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Dealing with Adult Children

AVR1962's picture

Needing some helpful advise. My counselor tells me that I have to be firmer with my adult children and draw some boundaries which I have tried and been partly successful with. Problem is my 31 year old bio daughter. Love her and her family and I have tried to do what I can for them but I have my limits too. I recently went thru a divorce and moved to another state to be closer to them and help my youngest get started in college. I set up the spare bedroom for my 31 year old to use while here with her two sons and husband. Her husband travels with work, sometimes they go with him and sometimes they do not. Since moving here 4 months ago they would come here and stay 7-10 days, then go on the road with her husband for a week and then back here another week. I have very much enjoyed being close to family once again. My 3 year old grandson is getting to know me and me, has been special.

Problem- daughter does not make breakfast for the children so they get up and when they are hungry they start snacking on chips which my daughter allows. The older boy is being home schooled so they can be mobile and partly because he was bullied in school but my daughter is not consistent about the schooling and expects my grandson to just go do his work while she sits on the cell phone. The 3 year old is still nursing and my daughter takes showers with him which I am not comfortable with either. I raised 3 daughters and never showered with them. Grandson talks well and is now asking his mom why she has nipples and puts his hands down her shirt. She has not start potty training even though the 3 year old will say he has to go to the bathroom. My daughter is not taking care of herself, is on antidepressants. The youngest has been a handful. he throws tantrums and basically the family all do whatever it takes to make him happy so if that means he wants his older brothers toy the older boy is expected to give him the toy to keep him happy. The older boy is learning that he has to make his little brother happy and I see that he is trying to do the same with both his mom and dad. His dad will get goofy or demanding and yell for someone rather than going to them to talk. Oldest grandson imitates dad and dad doesn't like it and tells him to grow up or to stop. Even though I bought a king sized bed for the family my son-in-law sleeps on the couch and then leaves the TV and lights on until way late and I have trouble sleeping. The boys have broken several things in the house. Their dog peed on every rug I have. I planted grass seed and was getting it to grow and grandson came thru with a stick and ripped it up with mom watching and then asked me if it was okay.

I am trying to pick up the slack and started making sure the kids got breakfast, trying to make meals and give them healthier snacks. I do try to correct the kids gently and they do listen to me. I have helped the older boy with some of his school work and I have tried to relieve my daughter of some of the responsibility by doing projects with the boys. I have asked the boys to not turn on the TV until everyone is awake and to be quiet until everyone is wake and they do well with that when asked. Both boys have shown respect for me and have done as I have requested.

My daughter is losing the house they have been living in, partly why they travel with his job. They are extremely indebted and cannot afford a place to rent until they pay down their credit cards so they are planning on being on the road living in hotels for the next 1-2 years. His work pays for the hotel stays. They are all very stressed out, tired, daughter and her husband have gained weight. My daughter really has no time to herself except to sit on her cell phone, she is becoming overwhelmed easy, daughter and husband squabble and then they are all lovey to each other.

I mentioned my concern for them being on the road but they did not want to consider renting and putting the older boy in school. I told them I had some concern for the younger boy screaming and getting his way and everyone catering to him. They were very aware of what they were doing but said it was just easier. I told them that I felt oldest grandson didn't need to be responsible to make his brother happy or even to share and told them what I saw was grandson was trying to please everyone. I mentioned none of the other stuff. There was no fighting or raised voices. Daughter broke down in tears and then they left.

This morning I got a text from daughter telling me that unless I have something positive to say about her family to say nothing at all, that I hurt her with my "critiquing" of her parenting and was disappointed that I did not approve of how they were raising the boys.

I text her back and only said, "I understand."

Please give me some input. Should I have said nothing? Did I over-step as a grandmother?

Thumper's picture

Your counselor is correct. I hope he/she told you to give them the heave ho.

Grandma's house is for little visits NOT for permanent living arrangements. I will be blunt, it sounds like your daughter is married to a man who is unable to provide on a min. level for his family and YOU are a prime target for them to suck every penny out of you. The problem is they are living with you.

Here is what I would do. I would print out your local social services address and telephone number and hand it to her. PLUS give her the house and apartments for rent in your area. They could get help with housing, food stamps and WIC for kids under 5
Offer, if you are able to pay the security deposit no more than $500.00 or what ever your limit is.

It is time for them to go and NO you are not putting them on the street because you have offered them recourses to grow UP and handle their family like we all had to do.

You could have them every Sunday for dinner but by 7pm they go back to their place.

OR you can continue being used. I am sorry but based on what you wrote it sounds like you are.

**you wrote, I have tried to relieve my daughter of some of the responsibility**
stop until she starts taking care of her family on her own. Step back and make them be responsible and accountable 100percent.

Have you always been like this? What does your counselor suggest you do?

AVR1962's picture

DanielleR, thank you!!!! I had to bust my rear all my life to have what I have and I am so tired of my children thinking I owe them. I have been telling my daughter she needs to get a job so that she can put her income to their debt. She thinks she is going to be able to sell water machines.....good luck with that!!!! She doesn't want to miss out on her child's life....who does? She doesn't want to put her son into school because of else can he learn how to deal with them? So she is stressed and trying to please her sons, I am guessing to correct what she felt she was deprived of as a child herself since I was a single mom, and does not take care of herself. It's just beyond ridiculous. But in her opinion no one has a right to say anything to her.

AVR1962's picture

Goodluck, I was the scapegoat to the family I was born into. I was the one that had to please everyone or risk the wrath of my mother who my father would support. I have struggled in relationships all my life due to my childhood. My counselor pretty much said what you have mentioned here. Just like my parents, if I do not "please" my children they too start pointing fingers and placing blame. I finally left my narcissistic husband after 27 years and still trying to unwrap the garbage I dealt with with him.

My son-in-law has a good job. Problem is they have had large bills and spend far too much money and she does not want to work because she wants to be at home with her kids. I have tried to talk to her about this as well. I was a single mom raising my daughters without child support from my first husband. I would have loved to have stayed home with them but I did not have that choice and personally when your debts are $40,000 in credit card bills I feel she doesn't have much of a choice. Instead they are trying to live off people to try and save their pennies.

AVR1962's picture

They are not trying to potty train him. He will tell you he is going in his diaper but they do not attempt to work with him.

Luckyone's picture

I am not even concerned about the potty training or nursing, I have never seen a high schooler have his mommy come to school so he can nurse and wipe his butt. I am far more concerned with the general lack of care. No breakfast? No teaching (if you homeschool you are the freakin teacher). This woman is a mess. Why should YOU have to clean up the mess that is her life? You RAISED your kids. She needs a job and her kids need preschool and grade school. You need to save your money and your sanity for retirement.

AVR1962's picture

Thank you! This is what I can't understand why she and her husband cannot see it. Just the $40,000 credit card debt alone would have me out working like a crazy woman to get the debt paid off but they don't seem to have any concern. They spend like they have money to burn, always getting in on good buys. These kids got tons of toys of Christmas. I know they were thinking of filing for bankruptcy at one point and maybe they did but she doesn't want to tell me, I really do not know. I know that his mom gives them money from time to time and perhaps she is helping them out more than I realize. She has had other friends and family members tell her she needs to get a job and help out and she gets very upset and doesn't understand why they can't see she is putting her family first by staying home with them. She says she wants to raise her children, not day care which is great and all but when you have huge debts that need paid and you cannot afford to pay rent for a home you have to reassess, in my opinion. But anyone who says anything is in the wrong and everyone is just support them.

Thumper's picture

Your making the conscious decision to allow this legacy to continue.

Knowing it is wrong.

Best wishes and I hope things change.

AVR1962's picture

I guess that is what I was trying to address with my daughter. Knowing she does not want my input changes the way I will do things for her and her family now.

still learning's picture

The advice, "You can't care more than the parents do" applies here. Your daughter and her husband have chosen their lifestyle. You can love them and be grandma but can't change how they parent or dig them out of their hole.

It'd be hard to keep opinions to yourself when they are in your home 7-10 days at a time.

AVR1962's picture

Yes, having them under my roof for long stretches at a time did finally make it hard to keep my thoughts to myself.

AVR1962's picture

With my daughter telling me she is stressed, her patience is low with the kids and she feels over whelmed without her husband's help I have felt like I could try to alleviate that pressure by doing a bit more myself. I also felt that if I could give the kids actually meals it might be better for them instead of constant snacking. I can see how my help could be considered enabling.

AVR1962's picture

Exactly! And when I tried to talk to her....being concerned for her as well as her children she got quite upset with me and told me that she did not appreciate my critiquing her family and that if I had nothing positive to say to keep my opinions to myself. So I guess they figure it out for themselves. Heaven-forbid that i might actually care or have a thought that she might consider to save themselves some of what they are dealing with.

AVR1962's picture

I think her husband is happy as can be to have his wife and kids on the road with him. They have actually talked about buying a camper trailer so they wouldn't have to live in hotels. Here is the thing too with this. He does not get paid to stay in the hotel for the weekends. Even at $100 a night twice a week we are looking at $800 a month for hotels. That is why they come to me. His work right now is 5 hours from me so she and the kids have stayed here part time while he drives back and forth so there is no hotel expense and they are all here on the weekends. I think this weekend they will be heading to other family instead. I can't watch the younger boy while she works. I work too.

When I was trying to talk to my daughter about these issues her husband kept raising his eyebrows which I took as "how dare you" or "I can't believe you had the nerve to say that," perhaps I am wrong. He never said a word but they packed up quickly and got out. I think they both are on the same page with her not working and traveling with him and not having the older boy in school. I think it is very unfortunate situation and I realize I have to just let it go and let them figure it out for themselves but any more time pent here will be limited and I will make that clear. I love my grandkids and them but I am tired of my stuff being ruined and my house being turned upside down because they have no regard for my stuff and my peace.

still learning's picture

I think it's a stretch to say that OP's daughter is abusing her children with their lifestyle. They are a mobile unschooling child lead learning family which many homeschooling families strive to be like. Some people would say that living in the same house and town your entire life is very limiting, or sitting at a desk all day is stifling. These kids will have different experiences that others won't and will likely adapt well to change. Their parents love them and they are doing the best they can to stay together w/DH's traveling job. Mom has issues and is stressed, they are irresponsible w/money but far from abusive.

If my daughter lived like this, was stressed out and crashing under my roof w/her kids I would definitely speak up like OP did but then set boundaries and take a big step back. They will learn, their situation will likely change as all situations do.

You can still be loving and supportive of people while not agreeing with their choices.

AVR1962's picture

Still Learning, I agree.....I don't find living out of a hotel as abusive but there is a lack of stability and what you can call your own space for the kids. They are sleeping in the bed with their parents. The older boy is 10 and I think he needs to be in his own bed, his own room, be able to be in sports and other programs, all of which he cannot do on the road. So yes, I said my piece, they didn't want to listen to what my attempt for giving helpful advise. She wanted to view it as my critiquing and not being supportive of their parenting so they have to figure it out. One day when my daughter has completely lost all identity of herself maybe she will see I actually knew what I was talking about.

I raised 5 kids, my husband (ex now) was military so I held down the fort many times when he was working on the road. I worked part-time and did my best to create stability in the home. the kids had their space, their routines, their friends, sports, everything kids have growing up. I really had no choice not to work in my opinion. It takes quite a bit of $ to raise 5 kids so I do know what bills and debt looks like. We never were in debt like my daughter is now and I cannot even begin just passing that debt off and not making an attempt to work to clear it. We did not live off family, she was not raised this way.

When they come back though it won't be for these 7-10 stretches. I have a life too and I do not need to be caring for my adult children and my grandchildren! I have raised my kids and she needs to take care of her responsibilities.