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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5804
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How can I approach my daughter about what I perceive as her

Resolved Question:

How can I approach my daughter about what I perceive as her being an enabler for her daughter. (Or does that make me an enabler also?) Her daughter is married to a man who we suspect is addicted to pain killers and he is always "not able" to hold a job or even get one anymore. He's had several automobile accidents, some his fault and some not, and is a litigious sort. He is an accomplished manipulator. She has been married to him for ten years and shows no sign of wishing to leave the marriage. The pair lived with my daughter for some time, often neglecting to pay full rent, which income my daughter needed to pay utility bills. When I moved in after the death of my husband, the situation going on became abundantly clear. Since I co-own the house, I had the option of putting up with his behavior or give them notice to find another place to live. That's what I did. They have had to move a few more times since and now lives with his mother. She holds a low-paying job and has no means of transportation. She often calls her mother for transportation to and from work. Her mother always complies.
I'm concerned for both my daughter and granddaughter.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It sounds like you have done what you can to help. You have not allowed them to take advantage of you. You also have provided the help they needed to get on their feet, which they did not take advantage of. Most people would have used the time living with someone else to find a job and become self sufficient. This shows you that no matter how much you would help, they would only use you and not improve their situation. Until they decide to be responsible, they will not change.


You can continue to be supportive but changing someone else's behavior is not possible. That does not mean it is easy to stand by and watch your daughter and granddaughter in this situation. What you can do is learn more about co dependent (enabling) behavior so you know how to respond and when to help.


Co dependent behavior is usually learned behavior. The person feels responsible for the behavior and problems of their partner or relative. They feel guilt, low self worth and a need to feel loved. They will get this love in any way possible, even if it means getting hurt themselves by being in a dysfunctional relationship. Their fear is being left alone and not having anyone, which keeps them in the bad relationship.


Here are some links to help you:


Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents by Allison Bottke


Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives by Pia Mellody, Andrea Wells Miller and J. XXXXX XXXXX


Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier M.D.


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


I hope this has helped,


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you