I need help talking to and setting limits with my son. Ongoing. Thanks.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son just called. We have been working on his re-connecting with his Hepatologist and resuming treatment. He just called and is frustrated and bummed that the doctor's office is closed for lunch time and could not get an immediate result, and would have to wait until 1:30 until somebody can help him.

    It felt to him he was taking it out on me.

    SON: Will you drive me to the laboratory, because it is hot out?

    ME: (I am thinking to myself, why is it my responsibility?) Let us talk later when there is a tangible result of phoning the doctor. Like they have faxed or called in the order to the lab.

    SON: (First, there is a one minute delay and he says nothing. Then, apparently irritated by my completely inadequate response, he responds.) You mean to say, you cannot anticipate that there will be an order? I am asking you if when there is an order you will if you will take me to the laboratory?

    ME: It feels to me that you call me with the express intention of disrespecting or insulting me. I do not appreciate it. Nor will I participate. We need to hang up now.

    My son is using me as his whipping boy. Every contact with him I feel degraded.

    I do not want to cease contact with him. But at the same time, I will not tolerate his ill-treatment.

    I need strategies and boundaries to detach from the consequences of how he treats me, while staying in the game.

    Any ideas? Please let me know if and how I may have mishandled this last phone exchange.

    Is my son correct? Should I have said yes, before there was a tangible need to go to the lab? Should I be taking him to the lab? Why? Why not?

    Believe me, my son walks an hour and a half across town in the heat, without skipping a beat. Why is he involving me? I am suspicious.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You say yes if you want to and no if you don't and "call me when you know the results are in" if you feel like it. It is not up to him. He's the one asking the favor.

    Why are you suspicious. Do you think he is about to hit you up for something?
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  3. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    That is the best thought you could have had. It is not your responsibility.

    I think this was a very good response. Why would you want to drive him there only to find out they don't have the results back. They may not have results until tomorrow.
    He is being impatient and demanding.

    I think you did very well here. You let him know that disrespect will not be tolerated.

    You did great!!
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  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Copa one thing I used to do way way too much is engage with a lot of back and forth talking with my son. There is a lot of value in keeping things very simple and short and resisting the temptation to explain and talk through things a lot.

    Even now with Difficult Child doing so much better I still keep a lot of my responses very brief.

    That is for me. I am very likely not to be thrilled with in depth conversations. This is a boundary I have set and I like it even with my easy child.

    See if that helps you too.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Copa, you did a great job. I agree with COM, with most of our kids, it's best not to engage in any in depth way. My daughter's perceptions are often foreign to me and I find it better to keep everything simple. You stated what your willingness is, there is no further conversation after that. If you were dealing with a typical person, your statement would simply be accepted. Because it isn't, is no reason to doubt yourself.
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you everybody.

    My son called me. (It is now almost the end of the month. He has not made it through the month once that I know about it with food money. However, he has paid for a place to stay for the past 4 months. Marginal, but indoors. This latest place is the most stable and suitable. He is with a grandma who is a recovering meth addict. She is a believer and will not tolerate his marijuana use. Her grandchildren are in and out and my son likes them. She cares about my son and the rent she is charging him is reasonable.)

    SON: Mom, can I borrow a few dollars?

    ME: I'm sorry but I do not have even a dollar on me. Sorry.

    SON: Mom, do you have any spare meat or chicken?

    ME: Let me check. I know I don't have much. I have 3 packages of chicken. Will that help you out?

    SON: Yes. Thank you.

    I already told him he cannot come over here anymore. He has been aggressive and non-compliant with rules.

    My SO made it clear to me that I am again bailing him out. That my son wants his cake and to eat it too. Call the shots. Have no accountability or responsibility but have somebody there (me) to pick up the slack. He sees how hard it is for me to refuse my son food, but where will it stop, he asks?

    I am just so concerned. My son is not on anti-virals for his liver with no availability of an appointment with the Hepatologist for 2 months.

    I am concerned about his mental state.

    I am so grateful when he is not hostile to me.

    How much can I take?

    If I talk to my son about not making it through the month with money he always has a justification or an excuse. And did so again this evening when I brought it up.

    He turns it around on me and makes it like I am abandoning him and he does not have a mother. He then as if threatens me that he won't bother me anymore and he will go off into the sunset and never call me again. I know it is pure manipulation but it works. I get discombobulated and confused.

    I am sorry I am such a difficult detachment parenting case. I see what I am doing wrong. I just do not know how to change it.

    We have decided to leave the state to see if we can put about 40 states between us. I am hopeful that will help. But my son still will be able to call me when he has no food and money. I need to bulk up. It is his choice to not have a payee. Does he not need to take responsibility for that choice?

    Thank you.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  7. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I would say that next time he calls you ask him why you should do it? Or better yet what will he do for you first.

    Here's the deal. If he weren't your son you wouldn't feel this way. You would know he is an adult choosing not to care for himself and you would walk away.

    Make a deal with SO. If your child were a easy child what would you be willing to spend monthly on them. IE: grown child with a job and no need for parents support.

    I decided long ago around $30 to $50 dollars in lunches and coffees and maybe even mani pedis was where I was comfortable. If that works for you and SO then be willing to give that amount in support without condemnation. Over that amount you discuss.

    I have gone so far as to ensure the money doesn't go elsewhere by buying what I think is important only. Buying gift cards to places they can only get food from. Walmart thought I was crazy for wanting a way to get a gift card they couldn't buy beer or cigs with. Heck I have even paid a bill so they could keep their cash for the item they think I should help with.

    It's not foolproof. But reality is you love your kid and it's impossible to forget them or not care. It isn't impossible to find acceptable ways to be supportive without being manipulated.

    My thought would be to ask the grannie a way to help without giving him cash or food.
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  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think u need to value your relationship with m as well as you son and yourself.
    As a compromise for food why not find out where the homeless can eat and tell him. Then it's on him to choose to eat or not eat but he has food if he wants it. I know salvation armies feed the homeless. You don't have to actually give him food to help him out. Likely he already know where to eat but is playing with your soft heart.
    Do you feel he is trying to get m so angry that he leaves? These types of adult kids don't like SO who try to help their parent stand strong against them.
    His hepatitis b is going to be affected by his unwillingness to treat himself. You can't force him to take his health seriously. It's sad and scary but he is of legal age where he does it himself or nobody can.
    I am a big fan of less is more in engaging argumentative people. I learned it late in life. Talking to contrary people just gives them a platform to be more oppositional and ultimately abusive. They don't listen or engage properly. They become combative.
    I think moving helps. The farther u are the less you can rescue. I wouldn't even give him your address. He can call you and that is more than enough. Every time you talk to him he breaks your heart.
    Be good to yourself today. Hugs!!!!
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  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    These are good ideas from SWOT and dstc. Can you see that these are boundaries? Things you decide ahead of time. You already know what will happen, so decide now what you will do and not do and then stick to it no matter what.

    When my son was pounding on the door having left the hospital AMA I said no you cannot come in. I had already decided.

    Perhaps one package of chicken not three. Don't tell him anymore what he needs to do and not do. You have already said it, 1000 times. It hasn't helped. He knows. Realizing that keeps it simple and short.

    Write down what you will say. Print it out and put it where you can grab it when he calls. I did this. It works. It will calm you and give you a blueprint to follow. It is a plan and so you are not being jerked around like a puppet. We get ptsd on this board I firmly believe that. We have to have tools to combat it.

    This will help you I believe. You will be better able to function between contacts. I also applaud getting away physically. That really helps too.
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  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    My opinions changed as I read through the answers to your post, Copa.

    But I do know your son took extreme advantage when he was in your home recently. So, that colors which is the correct response. Copa, given your son's behaviors and the smell of fragrant herbal greenery coming through the locked bathroom door, I wonder how innocent the formerly meth using grandmother is.

    I wonder about that.

    There is something funny going on about son wanting a ride because of the heat and then, switching to what he really wanted was food. Almost as though what he really wants is face to face contact; face to face contact with an adult child with no money always means we are caught at a disadvantage.

    They get money and we get hurt.

    Sometimes, both things happen. They get money and hurt us.

    Copa, you are excused from any parental responsibility, even the requirement to speak civilly, by your son's recent behaviors toward you in your own home.

    You are excused, Copa.

    SWOT is right. With son's recent behaviors in mind, the only possible answer has to be: NO MONEY. NO YOU CANNOT COME HOME. HERE IS ADDRESS OF SHELTER/FOOD SHELF/SOUP KITCHEN. NO I WILL NOT GIVE YOU A RIDE. (If son asks for a bus pass you could do that and mail it to his house. I think son does not want food or a ride. I think he wants money and that the grandma is a dealer.)

    Write your words down Copa, and keep them near the phone. I had to do that ~ many of the parents here have had to do that. It is impossible to operate coherently from a state of FOG or emotional flashback.

    And your son does play a hard game of emotional flashback, Copa.

    Another thing that helped me was to post a picture of young soldiers or police officers next to the phone. At 18 or 19 years old, the soldiers are far away from home and in places that are truly dangerous.

    They are not calling their moms about the heat.

    I would look right at that picture Copa, when my son called. And I read the words I had written down. And then I came and posted here. And we got me through it.

    If you don't know the words, here is the most important one: NO

    I agree with the others, Copa. Keep it very short. Your son is not himself right now. You cannot help him by being his mom from childhood days any more than I can help my son by being his mom from childhood days when the problem in this time is drug use or addiction or mental illness.

    We cannot help them Copa. We are only their moms.

    It helped us to say "NO" when we had discussed what it was we would need to see or hear from our son before we would help. We concluded that if son were doing well he would be working. If he were working, he would not need help from us.

    NO money, ride, food, cash, sympathy. Tell him to get his behind to that lab and get his blood drawn. Tell him: I love you.

    We cannot enable, Copa.

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  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Boy does this sound familiar. Anytime I would try and direct or suggest to my son how he could better manage his money to make it last it was always met with excuses why he couldn't do it.
    I too was told how I didn't love him. "If you loved me you would help me" if I tried to bring up all the times I had helped he would say things like "why do you have to throw the past in my face"
    There is no winning with them.
    I finally learned that saying less was more. I absolutely will not offer any advice to my son about anything.
    I also learned to not offer any reason as to why I couldn't help him. A simple "I'm unable to do that for you" is enough.

    Copa, it just takes time. You are not being difficult.

    Something to keep in mind, every time you "help" him, you're helping him take two steps back not forward. When we swoop in to rescue mode it's more for us than it is them. We love them and don't want to see them suffer so we "help" them but by doing this we are taking away their chance to figure it out for themselves.

    For me, sticking to giving simple responses and not engaging into those chaotic conversations saved my sanity. My son also started getting the message that I could not be guilted into doing things for him and his manipulative ways were no longer working on me, he stopped asking for handouts.
    That's not to say that occasionally he won't make some kind of request but it's not the constant begging that it once was.

    Hang in there Copa!!

    We are circling around you, feel out strength. You can do this, you will get through this.
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It helped us to know that son had money. He had spent it on drugs. Any money we gave him either replaced what he'd spent on drugs or went for more drugs. And we sort of knew that but we didn't. Denial is a very strange place to be; very hard to break through denial. Anyway, once we really did believe we were looking at an addiction and not the results of poor parenting on my part, and once we read about addiction and its effects on the brain (and after I had sent my son this thing with a million pages in it about that very thing plus the vitamin regimen to rebalance the addicted brain over time) then, at last, we could say no. But we still didn't say no. Finally I did say no, Copa. You will, too. Be gentle with yourself now, care for yourself now, understand you are under attack, now.

    Once "NO" has been established Copa, things will get easier.

    This is the hard part.

    You are doing great, Copa. Telling the truth to ourselves about what is happening is the hardest part. You are doing that. Telling someone else what you think you see happening is the second step. You are doing that, too.

    It isn't easy, Copa.

    It is very hard.

    It would be worse if we were alone with it.

    We have one another.

    You will get through it, Copa. Just keep doing the best you know one small step at a time.