Do we get something out of enabling our grown kids?


Well-Known Member
This came up in a thread and I want it to toss it out to my friends here.

You know what? I think I did. It was that "I will be a great mother, no matter what, even if I have to sacrifice my entire life and my emotional health for my kids. My kids ARE my life and without them I am nothing, therefore if they fail, I am a failure. I can't let either happen. I have to keep pushing, pushing, pushing. I have to treat them with all the love I have, even if they abuse me because I am better than that. I am Mom of the Year. And these are my babies."

When I felt that way, my kids were all under eighteen. I did not linger in that mindset for too long as 36 didn't let me. Although I did want to be the mother who is 80 with a 60 year old child in her house, if it came to that, I was afraid of 36. If he had not threatened to assault me, and if I hadn't been divorced so that nobody else could step up to help me when he did, he may still be living in my house.

Did YOU get anything out of being the mom who enabled her kid? Made excuses for him, like I did? Put up with terrible abuse, like me? Even after 36 was gone, I enabled him in many ways, including the little money I had, listening to him berate me, and I saw him even after a few more times when he acted like he was going to hit me while I was visiting him at the various hotels he lived in. I don't know what I was thinking, really. He is tall and strong and once I brought him food and he threw it across the room and lifted his fist and I still didn't leave and I listened to how horrible I was for not letting him come back home.

I came close to inviting him back many times. If I didn't know that his father was moving up to the area and had bought a condo just for the purpose of giving 36 a place to live, I probably could not have handled the in-between time when 36 lived in hotels. They weren't nice ones either. I probably would have let him come back home, to terrorize me again. I think the one thing holding me back was my daughter, who was terrified of him.

It took a long time before I was ok with what I did, especially after he stayed with his friend's family for a while and his friend's mother called me up to scream at me and tell me what a horrible mother I was for throwing him out. Of course...she threw him out three weeks later, but that didn't make me feel any less awful. A bit vindicated, perhaps, but I still felt pretty rotten.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
This is an excellent question.

But here is the thing: Would the things we have done for our difficult child kids have been enabling if they had worked? That's question #1. And Question #2: Would the actions we have taken again and again with our difficult child kids have worked the first time with easy child kids?

I posted on another thread that I had not parented accidentally. I wanted kids, I worked really hard to be a great mom, and I think I was a great mom.

Except for the way the kids turned out, I mean.

That was a joke.


What I am trying to say though is that I meant to be the mom I was. I don't know to this day exactly what happened or how it happened that this happened. On enabling a difficult child...yes. I have more at stake in either of my difficult child kids pulling themselves together than they do.

They can always make a life.

I only have two children.

Also, that idea that I must have done it wrong or this would not be our, time, effort, endless thought, all the things we all do when we get those middle of the night phone calls ~ I take it back on that one. During difficult child daughter's last crisis, it came to me that in a normal family, a crisis of this nature ~ any one of the crises of the past two years, would have brought every member of a family together as the young woman involved lay dying from

1) Vehicular homicide attempt with lacerated liver and brain damage

2) Repeated awakenings in Intensive Care from drugs/alcohol overdoses. One of which, she was plucked out of a snowbank by an ambulance driver for.

3) The initial crash and burn, with vicious, homeless, drug addicted weirdos living in the same apartment as my three grandchildren.


You guys know all the rest of it. The treatment, the leaving AWOL, the homelessness, the beating, the horrific recovery.

The male who beat her is going to be sentenced November 17th.


But I think that no, we don't get so much out of enabling. We have no choice to enable, sometimes. Death is final. I think we stood up really, really well this past two years, since the drugs and the homelessness and the beating. But I think it shook something up underneath to go through it.

And it's not over yet.

So I rescind any question regarding my own martyrdom/perfectionist question. I would like to see a parent of PCs go through even one of the episodes we routinely undergo and come through it standing.

I don't believe they could handle it.

But that is cold comfort.



Well-Known Member
All I can answer is that when I finally faced what my difficult child was - it was I who had to change, given "her" ways things could have gone on forever. Oddly enough, against my own intuitions, "other" people encouraged me to give the difficult child a second third, etc chance. The whole good mother/ bad mother entrapped me for a long time. I can't say that I was actually addicted to the drama but I know enough about basic psychology that people to get addicted to the adrenalin flow of drama. Therefore when I see it, I know it, even when they might not even recognize that it is there.

My way of dealing when I faced the truth was an utter emotionally breakdown; necessary, looking back to re-build my ideas of who I am, and the I came to the truth that I was a very good mother with a very bad end result. Not easy stuff, so the best way is avoidance. Avoidance of actually changing things can be a very powerful but toxic (to self) way not to deal with reality of what you are living and keep yourself caught up in drama which has it's own payoff -we "prove to "others" that we are/were good parents in a game that simply isn't being played by anyone but ourselves. It then can get to a point of where a person gets so entangled to the dysfunction that they have no way of getting out of the situation. It becomes easier to, in a unknowing way to "brag" about the exploits of the difficult child - so that you are "forced" to entangle with them one more time. Someone so enmeshed can't get out because the pain of actually having to deal with themselves is so painful it is more painful than actually making the changes to get self-esteem back, right the good relationships around them and have a peaceful home. Some people just CAN'T live in a peaceful home, the drama is to exciting and they feel somewhere deep inside themselves that life would be boring without the usual fix of drama, blaming, making up, believing, and disappointment again. Kind of sounds like other domestic violence victims huh? (We are)

As hard as "No Contact" is getting there is hellish in itself so I can understand how people want to avoid it. Also what we must remember that most of the difficult child's are truly unable to change, their chameleon nature is truly tough to see it for what it is, making the OUR truth an issue when dealing with them. That in itself leaves only the mentally healthy ones READY to change when there is a true desire to live a harmonious life. Thus the numerous recommendations of support groups such as AL-anon

Because of the vicious cycle of dealing with difficult child's we can each have our own self-defeating ways of dealing with them until we know ourselves and our triggers and begin to move on with our own lives without these difficult child's affecting our lives. Easier said than done but doable. That is where each of us has to get to to begin to untangle ourselves, for our own good, to truly get back to living our own lives. We must ask ourselves in each situation we deal with in interaction with difficult children - "what's the payoff for me"? Only when you can answer that question with "none" can truly release your adult difficult child out into the real world and out of yours. It takes balls to stand up to these people who use and abuse us. We are made of tougher stuff only when we are ready to release these abuses from our lives.


Well-Known Member
Cedar, if they had to, they'd go through it too. They would just have more compassion toward other people who don't have perfect grown kids.

I hope your daughter's assailant is locked up forever.

Our children do not turn out one way or another due to our parenting. None of us raised our children to hurt themselves and have disregard for others. Not one of us. We have a certain amount of control over our children, really, until they are in their teens and become more peer-oriented. If they decide to throw what we taught them to the wind, that isn't our doing. And as one who tried everything, including taking her daughter out of school to homeschool and putting bars on her window so she couuldn't climb out her window and run through the dark streets at night, I know that they will find a way to do what they want to do.

I'm really, really sorry that you had such bad times with both of your children. It's heartbreaking to read about. You are such a nice, caring person. You deserve so much better than that. I am very mindful that some of us only have one child who is a mess or have more than one who are not doing well. I feel like giving you a hug, but I can't because you're not here...

I'm glad you still have your marriage. Many marriages could not have survived what the two of you went through. You must have a very strong relationship.

Hope you have a peaceful day...many peaceful days.


Well-Known Member
HLM, good post. I agree with you. It's hard to stop. Guilt is there, especially when you first start doing it. I am fortunate (or unfortunate) that I did not feel safe sharing much about especially 36 so that I got little feedback from others about what I should do. Of course, sometimes I did and it came from unexpected places, like the mother who took in 36 when he was thrown out for cornering me and raising his fist. In case you did not read that story, he went over to his friend's house and his parents took him in, shocked that he was thrown out. God knows what he told them. Mom called me up and reamed me out for a long time. I just listened. I was shocked and still kind of a doormat so, although I wanted to scream "SHADDUP" and hang up, I listened. When she said, "Don't you want to talk to your son?" I said, "No." She called me a bunch of names then hung up. She threw him out three weeks later, but she never did call to say, "You know, he WAS difficult..."

Anyhow, in my case, my worst critic was my inner self. My family is tiny, dysfunctional and not safe. I did have two extremely close friends and we did vent to one another, but they were wonderful and did not judge nor did I judge them. Both of them had at least one difficult child so they understood. It must be horrible to have the pressure of others making you feel like a worse mother or person than you already think you are.

I finally am at that place where I can usually (not always) handle difficult child and accept that the child we adopted from another country chooses not to consider us his family and will never be back. Learning mindfulness, radical acceptance, and other coping skills was so helpful that I can't even explain. I needed to start thinking about life differently. That included all areas of life, not just concerning my difficult children.

I agree we are stronger when we don't allow others to abuse us, and that includes our grown children.


Well-Known Member
The thing about these difficult child'S is - if they were partner abusers we would eventually kick them to the curb, get counseling and move one. The big question then I guess is how to we learn to accept the the ongoing abuse of our difficult child children adult or otherwise? Again I say the only way is to remove them - as we wold with a partner abuser - and move forward with help and support in our own lives.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
For me, enabling is defined as a pattern of behavior which we learn in our early lives. My early self was based externally on what another needed, not on what I needed. The focus was external not internal. A healthy self image was not built in, it was skewered early on by a dysfunctional family dynamic which did not lay the groundwork necessary for me to develop healthy boundaries and healthy needs. Enabling doesn't have boundaries where there is a clear delineation between the self and others.

Would the things we have done for our difficult child kids have been enabling if they had worked? That's question #1. And Question #2: Would the actions we have taken again and again with our difficult child kids have worked the first time with easy child kids?

In my way of defining enabling, those questions can't be answered because it presumes enabling is actually a healthy and viable way of connecting and I don't believe it is, so I don't believe if one did enable a kid it would ever work. The questions make the assumption that enabling might somehow work. I don't believe it can work. And, frankly, my belief is that if we take the stance of enabling we won't be producing easy child kids. Not to blame myself or blame anyone for anything, that is not my point here, but I don't define enabling as in any way shape or form as a viable, loving, nurturing, healthy way of connection. I also believe that we can change that stance at any time and correct it.

I don't believe that being a good mom or a bad mom is the criteria for having healthy kids.............there are many many instances where that criteria falls short, good parents produce bad kids, bad parents produce good kids.

a normal family, a crisis of this nature ~ any one of the crises of the past two years, would have brought every member of a family together as the you

Even in so called "normal" families, when a crisis happens it doesn't mean it brings the family together. That presumes there is a right and a wrong way of doing things and there isn't, things turn out the way they turn out and sometimes we have no answers for them at all. We can spend our lives trying to find a reason or a person to blame, but there may be no reason, there may be no person to blame.

To answer the initial question, yes, I believe there is always a payoff of some kind to our behavior. Unconscious? Probably. But not necessarily. I don't think I intentionally enabled, I don't believe it was a choice, it was a way of being, a choice in that I didn't have another way of being that I was aware of at the time, it was the only way I knew to respond. I had to learn another way of responding. I had to learn to see the ways in which I was defining myself as someone who actually had the power to change, alter, fix, repair, save or in any way control another. I had to take that external focus and place it within myself, so that I could recognize that the only power I really ever had was in how I responded. I had to look at my own judgements of myself and of others. The judging of there is a right and there is a wrong. In many ways, that was the crux of it for me, the judging of right and wrong. When I can step out of that stance, I can begin to see more, I can find my compassion for myself and then for others. Within the judging, I either had to blame someone or blame myself, someone had to be at fault. Well, maybe no one is at fault, maybe it really just is what it is and we have to accept it.

Responding from a place of being all knowing offered a sort of false superiority, a "better then" perspective which I believe strokes the ego and offers temporary satisfaction in an enabling connection. However the message sent to the other is that they are less then, there is a clear negative implication which in my own enabling tendencies, I did not see. It was hard to see that in myself, but in seeing that, I definitely didn't want to be that guy or send that message to my daughter. Or to anyone.

In my own journey I had to recognize the cost of enabling, to me, to those around me. In my belief system, the behaviors we elect are not done with malicious intent, but as a means of initially surviving, of making the only choice we likely had as a child or a young person..........but as we get older, those choices no longer serve us or those around us, they in fact, keep us stuck. I had to let go of enabling as a way of connection and the "perks" it offered in keeping me a martyr or the proverbial 'good person' who is always helping everyone, or the nice RE, the good RE, the all knowing RE..........and allow myself to be vulnerable, uncertain, not knowing, making mistakes, blowing it............and be more real.........therefore more human with all the frailties and messiness............which interestingly, brought more intimacy and connection.

So for me, the enabling stance, although it kind of looks good in the social arena, really kept me apart, kept me in my superior state, but lacking in a real intimacy, a real connection. Turns out the payoffs were not what I really wanted, I really wanted connection and closeness.

Bone Weary

New Member
I think it's interesting how God works. My brother-in-law is a counselor and he says I get something emotionally from my son, even if it is negative. And negative attention is better than no attention. I'm not sure he's right but in the past i was just so desperate to hear my son's voice, hoping this call would be the one he told me he changed. And a month ago it was. He had a religious experience; I went to see him baptized. I prayed it would be different. Then he asked for money, to help get a job of course. How could I turn him down? Three days later he needed more. Gas money to go to New Orleans to get that job. I've given gas money for jobs 3-4 times in this last month. But the lies piled upon lies. Now he is homeless. And he needs money for shelter. I don't know if he's using or if he ever stopped. I just know I can't enable anymore. I want to have joy again. So off topic. What did I get? I think I just wanted so badly for my son to know that he could have a different life than when he was little. In the movie The Green Mile, Michael Clark Duncan's character was talking about another character and said he "used their love against them". I think my son used my love against me. I am new here and that is just my opinion. I just wanted so desperately for him to love me and just be a good human being. I am not addicted to drama. I have just been a doormat my whole life. I don't want that anymore. Such a rambling message.


Well-Known Member
I had a dreadful relationship with my own parents, who were never 'there' for me in any way. I left home at 18 and they didn't even come to my first wedding. I would never have dreamt of asking them for anything.

I think my enabling behaviour was down to not wanting my relationship with my son to reach the pits of my own relationship with my parents. Maybe what I got out of it was, therefore, some way of finding closure about my feelings about my own parents and their dysfunctional parenting. Unfortunately I think I tried to over-compensate and, with hindsight, my own behaviour was as dysfunctional as theirs, but at least it was done with love and care, albeit too much love and care bordering on control.

Another thing that I got out of my enabling was weight loss caused by stress and misery. Not the healthiest way to lose weight though, haha.

in a daze

Well-Known Member
Another thing that I got out of my enabling was weight loss caused by stress and misery. Not the healthiest way to lose weight though, haha.

Read more:

I can relate, Lucy. I was really thin 2 years ago when he was at the height of his drama. I took care of both my parents before they died in 05, for 5 years plus working, running my own household and raising two teenagers, one of who was depressed and difficult to deal with, and was within 2 lbs of my wedding weight.

But I'd rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable.

This is an interesting and thought provoking topic, and I am going to post more later.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
In the movie The Green Mile, Michael Clark Duncan's character was talking about another character and said he "used their love against them". I think my son used my love against me. I am new here and that is just my opinion. I just wanted so desperately for him to love me and just be a good human being.

I agree.

Until we have been at this business of parenting a self destructive child long enough to have to seek out and learn and accept and apply phrases like "enable" and "detach" we are just moms (or dads).

As we begin to focus on saving the kids, rather than on celebrating and enjoying whatever it is they get up to on their own, our behaviors do devolve into enabling. It's like a carrot on a stick, right? Only the thing we are after is for them to be okay.

Over time, it does get to be a game, in the sense of payoffs and frustration and pain ~ but it is a deadly serious game.

The losses are real.

Anger turned to resentment; trust and faith and hope turned to...turned to detachment, I guess. We have posted here before about the parent's need to make that decision to survive, about the necessity of making the decision to leave the child behind or lose our own sanity and health and life and focus.

Not to mention money and autonomy.

The "rewards", the whole concept of success for our troubled or difficult child or failure to launch kids change from whatever the dreams were to "God, grant me the Serenity...."

And the sadness there is that I have never prayed a prayer more sincerely, or more often, than that one.

I still have ~ I mean, it has to be true that whatever the dynamic in our family was, another, different set of parents may have been able to steer both my kids into stability. I have a problem though, with accusing ourselves of enabling, like it was a bad thing we did on purpose.

Detachment is impossibly hard.

Detachment is unnatural.

It is.

Enabling is actually what we all do as a matter of course, with our children. We teach and instruct and make it possible for them to flourish.

And it's actually fun.

It's what life revolves around.

It is when the child is is my question. Did I make the child troubled? Did we create a mental illness in one child and mishandle our son to the point that drug use was more attractive to him than conventional reality?

Jeez, I just don't think so.

But I don't know.

Given the outcome...given the outcome, I tend to beat myself up and label myself and blah, blah, blah...but I still can't believe that if I was making a child mentally ill and driving another to drug use, I wouldn't have known that.

I sound like an idiot. I get that. But that is what it feels like when I see everyone else's family and wonder what happened to mine.

Detachment theory appeals to me because there is a slim chance that it might work. I could no more not care what happens next than ~ I just couldn't do it.

I do care, very much.

But the days when what path my children follow defines me are past. (Though, as noted on an earlier post, friends whose kids are Medical Directors, research scientists, or professors never, ever, fail to fit those facts into whatever conversation we are having with someone who does not yet know what all of our children are doing. They speak of their children's accomplishments with pride ~ as they should.

The one whose son is a professor at an Ivy League college? Says her son was so intelligent that, though he had his moments as an adolescent, he just is so smart that he never let drugs or any other bad thing take him over.

And this friend? Uses recreationally, herself.

So, I usually just sit there when she talks like that, because really, what is there to say?

Maybe, it's true.

So for us...I think we are not locked into some sick dance with our children so much as it is that we are locked into our children the way all parents are locked into their children.

Our children are in trouble, or are troubled, or seek trouble, though. When our daughter was actually doing well, the feeling rolling off her was of a car revving its engine at a stoplight.

She really was an empathic, energetic teacher who got the biggest kick out of opening things up for her students to see...but she didn't get a charge out of being "normal," of going to work everyday and investing in stocks and paying the bills and figuring out what color for the drapes and carpet.

And she even told us that, right?

But who would believe that what happened next would ever happen in a million years?

And when we did not enable...oh, what happened, then.

So I think that, to answer my own question about whether I am somehow hooked in to a system of payoff in

In fact, I respect myself and my children and my family and the life we created more than ever to consider this question, again. Tragedy is tragedy. It is real.

Viciously real.

I don't know what happened. Chances are that I was not a martyr person until I got mad about what I put in and the crummy, horrifying, always getting worse results. It is too easy to let ourselves fall into this other way of beating ourselves up for what is happening to our families.

I like what Recovering tells us about taking very good care of ourselves, about teaching ourselves that we are kind and bright and good and worthwhile through cherishing and good self care.

These are such hard paths to walk, for us and for our kids, too.

Sometimes, the hardest thing is to trust ourselves enough to understand that we did alright. There are ten thousand ways the world will take us down. We are vulnerable to loss of belief in our selves, and in our own worth, because of what has happened to us and to our families.

We need to acknowledge that, and we need to be strong enough to choose to honor and respect ourselves and even, our wayward kids, anyway.

Which is a pretty tall order.

But on the martyrdom / setting the kids up to fail so we could be martyrs...though that sounds just sick enough to be something that could happen, I think that is not correct.



Well-Known Member
It is when the child is is my question. Did I make the child troubled? Did we create a mental illness in one child and mishandle our son to the point that drug use was more attractive to him than conventional reality?

This is key for me. Did I make my child troubled? Not intentionally at least. Did he wake up one morning and decide he would be a colicky baby, difficult toddler, socially awkward child, make his school life as hard as possible for himself, get traumatised and in the end, because of whatever genetic and environmental factors make himself both addicted and mentally ill? Can't say for sure, but doesn't sound likely to me. So okay, no need to distribute blame around among us. But even without a clear-cut guilty party, fact remains. Kid is troubled. He is ill.

Having ill or disabled child is no fun, but it is life and if that is in my cards, so be it. I will deal with it. And I will help my disabled or ill child (or other loved one) in the best of my ability. What can I do to help varies (in the end only thing to help can in some circumstances be to pray for that loved one) and what I'm actually able to do without sacrificing too much also varies (and here comes the boundaries and protecting myself and others in to the play.) But I simply doesn't see any fundamental difference with a child, who has cancer and who has mental illness, nor I see difference between being disabled because of physical handicap and addiction.

I have simply lived with, known and loved too many people with mental or behavioural issues that I could see them inferior to those, whose issues are physical. Whatever the reason for disability is, it doesn't change the fact that there is a disability. And almost never people choose it to themselves (of course you can make a case that when someone rides bicycle without a helmet they chose their brain damage or whatever, but in reality everyone makes more or less stupid and reckless choices almost daily in one way or another. Some of us get lucky, some don't.)

We can't give more than we can, and we need to keep boundaries when there is someone close to us who needs very much. That is true. And sometimes we have to choose, if it is worth the shot to put our retirement funding to one last experimental chemotherapy trial in country next over or one more trip to that rehab, and make those hard choices with both eyes open and also sometime decide it is not worth the shot. But I do not see any fundamental difference between the two.

That is why I have big issues with this whole enabling-thing. I simply don't see it as something negative to help another person, if you can afford it (financially, mentally, emotionally, it being fair to your other loved ones etc.)


Well-Known Member
There is a difference between mental illness and bad choices. There is a difference between those who are cruel and dangerous to us and those who are ill with cancer and need our care and are gracious for it.

Most of us are not dealing with the type of mental illness that makes a person out of his/her mind. And most of us are dealing with thievery, verbal abuse to the extreme and our personal safety.

I would help an adult child who was mentally ill but kind and respectful. My son is abusive, dangerous and unwilling to take medication. I think most of us are in a different place than somebody who is caring for a loved one with cancer who is not a threat to our well being.

You have your own path to walk and it's a hard one. Yes, your son is very sick. But he is respectful of you and is not going to steal from you or hit you. Different circumstances. Nobody deserves to be abused and there is no excuse for abusing somebody. None.

Most of us are talking more about abusive adult children rather than sick ones. I am really glad for you that you do not have to fear your dear child. Please don't judge what you don't understand. We are all here for you and hope your son does well. You are doing what you need to do. We are too. Please understand :)


Well-Known Member
MWM -- Great post, great question. I feel similarly as you. When it's black-and-white stuff, it's easy to know. But then there's that mushy gray stuff in the middle that's hazy. Are they legit or not? Is it really that bad or not? I think I got slowly lulled into getting more and more desensitized to just how bad things had gotten. But then, blammo! Some big event hits and we know it really is THAT bad.

MWM -- Just gotta tell you... You post such repeatedly wonderful insights in this forum! I gain much from reading your posts. You blend heart and brain very well in here.

Would the things we have done for our difficult child kids have been enabling if they had worked?

Cedar --- Wow. I'd never considered that. That's a mind-blowing concept. No, I suspect you're right. Guessing if they'd worked, we would not consider them enabling. Wow..... Gotta turn that one over in my mind a few times. It sheds huge light on just how subjective the term "enabling" can be. Wow, again. I'm gonna flip that one over in my brain all day. I like it. It feels empowering. Thanks for that!

looking back to re-build my ideas of who I am, and the I came to the truth that I was a very good mother with a very bad end result.

2much2recover ---- Very wise. Very well said. In fact, so well said, I think I may use that exact phrasing (especially to other parents of difficult child's). Again, that's a very empowering concept. True. I also like what you said about difficult child's chameleon-like nature. That's the toughest part sometimes, isn't it? Like.....just who are you? It does take balls to stand up to abusers. BIG cajones. Your words are so familiar in my heart, too.

The focus was external not internal.

Recoveringenabler ----- Short, sweet and to the point. Excellent! You have worked this path so well for so long and I sure do like the insights I gain from you. That just kind of boils it all down, doesn't it? And I'll take it a step further in my understanding. Not sure I can express this well, but, will try. Simply put:

1) HELPING OURSELVES (focus on internal only -- A WIN)
2) HELPING OTHERS (focus on external AND internal -- regular helping situations, like this forum, for instance - A WIN-WIN)
3) HELPING OTHERS (focus on external only ---- boundaries invaded...important boundaries....feels like THEFT. A LOSE-LOSE).

#3 ---- And then we feel bad because it's like we handed the robber the keys to our home and invited that THEFT. That's how enabling feels to me when I do it. I feel badly because it happened, but I feel even more badly - exponentially - because I invited or allowed it). Why would we hand a robber they key? I dunno. But I know I've done it before and it feels awful. Awful, awful, awful. Hope that made sense.


Well-Known Member
I agree we are not talking about difficult children that may have mental health issues, once addressed, compassion is called for. I think that the info here is more for people dealing with either a difficult child with a personality disorder (unable to change basic personality) or the mentally ill unwilling to help themselves. Either way once things become abusive we need to answer for ourselves - WHY and how we stay involved with those who would use and abuse us and what are WE getting out of it by fighting an UN-winnable battle?


Well-Known Member
Another thing. In the United States, if you spend your retirement, you h ave nothing. YOU will be homeless. The government does not provide for the elderly. We get social security. In many cases, like mine, it is not enough to live on, but it won't be increased. So our retirement is mandatory here. I doubt many of us could spend all of it for a rare possible cure of cancer for a beloved relative even if we wanted to. Many of us can't even afford the travel fare.

Our difficult children, in general, know darn well what they are doing, that they are manipulating us and being abusive, and it is within t heir control not to do it. We try not to judge one another here. We cope the way we have to cope. Frankly, our grown kids are basically thieves, moochers and drug addicts and addiction may be an illness, but it is curable. Let's be kind to one another.


Well-Known Member
Bone Weary -- You are so courageously honest and I thoroughly respect that! You will get to where you want to be. You are already on your way! :) And I love The Green Mile.... Next time I see it I'll think of you when I hear the quote about using their love against them. So true, and so sharp of you to note it!

Lucy & In a Daze --- Weight loss. Oy. It is a brutal way to lose weight, isn't it? I the only one who GAINS weight during stress? LOLOL! I'm not kidding. difficult child stress is so hard on my bod! Cortisol is not my friend! I've very physically active, but stress makes me gain weight. I've never been then, but I've always been athletic. But, I swear, this difficult child stuff put 25 lbs on me. And it's 25 lbs I did not need! LOL!

When our daughter was actually doing well, the feeling rolling off her was of a car revving its engine at a stoplight.

Cedar --- Powerful. Well put. Your daughter and our son have that same thing in common. And, truth be told, I think that will be the single hardest element of staying sober for our son....that revving sensation. So well said, Cedar. Note, this "revving" sensation is one of the reasons I chose HeadlightsMom as my moniker/logo for this forum. Revving, then blinding, the.....Medic! :) That's how my experience of raising difficult child has most often felt.

Cedar -- Also, thank you so much for sharing more about your daughter. I can picture what you describe. And I can feel it in your heart, the way you use your words so well. I'm newer to this forum and still trying to learn (and keep) everyone's stories straight. It helps me greatly to hear older tidbits as much as hearing newer tidbits. I'm with you!


Well-Known Member
I have no doubt I have gotten something out of the way I have parented my adult kids. As Dr Phil says, we do nothing if we dont get some kind of pay off. I do believe that.

For years I felt both very close to Cory because I felt we were so much alike but I also felt incredibly guilty about his physical disabilities. I dont feel that way as much anymore. Yes Cory and I have some of the same issues but I dont understand the way he thinks about so many things anymore. When he was much younger I could say "well, I might have done that, wanted to do that, reacted that way" when I was his age. Now I look at him and think...boy, at his age I was already dealing with IEP's, difficult child's and all of that junk. I didnt have time to be bad. I couldnt rely on my parents to bail me out of anything...and I dont mean that legally but things like needing a sitter for something or needing a ride. Tony and I had to figure all that out for ourselves.

I also think we have stunted Billy and I blame Tony for much of that. I wanted to push him out of the nest long ago but he was too scared to do it. Even now Tony is talking about turning our mobile home into a duplex when we get back home so he can live in the other side. I dont want that. In fact, I would be happiest if we could trade the big double wide in on a used smaller single wide.

I think one thing that really brought home to me just how much we have been in the giving position and no one seems much interested in helping us back has been since I was in the accident with the truck. Cory and Mandy never even came over to see if I was okay. Heck Mandy never even called. Monkey's mother did. Billy only helped me get to two appointments. Oh but when Billy was in an accident I took him everywhere. I have been called constantly asking me to go do things for Cory since the accident. I am mad. Mad is a good place to be.

I dont know what will happen with us eventually because I know we cant rent forever. We have to go home sometime. However when we do I want it to be only Tony and I. I dont want to go back to being the maid. I cant do it and I know no one will help me even if they swear they will.


Well-Known Member
Not every cancer patient is 'nice', in fact many are plain nasty. Many cancers have a lot to do with bad choices (for example smoking, being over weight etc.) and so on. Not every cancer patient seem to be doing everything they can to get better (notice "seem", we haven't been in their shoes, we don't know what is actually possible for them. Not anymore than we know with addicts or mentally ill.) It is true we can't give others more than we have and we also have to take care of our selves and keep yourself safe enough ( mentally, physically, financially etc.) but that again is true also with loved one with physical illness.

MWM: I'm happy you don't know my son. When you don't you can have much higher opinion of him than if you would. I have 'known' you few years now and unfortunately I have to say that if you would know my difficult child you would hate him and think he is a horrible and nasty person. I of course see it differently and I don't consider some things too serious or similar game changers that you likely would. For me the other things would be that and some of them you wouldn't maybe mind that much. We are different people. Let's put it this way; half an hour ago difficult child called me 'f***ing c**t', I rolled me eyes and told him he is not 13 anymore. I have inkling you would likely consider it disrespectful or even offensive to be called with c-word in dinner table. For me it is not a big deal in any way. Not that nice but I have never put much value to 'nice.'

None of my troubled loved ones have been nice people, all have also made a lot of bad choices, couple are with personality disorder (like my dad.) Still I have my experiences, my opinions and my point of views. I'm not stupid, nor am I a child or even that naive. And I don't need to be patronized.


Well-Known Member
To those who lost weight, I gained I did a lot of comfort eating. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

Janet, I hope you can come to a satisfactory solution. Again, though, I am always dazzled at how much your grown kids adore you...all three of them.