difficult child home alone in your house?


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No way! I expect most of you to shout.

So, we are having a week in New York next week. I've been looking forward to getting away with H and youngest daughter for ages. Son seemed better when he visited recently and I haven't been worrying about him lately. Then texted me this morning to say he was in massive pain again (he was taken to hospital a while ago with same pains in his joints and they couldn't find anything wrong). He says he's in agony and wants to chop his arm off. He says he doesn't mind if he dies in the squat. He knows I'm flying over the pond soon and won't be contactable for 8 days. He knows the house will be empty. Part of me thinks he's putting it on, wanting me to worry about him, wanting to spoil my holiday maybe. Part of me thinks he's really ill and I should suggest he comes and stays in a comfy bed with a full fridge while we're away. He could look after the cats and house-sit. I know there are HUGE reasons why I should never mention this idea to him or H. I just feel like 'for goodness sake, I knew something would crop up, I knew there would be some last-minute hitch'. The biggest part of me just wants to run away from it all. Am I cross or frustrated or worried or just cheesed-off? Who knows. Don't feel obliged to answer this post, I know what the answers will be, just feeling worn out with it all again and it helps to post.


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Well...in my case NO. The last time I asked him to watch the house he trashed the house, totaled the car and neglected the pets. In your case I'm not sure. Like you said you did have a good visit with him last time, but I don't know your difficult child.

If he'd be a reasonable house sitter it might be fortuitous for both of you. If he's going to cause more problems (or refuse to leave at the end of the 8 days HAHA) I'd say no. If you're going to spend the vacation worrying I'd say no. I'm sure others will weigh in.

Hope you have a wonderful time!


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I wonder about this all the time. I travel a LOT for work, and some for play, and I have two dogs, 2 cats, and some outdoor city container garden that needs a lot of watering lest it just up and die. My difficult child lives about 6 blocks away....under a bridge. I pay my daughter's friends to stay at the house, walk the dogs, put out the trash, water the plants. They love it. Recently it occured to me that my current housesitter is some one elses's difficult child...finished high school, working at a local coffee shop, THROWN OUT OF HER MOM'S HOUSE for some vague disagreement, now couch surfing and more than delighted to stay in a warm comfortable house with privacy and get paid for it. In fairness she has done a good job but sometimes I'm like...really? why not my own cold wet smelly son? He loves it here, he loves the animals...

but I haven't done it.

Mostly I'm afraid he'll let friends in, and some of those friends are out and out addicts, sociopaths, and criminals.

That is what stops me.

Otherwise I would give it a try.

Aside from letting you son stay at your house, though, and I don't know the answer to that...but Lucy, his pain issues are his pain issues. He is going to have to figure out how to wend his way through the path of healthcare to figure it out, just like you would. It isn't easy, ever. The emergency room is not the place to make that happen...he needs a regular doctor, regular appointments, and a methodical and thorough evaluation, just the kind of thing our difficult child's are terrible at.

I'll be here if you decide to let your son stay and it goes well, if it goes poorly, or you decide not to let him stay (PS he may not want to stay!) Good luck. Do what feels right in your gut.



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Once I let my daughter house sit for two days while we took my youngest two (Sonic and Jumper) to a nearby waterpark. We did have reservations for two nights. We had three dogs and a cat and her deal was she watched the animals and she didn't let any friends in the house. We were very naive, I guess. She was still living at home and had been on probation twice for drugs, but had convinced us she was no longer involved with drugs.

The kids got bored after the first day so we checked out the second day and got home early to a rousing drug party.

That was the day we decided she had to leave.

I'm not sure I'd trust your son for so long, but you know him better than we do. This one has to be your decision.

I agree with Echo that if he is ill, he needs to take care of it himself. If it is serious, sleeping in a soft bed won't help. He needs to go to a hospital or however they work it in the UK. You can't cure him. I actually think he needs to see a doctor right away. If it were my kid I'd encourage it greatly, but I also know I can not make my kids seek medical attention. Many times that is advice they simply disregard. But if your son is in as much pain as he is saying he is, I'd REALLY encourage him to get help. If not...what else can you do?
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Scent of Cedar *

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That you are traveling changes nothing about the situation, Lucy. Your child made his choice. So far, this is working for all of you.

However you are keeping in contact with him now, you can do the same while traveling. If it is a question of guilt or worry, you could mail him (or hand deliver) another Red Cross package before you go. This could be a cathartic and positive experience for all of you, actually.

A little going away party, an I love you, son.

It is never wrong to love them, never wrong to tell them we do.

The only wrong thing is to enable. Another care package is not enabling. It's making it possible for you (and all the rest of the family, too) to address an impossible situation so you can reclaim the opportunities for joy in your life without guilt.

The way it should be.

I think having him home while you are gone might be enabling. To my mind, enabling is when we do something that weakens the kids, something that implies they are inept or incapable. For me, anyway, I am trying to believe they are strong, smart, capable people who are, whatever it looks like to me, doing what they want to do.

That is not a cop out.

After everything we have done to change their situations, my children are where they are. I am trying something different.

It is difficult not to get caught up in the shame of a child on the streets. I have learned the phrase "Please pray for difficult child." works well. If it is someone being especially nosy, I will say, "Oh, I just can't talk about it ~ please do pray for us, and for difficult child."

I hate those nosy busy bodies. It's like they are trying to suck the life out of us. What is happening to us, to our kids, is tragic. Our children's lives are not fodder for some simpering idiot to use to make herself look sympathetic.

Elie Wiesel wrote something to the effect that to speak of (the Holocaust) in words was to demean its sacred horror.

That is how I feel about what happens in our families.

Just a private little bone I like to pick, when I think about the way people use our pain to demean us or our children.



It is the situation with our children that is bad. Not the kids, not us. Whatever we do is going to feel wrong. There is no way to prepare for the situations our children present. We need to remember that we must give ourselves the time we need to come to terms with whatever it is. We need to think about three or four options for how to handle whatever it is so that we can look at ourselves in the mirror the next morning if something goes wrong.

And we lose them.

That is the underlying horror that makes it impossible to think, that makes it feel so wrong to be far away from them.

Love him in every way you can, assure him you will bring him a special something from your travels...but I say, don't let him come home just because you are going to be far away.



Well-Known Member
Love your post, Cedar. It's great. And I'm wondering why I didn't think of a care package.

You are very smart and a valuable member here in my opinion.
NO!!! My difficult child wld come up with a disasterous illness and annoy us so we wld never enjoy our trip! Plus wld worry abt pawning... For me,it wld have to be no.

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one day at a time
Sadly no would be my answer. It's the sad part that gets us. It is so clear when it is somebody else, isn't that funny?

I love the comment that: the fact that you are traveling matters not.

But when circumstances change, somehow we think it changes things with difficult child. Most of the time it does not. difficult child is still difficult child.

I too have felt echo'a pain. I will let tot strangers do things my own kid cannot be trusted to do. That is profoundly sad. But it still is.

And Lucy? I would make sure the house is well secured when you leave.

I remember the day clearly when SO and I went to Lowes for all of the supplies to change the locks right here. And then difficult child's outrage when he evidently tried to get in here one day while I was gone and could not. So painful to put new locks and sliding bolts on your doors. Not because of stranger crime. But because of your own son.

Painful reality.

Have a great trip! I have never been to NYC but I have been to England.

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Staff member
Lucy, I had a few initial responses. First, your son is 27, not 10, if he is in pain, he should deal with it. There is something "off" about a 27 year old man texting his mom about his joint pain. Boys almost a decade younger are in a war zone with no one to complain to. He made his life choices, and he has to find his way through. Second, there once was an entire thread here dedicated to how our difficult child's ruin holidays, celebrations, vacations, etc. It is so common for them to create drama when we are somehow letting go, even for one moment, of living the tragedy of their lives along with them,that it seems they must pull us back in so we can ride that wild stallion of drama along with them. And, third, being master manipulators and knowing your house will be empty for 8 days, even if you didn't give him permission to stay there, the seed has already been planted......."I'm in distress Mom, you wouldn't turn your son away from a warm bed when you aren't even here, would you Mom?" You would not have that choice once you are thousands of miles away. And, lastly, and this has been my experience with my daughter..........he does not have the boundaries that you have, nor the connection to what you have worked hard for, in fact, as you've mentioned, he is against having material possessions............so when you add those things up, he would not be protective of your home and it's belongings...........his friends and associates likely wouldn't either. He doesn't respect your lifestyle choice. In fact, from what you've said, he's vehemently against it. (But perhaps not above using all the amenities as it suits him.)

For all of those reasons, I think it's s bad idea to allow him to stay in your home, I would make sure my home was protected from any possibility that he might gain entry.

What helped me the first time I left town when my daughter was on the verge of homelessness was leaving an envelope with cash on the outside back patio. That was really for me, it gave me the permission to leave. I was so worried about her. That act of leaving the money worked to allow me to go. And, distance was the second. Once I was on the plane headed out to 3000 miles away, I felt a lot better. And, just so you know, my home was empty, the thought of my daughter staying at my home was NOT an option at that point. Some of her friends are people that prompted my SO to say to me, "they look like they're casing the joint." And, I knew if I weren't home, those friends would be crashing at my house. My daughter, at least then, did not have any sense of responsibility for my home or my possessions and had proven that to me over many years.

Don't allow your son to ruin this trip for you Lucy. You deserve this trip, you've looked forward to it, give yourself permission to simply leave town and have a good time. Set strong boundaries to protect your home and let go and have a good time. NY is terrific, I grew up there!!


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Staff member
We left our difficult child at home when we went to Hawaii for 10 days. She was 25 at the time. She called us drunk several times in the middle of the night (Hawaiian time) and told us people were trying to break in. We came home to find a basement window broken, the house was a mess, and we found garbage bags filled to the brim with beer cans.

difficult child had also turned the air conditioning down to 68 degrees in the hot Georgia summer and you could see condensation on the windows. The electric bill the following month was double our usual bill. We also got a $200 water bill which was usually $20. We still can't figure out how that happened.

So . . . my advice is to never leave a difficult child home alone in your house.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the hugs DDD.

Alb, the thing is that I don't really feel that I know my son either, not like I used to know him. He's become a different person over the past ten years and it's difficult to know what could or couldn't happen. He definitely wouldn't deliberately neglect the cats, but I'd be concerned that he would just wander off and not take the responsibility seriously. He's not reliable and I don't think he'd respect my home properly. I haven't acknowledged that before, but it's true.

Echo, I always feel that we are distant kindred spirits when I read your posts, our sons are both cold, wet and smelly and seem to have similar issues and we seem to have similar feelings about their choice to be homeless and living rough. It does seem crazy to pay someone to look after my cats when I know that my son loves them and would benefit from having a roof over his head and hot water for a week. But the fact that I am so unsure about suggesting this probably means that I shouldn't suggest it. I would worry about the house with him here. He's just so likely to flood the bathroom or burn the kitchen or, more likely, feel constrained, claustrophobic, bored and stir-crazy stuck in a house and just decide to pack his bag and disappear. We've discussed their health issues before haven't we? ... and difficult children do seem to be more prone to physical suffering and over-dramatising their pain.

MWM, what a nightmare with your daughter! I haven't had any experience of dealing with drug issues, apart from smoking pot. I can remember going away and leaving 2 of them at home when they were teenagers and coming back to a house that looked as if it had been hastily cleaned. They told us nothing had happened, then a few days later I found a load of photos posted on facebook of at least twenty kids having a wild party in my house. Surreal. That was the last time I trusted them. He's not going to have a mad party now as he hates most people and would rather be alone. I agree that he needs to get medical care, but he has been to the ER recently and they told him there was nothing wrong with him. He has recently asked if I'd pay for him to see a homoeopath, £65 for one hour!! I'm through paying for him though, he is more than capable of earning money himself to pay for his alternative therapies. We have a National Health Service here and most healthcare is free, but he thinks he needs to use natural therapies, which, in a lot of cases seem expensive and unproven. I'm not convinced his aches and pains are completely genuine, although they are genuine to him, I think there may be some psychosomatic element.

I agree Cedar, I shouldn't be thinking differently just because I will be far away.
"I think having him home while you are gone might be enabling. To my mind, enabling is when we do something that weakens the kids, something that implies they are inept or incapable. For me, anyway, I am trying to believe they are strong, smart, capable people who are, whatever it looks like to me, doing what they want to do. " and, as Echo points out, he may not want to stay here anyway. (although I think he probably would, at least for a short time until he had the urge to run away).

I wouldn't worry about pawning Terry, he has never stolen from us and I can't imagine that happening - but I can definitely imagine an e-mail from him saying he is terribly ill and suffering but 'don't worry about him and have a great holiday' haha.

Thanks for your words COM. I have been to NYC a few times before and love it. I am hoping to get to the Morgan Library this time as I have managed to miss this on previous occasions. I hope you liked England on your trip. I live in Wales, but a couple of my kids live in England so we go there regularly (although it's not as nice as Wales :) haha).

First, your son is 27, not 10, if he is in pain, he should deal with it. There is something "off" about a 27 year old man texting his mom about his joint pain. Boys almost a decade younger are in a war zone with no one to complain to. He made his life choices, and he has to find his way through.

That's tough but true RE.

How great that you grew up in NY! I grew up in a city but live in the countryside now. The first time I was in New York I was very disturbed by the disparity between the extremes of wealth and poverty. I was upset by the destitute, homeless people in Washington Park, pushing their belongings around in a trolley, stinking and filthy. And now my son has chosen to live like that. Life is cruel and plays tough tricks on us. Where are the parents of those people in Washington Square? What are their stories? I know I'll feel like crying when I go back there next week.

Thanks for sharing your story Kathy, I appreciate your advice. How are things with your difficult child now? It's so hard to trust your child again once they have gone off on a strange life road and you feel that they are a bit lost to you.

I think we will probably not ask my son to stay. I need a break away with nothing to worry about and it's probably just as well if he can't contact me. He can always contact his older sister if it's a dire emergency and she knows where we are staying. It's also too short a timescale now to arrange to pick him up and so on. I would need to think about this for longer and have more proper arrangements in place, as I did when he stayed for a couple of nights recently. I may ask him to stay and look after the cats at some time in the future, possibly if we go away for just a weekend and then see how that goes. One week is a long time in the life of a difficult child. A weekend would be more do-able.

So, bon voyage to me!! and I'll enjoy feeing physically closer to you all for a week - so send me some good vibes.

Happy Easter xx


one day at a time
Sending great vibes your way Lucy! I would love to visit Wales some day.

Have a peaceful and relaxing trip. We'll all be right here.

Happy Easter!
I love NYC, but for brief periods of time. Always glad to return to my slower way of life! Have a fun, peaceful trip!

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