Spent Nest Egg Enabling My Oldest Son

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Over a 6 or so year period I spent our entire nest egg enabling my oldest son with his financial problems.

I am an only child of divorced parents; I was married to my first husband for 32 years when he repeatedly cheated. I was married to my second husband for 7 months when he died. I will be married to my current husband 8 years next week. For the past 6 or so years I spent a LOT of money enabling my son and we are now not only broke, but we are in debt. I am being treated for depression, but when my husband asks what I was thinking when I did this, I have no answer. I did not intend to hurt him, I felt I HAD to protect my son. I know it was wrong now and I know I will NEVER do anything like that again. But I don’t understand how my judgment could have been so wrong for all that time, and I’m wondering if I should see a therapist to help me sort out what happened. Can you help me?

A: I am so very sorry that you find yourself in this predicament. But I am glad you have brought the question to us.

Yes, therapy is a good idea for a variety of reasons — first, the fact that you are aware the enabling behavior with your son needs to change, and second, that you have a relationship with your husband that you need to heal. A therapist will help you sort through the history and reasons for your actions, but more importantly he or she will help you move forward and learn from what you will come to understand.

I would also recommend you try a debtors anonymous group in your area. These 12-step based programs are free, and they specifically discuss the process of staying out of debt. It will also help you build a support network as you make these important changes in your life.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Spent Nest Egg Enabling My Oldest Son. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/04/spent-nest-egg-enabling-my-oldest-son/