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john65pennington's avatar

Should a 15 year old girl "take over" the life of her druggy mother?

Asked by john65pennington (29187points) November 14th, 2010

Wife and I have helped in raising the druggy mother and her children. We knew the problems the mother had with drugs. She was clean for several years. The mother is basically a good person, just hooked. She has fallen off the wagon, again. But now, her very intelligent and concerned 15 year old daughter states, “I will either get my mother off drugs or I will call Childrens Services and both my sister and I will go into states custody”. Needless to say, this is a pathetic situation. The mothers family agreed to allow her 15 year old daughter “give this a shot”, to see if she can truly help her mother or be a “whistle blower”. I have mixed feelings here, since we are so close to their family. The 15 year old girl is a determined person and with lots of common sense.Question: What’s your opinion? Will this “take over” of her mothers life have a happy ending? This is a nice family(her parents) that are being driven crazy because of this situation. comments?

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14 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

It’s not her job, but it is her decision. I don’t think there’s any way to know how it will turn out this early in the game. As far as I’m concerned, though, an addict isn’t going to change unless they want to change and, these days, I’m pretty convinced that many addicts have additional mental issues that need to be taken care of. This is something that I find to be sadly lacking in society.

john65pennington's avatar

Mrentropy, i agree with your answer. there is a lot at stake here for the mother. her daughter is holding herself and her sister over her head. either lose the drug addiction or lose us. this is a tough call alll the way around. bottomline, her daughter is giving her an ultimatum. which will the mother choose? her children or the cocaine?

Also, i failed to add that a friend has co-signed for the mothers new car. this person has a surprise coming. feel sorry for him.

Coloma's avatar

Often the children of addicts take on the parenting role and are adults before their time.

Her intentions are admirable, and setting the boundary of voluntarily turning herself and sister over to state custody is a very mature decision, however…taking on the savior role with her mother is unhealthy and the odds of this girl eventually falling for some f—k up guy and replaying her childhood patterns is very high.

Sad situation indeed.

belakyre's avatar

I think that if the daughter plans to take up such a task… though admirable, can be risky. Being her age, I too can understand her concern for her mother (though I’m probably nowhere near as intelligent). But really, regardless of how intelligent or how much common sense she has, I think that her mother’s problem with drugs and dealing with it should be done by someone who does this for a living.

ducky_dnl's avatar

It’s really risky. There is a chance of helping her mom, but it’s a very slim one at that. Why didn’t the mothers parents suggest her going to rehab? I mean there is nothing that can really be done.. because the mother is an adult. The little girl can really only make suggestions and help her mom if she chooses to come clean. The other things that could happen is that the kids be taken away, or even her daughter could get addicted to drugs. It’s really risky. Why don’t the kids stay with the grandparents until the mother decides to get her life on track?

CaptainHarley's avatar

It is virtually impossible for anyone to “help” an addict. It must be the addict who helps themselves. Usually this means they have to hit rock bottom before they can begin the long climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves. This is especially true of those who love the addict, since they usually become enablers. My recommendation is for someone to take the children and allow the mother to ( finally ) learn what it means to be a responsible adult.

zenvelo's avatar

I know a few addicts who were only confronted with the reality of the situation when the kids were taken away by Child and Family Services. Even then the mom has to get clean because of awareness of what the addiction has done, not just “to get the kids back”. In the latter case, the family can be reunited and then the addict falls back into old behavior.

And many many times losing the children has no effect on the addict; it’s one less worry between them and the drug.

It sounds like you have a good relationship with the girl. Please see if you can get her in a stable place that CFS will approve, and get her away from the mom. And if you can get her into Alanon/Alateen, she can meet other kids that are dealing with the same situation and also learn a path to strong emotional growth.

oh, and tell her she is in my prayers.

laureth's avatar

Is it the same girl you’re asking about here?

Either way, the girl’s first concern needs to be her own self. If it’s a bad situation, she is right in wanting to get out of Dodge. It sounds like she’s “taking over” her own life, mostly, and that managing her mother is a stepping stone on the way to that. She’s young to have to do this, but as they say, life ain’t fair. Perhaps it will make her stronger for the rest of her life, but she’ll probably develop trust and intimacy problems along with other issues.

tigress3681's avatar

I applaud the young girl’s desire to help her mother, but this is not her responsibility. She needs to be removed from her mom until her mom can clean herself up.

Jeruba's avatar

Nothing comes between the addict and his or her drug of choice. The girl’s efforts to change her mother will fail.

But that does not mean the girl has no right to take decisive action that she believes will lead to benefit for herself as well as others. I think it would be wrong to give her the message that she isn’t capable of that. She is already aware of rehab facilities and helping agencies. She has probably done a lot of research, and she has thought about the options. Whatever source of confidence she is drawing upon, it belongs to her. She’s going to need that all her life. I think it is fair to let her take steps toward self-determination, especially if she has the backing of her mother’s family.

Just make sure there’s a safety net for this child who is too wise too early.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Yes, I agree, @Jeruba . Excellent point.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I would try to craft whatever support network the daughter feels she needs. Let her take leadership on this. You might want to check with a family law attorney to see what the options would be besides going into the CPS and foster care system; is there anyone in the family, or you and your wife, who would be willing to take legal custody of the girls in the event that this doesn’t bode well?

Right now, the only ace the mother has is that she has parental rights. The one thing the daughter seems to be lacking is funds to access the legal system in a manner that would make this work out the best for her and her sister, as a safety net for them.

spittingblaze's avatar

I take care of my dad, I am near her age somewhat- My father has special needs. He cannot look after himself and he’s not completely independent. If she is still going to high school and taking care of her mother, this will take so much of her time- but then again- he situation is different. It can be rewarding working with my father, I’ve been stressed lately and I feel guilty for sometimes snapping at him. And- it’s takes up a lot of your time. You say she has a lot of common sense, this girl needs to be able to have intense self-control, taking care of a parent grows you up quickly and the rolls are resersed. If I was her age, I am still young but she’s younger- to take care of a parent at that age. She-
It’s a lot of work, very rewarding but you need to have a even temper, intense compassion, intense self-control and willing to be very selfless. That’s a lot to put on a fifteen year old. She needs a large support network. This might take up her free time to spend time with friends and do homework, she will need to organize her time well.

mattbrowne's avatar

A 15 year old can’t do this on her own.

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