Helping vs Enabling - Now what?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by stressbunny, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. stressbunny

    stressbunny Guest

    He's done it again. Every week there is some new drama. This time JT texted me after 3 pm at work that he is completely out of money and would I wire transfer him $25 for gas to drive to his grandparents' to stay overnight before his early morning job interview.

    He was fired from his other job last month, and he was also kicked out of his friends' mom's house. He moved in with a few guy friends in another town an hour away and hooked up with a girl he used to know. He became immediately serious about her and wanted to marry her. Oh brother!

    But today she broke it off from him because she felt like things wete moving too fast - you think?

    So I stupidly, perhaps, wired him the money because I wanted him to get this job.

    Now he says that because his girlfriend dumped him he needs to live somewhere else. I asked him why since he is supposedly living with his guy friends. He said his girlfriend moved in last weekend. I wonder if he lied to us and has been living with her for the past few weeks.

    Oh , and he is so positive he is going to get this job and make over $30 grand, that he wants to buy a new expensive truck to the tune of $500 per month.

    He is out of touch with reality.

    At any rate, he is unemployed, homeless, and penniless now. I'm sure his plan is to live with his grandparents for some period of time because they live in the town where the job is. But we don't want that. His grandparents are in their 80s.

    This is ridiculous. He just won't get a real job and keep it. He tries to solve his problems by making them ours.

    If we don't help him at least for a while, he has no money, food, or shelter. I don't want to enable, but now what should we do?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, you can help him, but I wouldn't give him a ny money. I am assuming he probably uses drugs. That's probably where any cash you send him will go. You want to buy him a meal, do it. I'm not so sure about funding an apartment. There are homeless shelters. All he has to do is follow the rules. Your son is homeless by choice. I assume he could live at home if he lived a productive life and didn't break the law and was respectful. If so, he decided not to do those things and be homeless instead.

    I am sorry for your hurting mommy heart.
  3. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I agree with MWM. If you find it impossible to turn away from him at this time, is it because you are not sure of what is causing him to behave this way? If that is the case, you could check into the cost of renting for one month at one of those lifestyle hotels. Or, you could try YMCA.

    I never could just turn away, either. There is nothing wrong with temporarily helping the kids until we are sure of what the problem is. Once we know for sure what we are dealing with, we can address the problem. Look at this as a time to get to the bottom of what is going on ~ and then, do that. Your son's old friends will know whether your son is using drugs. In the meantime, don't get yourself into anything long-term. If you do decide to rent a room for him for a week or a month, be very sure that he isn't going to damage the room and leave you to pay for that.

    Don't co-sign on a lease or a car.

    I always envisioned leaving a white candle in the window, to help my son come home. I don't know how much that helped him, but it enabled me to survive the horror.

    I'm so sorry this is happening to you, and to your family.


    That was something we never even thought about until, having decided we couldn't live with ourselves and just leave her on the streets, we learned our daughter had been blacklisted by some of the creepiest dives in the city where she was living due to drug use and violent, nasty friends living with her.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SB, have you contacted any local shelters? In some towns there are those cheap hotels you can rent for a month.

    It might be prudent for you to get yourself some professional assistance, therapy, NAMI, 12 step groups, to help you figure out how you want to address this without enabling him. Detachment is difficult on us.

    Being out of touch with reality and making poor choices seems to be part of the difficult child handbook. The issue is that you don't want to be in the unhealthy position of paying for his bad choices for the rest of your lives.

    If you don't feel staying with his grandparents is a good idea, for their well being, then do not allow him to do that, folks in their 80's shouldn't be exposed to this kind of behavior, it's not fair to them.

    *You might try giving him a deadline for any help from you, a time period which feels right to you, a month? 90 days? And when that time period is up, then he has to figure this out on his own. As long as you help him, he is less likely to figure it out on his own. It's a fine line to walk. That's why I always recommend getting professional help, most of us can't navigate this alone. I'm sorry this is happening.
  5. stressbunny

    stressbunny Guest

    JT got the job, and it pays over $17/hour, which is great for him. But it still doesn't completely solve the immediate problem that he is 100% broke and homeless. And, it is very hard to live with his stubborn and defiant choices. His grandparents will allow him to stay this weekend. He starts the job after Thanksgiving. So the time between now and when he gets a paycheck or two are the issue.

    MWM, he is not using drugs, which seems like a good thing, except that his behavior cannot be explained by the use of substances (has been smoking cigarettes from time to time, though). This leaves me feeling less hopeful about a change in his behavior. He has always been this way - super stubborn and independent, egotistical and narcissistic, and low-empathy, to top it all off. What you said about his homelessness being his own choice was helpful to me. I need to frame it that way in my mind, because it's true. If I'm wrong about his substance use (don't think I am), it will show up on the employment drug test he took today.

    JT is extremely smart and gifted with mechanical stuff, not to mention physically fit and strong. There is no reason he cannot get a job if he doesn't want to go to college or train for anything. He just completely, completely lacks responsibility and self-motivation to persist with things. Work is just so much . . . . work, I guess.

    Cedar, after all of these years of living with JT, I believe his problems are neurological in nature. He lacks the ability to regulate himself and thus, do what is expected of him in life situations. This is a significant deficit, as it's a necessary ability in order to achieve and maintain employment or education, relationships, and financial responsibility, etc. He has poor cause-and-effect thinking, and he also has a severely inflated sense of self. He truly believes he is smarter and better than others, even people who are older and that he should respect. Someone posted about the concept of rank, and how difficult children don't get it. Well, that's JT too. If he fails at this job, I'm sure it will most likely be due to the fact that he can't take direction. He already KNOWS everything. And even when he's wrong, he's still right. It's maddening, really. People get exasperated with him, or irritated at his constant bragging and monologues about himself and his grand abilities. He only respects himself and his own rules, which are different than the rules he applies to others. JT has low empathy. His concept of how he is affecting others is non-existent. And, he doesn't care. He is number one. He has narcissistic traits.

    Recovering, I definitely do not want to pay any more for his bad decisions. We have already lost thousands of dollars over the past year because he flunked out of college and hasn't held any real jobs either. It's ridiculous. And, I'm SO exhausted by this constant drama. husband and I will be talking about the options for JT this weekend. The problem is that we already said that enough is enough this fall and that we were done paying for his life. And now . . . with this job, it seems he truly needs the help or he won't be able to keep the job. I don't want to help him any more, but yet, it's hard to believe he would go so long without having a real job. Why does he never seem to hit the proverbial bottom? He just keeps adjusting to his new and lower circumstances.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SB, just to give you a bit of perspective, everything you said about your son, is also true about my daughter, only she is about to turn 41, your age I just noticed, in a couple of weeks. She has poor cause and effect, has a severely inflated sense of herself, believes she is smarter then everyone, has little or no empathy with the exception of her attachment to her cats and she fits almost all of the narcissistic traits. She has not worked in 4 years, she has managed to couch surf and stay for extended periods of time in people's homes without paying rent and feels she "has rights." She also never hits bottom but remarkably, like your son, adjusts to a new, lower bottom.

    I have paid an enormous amount of money over many years attempting to help her, always thinking that this time, she will be at level ground and begin her 'real' life. Unfortunately that never happened. Of course, it might someday, but I had to extricate myself from all of it, the drama, the unending requests for money, the lack of responsibility for her choices and her indifference to myself and her daughter, whom I am raising, became too much.

    My story is a little different, in that my daughter was relatively okay, although she did exhibit some odd behaviors as a younger person, she still fit into the "normal" category.............however, that all ended when her husband committed suicide, that pushed her into a place which she has not recovered from and that was almost 14 years ago. Sigh. So, I probably helped and enabled her far too long, but my heart so broke for the circumstances of her life spiraling out of control inch by inch, it was devastating to witness it.

    With a lot of help from therapists, friends, groups, books, this forum and my intense resolve to find a way out of all of that fear, guilt, sorrow and anger...........I made it through this detachment landscape. Once we recognize that this is all completely out of our control, that we cannot save them from themselves, that what we do really doesn't matter in the scheme of it all, that we are in fact hurting ourselves and hurting them too..........that we can't change someone else's life........that no matter how much we love them and want them to be safe and have a "normal" life, it doesn't change anything..........once we see how utterly powerless we really are...........then we can let go. It takes awhile to get there because we love them, but once they are adults and they aren't willing to change and we know it, then all we can do is detach from them and accept what is. I think the acceptance is what frees us and brings peace.

    We all have to dig deep inside and figure out what we are willing to do and what we are just not willing to do. If you want to help him until he gets on his feet, then help him, negotiate a contract which works for you. Help him for a certain amount of time, make it very clear how long and what the help looks like and when you expect him to be independent. I took this whole year to do that with my daughter, little by little weaning myself of all of the responsibility for her life. As a result, I don't hear from her nor see her............I'm not sure how that will develop, weird as it feels right now, it also feels appropriate. I had to end the old relationship we had. Perhaps a new one will emerge, I don't know, but it's up to her.

    Your son is still pretty young and he did get a job, so perhaps a little more time to give him a start in life, but I think you have to make it very clear that after that, he will be on his own. You're the one who makes the boundaries around what it is you are willing to do. Your son's life is the result of his choices and at some point, he will have to take complete responsibility for those choices.

    *Good luck with your talk with husband about your son's options.
  7. stressbunny

    stressbunny Guest

    Recovering, what a challenging road you've traveled. I'm sorry for the pain this has surely caused you.

    I confess my feelings of hopelessness. Every opportunity JT has had this past year, he has ruined. Now I worry he will lose this job and he'll be out of money again and homeless. To top it all off his attitude stinks. He has defied everything we've ever raised him to be - everything.

    The resentment I feel comes from the fact that we have already bailed him out so many times and told him no more money. husband says he's a jerk and proud of it too.

    I want JT to succeed but I am so done with the ridiculous lack of responsibility on his part.

    I am so disappointed in him and hurt by his behavior. My husband can't stand him right now. Since he's been a rebellious know-it-all his whole life, I don't think he'll ever change.

    As an example, even though JT has flunked every semester of college, been fired from two jobs, been dumped by three girlfriends, kicked out of various living situations, and has creditors after him, he still told me today that he knew he would get the job. He also told the manager he thought he deserved higher pay than another guy he knows who works there because JT "trained" this guy in high school, so his skills are obviously superior.

    Seriously! I hate that about him. He really believes he is superior to everybody, including us, of course.

    We helped him manage his responsibilities in high school, but since he's been on his own, it's been a disaster.

    We tell him when he's bragging, but he doesn't get it. Not at all. Because of this, he may well have trouble holding this job or any job because he can't take direction.