Am I enabling??

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by okie girl, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    My son is in a minimum security prison. I have been putting money on his books for the past few months. At first I started out with $40. I am charged $7.95 for each transaction. He tells me how he needs money for deodorant, shampoo, soap and snacks. He keeps needing more money. He has bought jeans with some of the money and says he is charged for his blood pressure medications, etc. my husband ( not my sons dad) has stressed not to send him money. My son has stolen from us and my husband said he is done trying to help him. My son will be 45 this month. Husband asked me this weekend if I was putting money on his books and I told him no. I hated to lie. I have been sending him about $90 a month ( then I'm charged $7.95 for the handling fee). This last month I sent him $140 because Christmas and his birthday are coming up. He called me last night to wish me a happy birthday and asked me for more money. He says he needs it for coffee, etc. plus he was needing a pair of tennis shoes because his is falling apart. I hope you can follow this because it seems like I am rambling. I would appreciated some feed back....Thank you
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    If he is 45 and still stealing from you and in prison, I believe anything you give him is enabling unless it is birthday cards sending love and nothing else etc. You can't be young and you can use that money, I'm sure. After 45 years of trying is it not time to put yourself first?

    What will he do when you are no longer around?

    in my opinion your marriage should come first. Secrets tend to come out. There is a reason your husband wants to stop sending money
    Listen to him. This can destroy your husbands trust in you. He is there for you. Your son is not. He will never be.

    If you feel you must help with the clothes why not buy him 20 dollar tennis shoes and cheap jeans from from Wal-Mart. He doesn't need to be a fashion plate in prison.

    Worse, I remember he is an addict. He could be buying drugs in prison. So I think its risky to send so much. On every level. If he wants a good, comfortable life, he can make something out of himself when he gets out...maybe go to schools to talk to kids or mentor kids going the wrong way. And get a job, any job he can. You know there are programs to help felons get employment

    Fact is, he doesn't need money in prison. Nobody goes hungry. There are jobs and resources to help better himself. He has depended on you his entire adult life and hasn't felt grateful for it or enriched his life.

    In your gut, do you ever feel it's time to stop? Do you do it out of guilt? If so why? You don't have to share with us. The questions are for yourself.

    Big hugs. We are all here for you.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  3. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    Thank you SWOT. I just have a hard time saying no to him. When I do, I feel guilty.

    I know this is classic enabling but I don't want him to feel unloved. I'm the only person that he has any contact with
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, I think you are enabling him. I do not believe putting money on his books, especially after he stole from you, is appropriate. And, lying to your husband about it is part of the problem.

    It's hard to allow our kids to struggle, but at 45 years old, I think your son is continuing to manipulate and use you. Use the money for YOU.
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    He has nobody else because he steals, uses drugs and probably used people. It is up to him to turn his life around and he isn't getting any younger.

    Please take care of yourself now. There is no rational reason to feel guilt over your son who stole from even you, the only person still left.

    Hugs and try to find peace today. Reconnect with husband. I would tell him the truth about the money before he finds out another way.
  6. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    Thank you for your reply recovering. I know it is wrong to lie to my husband and I feel so guilty for lying to him. My son knows just what to say to me to get what he wants. I have to change but it is hard to do.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You have to pay for those calls. How often does he call? You never have to take his calls or limit them to once a week and you can set a boundary that talking about money is off limits then disconnect the call if he brings it up.

    There are ways to take care of yourself. If son "plays" you it may be best for you to limit contact.
  8. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    SWOT...I am really going to focus on just sending a small amount to his books. Just enough to buy necessary essentials. I don't feel like I can tell my husband the truth. I'm afraid he would leave. Just going to try to cut the enabling.
  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I understand.
  10. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi Okie,

    I have adult step-kids, and my hubby is a step- parent to my adult kids, so I know how much of a land-mine money situations can be, even when talking about our non-D C adult children.

    However, if you realize that your enabling is jeopardizing your marriage, it has to stop.

    Maybe you should call the prison administration, sons case worker, or other contact at the prison to find out what is provided by them.

    It sounds like, the more you give your son, the more he wants. It is a never-ending cycle. It wont stop until you stop it.

    Good luck, and come back more often!

  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    While I don't believe clothing can be purchased at an outside store and sent in to an inmate (not enough profit for the prison, and too much opportunity to sneak in drugs or other contraband in seams or pockets, or even to soak the fabric in a liquid form of the drug and then to have it gotten out once inside the prison), the prison WILL provide basic clothing for an inmate.

    The things your son wants are ALL things that are used as cash by inmates, used to trade for drugs and used to gamble with and to buy other contraband items with. It is past time for you to figure out EXACTLY what the prison will and will not provide, and how much your son is lying to you and manipulating you. Based on his past record, and his constant begging for money rather than efforts to rebuild his relationship and to earn your trust back, I would say he has not overcome his drug problems or his other problems while in prison. I would say that he is continuing to use you and you are enabling him.

    In other words, at this time you are part of his problem, not part of his solution. I know that you feel guilty saying no to him. I know it is hard. Please, PLEASE, go to some Alanon or Narcanon meetings. If you cannot go for yourself, go for your husband and your son. Go for your relationships with them. It will help you establish and understand healthy boundaries, and deal with the guilt.

    I also recommend reading the book Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend. There is also a workbook that you can do with the book. It is amazing, and it really can be helpful.

    One clue that you are doing the wrong thing is that you don't feel comfortable telling others what you are doing. That you feel bad telling your husband what you are doing is a major sign that you are doing the wrong thing. One way to think about what you are sending your son is this - how would you feel if your son overdosed on drugs in prison? How would you feel if you knew that he bought the drugs that he overdosed on with money that you sent him? Jeans, shoes, coffee, food, hygiene products are all used as currency in prisons. If he is still using, and you help him, you are contributing to his problems.

    I know you want him to feel loved, but you can do that with a card and with emotional support. Physical things are NOT the best way to show emotional love. I am sorry that your son makes you feel that you must send him so much money if you love him, but he is WAY out of line to push you like this. He can get a job, even in prison, and WORK for what he wants and needs, like people everywhere else in the world do. Making his mother send him money is NOT the right thing for him to do, and he should be ashamed of himself. Where was he when you needed help with anything before he went to prison? What has he done to show his love for you? Why is this love a mom to him one way street and not ever a him to mom street? Where is his support and love for you? What has he done but push you to lie and go against your husband, the man who is there to help and support you?

    These are just thoughts, and I certainly am NOT judging you in ANY way. We all have done things we may not be proud of, I know I have at times. I have made WAY more than my share of mistakes over the years, so I am not in any way throwing stones or judging you. I just think that you should ask the prison what they provide and then tell your son to figure out how to survive on what they provide and whatever jobs he can find at the prison. Because they will let those who want a job and who will behave themselves get a job. And maybe going without would be what he needed to motivate him to behave long enough so that he could get a job.

    Big Hugs, Your Stillwater Friend
  12. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    Hi Apple....I did call the prison this morning. She told me if I wanted to put a few dollars on his books for essentials like deodorant, shampoo toothpaste and such that is what she would do. I think you are right...he continues to want more. I have got to reel myself in. My daughter is the only one that knows about this and she isn't happy at all. She said I need to stop this insanity. I know she is right. I just have to be strong enough to say no, which isn't easy for me
  13. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    Thank you Susie. I am stepping back and taking a long hard look at what I have been doing. Thank you Susie!
  14. UKMummy

    UKMummy Member

    I think can all probably relate to finding it really difficult to say no. Our DCs have an real talent at pulling on our heart strings. But I have certainly found that the more I say no, the easier it has become. You can prepare a little script and practise it for the next time he calls. Have your reasons for saying no ready. He won't like it and will probably step up the emotional blackmail but stick to your guns. Tell him you are prepared to help a little (he should be very grateful for that) but that you will do no more.
    Please please re read Susiestar's post above. These luxuries ARE used as currency and when you feel yourself weakening, remind yourself what this is really about.
    Much love to you x
  15. STEP MOM

    STEP MOM New Member

    If your husband finds out you are lying to him , his anger will griw daily if he feels he cannot trust you. Save your marriage, save yourself. This us two pronged. If son knows he can manipulate you , don't you get he does not want anyone around you that days to stop giving to him ? This happened to me and the son (27) was successful in our once really good relationship. He used and used and used his Dad. Dad finally said no to him , but the damage had already been done. Your husband is first. You are first. Stop enabling him before you loose your husband .Just my opinion from my own experiance.
  16. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    And most likely he will find out. (Sigh)
  17. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    Thank you UK.....I've decided to come up with why I can't keep putting money on his account. I will help a little but not what I have been doing...thanks for your input...I appreciate it very much
  18. okie girl

    okie girl Active Member

    You are right Step Mom. It just isn't worth putting my marriage at stake. I love my husband very much and need to put him first. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
  19. STEP MOM

    STEP MOM New Member

    Your Welcome. Being in a similar situation only it was his Dad enabling him. We lost our relationship. You have a chance to save yours. Keep thinking you and your husband come first period. Your Son will most likely through at you several emotional manipulations to control you again. DO NOT GIVE IN . For godsakes he is 45 . Good luck , keep is in the know ?
  20. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I feel your pain and discomfort. I have been wrestling with this same issue. My son (22) has been in and out of jail for two years now. BEcause he is a sweet and vulnerable young man (in addition to being a substance abuser and felon!) I started by putting money on his phone account and on his books in addition to buying him prison clothing packages (underwear, socks). His dad also put money on his accounts. I did this with each new return to jail (He kept getting released to monitored mental health facilities and either running away or failing). Eventually I was like...I'm not buying socks again. My ex husband bought him radios (he loves music and was listening to ball games and talk shows, which made our phone calls much more interesting). He did indeed get a job in the jail kitchen, partly for the money and partly to pass the time.
    The last time he was released I told him that if he left his program again I wouldn't provide in-jail support to him money for calls, and I might not take his calls either (he called every day). I persuaded his dad to not buy yet another radio (they all supposedly were stolen from him or broken). His dad and I agreed we would still send him books..he always had trouble reading outside, but seems to manage it in jail.
    It is very, very hard. And yet...if you want something you've never had you have to do something you've never done. We have to stop making jail so comfy for him.
    I mean, he is there for a reason. I assume your son is also. Why are we acting like this is just a tough time for them and we are providing mommy love? THEY COMMITTED CRIMES.

    (I am shouting to myself).

    Try not to let him twist things into looking like the only love is in things given, in financial transaction. You can love him without giving him money. If he doesn'
    t know that or refuses to acknowledge that, then we know there is something else at play. You already know that.

    Good luck, Oakie. Its hard.

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