How to detach when grandkids are involved.


Active Member
By the way, My difficult child was in a psychiatric hospital for 8 days, and not knowing when she was going to come out or what they were going to do with her. I was having full blown panic attacks (ask everyone in here, they had to calm me down every single day, heck you can even read it on my profile). I thought I was going to have a heart attack because of the uncertainty, because all I wanted was for her to be out of there. Those places can be really bad (and can be just like jail, at least, in my paranoid mind it could be) and I had no idea what was going on. Luckily, I found out where she was at, was actually a really good place. She got REALLY lucky. But still, I didn't know it at the time that it was a really good place. I was scaring myself silly with all the horror stories I was reading online. Yikes, don't even want to think about it now, but figured I would post if it provided any type of comfort that you were not alone recently.

Edit: I know it sounds really stupid , that I was worrying so much, but in my mind it was really scary and frightening for me.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Well, if your wife is still monetarily supporting your daughter, if she still lives with you, I understand why you are upset. can't control your wife either. You, me and everyone else have control of only one person...ourselves.

Do you really want to throw away a 38 year marriage because you disagree about your daughter? All of us have had to make compromises to our values in some way. Don't let your daughter's actions destroy YOU. YOU matter too.


Active Member
Well, if your wife is still monetarily supporting your daughter, if she still lives with you, I understand why you are upset. can't control your wife either. You, me and everyone else have control of only one person...ourselves.
MWM, I could be completely dead wrong about this, but I think it's the other way around. I think wife is trying to detach.


Well-Known Member
I'm fuzzy on this too, GM. But she can be trying to detach yet still allowing Daughter to live there and paying her way, yet focusing on the grandkids. Or the father could feel it is his duty to support the daughter, even though she is of legal age. I am not at all clear what is going on.

Whatever it is, nobody can control another, not even a spouse. But you are right. It was not explained. Either way, seems a shame to let this destroy such a long term marriage, however I know it can be hard when two parents can not be on the same page, even when the child is older.

GM, this is to you now. Seems you and I have the same problem of getting up in the middle of the night. I kind of like to be up when almost nobody else is so still and peaceful. Then I come here, which is my sanctuary, and reflect on my own life and the lives of others who have walked my path or are walking it. This is my favorite time of my life...the darkness, the solitude, and I feel so safe :) Often, I also read a lot!!


Well-Known Member
Since reading through the original post, I have not seen any ideas on theft prevention so having dealt with it I will pitch in here. The first thing I would recommend is to get a safety deposit box. Then put in it of it anything of monetary value and important paperwork. Second, get a credit card with a very low limit on it for day to day expenses. Next, if you go to your states website, under consumer affairs, they will tell you how to inexpensively put a credit freeze to prevent identity theft, with that in place, (they give you a pin number - no monthly re-occurring charges) now keep the pin number and the higher limit card in the safety deposit box. You can still do your monthly charges going on the higher card but your difficult child will no longer have immediate access to the higher credit limit. Then get a post office box and change your credit card billings to this new address to prevent difficult child to getting a hold of the CC numbers.
I went the credit freeze route because I didn't want to be the one to "choose" if my difficult child went to jail for identity theft.
Also, if you suspect drug use, you must put an end to giving difficult child ANY money. Buy "the thing" but don't give money. Gas - NOPE - ride to grocery store - Yes.
It sounds as if you have been a good provider for your family and because of your daughter's health issues you are having a hard time not being a "good provider". She is an adult and should be treated as such. Her using you to get money doesn't effect what kind of provider you are, that is something you earned and keep the label for no matter what difficult child says or how she behaves towards you.
I differ from some on here because I do believe in "playing the game", so to speak but playing it to MY advantage when I am being invited to "play" Having said that - in your situation I wouldn't be above bribery - if you go sign up for social services i.e. housing, I will do this for you.
Another effective game maneuver for me is to lie through my teeth and say, when it comes up, we haven't got the money. We have "played" and poor-mouthed ourselves. When we have been talking and money comes up we commiserated or say oh yeah this or that big bill has just come up so we know how tough it is. We chose this way as it can be exhausting to get it through a difficult child's thick head the word NO. They just keep chipping away at you until NO becomes YES. They use control, manipulations, flattery, demeaning behavior, debasing you - whatever until they can wear you down from no to yes.
So say difficult child asks for money - right now you can say - No, Christmas is coming up and we are saving to buy the grandchildren Christmas gifts.

From reading your posts I feel you started out with a very sick young girl and have always had a lot of anxiety about her long term health so maybe, over time she has become a spoiled brat ALWAYS getting her own way and now you are trying to reverse that. I don't really know if that is something you are willing to give up just yet. (others here have given you great direction on how to get there and you are very open to trying new ways of doing things) However, you can take small steps to protect yourself from being stolen from again. In fact, notifying your family what has happened to the two of you is the first step also in protecting others from being victims of her actions. And that is a big step in just for you, calling her out on what she is - a thief that has no qualms about stealing from her own family.
Ironically my difficult child are right now in No Contact because I won't apologize for speaking the truth about how much money she stole from me and I have been told to no contact her until I am ready to apologize. Fat chance. I am not going to apologize to some for THEM stealing from me (Cray-Cray as the young people say)
It has been a while since I have been here but my difficult child continues to discover new ways to make our life a constant crisis.
First let me say that we have found a great Al-Anon group which has helped us discover new ways to cope with this torment. An incredible group of parents all gathered for the same reason and all have all too similar stories. The group concentrates on the first three steps but have recently expanded to all of the steps.

We are of course somewhat different in that our difficult child and our perfect grandchildren live with us. We are reminded every day and every hour of our personal hell. Don't ask me what step I am on as I would say that just getting past the first step is hard enough. Are we better? Well that is a yes and no answer. Some days yes and like today no. We have not seen or heard from her for over 24 hours and of course our grandkids are getting nervous. She has found yet another new boyfriend and we expect she is shacked up with him somewhere.
We have learned to react differently to her. We concentrate on the kids and always ask ourselves are we enabling? Because of the kids there are times when small allowances have to be made but no more big bailouts. We know she knows her way to jail so if that is where she ends up well that is her decision.

The holidays have of course been tough for us. Moments of joy and hours of grief. One of our new friends reminds me that my business ends at the end of my nose. Well that is a great quote but reality is that what she does and does not do impacts us everyday. Does she show up, does she have a job, can we count on her to take care of her kids? All of these things are added pressures to our own personal challenges.

One of my biggest challenges is the differences in how my wife and I react to the crazy. She is all ice and I am all fire. I remember every lie, every theft, every betrayal. She tells me that I have to let those go. I am sure I do but it is not my nature to do so. I am a problem solver by nature and by profession. The same way I analyze data I analyze every action she takes because they almost always add up to her next meltdown. Can I fix her? The answer is easy NO. The tensions between my wife and I are increasing and I am worried where that will go. You know when I look at the profiles on this site so many are divorced and separated. The same thing exists in our Al-Anon group. We are at different places right now for the first time in our 38 years of marriage and it is all because of our difficult child.

I have no hope for 2015 right now but I will wish all of you a Happy New Year!


Well-Known Member
I am so sorry you are suffering. It is hard, I know. We all know here.

However, regarding your marriage AND the extreme of your angst. Most of us did not stay together 38 years then divorce. You are unique in this.

You are not struggling only because of your difficult child. Nobody else can control us, not even our children. You and your wife are allowing your difficult child to disrupt your marriage. Some marriages grow closer in crisis. It is personal choices. You two can decide to compromise and not let your marriage fail or you can continue to disagee without compromise and your marriage can fail. Either way it is not because of your difficult child. It is because you are deciding your difficult child is worth fighting over so badly that your marriage can tank after all those years. Your difficult child has NO control over you. You have 100% control over you, but nobody else and nobody has control over you unless you allow it, which is within your control (I know that sounds a bit confusing). Got much of that from Al-Anon. You are still trying to control your grown child and her choices and that is why she is such a huge part of your life. It is not necessary. Many of us let go of grown children and let them write their own story, whatever it is. YOU CAN NOT CHANGE HER ONE BIT. YOU CAN NOT FIX HER!!!! ONLY SHE CAN FIX HERSELF.

Can you make her leave perhaps yet keep tabs on the grands?

By allowing difficult child to live with you, you are creating the drama you live with. She isn't allowing herself to live there. You are. By your own admission you give her help because of the grandkids. I am not judging. I am simply saying that there are some who will NOT help, regardless, and some who will fight their grown Peter Pans for custody of their children. Your daughter obviously is a bad influence on her kids and she probably takes them places you don't know about that you don't even WANT to know about and they are still living with her dysfunction.

All of that is because you allow her to. Again, not saying it is right or wrong to let her live there. Some of us do. Some of us don't. It is a far more peaceful life for us if they are not there. We have some parents with custody of grands. I've been on this board a long time and have read a lot of very sad stories.

At some time, you will either have to choose to have a good life in spite of your daughter or devote your entire life to the angst she causes you. You can have a dysfunctional adult child and have a great life in spite of that, although sorrow and love will always touch your heart. But many of us are doing it. How? You need to think good and hard and go for professional help and although Al-Anon is great, I never heard of a group that stops at Step 3. I would find a group that completes it. JMO. And I'd find myself and wife a good marital counselor so both of you can get on the same page with difficult child. You may not like what the counselor tells you, but he or she is an uninvolved, unemotional outsider who can see more clearly what is going on in your marriage and in your life and she probably has ideas for your grandkids that you never thought about.

Your 28 year old easy child is proably lacking in family attention because she is living life the right day and doing the right things. It happens all the time. But is it fair? This isn't a question you should answer here. It's just fodder for thought.

Unless you and your wife or just one of your CHANGE how you react to your difficult child in some profound way, she will not have any motivation to change or grow up or take any responsibility for herself. What is going on is not working. She is approaching middle age and still can't live on her own or care for her kids. That's shameful. Trust me, I have a 37 year old baby son. The only thing I can say about him is althoughe is an emotional child, he does work and take care of himself and his own child. But we would never give him money or help him out if he didn't, child or no child. We'd probably fight for custody.

What about the grandkid's father? Is he in the picture? Do you think your daughter is done making babies?

Lots to think about. No easy answers. Nothing is right or wrong. It is really in your hands...if you feel your marriage is worth saving, difficult child or not, and if you and your wife are happy or feel obligated to do the things you are doing now. You have many options, including keeping things status quo.

I hope things calm down for a while at least and that next year is a better year for your family :)
Last edited:


one day at a time
Hi EOOR, I am glad you are here with us. I understand and empathize with your horrible dilemma. What to do?

I believe you have made tremendous progress since you started posting here. The simple fact of your connection with Al-Anon is a sea change. Hearing and seeing and experiencing a new way of thinking and acting has an influence on you and your wife both. I hope you will continue going because there are many layers of the process of freeing ourselves of the desire to control people, places and things. Every time I go I hear in a new way.

Second, your daughter's situation is bound to change. I read that you said she hasn't gotten into trouble again in the past months. However, if she is an addict, as you know, it is a progressive disease. It gets worse. Something is bound to happen---a break in the status quo---even if you don't do anything different.

I have a lot of family in Oklahoma and I know their laws in many other states. It sounds like you are between a rock and a hard place legally in terms of the grandchildren. I can't know what i would do in your situation but I am sure you love your grandchildren---innocent in all of this---beyond measure and that complicates anything you consider doing in terms of setting physical boundaries with your daughter.

I think you have gotten good advice here all the way around. Continue to work on yourself, see what can be done to gain custody, if that is your wish, work on your marriage---please don't also let that be a casualty of this disease. I am sure you and your wife love each other very much and are committed to your family, and I also know that the pressure on the family that comes with this disease is tremendous. It takes so much patience to stay the course. And when it's right in your face, it's really hard.

You talk about many who are separated and divorced in Al-Anon and here. I am divorced too. I am divorced, after a 29-year marriage, because my ex-husband---father of my two sons, was an active high functioning alcoholic. His disease progressed toward the end of our marriage, as it always does, and his disease was exposed to all. Having no recovery myself and no knowledge of alcoholism and drug abuse as a primary diagnosis and mental illness, I was up in his face demanding that he stop drinking now and change his ways. Little did I know...

I began going to Al-Anon---it was a life preserver for me---and started "getting it" but stopped after 18 months when we separated. He stopped drinking, went to an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and AA seven nights a week but nothing seemed to change between us. I stayed with him a year after he stopped drinking and then I was just...done. I was so done. I am sorry I couldn't wait longer for him to mature in his recovery but it was over. That is my story of divorce. My son's drug addiction didn't surface until 5 years ago---about two years after my divorce. I knew right where to go---and I ran back to Al-Anon as fast as I could get there. This time I was ready to truly work the program and I have. I have changed and I have learned so much about acceptance. I have not forgotten the things that have happened with my ex-husband and my son but I have forgiven them. I know today that their illness has been in charge most of their lives. They are sick and always will be, with this disease, but they can recover from it, if they work every single day to do so.

I don't know, there is no easy course here. It is about us accepting the reality that is right in front of us and somehow learning to live with it. It isn't at all what we ever thought or hoped for. It just is, and it is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.

Warm hugs to you tonight. Please keep coming back. We care about you.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
She tells me that I have to let those go. I am sure I do but it is not my nature to do so. I am a problem solver by nature and by profession
I am a problem solver by nature and profession as well, EOOR. What I now know about this path you and I are on, is that you are going to have to redefine that for yourself, it may not have been in your nature to let go, but if you want to have your actual life back, you are going to have to learn how to do it. Al Anon is going to help you do it. You may want more help. I needed an ARMY of help because my inability to let go was profound and a deep part of who I was, as it is with you. Unhooking yourself from that is going to be hard, but if you want to be able to relax, enjoy, find solace and peace, have a fruitful and joyful life, you won't be able to hold on to that part of your persona. I know that sounds impossible, but it's not. I recall you having a strong protective attitude towards your daughter as well, she had health issues as a younger person as I remember and you were used to taking care of her. In my opinion, that is another facet that will have to change. Our enabling tendencies and our inability to let go are control issues, which, let's face it, many of us humans have those issues. And, when you are in your 50's and 60's it's no short order to change that about ourselves.

I looked at it like this EOOR, I could suffer endlessly over my daughter's choices, be resentful and angry at all of her behaviors, hold on to every misdeed in my rightness and feel guilty that I wasn't taking care of her after her life took such a harrowing turn when her husband killed himself...............I guess in some ways of looking at it, that's the only choice I really had..........but I just refused to be that person anymore, I refused to be dragged around by someone else's choices and bad behavior. And, I became WILLING to change, willing to do whatever it took to get myself out from under. That's what you have to do too. Just because you believe it isn't in your nature to let go, doesn't mean it isn't possible to do so, it's just going to be a bit of a challenge. You will have to develop a commitment to change. OR not. You can always continue in the direction you're going. But, as you can see, you are quite miserable.

You can make those changes EOOR. If I can make those changes, anyone can. I was the QUEEN of control, the PRINCESS of holding on. AND, to change all of that, I needed a village to set me free. One group a week wasn't going to do it for me, I had to have continual support. A 2 year long codependency group, weekly support groups, weekly therapy, 12 step groups in between, this forum, lots and lots of books, plus I amped up my health regiment of exercise, healthy, clean diet, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, herbs, you name it, I did it. WHY? I was not going to go down with the ship. I had suffered ENOUGH. I had parented enough. I had done every single thing, enough. And, I wanted OUT.

When you get to the place of a willingness to do whatever it takes to get you out from under your daughters chaotic, dramatic, insane life, that is when it will change. And, not a moment before. It is entirely up to you. And you will have to change. Because she is not. She may someday, but not now. You have to change.

EOOR, I'm sorry you find yourself back here with more struggles with your daughter. It sucks. It sucks on every single level. As a problem solver, solve this one by finding all the resources available to give you the opportunity to change, to detach, to learn to let go, to accept what you can't control and change and to find peace REGARDLESS of what your daughter is doing or not doing. You can do it.

Hang out here. We'll help you. Many of us here are former control junkies who had no idea what letting go even meant, let alone how to do it........and yet.......we're doing it.

One step, one day, one moment at a time.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
It's never easy to deal with any of the fallout from our difficult child's and with her living in your home compounds everything for you. The fact you have two grandchildren in the mix only complicates things. What a blessing that your grandchildren have you and your wife as I'm sure you offer them stability that their mother would not be able to.

I know how stressful dealing with a difficult child can be on a marriage. My husband and I had some heated arguments over the years as we didn't always see eye to eye on how to deal with our difficult child. In my case husband is the adoptive parent, my difficult child bio-father dropped out of the picture when he was 4. In dealing with our difficult child I was the one who got fed up first. Each time he would end up in jail and would want us to put money on his account I was the one who got to the point of enough is enough. It was ok the first couple of times he was in jail but then it became clear to me that he was doing nothing to try and stay out of trouble so I was done giving him money while locked up. My husband on the other hand was soft hearted and felt sorry for him and this led to those dreaded heated discussions.

husband and I were able to work through our differences. It was not always easy and we relied on our faith in God to help us.

You have to ask yourself what would happen if your marriage did not survive. What would happen to your grandchildren? Would your wife still allow difficult child to live with her?

Is it possible that your difficult child would give up custody of the kids to you and your wife?

I do hope you will be able to work through this and have your marriage be in tact. It might be very helpful to seek out a marriage counselor or if you attend church your pastor.

I wish you well in the days ahead.
I have started typing three times today and have erased and stepped away. Willing to get away from my difficult child's crazy is at the top of my list. I am not in any way trying to prolong or extend it I have two grandkids that my wife and I will not step away from. My wife will not give up on these kids no matter what.
We are at the point that going for guardianship of the kids is the only way we can insure their safety and well being. In talking to others who have done this simply showing her behavior and addiction issues would be enough. That is a big step and one we are consulting with an attorney with.

I understand that in order for me to survive this I have to change. The tenacity and problem solving skills that has made me successful professionally is killing me in my personal life. AlAnon has been helpful but it is not enough. I am so desperate for some relief from this stress. I feel the stress on me everyday and I know that it is taking its toll on my health as well as my wife's. I am trying to find some counseling outside of AlAnon but have not found anyone. On top of this I am still grieving over the loss of my parents. I took care of them for the last 3 years of their lives and I lost the both in just the last 18 months. They were my best friends. They would have been the ones to help us through all of this and without them this is just so much harder.

Those that are hanging around and helping me here I would just like to say thanks for all of the encouragement and advice.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Oh boy, losing your parents on top of now going for guardianship and a difficult child daughter.......yikes. That is SO much to deal with EOOR, no wonder you are feeling so desperate. I am so glad you are seeking professional help, keep trying, you'll find someone or someplace to go. Have you tried NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)? They have great courses for us parents with our troubled kids. They might have some roster of therapists who can help you.

I understand how it all hits at once. I took my granddaughter when she was 11, went to court and fought my only daughter for her only daughter. I got permanent guardianship easily and without an attorney, I did it myself. At the same time,my husband at the time did not want to raise any more children and left me. So in one fell swoop, I gained a child and lost a husband. I was completely bereft and having to deal with a child who was now acting out about her own circumstances while my daughter was hating me for what I had done. I didn't think I was going to make it through that time. I was desperate too. I cried all the time.

It was a devastating time. And YET, I sought out help and I developed a big willingness to change as you are doing. And, over time, everything in my life changed. Fast forward 7 years, my granddaughter is a healthy young woman in her first year of college.......I am married to the love of my life, my daughter and I are developing a healthy relationship and life in general is really good was work EOOR, I won't lie to you, it forced me to change in many ways, those control issues had to go, I had to take a look at ME and make choices to shift some things about myself in order to move in to a different zone where I could find some peace. That was my goal, to find peace of mind amidst the chaos of life. I did whatever it took for me to find a different way of being in the world, one in which I could let go of the tight grasp I had on everything. It began with my daughter and ended up with me. I was the one who did all the changing. Like that Bob Marley quote, "you don't know how strong you are until your only choice is to be strong."

I read some books like Man's Search for Meaning by Vicktor Frankel and Night by Elie Wiesel, both Concentration camp survivors, both men went through circumstances which were a living nightmare and came out having found some meaning. Those books gave me a compass. A glimpse in to how the human spirit can rise above the most devastating circumstances. I looked for those compasses everywhere, maps where humans had overcome obstacles and found their way out.

Like you, I am a problem solver. This is going to be the greatest problem you ever solved EOOR, your own self and how to get to the other side of this issue you find yourself enmeshed in. You've taken steps already, the decision to gain guardianship is a big one, once the decision is made, all the angst of what to do will diminish, you have now decided to raise the kids. I did that too, there was no other choice to keep my granddaughter safe and I believe it was the right choice.

In our professional lives we've had to be a certain way to gain success......and now at our age, we have to put aside what we learned to do and discover a different way. It can feel like a death. And, it is. It can feel like too tall an order to shift that whole 'out in the world persona' and give up all that control.......yikes, it can feel so weird........but life is different now, it requires a different skill set, one we may not have learned out there in the business world.

You have a lot of grief. The loss of your parents and the loss of retirement in the fashion you believed would happen. Now you're parenting again. There is grief in the loss of the dreams you had for your daughter and grief in the loss of the way you have to let go of parenting her now. You have been her caregiver, now it's time to let go of that role. Those are a lot of endings EOOR, in addition to having to take action now in regard to the guardianship, you have to take care of the children, find ways to reconnect with your wife and figure out how to detach emotionally and physically from your daughter. Whew.

A good therapist can help guide you through this maze. Help you to be able to express all of the feelings that go along with it. Help you make a plan of action. Going for guardianship is a huge step and I believe it is the appropriate choice. And, it is a hard one. One in which parts of your life will change dramatically and where you will have to let go of your own dreams to some extent. Geez EOOR, you have so much on your plate.

Get help. Make a plan. Find ways to reconnect with your wife. As I mentioned to you before, in the thick of it, my husband and I would take off every Saturday for a drive to the ocean, to the woods, to the city for the day. A day where we were not embroiled in parenting or worrying or figuring stuff out about my daughter. I so looked forward to those trips. We still do it too. Find a way where you can leave the "stuff," the kids, the worry, at home and have a day where you remember who you are and why you are together.

You and I have a lot in common. I very much relate to your story. And, really, EOOR, if I can make it through this crazy story, so can you. You've made great progress in choosing to go for guardianship and choosing to detach from your daughter. You're doing all the right things.............and I know it still feels like crap. It will for awhile, until you get your new sea legs in this stormy sea.

We're here EOOR. Anytime you want to talk. Hang in there, it WILL change.......stay the course......
Last edited:

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I am sorry for the loss of your parents. Hugs to you!! My mom has been gone 15 years and my dad 5 and I still miss them like crazy!!

I'm happy to hear you are consulting with an attorney to find out more about gaining guardianship of your grandchildren.

As hard as it is to go through all the chaos our difficult child's put us through one thing to hold onto is that your life a few years from now can be so much better and brighter. There was a time in my life when all I saw was the darkness because of the chaos my difficult child inflicted upon me and I didn't think I would ever get through it but I did and my life is full and really quite wonderful. This is my hope and prayer for you!!

Get help. Make a plan. Find ways to reconnect with your wife. As I mentioned to you before, in the thick of it, my husband and I would take off every Saturday for a drive to the ocean, to the woods, to the city for the day. A day where we were not embroiled in parenting or worrying or figuring stuff out about my daughter. I so looked forward to those trips. We still do it too. Find a way where you can leave the "stuff," the kids, the worry, at home and have a day where you remember who you are and why you are together.
Excellent advice here. It may take time and my seam awkward at times but really does help. My husband and I also learned that we needed to take time just for us.