difficult child is homeless- what do I say to her

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by D Needza Break, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. D Needza Break

    D Needza Break New Member

    I live in Vermont. My difficult child is 21 and in Oregon. As of yesterday she is officially homeless and living on the streets. Literally...in a sleeping bag with her "friends" on the streets. She is hanging out with a bunch of homeless kids her age (has been for a few months).

    Over the last 3 years my mother & I have supported her, paid for apartments, helped her look for a job, and everything else in between. We told her we are done. She is cut off. She refuses to find work, loses a job when she finds one, lost 3 apartments, and is doing drugs & drinking. I've helped locate resources for housing and jobs and she refuses to do anything with that information.

    My heart is broken. I'm sad. I'm angry. But I'm trying to cope with all that.

    The question I have is this...what do I say when she calls? Normally she calls daily. She tells me all the awful things that are happening or asks me questions about what she should do in certain situations. Am I supposed to be angry with her when she calls? Do I pat her on the head and say everything will be ok? I just don't know what to say to her anymore. It has been just me and her for most of her life. I'm all she has. I'm just so confused right now. I really don't know what my attitude should be with her when she calls. I'm looking to do the "right" thing for her and right now I just don't know what that its.
  2. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    I'm so sorry your daughter making such bad decisions right now. It's understandable that your heart is broken and your emotions are in turmoil. Your daughter has put you in an impossible situation.

    I'm going to move your thread into our Parent Emeritus forum where we discuss parenting children that are over 18. Hopefully others will come along to offer you support.
  3. D Needza Break

    D Needza Break New Member

    Thank you very much.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would do what is called "medium chill." Don't talk much or give her any fodder to manipulate you or abuse you. Think about this in advance.

    From now on give her a time limit of say five minutes.

    Mostly do the listening, even when being baited or trashed. Or you can say "when you can speak with respect, I will listen.

    If you stay on and can do so without saying much use calm, almost bored medium chill responses that do not ask open ended questions. Here are some examples.

    "No." This is a complete sentence with no explanation needed.
    "I see."
    "Thats tough."
    "You are smart and will figure it out." No suggestions.that gives them arguing props
    "Ill think about it."
    "I hear someone at the door. Love you. Bye."
    "I see."
    "I don't know."
    You get the point.
    "Less is more" rules the day.
    You've already learned money and help and lecturing don't work. So take care of yourself now.
  5. D Needza Break

    D Needza Break New Member

    Thank you. That helps for guidelines. This is new for me...the homeless kid thing. No one ever tells you the best way to handle something like this. No one should have to need to find out. But now that I'm here at this point I would truly like to handle this in the best manner possible for her...and for me. Thanks again.
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Like most of us, you have confusion about locus of control. Accepting that the power to change the situation is in your daughter, not you.

    Only she can right her situation. There is no correct tone, or correct thing you can say to magically change her. In fact, I am learning that the less said, the better. And eventually, you may want to set boundaries about when and if you accept her calls.

    Of course you need to prepare her. I would say something like this *I would read it.

    You can solve this. I know you can. I have faith in you.

    I would repeat this as many times as I needed to.

    And if she pushes you can say: I have come to see that I have hurt you rather than helped you, by not giving you the space and opportunity to make your own life.
    This is manipulation. She is avoiding responsibility and putting it on you.

    I would stop this right now. When she tries to hurt you *by rubbing it in all the danger she is it, cut her off. Get off the phone. Find a neutral reason and stop listening. Of course, you can say. It hurts me to hear that. But the thing is she does not care. She wants to hurt you.

    When she asks you for advice you can say, in the past I thought I knew better. I do not believe that now. You will solve this. I know you will. I believe in you.

    Taking this tack shows respect to her. And you are demanding that she respect you.

    Remember, you do not have the ability to say or do anything that will change her. Only she will change herself. On her terms. When and how and if she wants to.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  7. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    I am sorry you are experiencing this with your daughter. My son is also 3000 miles away and doing the same, exact thing. I second what SWOT said about handling phone calls - I listen and just make noises "Mmmmmmm...." or "wow, that stinks!" or "what do you plan to do?" and when it just gets too heavy or negative, I say I have to go, I love you!

    A little while ago I told him no contact until he is doing what he needs to do to support whatever lifestyle he chooses to live. That worked until he got out of detox a week ago. Now I'm just not answering my phone - I said no contact until he was doing something positive and I meant it.

    Another thing that helped me was to not answer the phone every time he called. I decided on a time of the day I would talk to him or return his calls/messages - then I wasn't being yanked around all day long by all of his drama and negativity.

    He has lost his phone so right now so he only calls when he is able to find a phone to use. As I said, I am not answering it right now because I know he is in the middle of self-created drama and I am just done with all of it.

    Hope this helps! Hugs!
  8. Childofmine

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

    Hi DNB and welcome to the forum. My son was homeless multiple times for long periods of time (weeks and months) so I do understand. A few things it helped me to remember: it's summer right now and the weather isn't a factor; there are many many services for homeless people and I would think Oregon is at the top of that list. There is food, clothing, computer use, medical and dental care, even for free eyeglasses. There are washers and dryers and free bus passes. There are social workers for counseling and employment. There are free cell phones provided by the government. Frankly, there are almost too many services in my opinion which results in people staying homeless longer. One time I counted the number of free meals---cooked meals---my homeless son could obtain on a weekly basis. It was three meals a day on weekdays and two meals a day on the weekends.

    All of that helped me learn to let go more and more while he was homeless.

    I imagine you still want to hear your daughters voice every day right now. But as you work on yourself and on letting go more and more, start thinking about skipping a day---perhaps talking to her every other day. If and when you think that might help YOU. At some point, when we are ready, we start to consider our own needs more and more and realize that their lives are outside our ability to control, manage or fix.

    We can't make them do right as much as we want to. And we want to so much.

    If they are to have a chance to change----we have to change the dynamic. We have to do one thing different which leads to something new happening, then another something new and so on.

    One thing that really helped me a lot has been Alanon. It has saved me and given me the support I needed so desperately to learn to let go of my son and start to live a better life for myself regardless of what he does or does not do.

    We are glad you have found us. We are here for you and we want the very best for you and your daughter. Keep posting here. We get it and we care.
  9. D Needza Break

    D Needza Break New Member

    This all helps so much. And funny, I never looked at her spewing all her problems for the day on me as hurtful. But it is. I feel drained when I get off the phone with her. These tools will help me set boundaries. It's just what I need. Sorry we are all here but thank you so much for the input!
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  10. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi DNB,

    I am so glad you found this site. It is a true lifeline. You sound like you have a good grasp on this in that you have told her you are cutting her off from your financial support. That is not an easy thing to do but is necessary in order to regain control over your own life.

    My son is 33 and is homeless drifter so I understand the emotions you are feeling.

    The others have given you some excellent advice.

    Being prepared is your best defense in dealing with your daughter when she calls. One thing I have learned is not to believe everything my son tells me when he contacts me. Understand that our Difficult Child want it both ways; they want to live their lives without adhering to any rules, no job, no worries, just party and yet when they run out of money or don't want to sleep on the streets they contact us and expect us to "rescue" them. For whatever reason they are not making the connection to the consequences of their actions.

    The less you say to your daughter the better. I have found that not asking any questions is best. I never ask how my son how he's doing, I already know the answer. My son now understands that asking me for money is pointless, he knows I will always say no but that hasn't stopped him from being creative. Be prepared that your daughter will do the same.

    Son: Hey Mom (in a very depressed tone)
    Me: Hi
    Son: Live sucks, I have no money, someone stole all my stuff, I don't know what I'm going to do.
    Me: I'm so sorry to hear that
    Son: It's freezing outside
    Me: Yes it is.
    Son: I'm also starving to death
    Me: Hmmm
    Son: What am I going to do, I have nothing.
    Me: You're smart, you'll figure it out.
    Son: I just need someone to help me.
    Me: Someone's at the door, gotta go, I love you, bye.

    I find it best not to engage into conversation, if I do it always ends in an argument. I have learned to not offer any advice as it's always met with defiance.

    Keep it simple and you'll do fine.

    There is a good article at the top of the Parent Emeritus forum on detaching, take some time to read it. It's very helpful.

    Also, you need to do something good for yourself. We have taken care of our Difficult Child for so long we forget to take care of ourselves. Find something you enjoy and immerse yourself in it. It's time to take your life back and make it something wonderful.

    Thanks for reaching out to us. We're glad you're here.

    Keep posting and let us know how things are going.

    ((HUGS)) to you................................