Monday, March 07, 2005

fun with ADD

ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, and also for Accidental Death & Dismemberment. This is not mere coincidence.

I can count on my left thumb the times Samantha has done her chores without being reminded. And when I say "reminded", I really mean hounded, nagged, browbeaten, and harangued. What's worked best so far was to threaten to beat her with a rolled up newspaper. You think I'm joking. I’m only sad that my concept of positive parenting doesn't allow me to use that again.

And don't get on me with this "consequences" stuff -- I've tried everything. I have taken away privileges and given rewards like you wouldn't believe. The problem with that is that she has zero ability to think ahead, to evaluate future consequences. She operates strictly on the basis of pleasure vs pain in the next 60 seconds, so it doesn’t matter what the consequences are, or the rewards –, they make no difference (if she can even remember them at all) because they’re not happening right now.

Job charts? Schedule books/calendars? PDA? Tried ‘em all. She absolutely cannot seem to be able to prioritize any time period but the immediate present.

Missing out on a reward doesn’t motivate her to do better next time – it just cements the idea that she is a screw-up who can’t earn any privileges, so why try? When she receives a negative consequence, the message she takes is “I’m a stupid person who deserves bad things because I can’t do what I need to do.”
It’s maddening, and would heartbreaking if it weren’t also so frustrating. The problem is that it’s mixed in with a generous helping of teenage rebellion and rudeness, so it’s a little bit difficult to be patient about it.

And when she messes up, she tries to shift blame onto anyone but herself, to contrive a situation where she bears no responsibility for events. Here are today’s conversations:

CONVERSATION 1 - Samantha calls me to say she’s having trouble getting the monitor to work on the computer:

Me: Sam, did you do your chores?

Samantha: I just need to send an email and finish burning a CD for Ilsa first.

Me: No, you need to do your chores. No Gamecube or computer until chores are done. You know the rule. If I come home and your chores aren’t done, the consequences will be unpleasant from your point of view.

Samantha: That’s not fair, you could come home in five minutes and my chores wouldn’t be done. It takes longer than five minutes to do my chores, you know. [What kind of perverted logic is this? She’s turned my admonition to do her chores into an imaginary secret desire of mine to rush home to catch her out and punish her.]

Me: Okay, let me re-state: if I come home and your chores aren’t done AND YOU’RE ON THE COMPUTER OR GAMECUBE. Understand?

Samantha: Fine, whatever. (Hangs up.)

CONVERSATION 2 – 5pm. I come home to find her in the kitchen baking cookies.

Dad: Hi hon. Didja come down to do the dishes and get sidetracked with some baking?

Samantha: No.

CONVERSATION 3 - 9pm. I find that the dishes still haven’t been done, and Sam is playing Gamecube.
Dad: Hi, hon (attempts to kiss back of Samantha’s head).

Samantha (contorting her body out of the way): DON’T!!

Dad: Okay, well, I love you. And because you’re playing Gamecube, and the dishes still aren’t done, your Gamecube and computer time is over for today and tomorrow as well. Do you understand?

Samantha: Mom said I could get on the Gamecube.

Dad: I don’t care what Mom said, you knew you had to do your chores. You had no business going to Mom to ask if you could get on the Gamecube.

Samantha: So what am I supposed to listen to? If Mom says one thing and you say another, am I supposed to just ignore whatever Mom says?

This kind of crap – trying to shape events so that she appears to be a helpless pawn – absolutely drives me up the wall. I launch into a furious two minute rant here, during which Samantha starts to walk away (twice). It ends with me telling her to stop talking and get her butt downstairs and do the dishes.

I ask Hannah if she indeed told Sam she could use the Gamecube. Hannah says she said nothing remotely like that. I go downstairs to confront Sam about the lying. The dishes are about 5% done. Sam is sitting in a chair reading a magazine. I tear it in half and throw it away, give her another two-minute lecture about lying, and leave.

I have become an angry, frustrated, lousy dad, and my daughter is a lazy twit who refuses to take responsibility for herself and relies on
a) other people, and
b) lying
to get out of work.

Anyone want a slightly used 14-yr-old? Needs work. Best offer.


At Mon Mar 07, 11:59:00 PM PST, Blogger mamacita said...

Dear Bryan,
There is a wonderful book called "The Five Love Languages of Teenagers" by Gary Chapman. I recommend that you and Hannah both read it for help with Samantha.

At Tue Mar 08, 07:25:00 AM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

You sure you don't have my 12 year old son there? She sounds a lot like my little Lane 1! I have no sound advice, you've tried all the things I have tried. (assuming you have offered big rewards for when she doesn't have to be retold to do her chores) But I can wish you luck and patience.
Lois Lane

At Tue Mar 08, 08:27:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik said...

i guess i'm just going to have to trust you people when you say it's all worth it. or maybe you don't say that, who knows.

now the trick is to find someone to impregnate. i mean, on purpose.

At Tue Mar 08, 08:54:00 AM PST, Blogger Always Smiling said...

You can have my 12 year old son with Lois's...same deal with boys. Same exact rants and frustrations.

I have two things that get me past..

the first was something a friend shared about raising his boys (who at the time drove him nuts and now are honor students in college ha!)..he would find his "happy place" and chant internally..."this too shall pass..." until he was calm. He warned though sometimes he had to chant for days! :-)

The second thing that gets me through is remembering my parents had the same struggles with brothers and my sister. I think we were all your daughter at one time!

Hang in there!

At Tue Mar 08, 01:41:00 PM PST, Blogger gemmak said...

What hard work and how frustrating. I have a niece with ADD, among other things, and I see some of this in her. She is a little younger than your daughter but I can imagine things are going to get more 'trying' as the years progress with her.

She is a delightful child tho too as I am sure you daughter is....good luck in your endeavours :o)


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