Saturday, June 23, 2012

Helping Adult Children Through Rough Times

Over coffee at our community Cyber Cafe, a neighbor I'll call Frank confided his concerns about his 24-year-old daughter Emily. "She has no direction in her life," he said. "She has had three jobs in the last year and is once again unemployed. She's depressed. She doesn't know what to do with her life."

Frank and his wife Jan drove to Colorado to pick Emily up and bring her for a two week visit here. She has been exercising, swimming, enjoying the sun and their company. "It has been a great vacation for her, a pleasure for all of us," he said. "But I dread taking her back. She has no idea what she is going to do."

Another neighbor recently told me that her son and his wife recently separated and she is sad to see his pain, concerned about the two grandchildren caught between warring parents and wondering what, if anything, she might do to help. "I don't want to make anything worse by butting in," she told me. "But I feel so bad for all concerned."

Yet another friend told me yesterday that her son is having financial problems -- again. His money issues have been ongoing throughout his adult life. He is now nearing 50 with a family and a car that needs a new transmission. So he called Mom, who is living on Social Security and a small savings account, to say "Hi" and to hint, rather broadly, that he would like her to buy him a new car.

Whether it's money or relationships or trying to find a direction in life, it's always hard to watch an adult child struggle. What do you do when an adult child is going through rough times? How do you nurture without rescuing? Encourage without diminishing their own problem-solving skills? Help without hindering growth?

1. Listen. Sometimes your adult child, more than anything, needs to vent. As you listen to this venting, you may hear clues to your child's own problem-solving ideas or desires and will be able to make appropriate suggestions. And as he or she vents, your son or daughter may find the beginnings of his or her own solutions.

2. Encourage a young adult to fight his or her own battles with your support. Don't be a "helicopter parent" for your college student or young adult son or daughter. I've seen many parents call college professors to discuss a grade or their child's difficulties with a class. By stepping in and taking over, you are taking away a valuable chance for your child to grow in competence. It is much more useful to listen and discuss your child's difficulties -- whether with a college class, a boss or co-worker or a troubled friendship or love relationship -- and  to share some ideas or strategies for dealing with these difficulties. Then step back and let your adult child handle the situation. Learning to face challenges and conflict, do the hard things in life (from asking for help to apologizing) and work through worries and anxieties are all important steps toward full, functional adulthood.

3. Give loving support but stay out of marital troubles.  It may be more helpful to say something like "I'm so concerned for you and love you so much. I hope however you work this out, it will be for the best." Taking sides could come back to haunt you when or if the young couple decides to reconcile. Instead, encourage careful thought before acting. Encourage marriage counseling. Encourage communication. Share your thoughts about all marriages having ups and downs, times of closeness and times of distance and caution your child not to panic at the first signs of trouble, but to see difficulties as a sign that some change needs to happen.

4. If child is in danger from an abusive spouse or boyfriend, offer love and safety: If your adult child is being physically or emotionally abused, letting her know that she has your support may be vital to her finding a way to leave. Do some research into local organizations for victims of spousal abuse and their support services and shelters. Talk with your child about the signs of an abuser and the cycle of abuse which can range, in a regular pattern, from violent lashing out to tearful contrition and attempts to woo her back emotionally. Give her a brochure outlining the signs of abuse so the information isn't simply coming from you. Many times, victims are in denial or have been so damaged emotionally that they see no way out.  Gently encourage your daughter to remove her children from the abusive home, especially if the abuser is a stepfather or boyfriend (which puts the children at increased danger). Sometimes a young adult will respond to threats to her children before threats to herself. It's important to know, too, that if a violent abuser is in picture, your adult child may not be safe at your home.  She may need to be in a special shelter where she can't be easily found. Let her know that there are options and that she has your loving support, that she doesn't have to stay in a dangerous situation.

5. If your adult child has a substance abuse problem, offer love and support for sobriety, but stop rescuing him or her. A drug or drinking problem can, sadly, defy logic and the best of efforts to help. Let your child know that he or she is dearly loved and that you emotionally support his or her sobriety. But bailing him out of trouble again and again may delay recovery. As difficult as "rock bottom" may seem, often it has to happen before the goal of recovery can be realized. It may mean withdrawing all financial support or not allowing your child to move back home (and steal from you to support a habit). It may mean letting him stay in jail after the latest DUI.  It is agonizing to stand back and watch addiction spiral out of control, but especially if rehab has been a revolving door, sobriety lost and found countless times, there may be little you can do except to set firm rules, stop decreasing the uncomfortable consequences of maintaining a habit, and express your unwavering love and your hope that your son or daughter can and will get clean and sober.

6. If your child has ongoing financial problems, don't automatically run to the rescue. Financial discussions, trouble-shooting and help in planning can be better than constantly funneling money in your adult child's direction.

One friend, who is far from rich, confided recently that she and her husband forgave $50,000 worth of "loans" to their middle-aged son and that soon thereafter, he was back asking for more money, including ongoing help with monthly bills. He is 48 years old and has never been unemployed. He simply aspires to live a lifestyle beyond what is available to him on his salary. Finally, when he became angry at his mother's refusal to pay his escalating cell phone bills, she told him that her checkbook was closed.

Another friend, whose middle-aged son was hinting that he'd like her to buy him a new car, said "No" firmly and with love. "You know I love you unconditionally and forever," she said. "But I can't keep bailing you out. I'm on a limited income. My savings aren't infinite and they're for me right now.  What I can do is help you think this through: to pay $2500 for a new transmission or to get a new car. Either way, it's going to be a major expense. So where can you cut back to make this affordable? Maybe you need to re-think that big vacation you were going to take this summer. Let's start with that....what can you live without to make this car expense do-able?"

7. If your child has problem finding himself career-wise, set rules and talk options: Finding one's own path can be a life-long pursuit and we can learn a great deal from work experiences, career detours, mistakes and small victories along the way.

If you are willing and able to offer your young adult child a place to live while he or she is job-hunting after graduation or after a layoff or other unpromising job start, that's terrific. But it's important that this safe haven not be without limits. What timeline seems right and fair? What rules will you set about serious job-hunting and participating in family chores? Loving support during difficult times -- and this IS a very difficult time to be just starting out in the world -- can make a big difference. But loving your child can also mean making your expectations clear: he or she must get a job. That first job may not be the job of his dreams but it is a start. He must have a plan for responsible adulthood - planning for major expenses, paying bills on time, showing up at work and in life.

Encouraging your child to get out into the world and start on this winding path to full adulthood can be a great gift.

On the other hand, sheltering him or her as your adult child waits for the perfect job opportunity can be crippling.

I once saw a family in therapy who had a son in his mid-twenties still living at home and going nowhere fast. He dabbled in, but never completed, college and dreamed of a stellar musical career. But he did little to get into the workforce and take the first steps toward making these dreams happen. Instead, he lounged in his room, dreaming his dreams, playing video games and reacting angrily when his mother, who was working three jobs to keep the household solvent, suggested that he take whatever job he could get right now in the industry or outside it, to support and build toward his dreams. The young man would snort derisively at the thought. "Why should I do gofer work or flip burgers?" he would say. "I have talent. I'm going to make it big. I don't have to work stupid starter jobs."

As I listened -- sometimes gritting my teeth -- I could hear a mixture of fear and arrogance in his words -- and I would make the observation to him and his family that continuing this endless summer of prolonged adolescence was not going to cure either condition.

And I thought, and would sometimes remind him, that many people who have gone on to enjoy success in their careers have started small -- and learned immensely from the experience.

Indeed, sometimes the starter job has built an entire career. I think about Michael Feinstein, who worked as an assistant to Ira Gershwin in his later years, and whose career as an entertainer started with his loving tributes to Gershwin music.

And my own starter job at 'TEEN Magazine, where I sorted and read mail like everyone else just beginning there, was low-paying, not an obvious journalistic plum, and an immense influence on my career for years to come. In sorting that mail, I discovered more about teenagers than I ever would have learned otherwise. In writing for this magazine that some people I knew considered impossibly frivolous, I learned much about blending substance with humor and story-telling and giving advice with a light hand. And my growing expertise at writing for this critical age group led to more than a dozen books over the years. Looking back, I'm so grateful for that modest first job that taught me so much.

If you have an adult child who is struggling to find a career direction, listening and discussing the options can be one of the best things you can do. Community colleges often have career centers offering aptitude testing -- and this may be a place to start. If your adult child has completed college, gone in a career direction that once seemed like a good idea but is now an emotional dead-end, career counseling may help. Your encouragement to consider his or her passions and how to turn these into a new career can be helpful as well.

There may be times when a passion is a high-risk career -- like one in the entertainment industry -- where a back-up job may be essential. If your child dreams of being a rock star or comedian or filmmaker, that's great. But they need to have a plan for supporting themselves while waiting for stardom to happen. Sometimes back-up and passion careers are not incongruous.

One of the best, most original comedians I've ever seen -- Don McMillan -- has an engineering degree from Stanford, worked for some years in Silicon Valley and does many of his routines using Power Point along with business and math jokes. Not only is he popular in comedy clubs and on television, but he has also built a lucrative career in doing gigs at corporate events -- and some time ago began to earn enough as a comedian to finally quit his day job as an engineer.

If your adult child has yet to develop a passion or definite direction, encourage him or her to find inspiration in any job he or she can find in this economy. We can learn a great deal from the jobs we hate as well as the jobs we love. All of these experiences can help us find the right career path. And don't under-estimate the power of your insights and advice -- even if your adult child doesn't seem receptive at the moment.

My sister Tai has always been a natural nurse --at her best when someone was ill and in distress. Our parents encouraged Tai to pursue a career in nursing. She wouldn't hear of it. It took years of working jobs she hated -- as a hotel switchboard operator, an auto body shop expeditor, numerous clerical jobs -- before she decided that our parents had been right all along, that nursing was what she was meant to do. She went back to school for a nursing degree when she was nearing forty -- while working nights as an aide in a nursing home -- and has now been an RN specializing in labor and delivery for nearly twenty years. At long last, she has work she loves -- and a wonderful feeling of making a difference.

It can be incredibly difficult, as a parent,  to watch an adult child go through rough times, but in those challenges, setbacks and disappointments, growth can happen, Think back on your own tough times and what it meant to overcome these. Loving support without rescue, listening without rushing in with a solution, encouraging your adult child to find a workable plan to overcome a difficulty...all of these are ways to nurture your adult child while encouraging him or her to find his own solutions and plans for the future and, eventually, to thrive.

59 comments:

  1. As usual, you hit the nail on the head, and laid out very doable steps for all circumstances. Allowing children to grow up and learn from their own experiences is part of parenting, and good parents always look at ways to help the child learn.

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  2. Yes- this is such sage advice. I am thankful everyday our 25 year old is ambitious and hard working and would never think of asking us for anything.

    I have some relatives, though, whose habit of indulging their kids has come back to bite them now that the kids are grown.

    I just can't fathom what causes some adults to think their parents still need to be supporting them.

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  3. I will add my amen to all that you have said. I have had more than my share of having all the situations you have written about with my children. I have not always handled the situations the best. If anything, I helped too much and too early in situations when I should have let my children figure it all out first. Being there as a support is very different from being the support. I think I did very well when they were in their teens and 20's. It seems that in their 30's I helped too much. Believe me, I now have my script well written, literally I do, so I can read it if I have to. I also have made sure they know the "Bank of Sally" is closed.

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    1. would like to know your script. Thanks for your comments.

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  4. Dear Kathy, never having been married and never having had children, this posting might not seem like something that would speak to me. But it does because I have nieces in their late forties/early fifties and seven great nieces ranging in age from nineteen to twenty-seven. Some of them have spoken to me about their lives and their decisions and dreams. I wish I'd had this posting to read before we met for lunch or had that telephone conversation. I have an immediate need within to provide the solution. At least that's how I used to be. With age has come the realization that the listening is what is important. The listening and the expressing of support and the willingness to be a cheering section. Thank you for your words of wisdom. Peace.

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  5. If only parents would listen to this great advice and quit giving in their adult children could succeed in life instead of being the bums that they are making them into! The stories I could tell you about the many mistakes my family has made recently. One in particular is a major loan on a house that was paid for when they built it. The loan taken out for their adult son. It will never be paid for again, in fact, it is in jeopardy of being lost to the bank! It probably will be foreclosed in the next few months. Sad but true!

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  6. Wise words spoken! Every day I am thankful for my girls, that they have taken to working for their money and chosen career paths that satisfy them. It brings such joy to a mother's heart to see that your kids can take care of themselves.
    If I may I's like to add to your list. Nr. 8 would be "Prayer". It helped me tremendously to pray for my child and put their lives in God's hands.

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  7. Maybe I have helped too much over the past couple of years with my adult son and his problems. I have finally come to the realization, through prayer and asking for God's guidance that I have to let him fall. I cannot give him any more money.

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    1. I am in your shoes myself. My 28 year old son has needed alot of financial support since being out on his own and it's costed me thousands. I have decided to let him figure it out from now on. I have to retire someday!

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  8. You have a very wonderful post, Kathleen. Your advices are good pointers for smart parenting, but what really got me here is your advice #6. We need not to spoil our children, and we should let them learn to earn their own money by having a job. Being a parent, it is our responsibility to feed the needs of our children; therefore, it is also our duty to let them become independent.

    Eustolia Nitta

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  9. I'M with the comment that anonymous said..."through prayer and asking fod God's guidance that I have to let him fall" Amen

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  10. I AM the child. This really gave me some perspective. Thank you.

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  11. Help, my adult daughter (age 52) is beautiful & had great career...not good financial management. She is now living with me, poor health (undiagnosed as yet), unemployeed, and broke.....GSM

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  12. I'm going through a situation now where my adult son , who is in his 4th yr of college and has yet to graduate, recently bought a car which overheated on him as he was making the 5hr trip back to school. The dealership towed his car back to their garage to inspect the problem. Meanwhile , he's back at school 5hrs away and now the dealership has his money AND his car. Now I've just found out he's been fired from his job and he wants me,his father , to handle his car affairs. Btw he is supported by financial aid for his schooling and is pretty much at a friends mercy for living arrangements. Its very hard watching your adult child trying to find their way and getting tripped up but I realize its the best thing for him to figure things out on his own. I don't know who needs prayer more...him or me!

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    1. To answer your question I believe you need more prayer than he does because you need to pray for strength to God to give him tough love. sometimes as parents is very easy to just help them out and give them the money but in the long run it's actually hurting them. if he is in school and his car is broken down there is no reason that he should not be able to workpart time if he does not do so already. I think that your solution should be to tell him "if you find a job and you start making money I will pay for your car to be fixed" -- contingent on the fact that he pay back a certain amount per week as long as he has the job,and also switch the name to the title of the car to you and your husband as the lienholder. if he quits the job then I would take the car away immediately and not give it back until he has another job then he will learn that if he works and pays for what he needs then he will have what he needs that is a way of you helping him mentally becoming a man and also helping him financially and making it where you don't feel any guilt about not just giving him the money or not helping him at all. I think that is a fair decision.

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  13. All my 5 adult children hate me and are ashamed of me by the way I dress. i have no momey. They love their grandmother but hate me. I feel like I have been shot through the heart.

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  14. I have 5 adult children ranging in ages of 38 to 23. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. They are so ashamed of me and i dont know what to to do. Even at holidays,they dont pretend to love me for even a day. They talk about how awful there dad and i are. I know that we should never have had any kids because we didnt know what we were doing. I still dont. I wish I was the parent they wanteddd. My mom and dad werent good parents either but i loved them anyway. I would give anyhing for a good relationship but no one else in my family has this problem with their kids. I am so heartroken as I would wak through fire for them.

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    1. You are not the only one feel like that, I am a single mum, my son don't like to live with me as he told me that I gave him too much stress.

      This is life, we can't change what we done, we think we do the best at that time, unfortunately it also affect our kids to feel the other way.

      I did not give up to love my son, as I hope one day, he will wake up and understand why I had to do in the pass.

      As a parent, we have no class or Worksop to learn to be perfect, we all think we done the best at that time, that is enough at that time, don't feel bad about the pass, same as me, I am keep trying for the last seven years, still trying.
      Please don't give up! One day they will wake up to you.
      My advise to you and me are the same, keep trying, doesn't matter what is their respond.

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  15. My problem is now. All the above is where we went wrong and now stuck with what do do about it? Is there help out there for our kids and us?

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  16. Our 24yr old son will not take any financial responsibility. He lies about his financial status, has a steady stream of final notices and will not even open his mail. He has just started a job on min wage, but spends the most of what he earns drinking or supporting his local football team. When I try to talk to him, he is always in a hurry to go elsewhere. I am at a loss.

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    1. I would not even try to talk to him I would play as people put it "hard to get" most people want what they can't have so if you are not available to talk to him all the time then he will more than likely come to you everyone ends up calling their mother for something they need. he will come around good luck

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  17. It is not easy as parent, harder for a single mum.
    My son want to achieve the top but lack of persistence, want to show me he is good and capable, unfortunately, the time is not come yet.

    While he is struggling to proof himself, lost focus in future, living in an unmeaning full life, confuse with the value of money, life.... As a mother, I suffer in silent to see him torture his life day after days, month after months.

    I regret so much for not direct him in a right path. But everything is too late, wish someone can teach me how to deal with it.

    Anna

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    1. Your son will find his way in his own time. Just be there for him when he wants to talk, offer your support as far as being there to listen to him and let him know how much you love him. You cannot undo the past; let him know you made mistakes, that you're only human too, but that no matter what, you are his mum and you love him unconditionally. And be gentle on yourself and don't beat yourself up; I'm sure as his mum you tried your best.

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  18. Our 41 yr old son has been suffering with severe social anxiety, depression and mood swings his whole life. He has been in therapy all his life, all the while trying to help him deal with his anxieties. His doctors say he is not ready for a job. He has many talents and he is very smart. He lives with us and we pay for all his expenses. He is very caring and helps with chores.Our financial situation is not what we thought it was going to be and we are living on social security now. We want to have a plan for his future and for him to be self sufficient. We are getting no help from the doctors in this reality and right now we can't afford to pay for the doctors. He just gets panicked and refuses to discuss the situation with us. His married sister has terrible anxiety about having to deal with his future. She doesn't think we are in reality by not forcing him to work. How do you force someone who is being treated for the many emotional problems he has?
    These episodes become explosive on both sides. We are desparate and need guidance please.
    Sincerely, Mom

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    1. I've got two children, a boy and a girl, who are twins, almost 21 years old. They both have ADD, mood disorders (bipolar and panic disorder), my son has diagnosed learning disabilities (he attended a private special ed school from 6th through 12th grades) and my daughter has, although milder, impairments that require her to get tutoring. This isn't their fault, although my husband and I failed to create an optimal environment for them at home when they were younger (he was actively alcoholic and bipolar, and my own ADD and depression made us a very volatile mix, leading to constant fighting).

      My husband, who's been sober almost 7 years thanks to AA, unfortunately subscribes to AA's philosophy of letting someone "bottom out"--i.e., fall into such bad straits they supposedly see they have no way out except sobriety. (Although he recently changed after our daughter, drunk, almost got raped.)

      However, I read an incredible article, I believe on an NAMH (national alliance for mental health?) site, which quoted studies, some by NIMH, which opposed bottoming out. When someone has a "dual diagnosis"--or co-occuring condition, meaning an addiction in addition to a psychiatric illness--often "bottoming out" can make their psychiatric condition WORSE. Also, the treatment and social agencies for mental illness versus addiction don't work well together: mental illness is based on a medical management model, often with talk therapy for the individual; whereas addiction treatment's usually provided through social service agencies, often where clients go to groups, which might be exactly the opposite of what someone with a psychiatric condition needs--especially due to the embarrassment under frequent pressure to reveal extremely personal information, due to the nature of a group.

      Thankfully, my dad, the twins' grandfather, through a very frugal lifestyle in a Midwestern state, where the cost of living is far below ours in New York City, left each child a substantial inheritance--though, thankfully, they won't get it until they're 27. So I'm not worried about their ability to survive, just whether they'll have the maturity to protect this lifesaver.

      A family therapist told us, although they’re impossible now, in a few years they may say, "I know I gave you a hard time, but I knew you cared about me."

      Both my kids would love to live on their own, but would have to work at low-paid jobs and use all their salaries for rent in New York, and probably couldn't afford safe neighborhoods. They're both struggling, with addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. I see my job as encouraging them so they won't give up on themselves. Depression and past failures are the greatest impediments to their fragile sense of motivation.

      So I don't believe in tough love (apparently an idea from the 80's that's not considered that useful anymore). My kids have had such a hard time. My son became depressed in elementary school, where ignorant teachers ridiculed him and worse; my daughter took two extra years to finish high school (it was her fifth high school), even though she's very bright, partly because she had undiagnosed panic disorder and was afraid of being scolded for missing assignments.

      I do agree that our job as parents is to provide the kind and degree of nurturing and support that our kids won't need it anymore. As a great child psychiatrist I worked for at NYU said when the kids were 18 months old, from the very first day you have to be preparing them to leave home.

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    2. PS, I forgot to say, both kids want to work, and have taken unglamorous jobs--my son as a bar back and my daughter is just starting part-time work at a restaurant close to home. I'm grateful about them having their own money (I lost my job due to age discrimination five years ago); but I'm also concerned they'll have trouble getting the "piece of paper" (i.e., degree) they need to better use their talents. I've sent many prayer requests to online groups, plus get lots of support from great child psychiatrists. and I deeply respect the comments above describing what other parents go through. Thanks very much for reading my comments.

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    3. Hi, I think your children need to get off the drugs. Drugs could be the cause of their problems. Its good that they are working. I wish you all well.

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    4. I learn as the parent: the best we can do for our Adult children is to "walk away", and stay silent. Let THEM contact you, than listen without judging , or giving unwelcome advice they won't ask. There is no day , or hour goes by I wouldn't think of my troubled 28 y.old Son, I love so much. As much a I hate to see him fail many times over accumulated debt, alcohol abuse, arrogant attitude towards others, I still believe God wants him to learn His life lessons! One thing I agree with other posters here: we should let our kids go, the sooner the better. It keeps the sanity in check. They will come around we all hope sooner than later.
      Keep praying, and stop prying.

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    5. I've been searching online for some advice as to what to do with my problem adult children. It has been relentless... Crisis after crisis. My oldest son is 46 and in jail again for the unteenth time for stupid things, always involving alcohol. So I need to be there to add money to his account and worry about him all the time, though I warn him time and time again. My second oldest daughter is 42 and doesn't ask much of me. In fact, she doesn't talk much to me because she doesn't want to hear my advice about her marriage to an unemployed alcoholic. She was addicted to Xanax so the doctor put her on Suboxone. Now she is addicted to that. Being the sole supporter of the household with 2 children, she quit her job and is about to lose her house. So I worry. My third oldest daughter committed suicide 9 years ago at the age of 31 with 5 small children. She was addicted to pain killers and her doctor put her on Prozac. My youngest son just spent 10 years in prison and is out now. He became a heroin addict while in prison and is now on Suboxone too, but he lives and breathes drug deals. I try so hard to get him on his feet and start to live a normal life, but now he is in jail again the second time since he got out of prison 5 months ago. I am a single parent wanting to retire next year, but I have given thousands of dollars to help my children and they are no better off, and I have lost all my retirement savings. I wake up during the night in a panic and I'm having horrible night mares. I'm to the point where I wish I would just die so I can get some peace.

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    6. OMG. I feel the hurt in your email. Also because I'm at the same road, but with only one instead of 4. My 24 year old has problem after problem, and school loans that I've co signed for and he's not going anymore or not paying, come back on me. He sells things in his room to get alcohol so he doesn't think about life. we live in ohio, which we call our city "little detroit" .. no public transportation, no jobs, poverty for everyone. he decided to sign up for this new college, under my protest "but mom, you wanted me to go to school" Yes, but this school is expensive and 40 minutes from the house. Oh of course he got the loans for school in his name, (i wasn't doing that again) but now in second semester, he can't get there. no car. no job. no money. no gas. guess who is stuck driving ?? me. If i don't, then i'm the one blamed that he isn't finishing school. my family says kick him out. and what? so he sleeps on my front porch? He's 24, but I think mentally he's like a 12 year old. no money. if he gets $5 for mowing a lawn, he goes right to the market and gets beer. He has qualified for medical coverage through obamacare, and his type 1 diabetes is now being controlled better, but the psychiatric docs have him on a cocktail of antidepressants and anti anxieties, yet the state doesn't recognize all the problems. I am at wit's end. I am 47 years old and I've probably easily spent $25000 since his 18th birthday fixing mistakes and bailing him out. He goes and buys a car on craigslist, but comes home with nothing but an un-notarized bill of sale. Then its a 3 week nightmare trying to track the person down to get this title transfer done. (this now has happened twice). Is he stupid? I don't know. He took his GED test in 10th grade and passed it. But he gets $4.00 in his checking account, then overdrafts and spends $4.50. OMG. I watch the fees climb and climb. the first time, I paid it right away, to stop fees climbing and it cost me $75. The second time I told him no way, and it got so high that the bank closed the account and now he's on the list. things like this cause my car insurance to increase, etc. Ok, he doesn't work? I feel that he doesn't need to be on my car insurance. Cuts my bill. But then guess what. I become his personal taxi. I can go on and on too. I have so many friends without children that say, "no way would I do it. I'd kick his butt out".... I find myself thinking the same thing as you.... At 47, maybe I'll die early so I can get out of this mess.

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    ReplyDelete
  20. My son was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, borderline bipolar while in high school. He is 23 now, has quit college and bartending. He chose to move out 2 years ago because we refused to allow pot in our house. He chose pot. He not only smokes pot, but is also "dabbing"vaporizing thc) and drinking a lot (daily). He  is renting a house and after his roommate bailed on him,  leaving extra bills, I helped him get caught up. Yes, I am an enabler. Last month he made a lot of extra money and made a point to tell me he put it in the bank to save for rent (my name is also on the acct). He also took in a roommate. His realtor called me kinda mom-to-mom to ask if there was something wrong or going on. She said the rent hadn't been paid and the house was trashed. I went there, he wouldn't let me inside. I asked if he had paid rent he said not yet. I reminded him that it was the 23rd of the month, he now also owes late fees and next month's rent. I asked what he did with his money, he said he paid bills and "stuff". This is a repetitive cycle with him. I told him we would not help him financially at all. He has a rather expensive car we gave him a few years ago that is in pieces in his garage. I plan to hire a tow truck to pick it up so we can try to salvage some of our money. He has not made an attempt to repair the car in almost 2 years.  His realtor is going to give him 3 choices; 1) pay the rent, 2) move voluntarily (and she won't report him to the credit bureau),   3) eviction.

    I am disappointed and so angry with my son. I don't know how to have a relationship with him. He is not who I thought he was. He is someone I don't know and if I met him on the street, I wouldn't like him. How do I get past the hurt? How do I nurture a relationship with him without  acknowledging his lifestyle? We have always been very close and we are a lot alike.

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    Replies
    1. I am going thru the same thing and the anger has also built up to where I truley dont know my son , He is like a stranger to me. same situation with the illness too.

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    2. I am going thru the same issue. with a son with adult mental illness, it is so draining and sad for the parents, me. I feel the same that I truley dont know who my son is any more. I am to crying for help.the system sucks. he lost a good job, lost his home all assets and can not talk to him to help him. I a few day he will be on the street.

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  21. Is your adult child in an abusive relationship with a romantic partner?

    You can help! Take 20-minute survey at: www.TakeSurveyNow.2Truth.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi everyone. I wish I can give any advice but I didnt lije dvice when I was younger.

    I dont know the answer to any of my conerns but I am getting closer to God. Actually, I am finding Him through ny own personal challenges. I ask Him evryday for love, support and guidance.

    Help me out by praying with me for His guidance. I know He will help us all. I knoe He puts on our earth people like
    Dr. Kathy McCoy to help us out iin our road.

    Thank you for reading my feefback and if you. Can help me to pray for guidance and our children every morning. I know He will listen to our prayers.

    Again, thank you.

    Kindly,

    Anonymous

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    Replies
    1. Hello can u please pray for guidance & direction for my son Paul? He is a sophomore in college but needs career direction & peace of belonging to his major. Thank u

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  23. What would you advise parents whose son not only mirrors everything you've mentioned in this post but is also abusive, a bully, disrespectful and in-your-face rebellious as well? He is 24 and while we love him, I feel the time has come to draw the line and this time, unlike the 50 other previous times, to hold it.

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  24. I have a married 46 year old son, no children, who has been having an affair for two years and my daughter-in-law thought he had broke it off awhile back but he didn't and is back with the other woman. My son tells me this is all my fault because I left his father 35 years ago and he believes he was abandoned by me because my ex and I agreed to Shared Custody. He and his brother spent time with us both every week until they couldn't stand their Dad anymore and lived with me full time in their pre-teen and teenage years until they married. How can I help him deal with this and keep my relationship with him. He won't talk to me anymore and asked me to leave him alone. I'm worried about him hurting himself. Anyone have any ideas?

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  25. Dr Mc Coy, I have a great sin very respectful at home but is strugling to find his calling in career ... He says he sometime sits in class wondering "what am I doing here" his changed his major from biology to communication this 2nd yr of college but yet feels lost in class ... He loves the entertainment business but the reality is it's super hard to get any type of job in that area... This depresses him at times & causes him to loose interest in school , how can u go upon supporting him without excessive pushing or giving him to much or solving it , I want to keep enforcing independent solving but be there for him as support as needed...

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  26. After desperately reading these posts for insight, I realize I am not alone with adult children problems. My 43 year old son, depressed, and unemployed came back home to live only because he had no other recourse. He brought with him a garden hose which he bought as had been contemplating suicide. He tried twice to further his education but neither time worked out. His skills are limited and he has said if he has to flip burgers again as he did in his teens and early twenties, he would rather die as his life is unhappy anyway and that would make it unbearable. He was diagnosed ADHD as a child and had problems in school and socially. I think he may also come under the autism spectrum with asberger syndrome too. I am retired and have enough of a nest egg to cover my expenses and his provided I (or he) doesn't end up disabled and need special care. I have health issues. However, I don't know if covering his expenses is the best way to handle his situation. I can't feel right about telling him he must leave and handle his own problems when he would be homeless and might follow thru on his thoughts of suicide. I wonder if anti depressants are really helpful when I hear so much, and read the posts indicating they aren't, nor does counselling seem to help much. He becomes very angry and paranoid when I ask him to look for a job. After losing his last job, he tried many times applying and going in for job interviews. He's come to the conclusion hiring managers do not like him and he is unhireable. The state of the economy and job availability where we live are not helpfull. What is the answer for these poor soles and their parents who worry and try to help them?

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  27. Hi Anonymous,

    I am praying for your son Paul. I hope and pray he finds his way. He seems to have the same issues my 25 year old has. He has ADHD and I was told when he was under 2 that he had a touch of autism. After years of research and no diagnosis, I was never able to obtain help for him. His is Asperger's also. Very hard to reach, mine won't call me. I will continue to pray for Paul. My son I Garrett. God bless all of us.

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  28. My daughter, is almost 19,went to an all girls private school, she was an A student. She attended the university for only 4 months, then attempted suicide from stress. We withdraw her from the university. She came home very depressed, she is seeing a doctor for the depression. Now that she is home, she completed a course in philbotamis. She now is working at the hospital for the 3rd day now. But the problem we have with her is, she does'nt want to go back to college, and after working for just three days, she is saying it's to hard and not sure if this is what she wants to do. Need advice.

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    Replies
    1. The most loving thing you can do right now is to support her emotionally through this rough time, telling her that, while this occupation may not be her ultimate career, it's important for her to learn to persist through things that are hard, to gain experience in working and earning her own money, while she thinks about what she might want to do in life. Allowing her to quit a job because it's hard will do nothing for her self-esteem. Reassure her that in any job, the first week or two are the hardest and that the job will be more manageable with time and experience. Encourage her to talk about what she might like to do ultimately and what it would take to accomplish that. It may mean going back to school --perhaps part-time while working or full-time. Perhaps she would do better going to a nearby community college for her first two years, if she chooses to go back to school. Some young people just aren't ready for the stress of living away from home at a more competitive four year university. Is it possible, too, that she found the co-ed environment a stressful adjustment after attending an all-girls high school? There are many factors involved. Is she getting therapy from her doctor or is he or she merely prescribing anti-depressants? If your daughter isn't getting therapy, doing so may help her to sort out her options and find the strength to take her tentative first steps into the adult world. Allowing her to quit and to retreat into the protection of a protracted childhood would do her no favors. It's important that individual therapy and/or family therapy could help uncover the roots of her emotional difficulties in college -- whether her own expectations of herself or the pressure of a more challenging academic environment or social factors all were factors in her suicidal depression.

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  29. My son, 38, is VERY angry with me. I have 'bailed' him out financially & emotionally time and again.
    He destroyed his marriage, multiple affairs, has a 10 year old son he hasn't seen in nearly 3 yrs and threatens suicide on a regular basis. I have chosen to continue to be a part of my grandson's life (even tho he is 2000 miles away ). This my son says, is taking sides against him. He was smoking weed regularly (claiming he has quit now). He says he is in a treatment program, although I am questioning that.
    I fear he will find out where I live. I am ashamed to say, I am afraid of my child.
    I only hope I can utilize your good advice. We both need help.

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  30. It's important to listen to that fear and to maintain your physical, emotional and financial safety while continuing to be part of your grandson's life. It should be clear now that bailing your son out repeatedly has not helped him to become a responsible adult. It's so sad that he has destroyed so many pivotal relationships, but this is due to choices he has made in his life. At 38, he is at least chronologically an adult and needs to take responsibility for his life, with professional help ideally. But only he can make the choice to reach out for such help. You need to keep yourself safe and to nurture your grandson. This isn't a matter of taking sides, but of making life-affirming choices of your own.

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  31. I am devastated for my 26 year old son. He has struggled all of his life academically due to minor learning disabilities and ADD. He finally found his passion, worked his butt off to get admitted to Nursing School. He is in his last semester and failing. NOT because he hasn't tried - he has worked SO SO SO hard, but the tests are killing him. He excels in his clinical work - but just can's seem to grasp the way they ask questions. He is devastated. I am devastated. I am trying to stay objective and help him come up with a back up plan, but unbeknowst to him I am an absoolute basket case. I can't sleep and all I do is cry. My heart is so broken for him and the horrible disappointment he is dealing with. I don't know what to do for him OR for me.

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  32. Wow! So many people going through similar problems. I have to admit I was searching for answers as a parent with a problem adult son. It's very clear to me now that the word Adult is what has been missing. I think that its not just because someone cannot afford to help out their children, but even if they can afford it, there has to be a time when that adult is responsible for their own choices. What would they do if you were not around? No one wants to witness their children fail, and yet failing is one of the greatest teachers in life. If we catch them they will never learn. You have to ask yourself when enabling. "Am I doing this for my own peace of mind or am I actually hindering my child from taking charge". You know if you are an enabler in your heart. Also, if your child is being rude and disrespectful to you, it's time to stop interacting with them. I am a grandmother and almost 70. When I was 18, I left home and have sustained myself since through some horrible times! I need to expect the same from my children and be there for emotional support only, as do the other commenters in this thread. I am proud of being self sustaining and your children will be too! Don't mistake love for dependance.

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  33. I need guidance. I have a 32 year old daughter who keeps choosing the wrong men to have relationships with and in each of these relationships she has had children with these men. She has 4 little boys to 3 different relationships. These men have been emotionally and physically abusive to her and her children; my grandchildren. I have tried getting her out of these relationships by finding another home for her; helped with buying furniture; given her money; paid bills endlessly, bought groceries on a regular basis, because I just want to see her out of these abusive relationships and for her and the children to be happy. I feel emotionally and financially drained. Nothing I do has worked. She cries in front of the children all the time and seems so unhappy but still keeps going back to these bad relationships. I feel I can't just turn my back; I love her and my grandchildren so much. But I am just so exhausted from all the dramas in her life. How do I handle this?

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  34. I am the wife of an adult child. My husband is 42 we've been together 15yrs,have 3 children. He wants to go back to college rather than work to support the family. This would be the third attempt since he's finished high school. I want to be supportive, but this honestly seems like another desperate attempt to bail out of actual adult resposibilitys.
    What should I do. If I bring up money being an issue he goes straight to his parents, which is a tremendous embarrassment to both of us,which suitingly he doesn't see. Divorce being at the forefront, but the last thing I want,I feel like I'm footing the bill for his dead weight,and he's counting on it!

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  35. I am a 64 year old parent who did retire and went back to work out of need. My 28 year old son has gotten himself into financial messes for the past nine to ten years. I have always gone to the rescue and paid. Recently, for the past year he needed a place to live; so he lived home free of charge to save money to get back on his feet. I have had to ask him to leave because he has stolen money from myself and his brother who is intellectually challenged. I have to now let him fall or succeed because of his deception. He must learn how to solve his financial problems independently.

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  36. some excellent advice. Thank you. It's heartbreaking to us to see our daughter and soninlaw being so diligent working, scrimping and never getting ahead in an expensive city like Seattle. As much as we love them both, they'd have more of a chance of a middle class life if they moved to another state or even elsewhere in WA.

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  37. My son is 33 years old, lives in a house with a female friend, her aunt, the aunts son and her cousin. He works but can't hold onto a job for a year. He went to school to become an automotive technician, was fired and now started another job. He has not paid one cent on his $10,000 school loan because he "isn't making enough money". He cannot seem to manage his money...$10 an hour. He complains how he hates living with these people and has been looking for an apartment for 3 yrs off and on. His credit is horrible, he has had 2 evictions on his record which makes it very difficult to find an apartment. My husband and I have been helping him with food and gas for work. He wants me to co-sign for an apartment, which I am reluctant to do but I feel that he would be much happier and safer moving on his own in an inexpensive studio apartment. We encourage him as much as humanly possible and want him to be successful. It is hard watching him being so unhappy. He is very capable of doing better with employment but seems to have fallen so deeply in debt. We will not have him live with us as this would be a huge mistake and he is too old and needs to stand on his own 2 feet. Gratefully, he is not using drugs and drinks only socially. We worry about him and can't seem to get through. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. First of all if he has already had two evictions on his record I would not co-sign for him you are taking a big chance. you say he needs to stand his own two feet but obviously he is not doing that you state that living with you would not allow him to do that. I totally disagree I think that if you let him move in with you and charge him a certain amount of rent then he would learn by your example the responsibility of paying bills and it will also get him away from the roommates that he does not want to be around and give him some stability after he has stayed with you for a certain amount of time and paid rent on time and also a portion of utilities then he can increase his credit make it better and get his own apartment if he still needs a cosigner but he has proved to you that he is more responsible than what he used to be then I would go ahead and consign for his own apartment but I would not do it until he has lived with you for at least one year so you can see that he is responsible. Our job as parents is not to be financially responsible for our adult children our responsibility is to teach them the best way and to help them learn-- sometimes tough love is the best love and I feel as if if he moves into a place now and youyou cosign he's going to just be evicted again so please take my advice let him live with you for a while but not rent free and see how that works out good luck to you

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  38. Thank you to all who have written and for the nuggets of ideas from Dr. Kathy McCoy. Like so many loving parents here, I am also desperate for clues, insight, answers. I thought my 24 year old college graduate son had it all together .. he had a job, a girlfriend, and an apartment. He drank and used cannabis socially, and I didn't ask enough questions when I suspected club drugs and steroids because he appeared to be successful. He'd always had a bit of anxiety and depression but had always worked through it. He became addicted to heavy drugs and lost everything - he talked about wanting to die because he hates his life. He overdosed and nearly did die. He hasn't worked in over a year and is very alone. I agreed to pay for his rent and food if he got sober or to send him away to rehab. He decided and detoxed himself and is clawing his way back. He can't get a good job yet but is working p/t at jobs he hates in the meantime. He's been sober for 5 months but is volatile and moody. I know it's normal in recovery to still be overwhelmed with emotions and I'm trying my best to just listen, and to let him vent. I need to manage my own fear that he will turn back to drugs or suicide. Dr. Kathy's comments helped me keep trying to get him into therapy - there are problems that need to be resolved under it all. His job is to keep trying, my job is to keep managing my fear. When I get really frightened, I give him expensive things to try to cheer him up, but I can't afford them. Do you recommend counseling for parents too? -- A Single Mom

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