So as things have progressed down with my mom’s house with my daughter, I’ve continued to stay out of it.
I’m refusing to play bad cop, and be the one always being the bad guy while she keeps her strategy of always being the one saying yes and being the good guy but then throwing the problems created to me to deal with.
Instead, I’d decided to change strategies… and to treat it like a co-parenting situation with someone who is acting similarly… and to switch to a "parallel parenting" style.
Basically… this means giving up on attempting to come to consistent enforcement with someone who isn’t on the same page… and instead, what happens at their house stays at their house.
If they make rules for their house, fine, but it’s their problem to also enforce those rules. No discipline at my house for something that happened at her house, and the fact that its a rule there does not mean it’s a rule at my house as well.
But, vice versa, I stay completely out of their house happenings too, and don’t get to expect that things enforced at my house will be made to happen there…. even when its things like morning routines that seem pretty critical.
It’s not the ideal strategy… it would work much better to have everyone on the same page and working towards the same goals…. but when you have someone who isn’t going to be working towards that goal either way if it involves saying no, at least it saves a great deal of sanity and frustration trying to make that happen.
And so, as predicted, this has created a lot of frustration on mom’s end, not having someone to do the dirty work for her.
And I have walked out of her home multiple times when she’s tried to force me to do so anyway. Yes, she’s my kid, but if you allowed her to do something, you can also take responsibility for the consequences rather than just having me fix it for you.
And so, mom has had to start saying no in the past year.
Which has, of course, promptly been challenged… and failed.
Kiddo has been banned from mom’s house multiple times, with the longest it has actually been enforced being about 3 days.
And so kiddo has promptly learned that grandma isn’t actually going to be serious about any consequences, and pretty blatantly ignores them.
The end result has been that mom has resorted back to some of the same strategies that she attempted to use on us as teenagers.
Namely, completely arbitrary rules created out of frustration, and shaming.
And, there is part of me that wants to protect kiddo from these… especially the shaming… as it gets towards the line of emotional abuse.
But, there is a difference… kiddo is there voluntarily, and chooses to be there rather than to just come back down to our house.
Even so… it’s been very interesting to see things revisited.
And it’s given me a much clearer look at the way things really were back then.
For example… the shaming strategy.
How this works is that when you do something she doesn’t like, she throws something completely unrelated in your face.
Kiddo is upset because she wants her birthday cake cut one way, while mom is insisting on doing it another way.
Rather than throwing a yelling fit, she sulks over to the couch and fumes silently.
Mom then yells "Well that’s really someone who can be trusted with the keys to a car…"
Miss the connection between a birthday cake and driving? Well, that’s because there really isn’t one. If anything, the response of removing herself from the situation instead of fighting is probably a good sign for a driver… and if people getting upset were a sign they shouldn’t be allowed to drive, my moms keys would be in jeopardy themselves.
But, my mom knows that my daughter learning to drive is something she cares about, and aims for the soft spot.
All through my own teenage years… it was always "Well that’s really a good Christian…" in that same exact tone, no matter what I did that she wasn’t happy about.
And yes, most of it had about as much to do with Christianity as cutting a birthday cake has to do with driving qualifications. I’m remembering one round of refusing to take a particular brand of vitamins because they made me burp nasty tasting burps that got that response.
And its from these memories that I want to try and protect my child… but having to remember, that she’s willingly choosing to let herself continue to be exposed to them by her choice to spend time down there.
Instead, I point out the obvious to her, that the situation had nothing to do with driving suitability and grandma is just being hurtful… and feel all the more push to make sure kiddo gets through her tests to remove the vulnerability of the soft spot as a target. To try and treat the wound before it can become infected into a scar, and to build up resistance to it.
But as I do so, it helps me realize that there was nothing I could have done differently as a teen that would have prevented the shaming outbursts against me.
That if it wouldn’t have been my being a Christian, she would have just found somewhere else to poke at… something else that was important to me.
And that my making her unhappy at something (almost always minor, I’m now noticing) was not just cause… nor was it my fault having provoked it by not cooperating.
And the arbitrary rules side of things is just as eye opening.
Scenario: My daughter, who has ADHD and is not currently on her meds to allow a trial without (mostly by my mom’s pushing), is leaving pop cans around mom’s house rather than taking them down the hall to the trash can.
Mom creates a rule that no pop cans are allowed, and only one cup at a time can be taken out of the cabinet.
On this one, I slipped on not getting involved, and I pointed out to her that this rule was going to be a royal pain to enforce, and was told that she didn’t have to enforce it, that kiddo could just be banned from the house if she didn’t comply.
Now.. telling me about this new rule was actually a half-hour long complaint-fest.
You would think that my kid is just intentionally leaving these pop cans out just to spite my mother, out of pure evil intentions.
In reality… when my kid is thirsty, it’s a clear physical alert grabbing her attention. But, after that thirst signal is gone…. that pop can ceases to exist to her. It might even still be in her hand… but it’s not the focus anymore the second anything at all pulls her attention away from it. Even setting the can down is pretty much just an auto-pilot function in the background… her brain is already elsewhere.
The best solution to this that I’ve found is to have a trash can where kiddo spends significant time… even if its a small one.. to then train that background action to be using the trash can rather than setting down. A reasonable expectation that resolves the issue.
But not to my mother…. who feels like a teenager should be able to carry a pop can down the hall to the trash can every time she is done with it.
And yes, capability-wise, and assuming a normal teen, you could probably train them to do so reliably.
But it is one massively uphill battle to fight with an ADHD kid with no meds.
If she chooses to fight it rather than to work with the more likely to work alternatives, that’s her choice I suppose.
My kid isn’t going to be deliberately defying the rule… let’s face it… she isn’t even going to remember this new random rule even exists.
Thirsty=grab can of pop, stop thirst. A random rule to have to use a glass, and only one particular glass that needs to be hunted down before solving the thirst impulse, isn’t even going to make the slightest appearance on her radar until grandma starts screaming about it afterwards.
It’s not my battle… I’m staying out of it… and already said more than I should have into the matter.
But man, does it remind me of so so many abrupt dramatic rules that were doomed before they ever even started… and how many battles about reasonable alternatives that could have resolved the situation quickly and more effectively… but that instead turned into wars where normal actions got taken as if they were personal assaults.
While I can’t say that it’s a pleasant stroll down memory lane… its certainly an enlightening one.