Online Parent Support Chat

4.8.08

The main subject is: lack of respect !

I live in London (UK) and I am Belgian. I am almost at the end of a Psychotherapy diploma course. Almost two years ago, after 25 years of marriage, my husband decided to leave home. He did this the day when both our kids, Alex (then 16 years old) and Nat. (then 14 years old) left home to go to boarding school. Nat. had already been at boarding school for a year but Alex just started then.

So, until the beginning of this summer holiday, both children were at boarding school. I have custody of both of them. The children have been brought up in high comfort. Even after the divorce, if I didn't want to give them money, they would go to their father and ask him. I am not in communication with their father, for reasons of emotional abuse towards me and he showed a lot of disrespect towards me in front of the children (I understand that I did allow being disrespected!, but it is about time I change that).

The main subject is: lack of respect !

Let me start with Alex (18): His boarding School allowed the kids to come back home every weekend if they chose to do so and Alex took advantage of that. The routine was that he saw his father for Sat. lunch and the rest of the weekend he stayed with me at home. He would come back on Fri evening with his dirty laundry and I would start the washing, he would be fed, his room was clean...I have a housekeeper who would take care of cleaning the whole flat and also come on Sat. to do the extra ironing. Due to my hectic schedule at College, clients etc. and with no support system (family in Belgium) apart from hiring a housekeeper and the guilt over the divorce and the impact it had on the children, I allowed Alex to feel very comfortable. He is a gentle young man and I don't have major problems with him, he is polite, doesn't drink or smoke etc...

The presenting problem today is that he will be staying at home for a year to finish a Biology degree (wants to read Medicine), learn to drive, shadow doctors in a hospital to acquire work experience, prepare his papers for Universities, interviews,.hopefully find a part time job.. BUT he doesn't help at home. I've already suggested he cooks the days I am working late, cleans his bedroom...Somehow, with having the housekeeper at home 3 days/week he gets away from the general chores even when I ask her not to clean his bedroom. What would you suggest I do in order for him to engage more: fire the housekeeper? (not helpful for me),.., reduce her working hours? Let him do his own laundry and ironing? set days when he is responsible for shopping and preparing dinner. My way of looking at it is that he has now become a lodger. Any advise would be the most welcome.

Nat. is a different problem and more severe. She is 16 now. She will start boarding again at the beginning of September and will go to the school where Alex went. Nat. has always been a clingy and demanding child. Definitely too spoiled by me (too good a mother!!!). The divorce had a horrible effect on her, due to the fact that she never really had a good relationship with her father since early childhood, being an absent father. When he left, she took this as the ultimate rejection. The boarding school she went to only allowed the pupils to come back home every 3 weekends plus half terms etc.., so, she came home during that time and saw her father on Sat. lunch time as well. She was extremely angry with her father for a year and a half and refused to meet his girlfriend for a year until the day she finally met her and liked her. She was also angry with me and would constantly verbally abuse me, being sarcastic, insulting me and I would take this all in my stride (horror) and excuse it on her difficulties of being a teenager with the hope that she'll grow out of it soon enough. Nat. gets what she wants, mainly trips to far away places with me, then her father, then again with her father. She is allowed to buy clothes and is already spending a lot of money on beauty treatments. She is helpful at home and her room is generally in order apart from her cupboards that are overflowing and messy. She is a good student and strives for the best. Doesn't smoke/drink etc..

Her presenting issue is that since I've met another man, she has been absolutely rude, obnoxious towards both of us. She would sulk, make us feel very uncomfortable with her remarks, her sulking, her comments and makes sure that we are not welcome in MY home. It just happened that this man has left me a week ago, one of the main reasons is that he couldn't accept the way she behaved towards us and mainly towards me (this was an eye-opener to me and I will thank him forever for having brought this into light). I expected some type of reaction from her when she saw me devastated but after talking to her, she couldn't see what she had done wrong and wouldn't admit to it. When confronted by me she threw her dinner plate on me and called me "B...h" . This happened the night before she left on holiday for 2 weeks, this time with her dad .

If I want to implement the sessions as you so well explain, how would I go about it with her? When she comes back on Aug 17Th, she is due to travel again with her dad for another 4 days which leaves only 4 days before she starts boarding school. Now, she is entitled to come back home every weekend. I can inform the school she is not allowed to go out on weekends. If I don't give her pocket money, she'll go to her father... It is a bit difficult to implement but I really need to deal with this problem. I even told her she might have to move in with her father, but, I know that he'll send her back quite soon to me and I don't believe it would be a good move for her.

My Out-of-Control Teens

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