This could be unpopular, but may shed some insight on family dynamics.
I'm not needing caregiving, at least, not yet.
Two retirees here, a lot of serious health problems. Current spouse’s daughter and son ignore us, ignore him. My first spouse emotionally and financially abused me, father of my sons. I did my best to shelter them from it, but guess my sons picked a lot up anyhow. Especially disrespect. Not a surprising situation, perhaps, as I had two Narc parents, was scapegoated by all siblings, and they still engage in mobbing. Not the best partner choice. Two of my sons have joined the other side. My youngest is a good person, but lives in another state, struggles financially with low wages. Basically we are on our own in our old age.
I’ve never nagged, bullied, intimidated my sons, when I needed help. None ever came to my aid when I was sick and asked for a bit of assistance. When I was sick, trying to pack the house to move across country, none would make any time to help me pack the boxes. I offered airfare. So I did it alone, with major lung disease trying to kill me. Paid for some assistance, couldn’t pay for as much as was needed. There have been several more work relocations, lung disease now stable, though on oxygen for the lung damage. I have severe IBS-D, symptomatic diverticular Disease, and liver doesn’t take up Bile, so causes unrelenting diarrhea. I have to ration the meds due to cost. The last move, to retirement home in this state, I did it all, then went to the hospital after truck was unloaded, and was admitted, acute diverticulitis again (3rd diverticulitis admission) plus Salmonella poisoning.
I write this because, despite being a hard-working spouse and mother, I find myself in very poor health, with a sick spouse. His severe arterial disease, many patches and stents, recent lung cancer surgery, I do not hold his frailties against him. I begged sons for help during last move, they all ignored my pleas, even while I told them how sick I was. I needed to be hospitalized, instead of moving, but somehow I worked full-time, packed, and pulled off an interstate move. Had my spouse lined up with new specialist appointments as soon as we arrived, as he had arterial fistula in his leg needing more attention.
Yes, I was raised in a very dysfunctional family. I did my best, but obviously wasn’t good enough to raise decent sons. So there will never be family help, no matter how much I might need it. I figured out what the middle son was all about when he and his newest female companion said they couldn’t afford gas to come assist me, but he could afford gas to go get his friend’s dog and care for it, when his friend had a medical emergency. He’s been trying to manipulate me to give him things he wants, that I currently am using in my home. Sees me as an inheritance, nothing more. Obviously, my sons were absorbing the example of their father, how to deceive and abuse their mother.
My message here is to please don’t be too hard of heart toward your elders. Some of us gave it our all, and still didn’t meet the kids' needs. I went bankrupt paying for one son’s 3rd inpatient drug treatment - before he even graduated high school. Just one example of the ungrateful, out of control sons I tried to raise properly. Oldest is an alcoholic, started drinking as a teen. Multiple local jail stays for the two oldest, mostly due to drugs and alcohol. Yes, I guess it falls on me. But, there is no compassion, no basic human decency, coming from my offspring. They were never abused, but the opposition to mother and my attempts at guidance, they have made choices as to the men they are.
I pray I can care for my spouse as long as he needs it. But my gut troubles, lungs, arthritis, failing 2nd hip- I don’t see me making it ten more years. Probably not five more. Just too sick. Never did we have a lot of income, so savings aren’t what we need. Both had to start over after failed marriages.
Please, be gentle with yourselves, & parents.

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So glad you posted and shared your circumstance. Something that struck me regarding your sons is - not only were you sharing life with this degenerate man, they were as well. A truly crappy person wouldn't be just a lousy husband, he would also be a lousy dad. So very sad. You may have shielded them from your relationship with your husband, but you couldn't have possibly shielded them from their own.

I agree that it is unconscionable to be so disregarding to a parent, most especially one who is in need, and Im thankful you voiced a reminder to all of us who read your story, You were a loving, responsible, nurturing mother, who did her best to raise decent children.
And at this point, about all you can do is pray for them. But yes, I wouldn't be disrespected by my grown children in my own home either! for sure. You're a good woman. So sorry for your illnesses.

ps - you may benefit from checking out earthclinic on the net.

Family can be such a disappointment. (((Big hugs, Girlsaylor.)))

Girlsaylor, thank you for sharing. I am so sorry this is happening to you. You seem like a very strong woman in spite of your illness. I admire that about you. I hope your sons will wake up soon.

Dear Smiling-
I am sorry your external family interactions aren’t the way your household family interactions are. Really, I am. There are no similarities here, however. I left my sons’ father two decades ago, live several states away. There have not been visits, assistance, the things your kids and your grandmother do when they visit her. As I see my relatives so rarely, I’ve always picked up the tab for everything. I lay in the groceries, do my own household chores, cook for them, clear and wash the dishes, take out my own trash. I always have paid for lawn care, so they really only have social visits when they see me. There are no similarities with what you describe. My sons are not considered supplemental home maintenance when they visit, never have been. They have their own lives, always have been devoted to their own pursuits, work, hobbies, whatever. You are describing a manipulating grandparent. I don’t play those games. I hire what I cannot do myself. Or do without. Because the couple of times I was on my deathbed, begged for help, they weren’t willing to help their mama. So I no longer ask. Since they live hundreds of miles away, there wouldn’t be any expectation of regular or even intermittent assistance.

I honestly don't mean to sound harsh here in anyway. Just sharing a similar story with how my Mom feels. My Mother was very kind and generous with my children throughout their lives. Yet she was also highly opinionated and downright demanding at times.

The boys have full lives, very busy. When they do go over to help, the first thing out of her mouth is negative. Geeze! It's about time you came to see your Grandma! Or take out my garbage! Thanks for cutting the grass but oh you didn't take down the weeds! On and on it goes. She may give them a thank you but then dumps 10 things they failed to do right.
They are getting very discouraged and what could be a beautiful relationship is now turning into a resentful one.

The weaker my Mom becomes the more she needs them, but she will never call up and ask. She gets angry at me because of my boys not doing something for her, I then say Mom did you call and ask them? No! They should just know I need help. After all I did for them....on and on it goes.

Also my Mom gets angry with me because my boys do anything I ask of them. I have tried to explain to her that you catch more bees with honey than you do vinegar. I say honey, can you please take out the garbage? Instead of Geeze! You know tonight is garbage night, right? why can't you just do it t on your own? You know I need help, don't you care? Yada, yada, yards... my Mom tells me I am stupid and I am too nice to my boys. The truth is, I truly respect them and their busy lives. I get what I want because most men thrive on respect. I never nag, I ask and that's a big difference to a lot of men.

i am not in any way saying you have spoken to your boys in the past like that but, if some of this sounds familiar it may be part of the reason.

Thank you for weighing in. And maybe feeling a bit of the poor me. Moving past that, but like grief and other emotions, we can get stuck sometimes.
We operate on the show me principle. Mistreating one’s parents when they grow old is a signal things aren’t going to get better if parents get sick. Keep the resources for our own elder care.
Pits a new day, warm and humid. But we live in the US, have heated and air conditioned homes. We have a well equipped kitchen, food adequate for our needs. Creature comforts abound. Life is good.

I have a very dear friend who, along with her husband, are probably the best of the best people, parents and friends. They have 5 kids. 4 of whom have 'gone off the rails' for long periods of time, some have come "back" some haven't. They also have addiction abuse issues, mental health (primarily depression) and any number of anger issues with 'life' and I know that the youngest, at 35 is still blaming his parents for his lot in life. (Which, BTW, is a pretty decent 'lot')

Raising my kids side by side with this friend and seeing her struggle so hard against the world's influences--she never once gave up on any of the kids--and now has a grandson who struggles with alcoholism---I asked her once how she could bear the pain. (Their kids were/are VERY disrespectful to her at times). She said "well, God sent them to us, so we must be able to handle what comes". What an attitude!! I can say that I don't own that same attitude and my kids being unkind or thoughtless is like a knife in my heart.

BUT--they have their agency to choose their paths in life and I have to allow that. All I am required to do, at this point is to love them, hard as it is sometimes.

I think you might be feeling a little bit sorry for yourself, and that's fine. Just don't dwell on it. Most parents go through this exact thing when we realize that one or some or all of our kids are jerks---in spite of all we did for them.

Also, you have been very ill. Some kids cannot handle sick parents. You are supposed to be strong and healthy for THEM. They don't have the perspective that age brings. Life has a great way of equalizing things out. They'll get old, they'll start to hurt and maybe, if they are even slightly aware, they'll figure out that their parents also hurt and were tired and old.

I don't expect ANYTHING from my kiddoes but the respect they owe me as their mother. Anything else is gravy.

Thanks for the kind words. You guys seem to get it, the unpopular parent who does as best as possible, actually doing the nurturing, the training, fun stuff every day, instilling morals, teaching basics like cooking, laundry, supervising homework. Taking them to help do grandma’s yard work. I did it all. Any time I made an oven meal, I made sure to bake something, rolls, sweets, bread, to make the most of a hot oven. After I got the boys all bathed before bedtime, I cuddled and read to them, at least an hour, every night of their formative years. Teachers in the primary grades used to say my boys had beautiful English. I credit it to a lot of reading in the home. But anyhow, it was a lot of work, but they are all able to care for themselves, anything domestic, I taught them. Even how to iron a shirt for a job interview, lol.
There is a lot of mental illness in my family background, cousins, as well. Some seem to have come into the world wired differently, if that makes sense. Born into good families, nurtured. I’m not the only one who experienced troubled offspring. Even with distance, and not a lot of contact. It’s like there is something genetic, maybe on the autism spectrum, for some. I remember my paternal grandmother, an incredibly intelligent nurse, used to tell me how one cousin was different, from the day he was born, never could control himself. She said there was something wrong in his brain. But medicine hasn’t yet figured it out. I always thought my first born was somewhat ‘off’, but could never put my finger on it. Despite being terribly loved and wanted, it was like he wasn’t able to accept parental love. However, the subsequent children bonded quickly. But anyhow, I make my apologies to all, have reached out. My spouse and I refuse to enable, coddle, or allow any offspring to mistreat us. If they cannot be respectful, not steal, not swear, not manipulate, we don’t want to entertain them in our home. Same standards I’ve always had. Sadly, some seem to not learn. Or continue pushing against parents, even as adults. We do not try to offer advice, opinions, try very hard to interact with them as adults. The parent-child relationships were put aside years ago. They make their own choices, which is how it’s supposed to be.
Oh, and yes, Shel, they are aware how sick we both are. We never ask for assistance, after they refused to help me a bit when I was so sick a year ago. I pulled together three interstate moves alone, very ill, in the last two decades, plus several other moves. One time I was so sick with lung disease, the pulmy wasn’t sure I would pull through. The last move, severe, acute diverticulitis and Salmonella poisoning. All three times, I was admitted to hospital as soon as the furniture was unloaded. People don’t get admitted through ER these days unless truly a medical emergency. Insurance companies wouldn’t be paying.
As before, thanks for being supportive. It’s not within my power to change anybody else. I don’t expect anything anymore. That way I don’t have any disappointment.


Now, I see the picture😱!

Hope you have time for a short story! My mother was the one who let us kids do what we wanted. Yes, my parents were married for 50+ yrs, but my dad worked 60 to 80 hrs a week. Anyways, my dad would punish us kids, but mom would come right behind him and undermine what he was doing. My mom for the most part was the "fun parent" (if you could call her that). My dad was the parent who made us go to school, work, held us accountable for are actions, actually you sound a lot like him.

As I grew older, I became very close to my dad and further from my mother. But when my dad died that is when it hit dad was tough on me because he cared...he loved me. My mother loved what was the easiest for "her".

The day I realize this was the day my heart broke and I grieve of the lost of the parent who took the hard, difficult, unpopular road because he loved me above what was easy for him.

Perhaps your sons have not come to that part in their lives to look back at how you have impacted their lives yet. As you know this life is full of ups and downs and sometimes we find ourselves lost, but it is the parent who kept us on solid ground that keeps us moving in a ever changing world! My life is crazy and most the time I don't understand it, but my father's words are in my head telling me exactly what to do; what not to do; and who I really am! His words at times feel so real to me that it is like he is with me. He never thought I was listening to him, nor did he ever know just how much he tought me!

Here is my point: right now you may be seeing only one side of your sons, as my father only saw one side of me, but you--like my dad don't know that your voice is inside their heads and right now they just don't want to listen to it. I pray for their sake that it isn't to late to tell you what I wished I could have told my dad--that he made me a better, stronger person and I can navigate through this crazy world because of him.

I really wish there was a easy answer for you. But the truth is, we really don't know what is truly going on inside people's minds. I just hope your sons realize what you did was out of love. The fun parent never does their children any justices!

Don't enable them, nor don't let them control yourself worth. Stay strong...who knows one of them might surprise you!

I am sorry if I miss read you!


Sometimes kids look at the 'fun parent' and think that's the way to go.

You were the toughie, the disciplinarian and nobody likes us :( My kids all went through phases of just adoring their dad--Dr. No-Shot, I'd call him. He traveled for a living and when he was home he didn't want to be the bad guy. We were on the same page for the 'big stuff' and sometimes I had to really remind him we had to be a the 'end' the kids all chose well. But to ask them which parent they prefer to hang out with--it'd probably be dad. Always picked up the check, let them do pretty much whatever. Always up for a fun time--while mom was this nagging bore who insisted on curfew, good grades, etc.

Maybe you are just going through a period of reflection and you are being unduly hard on yourself. I just sent my most difficult child back to VA with her hubby and 3 kids. They were here a week+. I cry more in the weeks I see her than I do the other 50 weeks of the year. We just don't get along great. I need a few days to decompress from her incredible criticism of me that starts at the airport pick up and ends at the the airport drop off. Her reasoning for being so 'mean'......I annoy her.

Seriously. I annoy her.

Well, her kids and hubby love me, so it's a wash. I've just had to learn to choose my battles and keep out of her way. She'll get it one day.

Thank you Shell. I have given so many chances, it’s become a situation of me having no self respect. However, I am open to your viewpoint, as I’m a firm believer in the Village thing. Never stop loving. But have to stop enabling. They are men, I tell myself. I was the parent who tried to instill values, personal responsibility, respect. Sadly, two took away selfishness, manipulation, irresponsibility, disrespect. All the things I fought their father on. It’s difficult to have my values rejected, but I was the one insisted no drugs, no alcohol, no dropping out of high school, no living at home rent free if not working at education. I rejected financial abuse, rejected illiteracy, rejected lying, stealing, drugs, alcoholism. Why on earth their father had to be the one they loved best, never backing reasonable values, I’ll never know why. But, he supported everything I stood against. No wonder they were so confused.

I agree with you Midkid. Girlsaylor it just dawn on me that just maybe it is a personality thing with your sons. That just maybe it really isn't about you or what you did or didn't do. I am sorry if I am confusing you; I just am someone who looks at a situation from every possible point-of-view.

But Midkid is right there are always a few rotten apples in the bunch. My brother was bad to my dad and treats my mother like crap and she did everything for him. But he has stolen from my parents and was verbally abusing her. He is now not allow to come over and see her anymore. To my surprise my mother wrote him out of the will and leaving him nothing. I try (although I dislike how my brother has treated my parents) to tell her to leave him a small thing, but she said no, and she did her will the way she wanted!

But if your sons really don't want anything to do with you and they won't even take a sincere sorry then write them out of your will. I believe family deserve a second chance, but if they can't give you that then their is nothing you can do! Again I am sorry for your pain.

Take care of yourself.

I'm sorry for your pain. We have this hope and belief that our families, nuclear and extended will be loving and kind---as most of us are, I believe. When that is not what shakes out, it's hurtful and depressing.

I don't personally know a lot of families who DON'T have some issues somewhere, and honestly? there usually isn't a specific cause or blame. As parents, we do the best we can and then our kids grow up to be the adults--and sometimes we lose touch with them along the way. They can be toxic, sadly, and sometimes we have to go 'non-contact' with them.

Don't blame yourselves. Life your lives for you. Don't get involved in the minutia of family drama of who said what, when and why. I know some of my kids have been hard on me at times, and it has been a trial forgiving them when they didn't know all the details.

Sounds like maybe you will just have to accept your kids as being flawed people and simply not expect anything from them. It's sad, really. But, if you keep expecting them to change--well, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting things to end up differently. (Bad paraphrase, sorry).

DO NOT blame yourself. Your kids had the best upbringing you could give them, In the end, they are choosing the path they follow.

By saying "i wasn't good enough" is blaming yourself for something that is NOT your fault. All of us wish we could go back and undo a lot of the stuff we did. OR try to do it over--truth is, every family has some rotten apples. Every family has issues.

Take care of you and your DH. No more money for the kids. Write them out of the will and spend your money on yourself and your own needs. We are NOT obligated to give our kids inheritances.

Maybe some counseling would help you to work through the sadness you feel. Talking to someone who can gently guide you to acceptance of what you cannot change.


Thank you, Shell, for the thoughtful post. I’m not sure why they choose to be the way they are, but we do our best. Difficult to not blame myself, but really don’t know the whys. It’s rough to raise kids, basically alone, with the other parent not emotionally available to them. But I’m thinking on your words. Thank you.

It sounds to me that you are taking all the responsibility of how your sons turn out. Yes, we are the products of our environment from which our parents raise us; however, at some point as adult children we have to stop blaming our parents for what they did or didn't do and start making better life choices. Easier said than done!! I was mad at my dad for years because he didn't give me the support that I needed because I was a girl and I could just grow up and have some guy marry me and take care of me, but that was never my plan! But I did come to realize that my father loved me the best way he knew how and I am thankful that he did teach me how to get around this world without him. Therefore I was able to forgive him before he passed away.

It appears that your sons picked up more than you could or ever want them too and I am so sorry that you feel the total of the responsibility is on you. But your ex-husdand and your sons have their share of responsbility in the way their life has turn out too! And just maybe, you gave them to much and didn't let them find their own way when they were young!

Parents should not expect their adult children to take care of them. To help out is one thing, but to become caregivers is a whole another thing.

I am not trying to be harsh or mean. Believe me I can feel your pain, and hurt as I read your words. Perhaps give your sons time and space and maybe they will come around. I hope they do for their own sake. There is nothing worst (in my opinion) than have a parent pass away without saying the goodbyes and whatever needs to be said.

Do your sons know how sick you really are? Prehaps you could send each one of your sons a card telling them how much you love them and how sorry you are and name just a few things that you wish you would have done differently. Sometimes all a person need is to have it acknowledge what happen and a heart felt sorry! Just make sure you are not trying to make them feel guilty or sorry for you because they will pick up on that. Just be honest and sincere.

Just somethings for you to think about!

Good luck!

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