So, Hope did something kinda dumb while I was away traveling last week. She managed to rack up a sizeable sum of cash and overdraft fees playing games online. I check her account weekly, so when I went in to pay bills and balance the books this weekend, it all came tumbling out.
I was furious, but I just printed out my findings, blocked any future banking activity and took some time to chill. I knew that this would be a big deal because confronting Hope is like talking to a wall.
My daughter has a philosophy that essentially states that if there is no intent of malice, there is no responsibility and thus there should be no consequences.
That might work on the planet Zoron, but it does not work at Casa d’ABM.
Recently Hope has expressed a fair amount of distaste at having ‘minders’ (Elihu’s lovely British word for nanny/sitter) while I’m traveling. She regularly states that she is almost an adult and can do everything that needs to be done, especially since she has a bus pass.
Right. #BlessYourHeart #SouthernersCatchtheSarcasm
So, anyhoo, I am trying to be better at confronting Hope with a calm demeanor and not letting my fury emotions get the best of me. I think I might’ve nailed it, for the first few hours anyway.
So I keep seeing, “Hey, don’t get into power struggles with the kiddo as they only escalate the drama and resolve nothing.”
Got it. Hope and I are pretty conflict friendly; we are very comfortable with conflict. But I recognize that we have a bit too much of it. Frankly I miss my pre-Hope drama free-zone house. So, I’m trying to work this avoid the power trip thing. My goal—lay out the scenario, show the proof, explain the range of consequences and what might mitigate the levels of consequences. In short—at the end I give Hope a chance to have some control and power in the situation in dictating what the final consequences will be.
Well, after a peaceful few hours yesterday, I told her that we needed to talk. She already knew what it was about (because she *knew* she would get caught #attentionseeking), that she was guilty and her deflection shields slid into place.
Hope’s MO is to shut completely down with a flat affect or to come out swinging. There is no middle ground, none.
I explained to her what I found, why it was concerning and that while this is a big learning experience that it would be one with some serious consequences since this wasn’t our first rodeo with the debit card. She was definitely losing the card and needed to pay back the overdrafts as a start, but other consequences loomed. I was willing to hear her out. Her consequences would range from X to Y depending on any mitigating reasons and a willingness to accept responsibility.
I pivoted to contrition and acceptance of responsibilities.
Hope argued the philosophy noted above.
With a wrinkled brow, I noted that in the extreme that’s like saying that if I accidentally run over someone and kill them I shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences. #manslaughter #wewatchlotsofcopshows #straighttojail
We took a number of breaks to give her time to wrestle with her emotions, to keep mine in check and to give us both a chance to see if this could just go away.
She eventually refused to participate in any further discussions, and I left her alone since I needed to pack for the next trip.
But first, I had to execute the consequences: I rounded up all the electronics and put them in my lockbox.
She eventually had one of her emotionally soothing, loud conversations with herself in her room. Later I saw bits of burned paper and wondered 1) was she capable of burning down my home (and the other 215 condos as well) and 2) if I needed to make an appointment for a more acute mental health assessment because fire, fire is bad.
This is another one of those times when it feels especially hard to teach reason, trustworthiness, and responsibilities to my beautiful daughter. She is nearly 15, but her OS is probably running at generation 7. I’m trying to provide her opportunities for power and control, and despite her earnest protests, she isn’t really ready for much control. She fights and fights and fights for it, only to have it and squander it because she has no idea what to do with situational power once she has it. #andthewheelsonthebusgoroundandround
I’m glad to be going away again, but I’m worried, very worried that things are escalating with her behavior. I’m scared that she might really do something irrevocable and not appreciate it as such. I’m worried for her. I just wish she would play her position—be a kid, focus on being a kid, learning to be happy in a safe, secure home.
Gosh I hope she gets there. I’m afraid of what happens if she doesn’t.
In the meantime, I’ve notified the team and I’m calling my homeowners insurance to check my coverage just to hedge the worst case scenario. I’m also questioning my handling of the situation. I intellectually know I did the right thing, but I emotionally just hurt for her.
It’s sad to know that my heart probably won’t stop hurting unless hers stops hurting and really makes progress on healing.
Sigh…here we go again.
May 31st, 2016 at 8:38 pm
My husband says about my Like, “And by like, I mean ‘hug.'”
if there is no intent of malice, there is no responsibility and thus there should be no consequences
I work with a lot of adults who still haven’t grasped this. If you can get her to understand this in the next five years, you will have rocked it. I know that doesn’t change that right now is … so much harder than hard, but it seems worth saying.
Also, my godsister was adopted at eleven after a very traumatic foster childhood. Who she is now versus who she seemed to be then … there was so much that just took time to settle in.
May 31st, 2016 at 10:06 pm
Hug. You are doing the right things. She clearly needs minders and limits, even if she thinks she doesn’t. It sucks that we can’t trust our kids to be more responsible, but that’s just not where they are right now. Her message to you in all this is, “I am not ready for the responsibility of a debit card, and I sure as HELL am not ready to be home alone while you’re on work trips.”
June 1st, 2016 at 10:57 am
This post hurts my heart, but it also made me laugh out loud. OS Generation 7, hahaha. It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. I am hoping and praying that Hope makes some forward progress.
June 1st, 2016 at 2:48 pm
There is a part of me that see my teenage self in some of this staggeringly flawed logic. “But if I didn’t mean it, it’s okay, and I shouldn’t get punished.” Um… yeah… I clearly remember trying that one. To no avail, mind you.
There are so many layers here that I’m sure are hard to unpack. How do you give her a safe space to experience consequences when the stakes are fairly low? How push her without pushing too far? I have to wisdom to offer, just my complete sympathy.
June 1st, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Also, I love how the bus pass is some how an indication that she can take care of herself. PRICELESS.
June 1st, 2016 at 4:24 pm
The bus pass that I actually have to give the school permission for her to have… minor detail, right?
June 1st, 2016 at 8:46 pm
I so hear you on this one. Sometimes I just want to pull my hair out with M1 pulling this same stuff.Grrr..yep frustrating to no end trying to balance it all out but you got this and you are right. It might take awhile for her to internalize your message but hey not long ago she did not believe you would come home from a trip, so you ARE making strides. Chin up and practice some self care or fuzz therapy with the devoted puppy.
June 1st, 2016 at 10:44 pm
OMG, I think you are living in my house. Except here it’s not a debit card I gave her but my credit card she stole. She also blew the $ at online game sites. And the playing with fire. But according to her, we don’t need to worry about that because she just lit the matches to watch them and she “can handle it.” She and Hope must be related.
June 2nd, 2016 at 12:08 am
They are so much alike, right!?!
June 2nd, 2016 at 1:38 am
As I read this, I was really struck by your empathy, self-awareness, and honesty! You’re saying out loud what so many think.
It is such a struggle when someone’s behavior is the result of years of bad experiences shaping and reinforcing the behavior. On one hand, often it is clear where the behavior came from and it is sad the person is suffering, on the other hand…. well your post pretty much summed up on the other hand.
June 2nd, 2016 at 4:47 pm
“if there is no intent of malice, there is no responsibility and thus there should be no consequences”
She took something of yours (dollars) without permission. She knew better (you’d said it wasn’t your first rodeo with the debit card), right?
While there probably wasn’t purposeful malice, as in intentional ill-will, there certainly was intentional carelessness, a disregard for your assets and your rules, perhaps some recklessness, heedlessness, maybe some negligence. Maybe some rash decision making.
There are consequences for lack of respectful behavior. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t take advantage of your offer to negotiate a consequence. You could have slammed something harsh down, and you didn’t.
P.S. I like Jackie’s comment above. You’re trying so hard to make it better for Hope, you want to give her every opportunity to become a happy, good person. You can never say that you didn’t give it your all.