How do I help my homeless mother?

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I am 32 years old and getting married in 4 weeks. My mother recently told me that she was kicked out of her apartment in another state and has no where to go. She has many medical issues that go untreated because she spends what little money she can come up with on frivolous things. She has been on unemployment for years. She has sold off all of her belongings and expects me to offer her to live in my one bedroom house with my future husband and our 3 pets. We can't even stand her visiting for more that a few days, let alone move in. We are at each others throats when she is here because of all the lies she tells and forces us into. We are planning a wedding and trying to cope with recovering from the hurricane which has left my fiancee out of work. How do I help her without ruining my wedding or relationship, or how do I tell her how I feel without it coming between us? I cry myself to sleep every night over who comes mom or my future husband.


Your future husband comes first. Stop crying.

You do have a responsibility toward your mother, too, (in most cases). Where is Mother now? Living in a homeless shelter? Living under a bridge? Call Social Services in her county, explain the situation, and ask them to visit her to do an intake assessment. Unemployment benefits eventually run out; your mother cannot have been on that for years (although that is what she may have told you), so I wonder if she is already getting some kind of benefits and if she has a case worker. The Social Services person should be able to determine that.

The county Social Services department here is awesome, but I understand that in some states it is overwhelmed and underbudgetted and may not be able to help in a timely manner. If that is the case where your mother is, then I'd contact Adult Protection Services and explain your mother's eviction.

Do everything you can to see that your mother has a clean, safe place to live -- NOT WITH YOU. If this means you take a few days off from planning your wedding and go to her state, so be it. But do what you can by telephone first.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Building a strong relationship with your husband is now your first priority. Don't abandon your mother, and do give her reasonable help.

Let us know how this plays out. We learn from each other!
Thank you for your words. She is living from friend to friend's house right now, possible in a hotel room when she has money. She keeps telling us she has a job here in NJ starting soon, but she doesn't have a house or apartment so I don't know how she expects to work here unless she comes to our house. She refuses to go to a shelter or transitional home because she says that she is not homeless or destitute...but she is. She has begged me to keep her situation from my father and my young sister, but I think I should at least confide in my dad for advice. They did not have a nice break up, so I don't want to make my mom angry at me for telling him and have her do something that will wreck my wedding. I feel that she is a grown woman and should act like one instead of living in a fantasy world where things just fall into your lap, like a home or a job. We are afraid that she will just show up on our doorstep one day. Then what? Kick her out and loose my mom and ruin my wedding? I just don't know how else to handle it.
Here is the deal: Mother is not moving in with you. Not for a year, not for a month, not for a night. Her failure to plan does not constitute an emergency for you. So start working on a contingency plan. What are you going to do if she shows up at your door?

Are there any boarding facilities (such as a Y with beds) in your area? Transitional housing? Would she qualify for subsidized housing? (There is usually a waiting list, but the sooner she applies, the sooner her name will work its way up to the top.) What is the least expensive clean by-the-week motel in your area? Have some options in mind. She shows up, you take her to a moderate-priced restaurant, have a nice meal, show her the list and offer to give her a ride to the one of her choice.

If she moves to your area then you need to contact the Social Services folks in the county she moved to.

Is she on disability payments? Is she qualified?

There are many ways you can/should help her if she is willing to let you. But moving her in with you is definitely not one of them. Be very clear about that in your own mind and in your conversations with soon-to-be husband.

Try not to get so anxious about your wedding. In spite of the myths surrounding that event, it is seldom the best day in your life -- and wouldn't it be sad if you had the best day at age 32 and had nothing better to look forward to? Sure, it is special and you want it to be awesome. But if some small wedding task doesn't get done now because you have to run around making contingency plans for your mother or spend time talking to social workers, etc. your wedding won't be ruined. If your mother is angry and behaves badly before or during your wedding, that reflects badly on her, and would wreck your wedding only if you take the attitude that it is ruined.

You seem to be talking yourself into the position that you'll have no choice if she shows up. That is simply not true.

Next time she tells you she has a job lined up in NJ, ask her where she is planning to live. If she says she'll stay with you, explain firmly that you and sweetie have decided you need to live alone, so that won't be possible, but that you will help her look for lodging near where she will be working. She gets angry? Well, you can't control that, but if you lose your mom over that then I guess there was something fundamentally flawed in that relationship to start with. I think it is better to deal with this on the phone, soon, than to risk having her show up without plans.

And BTW, if your mother threatens to boycott your wedding over this, stay firm. "That is your choice, Mother. We will miss having you share this important milestone in my life, but you need to do what you think best." Do not be blackmailed.
jersey bride - I absolutely agree with what jeanne has written. My mother tried to stay with me a few times. I made the mistake, when I was young and living with a girlfriend, of letting her stay, as she said it was temporary. She would not lift a finger to help do what had to be done, expected me wait on her, and did not look for any other accommodation. She was sleeping on the sofa as we had a one bedroom apt and that curtailed our social life. When it became obvious to me that she had no intention of looking for somewhere else, I sat down with her, and the newspaper every evening, and said we would look for accomodation for her. She got mad very quickly, and stormed off and stayed at the YMCA. That is where she should have been all along. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, under any circumstances alliow your mother to stay. Many years later mine came for a "visit" but would not leave unless I drove her 250 miles back to her apartment. She had come on the bus, and said she would return on the bus, till she got here and then she changed her plans. That was the last time she came to visit. I refused to have her after that. Your mother obviously has some pretty severe emotional/mental problems. Jeanne has give you excellent advice. I agree, do not even let her in the front door if she arrives there. Help her through social services, or other agencies where she is now, or if she comes to live where you are through the local agencies. You do need to have information about what is available before she comes, and I agree one or even two back up plans. She will try emotional blackmail, and you need to prepare yourself for that. If she chooses for whatever reason, to not attend your wedding, that is her decision, and don't let her use that to manipulate/emotionally blackmail you. I also agree do as much as you can by phone, rather than in person.

Stay strong and let us know how you make out. (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))) Joan
Frankly I think your relationship with her is already damaged - not by anything you have done, but by what your mother has, and is doing. She is narcissistic and will insist on coming first -before anyone in your life, and not care what that does to you. That is very unhealthy. A heathy mother would be supporting you at this time any way she could. You cannot have a healthy relationshi with someone who behaves as she does. In my experience, you need to grieve that you never had nor will have the mother that you needed/need, accept her as she is, give her the assistance that is absoolutely necessary, but do NOT allow her into your home, or into your marriage. Your husband comes first, without question.
Jersey bride,
I am in the exact same situation except I just got married and have two stepsons full time in our two bedroom house. We have no room yet my mom is in a hotel thanks to Salvation Army. I'm so lost on what to do and heartbroken. It's easy for people to say what should be done when it's not their parent. I'm just curious what happened. What did you find. I'm desperate for help and appreciate any advice. Thanks for anything you can offer for advice
Jersey Bride and Larissa, you're getting advice from a number of women who are probably your mothers' ages. Listen to us because we have lived a lot longer than you and we've seen all kinds of situations and have lived through a lot of our own and learned from our mistakes!

You owe your moms compassion but you don't owe them a blank check to come into your lives and wreak havoc on your living arrangements and relationships. Your moms have made their own choices that weren't very good ones. But that doesn't mean you have to step in and take up the slack for their bad choices. As long as they have you to be *the adult* and bail them out, they don't have to take responsibility for their own choices. So drop the guilt and listen to your "adopted aunties" on here and set firm boundaries with your moms. Let me repeat that - firm boundaries. You've gotten lots of great advice on just follow through. It won't be easy, but you'll be setting the stage for a happy life for yourself and your OWN new family of husband and pets.

As the others say do not let her move in with you. I have a cousin who put up with a pushy controlling and manipulative mother in law for 28 years. Almost from the time she married. She got tired of MIL so divorced once her child was old enough to understand. She now has a new life and is doing quite well. Don't let that happen to you. She couldn't even decorate HER house the way she wanted because of MIL. My mother lives with my family and we can hardly wait for the day she can go to a nursing home. She wouldn't be hard to take care if it wasn't for her personality. That's sad.
If you and mom are at each other's throats, can't stand it when she visits you, then having her move in with you will be World War III. You can love and help mom from a distance. If she is homeless and is picky where there is shelter then she will eventually learn her lesson. Do not make her move in with you. People can't come and live in your house without an invitation. Work on your relationship with your future husband if you plan on having a life together. If you neglect your relationship with your fiance, it will suffer. You already tried to have a relationship with mom but it is unsuccessful. People do not change and trying to change people is a full time job. If you change yourself and set boundaries and come up with your own rules then people will behave differently towards you.
You can help mom by not helping her. She needs tough love. Accepting any kind of shelter that has a roof over one's head so she is not out under a bridge or on the street should be a blessing. Beggars can not be choosy.
I am going through the same thing. I am only 16 and my mother is homeless. My older siblings won't let her stay with her. My mom by the way has schitzophrenia:(. How can I help?

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