Detaching from the people in our children's lives?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by slsh, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Once again, I come to you PE-ers for wisdom and advice, this time on how to deal with- the toxic people our difficult child's tend to find.

    Specifically, I'm dealing with- a woman (on/off/off/on again girlfriend's mother) who has been in his life for probably 3 years now. Long back history - she let him stay there for weeks on end when he was in TLP, not going to school, then called me to kvetch about him not paying her back for stuff. Duh - why would he? I strongly suspect he's living there now, and that she's his SSI payee. I don't ask questions if I don't want to know the answers, and right now the less I know, the better.

    thank you had to go to the ER today for back pain. She got on the phone with- me to let me know that she was "taking care" of him and that she's "not like" me. I'm so furious right now, I could throw up. I'm just shaking. Darn right, she's not like me.

    I don't think this woman and her daughter are going to go away.

    I've compartmentalized thank you's life. When he's here (3 out of 4 weekends), it's our time. I feed him (he's still horribly emaciated), clean his clothes, be a "mom" as much as he will let me. When he's not here... I pray. For me, the only way I can stomach this whole disaster is by not knowing what he's doing.

    I've made it very clear that girlfriend is not allowed in our home and ultimately I think that will become an insurmountable issue for him, but until then... How do you stomach dealing with people who are enabling your difficult child's horrendous choices, and quite possibly taking advantage of him, without losing your mind?
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    You do what you've been doing---pray! Tripp is living with a guy I know is dealing---I've seen the posts on his girlfriend's myspace page. He was riding in guy's mom's car. Guy throws cigarette out the window and gets pulled. Cops search car. They find a corner of a baggie with some residue on it. My difficult child goes to jail and gets charged with paraphernalia and simple possession. My response to difficult child today when he says, "If I'm convicted this means I can't go back to school in Jan?": "Choices, son, choices."
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't know. I wish I did. Sometimes these people are strangers, sometimes they are family. I think that all of the time they have their own agenda. Today (I'm grumpy) I'm of the opinion that everyone has their own agenda and it's every man for themselves.

    I forget how old he is, but I do know he's an "adult" (for what that's worth) now. I know it's hard to let it go. Eventually the enablers will give up. Then he'll have some more growing up to do. As they all do. Some of them mean well, I suppose. You all know what I think of people who get between us and our kids. They give up eventually, thank goodness.

    In the meantime, they should not poke the bear.
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    "How do you stomach dealing with people who are enabling your difficult child's horrendous choices, and quite possibly taking advantage of him, without losing your mind?"

    Wow...your question, kinda hit me hard. Very recently we went through something when I met an adult friend of difficult children and momentarily thought this very thought.

    I told her that if she was not part of the solution, for the most part, I thought of her as part of the problem.

    She mentioned things that she does for difficult child that are helpful.

    I told her that when she does things for difficult child out of the kindness of her heart that are helpful, I am appreciative of her kindness.

    Didn't say much more than that...just kept it short and sweet.

    I suppose it doesn't really do any good to remain totally mum about something problematic you see before your very eyes, but I also don't see the point in forcing your view on your adult difficult child or in letting it get you upset.

    If you have an opportunity to briefly express your point of view with-o being confrontational to the person, perhaps take advtantage of it. Remember, we are not talking about under this forum. Our kids don't need protection. By and large, they know what they are doing.

    It's all part of the detachment process...let your difficult child feel the repercussions of associating with those who are not to be associated with. You might briefly mention what you see, but that's about it.

    Detach from the situation and from these people. Remember...what they think of YOU is none of YOUR business. ETA: If she causes you grief...well....its more you are allowing this person to cause you grief. In one ear and out the other...let this be your motto. YOU be in control of your emotions.

    What is your business is your happiness and productivity. Don't allow yourself to be hurt, annoyed, slowed down, bothered by difficult child or those associated with difficult child. Run your race...
    Lasted edited by : Aug 24, 2009
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sue....IF this woman has managed to become thank you's payee and you believe she is mismanaging his funds for her own gain, you have every right and actually should, contact the Social Security Administration to report this. They will investigate and make her produce records showing how she is managing his money. This is actually why I put Cory on the debit cards with SSI so it will show how he spends his money. Now Cory is old enough, and he would never throw me under the bus anyway, but there are people out there that do take advantage of people on the system, especially non-relatives.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I would consider talking with your adult child about the finances if and only if you strongly suspect there was inappropriate goings on with the money. If you are absolutely sure of this, I would considering talking with the person the SSI payee and give her a chance to clean up her act. If it continues, you are sure of it, I would quietly call SSI. Then...walk away and forget about it. Perhaps six months from now, ask your husband if he thinks it is still going on and if so, would like to call SSI. But, let's face it, there is only so much you can do. Encourage your difficult child to take action, make a call or two if you are certain or wrong doing....but that is where it ends. Don't get overly involved, and don't let it bother you. Refuse to let it bother can not control other people. Do what you can to distract yourself from this turmoil. (Hugs)
    Lasted edited by : Aug 24, 2009
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Janet makes a very good point.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think I am as good at detaching as other people here are. I simply cant be as walk away from my kids. If someone is messing with one of mine, well, they have poked the bear as witz is fond of saying.

    You know how it is always the rule in families where you can fight and fume with each other but anyone else better watch themselves because they whole family will take you on if try to mess with one of the family? Thats the way we are. My boys have always argued and fought tooth and nail. Sometimes I thought they would kill each other. Now? They would walk through fire for each other. Cory would have easily scoured the mountains of Afghanistan and singlehandedly found Bin Laden and killed him if something had happened to his

    I cant go days on end without knowing what they are up to or how they are. Especially Cory. I try to see him at least two or three times a week. Right now I see him every day during the week and most weekends because we have Keyana every weekend right now. That means we keep her one night and he keeps her the next. Good arrangement. We both get time with her. He normally gets a bit more time but thats ok. She loves him.
  9. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    I'm following this thread because I am interested in hearing the viewpoints of others regarding "How do you stomach dealing with people who are enabling your difficult child's horrendous choices?"

    I have a feeling many of us are faced with that type of issue; our "kids" get older and bring others into their lives that have no real clue that they are enabling negative behaviors.
  10. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Janet, you perceptive woman you, you've hit on something I've been wondering/slightly worried about. Is there such as thing as too much detachment?

    I don't know where he's living. I have no way to get a hold of him. I truly do not ask him any questions about his life.

    I know he's off all medications. He did have a job as a busboy, but my mommy radar is telling me he quit/got fired since moving back in with- girlfriend's family. He didn't finish HS and won't in the near future.

    He's lost a good 75 pounds since the beginning of the year and looks just awful - all bones and gaunt face. We didn't see him for about 2 months (his choice) and when he finally did show up at home, it was all I could do to keep from literally throwing up when I saw him. He looks that bad. We feed him when he's here and offer to buy him groceries to take back home, which sometimes he takes us up on and sometimes not. And while he swears drugs are not involved, I don't buy it for a second.

    When he was in the SRO, he apparently had bought a mattress that was just infested with bedbugs and was coming home covered in bites. I did not intervene - it took him over a month to get the mgmt company in to spray his room and by that time they had to spray it several times over a week. I coached, offered suggestions but...

    It feels like a rock and a very hard place. He still wants me to take care of everything for him and I adamantly refuse. I initially would offer a suggestion if he asked, but that just ticks him off because he doesn't want to figure it out or even follow basic instructions - he wants someone to do it for him. Which is why, in my humble opinion, he is back living with- girlfriend. girlfriend's mom simply does not get the concept of thank you being accountable and responsible. The you know what is going to hit the fan when she gets fed up with him again, and *I'm* going to be the one getting the darn phone calls, and I'm more than a little ticked myself about it.

    Plus, he still is making noises about moving back home, which is not going to happen.

    The first 6 months of this year were heck, Janet. I cried every single stinking day. After all these years, I've still got a kid who thinks he's fine, who has a Pavlovian response to rules and expectations and will do everything in his power *not* to comply, and who has absolutely no investment in his own quality of life but expects everyone else to do for him. husband and I have had a gazillion discussions about him - is he as functionally disabled as Boo? I think thank you's proven he isn't, at least in a broad sense. He had the SRO, he got a job (through some agency, not sure who/how), he seems to have developed a circle of friends (mostly street kids but... it is what it is). The resources to support him are there, but he adamantly refuses them because he doesn't "need" them.

    I guess you could say I have walked away from him in a sense, but no more so than he's pushed me away. I'm exhausted from 14 years of trying to get him to see that jumping thru the hoop is so much simpler than fighting his way around it. I'm selfish too - I've already got a son I will be caretaker for until the day I die. Boo is at least cooperative and compliant. I don't have it in me to be caretaker for an oppositional adult son who thinks he has earned adult rights and priveleges but somehow doesn't think he should have adult reponsibilities.

    I have warned him repeatedly about this family. They are bad news, start to finish. The girl is with him until someone more interesting comes along. The mother... has some serious issues, to be kind. But according to thank you, I don't know what I'm talking about, as usual. I don't understand.

    He was on a better path in the SRO. Yes, he was struggling and being mule-headed about asking for help (i.e. food), but he was doing it on his own. This move to girlfriend's house is a huge step backward and it's going to end badly, and then husband and I are once again going to be in the position where we have to tell thank you that he cannot come home. It darn near killed me the first time, I don't suspect it's going to be any easier the second, third, or fourth.

    Sorry for rambling. ;) You just hit a raw nerve here. I feel like we have to be hypervigilant to maintain boundaries, to protect the other kids and ourselves from thank you's choices. I cannot control other people's interference in his growth, and he bristles at word one of any advice I might offer him so I feel like I have to keep my mouth shut and ... hope that he learns to take care of himself rather than depending on others. It's all or nothing with him right now and I cannot be/do not want to be his all anymore. Enough already.

    I want to ask if we've taken detachment too far, but on the other hand it kinda really doesn't matter because this is the place that we've arrived at after a really horrible time of it - this seems to be the balance that husband and I can tolerate (barely). We very well may be wrong, but I just simply don't know what else to do until thank you starts being an active participant in his own life.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Do you know how thank you gets his SSI money? Is it by check or deposited in some checking account? Does he still maintain an address at this SRO? I hope so.

    I am gonna be all over the place in this response so bear with

    As you probably know, when Cory was gonna probably get kicked out of that awful trailer I was a mess. Like you, I was all over the place thinking I had to solve it. Should I just bring them home again? I knew that would be a disaster. He knew that would be a disaster. He didnt want to come home. I was fretting daily. Well he fixed it himself without a bit of help from me! Darn that able-bodied young

    I lost sleep for nothing.

    Back to how thank you gets his money. One thing Cory and I have found VERY useful is that we have put his money on the SSI debit card. This way he cant lose the money and no one can take it from him unless he gives them the PIN. Cory had the bad habit of losing money out of his pockets so he would end up losing what he needed for the month. Now he just takes his card and pays his bills with it. Or if he needs to pay something that doesnt take a debit card like rent, he goes and gets a money order. Makes things so much better for him. And if god forbid, he does lose his wallet, the debit cards can be cancelled so his money is not stolen. That has happened one time already.

    Because I am his payee, I am alerted when his card balance is low, I can see what he spends his money on if I so desire and I can see when he gets the funds deposited. Now I really dont care to see all that so I dont go looking. But I could if I wanted to do it.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I didn't know you could put the SSI money on a debit card! That is sooo interesting. This certainly would make the recipient responsible...might be a very good thing. I suppose I would be a little concerned that someone might get ahold of it and commit fraud, etc. However, with detachment comes not worrying about these things so much. In times, most difficult child "get it" and that's a GREAT THING!

    This stuff where the people associating with- our difficult children hurt our difficult children can be mind boggling.

    Honestly, once they are past 18, I think we are limited in what we can do. Certainly, past 21...all bets are off.

    You might say your peace...that's about it. If your adult child is in severe physical danger, I would probably do a little more. If there is illegal activity going on...same. I would probably report it to the authorities.

    But each one of us have the choices...including difficult children. They can be responsible. And adults, even those who have some issues over 21 MUST BE AND CAN BE RESPONSIBLE...THINK OF IT AS RESPONSE ABLE.

    The website Suz lists on her posts is excellent, I re-read it from time to time:
    Lasted edited by : Aug 26, 2009
  13. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    No - he said he "got out of the lease" at the SRO. That alone was too much information, I didn't want to hear the hairbrained scheme that he hatched to accomplish that (if he actually did accomplish that, which I'm doubtful).

    He gets SSI checks - prior payee was TLP and ... well, I assume it was a check. TLP handed over $1000 to him when he got the new payee so that closes out his accounts with- them. I'm assuming new payee is also getting the check.

    Actually, I'm not fretting about having to solve anything because I am not going to solve anything. It's on him. I just hate that eventually the calls will come and that other people will expect me to do something about it. What, exactly, am I supposed to do?

    I've got names of shelters and agencies ready and waiting for him. I'm not making the calls. I will provide him with food if he'll take it. That's about as far as I can go.