This is absolutely brilliant. I look forward to hearing more and I hope your daughter learns quickly and forever! Good mothers make great sacrifices. Not sure I could survive that.
Why have I tolerated this? My goal was to get my daughter to value life in an organized household and to appreciate how much work goes into taking care of kids or teens. She didn't, before. Despite having been raised as an enabler, she was too willing to sacrifice her own interests even when she was pulled out of an enabling environment. That sort of thing can't be allowed in a child, but when the child learns only through experience, it's best to let them have a small taste of the experience under controlled circumstances. It took a brief voyage into Pig-istan, a couple months of her working like Cinderella, and massive destruction of her clothing and belongings before her disgust and sense of being used hit critical mass. She's within inches of developing a sense of self-worth, because her house guests are starting to treat her the same way they treat me: good enough to use, but not good enough to invite to the party. So that's why I'm allowing my daughter's couch-surfing friend and associated munchkins to do this to my home: to permanently turn my daughter off of enabling behavior along with disorderliness, chaos, waste, and bad smells. It's working.
You're my hero! Talk about tough love!! I hope the experience opens the eyes of your daughter. (I don't think I could put up with that for very long, I got twitchy just reading about it.)
My savings and cash reserves haven't, and neither has some of the furniture or the tub and bathroom fixtures that didn't survive the shower parkour incident. For a class of people who can't be bothered to waddle down to the grocery store, they have some unusual exercise habits. At least I hope that's what it was.
Anyway, if this experience helps prevent a lifetime of enabling behavior for my daughter because we get to the full gross-out now, I'll count us ahead. I'd rather have her completely lose her shit right now, and then compose herself and figure out what she thinks and feels really. Up to two weeks ago she "didn't mind" a whole bunch of stuff she should have minded, because of the codependent attitude she picked up early in life due to having been around too many people who would probably benefit from an icepick to the forehead. Now she minds and feels appropriate hurt and resentment. I'm mildly bummed about her experiencing hurt and resentment, but this is how you show a person what having good boundaries feels like. The alternative is to accept a reality in which she continues enabler patterns into adulthood and ends up in a codependent sharknado of a marriage with some random abusive druggie or worse.
By learning how to step away from inappropriate responsibility, she's freed herself to step up in terms of taking responsibility for things that ARE appropriate and that DO create a payoff for her. It's really brought her forward, maturity-wise.
I know this isn't the whole story. But what are the boundaries here? I understand it must be close to impossible to enforce boundaries on 6-7 houseguests, but letting them run rampant doesn't seem to be teaching anything about boundaries. What consequences are there when they abuse your home and your goodwill. Also, isn't one month enough - give your daughter the gift of teaching her how to kick people out. And, change the locks whenever they do leave.
The boundaries she's learning?
- Her clothes are for her, not to be taken and trashed or given away without her knowledge by other people who help themselves
- Other people are not to bring guests into her room while she is not present
- Nobody gets to use her as a free babysitter by dumping their kids on her at the last minute
- When she cleans up the bathroom, it's reasonable to expect it to stay clean
- Her allowance money is for her, and not to be cadged out of her by someone who "needs" money for gas or a fast food run
- Why we do not lend out the family vehicle
- Her bed is for her to sleep in, not to be given over to someone else while she sleeps on the floor because that person prefers to not use the fold-out couch or room they were given
- When she spends all her time taking over someone else's responsibilities, there are still consequences for not fulfilling her own, and the universe will not cut her any slack just because she exhausted herself chasing the monkeys in someone else's circus
- Her electronics, furniture, and belongings are not toys for toddlers
- Why it's a bad idea for her to try to take from me to give to somebody else
- Why it's an even worse to let people take from her in order to give to somebody else
- The fine art of identifying unreasonable requests and saying "no" to them
- How to identify and survive the tantrum stage when an over-entitled adult tries to get back on the nipple
- Why it's a bad thing to do for others what they should be doing for themselves
- Not wanting to wake up to the smell of human feces is actually OK
- Why a person who is not functioning as an adult has "needs" that will expand to consume and then exceed all available resources
- Why, when she runs out of energy or resources to give, she's not going to be helped in return by the non-functional adult
- Correct duck alignment requires that she not try to line up other people's ducks while letting hers waddle all over the place
- Correct fuck alignment requires an awareness of what she does or doesn't actually control
- How to not be the second velociraptor
- How to not spend her whole life on a one-way street
- Why taking control of what's not hers to manage will not end well or produce the results she wants, but it will sure exhaust her
... and more... much more.
One month wasn't actually enough to pull this off.
After the first month, she was still eyeballs-deep in codependent behavior and trying to dump her responsibilities onto me (preferably along with her fecund friend's responsibilities) in order to be the hero and take on even more. She truly believed that doing this would benefit the kids.
By "codependent behavior" I'm talking about a willingness to destroy her relationship with me in order to give more to her houseguests. I'm talking about siding with her houseguests, trying to get me to give them money, confronting me for asking for broken or missing belongings to be returned, yelling at me for not using a "nice" enough tone of voice when expressing a desire for food to not be tracked through the house. I'm talking about insisting that it was right and appropriate to "let" them live in a filthy and disorganized way, not having a bedtime, a wakeup time, or organized meals because "it's how they like to live", and throwing a tantrum herself when I refused to watch her houseguest's children. She also confronted me when somebody's precious feelings were hurt when I used the word "pigs" to describe their behavior after a food booby trap exploded in the pantry.
Instead of doing the boundary thing and recognizing the extent to which she was being used herself and also the extent to which she was helping the guests to abuse me, she went into full martyr mode and vowed to take all the work on herself because she "didn't mind", and that her guests "just needed until". This is not healthy behavior. This is the behavior of someone mired in codependency to the point where they truly believe that pulling someone else in is the thing to do. Helping can be just as addictive as heroin, and it was in danger of becoming my daughter's "drug" of choice.
If I'd sent the guests on their way at that point, I'd have been taking the fix away and creating the need for more, setting into motion a pattern of behavior that could have continued into my daughter's adulthood, which is coming on fast. Bad patterns repeat themselves unless they're broken.
So I stood back and let my daughter start experiencing negative consequences for her behavior.
Around the house, I bowed out of guest activities. I did only the work that suited me, and let my daughter take over all the work and enabling for caring for a handful of very badly socialized kids. It caught up to her pretty quickly especially when she realized her best effort still wasn't producing the results she wanted. She snapped, and did some things she probably wouldn't have done otherwise. Her frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed led to some denial, self destructive decisions, and other things that made her feel less good about herself and more criticized and set-upon by everybody. Eventually, it reached a breaking point where she verbally attacked me for not supporting her enough or appropriately. So I pointed out where the bear shit in the woods, and explained what was and was not appropriate parent behavior.
I suppose it took two full weeks of martyrdom for her to crack and realize that she did indeed mind. Now she's experiencing some of the stress and resentment, and also recognizing the extent to which she's being used. She's now asking for change, enforcing change, and complaining about her situation because she can't do the fun things she really want to do. She's also recognizing the limitations to her own power and having a strong need to stay in her own swim lane.
As a consequence of cracking, she had to take some attention away from the unrewarding, codependent bullshit and consequently had a breakthrough in an area of life where hard work and concentration IS rewarded.
A couple more weeks should sear this incident into her memory for life.
O' the houseguests: they're not being allowed to run rampant. She stepped up and took responsibility for them. Yes, I let her step in that because she didn't believe me when I told her about quicksand.