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chyna's avatar

At what point do you stop helping your grown children?

Asked by chyna (33286 points ) January 26th, 2012

If your grown child is continuously getting into trouble, making bad decisions, involved in drugs and alcohol, do you continue helping them out or do you wash your hands of them even though you still love them, or do you continue bailing them out one way or another? Where do you draw the line?

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20 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I can’t imagine being able to answer this objectively. I’ll follow and see what people say. Should be interesting. GQ, @chyna

YARNLADY's avatar

It depends on what type of help. If they ask for money or such, I would not. I would gladly take them to a rehabilitation center or the doctor’s appointments.

stardust's avatar

I’m not a parent, but I have an adult brother who is constantly getting into trouble, making bad decisions, all of the above and then some.
I’ve seen my family brought to the brink as a result of some of his decisions/behaviour. I think there comes a point when you have to throw your hands up and step back. I’m not saying that in the sense of giving up on the person.
I think constantly bailing a person out is enabling and ultimately reinforces the idea that there’ll always be someone to take responsibility for them. Once they reach adulthood and continue to repeat such behaviour, they need to realise that they are in control and responsible for their lives – their decisions and the consequences of those decisions.
You can wish a person the best, pray for them and have faith that they’ll start to learn and grow but it doesn’t have to be at a cost to yourself.

EverRose11's avatar

@JilltheTooth I totally know how you feel I believe.. esp. in this day and age and so many of our younger generation has gotten caught us in the foreclosure banking failure, and Job losses. Just going to observe this one from afar.

Akua's avatar

It depends. At some point when you acknowledge that they are never going to change and they are just using you you have to just wash your hands of them and pray they learn the hard way. Some kids just grow up into losers. There I said it. I can’t sugar coat. It’s true and it’s not always the fault of the parents. But if they have good intentions and a good heart and just need some guidance, some help, some support and advice, then I would never just kick them to the curb. We all make mistakes and I would help then in any way I could for as long as I could. But this all depends on who you know your child to be. If your one of those parents in denial and you protect them when you know they are doing evil, then you are just as messed up as they are.

SuperMouse's avatar

My own father stopped helping me before I turned 18 so my life probably isn’t a good gauge. My own kids are not grown, but my step-children are and this is a tough question. We do bed over backwards to help his daughter but that is mostly because she has two small children of her own and without our help they would suffer immensely. His grown sons and other daughter don’t ask for much help but when they have, on a relatively small scale small loans here and there, a place to stay in a pinch, etc. we have helped. When we do help out his kids I am all about trying to empower them rather than enable them. That is easy for me with his kids, we’ll see how it goes when it is those boys in the same positions.

harple's avatar

You should always help your grown up children, but in the same way that you helped them when they were learning to walk. Sometimes helping means not holding their hand.

Akua's avatar

I totally agree @stardust. I have an adult son who is currently incarcerated. He was brought up in a good home so I don’t know why he is the way he is. He has used me, threatened me and almost got his little sister killed. I will be there for him if he genuinely wants to change and needs help but until then he is on his own. I’ve done all I could for him. I’ve seen women who know their child is a criminal defend them and mortgage their house to keep them out of jail. Sometimes you just have to let go.

Judi's avatar

I can’t believe I found it, but here is the letter I sent my son, with some personal info deleted.
We had a long road, and there are still bumps in it, but he has a really good job and it seems like he is working things out with his fairly new wife and baby. I still wait for the other shoe to drop, and I’m sure it will again, but this letter was the beginning of a change in our co-dependant relationship.
Please forgive the God references, that is an important part of our family dynamic and I realize it might not be the same for others.

September 23, 2005

Dear Son;

We want to let you know how much we love you and how proud we are of the progress you have made. There is a long hard road ahead of you in order to be healthy and happy, but we have so much confidence in you and in God, we know that you are going to be alright.
I (Mom) have always wanted to avoid seeing you suffer the pains of growing up. I have always tried to provide a “soft” place to land when you have made poor choices. In my heart, I know that his has been a mistake and that I have deprived you of the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow into the strong confidant man that God designed you to be. I apologize and I am committed in the future to allowing you to make your own decisions, good or bad and to letting you enjoy or suffer the consequences of your choices. This is so hard for me because I love you so much and I hate to see you hurt. I also know that hurting isn’t always bad. It is a road to learning and growth.
Dad and I want so bad to have a healthy relationship with you. We know that as long as you depend on us for your daily living, our relationship can never be healthy. You will always resent us because you want to be on your own….
. This is an opportunity for you to get a fresh start. We know that you feel detached, but right now, that is not a bad thing. You are learning who YOU are, and your identity is not going to be defined by us or your history here. You are close to the music and acting industries, two careers where you have potential to excel. In (Home town), you have angry memories that need time to heal. Being so close would only cause you more pain, and slow your progress towards health and growth. As much as we love you, staying at our house is not an option.
We know that you are scared about finances. You will not have a lot of money to work with, but it’s not impossible…...
We hope that in the next few years you will flourish and become the man we know you are.
You are so talented and you have so much love and passion. You make us smile and laugh and cry. You are so special and so smart. You are much smarter than you give yourself credit for, that’s why I know you will be just fine.
Every since you were little, we have told you there was only one thing you needed no matter where you ended up. Things are going to get harder before they get better, but they will get better. Never forget the One you have when all other resources are depleted. When you finally cry out to him, denying yourself, taking up your cross and following him, you will not be disappointed.
When I did the marathon a few months ago I wanted to give up at about the 10th mile. My legs were numb, and when I did feel them my knee wanted to buckle out from underneath me. I asked myself “Why am I doing this?” I saw people who appeared to be in worse shape than me passing me, and that made me feel kind of stupid. There were people cheering on the sidelines, but towards the end of the race they were even taking down the drink stations by the time I finished.
Every once in a while, there was this woman on a bicycle that we saw holding up a sign that said “way to go walkers!” She would ride a head of us, and then hold her sign for us about 5 miles up the road. Every time I wanted to give up, I saw her smiling face and told myself “I can do this!” Pulling up the rear didn’t have near as much glory as the elite racers who won, but finishing a marathon helped me change my attitude about myself. I am a finisher! I may not have finished college, I may have dropped out of high school and had to go back later, but today, I am a finisher, I am not a quitter.
Like a marathon. You are about to start a journey that is bound to bring you pain, joy, tears and laughter. Know son that we are praying for you and cheering you on. We can’t run the race for you, but we will be here letting you know that we believe in you. We have spent your lifetime giving you everything you need to survive in this world. You are an amazing guy. We know that you will succeed beyond your imagination.
Love,
Mom and Dad

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Like me, my husband has been on his own without parent help/support since he was late teens and we both question how this colors our expectations and reactions to his 3 teens. We don’t want to over give but we don’t want the kids to struggle as much as we did at their ages either. Drugs, I think drugs would have to be the thing to get us to go all “tough love”.

chyna's avatar

@Judi Thank you so much for sharing that deeply personal letter and time in your life. You brought tears to my eyes.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Judi : Thank you from me, also. I don’t know a parent of a grown child that hasn’t had the possibility of this happening cross their mind, it’s inspiring to read that.

harple's avatar

Thank you @Judi

Akua's avatar

@Judi Beautiful letter. Thanks for sharing it.

EverRose11's avatar

@Jud I thank you for sharing your letter also I cried. May I ask how is your son now?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, it’s tough, but, major irresponsibility and drug use would force me into the “tough love” zone. I had to navigate this area back in my daughters late teens for a few years, no drug use but, the disrespect card was being played a lot. I had to set firm boundaries on her attitude and the way she would talk to me at times, not acceptable. I have been very lucky, so far, she is 24 now and she has a good job and is not much of a party girl, once in awhile.

Although, hah…ironically, she constantly locks herself out of her apartment, sooo, I may be going to get her soon tonight. lol
Left the house & car keys inside AGAIN. Bah!

Yes @Judi Beautiful sentiments.
Kids…they can try you to the 10th power, no doubt.

Judi's avatar

He’s 27 now.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Love them from afar. One bailout is the limit.

picante's avatar

Beautiful letter, Judi—thank you for sharing.

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