How To Stop Enabling: When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us

Being a responsible parent is never an easy task, from the time our children first enter the world and well into adulthood, our job as parents to teach and train our children in all areas of life is often fraught with one obstacle after another, and parents need to know how to deal with the problems as they occur as well as prevent as many problems as possible.

Regular readers of Telling It Like It Is are likely familiar with previous articles where I have discussed the mounting entitlement issues so prevalent in society today, with adult children still living at home with mom and dad, and the struggles parents have in getting their adult children to be responsible financially, mentally and emotionally. For new subscribers and visitors, here are a list of the articles I’ve written that deal with money management, helping and enabling adult children, teenagers and yes, even very young children:

Getting adult children to be responsible for themselves in all areas of life is often hindered by well-meaning parents who want to “help” their children become independent or, “get back on their feet”, but instead come to realize later on that the help provided never seems to end.

Adult children continue to make poor choices and bad decisions regarding how they spend their money, then expect mom and dad to pick up the tab and continuously rescue them from experiencing the consequences of their choices and behaviors, wrongly thinking their parents are a 24-hour bank or ATM machine.

Enabling Adult Children

Adult children, some married with children of their own, are moving back home with their parents at an alarming rate, and shortly thereafter parents become frustrated when boundaries and rules are repeatedly broken, and requests for more money requires parents to dig deep into their life savings and retirement plans to the point where parents have gone broke helping their children.

Enabling occurs even when children are not living with the parents, with adult children and spouse working full-time jobs continuing to make regular phone calls to parents asking for money to pay utility bills because “It’s going to get shut off!”, or saying their “car is going to be repossessed” or the old standby, “We have no food in the house!”. My response would be, “I’m sorry to hear that but I can’t help you this time, and I have full trust and confidence that you will find a solution to the problem, and do what is necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again”. Real NEED creates REAL motivation for change.

Not being an enabler myself, my message to parents is, “Just say no! Don’t give them anymore money and by all means, Kick them out of the house and change the locks!” I’ve heard from many parents who tell me their adult children are constantly asking for money “to pay bills”, while these “adults” are spending their own money on manicures, pedicures, Botox treatments, new clothes, expensive cell phones, concerts and sporting events, electronic gadgets and other luxuries, all while “there is no food in the house”.

Learn How To Let Go Of The Control

Enablers have to learn how to “let go” of their adult children, let go of the control and Co-Dependent tendencies that run rampant amongst enabling parents and their children, allowing their adult children to experience the consequences that go with making choices on their own.

Continuously rescuing adult children, paying their bills, giving them money, allowing them to live at home with the parents, shielding them from the realities of how the real world works has created an Entitlement society. Today’s society of teenagers and adult children have come to believe their parents “owe” them whatever their hearts desire, and if parents don’t put a stop to it and close the bank of mom and dad, the problems of entitlement are only going to get worse.

When your adult children ask you for money tell them, “I’m sorry but I can’t help you this time”. The next time they ask, repeat the same sentence. Do not give your adult children any more money! Able-bodied children, working or not, can and need to learn how to manage their own lives, and that cannot be accomplished as long as children know that parents are their personal “back up plan”.

Why would your children make the grownup decision to get smart with their money, when they know they can spend their own money frivolously on their extensive “want” list, knowing you will give them a handout time after time? Stop it and stop it now, before you find yourselves penniless in your elderly years with no financial means to take care of yourself.

How To Stop Enabling Adult Children

Children know what buttons to push with parents, especially when there are grandchildren being used as an excuse to get money from parents and grandparents, making it vitally important to learn how to stop enabling irresponsible adult children.

If your children have jobs of their own, no one is going to starve to death, and while their electric might be turned off due to bad choices, allowing them to experience the consequences of their own decisions really is helping them more than you may realize.

Oftentimes people in society equate enabling with alcoholics or drug abuse, with many books being written on how parents and family members can help these children and adults conquer their problems, but the overall subject of helping vs. enabling covers a wide range of relationship dynamics between parents and children, but without an equal number of books and resources.

Stop Enabling Your Adult Children

When Our Adult Children Disappoint Us When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us : Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives If you are a parent of adult children still living at home, or children continuously asking for money or help in some way, you must read this book. You don’t have to a Baby Boomer to appreciate the problem parents have in dealing with children moving back home with mom and dad, and taking advantage of the situation and their parents desire to help their kids get on their feet financially or otherwise. The writer, Jane Adams, reassures parents that they’ve done their jobs and that they don’t have to spend the rest of their lives picking up the pieces for their grown children, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. With warmth, empathy, and perspective, Dr. Adams offers a positive, life-affirming message to parents who are still trying to “fix” their adult children — Stop! She shows us how to separate from their problems without separating from them, and how to be a positive force in their lives while getting on with our own.

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors.

The Enabler: When Helping Hurts the Ones You Love
The Enabler: When Helping Hurts the Ones You Love
Co-dependency of which enabling is a major element can and does exist in families where there is no chemical dependency. Angelyn Millers own experience is a dramatic example: neither she nor her husband drank, yet her family was floundering in that same dynamic. In spite of her best efforts to fix everything (and everyone), the turmoil continued until she discovered that helping wasn’t helping. Miller recounts how she learned to alter the way she responded to family crises and general neediness, forever breaking the cycle of co-dependency. Offering insights, practical techniques, and hope, she shows us how we can transform enabling relationships into healthy ones.

I’m a big believer in being a tough parent, setting guidelines and boundaries with children regardless of their age, and staying firm on what behaviors are or are not acceptable. Toughlove is not about being abusive towards our children, nor is it solely focused on children with drug or alcohol addictions, and I highly recommend this book for parents struggling with their children, teens and adult kids.

Are you an Enabler? Have you been struggling with the difficulties in trying to understand how to help your adult child but find yourself in the rather upsetting position of being an enabler? Do you understand that there is a difference between helping and enabling? What changes are you willing to make in letting go of the control over your children’s lives, so they can be independent and responsible financially, mentally and emotionally?

Further Reading:

Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children
Support Groups for Parents with Grown Adult Children Living at Home with Parents

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282 Responses to “How To Stop Enabling: When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us”

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  1. J Williams says:

    What I want to know is how to get an enabling parent to realize they are not doing their child any favors. My boyfriend has a verbally abusive, mooch of a daughter, who has no job and parties all the time. The only thing she contributes to the house is misery and a heavy cloud since he worries about upsetting her. She relies on her looks and “plays” anyone she can to get what she wants. He likes to talk tough and says he has rules and she has to follow them, but when it comes down to any consequences, there are none. All she has to do is bat her brown eyes at her daddy and he is weak. I try to help him, but he says if I can’t deal with her, then I am the one with the problem. Guess it is time for me to leave this relationship, but what, if any, advice can I give him.

    • A Different Debbie says:

      Well, J, I am sort of in a similar situation. My husband has one daughter who is just gifted… couldn’t ask for more. But the other one ended up with my own daughter’s ex boyfriend, a former drug dealer and felon, and he supports them in an apartment though neither of them have jobs. And all she has to do is throw a temper tantrum and he gets that checkbook out. Since I expressed unhappiness over that, they do all transactions in secret now and she doesn’t speak to me. My husband doesn’t even try to talk tough! And like you, if I can’t deal with her, I’m the one with the problem. I am not leaving my husband. I love him and I know he loves me. But at some point, we’re going to have words over this enablement of this daughter. And the way I’ve enabled my own over the years.
      And these kids don’t seem to be able to remember anyone’s birthday’s but their own, or Christmas. I don’t care so much about the gift but anyone can write a letter telling someone how much they mean to them. Hey, I guess they are just telling me that gifts really aren’t that important… if they don’t give them, I don’t either. I don’t want them to feel pressured and I don’t want to have unrealistic expectations. Simple as that.
      Good luck… your partner is in for a long period of manipulation and perhaps it’s best he learns his lesson first hand, the hard way. Hopefully he’ll figure it out sooner than later.

  2. MIchelle says:

    I have a sister who fits this exact description: wears only designer clothes & shoes, always getting hair and nails done, always going out to eat at nice restaurants; yet is ALWAYS complaining of how she’s always broke. She quit asking me for money b/c I told her exactly why she never has any money and how she can fix it.

  3. A Different Debbie says:

    I admit right now that I’ve been enabling my 5 kids for quite some time. I think it really started in earnest when I divorced their father and was parenting alone for a while before I remarried. I wanted my kids to have it better than I did- I came from a physically abusive home and when mom drank it could get mighty ugly. I had to work very hard at chores but was respectful, didn’t talk back, and did fairly well in school. I left home about a week after I graduated high school, worked at a farm over the summer, and then got my own apartment after getting a job. I had to walk the 2 and a half miles to work every day I was scheduled in all kinds of weather, but that’s just the way it was. I moved to another state with the expectation my dad would put me through school but I ended up doing that on my own as well. I had excellent grades and graduated nursing school with honors. It was a tough path but I did it. I worked at a rather difficult job but grew to love it and when I began to have children of my own, i hoped I could make their lives easier than mine.
    The early years were easy. We indulged our children in sports, vacations (something I’d had very little experience with!), cool clothing and toys, things I didn’t have growing up. We decided that chores were reasonable but certainly nothing like what I’d been expected to do around the farm. As the kids got older, it became more difficult to get them to cooperate without an argument. I was horrified when my oldest ran away from home and began doing poorly in school. He’d fallen in with a bunch of rowdy kids and he was influencing his younger brother to behave in a similar fashion.
    My husband and I began having our own problems and when we finally divorced it gave my kids fertile ground for manipulation on both sides. I tried not to trash their dad but it didn’t always go the other way so well. Back talk became more common and finally I had to come up with some limits.
    I wouldn’t tolerate being told to shut up, open defiance, hitting, or swearing at me. And I also said four things were required to live here- love, humility, respect, and gratitude. And if they had a problem with any of those to come see me for an explanation.
    As the older boys left home, they found themselves in trouble with finances. I helped them buy their first cars, let them go onto my auto insurance, signed for cell phones that I had to take ownership of due to their lack of payment. I let one come back home whenever his relationship crashed with his girlfriend but it got to be a pattern. He was in and out of here several times a year and wasn’t easy to live with either. The next oldest stayed with his dad for a while and then ended up on the streets, homeless. I brought him here after watching him struggle hard. He went to job corps and then into the Army.
    But my biggest surprise was my middle daughter. She was so smart in high school, a star at everything she tried- sports, dance, horses, academics. She got a scholarship for college but seemed a little detached. She became secretive about her grades and though she left here every day for classes I was stunned that at the end of the year she had a GPA of 0.0. I didn’t think that was possible. It was. She wanted me to pay for the next year at a community college but I told her that was on her. I wouldn’t spend a penny on her education until she showed me some grades. She unfortunately took out a student loan, never bought her books despite a full time job -she wanted ME to pay for them- and just stopped going. Sadly, the loans still had to be paid. She got engaged shortly after that and before we knew it, she was expecting. The wedding was lavish by our standards. It was what she called the perfect wedding and it cost both sets of parents quite a bit of money. Well, it only lasted 5 months. She moved out and spent her savings on new furniture despite warnings to save for a rainy day. Sure enough, a few months went by and she was in big trouble financially. I LOANED her money and we made a reasonable payment plan. I got two payments under pressure and those were given reluctantly. Suddenly she didn’t want me around, didn’t visit, and sure didn’t want to talk about money. If fact the only time I heard from her was when she was in trouble financially.
    But it was always so dire! If I didn’t make that car payment, they were going to repossess her car, she wouldn’t be able to work, and it would be my fault for letting her lose her job. Or it was the car insurance payment, or the rent. Finally I said I just couldn’t give her any more money, that I had other kids that needed help. And I did.
    The second oldest daughter was here for a while, no intention of going to school but wasn’t happy about the rule… if you’re in school, no board. But if you’re not, you have to pay a small amount of board. It was like pullling teeth to get her to pay her share. And I was a witch for asking my own child for money! When she left and got into trouble with hard drugs, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t do anything because she was of age. Thankfully, her dealer/boyfriend got arrested and went to prison and she went to rehab, and then I brought her here. I fixed the car I gave her after they’d wrecked it. I got her license/insurance/registration all squared away, supported her while she found a job… and then she lost it. Her wealthy friend partied with her every day for months while I begged her to get work. I fixed the car one more time and again she let it fall into disrepair. Too busy buying clothes and having a good time to take care of business. And then she moved out because the rules here were just too much.
    Meanwhile, my youngest son watched all this going on and believe me, this is only the tip of the iceberg!
    My older daughter has bounced checks to me, tricked me into paying her rent, and has even gotten her friends to bail her out of jams. She took me to task for not handing over my inheritance from my dad to my kids. And they were all so critical when I bought the truck and trailer for my horses that I’d wanted for 8 years… couldn’t understand why I’d spend so much on myself when I could see they were struggling.
    And my oldest son kept moving in and out of here like I had a revolving door in the living room. Always in a crisis mode, lost jobs, cars, and no motivation to go back and get any vocational training. And despite my best advice he would go back to the poison relationship that just kept him on edge. He eventually got into drugs and then I drew a line… no more in and out of the house after we had to do CPR on him one horrible day.
    My second oldest son came back from Iraq in distress… all kinds of issues living in Texas. Got married for all the wrong reasons and when it went bad, it went real bad. All he wanted was for me to come get him, bring him here, and all would be well. He’d only be here 3 weeks. Yup… turned into 3 years. Finally the house rules were too much and he got in with some friends and has been doing much better.
    But now my youngest is really testing me….He’s 19, almost 20. he’s a type one diabetic and needs to be on his dad’s insurance for now. He’s never had a job, has every toy you can think of- nice guitar, does drum corp all summer, has been to Disney twice (I’ve never been once!) a car I paid for, and did the unthinkable… He ‘forgot’ to get his paperwork in on time so instead of student loans, I had to pay his college tuition out of pocket- something that really hurt. And then basically flunked out. He insists he did alright because with a D+ they give you credit. I’d be ashamed to show those grades to anyone. He’s not impaired, just lazy. But he is now telling me to ‘chill’ all the time because I said it’s time to get a job, a real job, not helping the high school marching band temporarily, but he did get a certification as a nursing assistant and I want him to use it. He can’t be bothered by multiple applications and can’t I see his passion for music??? He tells me I confuse him because I call myself a Christian yet act like such a b*$%h. That I need to relax and get off his case. His room hasn’t been clean in months, and he will wear dirty clothes if he must. It’s all I can do to get him to help with the horses at feeding time.
    So what’s my problem? I’m afraid if I don’t take care of him, something awful with happen with the diabetes. With my daughter, I’m afraid my grandchildren will suffer if she really does lose her job because her car gets repossessed. My oldest son has burned all bridges here and is about to move to another state to restart with his biological father. yet at 33, I’m worried about his daughters, both will stay with a mom that’s into drugs. I said his first priority was getting his life in order so he can prepare to get custody of his girls.
    I am trying hard to close the bank of mom and dad yet my husband enables one of his daughters as well. I need a good pep talk. Help!

  4. Wilson Picket says:

    OMG! All your comments are really hard to read for me as I can relate to your pain.

    I’m a 56 year old parent of a 30 and 24 year old adult men. They have two kids each when they really didn’t learn how to take care of themselves first. My feelings in all the drama irresponsibility brings can only be very painful as I watch life unfold for them as for many of yours as your relate your stories. However, I know we can do better as a community or country. And beleive it or not these problems were known even back in the stone ages, but they were not as prevalent as today for very obvious reasons.

    There is a paramount flaw in this picture and regardless of what we do as parents we will always struggle our way to nowhereland. The main problem as I see it is our culture, and I will explain. I have been trying to raise one of mine by doing what I can in explaining how things work, and it doesn’t help because he always finds a financial institution that will lend him money regardless of his past financial caotic life(let me say that he has always worked since he turned 16 and he is an armed foces veteran, he is no lazy bum, but still you can be whatever, but never get to be well rounded in this culture). So, althought he never says it, I know his subconcious does not care about behaving responsibly. And yes, he still feels we will never let him down. The money to do the destructive moves, however, always comes from our culture of our financial bottomless pit. Unless we fix that our kids will always overlook our parental conservative advice and will do what comes easier.

    I’m just touching on some small points, but there are a lot more affecting this cultural behavior. I’m not an enabler although I have been forced to act as one because of the circumstances. What I’m simply saying is that some of this stuff that is happening to us it is not our kids’ fault alone, but eventually and inevitably they(and whether we like it or not, we are involved) will have to pay the price.

    I sympathized with all the good parents out there and wish you the best. I pray that our kids see the light and grow up to eventually be responsible adults, and that we can stop this vicious cycle affecting our culture. You can apply all the advice you are given as I have, but sometime the disease is more powerful than the medication, and unless you haven’t look in today’s culture ignorance outnumbers conservatism, education and self-reliance.

    We got problems and we cannot continue talking our way around it. We are all paying dearly for this mad, out of control behavior. Just to blaming our kids for all of it is very irresponsible.

    Some of it can be handled the old fashion way, but we are dealing with a bigger picture. I feel a victim of our financial system in many ways and, yes, I blame our financial system for enabling my son’s behavior and delaying or minizing the effect of whatever good we can teach our kids at home.

    Wish the best to all of you.

  5. Russ says:

    The first thing I see that hits me the wrong way – ‘adult children’. Huh ? You mean: adult daughter or adult son ! We must think of them as.. ‘people’ – adults. Thinking of them as ‘children’ seems to be a big step towards enabling !

    I’m very well acquainted with how these.. people will use me. Take that step first. Think of your adult offspring as what they are, what other adult people see them as – another person ! Yes – that is your daughter ! Yes ! BUT – she is an adult woman. And so is your grown-up son. He is a responsible adult man. If he commits a crime, the police won’t think: ‘Gee, that is an adult child !’ Nope. That is reality.

    Hope this helps someone.

  6. Tammy says:

    So here’s one for you! I have a 24 year old son with a 9 year old son. Son is irresponsible and still acts like he’s 14. He has to be told to clean up after himself as we’ll as his son. My grandson is there every weekend + because mother is irresponsible as well but she’s married and has a litter of more children. My son doesn’t understand that his actions have an effect on everyone in the family. His son is moderately disabled and depends greatly on me for most of his care. He doesn’t like his father and is extremely angry with him! Now my son is about to lose his job of three years albeit part time but none the less a job because he’s wait for it wait for it IRRESPONSIBLE? It’s getting very uncomfortable in between this rock and hard place. I swear I’m going to run away and let the cards fall where they may! If I say anything to him I’m against him and I don’t care about him! This is not how he was raised but his oh woe is me attitude because he was a teenage father is truly weighing on me!

  7. dora russo says:

    I have two grown sons and they are destroying our marriag of 34 years. They are ruining are finacial retirement and the resentment I feel towards my husband are getting worse. He gives them down payments for cars and money for problems and then gave one of our sons money for a bussiness venture out of our hQ. He made a profit last year and instead of paying us back some,,bought some property. He pays nothing back to us and my husband and I work for free to help him..but i refuse to since he moved into a expensive apt and bought furniture..etc. My husband yells at me that I am selfish..but there is not much money left. My kids act like we owe them the world and why should they have to struggle like us to support them when they were children. I am thinking of leaving my husband because the fights have gotten so bad. The office is in my home which is treated like a flop house and they are always eating me out of house and home. but yet my husband complains about the food costs. I don’t want my children to hate me but enough is enough…One is in his mid 20’s and the other is in his early 30’s. I am begining to depise both of them for not standing on their own two feet. Now my husband wants to envolve our son in our bussiness besides..and he of course expects it. My husband says he can’t abandon him and I say let him have his life. Neither of them offer to help us around the house and all I hear is i can’t afford to hire a secretary and a office and all the bill. The only thing he pays is the cable bill. Big Deal. yes i sound bitter because my husband and I are in our 50’s and I just can’t stand the most of the decisions are made behind my back..finding out later as usual. My kids and my husband make fun of me and when i make a point about all of this they laugh at me and put me down. I thought a marriage was between a husband and wife…my husband tells them everything i say and calls me crazy. What would you do?

  8. Betty says:

    Hi, Dora. I feel so badly for you. Being married to an enabler is so difficult. It is the most difficult situation I can think of because the enabler doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong, and is destroying a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime (long after the “kids” are gone). He probably wants to be buddies with his sons and wants them to love him so he gives too much. He may also think that by giving them everything they want, he is being a “good” father. My husband does this for his sons (not mine) out of guilt and also wants to “show” his love. They were angry with him for many years and treated him like garbage. I think he’s afraid they won’t keep in touch with him if he doesn’t keep on giving. I am very afraid we will run out of assets before it’s over. A fear that many of us have because of the enablers in our lives.

    Whatever you decide to do, just remember you aren’t alone and have a community here so you can “let it all out” anytime you need to do so. Our prayers go with you.

  9. Lin says:

    Hi Dora,

    What a crazy situation you’re dealing with! I can definitely understand why you sound bitter. I would be angry and bitter too. You’ve obviously got an enabler for a husband and the “kids” are loving it – while it’s tearing apart your marriage.

    What would I do? Hmm.

    Personally speaking, this is something I wouldn’t put up with. At. All. I get real tough on enabling, because the grown, adult children are harmed by it and the parents end up penniless themselves if it’s not stopped.

    I would make crystal clear to the hubby that what has been going on is not acceptable and you want no part of it anymore. No if, and’s or but’s about it – point blank…and to the point. No more. I would tell him his treatment and discussing/riduculing/laughing at you with your own children is disrespectful and emotionally abusive to you. Not to be tolerated. Totally unacceptable.

    If this exact situation were happening to me, would I file for divorce? Probably.

    I would first find out from a divorce attorney what legal options there are pertaining to legal separation for a time + how to protect myself financially during a separation (so I wouldn’t be held financially liable for debts/bills incurred during separation) until emotions (bitterness) were calmed down enough to make sure the decision to divorce was what I really wanted/needed to do. For me.

    IF it were me Dora, I wouldn’t put up with this sort of treatment at all. Life’s too short to be a wife who is ignored, not consulted or included in decisions, humiliated and ridiculed to others. Your husband’s interpretation of what marriage includes is questionable (in my mind), considering how he’s treating you.

    I would suggest telling your husband with no uncertain terms exactly how you feel (not in earshot of the kids of course). His reaction to what you tell him will very likely tell you everything you need to know and will go far in helping you decide whether to stay or go. Marriage counseling???

  10. metfan012 says:

    It is imperative that you leave, this is abuse,mentally, emotionally and financially. You will go to an early grave. But you must leave smartly. That is, you must plan for it. Take money out of the bank account and hide it. Sell any non-essential property (land or otherwise). Then get a lawyer to help you. It is very important that you tell no one until the court date is set for a legal separation or divorce if that is something you can do.

  11. GeeJoy says:

    Hi. Does anyone know how I could get some help in dealing with my emotions regarding my 43 year old son and his behavior? I know (or believe, at least) that if nothing else, I did teach or instill in him the difference between right and wrong (even if his childhood was as bad as he chooses to remember it as).

    He has fathered–and left to raise themselves–three beautiful boys. The oldest (20), I’ve only just met for the first time. My son is and always has been very self-absorbed. I have no husband or other children, so I’m aging by myself. I’m 66.

    I haven’t even seen him in over 4 years last Christmas, and the last time we were together, it was a debaucle; an absolute nightmare. Yes, he is a bully. We communicate, but I don’t believe a word he says. He’s a liar, thief, manipulator who shows no respect for me at all. He has no compunction at all about using vulgar language when we speak occasionally; I used to use it too. But he knows I’ve become a Christian now, and seems like he just does it to show me that he has no respect for me–or God although he claims to be a believer. But neither his words nor his actions would bear that out.

    He recently stole from his own nephew, and has stolen from family members and others for as long as I can remember. He doesn’t work, he just mooches off people while (still after 18 years) halfheartedly trying to make it in the music business. He’s been telling me his whole life that he didn’t ask to be born. He told me at 12 that he never planned on working, as he planned to be “discovered”.

    I find myself with a lot of residual resentment, even though I forgive. Next month I’m sending him a cremation urn for my future use and then I’m done. I want a divorce! I’m doing that because it will not get done otherwise, but yeah, I’m done after that. His life is completely messed up and he takes no responsibility for choices he made/makes. He has blown through every dollar he gets his hands on, and doesn’t share any financial information with me. For example, if anything happened to him, I have no idea how to access his account(s?); I don’t even know his attorney’s name, let alone phone number. He has no sense of financial responsibility and just lives day to day.

    The question is: What can I do to stop feeling angry, resentful, guilty and disappointed in his behavior? How can I stop holding on to false hope? Is there a support group for something like this?

  12. VJM says:

    I could sure use some feedback here. 20 year old daughter moved across country to the West Coast with boyfriend, but left a mess behind her financially as well as pets behind for us to deal with. She took a car that we have co-signed on, and due to other circumstances going on (a very ill father) I completely forgot that the car was still registered to us and the car insurance is in our name. We have asked her for weeks to get the car re-registered in her name and the insurance in her name. She has already gotten a speeding ticket that came to our house because the car is registered to us. Before all of this occurred, she was living in an apt.on the East Coast paying her bills and doing fine. She had moved out of our home because she could not get along with her father, treated him with disrespect, would not obey house rules, keep things clean, etc. It was no fun living with her. One week after she moved, the boyfriend shoved her up against a wall. She called the police and She left for about 2 weeks and stayed with a family member. Then she went back. Now he has hit her, drawn blood. She is calling wanting to come home. I told her to go to a shelter, go to a church and ask for help, see if someone she works with will let her stay. She only wants to come home. We do not want her living with us anymore. On top of it all, she has not paid her car payments or insurance for 3 months, to the tune of over $1000 out of my pocket. If I go and take the car away, it will mean I have to spend a ton of money flying out there, then driving it across the country. If I don’t, we have to keep up with the payments since the car is in our name. Or we can just pay the car off, chalk it up to a really bad judgement call to sign for her, and cancel the registration and insurance on it. Then if she does not pay, she will get fined for driving an unregistered and uninsured car. If we rescue her, will she ever find within herself what she needs to do this on her own? I have told her she has to figure it out and if she is still with him, then she must not be desperate enough yet. She does not want to be uncomfortable by living in a shelter or sleeping on someone’s couch, she just wants to make it all go away and come home I am sure. And then what if he follows her and brings her crap to our house? I love her, but I think she has to do this on her own. She is not stupid. I have a family member who is only 6 hours away who has offered before to let her live there, but she did not like his house nor the area. I say she goes there, works and saves like crazy, pays him some rent, pays me back, and then when she has enough money saved, she can move wherever she likes. I am worried sick about her safety, but if she is not willing to get out no matter what, then I don’t think she is that desperate. Opinions, please???

  13. PM Tennessee says:

    What do I do with an adult child 38 years that won’t pay her rent to us and won’t move out? I sent a registered eviction letter to her giving her 30 days to get out. She sent back the letter unopened. She is still living in the house. Her husband and 4 children occupy the house with her. They have 4 dogs in the house and the house is kept a mess. They refuse to work and pay their rent. They are 10 months late on the rent. Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone been is this position and could tell me what worked for them? Thanks. PM Tennessee

  14. Not Anna Blume says:

    I see a few things in these comments
    that bother me–and I daresay this due to one of the insights I will cite–
    as one of these “grown-children”–a man child you all love to downgrade and hate–though, like My own mother says “I love you but I just don’t like you”…which isn’t a loving thing to tell your child (or even tell to your friends/co-workers/relatives), period. But you know that, though you’ll deny it, your heart knows. Even if I felt that I would not say it to my child. Thats where LOVE comes in.

    One is the inability for parents to really, truly, genuinely accept that we did not in fact, ask to be born. It was your choice to make love to whom you did, it was your decision to have us, and it was your decision to keep us as supposed to say putting us up for adoption. This is not being ungrateful for life–but life does suck. And this era is on a cusp as far as human evolution/development goes, so its potentially the worst and best for anyone to grow up in.

    That being said, everything after that was on you. Or your spouse, or both. Just like a lot of you who speak about how your grown-children WITH children tend to behave irresponsibly, a lot of you have not been as attentive as you should’ve. And therefore if your child resembles a “brat”, guess what, that’s what your particular style of parenting has raised.

    And this is a funny thing because, in the realm–the school of thought of “tough love” everyone tries to assume that a one-size-fits-all method goes to raising children. if this was so, all the methods used would yield the same results. They dont. You can’t raise your sons like you did you daughters–you just can’t. And you cant expect a child who grew up without one parent or the other to turn out similar to those who have both. We KNOW this. Why are you denying it?

    Of course I can hear the groans, and scoffs right now. “He’s defending himself”. You bet I am.
    I’m a response to a lack and lacks. I’m a result of Entropy–a lack of order.

    I’m also the result of an abusive, traumatic childhood.
    What bothers me the most, about it all, is not what you say
    Of course I’m embittered, but so are you all for what you yourselves may have done or failed to do and the opposite and equal reaction(s) that occurred due to them(it).

    To be honest, sometimes my heart wilts for my mother. I know I’ve been difficult. I’m not in denial.
    hah, ironically though, save for staying out past curfew sometimes and smoking some bud (which to drive my point to home, I started smoking since I was an extremely depressed teen and my mother refused to let me get on medication..and I wish I was making this up), I was a pretty good kid.I always had decent grades, I wasn’t into gangs and I respected my teachers and vice versa–they loved me, in fact. At the same time I can see the times where she wallowed and sat with her head in her hands or just didn’t care and put the blame on me–she wasn’t doing any parenting at all.

    Being un-equipped with certain adaptive adult-like mindsets is a condition that I did not foster within MYSELF. And if I did, I did not do so knowingly–because I was a neglected child. A CHILD who does not know any better! And neither do their stupid friends! You’ve put the weight of a sense of responsibility that a knowing adult possesses on the shoulders of children–children who were not taught how to grow up. Children who are hurt and angry now because the whole world is blaming them where they themselves have no fault–at least not in the sinister manner you’re all portraying.

    And sure. A ton of us are manipulative, irresponsible, and any number of things an adult is -not- supposed to be
    (yet so many actually are–under a veil) Yet Frankenstein did put himself together, now did he? Nor did he ask to be created and born as the grotesque thing he was.

    As a “man-child” who grew up with an abusive single mother who is mentally ill, I can say not all of the posters here are the faultless hell-or-high-water I’ll-protect-my-child parents you’re trying to put across. Some of you have, even if not regularly, but in intervals subjected your children to the neglect, abuse, and trauma that distorts one’s mind. The kind of stuff that creates criminals and addicts.

    This isn’t a dog and pony show. this is real. these disappointing beings are your kids–yours, not someone else’s product. they’re also human beings who probably have a really hard time managing even their own emotions, let alone their lives.

    Some of you haven’t.

    I was not one of the kids you all seem to have. Lots of us aren’t, even without extreme examples of abuse.
    The constant hand-outs, exorbitant loans. Hell, growing up, my parents both hardly gave me what I wanted
    (I didn’t even celebrate holidays, including my birthday)–let alone cared about the development of myself as a well-rounded adult. The main thing they cared about is if I gave a good answer and made them look good at sunday school. I was not coddled or spoiled, nor did I get what I want. In fact, since my father was an extremely frugal (cheapskate) man from the West Indies, I got hardly what I -needed- aside from food and shelter, which I know most of you think is exactly what
    a parent does: they’re a handler.

    There is also this is a dynamic I see a lot when it comes to stuff like this, that the people who are already knee-deep in a neglectful parenting mode will go way out into left field. And especially because I remember people had always been trying to convince my mother I was “spoiled” when in fact, she knew in her heart, and later ADMITTED–but only to me since I’m “nobody”–relatives who regularly bought their children name-brand clothing and video games where my parents wouldn’t even allow me to watch Television and my shoes were payless (I should mention my parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses)—and she would, in turn amp up her inconsistencies or abusive patterns I should say.

    I know what happened, I can look back on instances and see where it wasn’t normal that I didn’t know this or that and other kids did. If by “spoiled” they meant “ruined” they were right. And I can see it in my head as since I spent a lot of time alone as a kid my imagination is pretty expansive–and I also know my mom very well. She’s standing there contorting her mouth with mock-unsureness while they say this, and half-acknowledging to herself that they’re wrong. She thinks:

    “I don’t really give him -whatever- he wants. him crying or throwing tantrums don’t get him anything either. the truth is, I don’t think I know to and/or want to raise a son.” Actually I overheard these conversations as a kid and in so many words she refuted them saying I wasn’t spoiled…which was true. But it took her two more decades and a few years to actually admit (to herself and possibly to me) what the problem actually was.

    It hurts. It makes me mad, beyond words. I’m being told:
    “hey, you F up, why don’t you know how to do [this], why aren’t you doing [that]? you stupid, or just a loser? or both?”

    Not just from your generation, but MY OWN peers. And that makes it, to me, very very hard to really keep going when I’m trying to repair, ON MY OWN the first half of my life which my mother cheated me out of fully experiencing as a growing human.

    It makes it seem totally -not- worth it.
    because I really don’t want to be “successful” in such a heartless place. and you can all say what I know you will. Something about excuses, something about my “getting over”. I’ve barely gotten by, in life. Most times not even that. I’ve all to often lived -without- the bare necessities and even things for comfort.

    And I can even say, if you conclude (as your talking points are all the same) that I’m manipulating:
    Maybe I am. But maybe I’m only manipulating you into seeing something you are unwilling to see. Not all manipulation is negative. You folks manipulate people, too. What do you call the social dynamics we currently engage in?

    but the cycle goes on. And I hope a lot of you are patting yourselves on the back. because you all win…you’re all validated. you’ve got credentials, whereas we: the lost slighted children, don’t.
    we’re just the chemistry set in the rubbish bin.

  15. dora russo says:

    Thanks for the advice..i guess i already knew what i had to do..i just needed another voice to help me. I made a copy of my comment and yours and gave it to my husband. He won’t talk to me without yelling so i put it in letter form and wrote a letter to my younger son. He has made sure i have no friends and discourages contact with my you are the only one i can talk to. My kids are loving the situaton while they see how it is slowly killing me inside. Again thank you, I will let you know what happens. dora

  16. dora russo says:

    also thanks for your comment and concern. At my age i thought life would get better..or atleast i hoped so. Just waiting for my husband to comment or he will just ignore it like me. I pray too, Dora

  17. dora russo says:

    Well I waited a few days and everything blew up.I was called some horribe names and i was told i was the c word i was told to get a job because he had things to do at the site and didn’t want me to go out but to answer the phones. I am so tired…the hate in his voice is pulling me apart. He is so mean and spiteful towards me..and he says he can’t live without me..but then says i a useless. I know what i have to’s just getting the courage to follow through..i did however get a few good ones i am not your b and I was tired of him thinking he was king of the hill…and i was tired of being walked on and treated like crap….i finally realized..if it doesn’t benifit him i am useless to him. Dora

  18. Lin says:

    I’m sooo sorry Dora. I kind of wondered if this was the type of man you are married to. Mentally and emotionally abusive, with name calling and horrible things being said to you and Lord knows what else. Think for yourself: What are your Relationship Deal Breakers? Sounds to me as though you’ve already determined what you need to do. Good luck with it and be strong.

  19. Lin says:

    VJM, I can definitely understand your concerns for your daughter’s safety. The fact that she left her boyfriend once before makes clear she realizes there is a serious problem in the relationship; unfortunately, she went back to him.

    Considering the history you have explained, it is understandable that you wouldn’t want your daughter to move back into your home. From her responses to your suggestions, she only wants what she wants and she aims to get you to agree, one way or another.

    Obviously she has options, she has places she can go, homes she can live in until she is able to get a place of her own. Pay you back etc should most definitely be put at the top of the to-do list. Since there has been a history of her bad treatment towards her father while living in the home in the past, it would not be in anyone’s best interests to allow her to move back home into your house.

    You’ve laid out for her some options of places she can live, pay rent etc and pay you back. She doesn’t like the options. I say too bad. Hopefully she realizes that her relationship is an abusive one and she needs to get away from this guy, but no one can force an abused girlfriend/wife etc to leave if they’re not ready mentally, emotionally etc to accept the facts.

    She’s already shown you by her attitude and behavior over recent months (years?) that she wants to call the shots. Don’t let her dictate to you. The car situation is a toughie for sure and I hope you’re able to resolve that one without tremendous financial burden to you and your husband.

    Seems to me that you could enlist the help of your family member a few hours away to get the car sold locally there and get out from under the payments and headache. Or perhaps the family member could “hold” the car and car keys until your daughter pays you back for past car payments and insurance, get it transferred into her name as you requested, pay her ticket etc while living with the family member (with the house she doesn’t like or area she doesn’t like)and show proof she has wised up some. Maybe not having access to the car at all would make her realize she has to step up and take care of her responsibilities and prove she should be given an opportunity to keep the car once she fulfills her responsibilities to you.

    I like your suggestions and plan for her. Her not liking this or that doesn’t really matter. Her fulfilling responsibilities and obligations that go with being an adult is what matters. You’re doing fine, hang in there.

  20. A Different Debbie says:

    VJM- this may not even come to you in time for real help but I read you plea for it, and wonder how things turned out for you. If I’d been in your shoes I would have warned your daughter that within a reasonable period of time (you’d have to figure that out) you planned on canceling the registration and insurance on the car. It would be her responsibility to correct the situation. I know that closing the Bank of Mom was a very good move on my part. It has helped to restore my sanity.
    My youngest son finally did get full time employment and when he started bucking the rules of the house, I let him know he needed to get off my insurance and get his own policy by a certain date and then he could have all the independence he wanted. This was the one with such serious diabetes. Well, shortly after he complied with my request he was hospitalized for complications of diabetes- went into acidosis and was in ICU. Why? Because he didn’t follow through with paperwork to get new supplies and was trying to ‘handle’ his condition using old insulin pens. Blew off his doctor’s appointment. This was how he handled things when he was at the same time telling me to ‘chill out’ and let him handle his life. There are consequences you see. He has since moved in with his father to be more ‘independent’- a joke because he’s still in a protected environment… I’m happy he’s not living with friends though. I had to let go. When his car needed tires I agreed to pay for them but only if he gives me the money back through weekly payments. So far, he has held up his end of the agreement. But I’ve stuck to my guns about loaning money to my other 4 kids…not kids anymore. Oldest is 33, youngest is 20.
    Our house is pretty quiet now. The kids visit once in a whle, my husband is still enabling his daughter and the only time she comes here is to get money from him. As often as possible she gets him to stop by her apartment that we subsidize and give it to her there so she doesn’t face the possibility of a disapproving look from me. My husband says he has to help her so she can finish college and take care of her baby- the one she had with my other daughter’s ex-boyfriend and recovering addict. I’m happy about that part and give them a lot of credit, but it hurts her father that she won’t interact with the family, won’t come to birthday parties for other grandchildren, Christmas or Thanksgiving. But she will come for money. So sad.
    I think you had a lot on your plate in 2010. Your daughter made a lot of bad choicees and you wanted to help but the more you helped the worse it got. I imagine the car situation is resolved, hopefully not replaced by another in your name. I sure hope things got better for you.

  21. Noreen says:

    Hello PM,

    Do you have an attorney? The letter needs to come from and with some legal authority. I am not familiar with landlord/tenant law in Tennessee, but I imagine that there is some sort of City or County info source and you need to access it by calling the City and/or County offices where you or she lives and tell them what is happening and how she has ignored your request. Sheriffs or Marshalls are very efficient in moving someone out if you go to Small Claims or whichever court is appropriate to the amount owed, get a judgment against her AND HIM, YOU MUST BE ALL INCLUSIVE IN THE ACTION OR HE CAN STAY THERE, and then have the Sheriff or Marshall’s officers proceed with putting their stuff on the street! It can be done.

    You have to assume that she is treating you like a stranger so you must do the same to end that. That is what I would do if needed. Brace up, I know it is not easy since it is your progeny.


  22. Noreen says:

    I want to add something to this forum. Here is something not considered by any of the posts on this forum, including the moderator. We can pee and moan about all the stuff our children did and do to us, but what caused this dysfunctional behavior on their parts?

    I think it is usually, divorce, death of a parent or sibling, something traumatic, or else these kids are mentally disabled or challenged and need more help than the average in disseminating information as to what is acceptable in society relating to treatment of parents, siblings and society in general.

    Somebody failed on the teaching level. I myself was in foster homes at age 3 and then orphanage at age 4 and was in shock for most of my childhood, even after being taken into my divorced-from-my-father, mother, and given, without my choice, my stepfather’s name. I never felt welcome or loved and I had a sister who was 13 months older who experienced the same thing. She died of esophageal cancer at age 34!

    I think the homelife disruption, for whatever reason, causes problems with these kids. I am not making excuses. I think it takes a great deal of patience to sort through these things and just tossing them out on the street or into jobcorps is not the answer! Their behavior is a reflection on us as parents, PERIOD. We need to examine ourselves as well.

    Sorry, but I think this will generate a great deal of anger and excuses, however, get on your knees before Jesus and ask Him to reveal it, and He will.

    Some people will not accept the consequences of their parenting inadequacies and blame the offspring. The man I was involved with left his family when the kids were in puberty or before and pursued his own interests. I blame him for his 40 year old son’s vagrancy and his 30 something daughter abandoning her three very young children. She had him as an example.

    People, we need to realize that without God in the picture directing us and our accepting our roles of spiritual guides and directors for our children, they will grow up “like Topsy,” willful and resentful and trying to get everything they can because they did not have the proper upbringing. There, I said it, and you can all be as angry as you want to be.


  23. Betty says:

    Noreen, I do understand where you’re coming from and I agree that parenting is where everything starts. That being said, there comes a time when everyone has to mature and try to accept what happened in the past and go on.

    I don’t see anyone here is in denial as to how they parented and were responsible for how their children may think and act. It does come down to acceptance of the mistakes parents make, and the realization that chldren cannot keep blaming their parents forever for what has happened.

    In your case, it was a horrible way to start and there are issues that don’t go away without help. How we are raised has a lot to do with how we think about ourselves and those around us when we are children. It can cause trust issues, as well.

    I stil say that at the onset of adulthood, we either need to get help in dealing with our beginnings or use these lessons to make better decisions for ourselves.

    My brothers and I were products of divorce in a time when very few couples were getting divorced, and there was abuse in our lives including an incident of molestation. Do I hate that person? No, even though I had trust issues that I had to resolve. Do I hate my parents? No, of course not. They just weren’t mature enough to be parents. Just because people have children doesn’t make them parents.

    I think parents sometimes “over-parent” which results in enabling. They don’t realize that what they are doing is harmful untl it comes to a head years later. I DO think children use this to their advantage (from what I have lived and seen with friends, etc.). Hey, they will do what is necessary sometimes, to get what they want. Don’t you think that at some point THEY are responsible for how they turn out? It is counterproductive to live in the past and live in what I call “arrested adolescence”. Nothing in life stands still.

    Enough said. Just wanted to put in my two cents.
    God bless you and hope you are doing well.


  24. Lin says:

    Hi Noreen,

    There are many, many things that cause these problems for parents and their children. Your most recent reply to Betty specifically was not posted on the site but did come through by email. Perhaps you hit the “reply” button in your email instead of coming to the site directly and posting it here, so that it only came to me.

    Nevertheless, it’s best that that response stay off the site, as it comes across very heavy-handed. very angry and harsh. I’ve read it and re-read it several times last night and this morning, and the harshness/anger/bitterness is just too much, especially since you ended the reply with “That’s it. Don’t want to hear about it any longer.”

    Some of my responses to people are verry direct and to the point, to make them sit back a second and really think about what they’re doing. But. I will not ever use my site in such a way as to virtually slap parents upside the head with a Bible or strong religious talk, about how parents are failing their children, failing to Teach and Train children to adulthood, because (supposedly) they don’t have God or Jesus in their lives etc etc.

    Based on the many many emails I receive from parents who choose not to leave comments or questions here, parents who are strong religious believers and regular church attenders (one father is a Pastor no less), it would be rather presumptuous of me to even suggest, hint or imply that parents who enable their grown children failed to raise them with Christian values, prayer and guidance etc.

    Sure, I could include numerous scripture texts and scripture principles and sermon-like arguments in every Enabling article I’ve posted thus far. I choose not to. My site is not a Church or a Court, not do I sit in judgment of these parents who are struggling with being enablers or are married to enablers, as if to say the problems would be solved or would never even come up IF children were being raised with Christian values and morals etc.

    Let’s keep the comments section a place where parents AND grown children (if they wish) can ask questions and share experiences in a calm, respectful manner, without anything that even gives an appearance of judging parents on their Religious/Christian beliefs or lack thereof. Anything else will be deleted.

  25. metfan012 says:

    I agree with you partially. I am going through trouble with my adult kids and realize that, in part, it is my fault. I needed to teach more about behavior and consequences. I also believe that we need the Lord in our lives to direct us.

    Where I disagree is blaming parents for how we turned out for the next 40 years! A person at some point has to take responsibility for his or her actions.
    My mother died when I was young and I went to live with my alcoholic father yet I always always treated both parents with the utmost in respect. I never even raised my voice to them! I didn’t use my father’s alcoholism as an excuse for my in- frequent poor behaviour.
    When I was 18 I lived with my future step mother and I was not doing enough to find a job and move out. I just did fun things and partied. She kicked me out and guess what? I found a job and rented an apartment and have been living on my own since then. (I am 49 now).

  26. peters2301 says:

    Noreen, s
    orry you had such a rough childhood but what you are giving these people is excuses..there is always a reason (excuse) for the bad behavior of others but an adult is supposed to be responsible for themselves.

    There are no perfect parents and their children are not perfect. The parents had to learn to be responsible adults and they only way to teach your adult children to be so is to allow them to fall on their faces…no money, car, place to stay from Mom.

    Once the parents say and actually follow thru, the child will either sink or swim, either way it will be a direct reflection of the child, not the parent.

    I am sure that once you remove your personal family situation from this blog you can think of families you know that will show you that irresponsible adults (because we are talking about grown-ups) are the creation of themselves.

    Otherwise each family with the problems discusses above will have these problems with all of their children, not just one.

    Once again, I am sorry about your particular situation but if you have not gotten your life together because Mom will not let you live for free, buy you a car, and let you be disrespectful in her home, that was a choice you made…

  27. Cindy says:

    Hi I can totally understand where your coming from your story sounds like my own. I’m also dealing with a 26 year old who quit college when she had a full ride and said she was gonna make it in the music business we do not get along because she is angry about me having her at 18 years old and doing my best to raise her on my own this all started when she was 18 hrs old and she has had us up and down since wow what a roller coaster ride my gosh I want off I am married and have two small children and we still have the 26 year not wanting to leave I feel like a prisoner in my own home she can come and go whenever she pleases never helps with the rent and eats our food it is very tiresome I wish I was different this Christmas was a disaster with the arguing and all. I’m so emotionally exhausted with all this .

  28. A Different Debbie says:

    Don’t give him your cremation urn… leave it with a reputable funeral home. Don’t give him any responsibility for you or your business. Sounds like you’ll only be disappointed. I have a brother who lived with my mom on and off for many years. She needed him for a drinking buddy and he needed her for her money to get him out of trouble. That seemed to be working out for them until Mom started getting forgetful and brother got into more trouble. Before long he was losing jobs, divorced, into substances, and really lost. Without Mom’s money to get out of trouble, he was forced to find new ways of coping. Sadly, he’s found a woman who loves him for exactly who he is… but she suffers now. He’s 47, has little more than the clothes on his back, and is faced with a life of hard labor and hard living.
    You can’t be responsible for his behaviour. Being angry crops up as does the resentment but neither of those will help you. Al-Anon was very helpful to me. It sure made me see things in a completely different way…. and showed me the part I played in the way I felt. Good luck!

  29. Barbara says:

    I know exhauted well. I have a 26 yr old son who basically was homeless for years and I have had custody of his daughter since she was 8 months shes going to be six. He put himself into drug treatment which I am paying for and getting more resentfull because I feel like I am paying for his bad choices. He finally went back to college so far I have paid his rent , his utilities, his food, his rehab which looks like its going to be the rest of his life. He cant keep a girlfriend because he is soooo verbally abusive and can get physical and also loves destroying property when angry however denies anger problem and says everyone else has the problem not him. I have always told him I will not give rides for socializing but to the clinic,school,work yes. But now I am wondering if I am wrong and even though the consequence would be horrible I think I have been making a mistake. I told him yesterday no more and feel like I am dieing in side. Oh yes hes very disrespectful to me when the mood hits him. Am I wrong in stopping this. I feel horrible.

  30. Sam says:

    More importantly, how can a parent divorce an “adult child”? (Now there’s an oxymoron for ya)!

  31. JS says:

    Barbara; No, you are not wrong for stopping what on your part has been done with good intentions. So often, our adult children feel we are the cause of all that is not right in their lives. At what point do they stop blaming us? I have found that when their lives are going well, we do not even come into the equation! But, let something go wrong – and bam! it’s mom/dad’s fault.

    I say that all parents who have done the very best we could – stop taking the wrap for their bad choices. So many people who have come here to this board, searching for answers, have been divorced. Well, I can tell you from experience that divORcing a personality disordered person, is one of the most ongoing, devastating things a parent of a child any age can endure. The PD parent will NEVER stop trying to punish you for divorcing him/her. They will drag the children into it and force them to choose sides. The dominating personality will win most every time, because the kids have witnessed what the other parent has gone through (and is still getting) – and doesn’t want the same treatment.

    The nice parent is bullied by the horrible parent. The children align with the horrible parent. The cycle continues. The nice parent is left alone to grieve the loss – and this because he/she had the courage to stand up to the bully parent. The bully parent has now taught the children it’s okay to abuse the other parent.

    I say to all parents in this situation – find a way to divorce yourself from those kind of adult children. It will be a struggle making your way through it, but you must do it for yourself. I can guaranty you that your child is NOT sitting around doing web searches to find answers as to how they can be better adult children! They only care about you when it suits them – financially, materially, etc.

    We are merely a means to an end – thanks to the rotten person we chose to have children with to begin with.

  32. Vera Deppe says:

    Ten years ago my mother manipulated me into moving back into the house with my father and her. My father had memory loss and was physically abusive. My mother had cancer. I drove them to the hospital 27 times in one year. My mother told everyone that I refused to get a job and nobody wanted me. It was humiliating. She portrayed the situation as one where she had to help me and I was lazy. When their health stabilized, I finally left. Several years later, my mother called me in a panic to come help with my father. I ran to her side and ended up getting beat up by my father and having to commit him to a nursing home. A year later he died. My mother made me lots of promises to get me to help her in the past year since his death and began calling me on the phone every single day. I couldn’t think straight. Every thing I’ve tried to do she poisons.

    She insisted I drive her across country to memorials and funerals, causing me to loose money at my job. Behind my back, she told everyone that she was supporting me because, basically, I am a loser. Now that she has my father’s money, she calls me everyday to brag about all the money she has but claims she can’t get access to it. I have gone broke trying to help her and she just tells everyone that I won’t get a decent job and that nobody likes me. Now she has taken up TOUGH LOVE and is refusing to give me a dime to keep me from going broke. Well, I am at a position of TOUGH HATE.



  33. A Different Debbie says:

    Everything you said was spot on! I was divorced and my ex was horrible to me and didn’t even see his kids for years. But you know what? Every one of my kids but one aligned with their dad and I’m the mean one, the nasty parent because I have rules and limits. And you’re so right about them not caring what effect their lack of consideration and seeming lack of love has on me. They all thought it was wonderful when my youngest left home- a son with a serious medical condition and no sense of responsibility, no interest in taking care of paperwork or anything like it. They seem to like seeing me struggle for some weird reason, but they would never hold their dad to the same standard they do me. I don’t understand all that- I gave them the best years of my life and this is the way they treat me now. It will be worse when I’m older. Can’t even think about that.
    The answer is in not expecting anything from them at all. And not giving in to demands for money either. It seemed to work for their Dad- he never helped them when they needed it and now they fight for his attention. I’m happy they’ve re-established relations with him but he’s still very capable and willing to hurt me through the kids. He’s done it over and over, and getting my youngest to move in with him was just the last jab. He’ll send him back when son’s car is wrecked or dead, when the health insurance is gone and the co-pays are very high, when the job is gone or he’s too sick to deal with. And that’s the part that hurts the most. When his kids are really down and out, he doesn’t want to deal with them. Thank you for your insight. Like I said, you were spot on.


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