Constant Challenges of Parenthood

I honestly do not know why I keep finding myself surprised at how difficult it is to be a parent.  After 6 six years of this, I thought I would be used to it.  I am profoundly sad today as I post because I cannot seem to reach my step daughter.  There are moments when I think she finally “gets” the lessons I am so desperate for her to learn, only to find out the next day that the glimmer of understanding I thought I saw was just my hopeful imagination.  I am heart-broken.

My step-daughter has severe ADHD and she has been in counseling since she was 6 and is under the care of a wonderful psychiatrist who specializes with children with this terribly disruptive disorder.  It is disruptive to the family, it is disruptive to her development, it is disruptive to her education and it is disruptive to her ability to have friends and experience life the way a 12 year-old without this affliction would be able to.

Suffering from anxiety myself, I have a very difficult time relating to and interacting with her.  My need to control things to make things less anxious for myself is in direct conflict with her inability to control herself.  It makes for some spectacular power struggles.  The “ah-ha” moments that I imagine her having usually come after these struggles have subsided into something far more calm and controlled where I attempt to use reason and logic to explain things to her in desperate hopes that SOMETHING will stick in that brain of hers and allow her a small victory.

I feel like I am constantly disappointed by her.  I always tell her I love no matter how angry I may get and no matter how disappointed I am.  But my heart breaks a little more every time I fail as parent to be successful in helping her to understand important things about life – important, but simple things like not to lie (pathologically).  What makes me even sadder is that I have come to the even more heart breaking realization that while I love my daughter, I do not like the person she is.  I realize this has the potential to change; but as of now, I do not like the choices she makes and what it says for her character.  Pretty difficult to say about a 12 year-old, but there it is.

And what does that say about our ability to parent?  I have not come to a conclusion about this yet – the jury is still out.  It’s not that she is neglected or that we are failing to discipline.   We have tried so many different things in hope that something would work.  To date, nothing has.  Not that we will give up.  But there is always that nagging feeling that there is more we could or should do.  Or should we just let her sink and see if she can keep herself up?  There are too many possibilities and no “right” answers.  The uncertainty of parenthood disagrees with me.  It makes me frightened and irritable, vulnerable and insensitive, selfish and selfless all at once.  It is a walking contradiction and one that I am not able to reason through – throwing me into turmoil and making the anxiety almost impossible to cope with.  There are times like I feel like I am drowning.  But I know I’m not.  I know that this too shall pass and that life will go on the way it is intended to.

But right now, my heart is breaking.


About dailyrumblings

Thirty-something year old wife and step mom just trying to co-exist with other human beings without going completely insane!
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4 Responses to Constant Challenges of Parenthood

  1. Karaboo says:

    I am reminded of my relationship with my step-son by your post. He too has ADHD, but not as severely as your SD (it seems). I too have a deep conflict with loving him, but not liking his personality. When things came to a head almost 3 months ago (wow! has it really been that long?) and I disengaged from him, I did a ton of soul searching of my own.

    I discovered I was treating him like everyone else thought I should treat him as a stepmom, not as I would treat him as my own son. With my husband’s permission, I explained to both DH and SS what I was doing and what would be different from me – I would be true to myself for who I was, not who I had been. The latter obviously wasn’t working for any of us.

    The change has been astounding. I am not as stressed as I was before. SS seems to be opening up to me more. There isn’t the constant power-struggle going on (oh – it’s still there…just not like before). Remember the square peg into a round hole analogy (the comparison for both yourself and your step-daughter).

    I’ve left this long reply to say – figure out who you are, stay true to yourself and the pieces might just fall into place with your step daughter.

    • I cannot thank you enough for sharing your thoughts with me. Sometimes I wish I had my own kids by which to judge what I am doing with my step-daughter. I feel like I have no clue as to whether what I am doing is right or not. I believe I am treating her the way I would treat my own children if I had them – actually, I am probably a little easier on her than I would be on my own kids (I think); but not much. I believe she deserves that of me, even if it is hard for me and hard for her to take – and even if her bio parents think I am expecting too much of her. I just don’t know how to deal with the fact that I constantly feel let down and disappointed. You have given me some food for thought that I assure you I will chew over 😉

  2. nailingjellotoatree says:

    Oh sweetie, I have my own kids. I birthed them. And there are days when I do not like one of them. Some days that changes, but usually it’s the same one. Her personality is everything I hated in my big, bossy, older sister. And she drives me up a tree. And I don’t even want to be around her because she’s so know-it-all and irritating and she takes over for me as a mother and steps in when I want to comfort a skinned knee, or a torn teddy. Some of what you’re experiencing is universal. The little sh**s just get on our nerves and aren’t always very loveable, even though we still love them no matter what. Sometimes we just need a moment to be ok with not liking them at that moment.

    None of my kids have ADD or ADHD or autism or aspergers or any of the other horrible childhood diseases rocking the world today. I cannot imagine how much more difficult is would be to parent in the midst of combat. Hang in there. The “village” around you will have your back. And if you need to, allow yourself 5-10 minutes locked in your room screaming for mercy into a pillow. Trust me, that helps.

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