Saying No to Adult Children

July 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Tough Love Stories

On a personal finance message board I asked other readers to post stories of success and failure in administering tough love to deal with a money problem.  One reader who called herself Gardening Grandma posted this story:

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my live.  My son, at the time, was 19.  He had dropped out of school (gotten his GED), could not hold onto a job because he would partly late, sleep in and be late for work so eventually would get fired.  After nearly a year of this, I packed him up one evening, drove him to a motel, paid for 1 week’s lodging and gave him $100.  Told him he was on his own.  Then I went home and cried my heart out. It is still painful to recall.  I’d ride the bus to work everyday, wondering if he was one of the many homeless people I saw.

He grew up, learned that he needed a job to eat and provide for himself.  He told me a long time ago, that he knew I had had done what I had to do.  But Gawd, it was hard for me to do!”

I know many other parents have had similar problems.  (Fortunately, I have not!)  This parent showed extreme toughness but it paid off.   Maybe other parents need to follow this tough love example in helping their children with money problems?


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8 Responses to “Saying No to Adult Children”
  1. Kate says:

    Our son has a long history of changing jobs or living off inheritance money. We have bailed him out of financial crises often until this Thanksgiving when he had to leave his apt. because he had run out of inheritance money – again. (from his grandfather). We had decided and told him last year that he was on his own, that there would be no more ‘loans’ (which he never paid back). Yet, when he found himself homeless, no money, no work etc… he actually thought he could move back in with us. He is 32 and hasn’t lived at home since he was 16 when he left to bum around at friends’ homes instead of following our rules. After bailing him out of jail for not taking care of a traffic violation, paying for the return of his car, and paying for many other crises in his life, we are at the end of our rope. Since being told in Novemeber that he was on his own, just as we had said, and after receiving many angry texts on my cell phone, he disowned US saying that he no longer has parents. This is the toughest thing we have ever lived through; we have no idea where he is or what he is doing to survive, hopefully nothing illegal. We know we have done the right thing but living through this is beyond anything I could have imagined.

  2. K Steele says:

    My adult daughter is 25 and still in school trying to finish up her degree in education. She’s always been a really great daughter. Since she was 14 she’s worked to pay for extra’s. Being raised by a single Mom she had to take out student loans to go to school and has a mountain of debt to pay back. However – the last 2 years it’s almost like she’s regressing (at times I think she was more mature when she was in highschool!) Now she blows thru the money she does make and never saves a dime (her car is paid off) she has rent/utilies, the basic stuff to pay. She’s always broke and overdrawn now. But she sure seems to have money to get her nails done and party! I’m so dissapointed in her. And now we don’t speak becaus I “called her on it!” What can I do other than “nothing” I’ll let her have all the consequenses possible…jsut wondering if anyone out there has adult children that have similar stories…it’s like she’s going backwards and she won’t take any advice from me …we don;t speak now and have always been so close…it’s heart breaking :(

    • Jackie says:

      I had to tell my oldest son(step) no to his request to borrow money to get a lawyer for a dui that he got. That was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do thus far with raising three boys (2 step, 1 biological). I so wanted to help him, but why on earth would he drink and drive since his bio mom was paralyzed from drinking and driving. Stupid me pointed this out to him. He did not recieve this very well! I am very concerned with him. He drinks and drives quite often. I have told him that I am not comparing him to his mom by any means, that I am just concerned with the drinking thing and alcoholism! This money for the dui he will have to handle himself. Maybe I was wrong to do that!

  3. Rene Magritte says:

    My adult son (20) has yet to purchase his own vehicle or pay for his own phone. His mother first started this trend in high school when she convinced me that it would be to his benefit to focus on school and athletics (for a possible scholarship). Well one semester into college and one baby daughter later he was done. “They just make you do too much stupid stuff instead of teaching you what you want to know.” The fact that he managed to rack up two POM charges did manage to get him thrown out of our house. The car that he was suppose to purchase from us was totalled and because he had no job or money and needed to be able to look for work to support his new daughter. To date he has still not purchased a vehicle or paid a phone bill. Is working at his latest get rich quick scheme and his mom gets mad at me when I put my foot down and say “enough”. She has made the same mistakes with him she always said she would never make. It is terribly frustrating to work your butt off to not only survive but to try to get ahead and then see your money go to someone who is constantly searching for the “easy button”. If it were not for my love for his mother I would have thrown the little leach out on his royal ass long ago and bid him good bye.

  4. Bob Goerges says:

    I have a 33 daughter who lives for herself. she has the attitude of ‘I will do what i want, when i want, be damned with the consequences, i’ll deal with that when the time comes.
    well, the time came. She is in prison for 120 day on drug related charges. i have done more than taken care of her all of her life, mostly out of guilt, because her mom and i got a divorce and the mother didnt want anything to do with my daughter.
    i had been writing her letters everyday, knowing how much letters mean when you are in prison, and putting 50.00 every two weeks on her books. when i get her letters i see in them that she doesnt plan on giving up her drug addict friends, so she will not give up on drugs.
    four days ago i sent her a letter, the last one, telling her that i am not going to sit by and watch her slowly kill herself, and that if she wants to live like an addict, then she will be like an addict, with nothing.
    i stopped writing and putting money on her books. everyday that goes by i feel guilty about my decision, even though it is right. i feel depressed when the mailman goes by and i have no letter to mail to her. i dont know how long i can stay with my guns, but i will do it as long as i can stay strong. why can’t they make a pill to take care of this mess? i hope the rest of you reading this letter is having an easier time than i am. i know you are having it rough, otherwise you wouldnt be on this site. good luck to you, i hope you are stronger than myself.
    Bob

  5. vicki says:

    I TOO HAVE A SON THATS 27 AND LIVED AT HOME UNTIL HE MET A WOMAN. HE MOVED OUT TO LIVE WITH HER AND HER THREE CHILDREN. HE GOT TIRED OF THAT LIFESTYLE AND CAME BACK HOME. HE WAS HOME FOR SOMETIME AND WAS TOLD TO GET HIS OWN PLACE. HE MOVED INTO AN APARTMENT SEPT OF 2010 AND HERE IS A YEAR LATER GOING TO LOSE IT. ALL HE DOES IS GO OUT TO BARS AND NEGLECT HIS BILLS, AND NOW HE WAS JUST FIRED FROM A PRETTY GOOD PAYING JOB BECAUSE OF NOT GETTING TO WORK ON TIME. DUE TO HIS FAILURE OF NOTCARING ABOUT HIS RESPOSSIBILITIES I REFUSE TO HAVE HIM COME BACK HOME IF HE ASKS. HE WAS ALREADY GIVEN ONE CHANCE, HE IS NOT GETTING ANY MORE. I REFUSE TO ENABLE HIS CHOICES. I WOULD LIKE ANY COMMENTS ON OPINIONS. THANK YOU.

  6. carol says:

    I have a 47 year old son who has a family and leaves on his own. For the last ten plus years I and his mother in law have supported them. I have a 19 year old grandson who justed started college. She and I are helping our grandson with school exspenses also. We have paid them out of so many things plus their bills. He will get a job for a short time but still can not pay their bills. My daughter in law does not work either. He always gives me these exsuses that he will be able to manage if I helped him this time. He tells me one thing to get money (it is for grandson) then he tells the mother in law the same story. I continue to say I will not do this any more then he calls and I do it again. I do not know how to stop. I am 66 and still working

    • Kay says:

      Carol, I know exactly how you feel. I have a married 38 year old son, he has 2 kids, his wife is the one who is always asking for money, she has fibromyalgia and claims it keeps her from keeping a full time job. She had a great job last year and got fired for missing too much time. And she smokes, won’t quit even though butts are over 6 a pack. I help because I feel so bad for my son and my grandkids. I don’t think my son knows half the time when she is whining about no money. It eats me up inside, he works 3rd shift and has an hour commute each way. He is so worn out and depressed. I know I should tell her to get off her butt and get a full time job so he can work more normal hours. But I know she would not let me see my beloved grandsons if I did. I am sick of it and very depressed, I am 65

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