classylady

Christlike charity/help vs. Enabling People

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My husband and I have a situation that is going on right now, and we are not sure if we are helping or enabling. Let me give you a synapsis of what is happening. As many of you know I have a grandson who is now 13 years old. His mother (my daughter) died in a car accident when he was two months old. She never married the father of her baby and was living at our home with my grandson at the time of the accident. After the accident, the baby's father moved in with us for about 18 months, and then felt like he could manage on his own with the baby. My husband and I always picked up our grandson every weekend to stay with us, and our grandson has lived with us most summers and every time the father could no longer pay rent (which seemed to happen on a regular basis). The father would often go live with friends when he couldn't pay rent, and so grandson would come and live with us. Sometimes the father would also move in with us. Our grandson has almost been raised like one of our own children rather than just a grandchild since he has lived a great deal of his life with us.

Three years ago grandson's father started dating a woman with four children. She has lupus, fibromyalgia, sjogrens disease, and is bi-polar. Because of her illnesses she is no longer able to work (she was a nurse), and is currently trying to get disability payments. Her only sources of income was child-support and Government assistance. My grandson's father (I don't know what to call him since he was never truly a son-in-law), lived with her about 2 years, and my grandson lived with us for about a year before moving in with them too. In October grandson's father came and asked if they could all move in with us since they were being evicted from their apartment. My heart sank when I heard this. Yes, we have the room since it's only my husband and youngest son that live home now. But, I knew it was going to be hard to have them all in my home. That's an additional 7 people and I am not related to this woman, and her children (ages 14, 12, 11, 5) at all. I barely knew them at the time. He told me they would pay rent, buy food (since they receive food stamps), and would help clean the house. At that time he was thinking it would be until the end of May before the Disability income would finally come through and then they would move out. But, now it looks like it will be the end of Summer before they can leave, if then.

We did receive the first month's rent. But, then in November, her child-support was cut in half. So, since that time they have been unable to pay rent. They have given us some money here and there, but it is sparse, and nothing what they promised. Also, the promise of buying food has been sporadic. I don't know what they spend their food-stamps on, but they take it down to their room, and we see very little of it. So, my husband and I have still been buying food for us and all their kids. Also, our utilities almost went double with 7 extra people in the house. My husband and I are on a very limited source of income. We receive some Social Security and a small pension from my husband's retirement. If it wasn't for my youngest son helping out, we would not have been able to pay our utilities and other bills. And, as for the housework, I am the one that seems to do all the dishes.

My husband and I have really had a hard time trying to stay positive and to not feel resentful. I know it was the right thing to let them move in. This is my grandson's family. He loves them. And, the missionaries have been coming over and teaching her kids since they have never been baptized. I tell myself and repeat the song "Because I have been Given Much I too must Give", plus, I believe in this scripture and try to follow it 

Mosiah 4:16-19  16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

But, when does helping turn into enabling? My grandson's father does not have a full-time job. He does have a business that he runs from the house, (web site design) but he has very few clients, so again, he has very little income. Are we enabling him by allowing him to live with us? I don't see that he has much incentive to find work since he has a place to live. And, he thinks they'll have it made once the Disability income begins. Also, she should be getting a hefty lump sum in back Disability payments once it goes through. Should we insist they reimburse in full for the rent they haven't been able to pay us?

Neither my husband or I are very assertive. It takes a lot to get us riled. But, I'm reaching my breaking point. I try to think Christ-like thoughts, but resentment is starting to get the best of me. Thanks for reading. Maybe, I just needed a venue to vent.

 

 

Edited by classylady

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In general, this is how I gauge whether I'm helping or enabling:  Love others as you love yourself.  Love means to bring people with me closer to Christ.  If the thing I'm doing is bringing them and myself closer to Christ then it's good.  If it's bringing them closer but bringing me farther, then something is wrong that needs to be adjusted.  If it's bringing them farther, then something is wrong that needs to be adjusted.

Right now, it might be that you're bringing them closer to Christ but it's driving you farther from Christ.  So, there's something here that needs to be adjusted.

As a 3rd party with nothing else to go by but your post, this is my 2 centavos worth:

You already committed to giving them shelter until the disability payments begin.  I suggest you move closer to Christ by praying for more patience and generosity in your heart to be able to survive the next few weeks until disability payments come through.  At the same time, you can help them figure out what's taking that payment so long to arrive.  The way my family has always handled "co-habiting" is that everybody's income goes to the head of the household who takes care of budgeting things out including what the co-habiters can spend for themselves.  There's no more "my money".  You live in my house, it's all our money (yep, the family living in one house is where socialist principles apply - the only place that it works).  But since you haven't established this when they moved in, then you have to decide whether it's too late to move towards this paradigm or if you can still somehow move towards this situation.

When the disability payments eventually come, I suggest to not worry about backpay.  Rather, I suggest you help them figure out a proper budget, including looking for the best place that they can truly afford with the fixed income that they are going to receive and having the rent that they were supposed to pay you used to pay for the new place in lump sum advanced payment that acts as a security deposit.  That means that they still have to pay the monthly rent starting on the first month they live on the apartment.  The lump sum advanced payment will be security deposit so they have some cushion to catch up on missed rents before they get kicked out.  This will have to be worked out with the rental property manager.  Also, see if you can qualify for HUD housing.

Hope this helps.

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My $0.02:  "Enabling" is when assisting a person in a way that stifles their growth.  Enabling is not helping, it is hurting.   

The current arrangement you described is very much enabling: your assistance has kept grandson's-dad and girlfriend from growing and becoming responsible adults, because you're shielding them from the consequences of their choices.   This is NOT Christ-like, rather it is hurting them.    Additionally it is hurting you & your husband.  I would sit down with the two of them, and inform them when they will be moving out (no negotiating) (yes, I realize this is not easy for you).  

 

Yes, there is a good chance that your grandson will end up living with you again.  You can do your best to raise him in truth and righteousness, taking responsibility for his actions.

What about grandson's-dad and girlfriend?  They'll face the consequences of their choices/actions.  If they want to change those consequences, they can change their choices/actions: get a full-time job, budgeting, etc.  They will NOT learn responsibility without having to face consequences.

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1 hour ago, classylady said:

Also, she should be getting a hefty lump sum in back Disability payments once it goes through. Should we insist they reimburse in full for the rent they haven't been able to pay us?

I'd say you shouldn't wait, but start selling their organs on the black market now.

OTOH, it sounds like they may not have very many in worthwhile condition.

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You are being completely taken advantage of.  He is treating you like the door mat you have let yourself become since he knocked up your daughter and made a son.  You can call him a father of your grandson, but that sounds like it is strictly biological.  He is no father, and not a man either.  

You should kick them out of your house today.  You should insist they pay you the rents agreed upon.  You should take them to small claims court if they refuse.  

In addition to enabling you are hurting your grandson.  You are hurting him because you are allowing him to be taught that this is the manner in which adults deal with their problems in life.  You are teaching him that it is OK to not keep your word, and it is OK to be messy and not pick up after yourself because grandma, or some other poor schlep without a backbone will put up with it.

Grow a spine and get rid of them, you should never have let them into the house in the first place.  

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1 minute ago, mdfxdb said:

You are being completely taken advantage of.  He is treating you like the door mat you have let yourself become since he knocked up your daughter and made a son.  You can call him a father of your grandson, but that sounds like it is strictly biological.  He is no father, and not a man either.  

You should kick them out of your house today.  You should insist they pay you the rents agreed upon.  You should take them to small claims court if they refuse.  

In addition to enabling you are hurting your grandson.  You are hurting him because you are allowing him to be taught that this is the manner in which adults deal with their problems in life.  You are teaching him that it is OK to not keep your word, and it is OK to be messy and not pick up after yourself because grandma, or some other poor schlep without a backbone will put up with it.

Grow a spine and get rid of them, you should never have let them into the house in the first place.  

I very much agree with this post, except I personally would phrased the last part much gentler.  

ClassyLady, you're not helping your grandson's dad and you're teaching your grandson very poor lessons (the otherwise it sounds like you're a really good grandma/mother figure).

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8 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

I very much agree with this post, except I personally would phrased the last part much gentler.  

ClassyLady, you're not helping your grandson's dad and you're teaching your grandson very poor lessons (the otherwise it sounds like you're a really good grandma/mother figure).

I typically don't pull out the big guns, but in this case I feel gentle wont cut it.  ClassyLady needs to get mad, real mad, not only at her supposed "son in law", but also herself for letting things come to this point.

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3 hours ago, anatess2 said:

  There's no more "my money".  You live in my house, it's all our money (yep, the family living in one house is where socialist principles apply - the only place that it works).  .

 

Anatess

As usual I think you have some brilliant ideas. 

I don't have kids, so this would never have happened to me.

But second, I would never have let them move in if I did have kids.

And I think for anybody that does let someone move in like that, the giving all the money to the head of household idea is excellent. 

I have a very extremely strong suspicion, that, if faced with that option upon moving in, many of the people in those situations would not move in.

Problem solved.

dc

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I think you are enabling. Note I do have a bias as I have witnessed several incidents similar where things just went rotten. My mother tried something similar with her sister and suffered a nervous breakdown. My old coworker has dug herself into a pit she may never escape (her "helping" cost her the job she was using to support everyone, ironically.)

The only person I'd say you owed anything to is your grandson. You have no legal or biological connection to anyone else in the situation.

I say set a date when things need to change, be that everyone moving out or everyone committing to the terms. If nothing else, expect rent, food contributions and cleaning from here on out. Your house, your standards. Put them in a situation where staying with you should be second in desirability only to a shelter.

 

Edited by Backroads

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I would want more detail on the disability payments. They are notoriously difficult to get 1) the first time around and 2) w/o an attorney. Have they filed and the attorney told them everything was approved? If you don't have a letter stating she's been approved and listing the monthly benefit amount, I'd take any talk about disability with a grain of salt. Toward the end of my practice law I worked with adult schizophrenics and their parents setting up trusts so they could continue their disability payments.. I have a sister on disability. I know a little about this stuff.

I also have another sister who has lied through her teeth to stay rent free in my mother's apartment. I have to admit that this situation has caused so much discord in my family, no one wants to visit my mother any more because they have to deal with this sister and her awful child. To be blunt, the rest of us would have no problem booting them out, but my mother keeps them, even when it means she has to ask for money from the rest of us because this sister and her demon child syphon off all of her money. 

If you want to keep the grandchild, that's your call. Everyone else has to go. Now. There's no guarantee that even if they get the money, that you will get any. With a certain type of person, it wouldn't matter how much money they have, something else would always come up that stops them from paying their bills. Scrape 'em off. 

Yeah, I'm harsh, but I intend to keep my sanity and the money I make. I've very charitable, but I don't enable. 

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