time.

And P.S. you still have plenty of time to mess up your kids! This is only the beginning!
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:23 PM
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thank you for sharing this! It has been on my mind a lot. When ever my sons visit with his dad is over it is hell for me. He started to not eat and i asked him why he said "because daddy was here yesterday". Now he is only 3, but it worries me for several reasons, 1, what does it mean? 2, what now. Whenever we go longer then usual with seeing him he does really great.
WTBH i think your kids are still young enough, that by being a good example they will understand that it is not needed to apologize for everything. Maybe you could do a little "lesson" with them about when it is appropriate to apologize and how to do it.
I see the guilt from "regular" divorced parents all the time. They buy things and/or let their kids get away with murder! I have found that very hard myself. I often find myself making excuses for his actions. Not good. And i would consider myself a pretty no nonsense mom with strict rules.
I am really interested to read what others that might have been down this road with kids before share.

p.s. mine stutters so bad (has for a while now). and there is not a day that goes by that i feel guily that i caused that. Or at least the uproar in the house caused it.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:01 PM
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I agree with tuffgirl!! In the early days of separation, I was so nervous and had my eye on every little thing... Worrying about how I may have broken my kids. I still have little moments here and there... But it is definetely getting better now that we are 7 months in and life is settling down.

The biggest thing has been me gettig back to being their mom. A loving, firm and disciplined parent... Who, while by no means perfect, works hard and being consistent with them. It's hard bc they come back all jacked up every time they are with Daddy. It's no fun but there's only so much I have control over

Keep chugging along WTBH... You've come a long way baby!!!
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:21 PM
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I don't have kids so have never been in this situation but I am an ACOA. What I would suggest is to make sure YOU are modeling strong, unapologetic behavior for them. As an ACOA I have had to do conscious work related to this. I distinctly remember at age 17, being told by my BF that I say I'm sorry too much. What I now do, especially at work, is never apologize for anything that is out of my control. Of course I am still polite so for things like accidentally stepping on someone's foot I still will say I'm sorry.

Also, when you're a kid of an alcoholic, you just don't get enough attention. So make sure to spend quality time together and be sensitive about giving them equal attention and equal things. If you give one a gift or buy something for her, make sure to give or buy something similar to the other. Sounds like a pain but they are special kids having had to endure what they've endured, and what they continue to have to endure with visitations with their dad.

Thanks so much for paying attention to your daughters' needs and trying to compensate for the fact that they have an alcoholic parent.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:59 PM
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My sister does the same thing your daughters do....apologizes for everything. She wont ever express her is always what do you want. Heartbreaking...

I am glad you see the patterns. Thats the first step towards getting them help.
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by wanttobehealthy View Post
...It's upsetting to me that there's no al anon stuff for young kids-- I guess I wait until they're teens and then al anon cares? ...
Some of the bigger cities still have alatot meetings for the younger kids. In other places they no longer use the name and just list them under alateen. If there aren't any in your location you can request a meeting starter package

Al-Anon Online Store : Home

... and get together with a few other parents and start your own alatot meet. Usually it's done as a once-a-month potluck at somebody's house. If it grows then it moves out to a regular meeting place.

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Old 07-29-2012, 08:29 PM
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I agree with what has been posted. Continue to be no-nonsense in your reaction but the key, IMO, is to model what you want them to do in your everyday life, in how you talk about yourself, how you talk around other people and to other people, and give them alternative phrases that are appropriate to the situation. It is very hard to stop one thing if you don't replace it with another.

My mother was such a good mom to me in many ways. She would say all the right things to me to feel good about myself and be proud of who I was. It worked in some ways but what I remember feeling (and an awful lot of how I am) is based on the fact that she herself was terribly insecure and always felt 'less then good enough' in so many ways. Those feelings engulfed her and she couldn't hide it and little kids learn by watching what their parents do, not what they say.

debo5 - it is very very very common for kids to behave poorly when they come home from visits even if the other parent is an A+ parent in every way. The transition is hard and meltdowns are expected. It might help if you establish a very calming routine, where he does x activity, then y activity, and then z activity. Those activities can be anything that is low stress, relaxing, and something that can be very very consistent so it can happen the same way every time he comes home. This was recommended by our therapist and it worked over time. I had to develop activities they did because I have four kids and coming home to just sit around meant lots of fighting usually and one needed quiet alone time followed by interaction and one needed physical activity and interaction. It was kind of tricky but worth it. My little boys were 3yo and if I recall correctly their routine involved snacks, me reading a book, and I think they took a bath.
It also helps if visits are very scheduled and consistent but that is often out of our control.
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:58 PM
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Tuffgirl, THANK YOU for posting that!

I think when I left AXH, I was so worried about my kids that I sort of transferred my codependency onto them a bit. And I have one kid with whom I have a hard time because she acts exactly like AXH. Which triggers me and if I don't watch it, I behave towards her exactly like I did towards him -- I went out of my everloving way to make sure she was happy regardless of what happened to me and the other kids. It was always about proving to her that I love her.

I didn't see it myself, but my new man observed an interaction this daughter and I had -- and he said, "it was amazing to see -- when you set a firm boundary, she calmed down. It was as if she was looking for that boundary."

So I've started doing that more and more. And it is working. She's still the dramaqueen of the family, the most high-maintenance one, but she is doing less and less of that attention-seeking "nobody loves me, I might as well go live in the woods and eat worms" kind of stuff.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
"it was amazing to see -- when you set a firm boundary, she calmed down. It was as if she was looking for that boundary."
This is has been a lot like my experience too not so much with my own daughter but one of my best friend's little girls. Her husband is a terrible A who relapsed about 6 yrs ago & has been in an intense cycle especially over the last 2-3 years. The 5-yr old RULES at their house because to accomodate for the addiction they both allow her too much freedom (& he's never been an involved parent). It's just awful to watch, she melts down over everything & has this expectation that everything in life is negotiable.

WTBH - I agree with the advice you already gotten here & it sounds like you've got great awareness about the situation. You mentioned talking them through the thought & correcting it, have you also been proactive by playing to their strengths as well? Like if ... {I'm absolutely improvising on these scenerios - I don't know anything about your girls} ...D4 is great at/loves art, set up an afternoon where she can dive into it with all her supplies & praise the holy heck out of all of her efforts? If D6 loves her pet cat maybe she's old enough to have the chore of feeding it every day & then you can sing her praises on a regular basis when she accomplishes that task daily?

And, even though I'm starting to sound like a broken record.... I would highly recommend reading "Perfect Daughters" from the point of view of helping them avoid developing deeper codie behavior. ((((HUGS))))
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