List of things to say when detaching


(the future) MRS. GERE
PonyGirl brought this up on Barbara's thread and I thought it might be a good idea for all of us to brainstorm together. Awhile ago I suggested some phrases that I had to write down and keep by the phone for when Rob called to whine, beg, or whatever. Since I'm not a quick thinker, it really helped me to have them right there to read from. Basically, these phrases acknowledge their pain or situation but don't get us involved in it.

"Well, I'm sure you'll work it out."

"That sounds like an interesting idea."

"Good for you, honey!"

"How are you handling that?"

"How does he/she feel?"

"I'll need to talk to your dad/guru/dog about that."

"I don't have an answer right now. I'll do some research."

"Sorry, I'm on my way out the door right now and can't talk!"

"I need some time to think about that. I'll get back to you."

"That must make you feel good."

"That must make you feel bad."

"How does that make you feel?"

"What's your opinion?"

"I'm so sorry, honey."

What suggestions do you guys have? Remember, they are phrases to acknowledge but not engage. And sometimes you just need to buy time before you give an answer.

Of course, it might help to have a bottle of wine near the phone, too.


scent of cedar

New Member
Oh, Suz! This is an excellent idea! I'm going to copy this and post it next to the picture of the soldiers. I correct in assuming "Where is the Western Union office, again?" would not be on our list?!? :crazy2:

Thanks, Suz ~ this is a great idea.



New Member
Thanks Barbara,
you made me laugh with that comment about the Western Union Office. No I guess that wouldn't be on the list.


(the future) MRS. GERE
"Where is the Western Union office, again?" would not be on our list?!?

You are correct.

Neither would "Let me look up how to get there on Mapquest for you."

So: "Mom, I really need $50.00 right now for gas to get to work."

Go for it, Barbara. Now that the pressure isn't on, what could you say instead?


scent of cedar

New Member
Thanks, Suz.

I would pick: "I'm so sorry this has happened again, but I am sure you will work it out. We are not going to send you any more money."

Then, I guess we just have to keep repeating the same things, whatever the person on the other end has to say about that.

Believe it or not, I had to look through the list, Suz!

Thanks for the practice call!



Worlds Best Nana
You: "I'm sorry, honey (or son, or dear) but your father and I aren't in a position to help you right now."

difficult child: "What does that mean? It's only $50! You have it!"

You: "I'm sure you'll find a way to get to work. I've got to run - take care!"

How's that? husband was the one who got sucked in in our family, so he started always telling difficult child he'd think about it and get back to her. Of course she wanted an answer right then - his standard response was, "well if I have to give you an answer right this second, then the answer is no. If you let me think about it, it may still be no, or it may not." difficult child was a master fast-talking manipulator. Sometimes we'd agree to something, she'd run off and we'd look at each other and go, waaaaait a minute....what did we just agree to :highvoltage:? I think it's one of those difficult child gifts :smirk:.

Training yourself to not get swindled or taken advantage of definately helps. And eventually your difficult child learns that Mom and Dad aren't the suckers they once were, and stops trying so much.

Great idea Suz! Here are a few more for your list:

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"So, what are you going to do?"

and one we used quite frequently:
"You're a smart girl; I'm sure you'll figure something out."



(the future) MRS. GERE
Good job, Barbara. You don't even need to say the bit about not giving him any more money. The other sentences are plenty, then try to get off the phone as quickly as you can.

Great additions, Genny. I'd forgotten "You're a smart guy; I'm sure you'll figure something out."---I've used that a lot, too. LMAO

You know, we teach our kids to role play so how is this any different? We are simply role playing responses to help us when we need it.



Well-Known Member
Hmmm, this sounds very similar to what my therapist wants me to do for confrontations with Cory. I am supposed to make up signs to hold up in front of me with sentences on the front and the words "breathe in, breathe out" on the

My first one is "I cant hear yelling."

Then "I dont do orders well, this isnt a fast food drive thru."

"Ask me, dont TELL me."

"Manners count"


Former desparate mom
Old stand bys in our house:
"what do you think you should do about that?"

"I'm sorry for you"

"what do you think you could do to not be in this situation next time?"

"can't hear well, poor cell phone signal. It's cutting out" (click as I hang up)


(the future) MRS. GERE
Janet- I love the "breathe in/breathe out" reminder. That's critical. :biggrin:

Fran, your cell phone cutting out is similar to my boss banging her phone on her desk when she doesn't like what the person she is talking to on the phone is saying. She follows up the banging with "I can't hear you, I'll call you back"----and then never does.



Warrior Parent
Suz, your list is wonderful! Barbara, you are correct that any sentence with the phrase "Western Union" is not on the list!

Thanks for setting this up, and all for your responses & additions!

The old standby for me is:

"I have no response to that"

A bit of a cop-out, yes, but a sure-fire way to stop difficult child in his tracks! Also has the advantage of being true, and works as a time-buying tool as well.



(the future) MRS. GERE
Abbey........BUMMER!---Yes! Good one. "Whatever" is in the same succinct category as "bummer" and also works in case you want to have a choice.

Pony, seems to me that if your reply is true, stops difficult child in his tracks, and buys you some time then it is a PERFECT response, great alternative, and no cop-out.



(the future) MRS. GERE
Does anyone have a situation that stops you cold every time that you'd like us to brainstorm responses to?



Well-Known Member
"I think you have the wrong number." Click.
"Someones at the door, gotta run."
"?No Anglais?"
"Did I remember to tell you I was diagnosis'd with dementia? I won't remember this conversation in an hour." (You can use this line a lot!)
"Sorry, I'm running late for (aerobics, line dancing, bingo car alignment, etc). Gotta run!"
"Sorry, I lost your inheritance last weekend in Vegas."
And my favorite: use caller ID and let 'em leave a message.


Active Member
I think the list is great!

I sometimes use: I can't do that right now. or I'm not in the position to do that. Then follow it with, gotta run honey.


scent of cedar

New Member
Well, I have a situation we could brainstorm a response to.

So, last summer when difficult child first started coming around again? And we had given him something like $250 to hold him over while he found work in the Cities? And then, he was picked up for sleeping in his parked car, so we paid $300 for him and $200 to get the dogs out of hock? (They had been tken to a kennel, and it was our understanding they would be put to sleep unless we got them out of there.)


Anyway, here is the situation.

So, difficult child was out, but had no $ to free the dogs. He made it back here with some woman who was going to drive him down to free the dogs ~ maybe he didn't have his car back yet, or something? I don't remember that part. Anyway, this is what happened. Daughter and her family were here. husband, being fresh out of cash from having given it to difficult child, was off to the bank to get more cash to free the dogs (an hour away ~ one way.)

Gee, guys ~ I am beginning to feel a little foolish, here.

Well, this is what happened.

So, husband is gone, and difficult child shows up, at something like 9am, with this woman. A very rough looking woman. Who believes herself in love with difficult child, and just can't say enough good things about him, his potential, his general wonderfulness. (This was after breakfast that she said that. Yes, my response (some of you may remember this, from last summer) was to make breakfast for everyone. Although we had all just eaten. (There were five of us still home. Six, if you count me ~ but I don't know that I could, technically, be counted as present, at all.) So. difficult child's sister (whose solution to the current issues is that we SHOULD buy him that duplex he has wanted for awhile, now) anyway, difficult child's sister decided to talk some sense into him.

And it started to turn really nasty between the two of them.

So, the woman and myself went into another room.

Which is when she started telling me all about how much difficult child meant to her.

Meanwhile, in the other room, difficult child and his sister are going at it hot and heavy (Lord, the neighbors just love us, for our entertainment value). Suddenly, difficult child, who is waiting there for husband to return with the $, decides to leave.

And, it turns out, his sister has given him the $200.

So, I did the dishes.

When husband returned, we gave the $ to daughter (which $ was going to difficult child already ~ all she did was got him out of the house, sooner.

So, how might one handle these kinds of unexpected appearances?

It sounds so unreal, but our immediate response is to extend hospitality.

I am sure that would be true, for any of us.

So, we just sort of limped through the rest of the day.

And here is another situation.

So, what would you say to the difficult child who turns out to have been camping on your back lot in his car in below zero weather? (This is Wisconsin ~ freezing to death is a definite possibility.)

husband invited him in, and that's how he wound up here this last time.

What do we say, the next time?



(the future) MRS. GERE
If difficult child's sis wants to give him money, that's her perogative. You did not have to repay her.

I would not have left the room when difficult child and sis were fighting. I would have asked them to stop the fight or leave.

I guess you probably already know how I feel about you cooking breakfast (again). lol

Situation could give him the address of a homeless shelter.

Two years ago my Rob was homeless and living out of his car during the winter. He could have frozen to death. We were frantic but we could not/would not rescue. We gave he and his girlfriend lots of info on where they could stay. They made do. After a couple of months of this, they found a place and have had a roof over their heads ever since (knock on wood!).