How to detach when grandkids are involved.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by End of our rope, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. I just can't see it. Every thread of my being says fix this! I grew up with family values that were family first family always. difficult child is too old to behaving this way but she is mentally not there. Today only reinforces this for me. Is this what I teach my grandkids? Family only up to the point then you are on your own. I look at this as one should look at a child with a disability. Do you kick them to the curb for this or do you accept the disability and move on. Yes I get the point that I am susposed to make them accept their lives and I deserve mine but I can't help but think it sounds selfish.

    She is sick I don't know what label to give her malady but no mother of two does what she did today with a right mind. I know the courts will not get her the help she needs.

    Blaw blaw blaw words words words, there is no rational answer and no answer I want to hear. I have read post after post and I am no closer to understanding this. The life I wanted is over. I now have to settle for what I have. I cannot change that I have two kids who will need the next 12 years of our lives.
  2. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hello End
    My life is back on track. I have detached from my son, not in a physical way, but he no longer fills up my head throughout all my waking hours, because I have accepted his choices and accepted his lifestyle and I let him get on with it. I do not fund it or condone it, I just let him get on with it.
    I do not have any grandchildren so my situation is nowhere near as difficult as yours, but I just wanted to say that there are posts on here from parents who have found a way to live with what is.

    We can't solve your problems End, that's not what this site does, we can only share "words words words", and share experiences and offer different ways to look at our situations. Things change, we can't focus on the life we wanted and planned and have that set in stone and assume it will happen. Divorce, illness, crisis, all these things and more are part of life and come along and kick us where it hurts. We have to accept what is, and adapt, and find ways to cope. You have to find the positive.

    Isn't there any positive in that?

    I divorced at the age of 40 with grown up children, I had 'fun' for a few years, then met a man who was the single father of a baby. Now I am 52, married with a ten year old step-daughter. Definitely not what I planned, but meant to be and certainly full of positives.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, I am so sorry it has come to this, but I think that her being arrested can be a good day for you and for her.

    You mention above it is likely prescription pills. That is my son's drug of choice: opiates. He has now been in jail 8 or 9 times, several of those times for shoplifting and stealing from an employer. I've lost count.

    When they use drugs, they steal. The two go together. My difficult child has stolen from me, his dad, the neighbors, total strangers, businesses and who knows who else? That's just what I know of, which is ALWAYS the tip of the iceberg only.

    What your daughter decided to do, stealing from the people who turned her in, is 100 percent on her. The decision of what to do next has been taken out of your hands. Others are deciding now what will happen.

    Don't worry. She'll be out soon, likely in less than 60 days, depending on the value of what she stole. Let her stay there. Perhaps it will be a wake up call for her. At the very least, she will dry out, she will be out of YOUR house and she will have time to think.

    It's up to her, End. You can't do one single thing to stop her, and you already know that.

    So, End, if you can, and I know how hard it is, let it go, just for today. Focus on you and your wife. Focus on your grandkids.

    There truly is peace to be had---right now---starting today---regardless of what your daughter does or does not do.

    Do not bail her out.
    She is much safer where she is than on the street, doing whatever she does.

    Ask your wife to read this forum, and she will see the same stories over and over and over again. And End, I am so much better today than I used to be. My son, who is now 25, is homeless. Again. In this town. He wanders around the downtown area, which is about 2 miles from where I live in a 3000 square foot house by myself. He can't stay here, even for one night. For his birthday, which was last week, we didn't have the dinner here, because it is hard for me to have him leave, with nowhere to go, at the end of the evening.

    End, I am today thinking of myself much more than I am him. That may sound harsh. I love him very very much and I pray for him every day, multiple times a day, but he is making choices. There is a great deal of help out there, and it is up to him to take it or not take it.

    I just know I can't live with the insanity he brings.

    There is peace and joy and serenity and contentment for you and your wife, if you are willing to work for it. Al-Anon (go six times until you decide if it is for you) has saved my life and my sanity. It is free. It is wonderful. The people there get it. They care and they provide tremendous support. Buy the Al-Anon literature. Read it. Over and over. Go to NAMI meetings. Write a gratitude list every day. Take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Do something fun. Buy some flowers. Take a nap. Take a walk. Scrub the kitchen floor. Weed the yard. All of these things turn our attention away from our difficult child, and over time, we will learn to integrate the new ways of thinking and behaving more and more and more into our lives.

    I promise you that if you will work at it, there is a great life to be had for you and your wife, even if your daughter continues on this path.

    Warm hugs. You matter.
  4. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, one more thing. I understand your daughter had a rough start in life with her physical problems. I am sorry.

    But End, that was then and this is now. She is CHOOSING to do these things. She is not the same little girl who was sick all those years ago.

    You may still be seeing that same little precious girl that you took care of so well. She is now a grown woman. You need to start seeing that, End.

    That will help you detach with love. I used to walk around this house, looking at all of the pictures of my difficult child, the precious little red-headed freckle faced boy with chubby cheeks and a 1000-watt smile. I would look at those pictures and cry and cry and cry, thinking of that little boy on the street, homeless.

    That little boy was never on the street, homeless. The grown man that little boy has become has chosen to live on the street, to take drugs, to steal, to lie, to do all of the things he has done.

    It took me a while, End, but I have stopped seeing that little boy in my mind's eye. I now see a grown man.

    That shift in thinking has helped me a lot. I hope it can help you too, in time.
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    EOR, I'm so sorry you are hurting.

    By the time we get to this part of our journey, most of us know we can't fix our grown children. We have tried everythign and usually nothing works. Now my daughter DID quit using drugs after we made her leave, but that is the rarity because addiction is powerful. It IS a disease, but it is controllable. Many addicts quit using drugs, but only when THEY want to and nothing we do can make that happen. This forum is more about our own lives and whether or not we let them take us down with them.

    Some parents feel as if they need to parent forever. They have 60 year old abusive, lazy adult children at home that they are supporting at age 85, when they should have long before had the opportunity to enjoy this golden years. That is not how most of us want to spend our lives. It is a choice we make, to detach. The grandchildren make it harder for you, no doubt, but there are other people here with grandchildren.

    If you report your daughter when she steals and create a trail of her being unfit, it is possible you could gain custody of your grands without having to deal with your grown daughter's continuing drama. I have a mental illness. It does not give me permission to be irresponsible, mean, abusive, a thief or a drug user. I have to take control of my illness, go for appointments, take my medication as prescribed, and abstain from drinking and any illegal drugs, which I do.Your daughter is not psychotic, as in she does not understand reality. She knows that she is not behaving well and that you will rescue her. There is no incentive for her to maybe get help. Even if you withdraw, she may not get help, but YOUR life will be better...and you matter too. When we become parents, it does not mean we bail our adult men and women children out of illegal and bad behavior for the rest of our lives. At your daughter's age, she is old enough that many men and women are fighting for our country, others are in college, others work hard full time. She is choosing to remain a child.

    None of us can tell you what to do. If you want to parent her forever that is your decision. It is not something you HAVE to do. It may be something you WANT to do. But it won't cure your daughter and you and your wife may have shortened lives due to stress and the health problems that creates. What will your daughter do after you are gone? It will happen one day. Then what?

    There is no magic cure for your daughter, Rope. But there is hope and help for YOU, if you want it. You can only control yourself and how you react to those around you. You can spend every dime you have on your adult daughter and that still may not be enough. You deserve a good life in spite of your daughter's struggling. The first time somebody said that to me, I thought, "What a selfish ^*$(" but now it makes so much sense.

    "God grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I can not change,
    The Courage to change the things I can,
    And the Wisdom to know the difference."

    Good luck on your journey.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mental illness does not give you a pass on personal responsibility. My brother is schizophrenic, my sister is bi-polar, my daughter has some kind of undiagnosed conduct disorder, none of those illnesses give them the right to steal, break the law, drain another of their money and life force or be a perpetual child.

    You can decide to support your daughter in a way which offers her the choice to get help for herself, to make more of her life then she presently is by utilizing you and your wife's resources, or not, that's up to you. What I think we're all trying to say is that you can still have your own life and have it be a good one, if you learn how to detach and accept your daughter's life choices because none of us can control the life of another. We are powerless. That doesn't make us any less family oriented or any less loving towards our family members. By enabling our adult children, regardless of their mental issues, we send the message to them that we believe they are incapable of handling their own lives and give them permission to disrupt and often ruin ours. Breaking that pattern is loving them enough to let them go, It can sound cold and cruel in the beginning and there are those who cannot fathom it, however, most of us here have found that detaching is the only way for any one of us to have a sane and healthy life.

    You might want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here.

    This is hard. The hardest thing any of us has had to do.
  7. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Yes, listen to this message End. It's not selfish or cold or cruel. I couldn't fathom it at first. I thought I'd never stop crying. But when you've tried other ways and made yourself ill, it's time to try something else.
  8. I know there is no answer on page 158 of this book to sort this out. What I hear here is more that I have stopped parenting my difficult child and they can now sort through their lives on their own. Does their mental illness count differently as disability than other types. Does not the multitude of manifestations in people give room to say every case is different or do we lump everyone in one basket and expect them to respond in only one fashion.

    This is so above my pay grade but I cannot suppress my parenting instincts. Guard the cave, beat back the bears and lions. Or throw them to the lions!
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    At what age do you stop parenting then? 32? 42? 52? 62?
    I've done with my parenting. My son's grown up.
    Parenting him at 27 did him no good at all. I was doing it for myself, not him.
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  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think that instinct is very strong in parents, and perhaps even stronger for a father with a daughter. I understand that. As I've said many times, we have to fight those natural instincts to protect and nurture because we are dealing with a different situation and the old parenting rules don't apply here. That is what is so hard to digest for us, we have to step back, out of the fray and reassess.

    I don't think it is that either /or,...... help or throw them to the lions, that kind of black and white thinking is what keeps us stuck in the old patterns. What had to happen for me, is I had to begin to understand the grey area in between those thoughts. That is what is the most difficult, to understand that it isn't either support them no matter what or throw them to the wolves, there is an entire very wide opening in the middle of that thinking, and that is what we need to explore. It will put you through a lot of soul searching, as a Dad, as a man, as a parent, but it is well worth the experience to open your mind, just a little bit, to the possibility that a another way does in fact exist. You will free yourself and free your daughter from the tyranny you both presently live within. What you are doing is not healthy for either of you. That is where therapy or counseling comes in, to disrupt that either/or thinking just enough for a new possibility to be born. Otherwise, you can argue for your limitations until the cows come home and nothing will change except your level of bitterness and disappointment, that will get bigger.
  11. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    You'll always be her dad, of course, but she is a grown woman, with all of the rights and responsibilities thereof. Your daughter is not even "on the edge" of adulthood. She is a full adult and has been for some time.

    You are making a choice here, and it is yours to make, End. You are choosing to continue to parent your adult daughter. And thus, you are choosing to take on all of her "stuff" at the same time. That is what we are saying here.

    It's time to stop parenting. For most of us, way, way, way past time. Is it hard? Yes. Do our feelings say differently? Yes.

    But End, we have learned that feelings are not facts. That is a key premise of Al-Anon and one it took me a long, long time to grasp. I thought if you felt it, it must be true.

    Not so. You can feel sad and upset and anxious about your daughter, and you can choose to not react to those feelings. That takes practice and work, to stop, but it is possible.

    I used to lie awake at night and think about this. For hours. "If he has a mental illness, then is he still responsible for his behavior? If not, then I must be involved, as his mother, right?" On and on and on, I would obsess over this.

    My son is not psychotic and thus knows reality. If he were psychotic, perhaps my answer would be different: I would need to be involved.

    But he is not, and yes he has depression and anxiety, but he is still responsible for his behavior.

    All mental health professionals will tell you that straight up; that's not my response, but it is theirs.

    I know this is hard stuff to hear and to grasp, but it is healthy thinking and healthy behavior, I believe, and so very different from what our yearning hearts want us to do.

    That is why we have to work for this new way of living. And it's worth it.

    As always, take what you like, and leave the rest. Warm hugs.
  12. My daughter is not psychotic either but she is almost frozen at that 14 15 year old mentality. Maybe this is a common trait for difficult children. We went to the jail today and placed money in an account so she can make phone calls to us. Glad we did that as she has not attempted to call us today. It will be Saturday before we can see her. The tension between my wife and I is thick. In our 40 years together never have we been at such odds. 20 minutes ago she sat upright in the couch and said "What do we do if she gets out and wants to come home?" I had no answer for this.

    I know the season veterans of this board all have been there done that and are probably at this point yelling at their screens " what does he not understand". I don't understand everything!
  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    End, we aren't. We are empathetic. We know how awful this is, because yes, most of us have been there and done that.

    We know that each of us is right where we are supposed to be in our thinking, our feelings and our actions.

    And we also know that most of us---with our spouses, ex-spouses, significant others, other children, siblings, friends, extended family members---know what it is like to be at odds with each other over what to do and what not to do.

    We accept whatever you do and are here to support you, regardless. We are only offering our experience, strength and hope, and we understand that you have to do what you can live with.

    I'm sure you know that with drug addicts, their development and maturity stops when they start using drugs. My 25-year-old son is way behind in his maturity at this point.

    I am so sorry that you and your wife are at odds. This is a very hard road to walk. I hope you can be patient with her and yourself...and us! : )

    We care.
  14. Probably the most important thing anyone has said. "We understand that you have to do what you can live with"!
    Now if I can only figure out what that is.
  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Have either of you (wife and you) ever gone for ANY sort of professional help or Al-Anon meetings? Sounds like you may be trying to make all these decisions on your own. It is often very helpful to go over your problems with a stranger who is objective and not emotionally involved and can offer feedback. It sounds as if you two are still struggling like you have not received an y help at all. It is your decision, of course, but it is not easy to do this by keeping it just in the family. We (this forum) are just a bunch of laypeople. We help each other with support, but most of us have gone for outside guidance as well.
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can't imagine anyone here entertaining those thoughts EOOR. No matter how far along we get on this path, we ALWAYS recall the horror of it, the complete devastation to our lives, the fear, the sorrow, the anger, the resentment, the bitterness and the profound disappointment. It is a nightmare of epic proportions. We understand that completely. And we also understand how we can get frozen in place just not knowing what to do.

    A therapist told me once, how you do this is like eating an elephant, it's one bite at a time.

    You have a few days to get your ducks in order. If you do not want her to come home, then go in that direction. If you do not want to bail her out, then go in that direction. I think the first thing to do is to sit down with your wife and figure out exactly what it is YOU want. Not what the 'right" thing to do is, whatever that is, nor what is good for your daughter, but what it is you and your wife actually want. If you do not want her living with you, then that is your choice. If you want her to live with you with strict boundaries, then go there. This jail time may give you the opportunity to get clear on what your priorities are, what it is you can live with, what it is you can realistically do and what you cannot do. You mentioned there is a Dad somewhere, perhaps he might be brought in.

    Perhaps you can get in touch with someone who can counsel you through this. You mentioned you were in contact with NAMI. Perhaps make a call and see if you can talk to someone there, or if they can recommend you to someone who might be able to offer you some viable options, given your particular circumstances.

    Where you are now is completely overwhelming. It is a terrible place to be. Every one of us has been in a similar place, it is a desperate place. Try not to make choices out of fear. Try to look at it with a bit of distance, without doing anything right this minute. Find that third party to counsel you, to help you through this. If she stays in jail for a few weeks, if you don't post bail, you will have more time to figure it out.

    And, as far as the children are concerned, just so you know, as my granddaughter grew up and realized who her mother really is, she was way ahead of me in thinking we needed to detach from her mother. She could see that long before I could. Children are resilient. If they have you and your wife loving them and a safe place to be, they will ultimately be okay. My granddaughter lived through some terrible things, and with therapy and love and a lot of support and guidance, she is doing very well. The kids will be okay. Not to say this isn't hard on them, it is. But, it's you and your wife that need support and guidance. You will be more able to provide a positive and loving environment if YOUR needs are met and you are feeling peaceful within yourselves. You've been through hell and it may be that this jail issue came at a time which can open the doors for some positive action to take place. Sometimes these dramatic events lead us to a new path.

    Take this opportunity to really think through what you want to happen, what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do. Get some support. Explore options. Talk to your wife.

    I did that for years. And, after 2 years of intense therapy and listening to therapist after therapist say the same thing over and over, just as COM said, unless your daughter is psychotic, she is responsible for her behavior.

    It takes a long time to come to a place where we can let go of parenting and trying to fix our adult kids. A long time. As I did that with my own daughter, similar to your daughter, interestingly, she began to grow a different life. It's still pretty new so I can't say that that is how it ended, but it is already so amazingly different, that I marvel at it. My daughter who has been in jail 4 times, been homeless, made remarkably poor choices over and over and over, has a place to live, a job as a bookkeeper, is paying her one is more surprised then me. But, none of that happened while I was paying for everything, giving her everything and taking care of everything. As I let go of all of that, she let go of asking me. Was it easy? NO, it was the hardest thing I have ever, ever done. EVER. I had to say no. I had to walk away. I did that with a shattered heart and many, many tears. I didn't think I would survive it. I didn't think I would be able to breathe. But I had a lot of support and I believed what the experts were telling me, so I did what they suggested. And, it worked. I don't think it works all the time with every kid, but what does work is that YOU feel better after awhile as you get off the crazy merry-go-round our kids live on. Once you get off, you can learn to make better choices. But those choices aren't available while you're still on that merry-go-round.

    Most of us change the patterning when we become sick and tired and exhausted with the way things are going and we see absolutely no evidence that what we have been doing has made any difference at all. If you feel there has been some improvements, some movement in a positive direction, then proceed in the direction you are going in. If you haven't seen any changes, then you may want to consider the definition of insanity, which is "doing the same thing and expecting different results." If you are in the latter category, then it may be time to make a different choice.

    The choice often is to detach from the drama our adult kids bring to us. We refrain from our relentless stepping in. We stop giving money. We stop offering help. We just stop. Not bailing your daughter out could be a step in the right direction. She will be responsible for her behavior and her choices and you will have time to think about what it is you want. Getting professional support during this time could lead you to a very different experience. It is all up to you. No one here knows what is best for you. All we can do is offer what we believe is going to work because it worked for us.

    Keep posting, it helps to get it out. There are many wise characters around here who can offer a hand and an ear.
  17. Recovering, your words are clearly born from this experience at your own level. When I share this with my wife we are both taken aback and find it hard to find solace in such descriptions of what is ultimately in front of us. By that I mean the graphic and real language that describes all that has been shared with us by so many. Yes there is so much more comfort in everyone's advice but the reality that is descending upon us is truly the most horrific thing we have faced in our 40 years. Such unknowns still in the shadows yet to be exposed and cause even more hurt.

    We are trying to put on happy faces for the kids but this is so hard. This is still just us trying to sort all of this out and without any support at hand we are still bouncing around. Oh and by the way we still have our own lives, we still have our own commitments to fulfill which are now in jeopardy. What ever support we can find is still unknown.

    We have to wait until Saturday before we can see our daughter and judge what kind of impact this has had. We have yet to even talk to her because we had to register at the jail and setup an account so she can have money to call. Our family attorney has advised us that if we bail her out it will also indicate to the court system that we are a responsible party and they will expect us to provide legal counsel. So our decision is still to not bail her out at this time.

    We met with the kids father tonight and had an opening dialog about what is ahead of us. Cordial conversation but his own failings and lack of support does not give me a lot of hope.

    I think it is important to note that for the last 8 months things have been much improved. We have controlled the situation with clear boundaries. Their have been what I would call minor bumps but nothing like what just happened. Yes the same old that's not good enough or life's not fair and the the usual complaints They have been able to have the whole upstairs to themselves and didn't even have to interact with us if they didn't want to. The last 8 weeks we have seen her retreat more and more from us. Only interacting when she had to. The whole weekend before this blew up in or face was the worst I had seen her since they moved back. She was out with friends the whole weekend calling several times for money and gas for her car which we didn't give. I know those with experience on this board recognize this behavior but we are still learning.
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, I was attempting to give you an overall well as the recognition that saying NO to our kids when they are in jail, or in what appears to us to be peril, brought about by their own choices, we parents suffer the agonies of the damned. It's mainly because we feel we SHOULD by all reason be stepping in to save them.

    By saying no to bailing your daughter out, you are changing an old pattern. Generally speaking, our kids respond badly to this. Usually we become victims of their anger. It can get pretty ugly. When you see her on Saturday, if she follows the general pattern, she will do whatever it takes in manipulation to get you to get her out of there. If you choose to stay the course, be prepared for that. It isn't easy on us to face that and continue with our resolve to set boundaries. You have to remember that SHE broke the law.

    I can't be certain, of course, but, again, generally speaking when our kids steal it is usually having to do with drugs. While in jail, there will likely be programs for her to attend around addiction and recovery. You might check on that. She could avail herself to those programs. Once she is out, if she is living with you, it's more then likely she will not follow up on any treatment without that being a condition of living with you. You might give that some thought too. Those boundaries would have to be stringent, substance abusers are very cagey and manipulative and unless they are ready, recovery does not show up as a good idea to them and they do whatever it takes to get out of changing.

    Even though it feels horrible to both of you, you are moving though this. You've gone to the jail to find out info, talked to the father, talked to an attorney and are now walking through it with more information. You're doing what we all do, taking this one step at a time. We do that until we arrive somewhere else and then we can learn that new territory. It is a process. You're doing well even though it doesn't feel like it.

    It sounds as if the last 8 weeks have something to do with drugs. The behavior you mentioned points in that direction. Which is another reason to allow her to remain where she is to get her clean. Perhaps your attorney may be able to find out what the drug/alcohol programs are in the jail. Allowing her to face the very real consequences of her behavior is often very very hard on us, but it is the only way she will learn anything important. And, perhaps get help with her addiction.

    That attitude your describe about things not being good enough, life isn't fair and the constant requests for money are earmarks of our troubled kids and unfortunately, by giving them money and providing them with a home and offering them so much help, that attitude grows worse, not better. It is the result of our own enabling them and their infantile approach to life. They do not get better until they begin to learn the consequences of their behavior and are forced into acting like an adult. That is the part that is so hard on us because we are used to and want to continue to step in and save them. Fighting that urge is remarkably difficult. I think for a Dad, you would be fighting the role of protector/provider in addition to all the other roles we have to let go of when our kids go off the rails.

    I understand how hard this is. I lived it too. But, if you think through each step, make choices around not enabling her, get as much support as you can find, (read some books on addiction, go to an Al Anon meeting , that will provide you with support), do exactly what you are doing, get as much information as you can, you will move through and start to feel better. It is a process. It takes time. You're changing a very old pattern of being fully responsible for an adult who sounds as if she has no skill set in being an adult. You all have to learn a new way. It's tough, but it is doable. This may be the point at which everything changes for you.
  19. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, although it doesn't work."
  20. Well we got our first extended call today from our daughter. She was contrite and desperate begging us to get her out of there. We tried to explain that she has finally done something we cannot fix and that this is hers to fix. She is there because of the decisions she made not because of something we did. We told her to ask for a public defender and start from there.
    Oh the promises she is willing to make to us if we can just get her out. Promises we know she will break if given the chance.