I’m not sure what to expect from sharing my story. I’m just glad I have found this soft place to land. Such familiar stories…mine is a bit different as you will see. It helps to write about it. I’ll call my son Mason. He is 53 years old. He attempted suicide at age 38 and carries a bullet in his head one quarter inch from his brain. His problems, behaviors, whatever you want to call them started the day he was born. He came into the world a 4-1/2 pound ball of anger in 1962. His birth was actually three days late. He screamed continuously and didn’t sleep except for one hour a day, in 5-10 minute spurts. You may say “Nah, babies can’t cry 23 hours a day.” Yes, they can, and it was confirmed by pediatric psychologists and my own research. From crying he moved into anger – at everything. He was never a happy child, never smiled. My husband was of no use and would blame Mason’s behaviors on me. I became resentful and very, very tired. While the marriage went on for 28 years, it pretty much ended when Mason was born. I would get a pat on the back from the pediatrician with “Now, calm down mother, and everything will be fine.” Clearly, something was desperately wrong but there was no help, just platitudes. When he was seven I took Mason to a child psychologist. With no children of his own, he had no problem with Mason. Of course, his office was filled with wonderful toys and for 45 minutes he gave Mason his full attention. His advice to me was “If your sex life would improve, your renewed contentment would drift down to your child.” No, I’m not kidding, and he knew nothing about my sex life. We didn’t go back. He was the first of several counselors. The one with a brain told me I was wasting my money to bring Mason for counseling because he would not reflect on anything that was said. He thought he could help me to cope, though, so I saw him several times. It did help – for a while. But then, the hopelessness, the not knowing what to do, took over again. This is the short version of a very long story. Fast forward to adulthood. Mason is a highly skilled upholsterer. He’s bright, although until I had his intelligence tested as a child, I wondered about that. He rarely is hired because he cannot keep his anger in check. He is homeless, although he’s not exactly on the street. He lives in a 20 foot trailer behind an upholstery shop in an industrial area where he sometimes gets a little work. He berates the homeless people who hang around the area. For the past year I have paid $150 for his rent. I pay for his phone. I pay for the honey bucket that sits next to his trailer. He has power but no running water. I send him a $100 money order at the beginning of the month, so I am contributing a total of $400 a month to his sad existence. He hasn’t had a driver’s license for years. He has no ID. He can’t cash a check. He can cash the money order because he’s been going to the same place for years. He gets food stamps. I am willing to do this much, but no more. I’ve told him he is getting part of his inheritance early, and it will be deducted from whatever remains when we are gone. I do this more for me than for him. Making sure he has a place to sleep lets me sleep and keeps me sane. His excellent manipulation skills no longer work, and he knows it. He seems to be somewhat appreciative of this new arrangement, and if he asks for more, which he eventually will, he won’t get it. I would never let him move home to live with me. Once in, how do you get them out? Mason doesn’t exist except in some court record because he ran out on a DUI years ago. He did have an ID card at one time. When it came time to renew, he didn’t bother. It was too much trouble to get it. Now, he cannot get an ID card without five pieces of documentation proving who he is. He can’t meet the requirement. He walks or takes the bus. He is unable to think beyond tomorrow and generally has not even a dime to his name – until he gets the next $100 from me or maybe a little work - under the table. He was married once and I am forever grateful that he has no children! I feel for those who must worry about or raise their grandchildren. My wonderful husband of 23 years is my rock. He never tells me what I should do except to remind me occasionally that enabling isn’t helping. He tells me that I have the right to be happy. Before I began providing for some of Mason’s specific needs (only cash is the $100), he was right about the enabling. I fell for Mason’s manipulation and would give in when he cried and begged for money. But, the way I’m ‘helping’ now makes sense to me. I am happier, more at peace, and I can sleep. I think of this as progress, at least for me. I’ve learned that trying to help without specific boundaries, set in stone, is an effort in futility. After reading so many sad stories, I wonder why anyone wants to have children. I guess it’s because babies are cute, or maybe because we think we are supposed to procreate. But, then that cute baby grows up. Some people luck out, but many of us struggle with difficult adult children, and the guilt is overwhelming. We blame ourselves. It’s hard to think it’s not our fault. Our friends with their perfect children blame us. And, if you’re a mother, you get just about all of the blame. These children of ours prey on our guilt and their respect for us flies out the window. The more we give, the more they want. I know people who have diminished their retirement savings to enable useless manipulative adult kids. How sad is that. Mason is not going to change. He has made poor choices his entire life. I read this recently…”We each create our own destiny. This is not your journey to walk, it’s his. His fate is no more in your hands than mine, as the total stranger I am. Sometimes we have to come to a state of acceptance, prepare ourselves for the worst, and let go of the need to rectify anything.” Tough to do, very tough, but true. I have one other child. She is in her 15th year of teaching and has a great life. She and her husband are the lucky ones, and I adore my two ‘perfect’ grandchildren. I guess you’d call me a 50 percenter.