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Helping vs. enabling struggling daughter & son-in-law

Posted by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 2:34 AM
  • 58 Replies
We have a married 20-year-old daughter with 2 kids, ages 2 & 9 mo. Husband is 22. They are both unemployed & were recently evicted from their apartment. Daughter, with kids, went to stay with a friend temporarily, 4 hours away, with no plans for self-support that we know of, while her husband stayed behind to look for work. We don't know where he's living or with whom. Daughter's reports are sketchy. He is drawing unemployment benefits, and his job search over the past several months has been half-hearted at best.

My husband & I helped them with some of their bills when son-in-law was still working, but have stopped short of paying their rent or letting them move in with us. We and other family members feel our advice, encouragement, and financial assistance has been mostly squandered, and we do not want to further enable them to sit on their duffs expecting others to take care of them.

We have stayed in close contact with them over the past 3 years, in large part due to concern for the grandkids. We are accustomed to seeing them every week or so. It's hard not to see them now. My husband & I have talked about letting my daughter & kids move in with us, but I feel she would take it all for granted, continue her laziness, & it would only prolong their financial irresponsibility. So we wait to see what will happen.

It's really hard to hold back and watch, hoping they will figure out a way to support themselves and get their acts together. Its especially hard for me to comprehend their inaction, since I have been a single mom in the past who went back to school & work to support several children after divorce. I didn't sit around feeling sorry for myself or expect anyone to bail us out. I was, however, 20 years older, at the time, than my daughter is now. So I had some maturity and experience that she doesn't yet have.

Would appreciate comments from moms with similar experiences. Thanks.
by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 2:34 AM
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by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 6:48 AM
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Good Morning,

  Before my oldest daughter got divorced from her second husband I let her and grandkids move in, she has five children(we are in a two bedroom apartment). We enabled her, till one day when my youngest and I came back from a trip and she was sitting on the computer, our then 19 yr.old daughter was taking care of the grands. 

  I went off the wall, because I saw what I had done, this is going to sound really mean, but I kicked her made her go back downstate and take care of business. Yes there were hurt feelings, but she wasn't looking for work, she was playing an online game talking to her boyfriend(yes she was still married), and not taking care of her children. We didn't talk for several months but she thanks me for the kick in the a**, and even though she doesn't have custody of the grands, because she isn't working, she knows it is for the best. 

We don't want to see our children go through hard times but sometimes a reality check is a good thing. It is really hard when there are our grands involved, but sometimes we just have to say no. 

On a personal note: my mom is an enabler and she recently said no to helping us out...when she comes on Wednesday I am saying a BIG THANK YOU to her.

Shari, wife to bestfriend John (4/88), mom to Heather(1/77),Nyssa(4/89),Michaela (8/94) and four fur babies (cats)

by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 8:08 AM
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I am married with grown kids, 2 live at home, but I have been a single mom. I worked 3 jobs and no one helped me. I did not get any type of assistance or child support. I worked my tail off.

I would help my kids IF they were making an effort, if they were just sitting around, as hard as it would be, I would not help. They have to make an effort otherwise it is enabling.

I think there is a lot going on that you may not know about. Sounds sketchy.

I pray the grandkids are well and taken care of as they did not ask to be in this situation and can not control it. I also pray that your dd and sil get their act together and provide for themselves and the kids.

Hang in there momma, whoever told us that it gets easier as they get older, LIED.

by Louann on Jul. 19, 2012 at 8:48 AM
1 mom liked this

 You can only help someone who is trying to help themselves.  If she is working and trying her best to make it work that's one thing but to sit around and do nothing....then she should have to figure it out on her own.  I did it all on my own and had a sick child.  It wasn't always done in the best way probably but I did the best I could.  Come here to vent anytime.  Keep us posted.   Something just doesn't sound exactly right about it.  Hugs to you    :)

by Platinum Member on Jul. 19, 2012 at 8:52 AM
4 moms liked this

We have a situation of a single mom with an 18 month old baby. We're in Maine, she's in Florida. She lives with the boyfriend, who we've told is never welcome back to this home. (baby's dad is in jail) We did lay out a plan for her if she chooses to take it at any time. So it's in writing. She and baby can come live here, I told her she could take 1 month to get herself healthy, mind and body. After that 1 month, she is to find a job/school, seek out social services for financial aid of any kind, and I would commit to 1/2 days taking care of baby. She would have to pay to live here, and contribute as anyone does living in a home with others. She hasn't taken us up on the offer, but it's in place. We put it all in writing for her, so there would be no misunderstandings if she decided to come.

by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 9:21 AM
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We enabled my dd several times over the course of 5 yrs. when her so/dh kicked her out 4 of those involved my gd. She never paid rent, had crappy jobs, totaled her car, had us driving her all around, babysitting, etc. Last year, she was pregnant and had a major depression episode and did nothing to help her situation at all. We finally kicked her out, 7 months pregnant and of course our gd went w/ her beside our offer to keep her while she got herself situated. She lost custody of our gd. and eventually of our gs. Today she now has a good job, a place of her own, a car, a phone plan, and joint custody of the kids. She has yet to say thank you, but I don't think she would be this far if we didn't stop and finally just say no. Stick to your guns. It is the hardest thing to see your kids this way and even harder watching the gks suffer b/c of your kids mistakes. But they're not our kids. There's nothing we can do if their parents won't let us. Just pray for their health and safety. And come here for some support.


by Susie on Jul. 19, 2012 at 9:34 AM
We would not help financially. They had 2 kids way too young. They need to find a way. Heck, go get 3 part time jobs. My brother just took on another full time job. He works 80 hours a week.
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by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM
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How would you let your daughter and grandkids move in with you but not her husband?  The man has the right to be with his family.  Obviously your daughter and her husband were too young to marry and start a family but that is water under the bridge.  They need to grow up and by allowing any of them to move in with you will hinder that process.  Your daughter's friend isn't doing her any favors by allowing her to stay there with her kids and not pay anything.  If you still plan on them moving in with you, you will have to allow her husband to join the family, I suggest you set up a contract outlining the fact that they will both get off their asses and look for work, part time, full time, digging ditches, hawking fries behind a food countrer, cleaning toilets, whatever.  They accept minimum wage, they pay you a portion of the household bills/groceries and if transportation is required of you they will pay a portion of your car insurance as well.  When they are at home they will take care of their children, they will chip in on the cleaning of the home, working in the yard, making minor repairs as a homeowner does.  

by Lisa on Jul. 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I haven't been in your situation but I wish you lots of luck. Stay strong!

by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

I'm overwhelmed by the supportive responses. Thank you all. Glad I found this place. Will definitely keep you posted!

PS- i have replied to a few people who responded, but my replies don't seem to follow theirs in any logical manner. Guess I should quote them next time so you can see who I'm responding to, right? Sorry & thanks again for all your helpful ideas. 

by on Jul. 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
1 mom liked this

I would be concerned about the babies, because what are they going  to live on?  How will they get proper nutrition, clean clothes, diapers, intellectual stimulation?  This is a very sad situation as your daughter is too young to have had enough education or work experience to obtain any kind of employment that will earn enough to support a family, and I suppose her husband is the same.  I really feel sorry for those little ones they decided to bring into the world. 

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