Enabling A Son Who Is Unwell
Dear Annie: My stepson, “Dale,” lives off benefits from the government and his father — my sweet, loving husband, who is in his 70s. Dale has not worked for five years, and his dad bails him out of every scrape and crisis he gets himself into. Dale has been fired from every job he has ever had. He has spent time in rehab. He lies, steals, is involved in risky behavior and may be back on drugs. The final straw is that his landlord has kicked him out.
There is a history of depression, and he is on medication, but physically he is fit and able. As a couple, we have attended National Alliance on Mental Illness meetings (a great organization) and ongoing marriage guidance sessions to try to agree on boundaries, etc., when dealing with this situation.
A parent always loves his kids, but when is it time to say “enough is enough” and let them go? I will not have Dale come and live with us in our tiny home. The real problem is that my husband is Dale’s enabler. When will my husband wake up and accept that he is being taken in, lied to and manipulated on almost a daily basis? My husband’s view remains, “What if I didn’t do enough and he harms himself?” My husband needs to give himself permission to say, “I tried!” — Frustrated Stepmother
Dear Frustrated Stepmother: I agree that your husband needs to give himself permission to detach with love. But your husband must decide this for himself, just as Dale must decide for himself that he needs help. Attempting to rush your husband to this realization won’t help — and in fact might backfire.
I’m so glad you’re both in therapy and attending NAMI meetings. I would also urge you to attend a 12-step family program, such as Families Anonymous, Nar-Anon or Al-Anon. Hearing how others have learned to put the focus back on themselves might inspire you and your husband to do the same.
Dear Annie: I work with the public and would like to remind readers not to carry their Social Security cards in their wallets, because if a card is lost or stolen, a person could become the victim of identity theft. On numerous occasions, I have had transactions with an elderly gentleman, and each time he opens his wallet, I see his Social Security card prominently displayed under a window sleeve. On one visit, I very nicely mentioned how the card should be locked in a safe in his home and why. He said he sometimes needs to give out his Social Security number. I told him it should be memorized and it’s never necessary to actually show the card. I’ve waited on him several times since, and I still see his card on each visit.
Please, readers, make sure your loved ones do not carry their cards on them and they are locked away in a safe place. Unfortunately, in today’s world, identity theft is very prevalent, and crooks will stop at nothing to find their next victim. — Waits on Customers in VA
Dear Waits on Customers: I second your plea. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, “identity theft springing from a stolen Social Security card carried in a wallet or purse is among the most common ways people become victims.” If you’ve lost your Social Security card — even if you don’t believe it’s being used — call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. If your card has been stolen, contact your local police department immediately, and visit https://identitytheft.gov for more steps you can take after the fact.