Today my 21 year old is in jail for possession and DWI. For the past 9 years she has struggled with Bipolar Disorder. When she was 13 she was institutionalized for cutting and drug use. She came home at 17 and graduated High school early. She received a full scholarship to the JR college for her musical talents. She became bored and quit school moving out of state to attend a larger university. (During the years from 18 to 21 she has had severe irratic changes in her behavior. Huge anger issues and depression.) She became pregnant at 19 quit the university and moved home with the babies father to have the baby. for several months she did ok working and seemed happy. Then more the pregnancy progressed the more angry she became. After the baby was born she several episodes of very violent behavior to the babies father. We all tried to talk her into getiing some help. she refused saying she did not have a problem. Finally she agreed to get back on medication and she seemed ok for several months. She stopped taking the medication and again became violent not only to the babies father but to me and her brother as well. She married then started stripping for extra money. The marriage did not survive and she has been living in various hotels, cars, others homes, for the past 8 months. It is impossible to talk to her about getting help as she explodes and goes into fits of rage. My Grandaughter will be 2 in December and she is suffering horribly. I think mydaughter has some form of obligatory love for her but not a normal love. The neglect is terrible. I cannot begin to describe the conditions that she has subjected the child to. I have begged and pleaded that the babies father file for custody. He for some reason thinks she can recover and just stop her behavior if she wants to. I do not think she can stop. I don’t know how to help her. She is 21 and I have no legal rights any longer. Today the babies father was forced to take the baby to his mother so that he could go to work. My daughter, as is often the case, was not available to pick up the baby. At 1030 this morning, in a fit of rage she went to ex mother-in-laws house, demanded the baby and physically abused the woman when she told her she was being bathed. My daughter grabbed thebaby form the tub naked and wet and ran form the house. She then took her to a motel where she has been staying with other strippers. he police came to talk to her over the incident. She then got into her car with the baby and sped out hitting pole head on. She was arrested for possession.

There are brief moments when I see my daughter but it only last for a short time then she changes into something. Her mood can go form happy to crazy in a split second. She is also suicidal.

I fear for her life and my Grandaughters. I have called the Department Of Family Services and the Police. But it seems children have to be nearly dead before they will take a child away from a parent. I need to get my daughter help but she refuses to admit she has a problem. What can I do?

A. This is a very difficult and complicated situation. I would recommend exploring what legally can be done to protect your granddaughters. This may include taking your daughter to court and having a judge determine her level of competency. Currently, because of serious mental health issues and drug addiction, she is not able to care for the children. You may be able to make the case in court for why she is unable to care for the children.

I would recommend contacting an attorney to explore your legal options. If you cannot afford a private attorney, the American Bar Association website may be able to link you to free or low-cost legal assistance. When evaluating attorneys, try to choose one who has had previous experience dealing with child custody issues and mentally ill parents. There are attorneys who specialize in this area.

I would also recommend a few meetings with a good therapist. A therapist may be able to help you develop a plan to help leverage (i.e. force) your daughter into treatment. Some families also find it helpful to meet with a professional interventionalist. Here is a link to a professional group who may be able to help.

In the meantime, I would also recommend contacting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They have support groups that meet across the country. Many individuals find the NAMI groups helpful because it offers them the chance to interact with other parents who are often facing the same problems. NAMI support groups can also provide helpful tips on how to navigate the legal and mental health system. Because many of the members tend to be seasoned veterans of these systems, they may have “inside information” they can share.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this problem. Having a mentally ill son or daughter can take a great emotional toll on the family. I understand how difficult this situation is for you and your family. The best course of action may be a legal one or finding a way to leverage your daughter into treatment. By contacting the suggested professional and advocacy groups, you may begin working on a solution. You should also continue to contact child protective services (CPS). Call the experts and CPS. Keep calling them until you find someone who can help. You and your family need support. I hope that you are able to get the help that your family needs. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). 21-Year-Old Daughter Destroying Her Life and Her Babies. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/08/21-year-old-daughter-destroying-her-life-and-her-babies/