I came across the following post on my blog the other day and wanted to comment on it:
“Hi David, I have a daughter who is 51 and I was never aware that she was B-Polar. I never
even heard it back then. After 2 years of financially helping her and her husband thing now are back to the same angry and mean spirited daughter that she was before. I put a lot of money so she could have a business to give her a place to work and be creative. I helped buy a house so she could always have a place of her own. Now that they have their own money she thinks she now will be fine. I pray she is as I now just will not speak to her or let her tell me what a horrible mother I was when she was a child. I was 19 when I had her and with no help from my parents. I was a child raising a child! What now?”
This woman is really hurting because of her daughter with bipolar disorder. But, and I hate to say this, it is her own fault. Why? Because she got caught in a trap. The trap of enabling. She enabled her daughter, and now, unfortunately, she is paying the price.
She says: “After 2 years of financially helping her and her husband thing now are back to the same angry and mean spirited daughter that she was before.” So she states the basic problem right there: She helped her daughter out financially for 2 years. Which in itself sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? As a parent, you want to help your child if they need it. But when it comes to bipolar disorder, sometimes that can backfire on you, as it did in this case. Because she says that after her helping her daughter, her daughter went right back to being the same mean
spirited person she was before she helped her. That’s what can happen when you enable your loved one. When you do things for your loved one that they should be doing for themselves, they never learn… they never grow. They don’t become independent. And they don’t learn to manage their bipolar disorder like they should. Even though this mother had all the best of intentions, there are things she could have done differently. If she hadn’t just given the money to her daughter, yes, her daughter may have gotten mad at her, but she is still mad at her now! But she would have found a way to make ends meet on her own. Which would have made her stronger in her bipolar disorder. And less dependent on her mother. Which would have made her resent her less now.
So if you’re going to help a family member with bipolar disorder financially, you need to take a lesson from this woman. Because you don’t want the same thing to happen to you. You definitely don’t want to fall into the trap of enabling. So the main thing you need to keep in mind is if you’re going to help them financially, make it for the least amount of time as possible (like in this case, 2 years was definitely way too long). Or make it a loan, so they have to take some responsibility with it, and pay it back. Also, instead of giving them money, you can do other things. For example, if they need medicine, go to the pharmacy and get the medicine for them. Or if they need groceries, go and buy the groceries for them. Same thing with rent or mortgage payment – just pay it for them instead of giving them the money. This way you know where the money is going.
Well, I have to go!