How to handle moving boundries

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by skittles, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. skittles

    skittles Member

    this is sort of my own random thoughts today but i think ive seen the same theme from others. Its about boundries. My daughter in law is someone who can be very helpless, has a learning disorder and anxiety problems, is afraid to take the bus alone. I thinks its a very self serving problem as it gives her an excuse to be helpless and ask for others (me) to drive her. So ive come to a point that i still drive her for groceries as shes on assisstance, so her one big monthly cheque means she does one large monthly shopping trip. The groceries literally fill my 8 seater suv with all seats flipped down to the roof. Not really reasonable to expect her to do this by bus. I also wil take my grands for doctor apptmts often. Mostly as its how i see and stay in contact with them and assure myself their medical needs are looked after. Ive stepped back from most other errands and requests from her. My dilema is that with the new baby coming who is not my grand. She has asked if i could take her to her midwife apptmt monday. I already told her previously that i expect her and her boyfriend to manage this one themselves however, she doesnt want him to take her due to their relationship deteriorating and i really have nothing to do monday. im not changing my routine at all and if i take her i get a chance to spend time with my 2 yr old grand while mom is in her apptmt. If this was a friend asking me for a favour and i had nothing better to do i would say yes, but this is a dilema because its not a healthy equal relationship between her and i, and im sending the wrong message by taking her , what to do? How do others handle flexible boundries? The real world is not so all or nothing but i find the difficult ones in my life see it as so. If i take her once she will jump on this as an excuse to expect me to always take her. Im sure others struggle with this also. These are not people who are peripherial in our lives easy to cut out entirely,(although in some cases there is no choice) In healthy relationships people can and do help each other out with no expectation that it will now be permanent or a new normal. Ive seen many posts where people have second guessed ‘did i do too much’ ‘did i not do enough’ ‘am i enabling?’ Any tips or experiences on how others handle this?
  2. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    In Al Anon they say not to do anything if the other can do it. How will they ever learn how if we are always there? We can't live forever. Then what?

    Where I live they have services for mentally slow people and you can even get rides to the grocery store. Workers will shop with you. This woman does not have to do all her shopping at one time. Telling you, I could not afford that load of groceries!!! But she gets state money. This is a consequence/perk of her having a boat load of kids. As long as you help her, it does not seem as if she is going to stop having babies anytime soon. Have you ever talked to her about having surgery to end her crazy life of bringing more and more kids that she is incapable of raising into the world? Those poor kids.

    Are there services for the poor where you live? People paid to help her? Government workers?

    Also, you deserve a life too. Are you retired? If so, are there activities that you enjoy? Grandkids are lovely but we all need time for ourselves too.

    I can only tell you my own opinion. I am very busy, plan on staying that way, and would not overly give care to kids that were not my grands. I would babysit sometimes. The car rides, not as often as you. I would direct my person to use government services. Now I did not always feel this way. We did EVERYTHING for our daughter. But we see now that this only made her more helpless and also entitled. She never grew up.

    In the end, there are no hard and fast rules, just opinions.

    Blessings and hugs. You have a good heart.
  3. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi skittles,

    This is hard because, as you said, you would do it for a friend; however, unlike doing a one-time favor for a friend, if you do this once it will somehow become your responsibility, your job. And then what—you have opened the door to being there for this baby as well as your grands.

    I think she needs to learn how to take care of her own needs, which means learning to take the bus and finding out if she is eligible for free rides for medical appts. from social services. It’s really not that difficult. Many people with disabilities take the bus on their own and get a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem from doing things like this for themselves.
    Did she just ask you to do this with little notice?
    it’s a really hard situation, but I lean toward not opening this Pandora’s box, and giving her the opportunity to figure things out for herself. She really needs to know if she can take care of this baby on her own or if she needs to put it up for adoption.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
  4. skittles

    skittles Member

    Busynmember and Applecori, my random thoughts have turned into really great personal advice from you. When I read what you’ve said it occurred to me that I’m looking for excuses to help her. My caretaking behaviour is rearing its ugly head again! Oh well we are a work in progress, I love the support on this forum!
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  5. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    In our state, if a person has a medical card, and can't get to the appointment, the insurance will arrange it and cover the expense. You might google her insurance and see if that upis an option. Then ask her to check in on it. The patient would have to do this ahead of schedule, not last minute. Ksm
  6. skittles

    skittles Member

    We are in Canada, in her case the option is Childrens Aid Society as there is a supervision order for the kids. They do have a volunteer driver service but its only available as per volunteer schedules, and of course not last minute.
  7. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    I like what the other said. If I were to compromise, I'd say that I'd be happy to watch the 2yo while she buses it to her appointment. Then she would have some of the responsibility put on herself, and you would still get to spend time with the grand.
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  8. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    What a hard situation you are in. I hate that she has that creep around and he's the father of her baby. Ugh. She's tied to him forever now.

    I have to agree with what the others have said as well. I love ChickPea's idea of you watching your grandchild so she can go to the doctor on her own. She really will never "grow up" unless you start to separate yourself more.

    I constantly ask myself if we are enabling our son so I do get it! Most times we are not but it is so good to stay aware of that!!
  9. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    I, too, like the compromise in which you take care of the two-year-old while daughter in law gets herself to and from the appointment, BUT, I can see this backfiring big time.
    The “why can’t you just take me since you have to come here to get two-year-old, anyway. It’s not even that much out of your way! Plus, I need to go by the pharmacy to get my vitamins, and I need to pick up milk, and you are going to have to bring her back to the house anyway, and, and, and, but, but, but....” and before you know it, you are driving her everywhere again, and you are de facto assuming responsibility for this new baby.

    If she misses this appointment for lack of planning, she will just have to make another next week and find a way to get to it. This will force her to step out of her comfort zone and figure out ways to help herself, and face up to the reality of her situation.

    She is a very dependent personality, and you are kinda acting as her parent, spouse, and fail-safe to keep her from facing reality (and making it so that she can continue to produce babies she can’t take care of with men who won’t support them).

    I know it’s a very difficult situation, and in reality, I would want to help, too. But, it’s better if you don’t.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I see things a bit different.

    After long experience with my son, I don't anymore think there is anything I can do that will substantially change my son's behavior or any other things about him. Which is to say, taking her, not taking her, she's going to do what she is going to do.

    That said, I do agree with the others that by your doing stuff for her, where there are available community and social resources that she can alternately use, would be damaging to her and to you too, potentially. She needs to branch out so that her support system is beyond just you. This fosters dependency, not independence, if you are her "everything."

    All of us need to grow in capacity, self-reliance and grow our support networks, whatever our capacity or situation or age.

    I agree with you here. You should feel the option to help if you choose. I do not think her expectations have anything to do with it. But I know how hard this is. When my son asks me for things over and over again, I feel pressured. I feel guilty. I get angry. Instead of maintaining a neutral, centered and stable attitude. I cave into myself. This is about me, not my son.

    What about going with her, supporting her to build her support network, through accessing available community services?
    Like this.

    If she had a support network, you would not feel obliged. Nor would you feel put upon, or guilty. I think this would be ideal for the both of you.
  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Helping and enabling is a fine line and one that is easily crossed.

    I think the others have offered some great insight. If it were me, I would have a conversation with her. I would ask her what other options she has for grocery shopping, Dr's appointment's, etc....... This will allow her to take some ownership in her life. I would let her know that I can help once in a while but cannot always be available and it's important for her to have other options in play. Tell her you worry about her and the kids and want to make sure she has other options. I always use the "you never know, I could get hit by a bus" line. Try and find out what's available in your area so you can offer some resources.
    In order to keep things good with your grands, I would not completely cut her off of help but I would start to say "I can't help you this time, maybe next time". This way you are leaving the option for future help open but also holding a boundary.
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  12. skittles

    skittles Member

    Bit of an update, i did end up taking her but I also accepted a manager position for three months of tax season at an tax prep place i work at part time. Tax season is very busy and looking at my staff availabilty I will have very little time for her. Im semi retired and find I need the extra income, Ive hesitated to accept the extra hours in past due to the time i spend helping her but i used the day out with her to let her know im accepting it this time and therefore im heavily committed for the next three months. She will have to talk to her CAS worker about help. She also is out of a place to live as of end of February. In addition while out with her she told me she had to fight with the boyfriend to go out alone with me that day, she wanted him to stay home because she needed time alone. She says he monitors her every move, who she texts, calls, wont even let her go to bathroom alone with her phone. While we were out he was texting her saying he was watching and knows shes with another guy not with me at the midwife. Very controlling. I guess he robbed a variety store with a knife some time ago, he only was sentenced to house arrest with an ankle monitor which is suppose to go on next week if she or someone in his family agrees to sign on to let him live there. CAS wont let her, they have asked for his criminal record, have not received it yet but when they do they will not allow him to stay, his father wont sign for him so im assuming the courts will incarcerate him then. So im hopeful he will be gone in a week. She will be alone with 5 kids, another on the way and no where to live and no one to help. Shes still in a dire situation but if hes gone Il breathe easier over that at least.
  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    How did she take the news, skittles?

    Her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend sounds scary! Let us know as soon as possible when they get him out of the house. That will be a relief.
  14. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    I hope that you are right that the boyfriend will be gone. Did I miss some of your posting? Is your son in the picture? How many of the children are his? Is the boyfriend the father of the coming baby?

    My daughter has had children with two abusers whom she is no longer with. She does better emotionally when she is alone, but worse financially. My experience is that whether she is with someone else or not, she has never become a responsible adult (despite being a college graduate). After rescuing her for years with only momentary gratitude and subsequent verbal abuse and no interest in my welfare, I had to stop doing for her what she must learn to do for herself. I want only the best for her and her two children but not at the expense of my own physical, financial, and emotional welfare.

    Sending positive energy your way.
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  15. skittles

    skittles Member

    she tends to ignore news she doesn’t like so she didn’t say anything, it will come to roost later when she needs me, She doesn’t make any effort to plan ahead so she will leave this till the day of a problem and then start calling and texting in a panic
  16. skittles

    skittles Member

    My Son is the father of her five children, this new boyfriend is the father of the one she is expecting. she and my son are not together and don’t talk, he gets visitation every other weekend facilitated by CAS drivers. this new boyfriend is very scary he threatened me and I reported him to CAS and he threatened the school principal who called the police and CAS. she also used to do OK financially not great but OK until he came along. Now her rent is way behind and she’s facing eviction the end of February. my son has tried to get custody of his children but the judge felt his situation was marginal at best as well. so if she’s evicted the end of February CAS will step in. it’s possible my son could get a chance at taking guardianship of two of the boys, I’m not sure CAS or or the courts will consider all five children to him, they will likely be placed in foster care. I presume temporary until she can find a suitable place. she’s always been dependent on other people to solve these problems for her but it’s just gotten too deep too fast since this new guy has gotten involved And I have been trying to step back as Like all of us here I have been way too emeshed with my sons problems over the years which got transferred to her problems since all these children came along. (sorry for the run-on sentence LOL)
  17. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Skittles, at first I thought to answer your question with "boundaries aren't flexible". Thing is, boundaries are not flexible, but what we choose to set boundaries for is. Does that make sense? The world is not black and white and I too struggled with boundaries, but what I found when I stuck to them is that they work. Our DCs (and their counterparts) need black and white, facts not thoughts and emotions.

    I recently had a conversation on the phone with my Difficult Child, alcoholic couch surfing, knock out gorgeous 41 year old daughter. I started sticking to the boundaries of no more money almost 2 years ago now. My Difficult Child has been abusive and had sent yet another outrageous text just a week before the phone call. I had not heard her voice for a year. She was sober, but made it clear she would not be later. She started manipulating. Turns out her liver biopsy did not show cirrhosis, but now she has a lump under her arm (her grandfather died at 45 from lymphoma). I was measured and kept my whits. Eventually, she asked for $100 because she needed gas to get to doctors. I kept reminding myself, don't send a confusing message. I reminded her I had sent a link on medical transport in her state. I stayed firm on no more money, period, and if that is why she called, it made me sad because I appreciated hearing her voice and having a conversation. She said no, that's not why she called, we spoke a few more minutes and then she said she had to go. That was a new one. In the past I have allowed her to keep me on a phone call for hours to do nothing but swim in a dark chaotic abyss. Boundaries work, but only if we stick to them.

    We have to ask, If we help someone once, does it mean we are committed to doing it forever? The logical answer is no. I now know I must stay firm, because I can be easily manipulated due to my past enabling. It takes a while before they get the message that this time is different.

    I hope you can find a boundary that works for you, because those are the easiest to enforce.

    Sorry it took so long to answer, we had out of town guests for a week.

    Love and light, Blindsided
  18. skittles

    skittles Member

  19. skittles

    skittles Member

    Forgive my many quote copies, Haven’t quite figured out how to do that properly yet, But your quote about staying firm because you’re easily manipulated, that is so true and I guess that’s what I need to remember. The same as our DCs not understanding that just because we’ve done something once does not mean we’re going to do it all the time, it’s just as important to understand that just because we’ve done something once means were more likely to do it again because we are so easily manipulated. Enabling relationships take two People to participate, sometimes I forget that. it’s an important thing to remember when it comes to keeping our boundaries., thankyou for that insight.
  20. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Setting strong boundaries has literally saved my sanity!
    Coming to the understanding that our children can and will manipulate us and use our love and emotions against us, is key to stop enabling.
    My son recently called my husband and they chatted for quite a while. I purposely went to shower and do other things so I would not be in the room. As much as I love my son, I quite frankly do not want to talk to him. When I knew the phone call was over I came out and asked my husband about their conversation. There was the usual, my son trying to dictate to my husband on how we should be living our lives - yes, this coming from a 38 year old who's life is out of control. My husband then went on to tell me that our son made comments about how we were such great parents. This is where the red flag went up. My son typically only wants to tell us how we were rotten parents and never there for him. (oh I could go through the laundry list of ALL the times we were not only there for him, but helped/enabled him). I say the red flag went up because this has been a pattern with my son. He will be "nice" for a while and then it happens, he wants something, usually money.
    I have been burned too many times by my son and will no longer bite at the bait of him being nice. Hooray if it's sincere! I pray and hope it is but that still does not mean I am under any obligation to help/enable him.
    Yes, boundaries have saved my sanity.