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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

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Not sure how to fully bond with my son (I am to blame).

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Sorry if this is the wrong place but I would really like some advice.


My eldest child is 9 years old and I love him immensely, but I can't quite seem to bond properly with him so am looking for some help.


The problem may be down to the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy with him, and his early life. I found myself in a very abusive relationship aged just 17 and fell pregnant fairly quickly. At 6 months pregnant, I called the police and they took my boyfriend away. I then spend the next 6 months waiting for the court case to go to trial (he plead guilty, got 5 years in jail, has never had any contact with my son and my son has had a very loving and fantastic daddy since he turned one year old).

It was incredibly stressful attempting to get past what had happened to me, go through the end months of my pregnancy and give birth alone while also having the impending court case hanging over me. My son was 3 months old when it was all over but it took many years for me to feel normal and functional again. With my mental state being the way it was and with my son being such a quiet baby (he rarely cried, slept through the night by 3 months old, never seemed to want my attention or kisses and cuddles) I barely have any memories of our life together then. Although I loved him, I didn't bond with him at all. In my mind that might be because I was so preoccupied with everything else in my life, and as my son was so content in his own company, I pretty much left him alone. At the time it was a blessing to be able to recover relatively peacefully, but it has turned into a curse in the sense that I lost that precious bonding time with my child (years of it).


Now he is 9. We do have a bond of sorts but it is a strange bond borne simply of protection over him I think (It's certainly not the same bond as I have with my younger two children, to my shame) and I struggle to feel comfortable with him.


So I said it: I feel uncomfortable around him/being too close to him. He leans on me and suddenly grabs at me and I hate it. I want to swat him away (I don't but I definitely tense up and he must be able to feel it). I'm not sure why I do this but it is not because of what my ex did to me-that has absolutely nothing to do with it at all-just that my son seems to think my body is his own. He hasn't been allowed to see me in underwear or naked for years as he used to spy on me and peek through doorways to get a glimpse. He has made me uncomfortable since he could walk and talk.


The fact is that I don't really know this little dude sitting next to me-he is my firstborn and I barely know a thing about him! There seems to be no substance to him. I cannot grasp him. With my other children I can come up with lots of characteristics to describe them as people, who they are, what defines them, but with my eldest I struggle to put him into words. How to describe him? He is very intelligent but very immature. He is loyal but untrustworthy. He is loving but cruel. He is happy but neutral. He is amazing but atrocious. He is reliable but kaleidoscopic. I can define him with opposites and contradictions, which isn't really defining him at all. I want to know him but aren't sure how.


His behaviour doesn't help the situation as he is constantly pushing the limits and breaking the rules (constantly as in about once per hour) and has done from the moment he could. He causes me no end of stress and I think I kind of hold a permanent grudge against him for his naughtiness. Which may be the cause of his behavioural problems-he struggles to feel my love and affection so tries to get attention any way he can.


I try my best, he has the same rules as his siblings and I treat him fairly but there is just something getting in the way of me bonding with him. I can't put my finger on it so am hoping someone here may have some suggestion. I want to fix this. I love him but I also want to like him and I can't right now-he comes across (to me) as creepy and manipulative (and, yes, I feel thoroughly ashamed to say that). I sometimes worry that when he is older he may harm me (he gets this look on his face-I don't know).


I fully realise he is just being himself and I need to change my perspective-this is completely up to me, 100%. Perhaps some understanding on his behaviours would be helpful? If I understand more, I will hopefully know how to deal with him, and be more adaptable to changing my own behaviour. He absolutely doesn't deserve for me to tense up every time we hug, or have me push him away when he leans on me.


What is wrong with me? I just want to be a better mum to him to him; he deserves that. How do we bond? What do I need to do?

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You don't mention the relevance to autism - whether you think you, your son, or both are autistic. Looking back at your previous posts I can see that this is probably your son who had an aspergers diagnosis. In light of that, some of the descriptions in your post (on the theme of not bonding with him) aren't surprising to read.


In your topic subject you include the phrase "I am to blame", as if this is a fact. You are not to blame for autism, although it is common for parents to wonder whether they have caused difficulties and conditions experienced by their children. And you are not to blame for experiencing a difficult (abusive?) relationship. You were courageous in calling the police and going through with the court case. This action has probably led to a better life for your child than if you had endured the relationship.


Have you ever had support to deal emotionally with both your past relationship and your son's diagnosis? As a reader, gaining support (e.g. counselling) appears to be a more constructive thing to pursue rather than wracking your brain for clues about whether you are to blame.


You have also posted in the early hours of the morning, so if these worries are stopping you from sleeping or affecting you in other aspects of life, you could speak to your GP.


All the best.

Edited by gmboy

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I totally understand your feelings. I have 3 children on the autistic spectrum and my bond with each of them is different. My oldest is 20 and he's the sweetest boy but he wasn't always like this he had severe behaviour problems and was very destructive. We now have fun together but have very little in common and conversation can be difficult, this makes me feel guilty. Piers is 12 ASD/ADHD he is funny and loving but also loud and aggressive, he's almost constantly angry. He tends to be very rough and I have fibromyalgia which causes me muscle and joint pain and chronic fatigue. His hugs hurt so I too stiffen up when anyone touches me but especially him as he's so rough. Lydia I have lots in common with as we both dance and love music and fashion. We tend to do a lot together due to dancing and I feel guilty as I don't spend so much time with the boys. I think being a parent is extremely difficult especially to a child with additional needs and I think you are being a little hard on yourself. I don't know how easy it would be if my children didn't have ASD because it's all I've ever known but at times life is rough. I rarely get enough sleep, I work full time and have health problems. We just have to do our best with what we have. Get support and help wherever you can and be kind to yourself your doing great.

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