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bethben

Adopted parents - I have a question

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Is your adopted child a lot younger emotionally than their age?  We have a 11 year old girl adopted at 2 1/2 years old.  It seems that she started her emotional development when we adopted her.   She is dealing with a lot of social school issues right now.  I keep trying to help her navigate these situations better and she just doesn't seem to get it.  My husband can give her a lot more grace because he considers her to be an emotional nine year old and her responses are more in line with that age.  She does play better with children two years or more younger than herself.  And no, I can't and won't homeschool her.  I've completely burnt out on homeschooling and the wide range of needs each of my children have (two kids with special needs - one minor - one severe - my dd who is emotionally intense).  I just need to focus on raising these children to adulthood and can't go beyond that.  

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Yes, that seems about right. All five of my children are adopted, different ages and different circumstances. They all have their own struggles and emotional make-ups. One of my children is very immature. I think your husband is on the right track.

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For my one adopted DD (adopted at age 2.5 from foster care) no, not at all. She's always been very mature and advanced and is PG. For my oldest son (adopted at age 10 from foster care) definitely yes. He functions at perhaps an 8 year old level and is now 18. His IQ is 65, he has severe mental illnesses and he will need lifelong care.

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Our youngest who was adopted at 2 1/2 has also been younger than his age. We have often wondered if we were lied to about his age. It would make so much sense. Physically, emotionally, developmentally... everything has been late. He even got his teeth late. He has always been extremely physically active, always moving but not much of a talker and not very emotional. When he was little and he did cry we knew it was a big deal. He’s 13 now and only recently has become more aware of his surroundings. It’s like the world is finally opening up to him and it’s exciting to see. He has always been behind grade level in school and school has been difficult for him. Now, he’s finally getting it.

I have a mix of adopted and bio kids. There is definitely a different challenge with my adopted kids but totally worth it.

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Our youngest was adopted/came hom at almost 2 years old.  I don't want to say too much, but she was adopted from another country, and while they did the very best they could she simply did not get the stimulation, help, food, and attention that she needed.  She very much, in every way, was more like an infant.  In some ways I was grateful for this because it was easier on her heart at the time.....being ripped from all she knew and taken by strange people to a strange country with a strange language.  It did make her transition much easier on her.   Overall she did catch up quite quickly.  Taking her first step a week after she came home.  Babbling and talking started soon too.  As it turns out she has a congenital brain injury and some of that (I don't believe much though, at all, neither does her neurologist) of her delays are probably due to that.  She is very high functioning ASD, which also impacts her.  She spent many many many years in OT, PT, ST.  She has made giant strides forward and truly has made remarkable progress.  If you have read the thread I started a couple days ago you will see that she still has a ways to go.  It does seem to be several steps forward and then a couple back....but still moving forward.  I am so darn proud of her.  Very very proud.

Edit: to answer your question simply....yes.  she still does seem to be about 1-2 years younger than her age.

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Hmmm, maybe.  My adopted child was 15 months old, and she is probably a year less mature in many ways than her age peers.  On the other hand, she is massively more responsible than those same age peers and bosses them around like she is their mom.  I read something eons ago about girls who lose their moms and how it can stunt their emotional maturity, essentially freezing it at the age at which their mom died.  I remember it because my mom lost both of her parents young, and it rang true for me.  Anyway, perhaps not having parents and then getting them does the opposite, essentially jump-starting emotional maturity.

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Yes.  Our DD was adopted at 13. It is an interesting dynamic - she far surpasses her peers in life experience, but lags significantly behind emotionally.  She does have special needs, but is very cognizant that she isn't doing what her typical peers are doing.  She is relaxed and enjoys playing with kids who are Tweens, but wants to fit in with seniors in high school.

We have to remind ourselves that in many ways she is emotionally about 12 even though she wants to be 20 and has seen things that most 50 year old haven't seen.  It can be extremely difficult to navigate.

 

 

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I probably shouldn't jump in as I haven't adopted, but I have read in a few places that ADHD can leave a child about 30% behind their actual age when it comes to maturity. Not sure if that fits your daughter. And that trauma and ADHD can be hard to distinguish between. 

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Agreeing with everyone above, esp for those adopted past infancy, many need extra time to mature.  

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In our required parenting classes during the adoption process we were told to expect a child to be behind emotionally from arrival and that they could continue to be behind for most of their childhoods and young adulthood. 

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Not for us.  We got an exceptional kid.  I really can't explain it.  He has been above his years socially and emotionally since the day we adopted him (2.5 years old and already speaking in complete sentences....not English, but he was a talker!)  Those who did speak his language were shocked at how much he knew.  Once I dropped him off at the daycare at church and there was a teen there who could speak to him.  She told me they "read" a book together.  He saw a picture of a camera and proceeded to explain to her how a camera worked and how you get the pictures, etc.......at age 2.5.  I know he wasn't 3 because by 3 he was speaking English.

But my oldest (and biological) is behind, so I do have one!

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This is EXTREMELY common in children adopted from foster care. Even if there are no other signs of attachment issues, it seems as if kids need stability in order to mature emotionally.  It's so common I'd go so far as to call it normal, even if it's not typical for kids who haven't been in that situation. Sometimes therapy can help, or at least help them be more introspective about their emotions.  Other times I think it simply takes time.

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Yes. My twins came to me at age 3 1/2. They were functioning in all areas at around  12 months.  They have made lots of progress, but they don't catch up. Now we are having the situation where even though they are continuing to progress children of their age are progressing at a much faster rate. The gap is starting to grow again. Both have had significant trauma, which affects brain development. Both had extreme neglect in the vital first 12 months. At the moment they both have intellectual disabilities - though it is just about impossible to tell the difference from brain development damage from trauma and ID.

both are incredably cute

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1 hour ago, DawnM said:

Not for us.  We got an exceptional kid.  I really can't explain it.  He has been above his years socially and emotionally since the day we adopted him (2.5 years old and already speaking in complete sentences....not English, but he was a talker!)  Those who did speak his language were shocked at how much he knew.  

This is our experience as well. Our girl came to us when she was four.  

In our pre-adoption classes, we were told that many times an issue is a kid issue, not an adoption issue. That wasn’t to say adoption doesn’t come with issues, but to remind us not to close our minds to exploring other possibilities just to make sure we weren’t missing something. 

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Your husband has a good perspective.  My dd's emotional and psychological maturity is also delayed; subtract her age at arrival, and, for the most part, you'd be right on target.  It has been very important for me to remember that because it doesn't "go away," even as she's gotten older.

I know other non-attachment disrupted (or whatever causes it) children who were delayed in this area but they would go through emotional "growth spurts" and seemed to almost catch up. Not mine! But she's a wonderful little/big girl with a heart of gold...

Homeschooling might ease your daughter's psych./emotional load but you're smart to know your limits. You are just as important as she is!

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3 hours ago, flyingaway said:

This is our experience as well. Our girl came to us when she was four.  

In our pre-adoption classes, we were told that many times an issue is a kid issue, not an adoption issue. That wasn’t to say adoption doesn’t come with issues, but to remind us not to close our minds to exploring other possibilities just to make sure we weren’t missing something. 

I would agree with that. So many times people want to place the blame on adoption, but that’s not always the problem. And A lot of non-adopted people have issues, too. We just work with our kids and try to figure out how best to love them and meet their needs, we don’t spend a lot of time trying to pinpoint causes. 

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I too was taught to expect a lower emotional age and to parent as if our kids were younger.

It isn't really on point with either of my kids, I don't think.  Each of them has some social / emotional areas where they are at or above age expectation, but a few areas where they are a little slow or insecure.  The areas where we struggle most aren't explained by a mere delay.

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Well, some of mine have FASD.  Generally, the rule with that is to subtract 4-5 years.  Pretty sure one of mine needs more than that subtracted.  But one doesn't need even half of that subtracted.  Different degrees of the issue as well as just being different kids.  

Generally, ideally, I think, we need to treat our kids as individuals and meet them where they are.  That is *much* easier said than done at times.  

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I was just talking to a friend the other day, with 5 adopted children. She mentioned that yes, they are all immature for their ages, and all but one, smaller than their bio parents's height would predict. The one that isn't smaller had a much more stable life, and they got him much earlier. There have been a number of studies showing that traumatized children will have smaller brains, so it makes sens. 

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On 5/12/2018 at 7:40 AM, bethben said:

Is your adopted child a lot younger emotionally than their age? 

 

No, she's actually mature for her age and is well-liked by kids and adults alike, despite being naturally shy and preferring small groups.  She was adopted from a chaotic situation at 5 mo old.  I think being the oldest child contributes to her maturity and leadership.  She definitely has stuff she's working through, but socially and maturity-wise she's fine. 

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We adopted our two sons from Russia when they were 14 and 15.5 months old.  They were behind in growth/size and the older one was not walking and had a few other delays.  Both of them caught up very quickly and have been on track ever since.  Within a few months of being home, you would never have known they were not typical biological kids.  They will be 13 this fall and going into 7th grade:).  Time sure does go by fast.

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I'm back asking further questions about this issue.  Life has gotten very difficult around here.  She has decided that she wants to rule her own life and will make anyone who stands in her way miserable (she's still 11).  I feel like we have regressed to the point when we adopted her and she was having obvious reactive attachment problems.  I'm done in so many ways and my dh says to not give up hope that things will get better.  My dh went as far as to tell me not to say much to her today because she is yelling at me in anger much of the time to much of what I do say to her.  I'm not quite sure what to do.  Honestly, the thought of therapy for her and our family distresses me because they will want me to "try" and help her.  I don't feel much like trying.  I've been trying for nine years and I'm wiped out.  I feel very sucked dry by this child and if anyone suggests I try more, I'll bite their head off.  Right now, our plan is to get her doing something away from us as much as we can find ways to do it.  She's starting school in 10 days and I can have a bit of a break for at least the 7 hours she's in school.  It's gotten to the point that if we need to pay for after school care just so she can have more to do away from us until we can recover a bit, we will do so.  It's probably not a good solution but everyone in the family is steering clear of her right now.

Edited by bethben
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15 minutes ago, bethben said:

I'm back asking further questions about this issue.  Life has gotten very difficult around here.  She has decided that she wants to rule her own life and will make anyone who stands in her way miserable (she's still 11).  I feel like we have regressed to the point when we adopted her and she was having obvious reactive attachment problems.  I'm done in so many ways and my dh says to not give up hope that things will get better.  My dh went as far as to tell me not to say much to her today because she is yelling at me in anger much of the time to much of what I do say to her.  I'm not quite sure what to do.  Honestly, the thought of therapy for her and our family distresses me because they will want me to "try" and help her.  I don't feel much like trying.  I've been trying for nine years and I'm wiped out.  I feel very sucked dry by this child and if anyone suggests I try more, I'll bite their head off.  Right now, our plan is to get her doing something away from us as much as we can find ways to do it.  She's starting school in 10 days and I can have a bit of a break for at least the 7 hours she's in school.  It's gotten to the point that if we need to pay for after school care just so she can have more to do away from us until we can recover a bit, we will do so.  It's probably not a good solution but everyone in the family is steering clear of her right now.

 

I'm sorry.  I agree with your DH. You need to disengage as much as you need to in order to calm down and not let her trigger you.

If it's any consolation, many girls without RAD symptoms in their past are awful to live with at 11. Hormones exacerbate the feelings she doesn't want to deal with, so she's trying to control EVERYTHING.

Perhaps before or instead of getting her therapy, or family therapy, you could start by getting YOU therapy?  Someone who's on your side and only your side, and can give you some perspective about what you can control and what you can't?

Loving a kid with RAD is the most selfless thing it's possible to do. It's absolutely OK to take a break and take care of yourself.  Give yourself 8 weeks to heal, then think about trying again.

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I'm sorry you are having so much trouble.  I have two 11yos and one of them has issues with controlling, to the point of being obsessed (or so it appears).  She is also the one who has always been insecure (though she will never admit that).

I ran her DNA through promethease and learned she has a few genetic traits that tend to create challenges like this.  For one thing, she has the MTHFR gene on both sides and also tested extremely low in vitamin D.  I started giving her vitamin D and a whole-food kid vitamin that contains folate instead of folic acid.  I am seeing gradual improvement.  Of course I don't know if it's because of the vitamins, but it was a fairly easy thing to try.  There are other issues I can't fix.  She certainly has her days, and probably always will.

Genetics aside, I do think there are effects of her past experience.  The custody disruption, but also the nutrition (or lack thereof) that she received. 

I have come to terms with the fact that I can't fix everything and she will probably take some of this baggage into adulthood, regardless of my efforts.

I agree with the PP who said you deserve and need to take care of yourself.  I hope you are able to do so when your daughter is in school.

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Yes.

And I was told to expect that he would probably always be partly his chronological age and partly the age he would be if he’d been born at the time he came to live with me or at the time I adopted him.  Exactly as you observe with your child. 

For mine that is a 5 and 7 year gap, so very significant at this stage.

It is supposed to get less noticeable in adulthood. But not necessarily go away.  However a few years immaturity as between 30 and 32 (Or 30 and 35-37 ) —is less glaring than an 11 year old acting like 9 as in your daughter’s case, or a 16 year old acting like 9 as in my son’s. 

Thanks for asking the question because it helps to remind myself that this is part of what is going on with my own child.   

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(((Bethben)))  I'm so sorry it's so hard right now.  As far as finding things that will occupy more of her time, maybe look into time demanding (and also really healthy!) sports like gymnastics, or swimming.  Tae Kwon Do (or some kind of karate) could have really good character building messages as well.  

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9 hours ago, bethben said:

I'm back asking further questions about this issue.  Life has gotten very difficult around here.  She has decided that she wants to rule her own life and will make anyone who stands in her way miserable (she's still 11).  I feel like we have regressed to the point when we adopted her and she was having obvious reactive attachment problems.  I'm done in so many ways and my dh says to not give up hope that things will get better.  My dh went as far as to tell me not to say much to her today because she is yelling at me in anger much of the time to much of what I do say to her.  I'm not quite sure what to do.  Honestly, the thought of therapy for her and our family distresses me because they will want me to "try" and help her.  I don't feel much like trying.  I've been trying for nine years and I'm wiped out.  I feel very sucked dry by this child and if anyone suggests I try more, I'll bite their head off.  Right now, our plan is to get her doing something away from us as much as we can find ways to do it.  She's starting school in 10 days and I can have a bit of a break for at least the 7 hours she's in school.  It's gotten to the point that if we need to pay for after school care just so she can have more to do away from us until we can recover a bit, we will do so.  It's probably not a good solution but everyone in the family is steering clear of her right now.

Could do written this post about my bio kid at age 11.

its hard!

yes, get a therapist who will let you talk and listen and don’t be ashamed to be brutally frank even if you’re embarrassed about your feelings. A great therapist will not chide you or embarrass you about this.

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9 hours ago, bethben said:

I'm back asking further questions about this issue.  Life has gotten very difficult around here.  She has decided that she wants to rule her own life and will make anyone who stands in her way miserable (she's still 11).  I feel like we have regressed to the point when we adopted her and she was having obvious reactive attachment problems.  I'm done in so many ways and my dh says to not give up hope that things will get better.  My dh went as far as to tell me not to say much to her today because she is yelling at me in anger much of the time to much of what I do say to her.  I'm not quite sure what to do.  Honestly, the thought of therapy for her and our family distresses me because they will want me to "try" and help her.  I don't feel much like trying.  I've been trying for nine years and I'm wiped out.  I feel very sucked dry by this child and if anyone suggests I try more, I'll bite their head off.  Right now, our plan is to get her doing something away from us as much as we can find ways to do it.  She's starting school in 10 days and I can have a bit of a break for at least the 7 hours she's in school.  It's gotten to the point that if we need to pay for after school care just so she can have more to do away from us until we can recover a bit, we will do so.  It's probably not a good solution but everyone in the family is steering clear of her right now.

 

I don't want to put a damper on your sending her to school, but has she gone before?  How does she do in school?  I am asking because as a school counselor, we have kids in our school with RAD and kids who have severe emotional trauma issues.  Their parents do not really get a break.  The kids get into trouble in school and the parents have to come and get them.  We can't have them disrupting the rest of the school every day.  

All of our kids who fit this description have ended up in residential treatment care at some point.  Do you think she is at the level of needed to be hospitalized for a while?  That would give you a break and give her the therapy she probably desperately needs.   I know you said therapy is too much for you to deal with right now, but unless you get the help you need, this is only going to get worse.  In fact, I would be surprised if a therapist wouldn't recommend residential treatment at this time.

BTW:  My foster care student (with RAD) has been in the hospital since June.  She is still there.  

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From my personal experience, the control and anger seem to be directed at me versus my dh, so we react differently. Mine also has very immature social interactions.  Even though we knew the type of behavior you’re describing could happen we’ve had a hard time staying united in our parenting. It is beyond hard. I’m exhausted and we’ve had our child in therapy for more than 5 years (he’s 13 currently). I can’t imagine not getting him help from mental health professionals. We were unable to sustain homeschooling too. All of our kids needed to attend school and all of them are in different schools. Yeah, I’ve been there and I’m still trying to stay afloat and raise my kids as best I can. You’re not alone and it’s really, really hard. 

(((Hugs)))

Edited by East Coast Sue
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I have not btdt, but I have had a high needs child in school..... I think you need to look right now at strategizing your weekend.  

Is there something you can sign her up for?

Does she do better with your husband right now?  If so — maybe you can organize things for them on the weekend, so you can have a break on the weekend.  

The weekend can be a really long stretch, you need a break both days if it’s at all possible.  

If not — if she can have something Saturday morning, I have found that to really help.  It can help the whole day go better.  It is easy to get off to bad start on Saturday.  

On Sunday evening it can be a good time to do pizza and a movie, here.

It sounds like your husband is encouraging and I hope he is able to help.  

I hope that school will go well for her, but it is a big transition, and any stress about school may come out on Sunday nights, as well as in the mornings.  

I think it’s helpful to deal with as much as possible for “getting ready for school on Monday” on Friday or Saturday.  If it’s possible I want backpacks packed on Friday night.  

This has helped Sunday nights here immensely.   

I hope these are things your husband can help with, and take the load off of you.  

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((Bethben)). I am so sorry you are going through this. We are going through a very rough patch with our oldest right now. And I will echo the advice of a PP. maybe you should get therapy. I am. I know it won’t help DS (not going to share on a public forum), but it might help me and I need something because I feel like I am going crazy.

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She went to school last year also.  She’s a good student and obeys in class.  She usually winds up loving every teacher she’s had to the point where I wonder if it’s healthy on her side.  Last year she came home frustrated or crying almost every day but I could actually work through it with her because I hadn’t been with her all day.  Some of it may have been a very weird social policy that the school set up—we’ve switched schools this year so that should help some (not all) of the issues she had last year.  I stopped homeschooling her because if she didn’t understand a new concept immediately, she would shut down and start yelling at me.  I was shaking from stress and knew I couldn’t physically do it any more.  

I don’t always feel like I need therapy.  I feel pretty upbeat usually if I sleep.  I’ve been battling insomnia for a while and trying to get a handle on it naturally before I go to the doctor for prescription drugs.  I’ve given myself one more month of trying.  I guess sometimes I need permission to distance myself from dd and not feel guilty about it.  It’s not how I want to parent, but she’s offering me no choice right now.  

We think a sport would be a good thing, but we’ve maxed out on outside stuff.  Her older brother who is borderline autistic has karate and it’s been very very good for him and is helping him break out of his social awkwardness.  Ds needs a break from her also so we don’t want to put them in the same group.  For the sake of our sanity, we can’t run two kids all over the place.  After school stuff works better because it’s just picking her up instead of driving somewhere, waiting, and driving home.  

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I don’t know how far you drive for things, but there might be drop-off activities that last a few hours, or there might be options to sign up for back-to-back classes.  

I do also think, there are things my husband thinks are huge hassles, but I don’t mind.  There are things I think are huge hassles, but he doesn’t mind.  

If your husband would drive her or pay for her to have a ride, there might be things that really do not add much to your plate.

If they are more stress than they are worth, then definitely not!

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I do think after school club sounds good too!  I just know that there are times I need to structure or plan something, anything over the weekend to keep the weekend running smoothly.  It can be a really long 2 days.  

Church may be re-charging for you on the weekend, I hope so.  

It was not for me for a couple of years, but it is now.  

Edited by Lecka

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Not an adoptive parent, but I learned in some training that children that have been through any kind of trauma *vary* more widely in age behavior than typical children.  For example, a typical child of 12 may at times act in some ways like 14 and in other ways like 10.  But a 12 year old who has been through trauma may at times act like 20 and at other times like 5.

Also thinking about how dealing with drug users, often times emotional development comes to a stop at whatever age drug use begins...  it might be similar with trauma.

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10 hours ago, KrissiK said:

((Bethben)). I am so sorry you are going through this. We are going through a very rough patch with our oldest right now. And I will echo the advice of a PP. maybe you should get therapy. I am. I know it won’t help DS (not going to share on a public forum), but it might help me and I need something because I feel like I am going crazy.

HUGS

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Regarding the sport question - have you considered hiring a driver to take her to a sport?  I have done this to help me keep up with my work and my kids as a single parent.  (Or to keep my sanity, to put it another way.)

I agree that having her do something after school can make a difference.  My kid does much better with the physical outlet.  Aside from letting her blow off steam, it is an area where she feels competent, compared to school which can be frustrating.  And the fact that she has less time to fight with people at home ... that's at least good in some ways.

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