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Is Empty-Nest Syndrome a real thing?

Community Member
I can't decide if I drove my kids away by wanting/trying to remain a part of their adult lives or if there's bigger issues I'm unable to process that makes them avoid me.

I have tried my hardest, but I don't get along with my daughter's partner or his family (which is where she lives, she is 26yo). Things have gotten so messy I can't even drop in for a visit without the threat of the Police being called - not because I'm unstable or anything but because THAT's just how much they don't want me around. Meanwhile, I'm paying one of her bills to help her out. It has been 2 yrs since I last saw her or my grand children.

My son (28yo) has been moving in and out of home since he was a teen. During his last 2 stays he battled me at every turn about helping to pay for groceries and bills etc eventually moving out again because, apparently, I 'drive him nuts'. I know he's homeless again and most likely needs my help again but he isn't prepared to compromise. It has been 5 months since I saw him last.

We've traversed this same cycle for more than a decade and I keep throwing them more rope because they're both ASD. The thing is: I'm also ASD and I'm not taking money from anyone else or taking advantage of others to get by. And I think they're getting a bit too old to keep makes excuses for them.

I'm tired of being stonewalled and then, eventually, trapped within another cycle of the same. Has anyone else experienced this? Has anyone else been able to change the cycle? If so, how?
8 Replies 8

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi MM, welcome

Firstly stop paying that bill. Its wrong on so many levels to keep giving her financial help.

Tonight I posted a story about my daughter in the thread

"Getting to know you...or is that me"

Have a look for it under the section "long term support over the journey"

Its an account of my youngest daughter not being in my life.

Anyway, as parents we have expectations of our children being in our lives forever. It might not work out that way.

My suggestion is- seek out your GP for a referral to a counselor, find a good life filled with hobbies and care and stop paying that bill.

Charity begins st home.

Tony WK

Thanks for your reply Tony. Much appreciated.

I read your thread and I'd like to formulate a reply, which is probably going to be as long as yours but I have to think very carefully about what I say and how it comes across to others because... i ahhh....how to put this... i reached out to a socially complex forum knowing full well I have difficulties navigating social complexities. I might have to write things a few times to get them passed moderation but I'll try to persevere.

Re The Bill...

I can't stop paying it because it's a contract in my name. I can't believe how easily I got sucked into this and then how quickly I was spat out again once the goods were in their hands. I should've known better. The same thing has happened every time I have helped them financially. She does the wheeling & dealing and then hides behind her partner & mother-in-law to avoid having to honour her word.

So, the contract is for a washing machine rental. If things were half as friendly and amicable as they portrayed at the time, I was meant to be able to use it too. I would like to have bought it outright and given it as a gift to save myself these hassles but I just couldn't afford it. I have a mountain of washing here stacking up and I don't see why I shouldn't be able to use it while I'm paying for it since she is using her mother-in-laws machine atm. And I have no problems handing it back to her when she resumes paying the bill. I don't think I could be any fairer than that.

So yeah, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place, which pretty much sums up my relationship with her since she was 14 and shacked up with a 21yo (the current partner).

I'm considering dragging the police into it. The rental company would if I told them the situation because technically they own it. And the mother-in-law wouldn't hesitate if I went there to collect it. So either way, someone's going to drag them into it, might as well be me, right?

hi MezMerrit, you have two options, don't pay the rental bill so it will be taken away, or get someone to pick it up so that you can have it, then if you want your daughter can come and do her washing at your place.
Can I ask you a question, would your son or daughter do anything for you if you were in dire straits, I think I know the answer to this, but there is only so much we can do for our kids, only if they appreciate it and thankful for our efforts. Geoff.

Community Member

hi again geoff. I don't know anybody who might go over there in my stead.

re my kids doing anything for me... I think you know the answer too. Just recently, I was very ill and needed to go to hospital. Asked my daughter to come get me. Ended up having to drag myself there and back. And just before my son moved out, I was up the ladder and asked him to hand a sheet of corri up to me, carried on like a child over it so I did it myself. That's just 2 recent examples... plenty more but i'll spare ya lol

Community Member
There's an added layer of complexity with the rental contract. Almost everything in my house is on that contract atm, some of it I'll be able to buy out shortly but, essentially, I can't renig without doing myself a great deal of disfavour not to mention ruining my credit rating. I'm almost too embarrassed to admit this, but I have already given my whole house full of furniture and white goods to my daughter and her partner - including the house!! But they sold everything or gave it away/dumped it and didn't pay the rent so I got black listed by the real estate. And here's the kicker... a decade later they moved back into that house and had nothing to furnish it with.. hence another washing machine arrrrggghhh!

Community Member
@ Tony
I have a great counsellor/psychologist/life-coach who speacialises in Autism but Autism specialists for adults are very few and far between in Australia and it's a fair hike to his office. In the meantime, I do keep myself busy.

@ Geoff & Tony
There's added layer of complexity regarding the rental contract - the contents of nearly my entire house is on it and if I stop paying it I'll be sitting on the floor and eating from an eskie. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but I already gave my entire house full of furniture and white goods to my daughter, along with the house. But she chose to sell everything or give it away/dump it and didn't pay the rent. In the end it was me who got black listed by the real estate even though her name was also on the least. A decade later, she moved back into the same house and had nothing to furnish it with.. hence another washing machine.

hi MezMerrit, thanks for getting back to us, I'm afraid I was going to hear what you have just said, because I have seen this happen time after time again and again, even with me, but not with any of my family, but other people's family, especially my brother in law who'borrowed' a lot of money from my wife and myself, over a period of time, but never said thankyou, and never has paid a cent back, it's all gone, and even taking him to court was no benefit, he said he was broke.
A slightly different situation, but the same principle, now I never want to see him, and now you have been 'blacklisted' for 5 years, but even after this time has expired it may still be difficult for you.
I know they are your kids, but is anything going to get better with their r/ship towards you, or are you going to have to keep suffering from all of this, or do you throw away the key. Geoff.

Community Member
Hi geoff

That is precisely why I posted this thread. I need to bounce what I'm thinking off other parents to be sure I'm processing things as a parent should.

I have long suspected I'm an enabler, it's only been recently that I've actually been saying it aloud with any conviction (hence the latest reason my son has switched me off again).

I haven't yet discovered how not to enable but I suspect accepting that I do and calling it for what it is, is the first step.

I'm not entirely warming to the idea of throwing away the key, I feel there is much at stake (namely 3 grand children with ASD who need ongoing support). But that may well be part of my enabling nature??? Still trying to get my head around it.

Don't stress about the black list thing... it was over a decade ago and yes, it made my life hell for a long time but that's all in the past now.