Her Stomach Needs To Be In A Knot

Lisa Rapids gets a call from her mom every month asking for money even though she's getting about $80,000 a year from a trust. Lisa feels guilty about not giving her mom money.

QUESTION: Lisa in Grand Rapids gets a call from her mom every month asking for money even though she’s getting about $80,000 a year from a trust. Lisa feels guilty about not giving her mom money. Dave thinks Lisa’s mom is a travel agent for guilt trips, and Lisa is enabling her.

ANSWER: Why do you feel guilty? “I’m an alcoholic, and I’m lying here drunk. You’re going to give me another drink?” That’s not honoring her! Pouring alcohol down an alcoholic’s throat is not honoring. You’re hurting her. You’re the problem. You feel guilty. You know why? Your mother’s a travel agent for guilt trips.

Here’s the deal. You have a problem. You’re called an enabler. An enabler is a very nice person who has defined the world “help” improperly. You have an improper definition of help. You have an improper definition of honoring. You need to redefine those terms. You are not helping your mother. You’re hurting her. You’re participating in her stupidity and her insanity. You’re to blame almost as much as she is. You’re harming her. You’re her drug pusher. You bring cocaine to her house when she has a cocaine problem. How would you fix that? You’d stop taking the cocaine to her because you love your mother. Your mom’s problem is not the cocaine. Your mom’s problem is the reason she’s doing the cocaine. Your mom’s problem isn’t money. It’s the fact that she’s completely freaking out of control, and she’s an enabler to your brother, who’s a deadbeat. He’s a freaking parasite.

You desperately need to read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. Your family has no boundaries. It’s what’s known as a dysfunctional family. Most families are, but yours has a particularly bad case of this. If one of your children wanted to drink Clorox bleach and you didn’t let them and they were upset with you, you could live with them being upset with you, couldn’t you? Because it would kill them. So as a loving mom, you know how to set healthy boundaries with your children for their own good in spite of their ridiculous emotions because they’re children. So you do know how to set boundaries. It’s the same thing with your mom. The difference is she’s your mom, and so she has a particular way to reach into your heart and strum those strings and play her little sad song. It gets you all twisted up and tore up, and you’re more tore up than she is. She’s a freaking manipulator. She doesn’t have a problem being a twerp. She’s completely out of line.

You don’t need to be upset any more than you’d be upset with a little four-year-old who didn’t understand that they can’t drink bleach. I’m not going to be upset with a little four-year-old. A four-year-old’s just not going to drink it. They could throw a fit and flop in the floor and foam at the mouth and say nasty things. They can do all kinds of stuff, but I’m still not going to let them drink bleach. It’s the same thing with your mom. When she calls, your stomach doesn’t need to be in a knot. Hers does.

Once you’ve done that, let’s take the next step. The first thing that’s going to happen is your family is going to go into orbit, and they’re going to call you evil. If they ever get past that and they say, “Under what condition would you help us?” or you set it up and say, “I’ll be happy to help you under certain conditions. Would you like to know what those are?” then we can get into the real issue here and say, “All right. The parasite has to move out on his own. You’re going to get on a budget. We’re going to take you to a tax person, and we’re going to get you under control and teach you to live on $80,000 a year. I’ll pay for the professional help to get you to be able to do that, Mom.” You’ve got to get her where she’s willing to ask. Right now, all she’s doing is demanding that you participate in the insanity. That’s different than, “I’m ready to ask for some real help.” Just say, “Mom, my money is completely under control. I’m doing a good job with my stuff, and I’d love to help you get yours there. When you’re ready, you just holler. I’m here because I do love you. But I love you too much to let you drink bleach.”