Question about getting gas card for son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by BKS, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. BKS

    BKS New Member

    Hi all,

    My difficult child*/son (who was just kicked out) has a car and an interview with a grocery store on Friday and we know he is low on gas. My husband and I want to help him get on his feet but do not want to support his drug life-style nor enable him to live a life style of limping along without getting a job.

    Is there a way to give him a gas card that he cannot use for cigarettes or non-gas items?

    Many thanks,
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm not from NA, so i really don't have an answer on your question. But if you want to provide him gas, could you do that directly? Maybe even have a condition to that? Tell him, that if he does this or that for you, you will fill his tank every two weeks. make him earn the gas. If he is not willing, he doesn't need it that much. If he blamed you of 'moneying' him instead of loving him, you may want to own that and tell him, that it may be possible that you have showed your love to him in a way that felt to him like just trying deal with him with money. You are not making that mistake anymore. You love him, but you don't give him free money, because that has offended his sensibilities. Instead you are willing to offer him a possibility to earn the help.

    How about offering him some yard work (and a decent meal) and the promise to drive with him to gas station and fill the tank after he has done it?
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I would not give him a gas card. Period. A gas card these days can be used in the mini marts attached to the gas station. He could sell it to someone, you just don't want to take the risk, in my opinion. Instead, I might consider waiting until the day he needs the gas to get to the interview/job and put it directly into his tank, have him work it off if you want, but no way would I give him a card!!
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Anticipating his needs, in my opinion, is a part of enabling him. If he needs you to give him money for gas, he'll ask you and then you can do as Hearts and Roses suggests and simply fill up his tank that day and require him to pay you back in some fashion. He has to begin being resourceful if he is to survive on his own. It's a tough lesson for us parents too since we're so used to helping them.
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Yes you can use a gas card to buy stuff at the minmarts, including cigarettes. My experience with gift cards is they are easy to misuse... when my son was in a sober house we had him get a grocery card for groceries. We felt good about that as he needed money for food but we did not want to give him cash and that is how the sober house suggested we do it. Later we discovered my son was somehow buying spice (synthetic pot) from a local gas station... and somehow he was using his grocery card to do it!!!

    So yeah I would not get him a gas card... which he could also use to fill up a friends tank and have them give him the cash. These guys are resourceful when they want drugs!!!

    So I vote for meeting up with him and filling his tank directly. I also agree that you might want to wait until he asks for help.

    You might want to ask some of these questions also on the substance abuse forum.... lots of experience over there.

  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    ...really resonated with me. I think this is a fantastic guideline for further refining that line many of us tread between helping and enabling our adult difficult children. Thanks RE:)

    I agree with the idea of getting him the gas yourself, as long as it's convenient for you. But I'd be cautious that this doesn't become an expectation of his, or that you will be responsible for his gas. Maybe calculate exactly how much you think he'll need/what you're willing to cover in any given period of time (e.g., one full tank every 10 days), and stick to that. If he uses more gas than what you've said you'd pay for, it's on him.
  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hmm that is something to think about... are you willing/offering to continue to pay for gas or do a one time gift? I have to think about this but in some ways I think giving him a random, once in a while, feely given gift of gas is better than a predetermined amount on a schedule.... then that becomes an expectation on his part of you, and then he will get angry if you hold it back. A gift that is unexpected and randon may be better.

    I am not sure of any of this but am kind of mulling this over.

  8. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have had first hand experience with giving difficult child gas cards (and other gifts cards) and having her sell them to friends for cash.

    When my difficult child needs gas now to get to work we have her meet us and we fill up her tank and she is on her way.

  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree on the no gas cards because they can buy anything at the gas station or even sell the card. Meet him and fill his tank.
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    difficult children are far more resourceful than their parents usually give them credit for.

    If he really, truly ran out of gas - do you believe he would sit helpless somewhere? or do you believe he would make a phone call and find someone to pick him up?

    If he had no gas to get to a job interview - would he call you to drive him?

    I think you should let the gas issue go for now...
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Even if you do get him "some" gas, don't FILL the tank - keep it under half a tank.
    It is possible to syphon the gas out and sell it...
  12. lmf64

    lmf64 New Member

    We have Kwik Trip (Kwik Star) stations around here. They sell fuel only cards. You can only use them to pay for fuel. I made the mistake once of buying a fuel only card for difficult child (he doesn't drive) to stick in his stocking thinking that way he could pick up a soda or snacks when he wanted. Talk about an upset difficult child! He went with a friend, picked out some snacks and soda, they rang it all up and then his card was denied because it wasn't fuel.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We were able to buy gift gas cards at particular gas stations. The problem with a difficult child is that all of the gas stations sell beer and smokes and they can use it to buy anything at the store. Also they can just sell it for cash.

    With L, from time to time we'd meet her at a gas station and fill her tank. That way we knew where the $$$ was going.
  14. BKS

    BKS New Member

    This is a heartfelt thank you to all who responded to my question about a gas card. WOW!!!! Your experience and wisdom has saved us more heartache. I can see now that giving our son a gift card is a part of our trusting natures that contributes to enabling our son to continue the way he has been.

    Thank you to all,
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We always want to help them. You would not believe how many times I have done for my kid only to find out he sold the stuff I gave him. It took several years of me pointing out he was getting bad gifts because he blew it for him to appreciate it when I finally started to trust him again. I remember the year he asked me for a set of cheap pots and pans for Xmas and he was absolutely over the moon when I added a few rubbermaid containers to it. You would have thought I had given him gold. This after he had sold an expensive personal dvd player I had given him about 4 years earlier. In between he got clothes from Goodwill and socks and underwear.
  16. BKS

    BKS New Member

    My son is living with a friend and his family and has agreed to run errands (he has a car) and do some cooking in exchange for staying there. The mother of this family has passed away and the family patriarch is growing pot in the basement.

    My husband met my son tonight to put gas in his car at the gas station (in person). No gift card. Afterwards, husband went with difficult child to local restaurant to grab dinner (chili dogs and fries); then took son to grocery store to pick up some groceries - telling him to get food that will last a week. Son reported that he and patriarch at the home he is staying in had a 'smoke-a-thon' last night.

    husband reports difficult child looks horrible with unkept hair and dirty sweatshirt. difficult child used to be fastidious to the point that his socks matched his shirt. They got gas, son picked at his dinner, then they went to grocery store where son picked up two boxes of raisin bran, a gallon of milk, and two containers of cookie dough. difficult child reports he is meeting with friend "H" later this evening, who we know is a drug dealer. (A graduate of the same private Catholic school as my son.) At end of visit, difficult child asked for $ 2 to buy a cup of coffee (his standard line) and my husband told him he wasn't giving him cash and quite truthfully at that moment he only had $ 1 on him. Son gave him the finger.

    And so it goes.........
  17. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    That is sad and heartbreaking and infuriating all at once. Oh man, I've been there. I'm so sorry.
  18. BKS

    BKS New Member

    I want to have my eyes wide open to this situation and the future. I feel I have been blind to my son's behavior, having bought so many of his lies and manipulations over the past 4+ years. From everyone's experience what could the future hold? My son was never a great student so it isn't like he has this in his personal history for his self-esteem to fall back on. I can see us cutting off any support and he would continue in his current behavior, later agreeing repeatedly to rehab only to get himself out of jams - but not serious with the treatment. Is this pretty much the pattern? I have been detaching from the situation - knowing that the future doesn't seem promising and that it is all in his hands.

  19. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    If he is likely bipolar as your signature indicates, has he been diagnosed or ever on medications, etc.? I ask because when you consider what the future will likely hold for him as well as the future of your relationship, so much can hinge on getting the proper diagnosis and treatment, if in fact there is a therapeutic issue. I recognize that your son is an adult now, and you can't force the issue anyway.
    When my son started using drugs at 15, his personality and behavior changed so radically, he was so hateful, vulgar, vindictive and manipulative, it was as if he was "taken over" by something. My sister in law informed me that mental illness usually manifests in adolescence, and can even emerge by drugs - and she urged me to have him evaluated. It's a long story, but he did not cooperate with the psychiatric. and he didn't stop using drugs. He was still a minor at that time. The psychiatrist felt he couldn't really assess whether he was bipolar unless he wasn't actively using. A year later, he finally stopped using long enough to be evaluated (not bipolar - I would've bet the farm he WAS), because difficult child finally acknowledged that he was miserable inside and out.
  20. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    BKS, the pattern you describe is exactly what we went through with my son. My son was in a very similar place when he was 19.... living with friends whose parents were incredibly sketchy, doing drugs themselves etc. Eventually they got tired of my son and kicked him out as well (after a few phone calls to us I think hoping to get money from us).

    We have sent my son to rehabs out of state... and he has ended up homeless more than once. The first time he was homeless and on the street I was totally horrified and terrified. They are more resourceful than we think and he survivied. That would get to a point where he wanted off the street and would go into rehab, only to eventually use again and get kicked out or do something else. The last place (in yet another state) was wonderful, they were not quitting on him and he eventually walked out with a female resident!!! Leaving us with the bill of course.

    It took that for me to realize that he was only going to rehab to get off the street and he really was not ready or willing to do the work to really get sober. So when that went south and he called me I was much more like ok now you need to figure it out. I do have a contact where he is who is in recovery and works in recovery but my son never called him. At one point I asked him why he wasnt getting help and he told me because sometimes sleeping on the streets is easier than conforming to the rules of recovery!! That told me that he is really making his own choices, and I need to just let him live his life, it is no longer my responsibilty.... but it is still really hard to let go.

    So now he is 21, on the streets or actually hitchiking around CA with a friend who was kicked out of the latest program. I am thankful for the small things, that he is alive, that he is doing something (travelling around) and so getting exercise I think. He just had his birthday and asked me to get him a bakcpacking back pack.... and I did do that and it actually felt good to do it. And I am thankful that he is in touch with me and our communicatino is actually much better.... I think partly because i am not longer trying to tell him what to do or give him advice. I am being careful not to make him wrong.... but to let him just be. At this point I just want him to know I love him... but I wont enable him any more.

    If and when he decides to really do the work of recovery I probably will help him somewhat.... but only if he does some hard work to get there....

    It is a process for sure... and it feels like hell but does get better with time and practice.