difficult child parents in denial

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Brotherinlaw, May 28, 2014.

  1. Brotherinlaw

    Brotherinlaw New Member

    My wife's parents seem to be in denial about their difficult child son. He's 37 and lives at home. Has worked for about 8 weeks in the past 3 years. He constantly has job interviews but is supposedly turning them down instead if taking these jobs. He tends to get these job interviews far away and so he needs a full tank if gas to get there. I tend to think that there are no job interviews and he just says this so his parents will fill up his tank. His parents say that they don't give him money, but someone corners them on a particular purchase they say that he recycled cans to raise the money to buy it.

    We think the difficult child parents are concerned that their son will commit suicide since one of his uncles did this 30years ago. I think the situation couldn't be more different since that uncle had a lot of young kids,and a difficult marriage, and had been suspended at work, while the difficult child is single and has no kids.

    difficult child also yells at his parents and that's when his parents give in and give him money.

    difficult child has an excuse for everything. He's always telling everyone how he's looking for work, but often former employers or peers blackball him and that's hurting his chances at funding a new job.

    Any idea on how to get difficult children parents to stop enabling him?
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sigh, welcome to the board but sorry you have to be here.

    You and your wife are in a difficult situation. There is really no way to force her parents to stop helping her brother. I would bet your take on the situation is probably right on. I have a brother in law who is somewhat the same way but his parents arent alive anymore. He mooches off all his siblings. My brother in law did the whole "I am looking for work, the interview is today, oh I didnt get it, bums to be me" routine too. Or he thought he was putting one over on us until I did a bit of investigating and traced him to what was supposed to be an interview and the place had never even heard of him. Oddly though, I was the one who was deemed to be in the wrong for proving that he was lying to us even though he was living in my house, eating my food and not paying a dime. Beats me.

    With your Brother in Law (brother in law) is there any reason such as mental illness or physical disability that he cannot get a job or live on his own? How old are his parents? If they are older than 65 you could consider calling adult protective services confidentially and telling them you think they are being abused because of what he is doing.
  3. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    brother in law,

    sadly, the answer to your question is....you cannot. You can't control the behavior of other adults. You can only control your own reaction. You can work in ways to minimize the stress and aggravation your brother in law's behavior has on YOU, and maybe on your wife. That is all that is in your purview.

    Do they complain about him to you? You can ask them to stop, and explain why it is frustrating.

    Does he attempt to mooch off you? You can put an end to that.

    Do you hate to even see him? You can explain to the in-laws that it is frustrating and hurtful to you to see him take advantage of them, and you need to see them when he is not around (although be VERY careful of drawing lines with in-laws about their own kids!! blood is thick, parental guilt and enabling is thicker...)

    But you can't get them to stop taking care of him. They already know, in their hearts, that there is something amiss.

    I suppose...in the best of all worlds...if you are a real diplomatic and can suspend judgment...you could ask them if they are OK with how things are between them and your brother in law, and if not if they would like to talk things over....which would open the door to helping them learn about co-dependence and enabling...but if not...you run the risk of alienating yourself and your wife. ONly you know if it is worth it.

    Very frustrating to be an observer in the game of using/enabling. I feel your pain!

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  4. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    Everything Echo said. While you cannot change others, at least you have recognized the issue for what it is. Knowledge is power. Now you have the power to make decisions that support and protect you and your wife. At 37, it sounds like this adult difficult child has made a lifestyle of mooching parasitically off of your wife's parents. He has zero motivation to get a job because his current situation is working just fine for him. The problem is that it's not working fine for everybody else. In fact, he is hurting others emotionally, physically, and financially. Until your wife's parents come to realize that they are enabling this behavior, they will allow it to continue. Contrary to their beliefs, they are not helping him at all, but keeping him as he is, in this mooching state of existence. As Echo mentioned, consider all of this, and make your decisions carefully.
  5. Brotherinlaw

    Brotherinlaw New Member

    He doesn't appear to have any physical disability or mental illness. He appears to be very with it. I think to do what he's doing, he has to keep his stories straight.
  6. Brotherinlaw

    Brotherinlaw New Member

    They don't really complain to us about him. But we get updates every time a new "job" pops up. My wife is skeptical about his job hunts too, but his parents believe him, or maybe they're not sure as to what else to do. I guess if this was easy, they would have solved it 20 years ago.

    He did try to mooch off us for a while(stopping by unannounced for meals), but once we told him he couldn't live with us, he pretty much stopped visiting unless he came with his parents. It was remarkably effective.
  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    difficult child's don't do anything that is hard. They will go where the getting is easy.

    If you want to try it, next time you get an update about a "job opportunity" you can say gently "I find I get frustrated hearing about all these opportunities that don't materialize..this isn't your fault, it is my own shortcoming. But I am trying to minimize frustation in my life, so I'm going to ask you not to tell me about these anymore. I'll be happy to come celebrate when he actually lands a job"

    Or something along those lines.

    It helps sometimes to figure out exactly what you are going to say under different circumstances, as you start to disengage from the situation.

  8. Brotherinlaw

    Brotherinlaw New Member

    I'm thinking maybe it would help if difficult child could come up with some goals that he wants to accomplish. Maybe real goals, like somewhere he'd like to go, or something he'd like to do. Goals like: find a job, or have an income, or clean out things probably would not count. Right now he doesn't appear to be moving towards any goals whatsoever.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ahhh, if we could figure out how to get a difficult child to have attainable goals we would all be rich!
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  10. Childofmine

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

    brother in law, bless you. You are approaching this from a very logical, common sense standpoint. The problem is, that doesn't work with addiction. And you'll make yourself totally insane trying to make that approach work.

    He's 37. He is going to do whatever he decides to do. His parents, well meaning I am sure, are going to do whatever they decide to do.

    It may be insane to watch, but that is all you can do, stand by and watch. Spend the energy that watching creates on yourself, and keep your distance.

    You may want to read the book "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. It's great for every relationship in your life, healthy or otherwise.

    Glad you are here.
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    All you can do is be supportive of them when things go right, and acknowledge that this is a personal decision that they get to make. Be there for them when they ask for help. It's likely that if you try to intervene that they will not come to you when it is needed because (just like everyone else) they don't want to have an "I could have told you it would work out this way if you would have just listened to me..."
  12. Your use of the phrase 'cornering them' upsets me. Why would anyone want to put them on the spot like that? I feel sorry for his parents. Cornering them only add's to the stress that they're already living under. There's nothing worse than family members making little digs about what a parent should and shouldn't do. It just alienates that parent and makes them feel like they don't have a support system.

    A little compassion goes a long way and if they feel they're not being judged they may open up more and talk about their situation. But ideally, your wife, their daughter should be the one to talk to them. But, ultimately it's the parents choice and there's nothing you or your wife can do if they choose to let him live there.