Merriam Webster says that manipulation is “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”
My 12 year old son loves to manipulate me. My husband is very aware of this, but I have not been a believer until yesterday. I think that my mom saying that my son was manipulating me is what turned me into a full believer. I was describing our horrible Tuesday morning when she observed that he was likely manipulating me.
- 12 yr old usually gets woken up by me at 6:20ish AM, but I needed to get him up at 6 AM. A mere 20 minutes early. Son whines and had several prompts to get busy doing his morning routine. After it took 20 minutes to traverse from his bedroom to the kitchen to feed the cats, I lost it when he said, “I can’t.” So I let him know that he lost his electronics for the day. There were raised voices on both sides, him accusing me of hating him, him claiming that he was about to feed the cats, him wondering why he lost his electronics, and me telling him to just get dressed. I really try not to raise my voice, but this kid is trying my patience lately.
- We were finally able to make it into the car, where he proceeded to whine about having to go to a “program” for the summer. Then he tells me more about the kid who is picking on him and telling him that he might as well just kill himself. He’s in full meltdown mode now and wonders why I don’t care enough to help him. But I think that in his mind, that help is in the form of me turning the car around and letting him play on his computer all day. In my mind, I am helping him by taking him to his psychologist so that he can learn how to cope with life’s disappointments (like bullies and dealing with consequences grownups give him due to his behavior). In a recent therapy session he indicated that he wouldn’t mind dying, but that he didn’t want to hurt himself. I DO NOT want to be the parent that people talk about and say, “Well, why didn’t his mother help him? Why didn’t she see that things were getting so bad and admit him to a hospital?” Etc. etc. etc. So I contacted hubby to get his opinion. I was nearly ready to take this kid to the hospital and admit him (took him once before but they did not admit him).
- Ultimately, I think that hubby made a really good call and urged me to take son to his program, tell the facilitator the name of the boy who has been bullying him, and request that the bully’s parents be notified. The facilitators counciled the bully and plan to keep the two boys separated.
Back to manipulation. I need to learn more about this, so as to be better prepared to defend against this evil tactic. WebMD has an article regarding teens manipulating their parents. I do believe I was victim of #2. Lying (his telling me that the kids were no longer picking on him), #3. Retaliation (he does NOT like to have his electronics taken away and retaliated by playing the innocent victim), 4. Emotional blackmail (we are ruining his life by limiting electronics time and making him go to his summer program, and why would I send him to a place where the people hurt him and EVERYONE hates him).
Tuesday evening my son sincerely apologized for his behavior from the morning. He said that most of what he said was true, that he was being picked on and that a kid did tell him he should kill himself, but that he exaggerated because he was mad about needing to get up early and then losing his electronics.
Now that I recognize that he is manipulative and have a confession of sorts from him, I hope that I will be better able to cut him off at the pass when he tries this with me again.