difficult child's joblessness is getting to me. Not sure where to go from here

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I feel as though my hands are tied.

    difficult child has been, willingly, unemployed since the end of June. She lives with me and I thought I was being smart by immediately putting her to work around here. It is a fairly structured situation where she is required to work from 9 (well she gets up at 9 ...usually starts working around 9:30) until 4. I don't give her a dime, but she does manage to procure money (from her boyfriend and an extremely enabling girlfriend) for gas and beer on occasion. The enabling girlfriend gave her a spare cell phone that only works when plugged into a power source.

    The reason I thought I was being smart was that: A. I would get some things done around here that I couldn't afford to hire out and didn't especially want to do myself and B. SURELY she would grow tired of not having money and C. SURELY she would figure out that getting a job was better than painting and scraping around here.

    Guess what? She is perfectly content. She has barely lifted a finger in the direction of employement. She had one job interview for a bartending job at a bowling alley. Having the interview was enough to convince her that she had the job. She didn't get the job, but continued to string me along saying the guy said to call next week ...there was a second interview scheduled ... blah, blah.

    I'm running out of things for her to do around here and, frankly, I am beginning to feel imprisioned myself.

    I have been staying out of the whole job thing thinking, rightly or wrongly, that it really was none of my business. She is doing what I expect around here. She asks for nothing in the way of money and will only occasionally request that I guy certain groceries, something that I will do for her because she asks so rarely.

    But this can't go on forever.

    I did tell her yesterday that it was time that she begin to look in earnest for a job. She went to her therapist appointment (I timed this so the convo took place right before her appointmet) and when she returned I could see that she'd been crying. She went out and painted the shed until 4:00, came in, and went to bed until 8:00. I know she's depressed, but I don't think she's so depressed that she cannot work.

    I'm not ready to kick her out. I really cannot see doing that at this point, yet I honestly don't know how to "make" a 21 year old master manipulator get a job.

    I do know that I am very tired of the status quo.

  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know you're not ready to kick her out, and I do understand that. I've been there. But I have to be blunt: you're making it very easy for her NOT to work. She has no reason to change, there is no consequence to her not working. She's got it made. She's probably happy to keep up this life as long as she can get away with it. And quite honestly, it will go on as long as you let it go on .... that is entirely within your control. Only you can decide when enough is enough. But I completely understand the pain, the fear, and the anguish of wrestling with the "I can't kick her out" dilemma.

    So the only advice I can give you is what I've said before: if you're not ready to kick her out, you have to find way for yourself to live with it. The only way I did that, when Youngest was living with me, was to go to therapy on a regular basis. I went every 2 weeks like clockwork. I threw myself into a social life, and stayed away from home as much as possible. Sometimes that really hoovered, I felt like I couldn't go home to my own house... there were days I sat in the parking lot and dreaded walking in the door. But I somehow got through it.

    You *can't* make her work. You can't *make* her do anything. I think you need to accept that, and stop waiting for a lightbulb to go on in her head all of a sudden. It's just not the way most difficult children are programmed.

    It's time to focus on your own changes, and not on whatever changes she is or isn't making. You're doing all the worrying here, she's certainly not worried about it is she? You're doing more work than she is on this. Don't own that worry. Put it squarely on her shoulders. Step back and breathe.

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry she came home crying - that's a heartbreaker, even for difficult children. What I'm going to say may sound nuts, but hear me out. The difficult children that I've known who for the most part have turned things around have eschewed "traditional" jobs and have succeeded at more "labor intensive" type jobs, like landscaping, home repair, painting, car mechanics, technical jobs and even culinary arts. in my opinion, difficult children are more inclined to prosper if they are physically active in their careers, Know what I mean??
    Would it be possible to steer her in one of the areas mentioned above? Since she gets the work done at the house, albeit complaining sometimes, could she work for a handyperson or a painter? Would she be interested in a trade school? I don't know - just think it would give her a reason to "work out" her stress, anxiety, whatever, while she's working and earning money and being productive at the same time.
    In any case, I hope she's doing a little better today, and you too. At least she's going to the therapist.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Dash, I agree with everything that CiV said, you can't 'make' her do anything, so accepting 'what is' and taking care of YOU is paramount. It's a tough learning curve, but I think CJ had some good advice as well. I always found therapy to be an ideal environment to vent, gain insight into my own behavior, find options and learn new methods of responding. I'm sorry you find yourself in this dilemma, I know how difficult it can be. (((HUGS)))
  5. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    You're both right, of course. Crazy, I honestly thought (because I was not thinking like a difficult child) that having NO MONEY would be consequence enough. But it isn't. I would go stark, raving mad if I was a 21 year old living with my work-at-home mom, not being able to go out, etc. But she is fine. She's content to sit on the internet all night. She's content to go to her dad's when she gets tired of not having cable, she's content to sit ina chair and read a book and text with her boyfriend. At 21, I was on my own living 3,000 miles away from my parents, working and going to school. My difficult child doesn't think like this and I have to bang my head against a wall from time to time in order for that to sink in.

    I do go to FA (can't afford a therapist for myself, and sending her to one is way more of a priority to me ....my choice, I know). I have a ton of friends and a great family. I work part time from my home doing work I love, I take one class per semester at the local community college (I'm taking negotiating this semester and yes, you are allowed to lol!). I worry about her way to much, but I do have a good life.

    We are - for better or worse - products of our upbringing. My parents would never in a million years have kicked any of us out. Of course, my sisters were PCs to the max and I was a handful, but not a difficult child. Still, it's hard to get my head into the mindset of tossing her ... at this point.

    Sometimes I feel so lost in the world of difficult children because - aside from you and the great folks at FA - I have no point of reference. I may as well be on Mars.

    And, CJane, you are absolutely right about the work. I did tell her yesterday to go to the local temp agency. That is the kind of work they match people up with. I've also given her a lot of reinforcment about he work she is doing around here.
  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    OK, here's the biggest trap of all time when it comes to parenting a difficult child, especially an adult difficult child: trying to put ourselves in their shoes, and expecting them to act like we would in a certain situation.

    None of us would live the lives our difficult children are leading. None of us would make the decisions they're making. Detaching/disengaging myself from this kind of thinking was one of the most important thing I learned in therapy. I was constnatly saying, "how COULD she do such a stupid thing? I'd never do that!" or "how could she NOT take such a fantastic opportunity?! I'd never pass that up!" I'd even find opportunities FOR her.. I researched programs etc., made suggestions that I thought were brilliant, and then would be furious when she wouldn't take them or follow up. She always had an excuse. She wouldn't even take her son to the dentist... so *I* looked up all the information on which dentists took the state Medicaid porgram etc. and sent her the phone numbers She never took him (and still hasn't). I made msyelf crazy over all of it. I finally had to stop. None of that was my job. It was hers.

    Accepting that my kids may never live the life I wanted for them, that I knew they were capable of, was darn hard. Because really, in many ways, they *aren't* capable of it. They're not programmed that way, becuase of genetics, mental illness, many reasons. Accepting that my grandkids may never have the kind of life I would want for them, was even harder. That hurts the most. But my daughters are adults.. making their own decisions about their own lives and their own families, and I have no say in any of it. Except when it comes to how they treat ME. That I have complete control over -- that is, I have control over whether or not I will accept certain behaviors, and what I'll do in reaction to them. Once I figured that out, it was pretty powerful stuff. I still slip, and Youngest in particular still knows how to push certain buttons, but I'm 100 times better than I have been in the past.

    I'm glad you have so many positives in your life -- spend your energy there as much as you can. Don't work harder than she is, on "fixing" her. That's her job.

    Oh, and you're not on Mars... she is ;-)
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Dash....I am going to throw something out there and you are probably going to gasp and say "OH NO! Not my baby girl!" I will accept your answer without any ill feelings okay?

    Have you considered the military? You say she enjoys doing stuff outside, working with her hands, doesnt do school well, wont look for a job, isnt a self starter, needs structure, etc. The military gives people that. I am sure she could find some job that she would enjoy doing in one of the branches. Im partial to the Marines but she would probably find more opportunities in the Army unless she is hellbent on being on a ship or in love with airplanes. Being in the military doesnt automatically mean going to war. Lots of people think that if you sign up you will be on the next plane out. There are tons of jobs that are here in the States. I have no idea what she loves to do but whatever there is to do in the civilian world, they do in the military world. And they train her free. My son would have no career if it wasnt for the Marines.

    Now I realize people are afraid of having their kids in the military and I get that. I wont say I wasnt afraid. I worried. Lots. I also worry about Jamie now because he works for the sheriffs dept. However I also worry about Cory being a difficult child. I dont know which is worse worry...being in the military or having a difficult child doing difficult child stuff. I know back when we thought Jamie was deploying to Iraq, Cory was about to be sentenced to Jail. I was in tears because I told him that I could very well have both my sons killed at the same time. Which was worse....Iraq or jail? I really didnt know. I still dont know. Thankfully both my kids are alive and well. All the Marines I grew to love when Jamie was in the Corps are still going strong.

    I have no idea if this will give you something to think about or not. Im throwing it out there as something to think about.
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Gosh,CiV, you hit the nail on the head, I was thinking along those same lines this morning about my own grown up difficult child. I had to stop making comparisons between myself and her and anyone and her. She makes choices that are so beyond my way of thinking and you're absolutely right, when I stopped making those comparisons and concentrated on how I wanted to be treated, it all changed. Thanks for saying all of that. My difficult child just keeps adjusting her life to the lowest level, something I can't even imagine, being the kind of person who strives for a form of excellence. Accepting that was "darn hard" as you put it. Very well said CiV, thank you.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I don't know if this would work for you or not....but it has really been helping with my difficult child
    (Quick! Knock on wood before I jinx it!)

    We already know that waiting for the "lightbulb" to come on does not work with difficult children. So what we have been doing around here is having conversations about what young adults are *supposed* to do...such as

    "Well, nobody wants to live with their parents for the rest of their life. Kids are supposed to grow up and start their own life. " and

    "Everyone needs to start somewhere...what kind of job experience can you go get right now?" and

    "What kind of career do you picture yourself working? What can you do to get started on that road?" and

    "Let's see what kinds of apartments are out there for people your age."

    This seems to be helping my difficult child think about the kinds of choices that are available to her. Instead of feeling helpless and depressed because everything seems so huge and impossible - we are showing her small steps she can take right now that will help her get to where she wants to be.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't say this much, but I'm kind of inspired to do it now because my son is getting such good services and actually has a life...he goes to work each day, sports a few nights a week, edging toward getting his own place.

    Many of our difficult child's are actually disabled. I think it's a good idea for them to try to get disability. It can take up to four tries to get it, but if they do get it, they are eligible for many other services, such as specialized job placement and low income housing (with assisted living if necessary). I'm literally amazed at what a normal life my son is living (well, normal for a high functioning autistic young man who is not quite high functioning enough to understand the typical world 100% himself). They have these services for the mentally ill as well. I highly recommend them.

    Usually I don't mention this because I think a lot of parents are afraid to put their kids into adult services, wanting to think their adult kids will live normal lives. Some do. The very ill ones do not, no matter how old they are. Many continue into drug abuse to feel better and live a life of homelessness because they CAN'T get it together. Not all people ARE capable of getting it together if they are mentally ill or neurologically "atypical".

    Anyhow, this is just a suggestion. I love the results I am seeing in my son. He has never seemed so grown up and independent. 85% of all things he can do himself, but getting a job on his own, paying his bills, and a few other things he still needs help with and always will. It doesn't bother him to get this help. He is very happy. I think he is very aware that he needs the help and accepts it. Maybe some of our mentally ill adult k ids know they need help too...and just don't know where to turn.

    Ok, off the soap box. This is just a suggestion. Hopefully nobody is offended :) Peace!!!
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    MWM? I have extended family members who have been in Sonic's shoes for... 40+ years. Downs, MR, etc. - the stuff that's been recognized as "disability" for much longer. One of them actually drives... but can't keep track of the bills, needs help getting going in a job, planning for meals (usually takes a restaurant job and gets main meal there as part of pay)... all with the kinds of supports you are listing. I think it's great that they are now doing the same things for high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (here too)... if we could just get MH/MI issues to that same level it would help!

    The challenge with MH/MI issues is that they are already a "negative label", and needing "assisitance" is another "negative label"... and it snowballs.
  12. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think applying for services is a great idea in many cases, and it is obviously a Godsend for many people. But unfortunately with adult difficult children, they have to want to do it, and to invest the time and effort. Neither of my daughters will apply or even look into disability, even though they both have issues that might qualify them. I can't make them do it. Heck I can't even get Oldest to apply to the free clinic which would cover her medical needs for her Crohn's. She just continues to get care through the ER when needed, and throws the hospital bills away. I'm not going to make the effort any more because I've learned the hard way that it's a wasted one (for my difficult children, that is). I used to look up numbers, send links to information, print off forms, etc., but no one was interested in any of it. I stopped. Another part of the old "I was working harder than they were" scenario.

    I realize that doesn't apply to everyone's difficult children, but for mine, staying out of that is part of my own detachment journey. It's another "if it were me I'd be doing x , y and z!" trap for me. I stay out of it.

    I don't say that to discourage anyone from trying this with their own kids, because obviously each case is different. I think it's a great suggestion. I just wanted to point out that with treatment resistent difficult children, it can be a frustrating effort. Everyone has to decide for themselves, though.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  13. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    So much to think about. As Crazy has wisely pointed out,I do need to change my expectations re: her thinking. It is mysterious, no doubt.

    It's strange with her having zero motivation because it's not like I can suggest things like the military, applying for services, eetc. I mean, I can suggest them and listen to her entusiastically tell me YES! she will follow up, and then watch as she does absolutely nothing.

    She worked extra hard around here yesterday. It's really kind of pathetic - it's as though she's saying "See how good I'm being", aso though she was a nine year old or something. The fact is that we're running out of projects and there are simply not enough day-to-day things to keep us both busy.

    I allow her two days off per week (just like a regular work week) and she's taken today off. Tomorrow, I am going to tell her she needs to be OUT of the house actively looking for a job from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 After that, she can come home and cut the grass.

    She says she's applied onine (her computer history says she hasn't since July). She's also made claims of applying here or there . I caught her in a lie about that right after she'd lost her cell phone. She happliy reported applying to three restaurants in Akron. That's nice , I said. Pause. Pause. What did you give them for a phone number/ Sputter, sputter. "I forgot". You forgot you had no cell phone? "Yes, I completely forgot and gave them that number. Right.

    anyway, I know she might just go to DEX's and watch Lost all day, but at least I'll be reinforcing the statement that she needs to be working on this.

    Worst part of the whole thing is that her boyfriend just got a job in a retail stockroom. He is 21. First job ever. He doesn't pay rent so she's no doubt secure in the fact that he'll buy gas, cigarattes and beer for her.

    That kind of thinking just blows me away. Wish me luck, guys and thanks for all your support andhelp.

    (ps. about applying for services....she doens't have a diagnosis yet. Last diagnosis she had was ADHD at age 14. I know there's more....)
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    That's why it's important to diagnose early. However, we DO have some places the mentally ill can stay, but, as IC said, they have to cooperate and they have to be labeled as disabled and mentally ill. Sadly, mental illness can destroy one's life (it almost destroyed mine) and so many people who suffer with it refuse to cooperate. I don't get it. I will never get it. But I think I read that 60% of all bipolar adults refuse to take their medication so they often end up in/out of hospitals, unemployed, even a suicide statistic. I wish we knew more than we do!

    Dashcat, I wish you the best with your precious daughter. I hope things turn around for her and that you take some much needed time for yourself...knowing that you can't change her, but can make YOUR life better :)
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Like CiV's difficult child's my daughter does not avail herself to any of the supports I put in place for her. She could have assistance with housing, therapy, jobs, education, medication, pretty much everything, and after I did so much work getting all of that lined up for her, she won't do any of it. When my granddaughter lived with her mother, I set up medical and dental insurance for her through the state, I did all the paperwork, all the work, and my daughter refused to do one form annually which would take 5 minutes to fill out and subsequently lost the insurance. I went through a nightmare of work trying to get her help, and, as far as I know, she has done nothing to change her life. Treatment resistance on their part makes getting a diagnosis impossible and getting them help so frustrating. I had to let go of that as part of my detachment too.

    As MWM mentioned a large percentage of bi-polar folks refuse to take their medication. A really good book which helped me to understand the whys of that is An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, who is an authority on bi-polar, who has bi-polar disorder and she explains her world quite well and why she refused medication for years.

    Living with MI is so difficult on the family, I know that first hand. For me, the only sane choice has been to let go, to detach, to accept and to set very strict boundaries, difficult at best, especially with our kids. Dash, I wish you peace of mind and the knowledge that you're doing the very best you can. (((HUGS)))
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When you send her out to do job searches, make a computer form that she has to get signed at the places she looks for work. I know that years ago for unemployment and even welfare you had to get forms filled out to turn in. She doesnt have to tell anyone what these forms are for. Just make them look fairly formal and have a place for the employer to fill out their name, address, telephone number, signature of employee who signed the form and date and time she was there. Tell your daughter you will be spot checking the forms.
  17. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    And now I am feeling completely awful.

    I know. I think, I guess .... that I did the right thing, but it hurts. difficult child came down dressed (by her standards) to job hunt. I asked what the plan was and she said she was going to the County Workforce place. It's really a cool facility and a good place to start. It's about four miles away and she asked if she could use my car, explaining she was out of gas.

    I told her that she needed to rely on the same funding source for job hunting gas that she uses for gas for recreation. Her boyfriend, while a very nice guy, doesn't seem to drive. He just got his first job ever (he is 21 and had been in school until this semester) and, according to her, he also got a car. Still, she goes and picks him up - even to come here to hang out. Last nght, she went with him and several friends (although her girlfriend drove) to a nearby city to go to a hookah bar. She manages to get that paid for.

    Anyway, she said she didn't have a way to get money for gas. I calmly told her I'd driver her to workforce development - I needed to run to the store anyway - I'd drop her, pick her up and we'd see from there.

    She flat out refused and took her car, saying she'd take her chances on running out of gas.

    I shouldn't feel awful, but I do.

    I wish I could help my daughter the way my parents helped me.

    It's just not the same.

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  18. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I think you did the right thing, and your offer to drop her off, go shopping and pick her up was generous in my opinion. Rejecting your offer of a lift and insisting on taking her own car, despite having no gas, could mean that she had no intention of job hunting - the dress up may have just been an act to appease you while conning gas money from you. (I'm living in difficult child world, so I'm hyper-suspicious, mind you.)
    If she claims she didn't make it there, and ran out of gas, that's on her, not you. If she tells you she was mad at you because you wouldn't give her gas money, again that's on her. You offered a ride there and back, which is thoughtful and kind. If she was bound and determined to job hunt today, she should've set her pride aside and taken a ride from you. Unfortunately, difficult children want what they want when they want it, are impulsive and generally don't think proactively.
    I hope I'm wrong about this - my "baloney" meter is always running; I wish it wasn't.
  19. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    You're right of course. She was back in two hours. I asked her how it went and she was very vague ...saying she looked at the job board at WD but was not committing to any specific places other than saying she applied at a BBQ place. She may or may not have. Right now, she's cutting the grass. I know this bothers me WAAAYYY more than it bothers her. I need a crash
    course in detatchment ... or electroshock therapy
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Does your daughter have any training post HS? How did she do in HS?

    She seems way too complacent about her life right now. This whole "oh I will maybe apply at a fast food joint...sometime, maybe, if it suits me" stuff just doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me. Where is the get up and go stuff that most folks have when they are young. Most young adult teens have some kind of want to go out and work to get money if they arent staying in bed all day too. I could almost see it if she was out all night and sleeping all day but she isnt. I think your next step is pushing school or training of some sort. She needs to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I think she can get some vocational testing at community colleges or even HS guidance counselors that help you figure out what you would be good at or interested in as a career and from there you can help guide her in how to meet those goals but she has to start putting one foot in front of the other ...on the way out the door!