Money vs. Conversation with difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Ca Mom Losing Hope, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. I find myself tortured lately with my new found strength. I have found so much comfort and support in your messages and in your stories and responses to each other. My difficult child is about 1000 miles away and has changed his tune over the last week with no cussing but we have had little contact. I told him no more cash on Sunday and of course I haven't heard from him since then. I suggested churches for food and remember he has a rental, heat and electricity. Even internet provided by his enabling mother. I am working on this. Now he had his breakdown a couple weeks back and said he gave all his food stamps to the homeless since he didn't think he was going to live.

    Since he hadn't contacted me in the many other ways he could of and I was feeling tortured, I unblocked his number from my phone. I just need to know he is alive, I want to believe he is getting help but how would I know. No more than 5 minutes after I unblocked his number my phone rang. it was him. I asked him how he was, he said he had taken some of my advice and went to the church I suggested and another one for some food. He said it wasn't much but it was bread, beans, peaches, etc. Than he said, can I get just a couple of dollars for some smokes? I hemmed, and hawed, (not sure if that is how you spell it) and said well $10 be enough and I didn't know as husband would have to be consulted. I don't want things to blow up so this was my excuse. We talk a little more, actually I talked about random things for about 2 minutes and then I realized I was talking to myself as he had disconnected. I used to send an allowance of about $100 a week but when he got food stamps I decided to cut that back to about $20, very recently. Now since he blew up at me and it seems to be related to every time I send money and he gets drunk, I said no more.

    I got a text right after this that said, and I could still use some money for food. He is being good but still not helping himself in any way that would change his life. My husband said no more money, at all. My heart is caught between two very stubborn rocks. How do you all deal with the money question?
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Hi. Sorry you are hurting...but how old is your son and why on earth would you send him $100 a week or pay for his cigarettes, which is an unhealthy habit anyway and which he may just spend on drugs? I have no trouble at all saying "no" to my kids for money. If they are minors and living a good life, I am generous. Once they turn eighteen, if they are messing up, the money train halts, no matter how angry they get. I've done that to two of my kids and both got jobs and made money themselves rather than thinking it was coming from me. Everyone is different. In my case, I will not support a grown child who is able-bodied and just chooses to live a horrible lifestyle. But that's me. We are all different, none better than the other.

    Sadly, often our difficult children only call us for one reason...they want money. If the money tree dries up, they tend to either "punish" us by not contacting us or amp up their abuse and threats to bully us into continuing the money train, although they are old enough to get a job. If his mom is paying all his bills, he could certainly put in some hours at a MdD's and get food money, although homeless shelters serve awesome dinners. I volunteered at one and the people who came to it got home cooked meals. The church ladies took turns cooking.

    I don't know your story, but I'm guessing your son is "playing" you and, like many difficult children, really is not interested in you, but the money that he may get from you if he is "nice" enough to call you up. There will be no normal conversation, such as, "Hi, how are you doing? No, I don't want anything, just to chat." It will always end up about money...yours, not his as he will blow any his has. They do not seem to care about us except for what they can get from us. Not fun to acknowledge, but often true. I am trying hard to live in "radical acceptance." You may like the concept if you look it up on the internet and read about it.

    Have you attended any Al-Anon meetings or seen a therapist for yourself? Are you so rich you can support a grown man? Would you expect your son to support you if you lived on the streets, took drugs, and were abusive to him?

    Nobody can tell you what to do. You have to do what feels right to you. A sure sign of having done something against your own better judgment is to regret having done it and to ruminate over whether or not you should have done it. I think maybe talking to your husband about money matters with difficult child and coming to a united compromise is the best thing for your marriage. Otherwise this difficult child could come between you and he should not have that power.

    The walk you are taking is lonely and cold. That's why this board exists. But it is also full of people who are on the same walk. I like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon because they are filled with those who understand and are looking for or have already found ways to have peace, in spite of their messed up adult children. They have learned to set boundaries and to say "no" even when their irrational difficult children will go off on them or cut them off (at least for a while).

    I always figured that if my kids were going to self-destruct, I would not add my own money to their sad, possibly fatal ride. If I sent money and something happened to them because I gave them money to buy drugs with...I would not do it. It felt wrong.

    I hope you go for help for yourself. You have heard here, I'm sure, that YOU are just as important as your adult son. You should take good care of yourself because you matter. You need to learn how to de-stress, which is a lot harder than just typing the words, but it can be done.

    I hope you can grab a bit of serenity and peace tonight and spoil yourself with a good book or a bubblebath. Read the article on's great!!! Hugs for your hurting mommy heart.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  3. Thanks MWM. It is a long story on why I have been sending him money. I think the honest short answer is that I just didn't want to deal with the guilt and abuse of "I am your child and you are my mom and you have to take care of me" or the yelling and throwing a scary tantrum, or even sometimes family telling me I should take care of him. He has done nothing with his life, didn't even graduate due to skipping school. I have to stop and I know I need help too so that I quit enabling my difficult child. Honestly, I have only been addressing my enabling for the last 2 weeks with the support of this group. I can tell you that thousands of dollars a year have been going to my difficult child, not all in cash, rent and utilities as well. He is 21 and will be 22 in June. He has abused me mentally, verbally, and very close to physically but has never laid a hand on me. He was a gang enforcer last time he lived here about 3 years ago and was dealing drugs. I tried to get him help but he refused, so once again, I kicked him out but paid for the housing of where he went. He is well over 6' and does scare me so I probably never let it happen to me by running as I know he has physically abused others. He tells me he just can't do it, make money himself that is. I sent the $10 just now, and yes I know I have no way of knowing what he is doing with it and I know smoking is bad, but it is a far cry from the money I have been sending. I will say no next time and hopefully the next time too. I really have been doing a lot better. I am not rich but I do make good money in the IT management field. I really don't have the money to spare and it should be building my retirement but like so many others on this board, I hurt when I know I am so much more comfortable than he is. These two weeks have been the toughest in my life. baby steps.
  4. Is there anyone out there that was or is this kind of enabler? If so, how did you stop and what were the words you used with your difficult child? He sees it coming, as it really has dwindled. I want him to see it coming and do something with his life. Kinda like the train coming at you and you know you eventually have to move, right?
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Hey...MANY of us were terrible enablers at first. But we came to a point where we realized it was unhealthy for everyone and that it had to stop. Usually some incident was the final straw. I'm sure others will be around to tell you about their experiences.

    Also, look, don't listen to any family that tells you to support your son. Tell them that if they feel moved to do so, they are free to send him any amount of money they want, but that it is your decision that you are done. Or else refuse to talk about those things with your family. They don't sound very supportive.

    As for your son saying, "I am your son and you have to support me" you can say calmly, "Yes, you are my so and I love you and I supported you well beyond when I legally had to. Now you are twenty-one and I'm going to let you support yourself. You can do it if you want to. I know you are capable. But no more money for your bills or entertainment is coming from your dad or me."

    Lastly, I need to remind you of something that I also had to remind myself of when 36 left me house. These are the facts: Your son could still be living with you in comfort if he had followed your house rules, gotten a good job, not broken the law, respected you, and helped around the house...maybe pitched in some of the bills. He knew the rules and chose to break every single one, thus knowingly choosing to have to leave your home. So the choice was his.

    Twenty-one is not a baby anymore and you no longer can have the same "he will do nothing and I will put up with it" expectations he has. He knows darn well he is taking advantage of you and knows if he guilts you enough, you will keep doing it. Nobody owes their child lifetime financial support. We give them roots to grown and wings to fly and it is unhealthy for us to give up our lives to financially support them. Is he going to pay for your bills when you retire if you run out of money because of supporting him? Heck, will he even come to visit you if it's not about money?

    We warrior moms have to face a lot of terrible truths about our beloved adult children. Most of them are not very nice people and if they weren't our kids we would be rolling our eyes at them and wanting nothing to do with them.
    Once we learn to face reality ("radical acceptance") it is easier to do what we know we should do in our hearts (which is different to all of us). At least, radical acceptance has been a blessing to me. I hope it is for you too!!!!
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  6. So Very True

    Even truer. I love my boys and wish they could both be on the path to success. I don't like the easy child description for our other children. God know neither of them are perfect. However, my other son is going to school and working so I do see him as IC (Improving Child). For these reasons and these reasons only, he has recently been allowed to stay in the extra room for a limited amount of time. Oh and he doesn't abuse me.

    One question that I hope someone can answer for me that is off topic. How do you get those tag lines under your posts? I think it would be good for me to add.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    If any of my other three adult children hit hard times and needed to come home, they could come home and get settled. I wouldn't think twice about it. I know they'd pull their weight, work, be respectful, and help around the house.

    36 can not come home. When he flies off the handle, and I never know when it will be, he becomes a threat to anyone around him. Fortunately, he is able to keep a good job and has his own house...because it is not an option for him to live here. We're not getting any younger and he's a big, strong young man with a very impulsive and quick temper which is quite scary.
  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I think we probably all enabled our kids to one extent or the other for various reasons...and I think sometimes stopping is a process that you can take one step at a time. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

    For me I try to think about what feels comfortable to me. What am I ok with....and am I doing it because I want to and it makes me feel good in some way or am I doing it because of pressure from my difficult child and wanting to avoid a conflict with him?

    So when my son is not in treatment I do not give him any money. I have gotten him groceries, and I got him. Sleeping bag and boots when he was homeless....he was a couple of thousand miles away at the time so I went to a store we could both go to so I could pay at one end and he could pick it up at the other end.

    He is currently in a long term residential program and is not yet at a level where he can work so I am buying him cigarettes and giving him money for bus fare and a coffee...but if he leaches tx that will stop.

    So my feeling is if it would make you feel better to give your son some food that is ok....but give him food and not cash. Same with cigarettes or anything else.

    Is your son working and helping with his expenses?


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  9. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    CA Mom,

    Hey, girl. My son is THIRTY-TWO (thirty-three next month). The most difficult time was deciding to stop the money. Granted, it stayed difficult for awhile, but slowly and surely has gotten better.

    husband and i did not give him money all this time. There have been spurts of working and/or difficult child finding others to support him. But, when his last relationship fell apart because he was not working and using spice, he turned to us. We started sending him money again, not knowing the circumstances. He told us different stories, but basically that it was just a "broke month" and we believed him...until the requests escalated and the girlfriend told us what was going on.

    Like your son, our difficult child treated us terribly when the money stopped. Horribly. Unbelievable.

    husband and i know we did the right thing. This began in December. We are just now enjoying life again. At first, we made ourselves get out, take day trips, etc. Now, we are feeling more "normal". Last night, husband commented, We are where we need to be.
    That statement has played over and over in my true! Living is fun again.

    I hope you stay strong for your well-being. Sending your son $$ will not help ANYthing.
  10. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Ca Mom, I don't give my son any money anymore. I used to give him all kinds of money, and when he went to rehab last summer, I even bought him two cartons of cigarettes when I took him to rehab. Looking back, I want to kick myself for ever having done that but the rehab folks said smoking was such a non-concern at that point, and I bought that, even though I don't want him to smoke and don't want to be a part of helping him smoke. I wish I had not done that, but I did.

    I have done many many things to help him over the past six or seven years, until I finally listened to other people much wiser than I was, and stopped the flow of money. That is what I believe has to happen in order for our adult children to realize there is no free ride in this world. Everybody has to be responsible for themselves and be a contributing member of society unless they are completely unable to do so. I don't believe that is the case with my son.

    The other day I bought him a pack of socks. He didn't have any socks, and I wanted to do that, so I did. That was my choice.

    He is homeless, he has no job and he has no money today. He is able to eat three meals a day, take a shower, wash his clothes and walk around town. Every night he has to find a place to sleep. Why doesn't he stay in a shelter that is available or make arrangements for a halfway house? I don't know. Those are two pathways available to him, and every time I see him for about 10 minutes a week, he says he is doing to do that. Tomorrow. Or the day after. But 40 days have passed, and that hasn't happened.

    So he is making choices, Ca Mom. He is choosing to be homeless when other options are available. So I conclude that being homeless must not be as bad as I would think that it is. He isn't sick and tired enough of his situation. Until he is, I would suggest that little will change.

    I am staying out of the way. I am minding my own business. He is a grown man. If this is the life he chooses, then okay. I love him very much, I am not mad at him and I want everything good for him. He is a good person. He can make different choices, if he wants to.

    Im not trying to make any of this sound easy because it is not. I have struggled with myself and what to do, what not to do, for years and years regarding my son. Today, I believe I am doing the right thing, the only thing that gives him room and space and a real chance for him to find out who he is, what he is capable of, and to build some self-respect. I hope and pray that he does it.

    You can only do what you are ready to do, Ca mom. If you are ready for something different, there is a lot of good information about tools, and working on yourself, and getting some kindness and happiness and peace in your life.

    blessings and hugs to you tonight.
  11. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    My son gets 90.00 a week plus I pay his rent. This comes mostly out of the custodial account where his SSI money is deposited. I will buy him lunch or dinner when we see him. He has some emergency food supplies like peanut butter and ramen noodles, etc. I did spring for a haircut last week. Requests for more money for dinner with friends or to replace the money he "lost" have been denied (no requests in the last 6 weeks, so maybe he's learning). He has been going to therapy, meetings, and takes his medications, and just started a job (which I hope he can keep).

    Giving him unfettered access to the account would be a disaster. He's very bad with money.
  12. Dancerat

    Dancerat Member

    CA, I am also in IT, and I wonder if the fact that we make pretty good money has something to do with it. When my son used to ask me for money, I'd think well, that's really just a lunch and coffee - or that's an hour of my life, surely I can afford that. But it's not that, it's that our sons, and mine is 21 as well, are being given a message when they hold out their hand and we just put money in there, we are telling our sons that we don't trust them enough or believe in them enough that they can earn their own money. What I ended up telling my son was basically this: I'm not going to support your bad habits. If you want food, you can eat what's here, or you can use your SNAP card. If you want cigarettes, why would I, your mother put a cigarette in your hand? I wouldn't do it when you were 12, and I certainly wouldn't do if if you were 30. You need to do what you want to do, not what they guilt you into doing.
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  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Dancerat (welcome to the board, if you are new), that is exactly how I felt and feel. We tell our grown children that we do not trust them and do not think they are capable when we hand them money...that they do not know how to behave and can not get better. On top of that, I have always thought that if I gave Daughter money when she was using drugs, I was helping her take drugs because I knew she would use the money for that. She tells me that she is not sure she would have ever quit like she did had she been able to live at home with us in comfort during her drug days.

    My ex gives lots of money to 36, who does not have an illegal drug problem. He has given him tons of money as he has inherited a lot himself. Do I care? No, it's none of my business if my ex wants to give his kids money. However, I am the one who gets to hear how much 36 appreciates his father's generosity. "I'm really not going to pay him back. I don't know how he expects me to. I'm not giving him anything...I'm broke." "He's such a &*%@!." Etc. etc. etc. If ex knew about this, and he won't hear it from me, he would be devastated. Ex is 36s bank. I'm the one 36 tells his deep, dark secrets to and whom he depends on for emotional support, even if I don't want to hear it.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  14. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I just stopped the money. The same day as I found this site. The only thing I pay for now is his cellphone, and that's more for my benefit than his truthfully. I haven't seen him since Christmas and I only hear from him rarely, but he seems to have got the message and he's managing. He texted recently to say he'd been chopping wood for someone and had been paid some cash. So, I know (and he knows) that he can always do that now if he's desperate, instead of getting it from me. It's not easy, and I have frequent moments where I feel myself relenting and have to give myself a strong talking-to. But I'm sticking to the no-money thing. It's the right way to go for me. We can have an adult relationship rather than a 'mummy giving out pocket-money to her little boy' relationship. He just needs to realise that he's an adult.
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Just reading through, and responding as I can.

    "Food Stamps" aren't actually stamps anymore, it's a debit card. You can't really "give them away". You can blow them on inappropriate things.

    You and your husband are parents to a grown son. Your job with him is done - for better or worse. Your marriage is to each other and is supposed to be "foresaking all others". When our children are grown, our relationships with our spouses should come first.

    My husband and I had a conversation last night about our 27 y/o son and the phone we supply for him. He's married and we pay for his phone! What are we thinking? He calls us a couple of times a year for advice he doesn't take. Sometimes he asks for money, but not often. I have no clue if he is working at this point. The current 2 year contract on the phone runs out in May. husband and I agreed that we need to tell him now that we won't be renewing his phone so that he can get his act together before then if he wants to continue it. Don't even get me started on my family's guilt trips regarding my kids. It's so bad that we moved 2,700 miles with no forwarding address to get away from them and they still think that they have a horse in this race.

    Our tag lines (signatures) are added on our profile page. Go up to the right hand corner and click your name. Then on the left side of the account page that comes up, under "Personal Details" you can click on "Signature". Type in basic information there. It helps to know how old your difficult child is, have they been diagnosis'd with anything, something about you and the rest of your at home family, too. I try very hard to keep anything that would definitively ID me out of it. What I do and say here is too private to share.
  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Seeking...this makes me so happy!!!! I know what a hard road this has been for you. It is wonderful that you and husband are starting to, or are sometimes, feeling good again!

  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I dont give money at all and for the most part I wont provide food. That is a bit harder because of the grandchild living with him but he does have enough money every month to buy food and her mother can also help provide food. I was astounded when I learned that just last month he went down to get her on WIC again. She is only 2 but her mother just stopped keeping the appts that would have kept the WIC going. What idiots!

    Now I have a harder time saying no to cigarettes...or I did until he pulled this whole thing with stealing my car. I smoke too and cant imagine not being able to get them. No one would want to be around me without my So yeah, I have bought him packs here and there.

    However since your son is not close to you I would not send him money. I would call around see if you can find some store that would allow you to buy the things over the phone. The place I get mine lets me put them on a tab and I pay them off weekly. Now I would never allow my son access to my tab because he would just buy anything in the store and never pay for it. However I do know that if I wanted to get him a carton, I could pay for it and have them give it to him when he went in the next time.