Q: > My parents wanted to help but would’t let my decisions for my son be. They manipulated his staying with me as a child and then coaxed me to send him to them. Then they coaxed me to be a better mother and take care of him myself. My father has passed away and my son was sent to live with his father after he spent some time in my parents home. He is now 18, unwilling to help himself and not motivated to complete necessary steps to move on with his life. No job for long, therapy completion needed to get in to the army and my mother took it upon herself to let him back into her home. His dogs and all. Now she is calling me to come help with his needs. I live 7 hours away and work as well as school. I have two small children. I advised her not to take on responsibility with my son who expects others to do for him, but she did and now is calling me angry because it is too much for her. I can’t just quit my work and all to run down there solve problems that my son should learn how to deal with himself… mind you with a little advice but not handouts. My poor mother believes that she has to solve everything. and in my opinion should just back off and just be the grandma not the meddler just to hang issues over my head. She hung up on me last week after calling irate and has not returned my calls. I am angry with my son for disrespecting my mother and I mean really dissing her. Cussing coming in at all hours and keeping two dogs that he does not take care of. HELP HELP HELP
A. What a tangle! I’m so sorry you are in such a stressful situation. From what you told me, your mother is trying to have it both ways. She wants to be in charge of your son unless he is difficult. Then she turns him back over to you. Somehow you didn’t have the strength when you were younger to resist your parents’ influence. But you’re older (and wiser) now and your son is a young adult who has some growing up to do. You can’t undo the past or rescue either of them. You live too far away and have two small children to raise. What you can do is let them both know that you are happy to have your son come live in your house while he gets on his feet but he’ll need to get rid of the dogs, get a job, pay you rent, and follow your rules. Furthermore, emphasize that he can’t go back and forth. If he decides to come and live by your rules but then decides he doesn’t like it and leaves, he won’t be welcomed back. If he can’t accept those conditions, he’s on his own. If your mother can’t support those conditions and continues to “rescue” him from reality, she’s on her own. There’s no point in your being angry about the relationship between your son and his grandmother. They created their relationship and it’s between the two of them. You can work on cleaning up your relationships with your mother and your son by sticking by your decisions now. You didn’t mention if you have a husband. If so, I hope he can help you stay clear, kind, and firm. Your son (and apparently your mother) needs structure, not rescuing.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 May 2006
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). My Mother won’t let me take charge of my son.. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/05/31/my-mother-wont-let-me-take-charge-of-my-son/