Hi, I have been estranged from my mother for many years as she has drug and alcohol problems. She was abusive and neglectful and I made it perfectly clear that I want nothing to do with her. Now she’s in the early stages of ALS and recently she contacted me asking for money. Apparently, she is homeless and has no money. I was angry that she would have the nerve to call me asking for money after the way she treated me. Of course, I told her no and hung up the phone. Shortly after, my aunt called me telling me how my mother’s health isn’t good and she really needs help. I don’t want to help my mother, my feeling is she created this mess and why should I bail her out? On the other hand, I am feeling some guilt for not giving her the money. When I talk to other people about it, some are feeling she is my mother and I should help her if I can and others are telling me to do what feels right for me. I really need some help making this decision. Thanks, Carl.
Undoubtedly a family member who is in a bad situation and is asking for money puts a person in an uncomfortable situation, especially when it is your mother and you add a health and substance abuse problem into the mix. I think you know if you provide the money, you are just enabling your mother’s unhealthy behaviour, however it takes a pretty tough person to say no and walk away and be unaffected by a loved one in need, especially a parent. There are other options for you to help your mom rather than simply providing money. Perhaps you can arrange for your mother to go into a treatment facility. There are many organizations that provide care for homeless people who are addicted. Ask your mother to join you in speaking to your family doctor about what resources your mother would be eligible for. It may be possible to get her on some disability income due to her ALS. Does your mother have siblings that may be willing to take her in with the condition that she seeks treatment? You could offer to help with the financial care of your parent, without actually giving her money, if that is something you are prepared to do. But be ready for the result, as she may not be receptive to your offer. At that point there is nothing else you can do. If you put the offer out there and she is not interested, you have to let it go. Good luck Carl, hope it all works out for the best.
Follow Barb on twitter @BarbGod
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some submissions may be edited for length and to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.