Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Avoiding responsibility

An awesome psychologist who has extensive experience with abusive people listed the four ways in which abusers avoid taking responsibility for their actions. These same excuses are also used by teens, and in light of my previous post, I list them here:

1. Denial (I didn't do it)
2. Distortion (it didn't happen that way)
3. Minimalization (it wasn't as bad as that)
4. Blame others (she made me angry, I'm stressed because of my teachers)

I also think of this list when accused sexual predators speak out in the media. I automatically find the corresponding item on this list (what you saw when you walked into the bathroom wasn't what you think you saw [item 2], I was just playing around with this really young boy [item 3]). I find that things become much more transparent this way.

Looking back at the years of subtle and not-so-subtle abuse I suffered from F1's father, I can place his reaction under one of those four excuses. Number three was the most common in court. "It wasn't as bad as she says it was, I just touched her on the cheek, I didn't bite her." "It was just a gentle nudge, not a kick." "It really wasn't such a big deal, she's exaggerating." I've also heard number four in some variety or the other "Judge, this is part of our culture, men in our country are the head of the household and need to take control to guide their family. If I didn't I wouldn't love my family." That one in particular, made me want to puke. BS if there ever was. Beating up on your family is a fabulous way to show them how much you care . Or how about: "She made me angry. If I wasn't so angry, I would never have touched her."

Over the years I have received several pleas to "just get along as friends." I've always responded that there can never be any form of reconciliation if he doesn't take responsibility for his actions. I've once received an email stating "I'm sorry for whatever it is you think I've done to you." Sorry, doesn't cut it.  Taking responsibility means something like: "I realize now that I have a habit of wanting to control everything you do or say, and that I do this by physical coercion among other methods. I now know this is wrong, and I'm taking steps to prevent this from occurring again." Not that such a statement would be enough, but it might be a start. However, from every communication I've gotten so far, he still doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong.

I have a list of these excuses on the fridge, and every time F1 uses one of them, I point it out to him. I know he despises me psychoanalyzing him. The point I'm trying to make, however, is the following:
I've heard it all before, you're excuses are so predictable, so transparent. Take responsibility for your actions. If you don't, you can not make better choices.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Parenting challenges

Today I'm a little down, so I return to this blog to find comfort, if nothing else. Blogging has never failed me yet. Parenting a teenager. Who'd have thought it would be so challenging? Certainly not me. I wasn't exactly a model kid growing up, I didn't expect it to be easy. But I have to say, I cannot relate to my 15-year old. He lives in a world I'm unfamiliar with, and is subjected to peer pressure I can't even begin to imagine. I suppose that I never was exposed to the kind of temptations he looks in the eye on a daily basis, and therefore I never had to make the kind of choices I'm asking him to make today.

Somehow I always thought that if I modeled good choices, good choices would follow. Sadly, that's not the case. It appears that F1 is determined to break as many rules as humanly possible, and if he gets grounded as a result, he escapes the house, to break them again, just for good measure. His less then stellar behavior has resulted in him not making the basketball team this year. Basketball is the only thing he's ever cared enough to make sacrifices for. No basketball... major mayhem.

I get it. He's one angry little boy somewhere inside. He's mad I divorced his father, he was too small at the time of separation to remember the physical and emotional abuse. I suppose his lack of memories is one thing to be thankful for, but it comes at a high price. Almost 3 years ago his father announced he was leaving the country, and F1 feels abandoned. As well he should. Be all accounts he was abandoned by that parent. It's an explanation for the way his downward spiral has escalated, but it's not an excuse.

He has a mother who loves him more than words can express, and who feels that nothing she does makes a difference. He has a step-father whose financed all the legal battles, and sacrificed his career for us to be together as a family.

I have driven him to school, sports activities, dance class, birthday parties, you name it. I've volunteered at school, at the concession stand for basketball games. I've read him stories, taken him out to dinner, and for mom-and-son ice-cream, I helped him with online math class because he failed the in-class version. And don't even get me started about the fact that I seem to inspire numerous students in the lab, I infect them with the science bug, while F1 is the king of mediocrity. "What's wrong with a D mom?" And science? "I don't care about science!" I even tried the sexist route! Me! Makita! I told him that back in my country, in my time, he would have been expected to do well in math, after all, he's a boy! "Mom, this is the 21st century. We don't care about that stuff now."

I have tried to let him set his own goals, he failed. I have tried to set higher goals, he failed miserably. I have tried to little manageable goals, no go. I have tried talking, having other parents talk to him, therapy ($125 dollars per visit, twice a month, for 11 years). I have tried hugs, and talks, yelling, and encouragement.

I know that I'm just doing what a parent is supposed to do. I don't expect him to fall on his knees and thank me, thank us. Simply staying within the boundaries of the law, an occasional chore around the house, and possible a halfway decent GPA will do, thank you very much.

Makita is running out of ideas. Makita is tired.