Dear Amy: My 36-year-old daughter and 8-year-old granddaughter live with me.
My daughter has a small business which brings in barely enough income for her to survive; it would be difficult if not nearly impossible, for her to get her own place.
My daughter seems to get involved in one bad relationship after another, pays minimal attention to her child, drinks excessively, relies on me for child care, rarely helps around the house and frequently cannot give me the agreed-upon rent of $300 a month.
I am approaching retirement age, but feel I can't actually retire, as it will mean selling my house and finding something smaller that I could afford.
While I would be okay with telling my daughter that she needs to paddle her own canoe, I'm reluctant to abandon my granddaughter.
I've suggested, begged and hinted that my daughter get some counseling.
She has struggled with depression and anxiety and takes medication, which doesn't seem to help much.
In a Tough Spot
In a Tough Spot: Your daughter cannot reach her potential, as a person and a parent, until she stops drinking. Her alcohol use interferes with her judgment, triggers her depression and affects her ambition — and the efficacy of her medication.
And you cannot even begin to get out from under this until get some professional and therapeutic coaching about how to stop enabling your daughter without abandoning your granddaughter. Suggestions, hints and begging are not going to cut it. You have to create and maintain enough pressure and workable consequences to try to force your daughter toward change.
You also need to fully absorb the very real possibility that your daughter will not change. Will you try to force her out of your home? This might be a challenge, certainly if she refuses to go (I have read of parents actually selling their homes and moving to force out a resident family member).
You should contact your local department of family services to connect with a social worker who could work with you to develop a plan and locate services to help your family. If your daughter refuses to attend sessions, go on your own.
You should also attend a “friends and family” support group (check al-anon.org for a local meeting).
For inspiration, read: “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide for Parents of Drug and Alcohol Addicted Children,” by Charles Rubin (2007, New Century Publishers). Rubin’s central message is about how to stop enabling and set boundaries — to save your own life.
Dear Amy: I recently got married to the man of my dreams! Now, I'm having problems with my mother.
Mom has always struggled emotionally (in my opinion) with letting me grow up (upon graduation or moving out) and has pushed away from me during those times.
The same has happened here. I call her two to three times a week, as I have always done, but the conversations are shorter and I don't feel like we are connecting as we used to.
I know she likes my new husband, so I don't think this is disapproval. But I'm wondering what I can do to nurture my relationship with my mom: Should I just let this go until she comes to terms with our new roles, or should I confront her and risk having her shut me out even more?
Confused Daughter: Your insight about what lies behind your mother’s distance sounds correct. You are both in the midst of an emotional and relational transition. Look at the dynamic from this angle: You want your mother — and she’s right there, same as always. She wants her daughter — but your status has changed.
Give her time. Don’t let her emotionally manipulate you, but do let her adjust.
Dear Amy: I totally disagree with your recommendation to "Reluctant," that she and her husband should take in his sister's children.
I grew up in a home where my mom literally said to me, "I wish I did not have kids." And I always felt her resentment for having kids throughout my childhood.
I've forgiven my mom and have a "regular" relationship with her. However, we are not close.
I've never wanted kids. And taking in kids I don't want wouldn't be healthy for me or the child.
Childless by Choice
Childless by Choice: “Reluctant” seemed to accept both her reluctance — and her choice to take in these children. I hope that she is able to embrace parenthood; I do believe she is trying.