Curious: Was there one instant that made you detach?


Well-Known Member
I'm trying to think back and pinpoint when I did this. For the most part, although S. and Julie both presented problems at various times, the only child I had to decide to detach from was 36. S. left on his own so there was no decision on my part. Julie I never detached from and she quit before I was convinced it was hopeless. At any rate, her behavior was illegal, but she was never a total jerk to me.

If you can remember a certain specific moment and share it, maybe it will jog my memory. I think it could have been when 36's bat crazy ex-wife called me up to yell and swear at me for something trivial and she said 36 had given her permission to do it and he had agreed that he'd given her permission. That was early in their marriage maybe twelve years ago. That hurt so much that I decided I was not going to get overly involved in that family. My son did not care if his wife screamed at me. He didn't care if she withheld their son from all of us. I decided not to let him hurt me anymore.

It was very strained between us until he got divorced and by then I knew who he really was and was struggling to stay detached when he went through the custody battle and was so abusive. Gawd, not many people can do the damage he can do with just his mouth.

I don't care if nobody else wants to share, but it was a question that I'd thought of for a while so I thought I'd put it out there if anyone is interested in going there. I am in a very reflective state of mind right now, looking over my life, feeling pretty good, but also feeling very analytical. Hard to explain. My kids will soon all be out of the house and I'll have my empty nest for the first time when I am almost 61!

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member

After thinking I would never "desert" one of my kids, no matter how old they got, one of us posted that she had detached and her child was doing better. I was on that detachment bandwagon the next day. I didn't quite understand it, but it was something I had not tried.

I wasn't doing it for me.

I was doing it to change them.

Then, you posted about 36 and verbal abuse. Probably because I had already begun thinking about myself differently, I could see my own son in what you were posting about 36.

But it took about three days, MWM!

That is how strong denial can be, I guess.

As I continued thinking I was detaching (for the sake of the kids and in the hope that, as it seemed other kids on the site were doing, my own kids would turn them selves around), I actually began to get the meaning behind the enabling/detachment theory.

And now, just recently, I am beginning to see the value in it; am beginning to see how the pieces fit together.

One of the key pieces I am seeing now is Recovering's assertion that we need to shift the emphasis from "other" to self.

It is an ongoing process, for me.



New Member
I have been dealing with my difficult child's terrible mood swings and evasiveness since he was 8 or 9 years old. When he was 15 he started smoking weed and hanging out with kids with no goals but to get high. He drove the car for some kids that vandalized a church. (One of the boys smeared feces on the door of the church.) He did community service, had been on probabtion yada yada yada.... I was just trying to give him some time to grow up. I was also trying to get him to the age of 18 where I was no longer leagally responsible for him. My husband and I tried desperately time and time, chance and chance again to have patience. It was really putting a major strain on our marriage. We fought alot about what to do about him. difficult child got arrested for stealing a 2 dollar christmas tree air freshner from WalMart although he had a 10 dollar bill in his pocket that I had just given him. He did get a job at a fast food restaurant and actually kept it for a couple of years, however he managed to get pulled over and drug paraphenellia ( spelled wrong probably) was found in the car. He ended up on probation again. He went to college and started with 4 classes, dropped 2 but did get good grades in the 2 classes he finished. I started charging him rent. $100 dollars a week. We moved to a new house. Well apparently he failed 4 drug tests with is PO. His probation was extended another year. About 2 weeks later he informed me," I ain't gonna have your little rent money so I might as well just leave now." Well, I did not hesitate! Give me my key I told him and gladly helped him move in with friends. By this time he was 21.In the fall he came to us and said he wanted to go back to school. We paid the tuition and he got a $2700 student loan. Well, he immediately dropped the classes after he got the money and used every bit of the money on drugs and partying. He was addicted to Opana. My son came to our house in October 2013. I allowed him to wash his clothes and fed him dinner. At this time he was homeless because his friends had moved out and he was left with no lights and no water. I told him that he was not coming back to live with me. That day he stole my husband's watch. This watch belonged to my husband's grandfather. I prayed that The Lord would reveal to me if indeed difficult child had taken it. We were pretty sure but did not want to accuse him of stealing it when he was already homeless. Well, the next day after work, I went to the local pawn shop. A young couple walked in ahead of me. The guy took my husband's watch out of his pocket to hand to the guy behind the counter. I had never seen this guy or girl before that moment. I said Hey!! That watch belongs to my husband. ( It was a very distinct looking watch. It was also very retro as they have not been made any more since 1970.) After much discussion the police were called. My son came to the pawn store and I told him that day that he was no longer welcome at my house.I felt like The Lord showed me that day that if he can retrieve a watch he can certainly retrieve my son. I decided with the help of my older sister who had learned detachment that his decisions and consequences were his and needed to be given to him no matter what. I heard a lady say it like this once, "Give them the gift of desperation." I also read the Prodigal Son story in the bible. It states clearly.. WHEN NO MAN WOULD HELP HIM, THEN he came to himself and said, what am I doing here in this pig sty? I decided to give it solely to The Lord and trust him fully. My detatchment was a long slow process. I know that peace that passes understanding because after this incident I was fully able to detatch. I felt peace that I no longer had to help. It was all placed on him totally that day. I am pleased to say that after a long 5 months, my son called to say he was ready for help. It had to be his idea. He has been in a recovery program now for alomost 5 weeks. I go see him on Wednesday nights and attend a AA meeting with him. I will not give him money and he has not asked for it. I told him the day I dropped him off, Your recovery is up to you. You will not live with me again. His choice is to complete this program which is 12 - 18 months long or to be homeless with no job, money, or car. In his process of destruction he sold every single thing he ever had. If anyone is in my area, Raleigh, NC, my difficult child is at THE HEALING PLACE OF WAKE COUNTY. It is an awesome facility that is peer driven recovery. It is free. They are guarenteed a safe place to sleep, and food. It has phases to the program where more privelages are earned as they progress through the program. The last phase before they leave they are required to get a job and turn in a budget. In other words, it doesn't just teach not to use alcohol and drugs but helps to transition back to the community as a contributing citizen. I'm so thankful for this website and the support it gives. This website has gotten me through some dark days in my life. Being a parent of a difficult child is so lonely. Even though you know others are going through similar situations you still feel all alone. I hope and pray he continues to choose to live his life in a wholesome enjoyable way but like I said, that is HIS choice. I choose peace.



Well-Known Member
I would say the moment I knew I had to detach was when my difficult child refused to apologize to her team for letting them down. I was used to her not caring about my feelings but it hit me really hard when I realized it wasn't just me she didn't care about.


Yes and it wasn't a big dramatic denouement ...

Long story shorter - difficult child was a easy child until his freshman year in college. We had a lot of warning signs that year but nothing that couldn't be explained away as typical teen. He came home stoned out of his mind his first night home for the summer. We found out in August that he had signed a lease to rent an off campus apartment without our knowledge or permission and I am 100% sure he was intending to let us believe he was living in the dorms on our dime. We found a way to get him out of his dorm contract & offered to help out with the rent. H and I spent the last sunny Sunday of the season packing his things and buying things for his apartment while difficult child slept & later went to the pool with his girlfriend. A few days later, I was reformatting difficult child's hard drive at his request. (Mom can you do it before I leave? Sure and it was the day b4 he was leaving!) I found open browser pages detailing a large purchase of marijuana paraphernalia. We confronted him very nicely when he came home that night and told him we would not pay for school if he was using drugs which had been our #1 rule. He stormed out which totally caught us by surprise, moved out and went to school and his apartment anyway. He later failed out that semester but lived away, estranged from us for a year. Estrangement thawed, he moved back home December 2012, we had a good 8 months and he made plans to go to community college.

This past August, difficult child and PC19 spent easy child's last summer vacation day together. When easy child got home, I asked how it went, what they did, etc. & easy child innocently replied " Oh and I got to see difficult child's new apartment and we hung out there"... Poor easy child had no idea that we were clueless...

2 years later - almost exactly to the day - difficult child had pulled exactly the same stunt. Had leased an apartment without our knowledge, probably no intention of telling us and history started to repeat itself verbatim. He failed out mid semester but told us he was getting A's & B's, he got caught in his string of lies and he moved out for keeps a few days after Christmas (actually, just stopped coming home) and we've seen him twice since then and he is rarely in touch.

The first time - when he was 19 - difficult child's fury and anger and moving out caught us completely off guard. We really thought we would talk it out, get him into counseling and he would go to school at home for a year until he got his life under control. We never anticipated him leaving or the estrangement. We always wondered if we had handled him or the situation wrong. When he came back home at nearly age 21, we had a chance for a do over and we took it. We did everything we could to be supportive, to give him a second chance, to re establish mutual trust in our relationship. Family dinners, a car to drive, long talks at the kitchen table etc. And it was golden - he was kind and loving and nice and polite; I never saw him altered or anything. His behavior slid a little in the summer, but nothing major - just more slovenly and lots of sleeping when not working. But when we found out he had once again rented an apartment IN SECRET, I started to detach. (The apartment is nbd, it's the secrecy that was the issue.) He actually played a long for a few months, saying it was just to be close to school and he did sleep home a few nights a week to keep up the charade. When he asked to use the car to go snowboarding "after finals" and I asked to see his grades and he showed me how just 1 class had been entered (a B-) but affirmed that he had A's in the other 2, I sent him off with a smile. And then I realized he had not logged out of my computer and I found out he had failed/been dropped from the other 2 classes for failure to attend. I am guessing the B- was him passing the online final on a whim. That's was the instant the detachment really took hold. I can't say it's perfect, I can't say it's 100%, but I had to let go for my own sanity.

This man-child had a do-over. He had 2 years to learn from his mistakes and he didn't.husband and I spent those 2 years wondering all those "what if"s - and how we would change our behavior if we had a 2nd chance. And we made a conscientious decision to do just that. In many ways, our conscience is clear; we tried so hard to change the outcome. difficult child didn't do a darn thing differently. He has nothing to show for the last 3 years of his life, he is broke (we were getting overdraft notices daily until we made him change his mailing address), he is estranged from his family, he has no transportation, he lives in a crappy, "once-secret" apartment pretending he is a college kid, and he works a seasonal/dead end job with no future or benefits. But most of all - he lied to my face about EVERYTHING. It's 2011 Deja Vu. That behavior was never excusable but perhaps it was more understandable when he was 19.

He turned 22 yesterday and he is no further along in maturity or life than he was at 19. (and I couldn't reach him on his birthday, he rarely returns texts or calls even tho I pay for his phone). He is estranged from his brothers as well. Broke my heart that PC17 chose to find a new Confirmation sponsor a few weeks ago since difficult child is MIA. PC19 is home this week and I doubt that difficult child and he will see each other. In fact, difficult child called PC19, he was apparently in PC19's college town last weekend and he wanted to get together and PC19 declined. He knew difficult child would either flake and if not - he really doesn't enjoy hanging out with his brother anymore. So, maybe that was another instant - when I watched my 19 yo & 17 yo sons detach from their brother without fanfare...

We have vague plans to have dinner Friday or Saturday night so he can see P19 and we can celebrate his birthday. He has ignored my texts to pick a day & time. I am not holding my breath.


Well-Known Member
Wow, I was just thinking about this the other day. I believe I have blocked out the specifics of the incident. It may have been one in which she told some crazy story to another family and lived with them for a week or two. They were a bunch of difficult child's themselves. I was panicked as I couldn't figure out their motive and called the police. The police told me this was common...difficult child moms who think they can do it better. She was 18 so nothing I could do and sure enough the woman gave up after two weeks. I read Vicktor Frankel's book and chose to let it go. My son had a breaking point when her boyfriend stole my husband's back pain medications and I called the police and she told the police I made it all up. Well, we have many many boundaries in place now and have protected ourselves and even when there is an issue, I choose to let it roll off my back. I absolutely HAVE to as I have autoimmune issues. I'm enjoying life to my fullest potential. I let her in my life only when she is appropriate. :)