Need help with dialogue

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WMNancyinCA, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. WMNancyinCA

    WMNancyinCA New Member

    I am pitiful. What do I say when I tell him "no" and he wails "why won't you help me? I'm your only son!" (bio son - my easy child son is my step).

    What do I say when I tell him I love him and only wish the best for him however he needs to help HIMSELF and he replies "no you don't, if you did you'd help me".

    What do I say when he says "You have no idea what kind of stress I'm under!" When I really WANT to say "then get off your butt and solve YOUR problems!"

    I'm such a WIMP. SERIOUSLY!

    The thought of making things WORSE for him just kills me. How do I get the strength to do this?

    I sound like such a whiner!!! Have any of you been where I am and how are you now?
  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There is a great post here with lots of ideas for responses to a difficult child:

    As for the "if you loved me, you would help me," I think one answer is, " because I love you, I won't help you, so that you can learn to do things on your own." But honestly, after awhile, I just said, "I'm not even going to respond to that," and walked away.

    The hardest thing to learn is to not engage in these conversations at all with your difficult child. If the manipulative tactics (which is what these are) happen on the phone, I sometimes will say "ok, we seem to be going round in circles, so I'm going to go now. I love you bye." Even if it means having to hang up on them in the middle of one of their rants. I always say "I love you, bye," before hanging up.

    If it's in person, you need to walk away and end the conversation. Same thing.."we've been through this, no point in re-hashing it." Remember that every time he gets a response from you, he "wins" in a sense, because that's exactly what he wants. Disengaging cuts off his power. Do it enough, and it will get better.

    This takes a LOT of practice. Arm yourself with literature on detachment, read and re-read it. Stock up on books about it, and about boundaries. Find some support groups.... I think those are key, actually, whether it be Al-Anon (if there are drug or alcohol issues), or maybe Coidependents Anonymous, or Families Anonymous. Find a mantra .. mine was the Serenity Prayer. I would repeat it to myself when things got really rough. In the middle of a difficult child rant, I might just repeat the word "disengage" in my head, over and over, to remind myself.

    Hugs. It's also helpful to use the age-old adage of "One Day At A Time." Try not to think too far ahead and overwhelm yourself with "what ifs."
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I love some of the answers in that thread Crazy gave you.

    My son used to say things like..."but Im your baby boy!" Ok....yeah...but your 20! And you just stole from me.

    I think if mine said I would help him if I loved him...well that sounds like the old line boys use on girls to get them to put out. When you think about it that way, doesnt it make it easier to son, love means sometimes saying no to instant gratification.

    Grown men have to figure things out for themselves. Thats why they call them grown ups.
  4. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Where were you at 26 years of age? I'm guessing a long way further along the road of being a responsible adult than your difficult child. I for one was married with two children living well on an income that fell below the poverty level but no one would know because I was a terrific homemaker and budgeter. husband was working on and almost done with his master's degree.

    I find it usefult o remember where we were at their age when dealing with our difficult child's. I don't advocate saying it to them rather just thinking it to ourselves. That way we realize that what we are asking of them is not selfish or mean but merely a parent's reasonable life expectations for our grown child. -RM
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    He's 26? Here's what you say.

    "why won't you help me? I'm your only son!" Why don't you become your own man? I can't make these decisions for you! Decide what you're going to do then do it. I have two other children, and they've grown up. Your job now is to grow up and mine was to let you go a long time ago.

    "no you don't (love me), if you did you'd help me". A mother's only job with her children is to teach them to be independent. She gets 18 years to do that and clearly somehow I've failed you until now. Now I'm going to let you be independent. If you want my help, sign over all of your legal and constitutional rights to me and I will have you institutionalized until you can figure out how to be a man.

    "You have no idea what kind of stress I'm under!" I know exactly what kind of stress you're under because you're a spoiled bully and you lay it at my feet. Then you walk away from it because you think that makes it my problem and you don't really give a care about your problems or my happiness and go on to create more stress for yourself which you in turn lay at my feet the next time you don't like the mess you've gotten yourself into and want to blame me because you can't accept the consequences of any of the bad decisions that you have made in your life.

    There's the door, don't let it hit you in the behind on your way out.

    Today is the first day of the rest of your lives. Whether he changes his life is irrelevant. He's 26 years old. It's time for you to become your own person again. The only way that you can make this worse is if you keep letting him talk to you like this without telling him where to get off. Stop letting him make you miserable. Stop letting him blame everything on you. He can make all the mistakes in the world he wants but they're not your mistakes, so don't own them. Just as if he discovered the cure for aids that would be his discovery and you couldn't own that either. Time for you to walk away. If you can't bring yourself to say any of the things that Crazy or I recommend, just walk away. You don't owe him the ability to abuse and blame you.

    FWIW, don't let him dictate the topic of the conversation. All of these things are about how you failed him. So what? You did or you didn't. It doesn't matter either way. There's no need to defend yourself because you have two other happy healthy adult children which clearly proves that you're a good mother. What matters is how we live our lives today and the rest of our lives. Change the conversation, and don't participate in that one any more.
  6. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I'm a firm believer in "the shorter the response, the better." I used to have a list of the responses that Crazy gave you the link to by every phone in the house so that they were there when I needed them.

    And I walked away a lot.

    And I am a firm believer in Caller ID... and IGNORE.

    No explanations. They've already heard them a hundred times so it is a waste of time and breath and only leads to frustration.

    You are a self-proclaimed "WIMP" and that is obviously not it's time for you to model strength and resolve and to try something else! We'll help you. :)

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I've got a slightly different perspective due to my experience.

    I have mental illness and so does my one biological son. Neither of us were totally able to be independent at 25 due to this, although neither of us took drugs. My son has severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and had to drop out of college because he was both too filled with anxiety to go and unable to stop counting the words of his professors. So he couldn't understand what they were saying. He was on disability for three years, but he got some GREAT psychiatric help and was able to at least get a good job and marry. His father, my ex, was willing to fund his psychiatrist and medications as long as he tried hard to get well. He did and nobody regrets helping him, although he was at least 22 before he was able to get off of disability. Now he has actually moved away from his family for a better job (he is now 31). He wouldn't have been able to move away from Chicago before. As for the job...he is making as much as a college graduate now....his psychiatric help was a godsend in every way.

    As for me, how I dealt with being mentally ill, I got married at 20 hoping to be taken care of because I knew I couldn't take care of myself. I didn't dare ask my parents for anything...they wouldn't have given me the time of day, but would have hung up the phone. The marriage wasn't good, but I had a place to come home to and I did have kids. It was better than the streets. With tons of therapy, self-help, and trying very hard I have really come a long way. If I needed to be independent now, I could be. But it took a long time.

    Here are my thoughts about your situation: I don't think you need to support you son, but he sounds like he has some mental health issues that are quite serious and could be impeding him in his life. If I were you I'd become a broken record and tell him to get psychiatric help. If he complains that he has no money, tell him to do two things: First he needs to go to the local mental health clinic. I do, and I *love* my therapist. He can also apply for social security. If you want to help him pay for BETTER psychiatric services, I think that is appropriate as well, as long as he TRIES to get better, respects you, and you do not help him in EVERY way.

    The bottom line is, whatever you decide to do, be very firm and stick to your guns because if you give an inch, he'll take a mile. It does sound to me that he is quite depressed and his friendlessness is worrisome. Can he at least talk to his stepbrother?
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I agree with MWM that there are different approaches for different difficulties. That being said if he is abusing drugs or alcohol and doing nothing about it, that's been his choice. If he is mentally ill and is doing nothing about it, that's been his choice too.

    Mental illness is not incurable, it just a challenge that takes a different skill set. And it doesn't give anyone free reign to ride rough-shod over someone else. I imagine that he probably has the cohesiveness to hold it together for most everyone but you. It's time for him to respect you and your home, and like Suz says, it's time for you to stand up to him, whatever his problem is. He'll never get the help he needs if he can always dump it at your feet and walk away from it.
  9. WMNancyinCA

    WMNancyinCA New Member

    You guys are awesome! I NEED to hear these things. You are giving me tough love and I need to give that to difficult child.

    He does walk all over me - because I let him. He will SCREAM at me and I just stand there. I love that response "I can't hearing screaming". I am going to use that.

    He does have some mental health issues. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Not the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) where you do the repetitive things or counting, etc. but the PERSONALITY DISORDER where he ruminates about things, he is always right, he has high moral standards, cannot make decisions easily, etc. Unfortunately he doesn't think he has a problem - it's all us - so it's difficult to get him into counseling. MY counselor definitely thinks he would benefit from some. I can't MAKE him go. We have gone together but it seems no matter WHAT the counselor says my difficult child comes out of the appointment saying "see I told you you were wrong". I've sat there and heard the counselor say "difficult child it sounds like your parents are doing a very generous thing for you" and difficult child doesn't HEAR that.

    And YES I've tried EXPLAINING until I am blue in the face. Doesn't matter.

    My head is spinning with all the ideas you have given me. I can't thank you enough.

    I'll be sticking around here for sure.

    by the way thinking of where I was at age 26 - Had been working for a living since age 17, married, bought a house, had difficult child at age 25.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, he sounds a lot like my son even with the two disorders not being called exactly the same thing :tongue: however enough is enough. He has to agree to get help, and it doesn't sound like he will. If he is screaming at you at age 26, um, no. If my son had screamed at me or his dad he wouldn't even have gotten a hearing. That just doesn't work. And if he is going to do nothing and think it's all your fault that is very non-productive.

    I would NOT listen to that. If he says it, I'd hang up the phone. If he is with you and says it, I'd walk into another room. If he keeps saying it, I'd tell restrict all time with him. And I'd tell him first that "You are responsible for your choices. If you want to tell me that your choices are MY fault, I will choose not to listen to you." And I'd stick to it.

    I think you're doing the right thing. Hang tough because babying him won't help. He has to do this himself, even if it is conquering mental illness. And he will never believe he has to do anything if he has YOU to abuse.

    Take care of yourself, your marriage, your stepson, your friends, your hobbies...and if they have dissolved because of your son...make them priorities again. You need positives in your life or you are letting your son drag you down with him. You deserve to really let your hair down and enjoy this phase of your life. You raised your kids, and it's time to enjoy and pamper yourself ;)
  11. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If you think he has a personality disorder, I can recommend two other books very highly:

    Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder


    The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells

    I've read the first twice, and I'm halfway through the 2nd one (just discovered it recently). Both help me understand my Oldest a bit better, and help me understand what does and doesn't work when dealing with her. I must be doing something right, because while she's still on a erratic, irresponsible, fast and loose path in her life, she's not screaming at me any more to help her. In turn, I don't stress over her choices quite as much as I used to ... although there are plenty of times I shake my head in disbelief, and also plenty of times I'm very sad about the entire situation. I just know there's not much I can do about it. She's 26, by the way.
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If everyone agrees that he would benefit from counseling, and he won't go, it's time to start cutting off the things that make it easy for him not to go.

    I'm not clear where he is living? Is he at home? I understand that you want to feed him and keep him warm and dry. If that is what you want to do, none of us would say you shouldn't. However, if he makes you uncomfortable, you do not owe him comfort.

    It's a really big step, so you probably need to find your own comfort level first. What are you comfortable with? Start small and see if he's willing to work with you. There's no reason to go all in if a small change will sink the boat. But when you are fearful and dumbstruck in your own home, you have to do something protect yourself. No one should live like that.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My son was younger than yours but had that screaming thing going on here in the house right before we had to eject him. It was the best thing we ever did. He ended up in a trashy little trailer but it was his and it made all the difference in his life. It made him grow up. He learned that we werent stupid after all. LOL. He started coming to us for advice.

    We actually have a fairly good relationship with him now and I would have never believed it 2 years ago.