He's been kicked out of the shelter

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Lil, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    I wonder if this will help you Lil......I used to do that a lot myself, and just didn't understand why all of my nuggets of wisdom and sage advice was met with resentment or just plain ignored. There was even one weekend early on, when he panicked about being way behind in a self-paced online college class and therefore on the verge of failing it (and once again wasting MY money), I spent the whole weekend helping him race through the chapters of his book helping him look up answers on the online quizzes. When we were finished, instead of a hug and a thank-you, I got a very sarcastic "Thanks for doing my homework for me, mom." I was so hurt. I just couldn't understand it. Later, from other things he told me and things that I read, I had the lightbulb moment.

    When we do things for them that they should do for themselves, and when we constantly remind them to do simple things that they should remember themselves, like leave for work early when it rains (or because you just moved farther away), get to work on time, pay your rent, take an umbrella, etc., it sounds to them like "tie your shoes, don't forget your lunch (or your lunch money), do your homework, wear a jacket" etc, from when they were in elementary school, and it therefore sounds to them like a HUGE vote of "no-confidence". It hurts their ego, tells them that you don't really think that they can do anything on their own, and actually hurts their chances of success. They may start to agree with you in their minds and also think they can't, therefore over-relying on you and continuing to call you first when they have a problem instead of first trying to figure out a solution for themselves.

    We'd be better off just being a cheerleader (I know you can do this, you're a smart guy, you'll figure it out, etc) and keeping the constant advice to ourselves. They'll figure it out after a few "ouchies", like when the electricity is turned off because they didn't pay the bill and they have to take a cold shower....things like that. We just would prefer they not have to learn that the hard way. It seems to be so unnecessary. But unfortunately they often do.

    We try to continue to prop them up, Ike running after a toddler who's just learning to walk, moving furniture out of the way so they don't fall, telling them to "watch out", "be careful", "don't hit your head". It makes them think that you think that they aren't competent or are still a baby.

    Now the conversations go more like this:

    Him: "Mom, I got written up at work today because I was late (because ya da ya da.....fill in something here that wasn't his fault of course, and/or something he hopes that I will volunteer to fix for him)."
    Me: "Oh bummer. So what do you think you can do to make sure you get to work on time? I'm sure you can figure something out."

    Him: "Mom, it's freezing cold today."
    Me: "Yes it is, isn't it?" (Not "so don't forget to wear a coat", or "do you need gloves?" Because I changed my assumption to be that he is smart enough to figure that stuff out if I allow him the space to do so)

    If we allow them the space to get to work on time without being reminded to, or assisted to, it actually builds their confidence over time that they can actually be an adult and figure this stuff out on their own. But that can never happen if we don't back up and let them do it.

    If we think about it from that standpoint, I think we would all prefer our difficult child to think, "Wow, look at me, I'm actually doing this. I got to work on time even though it was cold and raining. I can do hard things." Instead of thinking, "Wow, thank God my mom reminded me to get to work on time. I would be lost without her," or "Thank God my mom told me to use my umbrella. I'm so stupid that I would have caught pneumonia and died if it weren't for her parental wisdom."

    Of course some of that was tongue-in-cheek, but you get the point. :)
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  2. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    All that being said, Lil, if you still can't yet help yourself from supporting in that way, what do you think about this possible slight shift: instead of reminding him to save his last paycheck in January so he can pay his rent in February, asking him "so what do you think you need to do in January to make sure you can pay February's rent?" Not that he has to have an answer right away, but puts HIS question/problem in HIS mind and lets HIM figure it out. If he wants suggestions or ideas, he can ASK you for advice. Otherwise, you give him the vote of confidence and allows him to develop his own problem solving skills.

    Just a thought, based on my own experience in this nightmare we find ourselves in. Hope I haven't exceeded my "advice allotment" for the day, lol.
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I too am a nag. I caught myself doing the nag thing with my easy child daughter. She gave me such a look and let me know in no uncertain terms that she was a grown woman, paid her own bills, and way past needing a "mommy". Then she laughed and said that I must miss having difficult child around to nag.

    Nagging difficult child never worked. He just digs his heels in and becomes more of a PITA.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Actually, I don't think nagging works, period. It doesn't work with PCs either all the time. Jumper, who is a good kid but by no means a wimp, will say, "Mom, duh! I'm not ten. I know."

    Ironically, I have learned how to be nagged and I don't like it either...lol. Sonic, my autistic son, never forgets ANYTHNG and knows I'm a tad...spacy (That wasn't my nickname in high school for nuttin). He will call me and say, "Mom, remember you have to get out here for a meeting at 1:00 today." "Mom, remember to bring me my form." "Mom, remember...."
  5. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    I've tried this tactic with our son. Quothe the Raven, Nevermore! I understand that it depends on the person but every time I've tried this with him he pretty much immediately blows up about it.
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    For me, the hardest thing about detaching is detaching from my own emotions.

    The only way I was even able to confront difficult child son about verbally abusive behaviors was because I had come to understand, here on the site, that sending our children messages of "You were raised better." and "I expect more." are healthier messages to send than "You are so messed up. I will fix it only one more time."

    Justify and repeat ad nauseum.

    Once I could see how crude and hurtful those patterns we'd fallen into through enabling were, I could begin, slow and tiny steps at first, the process of detaching. I could begin detaching from the emotions surrounding my despair over the pain in the lives of my grown children; could begin detaching from the emotional maelstrom of not having changed the generational patterns for my family of origin; could see and begin to detach from the stranglehold of emotion surrounding my conviction that I had somehow failed my kids and myself or this would not have happened.

    It's really hard.

    Gently, as someone who has fallen down on all this a million times...if you can see it differently, you will free yourself and your son. If you could see how you see it, and change that way of seeing, then something else could change and a new pattern could emerge. If you could see it not that he will fail and you will never help again and boy, gird your loins Jabber because we are never going to be trapped like this again, what would that other way of seeing look like?

    How does that old Chinese saying go? The one about when you are caught, like a fish in a net, your task is to find the opening and get free. You may not get free. But to devote your energies to anything but searching for that one open place is how you stay trapped.

    Look for the alternatives in the conclusions you draw about what you see.

    You could see that you have chosen a course regarding how to help this recalcitrant son of yours learn to choose a better path for his life.

    That is what you want.

    A better life for your coming-into-manhood son.

    Nothing else matters.

    How do we hold that goal paramount?

    We change the way we talk to ourselves.

    Could you see: It was cold. I purchased freedom from suffering for myself by providing shelter for my foolish, recalcitrant, rebellious child. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing is immaterial. I relish that I could do this. I luxuriate in my good fortune, that I was able to purchase shelter for my recalcitrant child. I am fortunate, I am grateful. I will take my mate to dinner and celebrate the stars and I will discipline my mind not to think of my recalcitrant child.

    I will change the way I see both him and myself.

    I will do my best, every time I see or speak to him and then I will let go.

    Recovering Enabler told me once that we know we are enabling when we resent the help we've offered. I found that to be a valid assessment. It gets to be about balancing between terror that the child will die and resentment over the time, over the hours and hours of enslavement to the simplest aspects of his life, to the things he will not do for himself because these things are not important to him.

    So...who is enslaving whom, here?


    My father told me once, about difficult child son: "It is hard to know whether we have done the right things as parents until it is too late to do something else. Looking back on my life, knowing that I spent the time I had working, always working, always being responsible...who is to say that any one of us is wrong, that someone is squandering his life? Know this: If difficult child wasn't doing what he wanted, he would be doing something else. That doesn't mean you have to pay for it."

    I haven't been able to capture the feel of that conversation with my father. But it was the beginning of healing for me. It stopped the desperate spiral of guilt and shame and terror.

    "If he did not want to do what he is doing, he would do something else."

    The same is true for you. Or for me.

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  7. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Wow. Just wow. That really blew my mind. Home run. I was feeling like this CONSTANTLY. A real true blue daily struggle. Every time I would help her aka enable her, I would immediately resent it and I do mean immediately. I can't thank RE enough for putting those feelings into words and for you Cedar to repeat them. Very wise words for sure.
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  8. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    My son, in a moment of clarity, said as much.

    Me: " Don't you want a good job so that you can live a good life? "

    Him: " I am not you. I like my life."

    This was a conversation right before he got locked up for choosing to hang out rather than going to his probation office. He had the opportunity to get out of jail this month. It meant that he would be on probation until August. He chose to stay in juvie prison. His reason......Doesn't matter. It really is his life.
  9. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Actually, I think we do this in large part. When he got kicked out of the shelter, we did our level best to get him to see that it wasn't anyone else's fault and, more importantly, that he had to figure out what to do because no matter the reason he got kicked out, the situation was what it was.

    That's pretty much exactly how I'm trying to look at this. I told Jabber, I want this to be like when he had his student loans and was in "college". He was living his own life and we didn't get phone calls constantly about his problems. I would sent a text once every week or two asking if he was okay. He'd say he was. Life went on.

    Last night at 9 Jabber made a remark about how the night had gotten away from us. I said, "I'm just glad it's 9 and we haven't gotten a phone call. Won't it be nice when we stop expecting a phone call?"

    I like this. And really, I don't see the apartment as enabling. I don't resent it. Yes, he should have planned better while he was at the shelter. Yes, he should not have gotten kicked out of the shelter. But regardless, he was in a situation that he could not get out of by himself and still keep his job. His choice...his only choice...was to quit so he could cold-cot at the shelter.

    Now, buying food again, paying any other bills, etc., that would be different and we're not doing that. At this point he has everything he needs to succeed. All we can do is hope he does. If not? Well, that's June. :unsure:
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've read along with you guys Lil and you've effectively written an excellent chapter in the stages of letting go of a young adult difficult child. You've done all the right things in my opinion, ladened with our parental desires to support and nurture. You've given him a really good chance to prove himself and you've informed him of your boundaries. I really think that's as good as it gets. Much of it we do for our own peace of mind, but that's part of it too.

    There isn't a straight and narrow road which always works, it's the insane push and pull and back and forth that is so exhausting because we have to walk through it, we can't just leap ahead. June will be here fast enough and in the meantime, you'll continue learning and growing and figuring out the next step as it presents itself.

    You and Jabber have gone through a lot, I hope you can rest a little now while he is safe and sound and resume as normal a reality as possible. You guys deserve some fun and some rest.
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  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Very powerful statement!! So much truth.
  12. GuideMe

    GuideMe Active Member

    Just to go back to the enabling part and this is for myself as much as it is for you Lil. Maybe we can compromise with our enabling and wanting to helicopter parent them. Maybe we should start off in baby steps. I am going to do this for myself actually no matter what. Maybe, just maybe, we don't over parent them, don't worry if they got everything in order and let them fall, BUT....when they fall, they will come to us for help (for sure our phones will be ringing) and maybe we can help them in a HEALTHY way and that will scratch our itch to want to jump in every time to save them. The most important thing in this scenario is to know what kind of help to give when they come to us. That art will have to be prepared, practiced and perfected by the time difficult child comes to us for rescue. The kind of help that I am thinking of is guiding them and offering a helping hand, but not too much. The ultimate goal is to one day, stop rescuing them from their own bad decisions but teaching them in the process not to make them. Maybe this will be a good temporary solution with futuristic goal in mind.

    Man, I don't know if this made sense. But I tried! LOL.

    One thing that sticks out in my head that I read on this forum is "If we are more upset about a situation that difficult child is in than he/she is, than that' a clear sign we need to retreat" Was retreat the word? I can't remember. But it went something like that.
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  13. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    It's a blessing you are both 'there' for each other - this can tear a relationship apart.
    (((hugs and a peaceful day)))
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  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    The apartment is not enabling.

    The apartment is a choice you made between suffering over a child living on the streets in winter or dealing with the situation in a way that made it possible for you to look in the mirror ~ or into the eyes of your mate ~ and respect the person looking back at you.

    There is nothing easy about any of this.

    I would have done what you did.

    I have done it.

    These are our children.

    I am happy for the moms here who are able to celebrate their lives with impunity whether their children are homeless or not.

    I could not do that.

    I did not do that.

    I suffered, and broke.

    I am broken, today. I am trying to nurture or to stand up or to "lean in." But there are real consequences to the choices we make. If the worst thing happens, we do not get a do over.

    I learned that when difficult child daughter was beat. She has healed so well! But in the beginning, the prognosis was very bad. We had been through so much with her, had been through so many ugly, unbelievable things. So we made our choices.

    And something very bad happened.

    Something that would not have happened had we made a different choice.

    Everything about this is very real. Every choice we make is vitally important. But there is no way to know whether we are doing this right. There is no way to know whether we are thinking about this in the best way.

    So we do our best.

    And like Maya Angelou says, when we know better, we do better.

    I find (and I am still here, still learning, still doing the best I know too) that changing the suffering inherent in what is happening to our families, to our self concepts, to our intentions for our futures ~ all this happens in small, tentative steps.

    Everything about our situations with our children is brand new to us. It never even occurred to us that this could happen and so, we flounder for a time, lost in the grief of it and in the helplessness of it. What we learn, I think, is that though we may not be able to change the nature of the choices our children present themselves with, we can change how we understand what is happening to all of us.

    That is the only place I can change anything.

    I can choose not to suffer.

    I can learn to detach from my emotions. Then, I can remind myself that I have time.

    Then, I can put my feet on the ground.

    Then, sometimes, I can stand up.

  15. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I remember those days of the needy phone calls and texts. I think if you stick to your boundaries and tell him things like, "I'm sure you'll figure it out", etc. they will decrease.

    Unfortunately for us difficult child never calls to say hello...the few times I see that he's called my heart starts pounding because it's usually some kind of crisis.
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  16. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Yup, unfortunately that's pretty much a given.
  17. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    This is excellent, and so true. Something I want to tape on my bathroom mirror!

    I think I've become better at this. I didn't text him once to remind him to dress appropriately when he goes out to work although strangely enough my husband, the non enabler did!
  18. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. It's not black or white, there are shades of grey.

    But I think the important thing is that we make boundaries that we can maintain. If our boundaries are very rigid, it's more difficult to keep them enforced, and that sends a message that says your boundaries really don't exist and can be bent and manipulated. Of course, sometimes very rigid boundaries are necessary, i.e. substance abusers, and I think professional help is tantamount to helping families in these situations.

    Given the job hours and the weather, I think you guys made a reasonable choice in getting him a cheap, no frills place to stay and stocking it with only the essentials. We did the same thing for our guy two years ago this month, but he ended up flaming out, going to the hospital and from there to rehab and sober living, where he remains. Your kid doesn't seem to have as many issues, so he may step up to the plate. Expect some setbacks as he slowly learns to depend on himself and not his parents. That's the only way he'll learn, by struggling through situations and figuring them out on his own.
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  19. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    The problem and also the perplexing thing is when a difficult child destroys the apartment and is thrown out or just leaves it. I am not saying that every single one of them do that, but many do. THEY CHOOSE THE STREETS!

    My son lived in dinky motels for a while funded by his dad. I did feel better that at least he wasn't on the street. But he did follow the hotel rules, didn't have parties, and didn't get thrown out. If he had, he WOULD have been on the streets. Then what would I have done? I have no idea.
  20. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    This place was kind of pre-destroyed, lol. Calling it a dump is an insult to dumps.

    I exaggerate, but really it was soooo filthy. The walls in the bathroom I would love to take a vat of soapy water to...ick! I mentioned all the cockroaches and the landlord said, "Yeah, but they're all dead, right?" He'd sprayed. Burn marks on the tub, on the floor. There's a reason it was $275 a month.