Manipulative adult children

Blue Flower

New Member
My adult 40 year old child continues to manipulate me into being her chauffeur, money supply (after she has spent her money for dog clothes, color books, gel pens etc. I have paid for medication, overdue bills, expenses for moving (after eviction's) and many other things. I'm retired, have health issues and want her to grow up. Advice on how to stand up for myself?


Well-Known Member
There is no reason not to say NO. Period. Your daughter is a middle age woman whom is bossing you around as if she has the right to tell her own loving mother what to do. Would you let anyone else do that? Why can she? Are you in therapy? I am! This helps me remember to stand up for ME.

Hey, as an ex enabler I know it can be hard to say no to our kids, but I also now know that we have to. We can't live forever. What will they do then, if they are middle age now and still needing us like a child does?

We are treated only as poorly as we allow. Trust me, most of our retirement money went to my oldest child. But that is over. No more. It is up to her to thrive now or not. We deserve wonderful golden years free of being mommies to our grown kids. We earned it.

I do feel very badly for you. It is hard to say no to our kids. Often we can't see them as grown up and we have unresolved and usually unnecessary guilt. My heart hurts for you. I stood in your shoes not that long ago.

But you can't give her all your money while she spends her own like water. It's unfair to you. Even if you have to stop answering phone calls and texts, and I highly recommend therapy, you can not keep this up. It is not good for you or your daughter, who needs to grow up. She never will if you don't force it. She still may not, but that is on her then. You have to try like I have to try.

I send prayers and lots of love and support. We are here to hold you up!

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Blueflower,
Welcome and sorry for your troubles with your daughter. We have most of us, been in the spot your in, woke up one day realizing that our “helping” our adult kids got into this awful routine of them expecting more and more, to our own detriment, health issues and dwindling retirement funds.
I'm retired, have health issues and want her to grow up. Advice on how to stand up for myself?
Do you have any other children Blue? My well children helped me realize the cycle we were in with my wayward two. Is there someone you have spoken with, a therapist? Counseling helped open my eyes up a bit. Stand up for myself.
Are you safe with your daughter? Mine have addictions and can be violent. Drug use is why they have not taken responsibility and become self sustaining, the way we had wished for them while raising them.
One quote that really helps me is “What you allow, will continue.” I have also learned that overdoing for others is not healthy for them or for us. We will not be on this earth forever to rescue our adult children from their poor choices. Their feeling of entitlement and over dependence on us is not a healthy, loving relationship. It becomes very lopsided and depressing. Sometimes parents cave because it is easier than dealing with the adult sized tantrums and blaming that comes with saying no. But, love says no. Setting boundaries is a good thing. There is a limit to our resources. Our adult children should acknowledge and honor that.
I am glad you found this forum, there are so many kind people here who have been where you are at.
Keep posting and let us know how you are doing.
Be kind to yourself, you deserve to have peace of mind.


Well-Known Member
Dear Blue,

A friend helped me with the same issue. She said "No is a complete sentence".

We can say no out of love. We can say no and regain respect in ourselves and our decisions. You stand up for yourself by detaching with love. You can have a happy, healthy life and let the adult child learn. I agree with Leafy, you will not always be there, so it is doing her a kindness to let her figure it out now while you are still here. Who will provide for her when you are gone? My guess is no one.

I cut my 50 year old brother off from everything. He held a job for 2 months so far. It is the longest I can ever remember him being employed consecutively. Amazing what adults can do when they have to. She is going to feel entitled until you take your life back.

Saying no will help you stand up for yourself. Start living for YOU. When we focus on ourselves, we regain control (of us). There is a lot to be said of us minding our business. The first time someone said to me "It's not your business, mind YOUR business", I was so OFFENDED. The funny thing is that no one said it directly to me, I was reading a book that told me! It was called Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Girl, I was hot! If I ever meet Beattie, I'm gonna tell her that it was rude, but worked, lol.

When she asks for "help", put that amount in savings. You will quickly see the rewards and start planning for YOU to enjoy your retirement ( and pay for your medical bills).

Take baby steps. Say no, then Ruuuunnnn.




Well-Known Member
Have you read the article on detachment? You can find it by clicking on the Parent Emeritus Forum. Then, in the top 4 postings you can find a brilliant article on detachment. It should be required reading for all parents. I started reading it every day...just to remind myself I wasn't responsible for my child. I have lines in the sand...what I can help with and what I will no longer do.

I apologized to my daughter for doing things for her that she can do for herself. And for being resentful towards her because she wasn't doing what I wanted her to do. She is in charge of her life, not me.

Good luck, its hard to detangle our lives from our child, no matter how old they are. Ksm


Face the Sun
Welcome, Blue. My Difficult Child is 41, my husband and I are living on our retirement. I too have chronic health issues. I too gave way more money than I ever should have. It had to stop. The many books, in my signature line have helped me understand so much, but coming here, finding this wonderful group of supportive people has been the bedrock for setting boundaries and sticking to them. Yes, read the article on detachment. I refer to it often to see where I am growing. The only thing we can change is us. I am learning to approach all interactions with my Difficult Child from a non emotional, common sense place. That's where detachment comes in. I cant completely detach, but I can emotionally and that is my sanity protection.

Love and light, Celeste

Found link on detachment.
Article on Detachment


Well-Known Member
You've already gotten good advice. I'd add to that to expect to feel uncomfortable or guilty when you set boundaries. Entitled and unhealthy people don't like boundaries; they want to keep you in the FOG of fear, obligation, and guilt. They will up the ante to see what it will take to get you to give in.

It's getting easier for me to set healthy boundaries, but that doesn't mean that it still doesn't hurt to see the choices my difficult adult children make. I still worry and feel sad often. One thing I've learned, for whatever reason, is that they don't really care about the consequences of their choices and requests on me.

I am retired, getting older, and on a limited income. I focus on self-care and making choices that are financially, emotionally, and phsically healthy for me.
With the support of people of this site, therapy, 12 step, etc. I am sure you can begin to take your life back.


Well-Known Member
Hello and welcome. I'm sorry you dealing with this, but glad you're here getting great advice from everyone. Welcome.


Well-Known Member
Does your adult child work?
Our child is unwell and has extreme problems budgeting and planning.
We help her budget and gift her with needed items for holidays etc.
If something extreme happens that is unexpected, we might help her. Like transportation to attend a funeral.
We try to be somewhat helpful, but have boundaries all over the place and let her suffer the consequences of very bad choices. There is only so much we can or should do.
If she spends every Penney of her food money , for example, even with me giving her laundry detergent etc. store gift certificates for holidays etc. well...I can no longer help. It’s clear she has made inappropriate choices in her spending. And she has ended up at food banks etc. I no longer care. So be it. I hope it teaches her something. I’m not sure. BUT...I have to draw the line somewhere. Again, boundaries and logical consequences. And I pray they help her “figure” it out.
I use to say that if I’ve helped a little and that help did nothing be it. No guilt here. Since she is unwell...I am willing to help somewhat. She needs to take the ball and run with it. Be grateful. Move forward as best she can. I too have health problems and have hit a “certain age.” I get it.


Well-Known Member
Dear Blue,
You owe it to yourself to be only self-supporting, being responsible for your finances

Your daughter must learn to handle her own financial obligations .She will not learn how to do that as long as you help her. You won't be around forever and your daughter has to be able to survive on her own. So the sooner you stop, the sooner she will learn .You are actively contributing to her inability to take care of herself, so look at saying no as something you will do for her as well.

I would offer to help with making a budget or teaching how to handle bills etc IF adult child wishes to learn from you and IF you feel comfortable in that role . Otherwise, there are local programs , colleges etc where your daughter can learn what she has failed to learn up to this point .

Blue Flower

New Member
Thank you to all that have responded. I'm very grateful for the excellent advice & support! I didn't respond right away because I had a sleep study done. One thing I don't get much sleep during a sleep study :sleeping:. I'm stronger in my resolve to live for me. I'm a good person and deserve to have peace, keep my resources for my life enrichment. I do have two other grown daughters and they are not like their sister. I can't thank all of you enough, will be posting more in the future.


Well-Known Member
Blue Flower, welcome to the site. I sympathize and empathize with you, both. You've gotten good advice already, but I just wanted to welcome you and say you will find good advice and caring here. I know I have.


New Member
Well this tough love approach may be fine for those in different faiths than Christianity, but for Christians we have instructions in the Bible that says not helping someone in our own household is being worse than someone not in the faith, and albeit a sin. Our values are different and are based on putting others first, loving as ourselves, and giving your own cloak. Therapists opinions not important for the measure is the mind of Christ. Just sharing a cultural clash. 1 Timothy 5: 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
From that reference point, I find this me-me attitude troubling. Sometimes people can't survive without helps of others, not everyone suddenly can work for him or herself. I have seen homeless dead on the street, dysfunctional persons. Betty Eadie was an author who shared decades back of having NDE. She came back with the message that what we do ripples out in the world; if we love that love ripples out, we feels the positivity our sacrifice has, how far it goes - if we reject, that rejection also ripples out and has negative impact. Outside of religion there are cultures that support family never consider cutting them off. Multi-generations live in the same households or nearby.
Sure you can condition yourself to this me viewpoint and turn off conscience, but that doesn't necessarily mean that peace mean you made the right choice. Setting boundaries to a point is part of Christianity, that is where faith-based counseling comes in, and family who is dangerous and does not respond, can bear the consequence of that sin, and be exiled. But family members who are just not competent to take care of themselves, getting more common with the outrageous inflation, that incompetence is never grounds to not help if able. Just sharing another perspective.


Well-Known Member
Even if you can afford to support two households, I don’t think God intended for my grandparents to help freeloaders for four decades. Some people don’t think it’s necessary to work because they know certain family members are travel agents for guilt trips. Even the Bible says people should work to earn a living. It’s hard for me to understand people who have no motivation or goals in life. Example: “We don’t have grocery money because I overspent and don’t work.” So, grandma opens the checkbook, thinking she will straighten them out once and for all if she pays off all their bills. Then they will have a fresh start and be more responsible in the future. Sadly, grandma was wrong because this same scenario repeated itself for forty years.


New Member
From the book Boundaries which is based on Christian principles.

"Gal 6:7 a man reaps reaps what he sows." If we study, we will reap good grades. If we go to work, we will get a paycheck. If we exercise, we will be in better health. If we act lovingly towards others, we will have closer relationships. On the negative side if we sow idleness, irresponsibility, or out of control behavior, we can expect to reap poverty, failure, and the effects of loose living. These are natural consequences of our behavior."

"Prov 15:10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path." To rescue people from the natural consequences that their behavior caused is to render them powerless.

Another paragraph...

two aspects of limits stand out when it comes to creating better boundaries. The first is sitting limits on others. This is the component that we most often hear about when we talk about boundaries. In reality, sitting limits on others is a misnomer. We can't do that. What we can do is set limits on her own exposure to people who are behaving poorly, we can't change them or make them behave right. Our model is God. He does not really set limits on people to make them behave. God sets standards, but he lets people be who they are and then separates himself from them when they misbehave saying in effect, you can be that way if you choose, but you cannot come into my house. Heaven is a place where the repentant and all are welcome but God limits his exposure to evil unrepentant people as should we. Scripture is full of admonitions to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways. we are not being unloving. separating ourselves protects love because we are taking the stand against things that destroy love.

The above is from the book, Boundares.

That is one perspective. My perspective: We can all interpret how we feel led. I also like the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The father allowed the son to leave home. He ridnt follow him to feed, dress, or keep him from harm. The son, at some point, realizes how bad things are, and how much better life was with his family. He returns home, he is humble, he doesn't demand his own place or money. He asks to become a servant and eat the scraps that were tossed to the pigs. The father fixes a feast and welcomes him home.


Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
Well this tough love approach may be fine for those in different faiths than Christianity, but for Christians we have instructions in the Bible that says not helping someone in our own household is being worse than someone not in the faith, and albeit a sin. Our values are different and are based on putting others first, loving as ourselves, and giving your own cloak.
Thing is no matter someone's faith, a lot of times what looks like helping on the surface is really doing harm. If we provide for and do things for someone who can do them for themselves we are teaching them we don't have confidence in their abilities to do for themselves, that they are, in fact, helpless as they have come to believe.

The very hard part is to figure out what they are actually capable of and how to influence them to be responsible for themselves and gain confidence in themselves. I still work on that every day. As others have said, having clear boundaries and short concise communication about what you will and will not do is needed. Holding steady on not getting run over by the guilt trips is really hard.

Bluebell, one thing my son does these days is use some sort of app where he divides his money for different types of expenses and what he is saving up for. As long as he doesn't do immediate transfers of money, I think he has to wait 5 or 6 days, it costs him nothing.