I'm a mom with a teen, & sparks fly. Advice?

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SpongeMom
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27 Mar 2013, 11:16 am

Howdy folks! I've had an account here for at least a couple of years but haven't needed much help...till now. I'm a mom; I'm an education advocate; my small family are close and supportive and fiercely loyal.

I have a middle school son. I've known he had Asperger's since he was about 4 though it took several attempts to have the "stamp of approval" put on it. It just occurred to me that this summer he will have lived half his life with a "diagnosis."

My son is absolutely brilliant, funny, infuriating, charming, fun, stubborn, creative, lazy, curious. He is not terribly comfortable with himself, even though he sends mixed messages about that. He's not my first child so I understand the basics of NT teens. I've been told that he is atypical (huh?) for an individual with Asperger's. He defies categorization and that thrills me to pieces (him, too). But it makes things hard.

The problem is that we are driving each other bananas. I wish I knew how to get this relationship train back on the tracks. We find ourselves arguing frequently. He's not like this with his dad so it's something with the combination of the two of us. I wish I could end a discussion in some way other than him stomping off angry and me feeling exhausted and bullied, and I wish he would do the things I need him to do without telling me he doesn't feel like it and will make his own decisions. I don't think he understands the concept of "respect" and I am not sure I know how to gain it with him. As I said, he is a different kind of guy.


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Valkyrie2012
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27 Mar 2013, 11:31 am

HI there :)

I am not too certain if my advice will be helpful.. .but here are some things that came to mind.

Even if he is Atypical - I bet he still takes things literally, has his own definition for words (which are probably different than yours). People on the spectrum see and hear things in black and white. There are no shades of grey. So if you do not tell him to do something in a clear cut direct way - I can bet he does not understand it the way you do.

My mother once told me: Would you like to do the dishes for me?

My response?: No.. not really.. I am busy.

Her reaction: I wasn't asking! Get in there and do the dishes!

Me: Confused and hurt and angry.

If she wanted me to do the dishes... WHY did she ask if I wanted to?

Also on the respect issue.. I think maybe he shows respect to you differently that how you think respect is. Does he put the toilet seat down on the toilet like you want? (or anything else like that?) That is respecting you :)



bear83
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27 Mar 2013, 12:30 pm

Im 29 and have been only recently diagnosed with atypical autism.
My mother has the same views as you. She always says that I lack respect for her.
I had to have a parent present the day of my assessment and even that day she told the doctor that throughout my teenage years and even now, I still disrepect her. Similarily to your son, I dont have as many problems with my dad as with my mam in terms of arguing and disagreements.

I cant speak for your son, but I think you are right about not understanding the concept of respect. I dont feel I lack respect for my mother and many of the times she says im disrepecting her, I certainly dont realise I am and would even argue the case that im not disrepecting her, full stop!! I think this pretty much supports the case that my concept of respect is different to my mothers.

I also think that my mother is predominatly the strictest of both my parents and therefore conflict is bound to arise more with her as my dad is pretty easy going.

This might not seem to be the best piece of advice, but I think if you tried to be abit more laid back with him and perhaps asked his Dad to contribute more, or fully take over dealing with the issues which seem to be causing the most arguments between you and your son. That way you wont seem to be the one your son looks at who always causes the arguements or makes him do the things he doesnt want to. Also if his Dad takes over from you for abit and your son starts disrepecting him the way you feel he disrepects you, then you know its not just about you.

Finally I know you may have tried this already but if it is irratating you that much, you should just try to explain to your son, as calmly as possible, that what he is doing is hurting your feelings and you feel he doesnt respect you. I think having a third person here who is neutral (& not just someone who will side with you, but really is neutral :wink: ) when you do this might be a help. As I said, it might just be a case where your son has no idea the way he is acting is causing you such distress.

Also please consider that your son is different, as you know, and you both will always have somewhat conflicting views on many things, and perhaps his way of showing you repect is just one of these.

Hope this helps :?:



SpongeMom
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27 Mar 2013, 12:59 pm

Thanks for the replies. I appreciate new viewpoints and perspectives, as it's the only way to learn. You've given me some ideas to think about. Some of this, such as involving his dad in prickly areas, we've been doing. I will continue to try new ideas, though.

I want to be clear that I am not an old-fashioned, "my way or the highway" type of parent. When I speak of "respect," I mean the simple rules that make productive discussion possible. Things like not yelling in my face, not telling me I've ruined his life, not saying that I have no faith in him, not saying "whatever" and walking off when I present my own point of view. I understand totally that perspective taking is not my son's strong suit; in my mind, respect is about acknowledging that both of us need to be polite and end even heated discussions still loving each other. I'm not feeling any of that on my end. To be honest, I feel like a piece of equipment that he uses to suit his needs, mostly as a warm body to pontificate to. Woe be unto me if I happen to disagree, even slightly.

I have tried, for many months, to explain to him how I feel about all of these things. I'm just told that I have to adjust or that respect is earned and I haven't earned his. I'm not sure what to make of that... I am also told that he is the expert (in almost any area) and knows more than anyone else. I'm also told he will say what he wants because it's his right. And indeed I have explained repeatedly that the wider world won't accept that attitude. I know I am doing him no favors if I allow him to grow his wings and fly from the nest with these opinions and attitudes, but when I challenge them even slightly...that's when the sparks really fly.

There are few things I can ask him to do without it turning into almost a "you can't make me" scenario. I think a lot of this is his age and his gender and his hormones. I am cutting generous slack in that area. I try to choose my battles, but I really don't want a battle at all. If I could ask him to do something and have him do it without an argument (30 min or so) I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven. And if I could get him to admit that he doesn't know everything, that he may be getting misinformation from trolling internet sources, that he really can learn from me--well, I don't know what I'd do. Fall over, probably.


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27 Mar 2013, 1:16 pm

anybody that feels owned will not show any respect. if you are going to give him freedom and then take it away based on some reason that doesn't make sense, except for only showing your power over him, then you are in for trouble.



SpongeMom
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27 Mar 2013, 1:20 pm

I'm not taking anything away. I'm not sure what I said that gave that impression. I'm just trying to have a conversation or discussion with him without it turning into an argument. But no, not withdrawing any freedom at all. In fact, we gradually and incrementally increase the amount of control he has over his life because he will be expected to have total control of how he lives his life in the near future. The goal is independence, satisfaction, happiness--really whatever he wants.


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27 Mar 2013, 2:34 pm

I don't think you are a bad parent. I know my parents must have gone through a difficult time with me.



bear83
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27 Mar 2013, 7:33 pm

I dont know what else to tell you.
Your relationship with your son sounds alot like my mam and I when I was a teen and even sometimes still now, especially in the last couple of months since I have been diagnosed.
I think it is a common trait in many people who have aspergers/atypical autism to think they know more than the average person and in some cases maybe they do. Perhaps with the hormones and age your son it at, he's just abit more agressive about his knowledge/expertise. Obviously no person is an expert on everything! :)

I know I have always felt that I was generally smarter than the average person at some things, mainly academically and results would back this up to a certain extent. I would have also felt I tended to notice details in things others would not. Having gone to numerous, counsellors, docs, physchologists and psychiatrists, I eventually came up with the idea I was on the spectrum and organised for an assessment myself, without the support of anyone. I think this was pretty smart. However there are many things I am not so smart at to say the least and I fully realise this too.

I have just recently read in a book about aspergers, and I would agree, that a person will bring up the topic of having higher intelligence when they are threatened/bullied or feel they are losing an argument so it is more than likely your son is just doing this and possibly because he knows it will annoy you when he says it. I know if I had my diagnosis when I was in my teens, I probably would have used the intelligence argument alot more.

Im sure what im saying is not really what you want to hear. I know you blame him and im sure he blames you (as is the case with my mam and I), but unfortunately its just part of the condition. My NT friends all argued with their parents in their teens but to a lesser extent than me, and they have all passed that stage long ago now. However I have not and I also think another main reason why, is that many people on the spectrum mature slower then their peers. I know this is certainly the case with me. When it is needed, I can be act very mature but when I am most relaxed (at home, with close friends, etc), I am really immature.

Again I hope this provides you with some insight. Having been only diagnosed recently, I myself am still only learning about the condition and I can definitly identify with the tensions between you and your son.



SpongeMom
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27 Mar 2013, 11:05 pm

Bear83, I appreciate the thought you put into your replies to me. I want to make sure that you know that I absolutely do not blame my son for any of this. If I did, I wouldn't be here trying to get insights and advice. I would just blame him, yell at him and be done with it. He is a young teenage boy with a lot going on. If he were NT, he would likely "play the game" and tell me what I want to hear, or pretend to do what I ask and then do what he wanted, or stay in his room and not engage at all. He does not play social and/or emotional games, though. He probably doesn't even know that pretending to comply is a possibility. He does stay in his room a lot but he seeks me out to engage.

Just because this is a difficult time does not mean it will always be so. I hope not. I let him know on a regular basis that there is nothing he can do that will drive me off. He tells me he knows his parents support him emotionally. He doesn't appear terribly happy much of the time, but then he often appears very confident and content. I think that is his age. At that age, I was all over the map as well.

I do think you are on to something about him maybe using the know-it-all attitude as a defense mechanism. I'm going to think on how I can modify my responses to him in light of that. I appreciate that insight. And as for you telling me things I don't want to hear--well, I think that's not likely. I'm here to learn. Thank you.


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bear83
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28 Mar 2013, 6:08 am

Im sorry about using the word blame. It was incorrect. :oops: I know you do not blame your son. I just mean that in any argument, there are two opposite opinions with each person feeling the other is wrong i.e. you think your son is being disrepecful to you and he probably feels you are being unfair to him. If you were both on the same wavelength, then obviously there would be no tension between yous. I hope this clarifies what I said previously.

I hope both you and your son can move forward and that this tough spell you are going through presently will ease. I can see you are just trying to do your best for him. It was different in my situation because I had no diagnosis. Everybody including myself just took me to be completly normal and therefore there was never any allowance given for the fact that I may have a different thought process than others. Therefore there were many arguments, which could last for quite a while. Even now following my diagnosis, my parents do not take it into account and offer me no support. I can see this is not the case in your situation. Hopefully if your son is as intelligent as he says he is, then he will come to understand and appreciate you and he will give you that level of respect you warrant. :)

I hope it works out for you. If you have any other questions at any time, just ask. Good luck :)