Lost my way...need some guidance

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by bertie, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    Hi, it's been a while since I've posted here....I really need some advice and I'll try to make this as short as I can.

    My difficult child 19 y/o is living in southern WA. He was having some minor problems in CA a year ago and I have relatives and friends there, so I took him up there. He's had some problems there too - four citations - two for marijuana possession (not a lot, but enough to get into trouble), violation of a no-contact order (totally my bipolar dtr's fault, it shouldn't have happened because at the time he was doing nothing wrong), and harassment because of some text msgs he sent to my dtr's husband.

    So because of those, he has to attend three court-ordered classes/week, 2 re drug addiction and another on anger management - those classes will last for the next nine months. They also took away his ability to get a driver's license until he's 21. He lives in a small town and it's difficult to get any jobs there; once you have one, you have to keep it - but because of the classes he has to attend and no dr license, it's very hard for him to get a job.

    My problem is this: my son inherited some money a while ago. I have kept that money for him in a bank account. I have paid his court fees and the cost of his classes out of that money, and have also sent him money to live on (I don't touch it for myself). When he first got to WA he worked for 8 months and did fairly well because he had a lot of support at that job, then he quit (I won't go into the details now). He's had problems getting and keeping jobs ever since; he does look for them, putting in applications and following up by calling the employer several times - but he is also picky about where he wants to work. And - he goes thru money like it's water. He has absolutely no sense of responsibility about saving money in hard times - it just isn't there.

    Since he arrived in WA a year ago, difficult child has gone through more than half of his money. I have been told by relatives up there that I need to stop sending him money, otherwise he'll never make it on his own. He is bipolar and has had problems all his life including being in residential treatment for two years. Right now he refuses to be on medications, which isn't helping. He just doesn't seem to "get" how to manage his money and how to do things day-to-day. He's in a relationship and living with his girlfriend, but I don't think it's going to last much longer. If they split up he will have no place to go because he's burned his bridges with a few people. He's basically a good kid and no longer does drugs or alcohol. I honestly don't know if he has the ability to support himself - my gut feeling says he doesn't, but you never know what someone can do if they really have to do it.

    So should I totally cut off all his money i.e. "Sink or swim"or gradually decrease the amount he's getting, or - maybe even get him onto gov't welfare - but if he's on govt help, I am afraid he'll be on govt assistance for the rest of his life.

    Does anyone have advice about what to do?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated,

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, this is my opinion as one with bipolar. You HAVE to take your medications or you'll NEVER get on your feet. I wouldn't trust an unmedicated person with bipolar to not blow every dime so I would not send him a dime. Once he runs out, then what? I would want him to take his medications and try to make it on his own. If it had been my kid, he wouldn't have gotten the money for court costs--my kids break the law, they have to pay for it out of hard earned money. Is there some reason why he can't work? If not, he can flip burgers to help pay the rent. You will have to do what you think is best...but I sure wouldn't give him the money. If he gets his "free" money from you it's no different from being on state assistance. He'll expect YOU to fund him for the rest of his life if he's not motivated to go to work on his own. If he is VERY ill, then perhaps he NEEDS to get a disability check...good luck.
  3. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    I have brought up the subject of medications with him, he won't even consider it. Shortly after he arrived in WA he asked if he could go off of them and I told him he could try it. I realized I really had no influence on him up there (plus he was over 18). He did pretty well the first six months, then things started to slide.

    I think he can work, but that means taking the bus and he refuses to do that. I know where this is going - I think I need to cut him off cold turkey, or tell him that unless he goes back onto medications, he gets no money. He has no medication insurance right now so it will take a while - I'm going up there on 7/3 and will try to expedite that....but as an example, he just sent me a text asking if I could transfer $20 so he and his girlfriend and her 3 y/o son would be able to get something to eat on their way back home (they went to a small town 3 hours away to check out a job for him).

    This is so hard! :(
  4. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    I think this is difficult to figure out because in reality, it is HIS money, not mine....also I have told him in the past that I will never bail him out of jail, and I've kept my word on that. I paid his court costs because he has cleaned up his act and we're trying to get him out of the system (which tends to drag you in forever....). I should also say that even when he was medicated, he was always financially irresponsible.
  5. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Maybe you could use the money as an incentive to get him to comply with medications. If the money came as an inheritance, he probably has legal right to it anyway - he just may not know that.

    Perhaps once he gets the manic depression under control, and begins to experience some success in the job market, he may be more inclined to stay on medications.

    It is true that he is an adult - but - he is a very young adult. If he were 29, and this was a life style for him I might feel differently. So I don't think I would cut him off 'cold turkey' to the same degree that I might if he were 10 years older.
  6. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    Thanks Goldenguru. Yes, he is a very young adult. Chronologically he's 19, but mentally he's around 13. He has always been very young for his age. Sometimes I wonder if he is ever going to grow up!
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    The major reasons that I saw of return patients to a behavioral health facility:

    1. Refused to take medications - usually started feeling better so didn't think they needed medications any longer. Almost always, once the medications have worked out of their system, the problems return.

    2. Stated they didn't have money for medications - poor financial management and the little income they did have can't cover food, housing, and medications. I remember a time when I had no money left for me (movies, a treat, new clothes, even food ect) after paying my rent and car payments and gas to get to work - a very depressing downtrodden feeling.

    3. Does not have the motivation/responsibility to fill a prescription (doesn't go through the time needed to drop off or call in the prescription and actually go to the pharmacy to pick it up. I honestly believe some of the patients didn't know how to refill prescriptions.)

    Since the medication is so important, I would tell him that you will pay for his medications (out of his funds of course) but nothing else. Tell him that you will reimburse him IF he sends you the receipt showing his out-of-pocket expense and date. Otherwise he can ask for the money but not use it for the medications or ask for more than it really is. Keep track of what he is sending you so he doesn't send copies of the same receipt over and over again.

    Depending on the amount of his savings, it may disqualify him for medical assistance. He may have to spend that down first. If it is an amount that he needs to spenddown, try to use it on more evaluations on what is medically going on with him now - also physical, dental, vision check up. That way if you are asked what happened to that money you can prove it was spent on his health. (keep receipts as proof of this spenddown) But, don't spenddown until you know that you have to. It would be a shame to spend it and find out you didn't need to. Find out what he is allowed in savings - you should be able to keep some of it. Also check into what his benefits would be if he qualifys for medical assistance - make sure it is to his advantage to switch the savings to medical assistance. Will MA help with housing and food? Many state health care programs also provide a income - how much will that be? Is there a time limit to being on assistance? (If he is employable, there may be a time limit of the help to allow him time to find a job. Then the assistance ends - what will happen then if he still isn't settled in a job?)

    I don't know the RSDI (disability) criteria so you can look into that.

    If you do cut him off - I wouldn't go cold turkey. I would give 2 - 4 weeks advance notice. In 4 weeks I will be sending the last check. You need to find a job before that check arrives because on most jobs it takes 2 -3 weeks before your 1st pay check. I will help you with cost of medications only after that day.

    Cutting that support is so hard -
  8. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    As you said, it is technically his money. I'd go with a monthly allowance. The allowance should be realistic and cover the cost for at least one-half the rent of an apartment, some groceries, bus fare, utilities. I would cover the medications myself if he were willing to take them. Once the allowance is spent, no further funds will be coming that month. No matter what the reason.

    This forces him to learn money management to some extent and gets you off the hook for the guilt when he asks for funds. I'd suggest that when you go up there, the two of you come up with a realistic budget of monthly expenses, potential earnings and how much of his inheritance you can logically give him on a monthly basis (break it down for a 5-year period and, if possible, leaving some money for future education costs). Maybe if he sees in black and white what he needs to spend, it will make it a bit easier to put those funds aside (especially if he happens to go hungry at the end of the month -- ketchup sandwiches are not very appetizing).
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had a friend with a similar situation. She had a young adult difficult child son who had a moderate inheritance from his grandparents. Fortunately in her case, the grandparents had set up the inheritance so that the son couldnt actually get his hands on the money without the parents agreement until he was 30 or finished a 4 year college. Smart grandparents!

    What she did because he ended up having a pregnant girlfriend and then of course a child who lived with him was that she helped him find a small but affordable place to live and told him she would help him with the rent and utilities on that just like Section 8 as long as he worked or was actively looking for work.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    If he got into trouble for marijuana possession 2 times in the last year HOW is his act all cleaned up??

    I wondered if you saw this discrepancy in what you said. Twice you said he cleaned up his act, and in reality it may be MUCH better than it was, but it isn't clean or sober if he is still using pot. And often if a person with sub abuse problems in the past is using pot, then they are using other substances.

    I am so sorry to write this, I know you don't want to think he may be doing drugs or drinking, esp with his bipolar illness, but you need to look at what you wrote.

    Also, what are you planning to do when all of the inherited money is spent?? Does he know itis his money?? If he finds this out later, and it is all gone, he may accuse you of stealing it. PLEASE keep a record of where every penny went, to CYA. If a new girlfriend finds out he has $$, or haad it, and she is a bit wily, she may push him to accuse you of squandering or stealing his $$$. It could get hairy legally.

    other than those things, I really don't have any advice. I will support whatever you do, but I wanted to point out these things.


  11. peg2

    peg2 Member

    I have a similiar situation, its my difficult child's money, so I give it out in dribs and drabs,, but I guess he isn't leanring much because of that; he's not earning it. My son just tunred 18, and not anywhere near 18 in maturity, so that does have to be taken into account. He probably could have access to all of it, but that will never happen; aren't we glad they have no sort of legal sense!!!!!! It's hard, but I don't think you can cut off an 18 year old, they do need the assistance. Mine coul dnever make it on his own,no way...
  12. mom_in_training

    mom_in_training New Member


    To qualify you also must have little or no income and few resources. This means that the value of the things you own must be less than $2,000 if you are single or less than $3,000 if you are married. The value of your home does not count. Usually, the value of your car does not count. And the value of certain other resources, such as a burial plot, may not count either.

    To get SSI, you also must apply for any other cash benefits you may be able to get.

    I applied online for my son a while back, It was a gruelling task but completed and followed up with a scheduled phone interview. Some SS offices only offer up the phone interview as part of the intake process. In my case they do not do the person to person interview at least not at that point but rest assure had he of qualified I would have had to make an appointment and produce the proof of income along with the droves of everything else that they ask for to complete the process.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a "do to get" situation. He should take his medications, and you will pay his rent. If you are so inclined, you can have food delivered by Safeway and pay for it, and a C-Tran or Tri-Met pass. If he wants more than that, he should have to earn it.

    He doesn't want to ride the bus? He doesn't need to ride the bus because he doesn't need a job. I rode Tri-Met from the time I had my first job at age 14 until I learned to drive when I was 25 years old and had a child already.

    I can see paying his rent if he's getting kicked out of his house. You know what size clothes he wears so you can send him clothes. I would pay for the basics out of his inheritance and not one penny more. But he would have to be medication and probation compliant.
  14. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    Wow, lots of great responses. Thanks everyone :)

    Susiestar, I wanted to respond to your post - he did get those two misdemeanors early last year, which was right after he quit his job and realized the people he was hanging out with were really bad for him. The first citation was for a pipe in the car that someone else was driving (the pipe was my son's), and the second was for crumbs of marijuana in one of his pockets. I know all this because I have friends and relatives who live in the same small town and nothing is a secret there....since then he moved physically away from those people, then in with his girlfriend who is a sweetheart (the best thing that ever happened to him, although they're going thru a real rocky period right now) and he's been clean for a long time. I think the whole experience of going to jail really scared him and made him realize he does NOT want that to happen again. He hasn't used pot for a long time, and especially won't use it now because they test him regularly.

    He's never been a drinker.

    He has very little money in his bank account. I found out the legalities of inheritance when he turned 18, because I was afraid that someday this time would come and he'd have to go onto SSI.

    I have xeroxed copies of his files from his residential treatment and also from when he was with Kaiser for 18 years, which is a good thing.

    I was thinking since I last posted this morning....he really wasn't any different on medications than he is now - seriously. He was moody, he spent money like crazy, depressed (we tried him on everything, and I realize he needs to be reevaluated). The one thing I would really like to see him on again is something for his ADHD. I think if he could get a job where he was successful (probably impossible where he's living, very few jobs) it would do him a lot of good.

    I was quite active on this board when we were going thru our rough times. Believe me, I have no rose-colored glasses on about him. My daughter, who has many more problems, is simply not able to support herself and will be on welfare the rest of her life. I really hate to see that happen to him.
  15. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Hi Bertie,

    It's good to see you :) .

    It does sound like difficult child needs a new evaluation. I hope he will cooperate getting one. Just a word of caution- I'm sure you already know this, but if he really has bipolar, a stimulant medication without him already being on a good mood stabilizer, will probably have dreadful repercussions.

  16. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    Hi Bertie,

    I know in my case it did not work out for me to try to "manage" difficult child through access to her money.

    She got a sizable EIC payment. I did her taxes for her and had it deposited into an account in her name at my bank. I made it one condition of living with us that she agree that I would dole it out "as needed" until she could get into a sober house arrangement, when she'd have the balance for security deposit, first month's rent, household supplies and moving expenses.

    Well, as long as she was on the "as needed" dole, there did not seem to her to be any compelling reason to look for work or a place at a sober house. She got no experience in managing money, and I nearly blew a gasket at the constant requests for dollars which promptly went for cigarettes and Starbuck's.

    Finally, I had to just detach and turn over the reins, even in the full knowledge that she would blow the money. And she did. She went through it at something like $50 per day until it was all gone. At that point necessity became the mother of motivation, and she got a job.
  17. bertie

    bertie Been there too many times

    Hi Suz, good to see you too. :)

    Thanks for the reminder, I had forgotten about the stimulant. Luckily for me, today his girlfriend told him to move out and it shook him up so much that he agreed to go to counseling with her (YAY!). I am going up there on Thursday and told him that we have to go to SSI and to DSHS so we can apply for benefits, and he said ok. I spoke to a man at DSHS and he said that difficult child will be sent for a medical/psychiatric evaluation, but that won't happen for a few weeks after we submit the application.

    Thanks everyone again for your responses :)