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How to Help My Bipolar Daughter Make Better Choices

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Q. My 47 yr old daughter is Bipolar and about to get sick at this time because her son plans to study in Germany. My 47 year old daughter was diagnosed Bipolar some (7) years ago and had about six episodes mostly triggered by heavy load of work in the office. Her husband and our family have counseled her not to take too much load and to this date, she has accepted that she cannot afford to work more than she should, in order to prevent episodes. However, last month, her only son who is 20 years old expressed desire to study in Germany for (1) year and being a mother who would do anything for her son, she together with her husband agreed to shoulder the cost despite their financial difficulty, and right now, she got sick again. Our family analyzed the reason why she got sick and we can tell it’s because of the financial aspect coupled with emotional aspect. This is actually her situation: (1) they are not realistically able to tackle the financial responsibility for the entire year of his schooling because her 64 husband who was injured is not earning enough as a salesman (2) She has to take out $18,000 from her 401K which leaves her with only $22,000 if she does. In addition, her husband does not have a 401K and currently does not have a life insurance. Ergo, she will have the financial burden for as long as her son is in Germany.

We are thinking maybe in the back of her mind, she is worried if they can really afford to take care of it for the whole year. We explained to her that the fee for the tuition and the lodging is just a part of the expenses…that the incidentals and maintenance for the whole year will be a lot especially that the Euros are very high presently. But like I said, being a mother, she agreed to take on the responsibility, and that is why she started to get sick. What can I do to convince her to say No to her son ? That her worry about the financial responsibility is the one that triggered her getting sick again ? She does not seem to accept the reality. I want to find out from a professional therapist if I am right in assuming so. I would appreciate very much for any answer or advice you can give me.

How to Help My Bipolar Daughter Make Better Choices

Answered by on -

A.

I think you see the truth very clearly in this situation but your daughter does not. Trying to get her to think about this matter correctly and logically is something you can try (and it seems like you already have) but she still may not listen.

You are correct when you note that it is not a good idea to essentially go into financial debt so she can send her child to Germany for a vacation. This is not a wise parenting decision. But in her specific instance, it’s not only a bad idea financially but mentally for her, it can lead to a relapse.

All you can do is try again to make your case. But once you have made your case and she still is not interested in taking your advice, you must stop. There are several reasons for this. One is because you will be wasting your time and energy. You cannot “make” anyone take your advice, no matter how good the advice is or how right you are. Also, you do not want to risk adding further stress to the situation because as you mentioned she has bipolar disorder, and the increased stress may expedite a disorder relapse.

Try your hardest to make your case but stop when it is clear that she is not interested. I know it’s difficult to sit on the “sidelines” and watch someone you love make poor choices that clearly are detrimental but unfortunately it might be all that you can do. Thanks for writing.

How to Help My Bipolar Daughter Make Better Choices

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). How to Help My Bipolar Daughter Make Better Choices. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/05/19/how-to-help-my-bipolar-daughter-make-better-choices/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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