Sometimes when there is a mentally ill child in the family that needs help and refuses, and one parent is in denial and suffering from their own mental illness, you are presented with a major problem: Manipulation.

I have seen it too many times. Parents have a sick child, and that child knows how to manipulate their Mom and Dad simultaneously, and it becomes a mess.  It can break up a marriage, I can divide the family into an “I’m right, you’re wrong” scenario that is hard to manage. “I’m not crazy, you’re crazy.” “You need help, not me!” Family members form teams, and take sides, and it can become a disaster.

But, I’ve learned that given these circumstances there is one thing that has power over all: Money.

For example, a son drops out of school and is “looking” for a job but, needs help with a down payment on his own place. He might manipulate his Mom and say something like this:

“Mom, I need money for a down payment on a new place, and then I will be able to find work.”

So Mom is fine helping out her son, but not Dad.  He wants him to stay at home while looking for a job, and once that occurs, he is more than happy to help out.  So what happens?

Who holds the bank account in the family? If Mom has control over the families finances, then she’ll have the upper hand in determining how to manage her sick child. Or vice versa.

This situation can become hectic. Spouses start lying about helping out their child, they might take money without any open line of communication simply to appease their child.  Even worse, a sick parent in denial coupled with their sick child in denial can turn around and gain up on the other parent and no one gets help.  Like I said, it is messy. So what do you do?

Remember two words: Manipulation and Money.  They go hand in hand, so be aware of how they can work for and against you when dealing with a family divided due to mental illnesses.