View Full Version : I may have killed relationship because I tried to help with her son's ADHD. Urgent.

04-20-16, 08:10 AM
I apologise in advance for the length and detail, but it's a complex situation and I wanted to get it all across and get some advice before his mother and I have what I think will be a "make or break" meeting tonight.

I've spent the whole morning thinking about, and writing, this. And a good while more wondering if it's in the right subforum, so if I moderator feels it's better suited elsewhere, please feel free to move it.

04-20-16, 02:32 PM

I have to be brief because I only have around 5 minutes before I'm supposed to be working again.

A couple of points leap out at me from your tale of woe:

1) Mom is clearly struggling with both her own stuff (relationships, infant, etc) as well as dealing with a challenging kiddo.

2) Parents of ADHD kids have heard *everything*. She's probably getting pressure from all sides about trying X diet or Y intervention to help her son. It's overwhelming, especially when the proffered advice comes with a side of invalidation or doubt as to the veracity of the diagnosis. It absolutely doesn't mean that that was your intention, but clearly that's how it was perceived by her.

Maybe the only thing he will eat is Wheatabix, and she doesn't have the time to wrestle anything else into him. Whatever it was, try to come at things from a position of compassion rather than judgment (I know it wasn't your intention to judge)

3) Imagine it had been your kiddo who had gone out of control, how would you feel if someone offered dietary advice soon after the incident? Might not have been the best time to bring it up, regardless of intent.

I would go into the conversation honestly. Start with an apology, say that you really didn't want to pressure her into anything, that you were just trying to help. Then just offer advice when asked. She's not ready to hear what you wanted to say, and she may never be. If you think that your son is in danger, that's a different conversation all together.

Also, just because he's out of control now, doesn't mean he always will be. He's much more like your son maturity wise than he is like an average 7yo.

04-20-16, 02:36 PM
Again, apologies if my tonewas brusque. That wasn't my intent, but I rushed. :(

04-20-16, 03:23 PM
I agree very much with tyger she gave excellent feedback.

I'd also like to mention if you two are living together (you don't say) it's too soon.

You do make some valid pointa his toiley problems certainly are worth looking into but the whole gut/brain thing is pretty much snakeoil at least as it has been presented ao far.

So far, after tons of studies no diet has been shown to have any meaningful effect. Food dyes are another matter.

I can truly get not wanting to hear another "horse wisdom" or "theory" about adhd. Respect her treatmwnt choices.

However, yoir concerns for your son, your life are real. This is a volatile child. Things may get better and they may not. You can't walk on eggshells over your concern about how her family may affect yours. That'a what you need to ask yourself about.

As far as I can see, this discussion tonight is not how you can help her family. You may not be able to, things may not change. What can you live with for your son and yourself.

I don't envy you the decisions you need to make. Take care of yourself and know you've come from a good place.

04-20-16, 03:31 PM
A couple of weeks back I'd taken HS & MS to the park. All had gone well for a good half hour, I'd turned my back for 30 seconds to help my son, when I heard a shout - HS had gone up and bashed a smaller boy with a stick. The other boy's parents were both there with their toddler, too.
Within seconds, HS was screaming that this other boy's mother was "fat and ugly" for telling him off; I had to physically restrain HS. He slipped his jacket at one point and the speed with which he was running to the mother, it was quite clear he'd have assaulted her had he reached her.
The dad obviously thought that I was "the other dad", and I nearly got myself pummelled.

My own 5 year old son was incredibly upset and frightened by it.

The anger on HS's face is genuinely frightening; it contorts with a rage which only ends when something has been smashed, snapped or broken.

Although I wasn't there, yesterday he threw a large and heavy stairgate down the stairs at his mum because she asked him to get ready for school. She dodged it, but her 8 month old son was in the house.

I think when it comes to the safety of the child and others that outbursts like these need to be addressed in a big way and by that I mean his doctor and possibly a therapist. Something is wrong and he is not able to express it. I can see why you and you son were upset.
Re: Diet and such-
I know its tempting to look for a physical cause and its important to get things checked out. His gassy situation and bathroom time does seem excessive so I dont see anything wrong about getting him checked by a GI doctor. However once you try and link the physical symptoms to the symptoms of adhd, I think you may be reaching a bit and I get why. You want to help her and her son, and keep the peace, and make everyone safe but its very unlikely that IBS is causing his issues. Not that he doesnt have it, just that it might not have anything to do with adhd.
The part about sugar being bad for kids with adhd is just internet stuff, sugar has no more an effect on a kid with adhd than a healthy kid. Overall all the dyes, additives and sugar stuff is best avoided in general because its bad for your body but I dont think it would trigger adhd.

She said no, but it was like I'd pushed a nuclear button; the conversation went like this:

Her: "He we go - another 'expert' who doesn't understand anything about ADHD".
Me: "Sorry, I was just trying to be..."
Her: "Is this going to be a problem?" (her voiced had changed now in a way I'd never heard before).
Me: "No, but, er... ".
Her: "Well, it sounds like it IS a problem, so you know what? Let's just forget about the whole thing. Goodbye".
...and hung up!

Some of that is her stuff. 2 failed relationships with partners who didnt try to work with her son's disorder, fear that shes doing a bad job, feeling like a failure- these are all things that she feels everyday whether its from other people or from her own self esteem. So I can understand why she would be upset.
What I cant understand is her tolerance for violence. There are many kids with adhd that can learn better coping skills. You can read my sticky in children's diagnosis- my son was a very skilled, active and risk taking boy. We had a lot to work on from a medication/school intervention/behavior stand point.
And its fair to worry about your son and her infant. The child isnt being safe and has no obvious fears when he is upset. It should be looked at.

After that phone conversation, I left it, but she made a point of posting things on facebook along the lines of "kids with ADHD don't want to be fixed, they just need to be understood [or accepted]".

Ignore this, people often use facebook to be passive-aggressive.

When HS hits a rage, it doesn't matter how big or small someone is.
He's hit, thrown a cup or water over, scratched and torn the t-shirt of my son. Within the last week he's smashed a toy robot because it stopped working, gone into a screaming shouting rage at a stick in the park in front of a family, poured permanent purple paint over a new patio, and thrown a heavy stairgate at his mum.

Again, it can be related to adhd but the when the behaviors involve physical violence its something that cant be ignored.

She says HS doesn't realise what he's doing at the time. HS is 7, MS is 5. What frightens me and keeps me awake at night sometimes is the worry that, when HS gets older, what if this bigger, older boy is near the knife drawer and my little son does something that sparks him off? Is that not a valid concern? I want to "understand", but I'm not going to passively sit back while my son gets bashed or put in danger.

Very fair worry. And if she does nothing about her son, can you stay in a relationship with her?

When it's just me and her, or even our families, things have been fine. She was totally "into" me, family and friends have said how she seems happiest for years, and she's a funny, intelligent, attractive and sensual woman. But now I've seen this side of her, which changed from someone I thought I've known for over 4 years, to this other personality. I'm wondering if I can cope with that as well. It's not that it was a one-off, it's the way it happened.

Assuming I'm not just getting invited over to be told "thanks but no thanks", should I actually be concerned? Should very loud "run away!" alarm bells be ringing? Have I been unreasonable?

Frankness, honesty & guidance would be appreciated given that I'm going to have to be having "the conversation" in about 7 hours now.

Thank you all for your time and reading this.

maybe not alarm bells but hitting the pause button would be a good idea. She may not want to change anything and perfectly happy dealing with her son the way she always has. You cant agree to stay with her if you cant live with that. She could be overwhelmed and afraid that you two will make things official and then you will be out the door like her last relationships. Her son could be jealous of you and be reacting to that. He could be afraid of being abandoned. A lot of things to think about. Ultimately I believe he needs to see his doctor and receive therapy because something isnt right and he just cant say what that something is.

Hope this isnt too late.

04-20-16, 04:06 PM
Let me take a perhaps a slightly different view on this:

You are not a doctor (right?), so unless you are and I missed that somewhere, you are not qualified to diagnose her son or anyone else with a disease either physical or mental. The best you can do is suggest strongly that she take the child to get proper treatment from a real psychiatrist. If she doesn't, and the child is just too much for you, I'm afraid you might just have to cut off the relationship.

If you think the child is so out of control he is a real danger to himself or others, you may need to call child protective services or whatever its equivalent is in your country.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I think that is the cold hard reality you're unfortunately facing.

04-20-16, 07:23 PM
Thanks EVERYONE for your replies. Just to tie up a couple of loose ends...

I'd also like to mention if you two are living together (you don't say) it's too soon.
No, not living together.
I can truly get not wanting to hear another "horse wisdom" or "theory" about adhd. Respect her treatment choices.
I totally understand that. However, the place I was coming from, and the quotes I gave, were from "proper" sites. It's not like I rocked up with a vial of homeopathic quackery and said "here; this and some crystal healing will fix everything!".
I don't envy you the decisions you need to make. Take care of yourself and know you've come from a good place.

Again, thanks for everyone's input.

There's a term in software development called "rubber-ducking" - "To describe your problems to a rubber-duck or other inanimate object; the act of describing your problem (as to a mailing list, friend, or a rubber duck on top of your monitor) often leads to finding the solution just a few moments later".

The act of typing the whole thing out in the cold clarity of text and the replies did indeed help me to come to my decision, and everyone's replies are appreciated.

In case, at some future point, the other person mentioned starts using forums, see this posts and recognises the situation, I don't want there to be any hurt. So I've asked the mods to remove (or edit) the first post.

Thanks everyone for your time. I've learnt a lot here. In fact, while I was browsing around and reading other threads, I learnt a few things that might explain previous relationships. ADHD is a broad church indeed.

You never know, I might post again about that different thing, but meantime, thanks again everyone.

04-20-16, 08:19 PM
I'm sorry if I implied that you were not doing your best to be fair with the information you had. Some of these sites do their beat to look "proper" but are far from it. I don't have any blame for you. Again, my apologies.

05-04-16, 08:27 PM
He's not your child. She is solely responsible for him. Trying to "help him" was definitely crossing the line. Her children are her business.

It's complicated when dating someone who has kids. If you get serious, it's best to take a "hands off" approach to the SO's kids. I wouldn't even attempt to discipline an SO's child, let alone suggest they get psychiatric treatment!

I understand how the chaos of her personal life affects your relationship with her. But unless she's willing to address that chaos, it doesn't sound like the relationship is worth pursuing any further.

05-05-16, 09:29 AM
It's tough being the boyfriend or girlfriend of someone who has a child, even under the best of circumstances. You're not the parent, and yet you're put in a position where you need to develop a relationship with the child and introduce some sorts of boundaries. Difficult to do if you have no authority.

The important distinction, I feel, is that it's your role as the boyfriend to support HER, and it's her job to support HIM. If she needs/wants your help with him, that's up to her.

That being said, it's your choice what sort of environment you're willing to live in. If the son's behaviour makes the environment difficult for you to cope with, it's fair to say that to her, and ask what steps she's willing to take to address your concerns.

Also, before offering solutions, listen to what she's already tried. Also take time to get to know her son and their relationship. Remember what it was like when people launched into suggestions for a problem you had in a way that made it clear they had no idea what you were dealing with, or had even ignored what your experiences have been.

In the end, even if you marry this person down the line, it's highly unlikely you'll have the same authority over her son as you do, just like she wouldn't have the same authority over your son as you do. Instead, you can support her, and you can make it clear what you are and are not willing to live with in the short term and long term. After all, if the situation affects your mental health, how much good will you be to them?

If she makes decisions you can't live with, you need to respect your needs and remove yourself from the situation. If you see things you consider to be harmful to her child, then that raises different ethical questions.