Hello! I have made comments to other posts but have not done an actual one on my situation with my 23 year old daughter. So here goes. “M” is 23 and lives at home in a tiny cottage in our back yard. She was an engaging child as a youngster. No obvious problems during those early years although in hindsight and after reading Dr L’ s on child hood anxiety I absolutely recognize some anxiety behavior.
Fast forward to age 12 ( onset puberty). A incident at school whereby a trio of girls called her “ annoying” and ousted her from their group and all heck broke lose for the next decade of our lives.
She school refused much to our dismay and we spend the next 2 difficult years with home school teachers, counseling appointments, school time accommodations, Drs visits, antidepressants, and so many missed days they threatened jail time?.....
Desperate, deflated, frustrated and weary we then performed ( unwittingly) the biggest “accommodation “of all and pulled her out of school permanently to” homeschool.”. on hindsight... ” BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER.”
We just didn’t know what to do and the school was in agreement. The ensuing 4 years of self imposed isolation only served to further her propensity for avoidance. After graduation she worked several part time jobs.. attempted one semester of jr college But could never hang. “I am the best worker but no one likes me”.. “my boss doesn’t appreciate my efforts” .. her depression and anxiety worsened.. panic attacks worsened..
We waited for new Dr appointments for various physical ailments.. “hormone problems” “ stomach problems”.., new psych dr’s when she fired old ones due to ” their attention is elsewhere and they dont seem to care”.. therapy appointments.. new Med changes with antidepressants.. 30 sessions neurofeedback....alternative treatments... to no avail. . She refused to practice CBt/Dbt.. “ doesn’t fit with me .. doesn’t help .. it’s not what I need”
HERE WE ARE. At age 23. I have spent the greater part of the last 10 years advocating..researching , making calls..trying new therapies as I attempted to figure out how to help my daughter the best to move forward. I finally ended up here at SPACE after reading Dr Lebowitz research article on parental accommodation and completely identified with almost everything he had to say. A HUGE” AHA “moment underscored the “lightbulb “ and moved me forward to where we are now.
I can honestly say that his words have empowered me to finally understand how accommodation is only inhibiting “M” from moving forward with the difficult work she needs to do herself.
He sent me parameters for young adults via email as well as reading his book and guide..
I know I have absolutely tried as hard as I could and given my daughter every opportunity to move forward with access to health care, counseling, medication, family support. Now it’s time to let her do the work with me in the background .
We made a contract of what we would pay for and time parameters for achieving goals.We both signed and it was very helpful to have that meeting so she would sense our commitment. I can live with it. I have reached my end game where I feel that I am “Ok” with whatever happens. I imagine that it is a very personal parental gut feeling and will be different for each person. There is no magic age..For my family 10 years has been long enough for her avoidance to affect 4 other people in the manner that it has. Everyone suffers. Anyway... the changes.. have been met with very strong emotional resistance by my daughter. I was prepared for this after being warned by the book. We have given “M” several chances and warnings over the past 6 weeks. Unfortunately last week we had to ask her to leave and not return until she had made some positive changes toward her attitude, expectations and attempts at self sufficiency. So hard to be objective about your own kid..but when your entire village is looking at you dumbfounded like “ DUH”.. what took you so long.. you feel pretty darned good about the decision..
I feel like a weight has been lifted. Is that horrible?? She is an adult with many resources at her fingertips..I absolve myself of being responsible as to whether she uses them or not. And I feel happy and ok with that! It’s nice to rediscover the relationship with my husband and oldest daughter as well. Life has been “ on hold“ for a decade.
I empathize and care deeply for my youngest daughters emotional difficulties but I realize that although she didn’t cause them it is her responsibility to manage them...not me.
She is staying with a another family member and it is a uncomfortable environment for her. (GOOD! ).She is safe, warm and fed.
We provide very a very basic allowance for her daily needs..but there is a contract and time frame for that too.
I know this text is long.. but perhaps it will help another parent..I truly feel that my daughter would not be in this position if I had been aware of ” parental accommodation “ 10 years ago. All I can be is grateful that I have learned about it now. We have hope that although “late to the party “ that “M“ will step up to the plate that is now hers alone... IF a doctor tells me that there is no hope and that she will never be independant then we are here for her of course.. but we gotta let her try.
Good luck to all.. I will post updates as they occur. Thanks for reading!XXOO
Its been a while but do you have an update? :)
Hi I am new here and would like to clarify— what is book title others have referred to? We are struggling with our 21 year old son, his difficulties started at the end of high school. He has tried several meds for depression and now is finishing up with spravato treatments. He is not participating in counseling and not really getting better. I have to try something else. Thanks
I have spent 10 years in same position. Thank you for your post. i am working with a space therapist and making progress. The guilt had been challenging.
After rereading my initial post I realized I did not fill in what happened after we asked asked her to leave last October. She spent several months In an uncomfortable environment with a family member who after several months begged us to bring her back home . He had a very difficult time dealing with her anxiety and depression. So we did. We thought maybe it was enough to wake her up a bit to reality. At first she was better.. appreciative.. making promises... and then quickly reverted back to her old ways. Self isolated. Grew more depressed. We were ready as I said to evict her and then Covid hit. Now here we are 6 months later and ready again. She has until Jan 1 . . My point Being. It is not an easy quick fix. It is a long hard struggle ...until it isn't. And we are there thankfully. Good luck with your son. ❤️
Thank you Laura!
Hi Matstrish! Wow I have not posted in almost a year. I must say that Covid put a kink in my plans to push self emancipation on our 23 ..now 24 year old daughter. however.. my husband and I are retiring and so the time is nigh and her health insurance and funding will be gone. Perfect timing. I have had many years of reading and thinking and the wisdom of Eli's words ringing in my ear. I have to let this kid try. I have to know for myself as well , if given the opportunity , and with me out of the picture if she will sink or swim. Covid or not... here she comes . Just to back track one year.. we were armed and ready to ask her to leave. We had the boxes made and were ready to pack. Then boom. Covid. At that point we decided it was not the best time to ask her to leave and so we have waited..Job market tanked.. and being housebound for so long we felt she was susceptible.
That being said...we are ready now.
She has met all the parameters.,she can bank.. shop..do laundry..keep her cottage tidy .. walk the dog.. make appointments ..call the insurance company to resolve her own problems.. keeps track of rx's and car maintenence .Does she Want to do all those things?.NO.. but we have pushed her on this.
We are retiring in Dec. She will have to get a job to pay all bills including a small rent on the cottage. She has been given fair warning but still seems in denial. We are prepared to let her live in her car if it comes to that. Morgan is highly resistant to doing anything difficult. It causes her extreme anxiety. If she fails we will help her apply for possible SSDI .. though she will have to establish with a psychiatrist who can help. Thus far she has not had good luck with counselors and doctors as far as finding help ... in her opinion ...... I hope I don't sound harsh. I am and always have been overly empathetic. One of the problems I gather... A Huge amount of hand wringing heart breaking resolve was needed to get to this point. As I said before .. the end point will be different for all. I know in my heart this will help her.
Here are the parameters You asked for young adults that Eli graciously mailed to me. One year ago there was no info on this. Now I see that the net has exploded. I am convinced that this concept will save our family. His chapter on young adults in his book was helpful as well. The entire book helped me understand how accommodation keeps them from practicing learning to deal with discomfort. I saw Morgan in those examples. Dear Laura,
I am so glad that you are finding the work we do helpful and sorry for the difficulties you and she are facing.
An email can’t take the place of working closely with someone and it would not be responsible of me to make specific recommendations without in-depth knowledge of the situation, so I’ll just briefly summarize the main elements of plans I often recommend when working with parents of adult children:
Identifying the various ways in which parents are accommodating the lack of function in the adult child. This can include the provision of financial and other supports that make it easier to continue to avoid functioning outside of the home, including internet access.
Establishing a clear expectation for a functional change in the adult child. This would be a specific step forward that is meaningfully different from the current level of functioning but is not too far removed or too large a step. In extreme situations this might be as small as spending an hour outside of a bedroom. In other cases perhaps going outside for an hour a day, engaging in a useful/productive activity such as a useful task or chore, or applying for jobs.
Once the expectation is determined parents deliver a message to the adult child conveying their understanding of the difficulties and their concern about the lack of function and determination to make a change. Parents clearly explain the expectation and the steps they will take if it is not met.
Steps parents will take if the expectation is not met draw from the various things they provide. For example it could be that on any day in which the adult child did not leave the house for an hour internet access is removed for 24 hours, and restored as soon as the expectation is met. It is important to do it like this, on a daily basis, rather than longer term to allow for response to each day’s expectation being met or not.
Parents then need a way to monitor if the expectation is met or not and they implement the plan in a determined but non-threatening way.
Parents avoid argument and debate about the plan.
Hope it’s helpful and best wishes,
Eli R. Lebowitz, Ph.D. Associate Professor in the Child Study Center Yale School of Medicine 230 S. Frontage Rd. New Haven, CT 06520 (203)785-7905 email@example.com
Morgans problems have affected the entire family. Someone once told me " one individual can not be allowed to take down an entire family. I do look forward to having an adult relationship with my other daughter who has waited patiently on the sidelines for 12 years.
Laura and Steve
Thanks Rebecca! I just found the book on Amazon in Germany. Very pricey but it sounds like a treasure trove./Tricia
Hi Laura! Your story is really interesting for me since I am dealing with a 20 year old son with anxiety issues. I am getting Dr Liebowitz book but was unsure how it applies to young adults. Do you have or can you share the parameters for young adults he sent you?
Laura, thank for sharing your story with others. I hear so many stories that are so similar and I know how isolating the problem can be, not just for the adult child but for parents as well. Hearing from other parents who have coped or are coping with similar problems can be very comforting and give hope. Thank you!
Thanks for sharing! Can I share your story with the parents I work with in my private practice? I'm sure it would be very supportive for them to read the hard work you did and how SPACE was helping you to gave 'rebirth' to your daughter into life! All best, Greet