Parenting an Adult Child with Mental Illness

Parent Q&A

Legal Woes with Young Adult/Need an Attorney Feb 15, 2019 (1 responses below)
Looking for counselor Dec 18, 2018 (2 responses below)
Case Manager/Therapist for Young Adult with Mental Illness Nov 27, 2018 (2 responses below)
Legal Help mentally ill young adult daughter Oct 18, 2017 (5 responses below)
  • My young adult daughter (25) who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder and has impulse control issues recently forged my name and cashed a check (aprox $1200). I have supported her by keeping a roof over her head because she has not been able to hold down a job and has a 4 year old. She refuses to take medication or get any help with her mental health issues and blames me her adoptive mother for all of her problems. She has applied for SSI and doesn't qualify.  In this latest episode when I asked her to give me the check (which she had already cashed) she blocked my car in a parking space in her apartment complex to prevent me from leaving. She then used her car to chase me to the freeway. I did write the forgery and theft up in a police report. I am looking for an attorney to help me set up visits  with my grandson, which is the primarily why I pay her rent. The other factor is I don't want her showing up on my doorstep (She lives in Sacramento) which she has threatened to do. 

    Thank you for any suggestions, 


    First of all, I have the greatest sympathy for you. Secondly, I have advice but you won't like it. Your child is walking all over you like a doormat. You need to set limits with this adult-child or she will just keep doing it for the rest of her life (and yours!). She is your child and you obviously love her and want to take care of her. But you need to teach her that she cannot treat you that way before it is too late, if it isn't already. Boundaries are important, especially for people who have trouble regulating their moods and behaviors. We went through this with our son and a wonderful therapist explained to us that he was engaging in this behavior because we were enabling him and letting him get away with it. In this case, you are also rewarding her for this bad behavior by paying her rent. What incentive does she have to stop abusing you...? She's getting love, support, and money out of it! So here is my advice: stop paying her rent. If you stop paying her rent, perhaps she will get the treatment she needs in order to support herself and start feeling more self-sufficient. (For what it's worth, I am not unsympathetic - my child also has a mood disorder, so I feel your pain.) If she shows up on your doorstep, call the police. It sounds awful, but we went through something similar with our son and it's the only way we were able to get him to stop his abusive behavior. You may need a lawyer, but you also need to step up as a parent in a new and really difficult way. I really feel for you and may the force be with you.


  • Looking for counselor

    (2 replies)

    Looking for help in adjusting to mental health decline in one grown child, and serious physical illness in another.  It has been a heartbreaking year and I’m spending lots of time helping care for (and reassure) grandkids caught by the turbulence.  

    Does anyone have a results-oriented, compassionate counselor ( for me) they are willing to share?

    thank you for helping,

    RE: Looking for counselor ()

    I'm sorry this has been a heartbreaking year for you. I do not have a counselor to recommend, but I can suggest family support groups through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). If the support group is not helpful to you directly, someone there may be able to recommend a counselor.

    I'm glad you're searching for ways to care for yourself. 

    RE: Looking for counselor ()

     A few people in my family have loved Two Chairs (in Oakland and San Francisco). They place you with an appropriate therapist based on your intake interview.

  • I am looking for a ‘case manager’ type therapist for my young adult son who has significant mental health issues and needs professional help to become more independent and responsible for his own well-being. He sees a therapist who provides specific treatment for his illness however I believe he would benefit from seeing a therapist/social worker one-on-one (i.e. not in a group at this time) who can help him on his day to day living, set short and longer-term goals, review with him how he spends his time and money, work on life skills and decision making.  He has OPTUM (formerly UBH) insurance and it would be great to find someone in network, preferable in Oakland, Berkeley, or Albany.

    You sound like a very loving and compassionate parent. I have looked into the type of service you are describing for my young adult child with similar issues and added substance misuse. One resource that was recommended to me is East Gate Mentoring (  Unfortunately, my young adult has refused all support, so I cannot speak to an experience with them, other than I had a couple of phone calls with Conor. I found him to be compassionate and insightful; he sounded experienced.

    Although farther from you, you might also reach out to Cindy Savelli (ccbs91 [at] who runs a Parents Helping Parents Anxiety and Mood Disorders Support Group in San Jose. She is a wealth of information, and I imagine could point you to resources in the east bay.

    Another option you might consider now or in the future is transitional independent living ( I learned of this from an acquaintance who's young adult is there now. Her impressions are favorable.

    I'll follow this thread, as I look forward to hearing what others have to say so I'm ready with resources when my young adult is ready to accept support.

    Try contacting NAMI East Bay to network with other families who've dealt with this issue. NAMI stands for "National Alliance for the Mentally Ill" and it's a non-profit that helps the mentally ill and their family.

    Good luck!

  •  I don't know if this is the right forum for this question but I have a young adult daughter and a three-year-old grandson. My daughter has a mood disorder and has become increasingly demanding I have me regarding money.  She has full health coverage but refuses to go to get any medication mhelp.

     When My grandson was born I promised myself and the universe he would not be homeless. So I pay my daughters rent. I agreed to do this for two years and is now going on the third year. When my daughter  started to only be able to hold down entry-level jobs I became concerned about my grandson's welfare.  Now she is unable to even hold down entry level jobs. Now I am getting ready to retire and only want to help my  financially for another two years. I have tried to make a transition plan with her to no avail. She has completed high school and  certifications to become a medical assistant and  certifications to become a and phlebotomist. I paid for this when she was still only 19. She has no interest in doing either of these jobs

     It has become increasingly difficult for me to interact with my daughter, I am not really allowed to see my grandson without her demanding money or just refusing to let me see him. The amounts have gotten really outrageous I do want to continue to support her with regards to her apartment my question is, is there a person whose job it is to help you pay a bill for somebody who is so unstable they can't interact with you? Also since my daughter is adopted and clearly disabled mentally do I have any legal obligation to take care of her when she is threatening me and so unstable. Thank you so much

    You don't say how old your daughter is now, but she's over 19, since you mentioned that she had trained to be a medical assistant and a phlebotomist at that age.  My understanding is that since she was legally an adult at 18, you haven't been obligated to take care of her since then.  I have a troubled young adult daughter, too, and I know how difficult it is.  And you have a grandson whom you love and want to protect.  However, you lost me a bit when you implied that the fact that your daughter is adopted might ameliorate your responsibilities.  I'm an adoptive parent, too, and I am my daughter's mother forever, as any biological mother is.  Surely, when you are not distraught, you feel that, too.  You are under terrible stress; your daughter is unstable and using her son as a bargaining chip.  I wish you the best and, I hope someone else who responds to you will have concrete suggestions for attorneys, counselors, respite, etc.

    I'm sorry to hear about your mentally ill adult daughter.  That she uses your grandson as a pawn is very sad. I wish I could suggest something, someone to help..All I can offer is my understanding of your situation.  I have an adult son, who has seizures, is bipolar, with learning challenges. Unlike your daughter he doesn't ask for $, 'though we help him, very modestly each month, but he gets himself into messes that typically we have to bail him out of: For ex, a 'friend' borrowed his truck (which he no longer has) had a fender bender & in payment said he'd give truck a tune-up.  This guy messed up the radiator.  Son seems to have a lot of irresponsible" friends"  who take advantage of him one way or the other.  Yet he rarely blames them..Son is hungry for friends.

    You have no legal obligation to support a child who is 18 or older.  If you want to help support her, and to help support your grandson, you could consider some kind of trust arrangement.  You ask about someone whose job might be to pay bills for someone.  Well, you can appoint a third party to administer that trust -- but you typically have to pay them a fee.  It is a job, and you are paying their salary.  Talk to a lawyer about these options. It sounds like you don't have concerns about your grandson's safety or health and welfare right now, which is great, but it sounds like you are worried about your ability to see your grandson and that perhaps your daughter is only letting you see him if you pay?  One thing to mention is that grandparents can ask for court ordered visitation with grandchildren.  You have to prove certain things like a pre-existing relationship with your grandchild to get that order. But if worse comes to worse, its good to know that is out there.  Again, good to talk to a lawyer.