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How To Give Help When It Has Been Abused In The Past

answered 02:23 PM EST, Tue January 24, 2012
We are a Baptist family. My daughter is a lovely girl who got involved with some really bad people a few years ago and got pretty deep into trouble with drugs and with a lot of the stuff that goes with that kind of lifestyle. We have tried on many occasions over the years to get her to seek help but she has always refused our offers. It has been heartbreaking watching her age decades in front of our eyes these last 5 or 6 years. Now she is pregnant and says she is keeping the baby (she has aborted 2 in the past). She says she wants to clean up and be a good mom and that she is tired of the drugs and alcohol the unsavory people she associates with. We have asked her to come home to stay with us so that we can take care of her and help her get back on her feet but she says she won’t do that but she will accept our financial support so that she can get a new place and get her life back on track away from her old lifestyle and friends. She says that she has not used drugs or alcohol since she found out she was pregnant 2 weeks ago.

We had sworn that we would never give her money again (or goods that she will sell) after seeing how she has always used our hand outs in the past. She is pregnant now and seems sincere in her intentions but I am very reluctant to give her much money, not least because I worry that having a lot of cash on hand might prove too tempting for her to go back to using drugs.

It’s not about the money. I would pay it happily if I knew it was going to help. How can I help her get back on her feet when she won’t come back home and when I can’t trust her with money?

Stephanie Adams Says...

My heart goes out to the pain you are feeling right now. It's so hard to love someone so much when they won't accept your help - or abuse it when they do accept your help. Since she has been untrustworthy in the past - and is facing the difficult experience of withdrawing from drugs & alcohol, I would recommend limiting your financial help to things you can pay "around" her. By that I mean have her doctor send you the bills, buy diapers or food, things that can't easily be re-sold. If she's going to relapse, you can't control that, but you can make sure you're not making it easier for her to do so.

In the meantime, you might starting thinking about what your priorities are in regards to this coming child. Are you able to petition for custody if your daughter goes back to doing drugs during her pregnancy, or after the baby is born? Are you willing to do so, if that is the case? There may be some precedent, depending on your state, for hospitalizing her for her own protection and that of the unborn baby if she is using. Are you going to take that kind of action if it seems necessary? These are things you have to consider.

I strongly urge you too to check out Al-Anon, which is a support group for families of alcoholics. You might also see what's available for families of drug users. Get help yourself, and find out what's worked for other families. This is an enormous strain on your family.

And of course, lean on your faith. See what resources are available in the church, in your Christian bookstore, and talk to your pastor. That's what a Christian community is for.

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Page last updated Jan 24, 2012

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