Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Change of Heart, or Manipulation?

As you can gather from my expression of frustration on Tuesday, and my post yesterday, things have been in the ditch for a while.  We've been riding some incredible waves of unpleasantness, to the point where FosterEema and I have both come to the point where we've just had more than enough.

It has been so difficult, we've been searching for a respite provider to take Danielle for the bulk of the December holidays.  We just don't see how we can make the vacation work, since she'll have time off, and we might not.  Idle hands are the devil's workshop.

But then, just like that, yesterday she decided to change things up.  It actually started the day before, when FosterEema went to the grocery store.  Danielle tagged along, and while they were there she asked if FosterEema would buy her a couple of deli sandwiches so she wouldn't have to make her own lunch.

FosterEema decided to use this as an opportunity for negotiation.  She agreed to buy Danielle the sandwiches in exchange for an equal dollar amount of chores.  They came to an accord, and Danielle agreed to a specific task.

When Danielle came home from school yesterday, I had an errand to run.  As soon as she came in the door, I headed out.  While I was gone, Danielle did every single one of her chores without hassle or prompting.  By the time I came home, everything was done, and she did some extra work, helping me with a small outside task after dark.

Danielle's behavior was amazingly good.  She was polite, obedient, and helpful.  She was attentive, she listened, and she paid attention.  She did what she was told, when she was told, without comment or argument.

I was impressed.  I found myself thinking that it was a real shame that we couldn't have this kid around more.

When dinner rolled around, instead of complaining about our dinner selection or boycotting the meal, she sat down and ate with us.

This was the kind of evening every family should enjoy once in a while.

But, it soon became clear why Danielle was behaving the way she was.  She wanted something.  Several somethings, in fact.  It turns out, she wanted to have a sit-down discussion to see if it would be possible for her to have the following things:

  1. A cell phone.
  2. Permission to set up an account on a popular social media site.
  3. Permission to date.
I'm not sure how effectively we communicated this, but Danielle is putting us in a very difficult position.  When she behaves as dreadfully as she has been, and then suddenly changes it up because she wants something, it's very frustrating.  Worse, we know we'll see the good behavior only until she gets the item she wants, and then we'll go right back to the status quo.


Do I want my kid to have a cell phone?  Not really.  The last time we gave her one, we ended up confiscating it more than she had it because of bad behavior on her part. In the end, it died a sad little electronic death because she dropped it on our concrete driveway one too many times.  Even though it's been quite some time since she's had a phone, there really hasn't been a need for her to have one.  She never goes anywhere by herself, and when she does go on an outing with friends, there's usually an adult or another teen with a phone available.

What she really wants is an Internet-enabled phone so she can surf the web and get on her favorite social media site.

I'm not exactly enthusiastic about letting her on the social media sites, either.  We've caught her several times setting up fake accounts where she lied about her age, and I'm not sure that it's really all that good of an idea.  Given that she did not follow our rules, boundaries and limitations when it came to her old cell phone, I'm not convinced that she'll obey with respect to social media sites, either.

As for dating, I'm not too keen on the idea. Given her impulsive nature, I think allowing her to date solo is a recipe for disaster.  Not only is there the possibility of unplanned pregnancy or an STD, there's also the real possibility for a guy to take emotional advantage of her as well.  Last summer, she carved the name of a boy she was crushing on into her skin, even though she wasn't allowed to date and didn't have a relationship with him outside of school.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that by the following Fall, he'd broken up with her, saying some incredibly cruel things in the process.

I think what Danielle said earlier this week is absolutely true.  She's not going to behave unless she wants to, and that will last only as long as it takes to get what she wants.

1 comment:

  1. I have two kids who are a combination of Danielle in their behaviors. My dd had pretty decent (yet amazingly deceptive) behaviors until she turned 16 and pretty much figured out she couldn't fool us any longer. Then, while she still tried to constantly manipulate, she knew it wasn't working and it made her so crazy that she wasn't getting away with anything that her behaviors went down the crapper. My son started falling apart about 5 yrs ago (he's almost 18 now and they are bio sibs). He is the one who will honestly say, "I don't see any problems with my behaviors so I feel no need to change anything". We go thru the same conversations about how things are working out with that attitude and he admits it doesn't work for him, but he doesn't care. He doesn't pretend to apologize anymore because he doesn't feel it either. He will behave whenever he wants to and that's the bottom line. When he wants something and feels like putting in the effort we can see just what he's actually capable of. It's sad really. Instead of asking for good behaviors, we've just turned it back around on him and our criteria is, "When you're behaving as part of the family "consistently" we will discuss it". They cannot be good when it suits them and think we are going to reward that immediately. Bottom line? Danielle (and my two) have shown consistently that they are not part of the family, don't want to be and have no intention of changing their behaviors for the betterment of all. Everything is self-serving. I didn't let either of mine get cell phones, get FB, or date while they were under 18. They were too immature to do any of these things. I kept thinking, "I wouldn't let my 8 yr old do these things and that's how they act on a good day". As soon as my dd turned 18, she opened a FB, met a guy 10 yrs. older than herself and married him. He's abusive. She was very naive and yet there was no convincing her of anything and she knew it all. Trust your instincts. You know Danielle is too immature for all of these things and you don't owe it to anyone to prove it or "give her the chance to fail". I think with our kids "failing" takes on a whole new meaning. You are still responsible for her until she's 18 and everyone will be pointing at you when she's pregnant or dead and saying you shouldn't have let her do this or that. Cover your butt. At this point, do you really believe she's going to change? She may, but not until life has kicked her in the butt one too many times (probably way more times than the typical kid) and she decides she wants to do it for herself (or, unfortunately, some guy).

    Just my 2 cents. I'm in the trenches here and with age has truly come the wisdom to stop second guessing myself and giving into societies expectations of what is "normal" for our kids to have, to do, to be.


I love to get comments from my readers. Please be aware that comment moderation is on and there may be a delay between the time you post your remarks and the time they appear on the blog.

If you would like your comment read and/or published, sign your name to it and play nice.