Trying to save my homeless daughters life

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Mairrey, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Mairrey

    Mairrey New Member

    This is tough. My step daughter, who's 23,and her boyfriend( who's 34) are staying with me right now. She has been homeless at her own choosing for about 4 years. I've tried before to get her off the street and failed because I was too mean, in her opinion. Now I'm failing again. I don't know what to do- I have no reference point for this. She is such a beautiful girl, and so capable. But down right refuses to get a job or live a regular life. She had been living on a boat with her boyfriend and a friend, until it was stolen. She was sopping wet from being in the Bay looking for her boat, so when they left the marina they found a bums shopping cart with clothes in it and changed into them. She only called me because there was nowhere else for them to go. And they have 2 dogs I let them kind of have a week with no guidelines, just to recuperate. When the week was over I gave her the slightest nudge to move forward- and that "stressed her out"They promised to help me around the house. Instead they do nothing and found all the alcohol in the house and drank it. She calls her dad ( who travels for work so isn't home) and says I'm being mean to her. She calls her grandma and does the same. I don't want her back on the street, but also have a 13 year old son to worry about. I have tried tough love, it only alienated her from me. I know I'm being codependent with her. I'm just scared to lose her to the "street scene". I just don't know what to do.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mairrey, I am so sorry you are experiencing this with your daughter. Unfortunately, here your story is all too common. You've come to the right place, it helps to post our "stories"..........I'm glad you're here.

    Since your daughter is 23 she is an adult and we have a separate forum here called Parent Emeritus where those of us who have adult kids with "issues" go for support. I suggest you cut and paste this post over there where you'll get more support.

    Unfortunately, the likelihood of your daughter shifting out of her homeless self is highly unlikely. You will surely be blamed and she will continue that manipulation as long as it works. Our kids are massively resourceful and manipulative.

    The best advice I can give you is to call the local shelters and drop them off there. You can not control her choices and you will go crazy trying to while she manipulates you and makes you feel guilty for the choices she herself is making. Don't fall for it. There is no reason in the world you have to have her living with you while they lie, steal, manipulate and essentially abuse your kindness. This will continue until you make it stop and how you do that is by telling them they have to leave TODAY and off to the shelter they go.

    At any point your daughter could change, she is choosing this lifestyle, you aren't. You didn't cause this, you can't control it and you can't save her, only she can do that.

    You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here, it's helpful. And, since detachment is a very difficult experience for us parents, I would strongly suggest you get yourself as much support as you can, therapy, parent support groups, whatever you can find to help YOU learn how to detach and get your own life back. You might also try 12 step CoDa groups.

    She will continue to be "stressed out" and in fact I imagine she will pull every trick out of her bag to stay in your home where she is essentially getting a free ride for her, her boyfriend and their 2 dogs. Get her out. You have your 13 year old to consider not to mention your own mental and emotional health, which will quickly go overboard if she continues to stay at your home.

    I know this sounds harsh, but our adult kids can do remarkable damage to us before we even know what happened to us, so regardless of her assessment of your "meanness" you must override that and remove her from your home. She may get lost in the street scene but it is HER CHOICE not yours. You do not have to pay any price whatsoever for the bad choices your selfish, manipulative, disrespectful, ungrateful daughter makes. Sorry to be so direct, but sometimes others can see what we ourselves cannot see and it appears you are in a fog of enabling which is preventing you from seeing the truth. Only she can change her life. You are powerless to do so. Your guilt will keep you stuck and she is already using your guilt to keep her where she is. As long as you enable her this will stay the same.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Mairrey. I do not usually post on the General Forum, but RE called our attention to this post in the Parent Emeritus forum, which is where most of the members with grown difficult children post.

    What strikes me from the outset of your plea is that you say that you have tried to get your daughter off the street and you have failed. I think you may be taking on her burden. I know that this doesn't make sense to most of us when we first consider it but at some level this is the life your daughter is choosing. We don't get to make these types of decisions for grown people regardless of how much we want to. I know the feeling that "she'll never make the right decision on her own" can be overwhelming, but you'll never know unless you are not there for her to blame for her failures because "you are mean".

    You owe it to yourself and to your 13 year old son to get these people out of your house. If nothing else he needs to know that if you lay around and don't get a job you don't get a free ride from mom.

    FWIW, she lived on a boat which was stolen so they "found a bum's shopping cart and put on the clothes"? As in "They stole clothes from someone who was doing the best for themselves that they could"? Do you seriously think that "bums" leave their shopping carts unattended? You need to figure out who this man is that you let into your house and get him the heck out of there. There is no way this is going to end well. And in the meantime lock up your valuables, medications, checkbooks, identity cards, weapons, and don't bring any more alcohol into the house. And by all means don't leave them alone there, especially with your 13 year old.
  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    This is not your failure, Mairrey.

    The daughter is making a choice. It is easier right now for her to stay where she is. She has everything she needs without having to do anything for it...which is what she has been doing, all along. What I see is that she is also manipulating you, the father, and the grandmother. This may have been a pattern for her when she was younger, too. She is blaming you to her father and her grandmother so you will be frozen in place and they will be, at least verbally, on her "side." But here is the thing: this is a family. There should not be a side.

    There is a 13 year old boy who needs protection here, too.

    I was going to suggest that the grandmother take the granddaughter, at least until the father comes home. This child has effectively blocked you from having authority over her in your own home. Then, I realized that of course, the grandmother is going to say she cannot have the unmarried male and the dogs in her home.

    Checkmate, again.

    Is there drug use involved?

    If you have the courage and the authority to do it, I would tell them both that you have decided they need to leave, tonight. Bring them to wherever they serve hot meals for the homeless in your area before dinner hour, there. That will give you a timeframe to work with. I may be speaking out of turn here, but if you are uncomfortable taking this kind of action, or if you feel your husband would not support you in this action, you might consider planning for a place for you and your son to go. Let your husband know that you are uncomfortable with having taken in an unknown, homeless, jobless, 34 year old male for his daughter's sake. Tell him you have asked them to leave and they have refused.

    So, you are leaving.

    Is there anywhere you can go until the husband returns?


    What is your husband's position? Will he back you up if you send them to a shelter? Will he back you up if you need to call the police to have them removed from your home?

    In the blue pages of your phone book, there will be a section on Social Services. If you call them and explain your situation, they may be able to give you information.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board family. :)

    I think someone cloned my stepdaughter Katie..........and she is 33. lol

    I know you love her and the last thing you want is for her to be back on the street. However, it's your house, your rules and she must be made to follow those rules. Otherwise it will be chaos and she will just get worse and you will be miserable. If she chooses not to follow house rules and return to the street, she is an adult and that is her choice, not yours.

    As far as house rules go.........whatever you decide, make sure you can and will follow through with the consequences. Otherwise the rule is useless and undermines your authority.

    The first time Katie moved in she had a baby and one on the way. (so I had grands mixed up in it) Her goals were to get her drivers license, get her GED, get a job, get an apartment. She also had to follow house rules. And yes, I had to push her to meet every single one of those goals AND to follow house rules. She had trouble remembering she was no longer a kid.

    She met them only because she, at that time, didn't want to be homeless again.

    She has never stayed with me again. Mainly because I won't forget those months.

    I will finish this post later. Sorry. I've got to head off to work.

    You're not alone. Many of us have already been there done that with this issue.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    First of all, this isn't your fault, it is her bad choice. She is an adult who is probably using drugs, drinking, and trying to make YOU feel guilty because she doesn't have a job or a normal life. Bet she wants you to fund her too. DON'T BUY INTO IT. I agree that Parent Emeritus is a better place for you to post because once kids are of legal age it's a whole different story from when kids are underage. And she is well over legal age. I wouldn't allow her in my house when she is clearly not interested in following your rules, getting a job or not drinking/using drugs. Not to mention at her age she should be forced to work and pay rent. And the boyfriend? Why is this much older stranger, who is probably a criminal, living in your house?

    I'd probably keep the dogs. I'm an animal lover. I feel sorry for them. But I wouldn't let the other two come to the house. You deserve a peaceful life without the drama of a wayward adult stepchild. You should focus on yourself and your thirteen year old son who needs a good example, not this. And you need to worry about your own health and well being too. You raised this child and now she is making her own decisions. You don't owe it to her to continue parenting her as if she is ten years old and this boyfriend is a middle aged man and not a very responsible one.

    You can not help your stepdaughter. There is only one person in the world who can change her/help her and that is herself. She is clearly not ready to get her act together yet so you have to look out for yourself and your son. Yes, tough love will alienate her. Why? Well, she wants to do whatever she wants to do and have you pay for it too or else she will use emoktional blackmail and refuse to speak to you. We've all gone through this. She knows you will let her and her bum boyfriend do nothing all day but drink and drugs if she threatens not to like you. Well, you will have to decide if it is worth it to have her approval. It comes at a high price, including your mental and physical health...maybe even your life. Been there. Soon, if she keeps this up, she will rightfully turn grandma and dad and the rest of the family and her "friends" away from her too. This is not acceptable in anyone her age and people get tired of it. They prefer the alienation eventually...and I'm predicting so will you. Of course, there ARE some parents who are 80 still enabling their 55 year old alcoholic/drug addict "children" having wasted all their later years that should have been for THEM to live out their dreams and to take it easy. Do you want to be that parent?

    You can get help while she is going through her hissy fit if she gets angry at you and you feel alienated from her. If need be, go to an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting so you can get real time parent feedback. They won't force you to speak. Or go to NAMI for help. See a therapist who will be on YOUR side. Read Codapendent No More by Melodie Beattie....great book! :)

    Hope to see you on Parent Emeritus :) Welcome to the board, but sorry that you had to come.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome -

    The others have given you some great advice so far!

    I would also like to address some of the absurdities in your daughter's story. We Moms end up falling for the worst sorts of baloney because we desperately want to believe and support our children....but let's just step back and think about this for a moment:

    Your daughter plus two other adults plus two dogs were living on a boat.

    This boat (which must have been crowded with stuff, not to mention smelly) was stolen.

    Your daughter searched for the stolen boat in a way that caused her to get soaking wet. (??? Did she swim around the marina? )

    When she could not find said boat, she decided to steal the clothes from a homeless man so that she would be dry.


    First, I have trouble believing that a smelly, messy houseboat would have been much of a target.

    Second, assuming it *was* stolen - a normal person's response is to report the theft to the police.

    Third, if there was no insurance on said boat that would have allowed the occupants to pay for an alternative shelter - the police would have referred the group to the Red Cross for emergency assistance.

    Fourth, having exhausted the emergency services provided by the Red Cross, a person might have been obliged to temporarily move in with family, but the stay with family is usually a last resort for which the person acts INCREDIBLY grateful and makes sure to demonstrate their appreciation by helping around the house, being as un-obtrusive as possible, and making plans to get back out on their own as quickly as they can.

    Instead, your daughter has you convinced that the sky is green and the grass is blue.

    You need to find a way to set some healthy boundaries for yourself and your other child - and you need to do this as quickly as possible!
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    They do tell us fantasy, don't they? And we want to believe it.

    Bet the clothes they found that "belonged to a bum" wasn't a bum's clothes. They probably shoplifted the clothing from a store. And even if they did take it from a shopping cart that they thought belonged to a "bum" can they judge this person as a bum? And why take somebody else's clothes? This adult (both really) have serious problems with ethical and moral behaviors...don't feel bad. All of our difficult child adult kids seem to care for nothing but their own comfort. It's hard to hear this the first time, I know. Your mommy heart must really hurt. It takes time, but sometimes your only option is to detach or go down with them. (((Hugs)))
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Just to say - reading all of these posts I can also remember what a nutcase we all were when we were going through this with our grown or nearly grown kids. Whatever you feel about this, don't feel alone.

    And I would probably keep the dogs too. But I'd want to know that they'd had their shots.
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    The advice you've been given is excellent. I know it is very hard to hear. But it is imperative that you set some healthy boundaries and protect yourself and your 13 year old. Chances are, your step daughter won't care for this, but that is just too bad. It is a necessity. You might try to find out if she has one or two healthy goals and set her on the right course to achieve those goals. But, this is, in all truth, is a long shot. Maybe some phone numbers, some direction, some hope....But it might help her to at least begin the process of thinking more clearly about what she wants to do for herself in terms of productivity, self direction, good health and happiness. But, your personal main objection should be to protect yourself...your health, your home and your son. And having someone like this in your home (boyfriend too????) is very likely not healthy and very likely going to be a worsening situation. I would also insist that her father take some part in helping you. If he won't, then even more reason to encourage her to find shelter elsewhere. Give her some tools, some positive goals (her goals...hopefully)....and an example of a woman who moves forward and doesn't take any be the example.