As a mother, it can be difficult to say no to your child, regardless of their age.
As a mother trying to ‘help’ your adult addicted child, saying no can seem impossible because of the fear of what will happen if you do.
You witness their suffering and wonder if you are somehow to blame. You feel guilt, heartache, a raw and desperate instinct to protect your child. You want to believe that your financial ‘help’ is what they need to turn things around, alleviate their torment and suffering… save them.
If you aren’t careful your ‘help’ can destroy your own (and that of other family members) wellbeing – spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially in the process.
To keep the money flowing their way your adult addicted child will hold you hostage with their threats and emotionally blackmail you into giving them what they want.
“Give me the money to cover rent or I will be homeless” or “I need money for food or I will starve to death,” or “If you’re not going to help me I may as well kill myself”, or “you’re leaving me no choice but to prostitute myself” or “I promise I will turn things around and won’t ask for money again”.
The guilt trip keeps coming until you break… succumbing to the guilt you feel and against your better judgement hand over the money that is intended to help but never does help. It goes directly to supporting their addiction.
The promises made to you are empty and the lies, demands, blackmail, abuse and manipulations have no bounds. Although a part of you knows it will do no good you buy gas, car insurance, pay rent, lawyers’ fees, post bail, pay for counseling and other treatment that they either don’t follow through with, or if they do is a temporary reprieve.
Whether you believe addiction is a choice that your adult child won’t take responsibility for or a disease that they fell victim to one thing is certain… if they are an active addict they will use their situation to control you and anyone who will listen. They want you to believe that if you don’t ‘help’ them (I need money) something bad will happen to them (I will die) and you will be sorry (it will be your fault for turning your back on me)
As long as you support your adult child financially, protect them from the consequences of their choices and behavior, you can’t expect their behavior to change. There is no reason for them to change while you are meeting their needs.
Although it can seem impossible to do… unless you start saying no the cycle will only end when there is no money left or someone dies.
Don’t let your adult addicted child pull you into their storm, pull them into your peace.
Tough Love – The only person you can change is yourself. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and effort on your part to face the reality of the situation without being swept away by emotional decision making (guilt, despair, fear) but when you change how you deal with your adult child they will also change. You don’t have control over how they change, but they will change.
Support – Promises, threats, and blame will follow any refusal from you to hand over money. You will experience despair, guilt, grief etc. and must have support so you don’t fall back into the rabbit hole. Don’t keep this part of your life secret. For every addict there is a mother in pain so seek professional help for yourself.
Boundaries – Don’t forget that your adult child is actually an adult and will make their own choices. You want to save them but the hard reality is they may not choose to save themselves. Your job is to provide emotional support, guidance and encouragement to make better choices but it is not part of your job to allow blackmail to keep your financial support flowing. It does not support resolution it supports the problem.
For every active addict in our society, there is a mother in pain desperate to help her child find a way out. The first step is to find a way out yourself. Call me and together we will find the strength.