Adult Daughter Causing Heartache

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by emstaggs, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. emstaggs

    emstaggs New Member

    First of all - how awfully wonderful it is to have stumbled upon this forum - I was sure I was the only one in my situation, but after reading some of the stories that are just like mine, I can see that I'm clearly not alone.

    My daughter is 22 (will be 23 in December) and has been steadily getting more and more out of control. Since the age of 18, she's been unable or unwilling to hold down a job for more than 3 or 4 months. I paid for her to get her preschool teaching credentials when she was 20 and she has bounced around from daycare to daycare over the past 2+ years.

    She has good periods followed by awful times where she goes back to her old friends - none of whom have jobs or stability.

    In March of this year, after 6 months of awesome behavior, during which time she had no contact with the old gang, I helped her get a car (financed the car in my name) as she was seemingly on the right wrong I was.

    Within 1 month, she was back to hanging out with her old friends, in and out of jobs again, lying, and just up to no good.

    Finally, my husband and I had enough and took the car away from her and told her that she'd have to find a job using public transportation. I might add that she rarely if ever helped around the house, kept her room like a pig sty, and was still bouncing in and out of work.

    I finally told her that our house was basically her shelter, just to keep her off the streets. She could be in the house while we were there, but could certainly not be in the house lounging around while we were out working.

    On Aug 10, I dropped her off at the city bus stop on my way to work. Unbeknownst to me, she had left a house window unlocked. She made her way back to our home, snuck in through a window while we were at work, and stole all of my jewelry, my husband's guitar & ipad, and took "her" car as well.

    The police have done next to nothing to help us recover our stolen goods. We managed to get the car back - it's in my name, and for that i am grateful. The jewelry is irreplaceable, some of the items were given to me by parents when i was as young as 10 years old. In all, I'd say she made off with over $10,000 worth of jewelry & electronics.

    I have no idea where she's been staying and I only hear from her when she's begging for help and apologizing profusely for what has happened. This theft was so well-planned and premeditated...she even rifled through my husband's medication and took only the anti-anxiety medication which can be sold on the street I suppose.

    This was the absolute last straw for my husband - I would probably take her back in again, but it would wreck my marriage. This is hard and I'm just wondering, for all of you who have had to "cut off" your adult children, does the guilt / pain ever get easier to deal with? I could write a novel on her bad behavior, but I'm sure you get the picture.

    Thanks for listening - It's just nice to know I'm not alone...
  2. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry that you have found yourself in this parenting situation @emstaggs

    You obviously have her best intentions in mind. Who wouldn't be at the end of your rope after the choices your daughter 22 year old has made? Hang in there.

    This Article on Detachment may be helpful to you.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Emstaggs, welcome. I'm sorry that happened with your daughter. You and your husband find yourself in the strange universe we all live within here, where we are forced by our adult kids behaviors to learn different parenting skills. The article on detachment runnawaybunny suggested is a good place to start.

    When our kids go off the rails, for whatever reason, especially if they are stealing, lying, manipulating and in general treating us badly, we have to find a very different way to respond to them. It isn't easy, there are many facets of the process of detaching, setting boundaries and learning different responses.

    I believe the first step is in enlisting support for you and your husband. If you think your daughter has mental issues, look up NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness, they have excellent courses for parents and lots of information and resources for YOU. If you believe your daughter is involved in drugs or alcohol, seek out a 12 step group like Al Anon which will give you tools. A support group for parents or a private therapist is an option you may want to explore. The point is that your daughter may or may not change, so what is most important is that YOU change, you learn different ways to respond, you learn ways to take care of YOU, you learn a different communication style, how to say no, how to set boundaries, how to take a step back from the ledge of enabling and choose a different way to proceed.

    Those of us here on this forum are in varying stages of letting go. We are learning how to accept what is and let go of situations within which we have no control. We are powerless to change our adult kids. Not usually a place many of us know how to navigate. As parents we've believed if we love them enough, give them enough, help them enough, do whatever enough, they will change, they will grow, they will launch. That is not the truth. We don't have that kind of power. If we did, this forum wouldn't exist because we have all tried EVERYTHING already and if that were the ticket, all our kids would be just fine.

    To answer your question directly, "does the guilt & pain get any easier?" Yes, absolutely. BUT, it takes a committed effort on your part to learn new tools. Parenting a typical child requires typical tools. The tools we need to learn about are not at all typical. In fact, they often fly in the face of parenting the way we believed parenting should be. Learning those tools will usually take some kind of professional, consistent and committed support, as I've mentioned, it is rare that we get through this alone. It is hard. It takes time. It's a process of radical letting go.

    You can't change your daughter, or control her, or fix her or in any way do anything that will alter her behavior or choices. Only she can do that. If you stay the course and hang here with us, get support, keep posting, learn new tools, take good care of yourself and begin to focus on yourselves rather than your daughter, your life will change. The guilt subsides, the pain subsides and you gain your lives back regardless of what your daughter is doing or not doing.

    You may also want to read Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie; any books by Pema Chodron, who addresses living with uncertainty; books by Eckhart Tolle who addresses living in the present moment and learning acceptance.

    I'm glad you found us, but sorry you had to. Keep posting, it helps. There will be others along later or tomorrow, so keep checking back in. Read our stories. We're all in this together.........
  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome emstaggs, I am so sorry for what you have been going through. I'm glad you found us here.

    This was a wise choice. Setting clear boundaries with our Difficult Child is a must. Many parents struggle with this but I think you and your husband have a good grasp.

    Again, you set a clear boundary.

    Oh my does this bring back memories for me!! My son while still a teenager on numerous occasions would run away from home and while husband and I were at work he would break into the house, ransack and steal. I know all to well the feeling of violation at the hands of someone you love. It's a violation that leaves a hole in your soul. I am so sorry you had to come home to that.

    I'm glad you called the police. Did they issue a warrant for her arrest? Did you press charges?
    Again, I know how hard it can be to press charges against your own child. I've had to do it a few times.

    Our Difficult Child can create such havoc and chaos for a marriage. My husband and I had many fights about our son. He was more willing to than I when it came to giving second, third, fourth, twentieth chances but I went along because I so desperately wanted to believe that "this time it will be different". I finally got to a point that I could not take it anymore. My heart was so broken and my trust completely shattered. I told my husband that we could not go on like this any longer. Something had to change. The old saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" That's where we were. I wanted my life back!! My husband and I started to take long drives on the weekends and the only rule we had was no talking about our son. My husband and I started to reconnect with each other. We both came to realize that we could not allow our son's chaotic life choices to drive a wedge between us.

    Yes it does. It just takes time. One thing that has helped me keep things in perspective is this, I do not want to be an 80 year old woman still enabling my 60 year old son.
    When we enable our adult children we are actually stunting their growth and they come to rely on us to take care of them. They grow accustomed to living a lifestyle of partying with no regard for responsibility because they know mom and dad will give them a place to live, money, food, clothes, etc..........
    When we start to cut them off they will often ramp up their manipulation and try to guilt us into continuing the enabling. Cutting them off does not mean we don't love them it simply means that we accept that their life choices are theirs, that we have no control over them and we leave them to live their own lives no matter their choices.
    You have done all you can for your daughter, the rest is up to her.

    I'm glad you are here with us. Please keep posting and let us know how things are going.

    ((HUGS)) to you......................................
  5. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi EM,

    Welcome to our little world.

    We all know what you are going through. We have all been there, to one extent or another.

    Have you tried looking for your jewelry in the pawn shops around your house and the areas where your daughter and here friend hang out?

    Yes, I believe it does get easier with time. My hubby has been able finally, to separate his son as he is now from the beloved baby and child he used to be. It has been a long, painful process.

    So, stay with us, keep posting, keep reading, join discussions. We are there for you.

  6. Seeking Peace

    Seeking Peace Member


    Welcome. Yes, you are correct, you're not alone. All of us have similar experiences with our child. All of us are in different places of acceptance.

    I actually log on here multiple times a day just to make it to the next minute!

    It's hard! No doubt about it! While all of us must do what we feel comfortable with, I can share with you what we did.

    I cannot expect my child to ever respect or value me, my feelings, or my belongings if I continuously erase and redraw the line.

    We've had problems for years. Once my daughter turned 18, they seemed to escalate. Like your daughter, mine was able to secure multiple jobs, but within days would quit. She'd make up such extraordinary stories, so believable, that you'd question what you already knew to be truth! This has been her MMO with work ever since. In two years, she's easily held 20 different jobs.

    My daughter has also left windows unlocked and come back into the house. She has stolen numerous things from everyone. The last time being money out of my wallet (even though she had her own).

    My daughter also tends to deviate towards the "bad crowd", but I have learned that it's not the crowd that changes my daughter, she is just like them. That's why she continues to return to them. Others their age are on a totally different path at this moment in time, whether it's school, work, etc. Those doing the right things really don't want to be affiliated with those who aren't.

    My daughter no longer lives at home. This past time was truly the final time. 1) nothing changed. 2) she failed to keep up her side of the deal, and 3) it was not only damaging my marriage, but directly breaking me down. It was the fourth time in 2 years.

    My daughter has NO regard or respect for me, her father, or her sibling. Cussing at us, stealing from us, lying about us, and to us, is NOT acceptable. I love my daughter. I absolutely hate things being like this. But I'd be a fool to roll over and allow her to march back into my home again.

    If she makes it, it will be because she made it. Echoing what everyone eventually learns and God willing finds acceptance in, it's not ours to control. That's one of the hardest parts...taking care of them their entire lives, and then cutting the cord so abruptly. While it seems that way, in truth, they've all had endless opportunities to excel under our helping hands.

    Some people have to learn the hard way. As difficult as it is to watch your own child do that, it's much more difficult to allow them to not become their OWN person in life.