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"Welcome to -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

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Topics - Bamboo2

Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Should I speak up?
November 25, 2017, 08:05:21 PM
Hello, Wise Women!
My DD has a new guy in her life - and that's good in that the abusive ex-BF is unequivocally out.  Big sigh of relief there!  New BF seems friendly, kind and hard-working.

My new dilemma is this: DD has confided in me some things that new BF needs to change about himself to be a better partner.  What is my role here?  Listen and shut my mouth?  What about when she asks my opinion?  I know she is carefully "reading" my facial expression and non-verbals, and it's unfortunately too easy for me to speak up, even if it's just in a generic way about relationships, or examples of situations that I know of that are similar to what she is facing.

True confession: There are some things that I wish she hadn't shared with me and I worry that more is coming as the two of us  spend more time together next month. Does anyone have any experience in dealing with an AC sharing too much information?   

She has a tendency to move quickly in relationships, and I worry that she will be married within a year, with children soon to follow.  They've only been a couple for a few months and already she is living with him and his roommates.  I've spoken up about that - she claims she had to get out of a bad roommate situation (it WAS awful) and there is no one else to live with.  But I'm sure this is her number one preference anyway.

Any opinions are greatly appreciated.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Two years later...
August 24, 2017, 09:21:27 PM
Hi Wise Women,
It's been almost two years since I wrote in for the first time, in a post entitled "Heading for estrangement?"  I thought it would be a good time to share an update.

My DD, who has been in a relationship with an abusive BF for four years, is seeing the light and ready to break it off, and this time it seems to be for good.  He has not changed his spots, and finally she is seeing that he has no intention of changing, which she only could have seen when we stepped back from the drama and refused to participate.  As she is in the process of breaking the ties to him, he is trying every desperate ploy to hurt her or win her back - at this point it all seems destructive.  She is planning carefully and I'm impressed with her resourcefulness, knowing she has to come up with the plan by herself as a means of empowerment.  She will have to face the void left by him and his FOO, and that will be part of her growth process.  I'm cautiously optimistic, but I know not to get excited about it but just let go and let it be as it will. 

As I consider the journey I've been on as a mother in dealing with grief, anger, depression, and finally acceptance, I realize that WWU, this supportive community, has been an integral part of my healing.  I learned to let go of what I can't control, to face toward the things and people that give me joy, and to reclaim my self-respect.  Of course I'm still a work in progress, but I've grown and learned a great deal and this forum has contributed abundantly to that.

Thanks to you wise women, past and present, who have guided me with your words to me and to others. We learn, share and grow together, and that is the strength of this community.
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / A dilemma
March 05, 2016, 08:46:44 AM
Hi Wise Women,
It's been five weeks since DDs BF (or dare I say "ex"??) moved out of their shared apartment.  DD is struggling to pay bills, especially since she had an income gap for a couple of weeks.  She said she is down to her last $100 after paying the rent today.  She has not YET asked for money, but we know it is coming.  Also, her car is probably going to require some work soon.  OK, those are HER problems, not mine.  So why do I feel like this is going to become my problem soon?  Her foolish choices, right? Just as an FYI, I took her out to dinner recently and she asked if I would buy her some groceries, which I did.  I don't think she is still in contact with the BF but I know some of his things are still at "their" apartment and I noticed both he and his mom had "liked" something she posted on FB recently. (I know, I should quit looking at FB!) So I honestly don't know the story, and she doesn't want to say anything about him or their relationship these days.

Anyway, I want to be prepared for her eventual question about us loaning or giving her money.  She still owes us half the money for the last car repair, which I had later offered as a gift, but she insisted she wanted to pay us back.  By next week she will have more bills coming, some necessary and some not (like cable, Netflix and wireless).  I'm burned by her poor spending habits over the years and wasteful racking up of miles on her car.  And I admit some of this is my emotional reaction to her sense of entitlement (only eats at nice restaurants, buys the nicest furniture, fine clothes, apartment with modern amenities...), driving BF to and fro, driving to our city weekend after weekend only to see HIS family and not us, and her wasteful going out to eat and treating him about every single time. 

Can you see how when she asks me for money, even if it is a loan, it is going to provoke an emotional reaction in me?  I know...I am responsible for my own emotions.

The other day she told me she is planning to get a cheaper apartment once her lease is up, but the rent will still be about half her income.  She is trying to decide between a place with an indoor pool or one that accepts dogs, because of course she wants a dog and has historically been unable to delay gratification. 

Please tell me what I should say.  Here are some specific questions I have of you:

Should I give her advice about how to spend her money?

Should I let her know that her choices about spending and about having a deadbeat boyfriend have put her in the situation she now finds herself in? 

Should I bring up that her choices to put so many miles on the car have caused more wear and tear and led to things breaking down?  And should I let her know that helping to pay for her car repairs is an emotional trigger for me, with her having put all those miles on the car for HIM and HIS family?

Should I let her know that the BF, whose name is still on the lease, took the irresponsible way out by not paying his fair share and honoring the commitment he signed on to?  Leaving HER to pick up the pieces.  How is that caring? (she said she still loves him)

I am afraid that by loaning or giving her money, I will be wanting to monitor and then speak up about her spending and other life choices.  And I don't want to play that game.  Nor do I want to support foolish spending on Netflix, cable and wireless.  She doesn't get that these are luxuries and not necessities for a financially struggling person.  Do I speak up about that, or not?? 

So again, why do her bad choices have to impact ME?

Hi WW,
This is an update from my previous post entitled Saddened. Not two weeks after I told DD that we would never accept the BF, she called us to say that they had broken up, and it was "official and mutual."  He had moved things out of her place. Of course, we didn't hold our breath, as breakups have happened many a time, only to be followed by a quick reconciliation.  We agreed to get together a couple of days later.  She mentioned that she couldn't have a boyfriend who we, her parents, would never accept.  She also said that BFs $14/hour FT job that she had proudly told us of in December, never materialized, and he was always late with the rent and bills, never had the full amount, and only paid cash so she never knew how much he had. She said he moved back with his mom, the ultimate enabler, to "save money"....hmmm... She said she still loved him.  She is stuck paying the whole rent now with a lease that isn't up till summer.  He is not responsible enough to meet his contractual obligation of paying any rent at all.  She does not seem to blame him at all for that, but she was stressed out financially and asked if she could move back home with us, and if we could loan her the $2000 to break her lease.  We said that wouldn't work for us, or be in her best interest. 

I wouldn't be at all surprised if she gets back with him, but after hearing that we won't loan her the money to break the lease and let her live here again, she went out and found herself a second job. Then she surprised me by saying she wants to get some counseling since what she thinks about her BF and what we think are very different and she wants an outside opinion.  I am all for that! 

I think she has lessons to learn for having stayed with an irresponsible, lazy and lying boyfriend. I am so afraid that she wants to recreate her early dating relationship with him when she lived with us and had no bills to pay and could just see him whenever she wanted without any financial pressure. But that is not reality. So I don't feel guilty about keeping that boundary.  We can support her emotionally but not financially.  We did offer a small monthly monetary gift for a few months until she finds a roommate or gets a cheaper place, but she declined that.  She doesn't want to take our money. That was mature of her.

One thing that puzzles and troubles me is that she told us that she recently went to see the manager of the company where her BF worked to ask the manager if BF was a good worker and wondering why he didn't have more hours.  She alleges that the manager said BF was a good worker but the company had just hired many new employees and had to give them training hours, so BF only got 3 shifts a week.  DDs take on it was that it was just a "misunderstanding," which we have heard time and time again from her or him. Okay, beside the fact that my daughter is interfering in BFs work life, indicating that she doesn't trust BF, the other troubling issue is that my daughter told me this same exact story about her seeing BFs manager at a DIFFERENT company last summer, with the same exact details. I think she lied this time just to again not have us think the worst of her BF.  Part of me thinks her going to a counselor is to try to get the counselor to tell us (and her, of course) that he is a good boyfriend and we should accept him.  She is just so oblivious to reality, or maybe she just portrays herself that way around us.  Could it be that she is trying to blame us for not accepting him, because then she doesn't have to accept blame herself for making lousy decisions? Green Thumb, Luise and Pooh had it right when they said DD tries divert blame from herself.  Should I confront her about this latest suspected lie, or just keep quiet and let her learn from the counselor and the natural consequences? Do I dare butt in and say how irresponsible it is of BF to make her pay the full load of the rent even when his name is on the lease, or should I not interfere because anything I say could be used against me and actually impede her learning or the natural course of events?

Green Thumb, your words from my last thread about just accepting her as she is are most insightful. Thanks!
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Saddened
January 17, 2016, 10:08:35 PM
Sigh... My 20 year old DD, who is in the relationship with the abusive Peter Pan boyfriend that I've written about in prior posts, moved back to our city last month and into an apartment nearby with the BF. She called my husband soon after moving back to this area, indicating that she wants to have a good relationship with us again. But she told DH that she was worried about her relationship with me because last time we had talked, my body language had made her uncomfortable. I guess that was when I told her last fall that I did not want to see or hear about her BF anymore because he continued to make her life so difficult.  (I guess she blamed me, the messenger, for saying that, rather than accept the message, which I had said in a firm tone, but not an angry one).  Anyway, we have seen DD several times a week since she moved back, and she has been good as gold, almost to a fault, spending more time with us than even when she had lived in our home! I was somewhat suspicious about that. Well, tonight she said it: since it is a new year and time for new beginnings, BF is wondering when (not "if") he can come over to our house to ask forgiveness for threatening my husband (which was almost two years ago, and DH hasn't seen him since). I said that I thought I had made it clear that we didn't want to hear from him or about him anymore. She said, so you mean never? And I said yes, never.  It became clear as the conversation progressed that it isn't HE who wants to be a part of our life again, it is SHE who wants him in our lives again, and the only reason he would agree to any of this charade of an apology is because it would make HER happy and perhaps (this is my speculation) "save" their floundering relationship.  Well, I feel that all this time she has spent with us is just one big farce and manipulative tactic to get us to accept him yet again.  It is so sad to think that I can't trust her, that her doing my nails, hair, makeup, helping me host a dinner party for our friends, just hanging out, etc, has all been part of a grand plan to bring BF back into the fold as if nothing ever happened.  I guess I just need to vent here in this safe space.  I know that staying the course is the right thing, and neither DH nor I have any intention of backing down on this at all. I guess we will see if she chooses to be part of our lives, knowing the door is closed to her boyfriend.  I just feel so disappointed that perhaps none of this recent closeness on her part has been genuine, but just another marketing strategy.  Thoughts, anyone?  Maybe my assessment of her motives is too harsh. If not, it's a sad commentary on our relationship. And our gullibility.   :(
Hi ladies,
My 20 year old DD, who is in the relationship with the abusive BF, is in town these past few days and called to get together...really in order for my husband to help her find a job online.  She said she'd be here a few days ago, but never showed up or called.  When DH reminded her to pick up her birth control at the pharmacy while in town (yes, we have to hand those reins over to her) there was no response.  Finally yesterday she called him asking him about credit, since she and BF are planning to move back to our area and need to get an apartment.  Getting an apartment is much more difficult and expensive here than in her small town, and she told him that she needs to find a cosigner.  No, she did not ask if WE would cosign this time, and he did not offer, thank goodness.  I still think we haven't heard the last about that.

Here is the dilemma: I feel myself getting all bent out of shape when she even calls.  I thought I was doing so well emotionally, but my heart about leaps out of my body when the phone rings.  I don't want to hear about her housing issues, and I am afraid she will say something about his family.  I feel pretty emotionally vulnerable today and yesterday and I am not sure I would keep it together in conversation with her if she came over.  Yesterday she asked when we were off for the Thanksgiving break and DH told her that I am off today (he is not off), and she said she may stop by, but would call first.  I just didn't want that, as I feel so emotionally unbalanced today, and later last night a young woman who I'm close to said she and her husband had the day off and would like to see us, and I invited her over.  She is estranged from her own parents.  We have a close relationship.  I asked DH to text our daughter to say it wouldn't work to get together since we were having out of town guests, and we love her.  She said it was okay.  We also won't see her for Thanksgiving since we are traveling to see family for the long weekend.

She does always apologize for not calling or seeing us, and says how great it will be when we live close together and how often she will see us.  I don't believe a bit of it.  She comes to our town every other weekend and only came to see us once since early August, and that was for just a few minutes (she brought us a pie and her dental bill) since her BF was waiting in the car for her. 

Right now her life is all wrapped up with him and his large FOO.  And of course the struggles with trying to get an apartment and job in our city and figuring out how to make ends meet financially.  And supporting the BF in every way, as if he were her child.  It hurts to know these things.  I do so much better when I face a different direction.  But am I just burying my head in the sand?  Am I being an unloving mother?

Does anyone understand this?  I wonder if being strong and "handling" this means I can face her kindly and bravely without qualms and without hurt or fear.  I am not there.  Perhaps I'm still too attached to her poor and hurtful decisions.  When I don't know the details, or we have some distance, I feel okay.  I guess this is not loving detachment.  :(
Helpful Resources / Loving Detachment 101
November 01, 2015, 09:44:38 AM
Here are some wise words from Pen and Elsieshaye on a thread from about 2011 (I didn't write the date or topic in my journal, only the pearls of wisdom).

From Pen-
You don't want to slam the door shut, but you want to stop being hurt.  Let DD know you love her (directly) and let it go.  You detach, go about your business, and accept only kind, positive and loving communications from her.

If she contacts you with anger, demands, recriminations, etc., don't engage.  If you're on the phone and she starts in, you've got to go because someone's at the door or a pot is boiling.  If she sends an unacceptable text, don't respond.  If she is in your home and starts in, have something else that needs immediate attention; don't be a sitting duck.  Keep your hurt and anger out of it; be cool, calm, loving and detached.  Also with someone who is extremely manipulative, always have a witness, so you don't feel like an emotional dumping ground.

The next quotes/summaries are from Elsieshaye, talking about the difference between "medium chill" and compassionate detachment -
Medium chill is a technique used with people you don't care about, but you may still have to interact with from time to time, so maintaining a relationship is not a consideration. It is not a silent treatment; I'm not ignoring the person -  but any response I give is boring, neutral, non-reactive, calm as possible. When the other person makes a "clunker" comment (like a put-down), change the subject after some silent beats pass.  I can pretend I don't understand hints/subtexts/carefully-worded put downs by responding in a boring, non-reactive way.  I don't have to argue, infer meaning or defend myself. 

Compassionate detachment is aimed at people I care about (unlike medium chill), where abandoning the relationship is not the option I choose to take.  The big difference between compassionate detachment and medium chill is that I DO initiate some contact and I DO sometimes make statements like, "I recognize you're angry but I won't be shouted at." But for the most part I again strive to be consistent, boring, and non-reactive when attacked, although I make more of an effort to speak my piece in a calm, respectful way.  I hold the relationship loosely, and accept it may not be what I had planned, but it is what it is.
I am doing this with my son right now.  He has a drug problem, so in between the large stretches of silence, I'll occasionally get texts or Facebook messages that could be from angry Ds, high DS, needy DS or sad DS, never sure which.  Some of them I just let lie and don't respond to.  Some I answer the explicit question and ignore the angry subtext (the passive-aggressiveness or mean point behind the question).  Some I respond to honestly or with a question.  If it gets too bad, I'll say, "I don't want to have this conversation with you while you're being so aggressive with me. If you can't be more civil, we need to stop now" and then if it continues I hang up or end the conversation. The governing concept here is, " I love him and we both deserve respect."  The governing concept for medium chill is, "Not my monkey, not my circus."

Finally, this is Bamboo here adding a piece on detachment that a friend gave me from Al Anon - and I'm modifying it a bit to be more inclusive of any behavior or decision made by a loved one-

Detachment is neither kind nor unkind.  It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching.  Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person's choices can be a means of detaching; this does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situation realistically and objectively.

We learn that nothing we say or do can cause or stop someone else's behaviors or decisions.  We are not responsible for them.  Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another's behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a power greater than ourselves.  We can still love the person without liking the behavior.

We learn to do the following:

1. Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of others
2. Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others
3. Not to do for others what they can do for themselves
4. Not to manipulate situations so others will get up, go to bed, eat, go to work, pay bills, not drink, or behave as we see fit.
5. Not to cover up for another's mistakes or misdeeds
6. Not to create a crisis
7. Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events

By learning to focus on ourselves, our attitudes and well-being improve.  We allow the loved ones in our lives to experience the consequences of their own actions.
I just wanted to share some happy news!  My daughter, who had given me the silent treatment after DH and I didn't give her what she wanted, posted something loving on FB "To Mom", and signed it "Your stubborn child". The funny thing is I don't use FB, but DH does.

Thanks WW....this belongs to all of us moms :)
Adult Sons and/or Adult Daughters / Need some advice
October 20, 2015, 06:07:30 AM
Hello WW  :)  I wrote about my 20 year old daughter last month, who is in a controlling relationship with a BF.  Since I established a boundary of how I wanted to be treated, she hadn't been in contact.  However, last night she called, crying and saying she was sorry for not having kept in touch with me. I said it was okay, since it really was (I have been enjoying the equilibrium of loving detachment).  She told me she was driving him back home to his mom's house, a four hour round trip, and wanted to stop by our house to talk with me after she dropped him off (we live in the same metro area as BF's mom).  I said that I had to work till 9, so she decided against stopping by, as she had to work early this morning, and apparently preferred talking to me about her problems  and not her dad.  I suggested she could call me after I was off work, but hoped she wouldn't since I have a hard time sleeping after she sobs and shares her BF troubles with me. 

Well, she didn't call me last night, and I slept well.  So my question is, should I check in with her today by phone or text?  I am feeling that I don't want to get in the way of her learning.  Plus, I know her issues with him will be nothing I haven't heard already.  Should I just wait and see if she calls me?  I know chances are good she will get back together with him again.   It feels funny not to reach out, but again I want her to initiate this if she wants.  Plus I feel she gets closer to me after fighting with him, and then forgets about me when everything is fine with him, while continuing to spend her time with BF's large extended family.  Who needs that?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!
First of all, warm greetings to Luise, who I feel I know already, from her wise and gentle posts.  I have read many forums but none as respectful and compassionate as this one.  Thank you for birthing this wonderful forum.  And thank you to the many posters who have given such helpful advice.  I have already read the Read Me First Articles and lots of posts, so here goes with my problem.

My 20 year old daughter moved out during the start of her senior year of HS to live with her controlling BF and his mom. DH and I have struggled to maintain a relationship with DD ever since.  Now DD has an apartment and moved him in, and she is taking a year off from college before she can retake a class.  She is a very hard worker, but struggles to stay ahead financially since the BF can't keep jobs or manage money.  In addition, DD's BF threatened my DH while drunk last year, causing DH to not have any more contact with the boyfriend.

We found out recently that DD let her boyfriend drive her car (he has no license), so we made her get her own car insurance policy, which is expensive.  Also, she recently asked if we would cosign on a credit card for her and I said no.  These two recent issues have led to her treating us contemptuously, icy tone of voice or one word texts, or no response whatever.  My DH sent her a letter by mail indicating that we don't owe her anything and she should be grateful for all we have done for her in the past year, which he itemized in the letter (college costs, car repairs, new tires, furnishings for dorm room, totaling over $12,000). DH wrote that she was acting like a spoiled child.  I added that we love her and want a relationship with her when she can treat us with respect. We deserve better than this.

She sent back our letter with a note at the bottom indicating she wasn't mad about the two money issues (not cosigning and making her get a separate insurance policy), but she is now mad about the letter we sent, especially DH's statement that she lacks appreciation.

What to do, Wise Women?  Let it be?  Let her contact us when she is ready?  What if this letter is the catalyst for an estrangement?  How could I live with that?  On the other hand, I know we have been extremely generous to her and forgiving of her many hurtful behaviors over the past two years.  She can be warm and loving, but also manipulative in order to get her way with us.  Those manipulative days are over for me.

True confession: the last few weeks have been more peaceful for me, since I know for sure that she won't be coming to visit when she is in town every other weekend, rather than the unknowing and trying to plan special things to compete with and/or coordinate with the many events of his large extended family.

Thank you so much for any advice you can give me, Wise Women!