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i'm 71, but the stress keeps on coming, advice please......

(128 Posts)
tryingtogetusername Mon 05-Jan-15 11:04:26

I've endured decades of stress and worry re my 4 dc-2 boys 2 girls.
now in their 40's/50/s it still keeps coming.
last year ds...who is 51...returned from living in new Zealand, homeless and penniless, turned our lives upside down, then returned to nz, ...end of.

youngest dd turns up, "borrowing" money, turns my life upside down again, then disappears again.

next month, ds who is 48, says he is coming "home" as his work visa has expired , been working abroad for 2 years.
has no savings, nowhere to live, no job, no car, just expects me to pick up the pieces yet again.? just turn up at heathrow?

he was given/offered amazing opportunities in the past, college/uni, different course, and supported constantly.

yet he has made a total mess of his life, both working and personal.
he is a kind and thoughtful man, but is just like a feather in the wind, going which way the wind blows.
what do I do when he simply turns up ?

I have had a "difficult" life, battling for survival , yet managing to provide for the dc while they were young.

but, now I want/need some peace for myself.
am I being selfish?
my dh has endured the worry and anxieties of the last 3 decades, we just want to hide away in our little bubble, and leave them to it now.

help please.

Nocturne123 Mon 05-Jan-15 11:15:01

I don't think you're being selfish at all . Your children are all grown adults and although that doesn't mean you'll ever stop worrying about them they should be big enough to sort out their own problems without relying on you to bail them out .

I get the impression that you've helped them out a lot and I'm sure the worry has taken a toll on you .

My parents have helped me out so much emotionally and financially but I am eternally grateful for this and wouldn't dream of putting stress on them unduly.

Are your Dcs grateful for your help in the past ?

Not much advice really but you're not being selfish , you've raised you're children and provided them with opportunities it's your turn to enjoy your life with your dh .

By all means be an ear to listen to their problems but make it clear you can't just fix it all for them .

Good luck thanksthanks

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 11:18:21

Of course it's not selfish to expect middle-aged adults to deal with their own problems.

There's a famous management video all about 'monkeys'. The monkeys in question are the problems that other people have. The monkey is on their shoulder and, because they don't want it, they seek out people to give the monkey to. The bad manager quickly discovers that if you keep accepting other people's monkeys, pretty soon they're swamped.

So the video is all about how to avoid being passed the monkey in the first place smile For example, when 48 year old DS says he's coming home and has nowhere to live your response is 'so where are you going to stay?' 'what are you going to do about it?' 'I'm not able to help you ....' Leave the monkey firmly on his shoulders for once.

When youngest DD needs money, the same applies...'oh dear' 'what are you going to do about it?' 'how do you intend to raise the cash?'... 'I can't help you'

There will be complaints if they've been feather-bedded all their lives but it's never too late.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 11:21:15

Why do you say your life has involved 'battling for survival'? Sounds deeply traumatic. Do you think that has led to you indulging your family at your own expense?

Snappynewyear Mon 05-Jan-15 11:21:34

You epitomise the dilemma of older parents today. Often managing the affairs of their own parents and managing funerals etc, then their own children seem to be constantly needing support too sad

And because you are a parent it's almost impossible to just tell their DCs to sort themselves out and manage by themselves. You are not alone. There are many people like you. Maybe the loving supportive parenting that we all strive for actually makes children more dependent even though that's not the intention?

You can on the one hand say to yourselves that although they keep reappearing in your lives and turning it upside down, they are at least able to manage their own lives most of the time. There are many older parents who are managing children with mental and physical disabilities so their life is much harder. Parents who have lost children and struggle every day. So there is that positive in your life.

What you really want is for them to be settled and bringing positives into your lives. Not negatives like debt, homelessness, marital failure, but sometimes that's life and if you are just able to accept that and look at the positives in your lives then it may be easier. Hopefully you are financially secure? Have reasonable health? Able to enjoy the times you have together? Concentrate on this and accept that you aren't able to make perfect, happy lives for you DC.

eddielizzard Mon 05-Jan-15 11:23:58

def time to hang up the parent hat. 'i'm so sorry this has happened. what are you going to do about it? i'm so sorry, i can't help you this time.'

by the time you're 70 you've definitely earned the right to be left in peace. shame on your kids! i think they're so used to leaning on you it hasn't occurred to them to stop.

Moniker1 Mon 05-Jan-15 11:32:12

As I'm sure you know, if you keep stepping in to 'help' then they will keep expecting it.

You have to toughen up.

I would move somewhere too small to put them up, move somewhere where you are not in reach (remote countryside/ Spain).

Loaning the money, giving them a bed, is NOT going to change them, you could be doing them a favour by learning to say no, sorry, the next time you are asked for something. You are letting a bad situation continue.

Windywinston Mon 05-Jan-15 11:42:45

Whilst your support is clearly well meaning, it is enabling this behaviour in your adult children. If they know that they can't come running back for money and somewhere to live they will soon figure out that they need to be more responsible for themselves.

It's not about being cruel, you can and should support them in other ways, just not by picking up the pieces for them.

You sound worn down. You deserve to enjoy this time of life with your DH, don't feel guilty for wanting to.

tryingtogetusername Mon 05-Jan-15 11:43:29

ah, "eternally grateful" not one of them have ever said..thanks mum...just offloaded and "needed" since they ran head first into their own mistakes, despite me offering/giving them advice all along the way.

they are all pretty intelligent people, but one thing has been lacking is simple common sense.

yes, I have had a "difficult" life, but pulled myself up with a vengeance to provide a better, easier one for them.

unfortunately , "most of the time" they don't/can't manage their lives.
it's either been long exhausting phone calls/ emails or skype , and we are talking years and years of these dramas.

I feel like I am a spinning top, stuck in the middle of it all.
yes, that is what I would like, for once to receive a phone call when at least one of them is positive and happy.

on a day to day basis I am relaxed and content, but dread the next instalment of this or that has happened.
they seem to roll from one mess to another.
poor judgements, poor choices, poor relationships.

sometimes I blame myself by thinking maybe I worked too hard when they were children, but being alone I had no choice.

but, the day is coming when my ds will arrive at the airport and expect to live with us, I dread it as my dd has only recently left having "come home" for months.
I am financially ok -well just about, as dd almost destroyed my pension pot, with her "needs" last year.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 11:48:33

"pulled myself up with a vengeance to provide a better, easier one for them"

That's always a risk if you've had a bad start. In a well-meaning attempt to avoid your DCs having a crappy life, it can easily end up resulting in spoilt brats with no common sense. I don't advocate making DCs' lives difficult just to make a point but even an oyster needs a bit of grit if it's to produce a pearl.

Start as you mean to go on. Tell DS now that, when he arrives at the airport, he needs to have something lined up for a place to stay, money to live on, a car to drive etc. He must have some friends.....

thisisnow Mon 05-Jan-15 11:51:13

My parents moved to a tiny house where there is no room for us. I don't blame them. Second the poster who said move to Spain. Your kids are taking advantage big time, and they're not even "kids"!

tribpot Mon 05-Jan-15 11:54:52

Unfortunately you are enabling them - perhaps out of guilt at having to work when they were children? You don't need to feel remotely guilty about that, just proud that you were able to provide for them and raise them to adulthood.

But you finished that job nearly thirty years ago. Of course parents continue to support their children in adulthood but it feels like they've never been allowed to fail.

First things first is to tell your ds that he can't live with you. He's 48 years old. It's his responsibility to clothe and feed himself.

Secondly no more long, exhausting phone calls and skype chats. It's not your job to be picking up the pieces and being their main support - these people are old enough (just) to be grandparents themselves!

In terms of your pension, what do you mean about your dd, have you bailed her out or did she manage to turn things around before you had to destroy your pension? How will you manage for money if the former?

Can you sell up and move to somewhere which is deliberately not suitable for others to come and live, i.e. a one bed or into a retirement community? It sounds like you might need to free up money from your house anyway if you have been raided by your children, and it would put you in a position where you were able to say 'no can do' to their constant demands.

What does your DH think? I guess he feels perhaps he can't intervene too much as they are not his kids? But it's both of your old ages that you're gambling with by bailing them out all the time.

BrowersBlues Mon 05-Jan-15 11:56:31

Please don't blame yourself. You made the best decision that you could at that time. Working parents do not automatically damage their children. There are many stay at home mums in your position. It just happens. You are no doubt a loving mother and that is why they think they can just come home when the going gets tough.

Its very easy for me to say because I am not in your position but you need to toughen up or just accept the situation and not worry about it. My aunt had 4 sons who kept doing this. Herself and my uncle sold their 4 bedroom house and moved into a very small townhouse. That sorted out the problem and they got a new lease of life. Their sons have all settled down now. Once their safety net was taken away they stood on their own two feet. Actually what happened is within 3 years they all, bar one, found girlfriends/wives who took over the job of looking after them. Don't start me on that topic because it really annoys me.

When you are speaking to your DS could you possibly ask him where he intends staying when he returns? This could start the conversation and give him the opportunity to come up with an answer for himself.

ImperialBlether Mon 05-Jan-15 11:59:03

I think it's easier for your husband to intervene if they're not his kids, tbh. He needs to take control now and tell them the gravy train has ended.

I agree with the previous poster who said go to live somewhere too small for them to do more than visit for a day.

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Mon 05-Jan-15 12:18:57

You shouldn't have to move house in order to not have your children descend on you. Just tell him you are sorry but it's out of the question for him to come and live with you. The perhaps remind him that you are 71. Then ask what else you can do to help him at this difficult time.

FoxgloveFairy Mon 05-Jan-15 12:33:40

Awful. I guess there is no real way to emotionally cut your children loose, and they know that. For middle aged people to be turning up with hands hanging, nowhere to go and no means of support is ridiculous, short of say, a tsunami. Even then, how long does an insurance claim take? This is tough op. flowers

Roussette Mon 05-Jan-15 12:36:45

And what would they do if you weren't around?? They would survive. You owe it to yourself to stop bailing them out.

Are they thoughtful, thankful, appreciative? I bet not somehow... you have to be firm with them, they aren't in their twenties, they are grown men and women and should be ashamed of themselves putting upon you like this. They should be cossetting you, treating you, taking you out for a meal and looking after YOU, not the other way round. Be firm.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 12:38:30

"not one of them have ever said.. thanks mum"

That's pretty appalling, even from spoilt brats. We all do a lot for our kids but a thank you costs nothing.

juneau Mon 05-Jan-15 12:54:31

If you feel like this, then you need to grow a spine and just say 'no'. And I mean that in the nicest possible way, as you've clearly been a good and caring mum, but IMO 'parenting' ends when your DC become fully-grown adults, which in the case of your 40- and 50-something DC was a long time ago. Its one thing to bounce ideas off your parents and involve them in your life, quite another to be expecting them to bail you out and prop you up for all eternity.

So please tell you DS, before he gets on his plane and lands up on your doorstep yet again, that he has to stand on his own two feet as you cannot accommodate him or give him any money. And that goes for the other three too. By being the kind, generous parent you've been in the past you've set up the expectation that none of these four feckless individuals has to take responsibility for their own lives - well its about time they did. But in the meantime you're going to have to be strong and hold your ground, or this sad cycle will continue until you're no longer there for them to lean on. Think of it as doing them a favour, if you prefer, as you won't be around forever and they really do need to learn to fend for themselves.

PossumPoo Mon 05-Jan-15 12:56:57

Oh wow this is sad! I call my dm a few times a week, sometimes with good things to say, sometimes to vent. But I would never knowingly take advantage of her or my df.

I think pp are right to say that by trying your best for them, you've enabled them to treat you poorly.

I'd speak to each dc individually and tell them how you feel and how it's going to be from now on.

Bonsoir Mon 05-Jan-15 12:58:57

If all or several of your adult DC are like this, what exactly went on when they were little to make them so ill-prepared for adult life?

bigTillyMint Mon 05-Jan-15 13:01:55

You poor thing.

Were any of them needy teens? I have one needy teen and one pretty self-confident teen and I am praying that the needy one manages to develop some more self-reliance.

Clutterbugsmum Mon 05-Jan-15 13:14:35

Like others have said you need to stop, letting them use you as a Bank. You need to tell them the bank of mum and dad is closed.

When you son next contacts you, you need to tell him that he can stay with you for 1 month and he needs to give you £xXx per week to cover the extra costs, electric, gas and food while having him at home. And you will not be collecting him from the airport and that he needs to find his own way to yours.

I would also ask why has he not saved for this as he knew it was coming. It was his responsibly to make sure he could survive once his job and visa ran out and he finds a new job.

thegreylady Mon 05-Jan-15 13:42:45

I am a similar age and dh and I have 5 dc between the ages of 40 and 45. Some of them came home for a few months in their 20s but since then all are established. I would offer sanctuary for a maximum of 6 weeks to your ds and make sure he knows that is all, bed and food only.
You can give no more money to any of them not even a 'loan'. At the end of the 6 weeks you have people coming to stay or you are going away or the house is going on the market. You have to be firm now, this is your time for you and dh. Good Luck

GoatsDoRoam Mon 05-Jan-15 13:43:26

Why are you letting your son "expect" that you will pick him up and house him?

TELL him that you will not be picking him up and cannot house him.

If he expects something, time to clear up what you will and will not do. Otherwise you will just be wringing your hands here, and then doing what is distressing you anyway (bailing a child out yet again). Is that what you want?

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