Where does Caring end and Enabling begin

The restraining order on my dual diagnosis son to stay away from my house has worked so far. He hasn't returned since Friday. This a.m. he called from a hardware store and started talking about his delusions "I really can control the government......" He wanted to come home to take a shower. I said no. But I told him I would bring him some food. So I did. He was by a creek. I brought him food, a warm jacket, and 20 dollars (since I have his SSI $). He wanted me to take him to the liquor store or to the neighboring town where his "camp" is. I declined on both and drove away trying to drive away negative feelings with by breathing. I have done this part of the cycle before...bringing him food and money, and it's way better than having him in my house. But I'm not sure this is not just more enabling.


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
It is such a fine line. In my opinion providing food is not enabeling. As his trustee do you have to give him money? Or can you give him supplies? If. It that is. It enabling. I would find it very hard to be a trustee. That takes a lot of courage.
You drew a the line where you were not comfortable and that is good! Very very hard but good for you!


Active Member
... I have done this part of the cycle before...bringing him food and money, and it's way better than having him in my house. But I'm not sure this is not just more enabling.

That's the $64k question, and it seems like it would be even less clear with comorbidity (schizophrenia?).

The sanctity of your home seems like an easy call. So does providing him food, if for no other reason than the hierarchy of needs concept.

If people live fix to fix, or day to day, because of addiction or executive function deficits, does that mean that floating them to their next fix is enabling? It would seem so.

But if he is entrenched, I can't think it makes much difference if it's occasional and doesn't result in renewing a cycle of pressure. If he needs stabilization for his mental health issues, foremost, I would even consider conditioning more help on psychiatric visits and/or medication compliance. Giving cash doesn't feel wise, but maybe support for housing? I don't know the history, but the idea that the drug monkey isn't alone on his back would be a complicating issue for me too.
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Well-Known Member
hi too long.

i think you are in a tough spot as his payee. soc sec has volunteers who are trained who will do it. i wonder if that might be better for you and for him. that way you can determine what you gift to him or not, based purely on how you think and feel about it. not having to feel guilt or conflict because you consider your own needs. or have to consider your obligation as payee.

i forget. what is his diagnosis? i am trying to get a mental picture of son.

you are doing a hard, hard thing. i would have bought the food, the jacket, and would have probably given the money too.

whether or not each is enabling is not the only point.

as cedar used to say. we have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.

you are his mother. and he is your son.


Well-Known Member
I am my autistic sons payee and he is a good young man, never arguing with me over money. However Hub and i are going to start snowbirding so I wont be here all year to do it. We talked to social security and they have actual firms that become payees and we hired one. It is $40 a month, but that fee was waived.

I have not heard of, at least in Wisconsin, volunteer payees and would be afraid of one. There are instances where our vulnerable loved ones have been robbed. I would use someplace where there is someone watching over and they get paid to do their jobs.

Your son sounds very ill...schizophrenia? I would be much softer on one who is that seriously mentally ill than one who is simply a drug addict. What can a meal hurt? I would do little things like that for him, even if he is unsafe at home. You have a mother's heart and thats okay.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

You have to do what you have to do. There is no right or wrong here. Don't beat yourself up.

I agree with the others about changing the payee to someone else. Maybe that would be better.

I don't have any experience with this but just wanted to offer my support.


Roll With It
(((((hugs))))) 2long. It is thorny question, but you really do have to include yourself in it. You count in this equation, it isn't just about your son. Sometimes you need to do things for him just because your mother's heart needs to do them. Giving him food and a warm jacket can be just because the Mom part of you needs to know he is warm and has some food to put in his belly. That is okay. To be honest, who cares if it is enabling? It is what his mother needed to do for him, and his mother has been beaten up in this war, probably worse than he has. He isn't dealing with reality and has the escape of drugs also. His mother is seeing the reality of what is going on and her heart has been broken over and over again. If her heart needs to know he has a warm jacket and some food in his belly and a few dollars, then his mother's heart can dang well have what it needs!

You did a very good thing in getting the restraining order to keep him away from your home. I know it had to hurt badly to order your son to stay away from you. I am sorry. You have to protect yourself in this battle and from this battle. You matter. In his right, drug free, loving mind, your son would not want you to be destroyed by his problems.

It would be a good idea to get another payee for his SSI money. This way he could not harass you for money and if you needed a longer break from him, you could take it. It also puts more of a barrier between his problems and you, which is a good thing. Make sure that it isn't a private payee as it would be so extremely easy for someone to rob him blind and he might not ever even know depending on his state of mind. With what SWOT is talking about, there are checks and balances built into the system so that he is not robbed. You won't be harassed and he won't be stolen from, plus someone else will see him regularly and will be able to notify someone if he has a major decline.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
2long, for my 2 cents worth, I have learned not to have delusional people in my house. You can't really help them, and they can be dangerous. I would have done exactly what you did. I, too, like the idea of having someone else responsible for his SSI payments.

I know leaving him was really hard for you. I really hate what mental illness does to a person.