Healthy perspective on relating to our adult kids

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Scent of Cedar *, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    COM's thread Highchair Tyrants helped balance me out this morning. I decided to post about this anyway, because I am wavering between guilt and confusion about what the right thing is. In answering Esri's post, I got a little clearer, too.

    difficult child daughter is unhappy.

    That is what it boils down to, if I think about it.

    And when I cut through that immediate leap I leap into when one of my kids sounds defeated/unhappy/angry, what I got was that the thing my 40 year old child most needs from me is to believe she is bright and strong enough to handle her own life.

    She does not need me encouraging dependence on her parents.

    I felt better, once I got all that straight. It was like being popped back into the old days, though. She isn't really asking for anything, though she made it clear that the ex husband's grandmother is sending her money. And that the ex husband's grandmother has offered to come and get her ~ though she just had heart surgery and shouldn't be driving.

    Which made me feel like we should be sending money.

    Or, buying her a car, because she doesn't have one.

    I suggested finding part time work in the evenings, once the ex husband is home from work.

    I asked whether she had begun writing about her experiences while homeless. We had talked about her doing that at one point, to create a focus for her apart from her life with the kids.

    In the interests of helping her to believe she is bright and strong enough, I said I was upset that they would not be here for the 4th of July.

    Her response was that we could still pay for all of them to fly up. Which we have done, in the past.

    So, I was wavering a little more. I was feeling a little more like I was making choices I was going to regret. I wondered whether I was deceiving myself into ignoring my own daughter and her problems with all my thinking about wanting her to believe she was bright and strong enough to create her own life.

    All this fits into the ego place on COM's thread, and it was helpful to me to read that, this morning.

    Then, difficult child daughter said the ex husband had run into the room and pushed her onto the floor, and all she could think about was protecting her head.

    And then I was tumbled into that place where I can't think, can't breathe.

    But I still didn't offer to come and get her.

    I told difficult child I would let her go for now, but that I would call to check in with her later this morning.

    The line was busy.

    And I am better, clearer now...but it has been a rough morning for us.

  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Cedar sometimes I come to a place where I think back to where I was when I was some of these kids ages. Now at 20, yeah, I was still somewhat leaning and depending on my parents because of some really bad choices I had made. I had some help there. I ended up getting pregnant the summer I was 18 to a guy I hardly knew because my mom moved him into my bedroom on the theory that all I needed to get over being raped was a good piece of ...well you get the idea. I was raped in June and pregnant the end of July. I married that idiot in November and he was a real piece of work. Abusive, idiotic, a real difficult child. I got up the nerve to throw him out after about a year.

    But by the time I was 22/23, I was living with Tony and I wasnt asking my parents for anything except maybe some emotional support. I didnt get much of that until I proved myself worthy either.

    At 27, 30, or heaven forbid 40, it would have never crossed my mind to call my father and complain to him about my problems in life. Now that is not to say he never helped me out...he did. He gave us his used cars when he was buying new ones. He kept cars a long time so he would have only gotten a token amount on trade in so he didnt mind passing them down and we so appreciated it. One time he bought me a washing machine when mine died. I paid him back. (He sent me the money

    However, I never told my dad that I had bipolar. I never told him I was dxd with fibro. I never told him of any bad things except he did know about Cory. Both he and my step-mom supported us completely in whatever we did but that didnt include money...just emotional support.

    I never called my dad to complain about my sex life or ask about relationship advice. As far as he knew Tony and I had the best relationship this side of Texas. I wanted him to think the best of us and to think we were strong, capable people. After all the garbage I put him through as a child, I didnt want to worry him anymore. Maybe I shouldnt have kept so much from him but Im glad I did.

    My kids are so not like I was. I know far too much about their lives.
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  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh boy.

    That is a manipulation.


    "This poor old infirmed grandmother who is in need of medical attention is giving me money, even offered to come and get me........and you Mom, you are so selfish and mean, you would allow that instead of just giving me what I want."



    "Mom is wavering, get in there with some well planned sighs, or something, anything, which will get Mom to pay for us ALL to come down for July 4th Not just ME, ALL OF US."


    "Mom is not falling in to my usual traps, so I'd best remind her of how hurt I was when I was beaten up, and remind her that SHE is COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ME should I fall and hurt my damaged head."

    I hope you've continued breathing and thinking because mental illness, substance abuse, or NOT, she is manipulating you to get what she wants. You do not owe her a trip, a car, money or anything. She is a 40 year old woman and if she can't get a job or write her memoirs then she can't make the trip to see you on your dime, she already has the ex husband and his grandmother taking care of all of her needs. You DO NOT have to step in AT ALL.

    I'm so sorry Cedar, you don't deserve this. I know exactly how you are feeling, the FOG set in and it's so hard to get out of it. You did a good job in not offering ANYTHING. There is NOTHING YOU NEED TO DO. Your daughter is throwing out all of her needs and wants to see what you will give her. DON'T GIVE HER ANYTHING. She is not in the hospital. She is not on deaths door. She is not in need. She wants a free trip and some pocket money. She is 40 years old Cedar. Our kids are approaching middle age. They are capable of making the right choices, they simply choose to make the easiest ones. DON'T BE FOOLED.

    Talk to your husband and begin to recognize the manipulations. You are NOT RESPONSIBLE for your adult children. I have to say this to myself now a lot with my granddaughter whose list of "requirements" for college would require I continue working for another decade............when the requests first come in I go in to the FOG too, fighting what I think I should do with what I know is ridiculous.........but that internal battle rages on. I get out of the FOG by talking to my SO who is not at all invested in any of it and he gives me a reality check. As soon as I can hear another point of view, I can pop out, but that initial hit is a direct blow to me and I need time to recoup from it. I am still too vulnerable to all of it to not slip back into the abyss. But I know I am hanging on the edge of a cliff by the awful way I feel. It is no longer an automatic response, but the new behavior isn't cemented in yet, so I need to just REFRAIN like you did and retreat to get my bearings and then Im okay. I hope you are okay now.

    This is a difficult stage Cedar, but I think it's a necessary one so that we get good at saying NO, so that we are comfortable with saying NO, so that it is a natural response to say NO. How are you doing now that some time has passed? Has your daughter pushed on?

    Sending you warm good thoughts for your serenity and comfort...............hugs to you my friend.
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  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Do NOT feel badly about not sending for her for the 4th.

    I only have one time that I feel sorta upset that my father didnt find a way to get him up to him and that was when he married my step-mom. Im sure it was her idea because I was pregnant with Jamie at the time. I had no car, no job and Tony was out of work on workman's comp from having a steel ladder fall on him. I had no phone so he couldnt call me but they sent me an invite...sigh. I RSVP'd that I would be unable to get there. I never heard back.

    I know my dad and had he really wanted me there, I would have been there. He let her call the shots which was sad because all his brothers and all my cousins attended and I was very obviously not there. Im sure many people thought I didnt approve and was siding with my mother which was so not the case. See, my step-mom was first my mom's best friend. I knew her since I was 10 years old. I knew her before my father knew
  5. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    I am thinking along the lines of above. WE do the work, because we want healing; our difficult children are still manipulators.

    If i thought I could get free airfare to Pittsburgh, PA (NO offense to anybody from there), i would jump on it. A trip is a trip. Please see it for what it looks to be. And, please, please, please do not feel badly. It smacks of manipulation. It worked in the past....
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    So, this post is a little disorganized. Janet, I was so horrified at what happened to you when you were just a baby, yourself. But, because dealing with these things with the kids and choosing "do nothing" always pops me into this really bad, accusatory place, I felt like my response was too ~ I don't know. Kind of too stupid to send, I suppose. This morning I feel better.

    Like in On Golden Pond, when Henry Fonda is dying and Katherine Hepburn is crying? And Henry comes back to life and says: "I think...I think I'm feeling better, now."


    That's me, this morning.


    What in the world was your mom thinking?!?

    That's such a sad thing, Janet. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I wish you'd been able to hurt that bad man back. And to think, you were only twenty; just a baby, a precious baby, yourself.

    A good piece of...? Well, for Heaven's sake!

    I wish it were legal to hunt down and shoot a rapist. Dirty, thieving criminals, preying on those they should protect.

    I hate that that happened, to you.


    It does feel awful.

    It makes me feel crazied.

    To turn away from our heartfelt reactions, to do the exact opposite thing than our instincts are telling us we must do, does open our psyches to all kinds of blaming and accusation and old, old business that is still, apparently, unresolved.

    Even though I know that intellectually, it is almost impossible to stand up in there.

    Running away was an option, thank Heaven. So, I took it. We always need to remember to give ourselves that gift of time. Just to not be on the phone anymore was such a godsend.

    It was so awful, to feel that way.

    I could just cry for myself, for all of us and our poor, messed up kids.

    Today, I am better.

    Today, my daughter is better. I talked to her early this morning.


    So, in a way, I came this close to starting the entire cycle all over, again. Had I given in to those feelings, had I sent money, had I done one little thing, we would have been back in it, again.

    Close call.

    I feel like I won the battle (with myself and for my daughter) but boy, I am tired, today.

    The other grandmother is sending money. Her thinking (according to difficult child daughter) is that difficult child could use the money, a little for herself, and the rest to renew one of the two teaching licenses she has let lapse. (Different states. Each of which we paid for, more than once ~ along with driver's license, court fees....)

    husband and I were talking about that, last night, before we knew the other grandmother was sending money. $1000 cash to difficult child daughter, last Fall, and the male who, after spending time in our home, after taking our money...then beat difficult child nearly to death.

    It is a confusing thing, to be the mom and the grandmother.

    I sound sort of dopey. I am serious as the day is long.

    I feel rootless; it seems to matter very much what I choose to do. It is very, very hard to do nothing. But...doing something didn't work out very well, either.

    I am pretty much wherever I am with all this. I think it is helpful to post about what it feels like. Each of us will have her own day like this one has been.

    Hang on.

    Detaching, believing the kids will pull through it, believing they are bright and strong enough to do that, is the right thing.

    But it's really hard.

    I feel like I've run a marathon.

    It is so helpful to post it, here.



    My post this morning is a little disorganized, a little loopy, just like me.

    I hear what you are telling me about wanting your parents to believe you were strong and happy and making it just fine. I think I need an attitude adjustment. If I could respond as though my daughter were strong enough, if I could respond as though she were doing really well, given the situation just a year ago, she would feel stronger, too.

    It seemed like that wasn't working. I just crumbled right back into the old ways.

    Guilt is a strange thing. There is the real horror of what has happened, to our daughter and to all of us. I really do believe enabling has been a piece of how this happened to all of us, and I am determined, not only to stop enabling, but to present the kids to themselves through the eyes of a mother who believes in and expects respect for and from, her children.

    ("Good luck with that one.", a tiny little piece of me failed.)

    And all I can do is continue, with determined intent, following the course of action which I believe in.

    It's a very lonely place.


    So, I read Recovering's post about her daughter and grandchild.


    Detachment rocks.

    Had Recovering buckled any of the myriad of times she was presented with choosing this new, untried way or buckling to the pressure of the old, failed ways, her story would be very different, today.

    Thank you, Recovering, for that post.

    It's like, I know detachment, with its core belief that the kids are strong enough, are bright and determined enough, is the right way. I KNOW IT IS. I see now how harmful it is to enable, how enabling fosters that belief that your own children are inept. I see now how continual enabling, along with the resentment and the sort of riding above the kids that goes hand in glove with it, erodes respect, and self respect, for all of us.

    But it is still so impossibly difficult to stand in the fire of the "no".

    And the only solution I know is to stand in it.

    Just stand right there in it.

    Interesting to note that standing right there in it echoes through all aspects of self. I just don't know how to be who that person is who does not help.

    I look ugly to myself, I feel pretty ugly, feel stupid and cheated.

    Good Lord, a pity party right in my own head.

    But I stood there, anyway.

    Good for me.

  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Oh, Strength, you are right. But I feel badly about that, too. We didn't mean to, but I think I taught my kids that, if the story gets bad enough, then the money and the attention will come for the sake of the problem.

    Not the person, but the problem. It all got to be about the problem.

    Addiction is so destructive of even the smallest little piece of respect for the addicted child.

    Or for ourselves, really. Because every time we bail them out, we are trying to fix some unknowable something we believe we failed them in.

    This experience has taught me to hold strong in the face of some pretty overwhelming feelings.

    I am so grateful for this site.

    With each time I have done nothing, I have gone through this same kind of collapse. But I am very sure this is the only way to rebuild any of the good things that have been destroyed through addiction, through enabling.

    Added on rewrite: First time was telling difficult child daughter custody of her daughter should be assigned to her aunt. That was tough, but I knew I was right. Second time: Telling difficult child granddaughter I would not take her. That was tough. And I still think I might have been wrong. Third time: Oh, wait. First time was telling difficult child son to stand up and not to talk to his mother that way. So, fourth time was telling firstborn difficult child granddaughter SHE needed to take control of her life and that she could not come to live with us, either. (This granddaughter is 21. Confessed to alcoholism and wants to come to live with us. That just happened. I think I did not even post about it. But THAT was pretty tough, too.)

    I mean, think how my poor grandchildren were parented; think of the horrible things they have seen...things I did not protect them from.

    That is the thing that keeps us hooked.

    That we did not protect.


    Our intentions have always been of the highest order. It is very hard, but not impossible, to stand up to the onslaught, to the true horror of not helping.

    It really is a hard thing.

    But I think of the things I have learned here. I think about the children who have picked up and come back from it, whole.

    So, this is what I believe I have to do now, for the kids, and for husband and I, too.

    Believe they are bright and strong enough to do what needs to be done or to suffer the consequences of the things they have chosen.

    It's very hard to do.

    I think I could never do this without all of you, without knowing the things we have all figured out about how to see what has happened to all of us in a different way.

    Man, I still feel cheap.

    And like, irresponsible.

    I'm okay, though.

    It is good to share the bad feelings, too. That way, if it does happen to any of us, each of us can remember what the others have overcome.

    Really, I don't think I could do it, could make these changes, alone.

  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Cedar I would have difficulty with the grands myself.

    One thing when you are thinking about how you could or should think about your daughter as strong and able and responsible when she really isnt remember, I never told my father when I was having any problems. I dont know what he would have done if I had gone running to him with every little problem. Most likely told me to grow my ass

    I was born a late child to parents who were born in the 20's. Most likely your parents are my parents ages. My parents had a very no nonsense way of thinking about some things. They lived through the Great Depression and WWII. My father lied his way into joining the Marines when he was almost 17 years old so he could serve. Funny thing is Jamie graduated Parris Island exactly 60 years to the month from when my father did. How is that for irony?

    I was a troublesome child and teen. I had some very good reasons for it. I know I have written about it before so I wont repeat myself. After I grew up I didnt want my father to think of me in the same way. I had a hard time with that because my mom did her level best to tell the world how bad I was. She would write him letters telling him the most awful lies. Heck she wrote my bosses, the cops, the FBI and even the My mom was seriously crazy. My psychiatrist and therapists have figured that she most likely had schizoaffective disorder. She could act normal as all get out but then she was really crazy as a loon.

    That did have a really bad effect on me that I have been trying to get over my whole life. She tried to turn me against my father as a child and it worked until I got old enough to know the man for himself. He wasnt a saint and he had his own issues. He was raised in a rough time in a Catholic family where his father only came home to make another child. He grew up extremely poor however all of his brothers except the youngest who has some sort of developmental disability have done very well for themselves. He made a pact with himself early on that he would be a good father by providing money for me. Unfortunately that kept him out of the house for long portions of time and I would have rather had him around than all the money in the world. He always said I love you with money. I learned to understand that was how he was able to say it. Later in life he did get better with words. I will never forget that the week before he died he called my house and we had a very good talk. He was quite lucid. Monkey was there (she was 4) and he talked to her for a pretty long time for her at that age. I think he kinda knew he wouldnt see her again. He told her to always remember she was so special to him and that she would always be his wonderful princess no matter what happened in life. That was the last time they spoke.
  9. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is beautiful.

    I loved reading the part about "no matter what happened in life".