How to handle my difficult child mom?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by welcometowitsend, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. So my parents have only been home from Florida for about two weeks. When they were home at Christmas they had difficult child at their house, feeding him, doing laundry, driving him wherever he wanted to go. Ugh.

    Since they've been home they've taken him out for breakfast and dinner several times. In some ways it's a nice gesture and in other ways he is using them for a free meal.

    Anyway, the other day my mom asked me if she could buy difficult child new socks because he always seems to be wearing the same mismatched pair of socks that a female friend gave him. So, I said sure, what could a couple of pairs of socks hurt? Well, she went out and practically bought him a new wardrobe - socks, shirts, underwear. She would have bought him pants and shoes but didn't know what size he wears.

    It wouldn't surprise me in the least if she took him out and bought him new shoes and pants too and then lied to me about it. And it wouldn't surprise me if she gave him $$ and lied to me about that too.

    This really ticked me off. difficult child still apparently has his job - how he didn't get fired I'll never know but he only works 3-12 hours a week. Doesn't bother to go to school and is sleeping in someone else's spare bedroom and apparently paying $25 a week in rent. If he works 12 hours a week and pays $25 a week in room and board he has $100 a week in spending money. He can buy his own clothes but instead he spends it on alcohol and cigarettes. He still has not applied for SA because he either knows he doesn't qualify or he is just too darned lazy.

    What does my mother think she is teaching him by supplying these needs - that he can continue to be a bum that doesn't go to school, barely works and yet people will support him. Ugh!!!!!

    Then she says that she gives the people he is staying with credit for taking him in. What?!! I don't - they are enabling his behaviour - what is there to be thankful for in that regard?

    And her excuse for his lack of attendance at school. Well, he must be bored with classes because he is so smart. Huh? So what! Who cares if he is bored - aren't 80% of kids in school bored to tears from 9am -3pm every day from September to June!?

    She can't even see that she is making excuses for him. Sorry, I need to vent or I might just bite my mothers head off. I did tell her that this is unacceptable but I don't think that'll stop her from doing it if it makes her feel good. I can see this causing a huge rift between her and I. Not only is she enabling difficult child but she is making husband and I look even worse in difficult child's eyes because she is affirming his belief that he is entitled to these things and we as his parents are not supplying them so Gma has to.

    *Sigh....... deep breath.
  2. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Welcome, how our families respond to our addicted/challenged children is one more, shiny facet of the destruction of every good thing that happens with addiction.

    If we can remember how hard it was for us to learn how to survive this, then we can empathize with our parents.

    I don't know whether you have grandchildren yet or not, but I do. It's an indescribable kind of love, as strong in its own way as the love we feel for our children. Each grandparent will need to reach that place of understanding regarding his or her addicted grandchild on his own. The grandparents will argue over the role they should take in helping the addicted child. Though not as destructive as the arguments the parents have over the addicted child, the grandparents' marriages will suffer.

    However they work it out, once the grandparent has engaged, he or she will need to do all the things we needed to do, too, before we got it that there was nothing we could do to change anything.

    This is how extended families too, are destroyed by addiction.

    Understanding what you have gone through to learn what you know today, is it possible for you to see your mom's actions with compassion? Can you support her as she goes through the emotional hell of learning that she can't change this?

    It cuts like a knife to understand that, when an addiction has gone on long enough, family will step in and try to change things for the addicted child. Though their pain will not be as deep as our own, they will need to go through the betrayals, the hoping and believing we all did, too. In very fortunate families, the addict has decided by this time to change. Whichever family member it was who stepped in then will harbor, forever after, the secret pride of having saved the child after you had given him up.

    They will never know it was nothing they said or did. It was that the addict stopped using.

    Other families will not be so fortunate. As the addict spirals downward, everyone who can will take a shot at helping, talking "some sense" into the addict. But for those families, it won't matter. Each family member will then have to learn, as we have had to learn, that there is, literally, nothing we can do.

    They will resent the money, the time, the clothes, the hope, the addict's ultimate betrayal....

    But they have to try. Love is that strong.

    Your mom loves you. She will learn soon, on her own. That will be so hard for her to face.

    Maybe difficult child will stay straight and recover after all because his grandmother bought him some underwear. Chances are that isn't true, though. When his grandmother realizes the truth behind your truth, it will practically kill her.

    You will need to be there for her, then.

    Be kind to her, now.

    You know the pain in store for her.

    The devastation of the extended family is the final cost of addiction, the final bill come due.

    Unless that underwear she bought him works? You will have to be very strong to hold it together.

    I just couldn't resist that little joke about the underwear. :O) I am sorry. There is nothing about this that is funny.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When I see stuff like this, I wonder if the same grandparents would have treated YOU so well if YOU had behaved like him.

    I think Grandma is trying to be popular and I don't think she is doing right by him or you. I don't think grandparents should trump a parent's wishes. However, after that opinion I am useless...I don't know what to do. You may ask her the question I asked you: "If I'd acted like him, would you have done all this for me?" Sometimes I wonder if they don't know what they are doing or if they sometimes do it on purpose to make themselves look like the good guys...kind of a parent/child rivalry.

    I'm sorry she is acting this way.
  4. MWM - I know exactly what you are saying. I talked to my mom again today after I'd posted and she said "I could never DO to you what you are DOING TO him." I'm sorry, what exactly am I doing to him? He's done it to himself. He's made his choices, he chooses not to go to school, to party with his friends, to live on someone else's couch. He chooses not to wash his clothes and not to shower.

    My mom would never have put up with behaviour like that from me when I was living at home. I used to get grounded for coming home 5 minutes late. I'd have gotten the snot beat out of me if I'd spoken to my mother the way difficult child speaks to me, let alone do the things he's done.

    The funny thing is I have aunts and uncles (her brothers and sisters) that are so dysfunctional and she won't have anything to do with them. I told her today that all she is doing is helping difficult child become what they are. She used to try to help them out but has given up on them (rightly so) but my grandmother enabled them for so long that the damage is permanent. And there are mental health issues that have never been dealt with, of course.

    I told my mom today that I felt that her going against my wishes was very disrespectful to husband and I. She said "Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree." IE. I'm going to do whatever I want and I don't care if you're happy about it or not. Which is her right and not within my control but boy is it disrespectful to us as parents. I should ask her how she felt when my friends parents took my drug addicted brother in when he ran away at 17 because he was on probation and my mom was trying to make him follow the rules.

    Scent - my difficult child is not an addict (at least at this point). He was drug tested 3 times last year and came back clean. He does drink with his friends sometimes but I would put that as stupid teenage drinking with friends, not addiction.

    That said, I totally understand how my mothers heart might be broken right now. I will give my parents credit that they were wonderful grandparents to my children. Spent a lot of time with them, babysat and took them to the zoo, movies, bowling, you name it. They had a very close bond with my children.

    Unfortunately, I see difficult child getting attention and stuff for the wrong reasons and easy child is getting ignored because she doesn't 'need' it like difficult child does. She doesn't know about what's happened recently but she will find out about certain things, that is inevitable and I'm afraid she would resent my mom for what she is doing - rewarding bad behaviour in difficult child and ignoring good behaviour in her.

    I love the joke about him straightening his life out because Grandma bought him new underwear. It's funny. And we need to find the humour in things! LOL. I wish I'd have only known that was all it would take to get him back on the right track. LOL
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Boy WTW, I can understand how you feel, it's a betrayal to you and husband too. It also may keep difficult child stuck in his behavior longer with them enabling him. Sigh. It sucks. Given your mother's remark about agreeing to disagree, it doesn't sound as if she is open to any changing, that's really unfortunate that she would so minimize your feelings and experience that way, I would feel hurt and angry about that too. Would she perhaps agree to attend a NAMI meeting, or a group where she could listen to a therapist, or other group members talk about the devastation of this for parents, or hear what a professional might say? Sometimes if you can get a person out of the family dynamic long enough for a bit of truth to sink in, that opening might create a shift in their thinking. Or a book that might offer her a different perspective?

    Underneath all of that, there also may be a power struggle, a kind of parental one-up-man-ship, I don't know them of course, but your mom might be thinking that SHE can turn this around while YOU couldn't. Especially if she in any way believes the cause of difficult child's issues are your parenting skills, a place where many people go to judge. And, given that she has siblings who are dysfunctional, sort of like, gee, my mother and my daughter raised difficult child's, but I DIDN'T, so I'm a better parent and I can change the outcome. Just a thought.

    I might talk to easy child and let her know that your Mom is overcompensating for difficult child, how people will do that, put all their effort into helping the problem child, leaving the other child alone because they don't need the help. If you can tell her the truth, and that it is grandmother's issue which unfortunately impacts her in a negative way, perhaps she may not take it as personally. I've had to work at that with my granddaughter because her mother is so clueless about how her behavior impacts others. Kids may be hurt by the actions, but if you explain it to her, she may not take it personally so it really goes deep and affects her self esteem. She may be able to see it as the misguided attempt at saving her brother that it really is. Your easy child has likely wised up to many of the odd facets of being the sibling of a difficult child.

    There may not be much you can really do to stop your parents negative influence on your difficult child. However, I am a huge believer in telling the truth and if you continue sharing how you feel about it, how disrespectful it is, how angry and hurt you are, at least you won't be harboring those feelings. It's another opportunity for you to detach from what your parents are doing, sigh, because, like your difficult child, you have no control over it. Sometimes I think life is simply a series of opportunities to let go........and here on this board, we are experts at it. Hang in there WTW, as usual, you have a good handle on the situation, you're dealing with it as best you can, sharing how you feel, venting here, protecting easy child, recognizing yet again, how little control we have in so many areas................many hugs to you..............
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Vent here. And then let it go.

    If you've not had a sit down chat with your mom over the truth about difficult child? Then you might want to do that. If you have or if you did and it doesn't/didn't work..........then there is nothing you can do about it. She'll either figure it out on her own or not. Letting yourself get upset over her actions is only hurting you, no one else. Know what I mean??

  7. Hound - Thanks for your support. It means a lot that I can come here and vent to get some of this frustration out. My parents are very aware of the situation with difficult child and what has been happening with him. My parents were wonderful to my kids when they were small and did a lot with them. I know my parents love my children a lot and want to see them succeed.

    But my mom is a huge difficult child in the sense that she wants to be the most loved, the most fun grandparent and she has always believed that she can be the saviour. She did this with her brothers and sisters (my mom is the oldest) and she did it with a cousin of mine and now she is doing it with difficult child. For some reason she has this idea that if the right words are said or the right gift is given that difficult child will miraculously come around, change his ways and come home. And she thinks that she is going to be the person to do it.

    She told me again today after church that she was going to do and say exactly what she wanted and she didn't care if it hurt anyone else - that was their problem. Sigh. That sort of left me speechless, even after all these years of dealing with this type of behaviour. I asked her to please show husband and I some respect so she turned around and said "Ok, fine. I'll never see difficult child again." This is how she reacts much of the time when she doesn't get her own way - it's all about extreme reactions with her. I told her that was not what we wanted at all, just that she needed to respect some boundaries. She also said that what husband and I were doing wasn't working and so she was going to do something else. Sigh again. She got mad and walked out. Story of my life when it comes to confrontations with my mother.

    RE - I definitely think there is a one-upmanship on my mom's part as far as 'saving' difficult child goes. I think this process is now going to take a lot longer because of her behaviour, especially if it keeps up. And I think that it could hurt my relationship with difficult child as well.

    I did talk to easy child about things today and she is a very self aware person and very aware of others as well. She is remarkable in her ability to see things for the truth of what they are - sometimes better at it than I am. She remarked to me that difficult child has always been Gma's favourite anyway. I know this to be true because my mother has told me but easy child told me today that my mother has told her that too. Sigh. Hurtful but I think easy child sees my mom for what she is. Understands that there is love there but that it comes in an unhealthy way sometimes because Gma has her own issues that have never been dealt with. I feel bad for my Dad. Doesn't matter what he thinks, he can't say 'boo' because he'll have to deal with the retaliation and tantrums that will come from my mother. My dad isn't allowed to speak an opinion that is different from my mothers and sometimes he gets abuse even when he keeps his mouth shut.

    Is it wrong to be looking forward to November when they go back to Florida and it puts some distance between them and the situation? We get along so much better when they are 2000 miles away even though I still talk to them at least 3 times a week.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 10, 2013
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Too bad they don't stay in Florida longer.

    Your mom has the childish (in my opinion) attitude that she can do whatever she wants and it's too bad who she hurts in the process. I'd have trouble having a close relationship with my mom if she had that selfish attitude and I would distance myself quite a bit and only speak when necessary.

    She's right. You can't stop her. But it won't help your child and she will one day see that. And you don't have to engage her while she gleefully disregards your wishes. And when things get tough and she calls you for help, if that happens, you can say, "Well, I'm sorry." And nothing else. Don't offer to help her out because you can't. She gets herself into her own messes. A grandparent does not HAVE to enable a difficult child who is struggling against her struggling daughter. It's not mandatory. She is choosing to do soj.

    I would try to detach from the entire situation since it is out of your hands. I'm thinking a good therapist for you, on how to detach from this situation, is just what you need to talk to. For my money, your mom is being a big brat, desperate for love at any cost, and unreasonable. You are the adult here. Now be sure to take care of yourself because, God only knows, you DESERVE it. In fact...too bad YOU can't take that Florida trip and leave Mom home with your difficult child, year around. But...dreams don't happen.

    You can not control mom or difficult child, but you can control yourself and learn to put yourself first because you need a break and some good treatment and nobody can be nicer to you than you (I hope this makes sense :))

    Gentle hugs.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think if I were in your shoes, I too would be counting the days until November............
  10. MWM - That is exactly what I said yesterday when my mom stormed out. I thought to myself that she is being a spoiled brat. In some ways she is a lot like difficult child herself. Not near as bad as some of her siblings but she can be very difficult.

    Realizing that I don't have control over things/other people has been very freeing for me. I was really frustrated at first but got over it pretty quickly because i know that I have no control over her or her actions. It saddens me to think that she could undermine what husband and I are trying to accomplish while she is trying to do what she thinks will work but it's out of my control.

    Actually had a pretty good afternoon and evening yesterday. husband and I went and ran a couple of errands, puttered around the house a bit and had a nice dinner.

    RE - 1 less day until November! One of the good things about time never going backwards. LOL!
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning WTW, I was so happy to read your post this morning and hear that you felt free in realizing your lack of control with everyone. It is a very liberating experience isn't it? My feelings are that if we can detach from our child, recognize the sheer futility of trying to control them, it is SO MUCH easier with everyone else. You moved through that really quickly and had a nice day with your husband. I am proud of you WTW, terrific job! :hi5: