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Sadness for adult child, we can't help family member

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi everyone

If anyone has input, I would really appreciate it. Maybe I am just looking for validation for my position as I struggle with the morality and ethics of whether I am doing the 'right thing' at the moment. I'm feeling really sad today at the situation my adult child is in with another "close' family member. In aiding privacy I will just call adult AC and close family member CFM.

I have been estranged from CFM for a long time now. This 'no contact' (NC) was forced upon me and even though I understood the decision rationally, it sent me into years of depression. Some days I would have to make the decision of NC hundreds of times a day. I worked very hard to lift the depression. I needed to go NC and have come to a different place over it personally, probably acceptance of sorts. Protecting my family was what kept me NC.

AC has maintained contact but the situation is quite terrible. I feel very burdened by ACs frustration and sadness over it all. CFM has become a nomad of sorts. I can't say 'homeless' but basically CFM is acting that way. It's complicated.

AC is a caring and generous soul, helping CFM as much as possible. CFMs demands were/are absolutely impossible. One could never say "I'm too busy that day" or anything at all. Basically if anyone tries to set boundaries, there is a massive angry and usually violent outburst from CFM. It's very scary being in a relationship with CFM. Boundaries are NEVER respected and worse, if a boundary is set then CFM will purposely tread all over it. Boundaries are like a red flag to a bull. Trying to talk via phone can feel like being roped in and can last 10 hours, maintained by the fear CFM will turn up on doorstep. Nothing is ever resolved.

CFM sees themselves as a rescuer. CFM blatantly refuses any mental health help.

CFMs life is dangerous. We fear police will phone saying they found CFM passed away in some strange and lonely place. I still love CFM deeply but cannot make contact. AC has almost total 'responsibility' but it's far too much. I try hard to support AC but the request to break NC has been brought up by AC more than once so I can help CFM.

I ask "what could I do?" with ACs tears as a response. I uncomfortably reaffirm NC but feel like I am betraying not only AC but CFM. If the situation stays then it will end very sadly for everyone. If I broke NC then far more people would be damaged by my estimation.

Any comments are welcome.


9 Replies 9

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Ecomama

Hello and welcome to the forum. It's a good place to talk about those matters that trouble you. We are here to help and support you as much as possible although we have no formal qualifications. We have life experience and can offer you our insights as appropriate.

If I have the situation correctly, AC is your adult son who has the care of CFM, who is presumably his father and your ex-partner. I hope I have that right. I gather your son feels trapped by the situation he is in and is finding the whole responsibility to be overwhelming. You have agreed to a no contact rule with your ex and feel it may make matters worse if you intervene at this stage. You are also afraid of personal repercussions. Your ex is behaving erratically and placing himself in danger but will not ask for help or see anyone who may be able to help him.

This is a very sad situation and a potentially dangerous one for you and your ex. I can understand why you are reluctant to take any action and at the same time want to take your son out of this bad situation. I have no experience of this sort of problem, but looking at it from the outside I wonder if it would help to get some legal advice. You can contact the Women's Legal Service in your state who can offer you one or two free consultations. The Australian body's web site is http://www.wlsa.org.au/ and you can navigate to your state branch from there.

Can you get evidence of your ex's behaviours? Where he has been and what he did there. Is he being a public nuisance for example. I don't want to put words in your mouth and as I do not know what he does it is hard to give examples. Keeping, or starting a record would probably be helpful for later down the track. Perhaps your son can assist here. I'm not suggesting spying on him in any way but public behaviours are OK to document.

I think you are saying he has a mental health problem but will not acknowledge it. If you feel he is a danger to himself or others you can make a formal complaint to police. Not sure how you feel about this. Does your son feel he must stay with his father or can he leave and live with you? No sure of the conditions of your NC agreement.

I think that's enough for you to go on with. Please think carefully about my comments and only act on them if you are certain it is the right thing to do. In any case I suggest you contact the Women's Legal Service asap and get qualified legal advice.

Please continue to write in here.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mary and thankyou so much for your thoughtful response. xxxx

Thank goodness it's not quite how you think. Sorry, I was being cryptic.

Firstly let me strongly echo your hailing of the Women's Legal Service, WOW what an amazing service this is! They were there for me for years and gave me THE BEST legal advice over all that time as I wrangled an almost identical situation you described above. I was given a direct number to one of their lawyers (our situation was so dire) and they were ALWAYS forthcoming in completely covering 'all things law'. I also want to say that even though I had paid many lawyers, none of them were completely on top of the laws like WLS were. None! like... what the?? If I hadn't had them then our lives could easily have looked far worse now. I can't recommend them highly enough and could go on for days lol.

To clarify... AC not living with CFM. (I would swoop on that situation faster than lightning!).
CFM not an ex.
Police know about CFM.
All other family members know of CFMs situation and have gone NC.
AC is the last person standing and is deeply struggling over trying to maintain contact meaning it can be aggressive when it happens.

CFM puts themselves (as to not ID gender) in dangerous situations eg couch surfing, riding trains for days, also gravitating to groups who have issues with the law and substance abuse. CFM sees themselves as a rescuer. Police have been involved. CFM cannot look after own self. We were feeling it's only a matter of days.

Last year CFM attended a respite placement with huge opposition and after years of trying. 2 weeks turned into 6 weeks and CFM improved greatly. CFM was difficult to manage by staff (HELL YEAH) and insisted on being one of the carers not residents. A long term placement was opposed by CFM, things went back to nomad status.

AC is also caring for an high needs client with MH issues for work. Covid has amplified everyone's needs in ACs life. Partner lost all income and at least isn't substance abusing. Schooling all children from home plus study is causing huge strain on AC. AC is at wits end.

I want to help but I cannot do so in person as I was abused terribly by CFM.
CFM wants me involved.

xxxx EM

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Sorry Mary, I just thought more about things and have had some communication from AC since posting.

Our situations is at crisis point now I realise today.

I am under a lot of pressure with fulltime work, schooling my children from home and more.
I spoke with my boss about taking leave which was verbally approved. I was planning on taking leave for my own MH and to support my children at home.

I have to navigate this path sensitively and we have a lot of very strong personalities involved.
I am afraid that more family will get involved just because of 'property' which frankly completely disgusts me. This has been apparent before with another relative trying to muster support to become Power of Attorney over CFM and for no other reason we can think of but for property. Grrrr.

AC is anti-authority so anything I do may cause rifts between us which we are only healing now from other issues. But I know deep down AC just wants the best for CFM and for all of us. AC needs help desperately.

Looks like I'm in for another long haul just as the others dissipate somewhat.

I don't want to end up in the deep end but I think I'm treading water there already!

It even crossed my mind to offer through AC that if CFM enters residential care then I would visit. yuck, feels like I'm dangling a carrot.

Thankyou for your suggestions. I am swimming in it all atm.


Thanks for clarifying the situation. I did get it a bit wrong.

It's certainly not a good idea for you to become involved with CFM under the circumstances. AC sounds like he is carrying huge load. Being the sole earner when you have been used to two incomes is difficult I imagine. AC's job is stressful I would think even if AC can put it to one side after work. Not being sure of the relationship between AC and CFM I am at a bit of a loss to make any suggestions. My first thought was to encourage AC to drop the contact. How do you think that would work?

You told us AC is a kind and caring person so would no doubt be reluctant to also go NC. But the outcome of this continued contact sounds like it is playing merry hell in AC's life. This is not a situation that can be carried indefinitely, especially by one person. I read your comment about CFM not respecting boundaries and there is not much anyone can do to stop this. However I wonder if AC can put boundaries on contact as far as AC is concerned. By this I mean decide how often AC will make contact and what sort of contact. I appreciate CFM may realise he/she is being sidelined to some extent but AC needs to put something in place to regulate this total dumping of responsibility. Does AC see a mental health professional? It could be helpful and give AC some respite and help by being able to talk openly about the situation and her/his needs. I would hate to see AC fall apart which I think may well happen with the issues being carried and the additional worry of COVIT19 restrictions.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanku so much Mary, apologies for being so cryptic. It's a privacy thing.

CFM, AC and myself are all blood related, not by marriage. I know that AC will not go NC as there is no one else left in contact with CFM. I'm sure every man and his dog will turn up out of the woodwork to fight over property one day.

In the meantime AC has nightmares over what might happen to CFM.

I have tried to say that CFM is choosing to live the life they want but we both know it's a dangerous one.

Yes, absolutely on the suggestion of AC having firmer boundaries to CFM. When boundaries are voiced, though, then that is dangerous. You've helped me reflect more precisely and it sure is a VERY difficult path dealing with CFM.

Together AC and I have come up with boundaries in the past and AC has gone on to develop more. CFM knows the chinks in our armour. My armour has been quite solid, except for my heart breaking for AC. AC can hear and see when CFM is manipulating and it's done by a master.

Actions only, not words, would be best I think.

Recently CFM has used other people's phones to call AC and get through. As boundaries are set, CFM finds ways through them, then manipulates and more.
AC told me last night that they were hoping for a time when CFM would 'get better' and everything would be normal. But it has never been 'normal', not all of CFMs life. There is no returning to normal as there was no normal to begin with. I said this and we both cried.

We are prematurely mourning but perhaps more than that, mourning what neither of us will ever have with CFM and is what is seen as a birth rite to society, in all cross ways of the relationships.

I have suggested that AC seek counselling over a number of years. AC has had counselling at times but last time it ended abruptly, not ACs doing, counsellor moving on. AC trusts so few and has a massive disdain for authorities collecting information and data now etc.

Just another thing ACs partner has never made financial contributions. The zero work thing is more that partner is around a lot which can be good or bad, quite sure partner has MHIs but appears 'stable' atm, no money for alcohol which is a great thing! ACs boundaries have been exemplary with partner, financially now too 🙂

I dread it but there is only one end AC sees for this situation.

I think there may be an avenue for CFM in residential care. Alternatively it is about letting go. AC can't do that. I will suggest counselling and speak to mine also.


Community Member

Hi ecomama,

I have read your posts and it sounds like you are in a really tough situation. What concerns me is that you have indicated that you have reached "crisis point". I know you have used the police in the past and tried to reach out to emergency services (whether it be mental health or just the Ambulance) and wondered if you were so worried you might use these services again? Sometimes when you are so worried about someone who has a history of abusing others, you can escalate a welfare check especially if the police know CFM already.

With you doing home schooling, and having all this going on as well, I wonder if you are getting some support besides using the forum? Keeping everyone safe and overseeing what sounds like a very complex situation can be really overwhelming. Sometimes just calling a support number to talk about what your going through can help. I can suggest the Beyond Blue Support Line on 1300 22 4636 or even Lifeline 13 11 14. There are many people out there who can listen and potentially offer you some clearer advise. Another support line is 1800 RESPECT which can offer support in relation to Domestic Violence which it sounds like you have experienced by CFM in the past and are now still so worried about the impact they are having on your AC.

As Mary has mentioned in her post, would AC be open to seeing a mental health professional?

I hope to hear more from you if you are comfortable sharing.

Nurse Jenn

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Nurse Jenn, thankyou for your message. I think my last post may have come in before you could read it.

I would call EVERY emergency service available if I thought AC and family were in ANY physical danger, ever. No way will CFM dare to try that again. With many situations I may be extremely understanding but I am very black and white with CFM now re: the children, grown or otherwise and all of my grandchildren.

AC and CFM don't live together even though CFM tries to set up house with AC often. AC has even expressed a wish to get another place to house CFM in their home. I would definitely 'interfere' in that one, never. If it comes up again, I will remind AC of the damage to the children from even the sick, psychological games CFM plays, let alone the potential physical violence. I would call FACS and deal with the consequences later.

I encouraged another family member to call police last year over CFM but they are reticent to call, we know it can be a long drawn out palaver and our success that way has been …. questionable in the past.

Yes, I will absolutely encourage AC to call a helpline to get support. So far AC has been brilliant at reinforcing boundaries but it wears them all down over there. AC was able to get partner to drive CFM home today, so another 'crisis' diluted for the time. Nomad status back.

We can all tell that CFM is 'bubbling' as we call it, escalating perhaps, right now. The unwellness in CFM goes in quite defined waves. Because CFM refuses to see any psychs in any way shape or form, we have sought external diagnoses 'off the record', if you will, over many years. We believe CFM has bipolar and other MHIs. The mania manifests with CFM from days or weeks of extreme fury to deep grief and crying over everything and anything to short periods of kindness to those less fortunate. With 'close' people CFM can switch from a kindness mood to fury within a split second. CFMs tone and look on face changes and you have to get out of any proximity asap.

I am NC. My siblings are all virtually NC now though if they do contact me (which is SO rare) then I know it's about CFM. Everybody in the whole family expects me to get solve it and I just can't. The only one left standing is AC.

I gave AC a visualisation exercise to do last night and that helped a lot. I need to practice that one too today!
Now I have to find ways of supporting AC and if there is any help available to help keep CFM safe then I hope to find that too.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thankyou so much for all your feedback and numbers to helplines and everything. Thankyou.

The anxiety inside me grew so much today over this, so I took a leap of faith and called the Beyond Blue helpline. I called the BBcovid19 one first (oh dear) so hung up and came back online and got the right one.

What a beautiful, caring person I got today. I feel so blessed that she spoke so nicely to me, listened and gave me ACTUAL REAL numbers to call lol. I know they are all real numbers but I got the following, just in case they might help others.... edit if inappropriate please!

A website called "My aged care".

The aged care rights service 1800 424 079

The Blue Knot foundation 1300 657 380

and yet another number which would indicate our location so I will not disclose here but relates to a local service, so that is really good too.

I had to avoid certain numbers, so there are more if others need to call BB for similar issues.

I will talk with AC when I think I can about these numbers to call. I'm certain that I'll be the one making all the calls. I may have to wait until my leave starts to begin any external processes and then work fast on this. I need to put as much in place as possible in quick succession once I begin, so as not to alert potentially oppositional family members from intervening.

I just need to put the safety and welfare of CFM, and in turn AC, first and the naysayers can go jump in the lake.

I can see a very long road ahead with this. I am not looking forward to it at all but, at the same time, I can't procrastinate once AC gives the go ahead.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor


I haven't been going well at all since deciding to help AC with CFMs situation. I took that on - mentally - before I was stable in myself.
I made more steps for CFM - helplines & getting more number to call - thinking it would stabilise me and calm me.
I was seeking numbers for PTSD therapies all at the same time - thinking that would help me.

It had the complete OPPOSITE effect. Things were brewing that I had no idea were there.

I had been living in denial over the unofficial PSTD diagnosis. Thinking that if I shrink my circle of responsibility down to a tiny dome, then I could cope with the strategies I was using.

Wrong. I didn't realise the denial. I cannot shrink my circle any more than I have. My strategies are worn out and I need a professional to help me. But I was going to take leave to do so. And to start PTSD therapy AND help CFM / AC and a thousand other things on top of the crazy list in my head.

I really have to throw it all out and start again.
The CFM help has to wait. I can support AC through it in other ways.
I have to save myself so PTSD therapy starts first, with the support of a therapist AND my counsellor then maybe we can navigate a path through the CFM stuff later.

That's still a long way in the future when I am trying to deal with this moment and this morning, not my next 6-12 months at once.

Does anyone else do this? Think they can do ALL this stuff, then fall apart and can't get out?