Can't give an inch...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Lil, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I have decided that one of the things I HATE about all this is you can't give an inch...because they'll take a mile.

    My son now has a job - starts tonight. It's less than a mile from the shelter so he can walk...which is good since it's also 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., cleaning a State building. But of course, he won't get paid for two - three weeks. He called and asked for a loan, just $10 for cigarettes or something. I told him no.

    But I don't want to tell him no!

    Jabber and I have talked and one thing we agree on is: If our son straightened his act up, is working, is taking care of business like an adult, we would be willing to help him from time to time. If he's only making $8.00/hr and he's out of money after paying rent and utilities, we'd buy him food. We'd kick in on rent or pay his phone bill from time to time. We'd do these things if he was really trying...not spending money on junk food or Magic cards or video games.

    I want my son to know that - but we can't tell him that. If we tell him that, then within days he'd say, "But, I'm trying!" Or in a couple months he'd say, "Gosh the electric bill was high and I'm out of money." when he'd still have money - just keeping it to spend on something else. We can't trust him to do the right thing and not take advantage. It sucks so much! I want to help him out. Even after all he's done, I want that! Knowing I shouldn't!

    I happen to know there's a cheap, partially furnished apartment for rent right up the street from where he'll be working. I'd love to tell him about it. I'd love to pay the darn deposits and get him in there and settled...but I think he'd just settle in J-1 or some other bum and next thing I'd hear is, "Well they eat all the food! I need more money!" Because he wouldn't kick them out. He won't be without his "friends".

    Why does it have to be this hard? I know you guys are probably sick of me whining....It's not right. He shouldn't be this way. It's not FAIR!:cry: ...But I just SO don't understand it. I want to understand it! More than anything else I want to understand this behavior. Maybe then I'd be able to come to terms with not being able to be a "normal" mom who can give her kid a gift, or a helping hand, without having it be an opening to being taken advantage of.
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  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I SO understand how you fee Lil. Geez, I'm sorry. This is so darn hard. I think we all feel what you're feeling in varying degrees, it's kind of a normal response to all of it.

    You know what? I think you're just not going to understand it. Not like you understand any other normal kind of behavior. My kid is 42 and I don't understand any of it. I have a logical, practical mind like you seem to have and the kind of behavior our kids exhibit does not fit into logic or practicality. It just doesn't. So, for me, I had to let go of understanding.

    It takes time, I've been at this a whole lot longer then you have. In the beginning I was pulling my hair out too. It takes a long time to learn how to deal with this kind of stuff.

    For me, I had to lower any expectations I had, or in fact, give them up. They were just not going to be met. It was the expectations that kept me continually disappointed and angry. My daughter lives in another universe, my expectations didn't matter in the least. So, rather then continually suffer, I learned to let them go.

    Acceptance of this whole trip is an amazing, devastating, intense bazaar and challenging experience, it takes us a long time to get to accepting what is. Sometimes our kids wake up and this is all something that slips in to the past. I hope that is the case for you. If it isn't, the only recourse we have is to let go. And, letting go is the hardest thing any of us will ever do.

    No one here will ever judge you as whining, we have all been at this way too long and know how much this hurts and how hard it is. Vent away. Rail at how unfair it is, because it is. At some point all of that will lesson and right or wrong, this will become your new "normal" and you will simply adapt to it. It WILL get easier. I promise. Just do what you're doing, you really are doing a terrific job..............put one foot in front of the other...............and one day, you'll marvel at the fact that you are actually okay. And your son may be in exactly the same spot. (I hope not, but he may be)

    Your son is young, he may snap out of it. But in the meantime, do your level best to let go of your expectations of "normal" and try to let go of'll make your days a whole lot easier.

    Many many hugs...............
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  3. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    The simple fact of the matter is that if you understand the behavior its usually because thats how you act as well. The reason you cant understand is because its SO foreign to how you and I were raised or behave. I dont like to do the comparison but its just like so many people not understanding the logic behind criminal behavior. The only people who TRULY understand it is other criminals. Sorry honey, but I learned a long time ago at work to quit trying to understand and simply deal with the aftermath. Maybe why Im dealing a bit better than you right now. Then again, to quote a hilariously awful sitcom, "Not The Momma!"!
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    It is NOT fair.
    Not for any one of us here on this board.

    We didn't ask for our difficult child to be wired with multiple layers of problems, challenges, issues and dxes. We didn't ask for a medical system that would not believe or help us. We didn't ask for a school system that destroyed him.

    Someone on this board used to have something like this in their signature:
    "We did the best we could with what we knew. And when we knew better, we did better."

    It's hard because we care. It's hard because we have invested more in the outcome than any of the supports that should have been there. We've invested more, usually, than the difficult child kid has. And naturally we want just a little tiny bit back in return.

    If it gives you any hope at all...
    My difficult child bro went off the deep end at about 14.
    For most of the next 10 years, there were long periods of time where we didn't know where he even was or if he was alive. Then he'd pop up for a bit before vanishing again.

    And then...
    He sobered up - his call.
    Got a job, saved some money.
    Applied for mature admission to university.
    Got in, graduated.

    He's still a bit GFGish, but... he IS paying his own way in life, and finding ways to pay it forward to other difficult child people out there who are stuck where he was.
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  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Actually, nothing bad seems fair. All of us are dealing with very cunning, difficult, mostly smart and manipulative, not-so-nice adult children who want us to be their mommies and daddies forever. And, Lil, you are right. If you give an inch they take a mile. Even worse, if you do, say, pay for that rental while he makes $8/hr., he may just decide $8/hr. is good enough for him and that this is his life and it's ok because you'll pick him up when he needs it. He won't move on. Then if he gets married, will he be able to support a family? I know i"m jumping ahead, but I really believe it is imperative to show that we care and love our different adult children, BUT I don't think it is a good idea to do it by supporting their lives. Of course, that's just my idea. I would not be able to afford to help support another family and you know your son will marry or get somebody pregnant one day and then there will be more to pay monetarily. My goal was, if nothing else, to make my children financially independent. I couldn't affect t heir life choices, but I sure tried to drum THAT into their heads by NOT handing them lots of free money, a free car, allowance, etc. They all worked or had no money. Period. And it paid off in the long run, really. Yes, I felt some guilt at the time, but I was driven to make sure they had good work ethics, even 37.

    I don't know if what I did was right or not, but all of my kids, even my personality-challenged one, is working hard and has his own place and pays his own bills...doesn't mean he doesn't try to get his father to pay for anything he doesn't want to pay for himself, but if his dad says no, he can take care of himself.

    I do think it is a much harder road to travel for those who have only children. I was able to take my focus off of my faltering adult child and enjoy my thriving ones (although at one time both 37 and Julie were faltering at the same time). Lil, I get where you are coming from and how you feel. Maybe if I had more money I would have done the same thing. I'm kind of glad I never had that option.

    Hugs to you and Jabby both.
  6. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Hey Lil. I feel the SAME way and faced with that same situation very often. I LOVE helping my daughter so much and I feel very robbed that I am not able to do so nearly as much as I want to because just like you said, the lying will start, taking advantage, so on and so forth.

    What I tell myself is, and this is totally my opinion, take it or leave it. But what I tell myself is this "Maybe the whole reason why my difficult child is a difficult child is because I want to help her too much and make things easier for her, when in fact, God/nature really doesn't want us to do that and that's why it always blows up in my face"

    Just yesterday, a good friend of mine gave me a $100.00 gift card and who do I give it to without a second thought just to make her happy? You guessed it, my daughter. Right away I could of kicked myself, when I saw the reaction. I can't really describe it. All I know is, after I gave it to her, just like that without her even having to earn it, it was the WRONG thing to do. I just wanted to make her happy because she was having a bad day. The worse part about it is, she asked how I got it and I told her it was for me but I wanted to give it to her. Now isn't that the epinamy of sending the wrong message? That was MY fault. Again I reinforced her belief , that I created, that anything I get , I am automatically going to give to her, which sends a very messed up message to her. What's WRONG with me? I couldn't help it at the time, I just wanted to give it to her because it makes me happy to give to her.

    I get what you're saying Lil, I really do. But it seems our help HURTS them, even the most minute form of help. I think it's natures way of saying "back off mom or dad. They will never be independent if you keep doing this". So maybe it us wanting to help that's the problem, not the difficult child's, because they know it, they sense it. We raised them to know that in one form or another. However, I would like to think that food is an exception. I will always help my daughter with food. I wouldn't withold food from my worse enemy. I think that's just cruel to do so, you know? I think nature will be ok with me doing at least that much.
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  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We have to be careful even with food.
    GFGbro would throw a feast for his friends with whatever we gave him that was "good stuff".
    So... if he ran out of food, he got "bare bones" only. Peanut butter. Crackers. Canned chili. Stuff that would keep him from starving without having food to throw a party.

    I'm learning that it helps to remember that what I give needs to be both good for me and good for the recipient. If my need to give exceeds what is good for the recipient to receive... I'm learning to find others to give to. It saves the damage on the difficult child people, and still lets me be as giving as I want to be.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member need to accept things for yourself, hon. I know YOU don't have much. Why on earth would you give that gift to your daughter? She may blow it on drugs.

    Today I went shopping with Jumper, my easy child. I let her pick out some of her Christmas presents. After all, she is 18 and knows Santa is She is very gracious and when she picks something out it is with hesitation and after she checks the prcies even when I tell her not to and she is truly grateful when she gets something. And I know for a fact nothing goes to drugs or booze...she does neither. Now if I had told 37 "let's go shopping for Christmas" it would have been totally different and with a whole different attitude like "I deserve it and I don't' appreciate it." The weird thing is, you can give and give to a easy child and they don't get a bad attitude or ever expect it in a mean way. You can't do that with a difficult child. I still believe msot of our difficult children have personality disorders and that is why they act so different from the average person.

    GM, your daughter should want you to keep your own gifts. My kids would have protested, except for 37.

    I think sometimes we believe our kids will appreciate us more if we just give them enough. It's weird. With difficult children just the opposite happens. the more we try, the more we give into them out of love, and the more we give to them, even at our own sacrifice, the less they respect us. It's like living on Backwards Planet, ya know? ;)
  9. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Ooooooohh, good one Insane. I like that.
  10. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    And she does. She didn't take the gift card last night. That's what I meant by the weird reaction. In any event, it would be and IS my fault because I created that situation and put her in that position. Not her fault. I don't know what I was thinking.

    Anyway, I don't want to make this about me on Lil's thread, so I will just stop right here. I am going to try real hard to never do that again. Every time I do something like that , it sets me and my daughter back 100 steps.
  11. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    My grand boy is the kid who is thrilled with a pair of socks. My grand girl wants more, more, more. My youngest always gave everything away. I do nothing for those two. They do not deserve it.
  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    lil I have thought and said and written everything you wrote. This disease is infuriating.

    You are right where you are supposed to be in your journey with your son.

    You will never understand this disease. We just have to work on accepting that which we don't understand. Another hard thing.

    I have also learned with my son to do less talking and more action. And a lot of waiting.

    At the right time if he is helping himself you can step in and help him just like you said.

    You will know when it is time to do that.

    In the meantime lil just try to focus on yourself. Warm hugs.
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  13. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    So glad you are posting again! I have been worried that you had disappeared.

    So many wise words written above. I, too, have been where you are. My difficult child is much older and I would not wish husband's and my experience on anyone. But, yes, it is maddening/saddening. It. just. plain. stinks.

    One time, after we knew we had a difficult child--except we did not know the term--in a moment of extreme stupid generosity, I gave our gas credit card to our two kids who could drive. You know, your dad and I want you to fill up your gas tanks, on us. We love you. Our daughter was so, so, so grateful. She thanked us several times, filled up her gas tank, returned the card within 20 minutes and profusely thanked us again. Our difficult child, about 18 at the time, thanked us. He did not return for an hour. When the bill arrived......surprise, surprise. He had apparently treated several friends to a fill-up on our card. That was 15 years ago, but it is an example of giving an inch, taking a mile. So much for trying to play nice.

    It is an incredibly tough road to travel. Glad you are here. And, no, a thousand times no!!!!--we will not think you are whining. Gee whiz, no. We understand. (wish I did not)

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  14. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    We haven't given difficult child money in months. I will do stuff like buy him a new pair of shoes, or interview clothes. But he's stopped asking for money because he knows the answer will be no. It took months for this to finally sink in, before he stopped asking.

    There was one exception. We had cashed in one of his bonds and I gave him 100.00 last summer because he was going to a concert out of town with his friends. Believe me, I agonized over this. We were all afraid he would relapse but amazingly he stayed sober.He didn't ask for the money, I just felt I wanted to give it to him.

    I think you should stay strong Lil, and say no to requests for money. It's better to buy it for him because at least you have control over where the money is going, as long as it isn't too often.

    It's so hard, isn't it?
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  15. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Jabber is spot on.
  16. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Lil, I feel for you so much. One thing we share is that we are single moms. That situation gives us lack of insight because we have no "normal" or easy child children to compare the actions of our difficult child. Also as I said before I went and re-read your entire posts and I see that you have posted that your ex had a lot of difficult child problems; so I am going to go out on a limb and say that difficult child son probably inherited these traits from difficult child Ex. Will you punish yourself and Gabber for the rest of your natural life for the biology of your difficult child son? Will you pay money better used for your and Gabber's retirement to try and stabilize the life of someone whose life may never be stabilized? Continue throwing money at a problem that you neither caused and probably is unable to be appreciated? Do you really understand that the "well it's not really pot" but a "God knows what chemical" being sold in gas stations and such, may have already caused chemical harm to a brain already saddled with difficult child tendencies caused by DNA?
    When, Lil, and what is it going to take, for you to understand that you did not cause this, you didn't break this, it's not your fault and there is probably nothing you can do about it? When will you accept that "he is what he is"? What price will you pay, emotionally, mentally and financially before you accept the truth of the situation? How much will it take from you personally to understand that nothing difficult child does, is, and is capable of - is NOT your fault?

    It really, really, does suck! He is what he is - but it is not you that is to blame, most likely he was born this way and it is so hard to accept and it sucks so bad that it is we, the mothers, feel so bad and so very sad that we are forced into a position of both loving our children and having to say no to them because we have to learn to be self-protective as these difficult child's don't really have a choice but to use or abuse, it's what their DNA tells them to do. Honesty, trust, love, these are all things that a DNA mom of a difficult child can never rely upon. Sort of a trust last and even then verify.

    Personally I wouldn't call it whining, I had an emotional breakdown (not hospitalized but couldn't stop crying and dealing with the OMG what am I to do now) when I had to deal with the truth of what kind of person my child was. It's also the reason this board exists - to give you a soft place and the support to let out your emotions in a safe place. I wish I had known about this site when I went through what I went through.
    It is not FAIR, that this child we devoted ourselves to, love with all our hearts is not able to reciprocate or that we unable to put any trust in them.
    (for yours I will say, at least not now, at the present time)

    You ARE a normal mom, it is your child that is abnormal. What you want is to be able to to normal things with a child that will hold that and those feelings against you to see how much more he can get from you for feeling the way you do. It's emotional blackmail at it's finest.
    I do so feel for you Lil, because I have walked this walk for at least 20 years longer than you are and the "suck" factor doesn't get any better with time. It will always hurt, we will always have that instinct to want to help our child, and that is something we do share with all normal mothers.
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  17. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Lil, and as far as Christmas gifts - why not consider cold weather camping gear - nothing would send a stronger message than that - if he gets kicked out of the shelter he would really be on the street! Also for long term planning how about an old one person camper on a cheaply rented lot - on a month by month basis.
    That way if him and his friends destroy it - you can just get rid of it and really, really be done! (I never had to worry about my difficult child being homeless.)
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You have described exactly what your situation is (and mine, too). It is a gift that sucks the big one, but gift it is, to be able to see the underlying dynamic so clearly.

    I can tell you that you are correct.

    I don't think the kids do it with malice. I think they see us as so fortunate, and as such cheapskates for not helping "family."

    Yet, they only choose to be family when it is them who wants something. Not when it is time to go to school, or pay their own bills, or not use drugs.

    If it is any comfort Lil, YOU know you will help him when you have seen progress. It took us the longest time to get over thinking we could pour enough money into either or our children to make a difference.

    No matter how much Lil, and no matter for how long, our money, our time, our home or our paying for their apartments, electricity, insurance, license re-instatements and fines ~ none of that made a difference. The only thing that seems to have made a difference is to say "no", knowing we are there for them when we decide it is time.

    When WE decide it is time.

    When WE see that the child is doing what will give him or her a future.

    Otherwise, you will be, like we did, funding an addict's lifestyle. Addicted people will say anything, betray anyone (even themselves) to have what they need: the drug of choice.

    It doesn't feel like it Lil, but you and Jabber are doing what must be done.

    It is hard.

    I applaud you.

    It is a lonely thing, to be required to raise a child this way.

    I stand with you.

    As our Seeking Strength tells us Lil, stay close to the site through this time.

  19. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    I not only stand with you, I salute you! :people_veteran1:
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  20. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    You are all such wonderful people. I can't begin to tell you what your words of encouragement mean to me.

    So...he started his new job last night. He called yesterday, first wanting a ride to go to the office to fill out papers and then to the state building where he gets his after-hours access badge. I told him that I was working and when I take my lunch it's the same time as when they'll close for lunch, so he'd do better to walk. He walked. One thing I have noticed is if he wants a ride or something and we say that it'll be a couple hours before we're free...he finds another way.

    He asked for money. I said I'd think about it. I called back and said no.

    His job is just under a mile from the building he cleans (uphill...both ways...actually that's true, it's down a hill then up a hill, so either way he's got a hill to walk lol) and he is graveyard shift. He started at 8 p.m. last night training. At 7:30 I was out and about, and thought I'd give him a ride...called and got no answer so went on to my destination. When he called back I told him I'd been in the neighborhood...but wasn't anymore. He was actually already there - early! Shocked me. I did ask if he remembered to tell the shelter he was working so they'd let him in in the middle of the night. He did, but asked if I'd call to double check. I did and that was all okay. He asked me for food after that. He didn't know how they worked "dinner" on the shift he's on 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. but turns out they have a fridge and microwave they can use. I told him I'd only do it once...after that it's up to him to figure out. So I took McDonald's. His supervisor picked it up at the door and was very nice about it, being his first day and all.

    I did tell him about the apartment yesterday...but I don't know anything about it - the terms etc., just that it's cheap, furnished, and close to the bus lines and less than a mile (about 1/2 mile actually) from where he works. But I never considered seriously paying for it or being on the lease. If it's still available when he gets ready to move, then maybe he should look into it. The places he's looking at through the shelter are way too far from where he works and there are no busses in our town after 5:30. But I did my part...I told him. He gets into his email and checks it out or he doesn't.

    I know he isn't incapable I guess. He's just so immature and doesn't think...but I know that Jabber's right. Unlike me, who would say, "Oh! That's how it's done!" and never needed a hand again, my son pays no attention if you do something for him and never learns.

    With the weather just starting to get bad here...I may be inclined to give him a ride in to work now and then...but getting home is his problem. 4 a.m. is a sucky time to be walking the streets in the rain and snow, but he'll's only a 20 minute walk. I just hope he sticks with it. I'm worried that with the noisy shelter and cruddy hours he'll end up quitting....but that's on him too.

    IT'S YOU??? :santa::nonono:
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