A parent solution...thoughts?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Nomad, May 15, 2019.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I would like to get feedback on something I observed a parent of a Difficult Child child do that ended up getting some improvement for him. But not without much sacrifice on her part.

    Her son was in his mid 20s. Smoked pot a lot. Always in trouble and doing dumb things. Hanging out with bad people. Wouldn’t work.

    She got him a condo near her home. Put a lot of rules attached to it. No drugs or drinking. Everyone out by midnight. No sleepovers without permission. She had a key and arbitrarily checked up on him every few days. He broke the rules constantly at first, but after several months this improved. Believe me...he still broke them. But not constantly.

    He couldn’t or wouldn’t work. She gave him an allowance. Of course it wasn’t enough and if she gave him more money, he bought pot with it.

    She gave him food money, but nine times out of ten she went food shopping with him and only rarely let him do it on his own.

    This went on for at least a year.

    There was a non profit place near the condo. She arranged for him to volunteer PT there. He worked 15-20 hours a week. For the most part, he liked it. He would get his hours signed and she would pay him out of her own pocket $5 an hour for those hours. He did this for at least a year.

    He started to like having money he earned on his own. He applied to work at the food store and got a good recommendation from the volunteer place. He was hired and works 20- 30 hours a week and minimum wage is over $8 ...so it is a much better deal for him. This has been going on a few years.

    Last I heard, she is still checking up on him and he still messes up...but it’s a little less as he is out of the condo more often and has some better friends.

    At some point, she had him start paying for his own electricity and some misc. expenses.

    Last I heard he is trying to get full time employment at the food store.

    It’s not ideal and she still puts more work / effort than should be needed for an adult child. I think he is about 29 now.

    It’s tiring just thinking about it. Right?
    And one obviously has to be well off to do such a thing.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Nomad.

    I think this mom is great! But I think the kid is workable too.

    I tried to do something similar (actually, one hundred times I tried). It just did not work. Why? I get upset. I react. I throw up my hands in despair.

    I also think because M was involved, it has been harder to implement this kind of intervention. Triangles are much harder to control. My son plays us one against the other. ETC.

    But this is very helpful. I'm going to read it again. Thank you.
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Interestingly, her husband rarely got involved. This, at times, was like a PT job for her. I’m not necessarily advocating it. BUT, I do find it interesting. It was almost like a home made therapeutic situation. It was exhausting and expensive. It took several years to get to a decent place and she’s still involved. But, there is clear cut improvement and this is a very good thing. She was pretty even tempered and relaxed. However, especially at the beginning when he would often deceive her, she did get upset. Very hard work....big time.
  4. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    It would take tons of work and lots of money and the kid would get the same attention as a young child. Plus I don't know that this outcome would happen for most. Volunteering sites often have no work for pay opportunities.

    Having said that, I too spent a fortune on a younger Kay and tried to guide her and spent more time working on her issues than my other two combined. In our case it didn't work and my other two resent all the times that we put Kay in front of them due to Kay being more needy. Do these people have other loved ones?

    There are many things we can try. It depends a lot on our personalities and financial situations. Your friend sounds very special. I don't know that I could have done that. I know I am too frazzled to do that now.

    Your friend sounds amazing. Your friend's son is very lucky. I wish I had her patience. She really helped her son. Good on her!
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  5. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    She is amazing. Since the volunteer job didn’t pay, she paid her son $5 an hour volunteering there. She had him get a signature from a manager on his hours.

    Her other two children are super successful and very independent. It’s night and day.

    This one is clearly improving, but in tiny baby steps and with an inordinate amount of help.

    Last I heard she still sometimes goes food shopping with him. She is letting him do it much more on his own now. This was a very very slow process.

    At times she was very stressed as we all are because he would falter, do something very inappropriate, lie to her etc. Over time the incidents of these types of things lessened.

    However, my best guess is he will always be somewhat prone to them.

    But again, there is no doubt she has helped him get to a better place.
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  6. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hopefully, this woman has a lot of money and time on her hands and was able to do this without jeopardizing her future or relationships with others.

    There is no guarantees that this will work, but it sounds like there are improvements for this particular guy. I can see how this could work for some, but for others, it would be the exact wrong thing to do. My step-son only makes strides when he is forced to do things for himself.

    I wonder how the siblings feel about how much time and money is lavished on him. Do they resent him? This often happens when the squeaky wheel gets all the grease, especially if the parent is sacrificing their well-being or future retirement. The others sometimes feel that the “bad” sibling is being rewarded and the “good” ones punished.
  7. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    If it works for her, OK. But for me, this is too much. I think it's way too codependent and it's treating the adult son like he's a child. in my opinion our goal is to have our adult children function on their own as adults. What will happen to this man when his mother dies? I see lots of problems with this situation and I would never do it, and not just because I don't have the time, money, or energy. But because I want to have my own life and I want my daughter have her own life.
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  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I think it can work for some but not all. My husband and I did the same thing for our son. We purchased a small house for him to live in. All he was required to do was get a job. We gave him money, bought him clothes, gave him a cell phone, bought groceries, etc...... we also checked in. Our goal was to have him start working then eventually start paying some rent, get him to the point that he was "responsible" and we would gift him the house.
    Sadly, this did not work for us. I do not regret trying because I know we tried and did our very best to help him - sadly, he just didn't want to be helped.
    I'm glad to hear that it does work for some parents.
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  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Most of us do a version of that scenario.....perhaps not as organized, but we generally provide A LOT while our kids are off the rails. My observation on this board is that your friend's choice doesn't work for most..... and many parents don't have the resources to uphold two households until their adult child grabs the reins. I don't think there's a right or wrong here, if your friend is not beaten up by the arrangement, then good for her.

    That scenario would not have worked for my daughter and I, we needed to separate out of a negative, unhealthy connection of enabling and once we did that, over time, she changed. She recently got a job and found a place to live in a nice place, in a nice town all on her own. The remarkable transformation took place because of her pride in doing it herself which was forced on her by my disengagement. When it was clear that I wasn't budging, she stepped up and began climbing out of that deep hole.....she did it all on her own and now feels empowered to continue because she knows her strength. Had I continued helping as I had been for years, she would have stayed where she was. She and I both are aware of that. In addition, after years of helping, I was completely burned out, anxious, overwhelmed and unhappy, often the place many of us live for years and years while we "help" our kids. For me and for many of us, helping is enabling, unhealthy and destructive. My concern would be for your friends well being....I came close to that kind of helping and it was slowly destroying my own life .......so if your friend is happy, peaceful and accepting of the situation as it is, that is different than someone doing that level of helping and feeling resentment, anger, worry, fear, depression, anxiety, etc. I'm also not convinced that your friends son is thriving as an adult who has the skill to be independent, I would be concerned that she has inadvertently helped to remove any incentive he can conjure up on his own without enormous external supports being provided for him. Yes, it is tiring just thinking about it, I did not want to be my daughter's keeper, I wanted my own life and I wanted her to have her own life too.
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  10. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    We have done a modified version of this.
    Our daughter has improved in teeny tiny increments.
    But, I think it's mostly because of time itself and having a steady decent place to live has given her a little stability. It's hard to be stable mentally when you are constantly moving and when I use the word "constantly," that I mean literally ....ALL THE TIME and often in scary, unsafe places.
    She has faced some hardships of her own doing and that has taught her some lessons. Mind you, NOT as much or as quick as one would expect...but I think she has some knowledge that she doesn't want to repeat certain things.
    Everything with her is slow going.
    I would never have had the stamina and patience to do what this woman has done. I'm amazed she hung in there. I think at times it became an unhealthy obsession for her...but then again, I think she learned to pull back when she picked up on this.
    Also, no doubt, some of our adult children are less healthy than others, more addicted than others....it various a lot. I do find what she did very interesting on many levels and I'm happy her son has progressed. I suppose there is a little part of me that wonders if some day it will all blow up. That is the cynical part of me that sometimes comes when you have a child like this...the relentless weird crxp...it just seems never ending. Ugh. I hope it continues in the right direction for her and her son. Fingers crossed.
  11. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I agree that she is a GREAT mother and has the patience of a saint.

    I don't think I have that kind of patience! But I think if you see improvements - and you know how hard we look for these - then you may continue to help in whatever way you are helping. Whatever works for you.

    I know for our son we have to...I'll call it "redirect" ... him every few months. He is moving forward but sometimes drinks too much beer (in my opinion) after work and I have to call him to the carpet on it. He then agrees and does better. I think maturity and getting into school in a few weeks will help that along.

    We have also decided to buy a new home here to rent out for now. The area is in desperate need of rentals due to the industry here. We will put it in his name and when we think he's ready we will let him take over the payments.This could be two years from now BUT it is a great incentive. Since his school will be free and we had planned to help him, it frees us up a bit.
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  12. 200Meters

    200Meters A real bustard

    Nomad, I think the Mom you mentioned is being a very good & very dedicated mother. It is easy to parent good kids who have their heads on straight, want to make something with their lives and are making something with their lives. Parenting kids who are more of a challenge is, well, more of a challenge. The mother you mentioned seems like she is up to her challenge.
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  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I have debated on whether to respond, since I didn't have these kinds of issues with Miss KT. However, her father, at the age of 60, is completely dependent on his mother, who is 92. He lives about an hour south of here, in a home she owns, and hasn't worked steadily since we divorced about 25 years ago. I refer to him as Useless Boy. He is capable of working, he just smokes too much pot and uses who knows whatever else, and he's lazy as hell. So lazy that when Miss KT came down to visit a few weeks ago (mind you, she is living 800 miles away), he couldn't stir his butt up enough to drive an hour to see his only child.

    I think the mom in the original post is an enabler, and even if the guy is doing better now, who's to say that the mom won't continue to enable? UB's mother blamed me for his decline, that if I hadn't divorced him he would be fine. I had to shame him into working at all, and it was worse after Miss KT was born.
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  14. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I totally get that this could blow up badly. And I do see enabling tendencies in the mom.
    Of course, I hope it doesn’ blow up on her. I hope he continues to progress.
    When I left that city, I recall thinking it was time to place more boundaries and responsibilities on him.
    She was moving in that direction, but very slowly.
    I was aware that at times he was not honest with her.
    This was not a good sign.
    I think she had to go slow and it seems to have moved him forward.
    But, the bottom line if at any point he decides he doesn’t wish to go further than this...he might stop and she is sort of stuck.
    I don’t know if she has it in her to set hard boundaries.
    I don’t know if he has it in him to pick up the ball and run with it (so to speak).
    But, it is what it is.
    I hope it works out.
    It’s not easy.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Well. This is really the crux of it, isn't it. And this:
    This is the dance my son and I do.
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  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This reminds me of a program for long term alcoholics who are homeless in NYC. They are given an apartment but they do NOT have to give up alcohol. They are given the option of having the alcohol in their apartment or having the staff hold it and dole it out to them on a schedule they agree to. These are all people who have been homeless for many years and alcoholics for many years. After months or a couple of years in the apartments, most residents cut way back on alcohol or gradually stop drinking completely. Staff never judges them or lectures them about drinking. Staff helps them learn how to clean and cook and do laundry as is needed, and is just there if they are needed. It is one of the very RARE programs that doesn't demand that residents not have any alcohol on the site. It has succeeded where MANY shelters have not.

    This sort of seems like what this woman has done. She is encouraging him to learn, and he may have problems that keep him from learning quickly. If you can devote that sort of time and money, and not completely lose your temper at each challenge or problem, then it might be worth a try.
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  17. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    Nomad, I bought a home for my daughter to rent from us, close to mine, but not too close. It takes me 20 minutes to walk to her home if I do a power walk. I looked at this home as an extention of our home, Lord knows I could not have her living here with us. My daughter can make her bills for a while and then makes stupid decisions and we are back to square one. The house that I bought for her to live in is working for us for the time being. This has not been easy, it has been stressful many times, but it helps me to sleep at night. Since I do not go over there much or make unexpected visits like in the past she has stepped up and is keeping things better, the neighbors have even mentioned improvements. With my daughter, things are always up and down off and on but recently for 7 months she has been making her bills and paying back payments to me for all the rent she missed, the place still get messy and the trash is not always taken out but it is better. It maybe tiny baby steps forward. I sleep better knowing she is living in a neighborhood that has great security. I tried my very best to help her get going on the right path and if she does not want that anymore that is ok, I can sleep well knowing I did everything in my power to help guide her into a better life.
    My life with my daughter is still stressful and I am constantly dodging her lies but it is better than it was a few years ago. The other shoe falls often but it seems she is quicker to get back up and back on some sort of better track.
    This house arrangement has been going on since 2007. Many times I did not think it would work, many times I wanted to kick her out but I prayed hard about it and felt it was best to work with it. I got the answers through deep prayer. You have to have nerves of steel to do this but it was the right choice for us for the time being.
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  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Newstart

    I did this too for my son who is now 30. It has not worked. We had some of the same problems.

    How is it that your daughter got on board paying rent? What changed? Do you charge her market rent? Is it hard on you to see the house trashed/destroyed/or dirty? Do you look the other way? Does she drink or use marijuana or drugs? If so, how do you deal with that?
    One reason it has not worked is that one, we have been too hands on. We have had rules. My son listens to NOTHING I want.
    Looking back it has always been better, out of sight out of mind. My son can take care of himself. He wants to live as he wants to live. The only huge problem is money management. He chooses to not pay rent, to use more money for marijuana. That was one reason I kicked him out. After years of not paying rent, I had enough. I was subsidizing the marijuana use. I could not look the other way.
    I do not have nerves of steel. I am reactive and emotional. The last time I kicked him out he was coming back to the house during the day and laying around in the yard, high. When I saw what he was doing I kicked him out on the spot.

    The thing is my son goes borderline homeless when he leaves here. For 8 months he slept in a friend's truck. For the past 2 months he has slept in somebody's shed.

    This just keeps getting worse and worse. I understand why you are doing what you are doing. There is no way to win in our situations. It is just so hard.

    Thank you for posting.
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    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  19. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Many of these kids are truly mentally ill and have no ability to handle money. I suppose it might be on a spectrum with some having the ability to learn, some having the ability but refusing to learn, some having limited ability and others having no ability. I believe our daughter might have no ability. She is very impulsive and moody. Thank goodness my husband is her designated payer. I am not kidding, she would spend her check on candy or give it away before having any notion to pay her rent first. Thank goodness she doesn’t do drugs. Because that would make a bad situation worse. Determining what she is capable of or not has always been tricky. But for us, managing money, especially for larger sums, for her, is not possible. We have major struggles with getting her to manage her food and laundry money.
    I find it all so sad and frustrating.

    I think this mom I’m speaking of has done a really remarkable thing, but like has been mentioned...much depends on the young man himself too...his ability to learn in the first place and his willingness to move forward.
  20. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I think if it works, we do it. I would definitely NOT think it would be good to do this for someone that has addiction issues.

    I know how hard we want to protect them, even if they are using.

    Yesterday on my way home from work I saw a young guy - probably early 20's walking down the highway barefoot and with no shirt on. He was fair skinned. This is southern Alabama and it was about 88 degrees when I was driving home. It tore at my heart because that could have been my son. I thought about how sunburned he will be and how much his feet must hurt because there were a lot of rocks and stones and I'm sure the pavement was very hot.

    I thought of pulling over not sure what I would do but then I thought about it and that maybe he had a family or mothers somewhere that had been trying to help him. Maybe this was what he needed to reach his rock bottom. I said a prayer for him that it was and that he would be helped. Sometimes our helping is enabling and prolonging the bad behavior.