Issues with my mom - multigenerational living not working - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure where to put this because this is about the family dynamic with my mother. But it's a multi-generational issue, so I guess parenting is included. I hope it doesn't get too long.

Backstory:
My mother had to move in with us a few years ago. In a nutshell, she cannot handle money, was getting too old to work full-time and just couldn't support herself on social security and part-time work under a mountain of consumer debt. We have supported her for 4 years now. She doesn't pay for anything... including the car we bought for her, insurance, gasoline, food, utilities, her cell phone, etc. We pay it all. She uses her SS to pay for her medicines, supplemental insurance, clothes, junk food (which I will not buy), and fast food (which we will not eat) for lunch almost every day. She blows a lot of her money on junk... Wal-mart junky stuff that breaks 2 days later and she throws away. Also, when she moved in, we paid to build an addition on our house so she would have her own private bedroom and living room. She still has to come into the main house for bath and kitchen.

Over the past year, I've grown kind of bitter about this whole situation because she is actually very able-bodied and she does next to NOTHING to help out here. The one thing she does do is help with picking up dd from school (it's about an hour away). She also does the dinner dishes (we have a dishwasher, though) if she eats with us (which is the norm).

My mother can't cook. I don't want help there. But she can do many other things. However she was/is a lazy person, in general. She also was a mean and spiteful mother (telling us DAILY that she would "call the welfare and have them take [us] away if we didn't mind"). I really thought she had changed, but she hasn't. I know that some of my issues relate to what a horrible mother she was to us. When I've tried to talk to her about it, she'll say, "What do you want me to do? Say I'm sorry? I'm sorry, OK?" And it's in a very flippant way. My biggest problem is that old attitude carrying over in her interactions with dd.

She gets short with dd and says some nasty things and THAT is what I get most pissed off about. She'll come in to use the bathroom and see me struggling to do something and just look at me and walk back out to her rooms. She *never* offers to help with anything. I'm a proud person and have a hard time asking for help.

She is THE.PICKIEST.EATER.ALIVE. I tend to cook foods that she will eat rather than what we prefer. She gets an attitude when I say I want to make Indian food or Chinese. For example, stir-fry, heavy on veggies, was a usual dish here and I've not made it once she she moved in. This also limits our choices for eating out. We like the local Greek restaurant, Turkish (dh is from Turkey), Japanese Teppanyaki... mom will not eat at these places and so we end up the local pasta place or steakhouse every time we eat out. I would love to eat out just the 3 of us, but she makes me feel so guilty "leaving her out", that I just don't go through with it. She is also a huge eater... she adds $20 to our restaurant bill and has never offered to pay for her part. I'll admit that that bugs me, too. She has come to EXPECT everything from us without feeling any gratitude for what we do for her. And her attitude extends to others, too. The other day in a restaurant, she ordered coffee. They were brewing it, and when the server brought just our waters, she turns to him and says, "I want my coffee NOW!" It was so rude I wanted to just crawl under the table.

Lately, I've just tried to stay away from her and have dd stay away from her (and dd really loves her). This situation is not one that can last, though. The tension is high. She is visiting a family member this week and everyone here is just in a good mood and happy. When she's here, it's gloomy.

I know part of it is my attitude, but I don't know what to do. She acts like a wounded animal if I say, "Hey mom, we just want to go out to dinner alone... the 3 of us." She makes a big production if she had to fill her car herself. (Side note: when looking for a car for her, she absolutely HAD to have this Mercedes and wouldn't look at any other car, so it takes premium gas and now she complains about gas prices )

It's gotten to the point that in the morning, when dh takes dd off to school and I have a few minutes to be here on MDC, it just makes me MAD that she wakes up early and is putzing around here in the kitchen making coffee, mumbling to herself. She's not "bothering" me... I just don't want her around. I want some time TO MYSELF!

Dd has picked up on the negative vibes between my mom and me. I don't even know what to do. Maybe it's just a vent. I'm tired of mom doing NOTHING around here and us supporting her 100%. I want to be able to do things with just my dh and dd without having her tag along. I want some time to be in my home BY.MY.SELF... all alone to read or watch TV or sleep or just... whatever. I miss having time alone. Between work, my mom, dd, etc. I have almost NO time alone and it's something that I have always really NEEDED. I am not the kind of person who likes to be around a lot of people all the time and we have an only because I did not want a house full of kids. Last summer, I asked my sister if Mom could stay 2 weeks with her so dd and I could just have some "us" time... my sister's reply was, "Yes, but you OWE ME, big time!!" Uh... my sisters have done NOTHING to help support Mom for 4 years. I owe HER????

I don't know what I want... maybe just to vent. My sisters have never helped. My mom doesn't appreciate what we've done for her. I'm just feeling used, I guess. And it's showing with the tension in our relationship. I don't even want her around dd anymore. There's just so much negativity. When I try to talk to her, she comes back with, "Oh GOD! I can't do ANYTHING right in your eyes, can I?" I do thank her for doing the dishes every time she does them and when she picks up dd. But to be honest, although I love my mom, over the past few years I've stopped LIKING her.

My sisters are not in a position to take her permanently. I'd have to go back to work full-time to get her her own place, but that would defeat the purpose. I can't just kick her out. Thoughts?
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#2 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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Retirement home for your mom asap!

My home is my haven, I am very selective to who even visits it. I could never ever have my mother over for more than a dinner a month.
Through hard life lessons I have learned that being a martyr is not the role I ever want to play again.

I hope that you can have your home back for the health of your whole family.

-Melanie
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#3 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Retirement home for your mom asap!

My home is my haven, I am very selective to who even visits it. I could never ever have my mother over for more than a dinner a month.
Through hard life lessons I have learned that being a martyr is not the role I ever want to play again.

I hope that you can have your home back for the health of your whole family.

-Melanie
Retirement home is about $4000/month. We can't afford that. I couldn't send her to a retirement home AND work full-time AND deal with dd's school, which is 1 hour away.

Thank you, though.
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#4 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:44 AM
 
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So to sum up:

You bought your Mom a Mercedes and she complains about the gas.

You built a bedroom and bathroom for her but aside from picking up your dd she does not help at all around the house.

You include her in everything but in order to do so have to eat at restaurants you don't care for and aren't able to cook food you really like.

Have welcomed her into your home only to have to listen to her be ungrateful and rude to you and your dd.

Have bent over backwards to help her financially and she does not reciprocate at all ever.

Are finding yourself more and more miserable in your OWN HOME, and know it is rubbing off on your daughter and your husband.

I think you already know what you need (not should, NEED) to do here. Your Mom needs to find a new place to live.

I am not minimizing how difficult this could be, and how bad her reaction may be.

But, when one person is bringing down the peace and prosperity of a home, that person either needs to change, or needs to go. And it sounds like she is unlikely to change.

I admire you for all that you have done for her. Regardless of what she did wrong, you clearly turned out to be compassionate and caring. However, she is taking advantage of your good qualities.

I would begin looking around for senior apartment living. I would find a place first, before telling her that you need your home back. Depending on what you can afford I might consider paying the first 6 mos rent. But, I could no longer continue to be the sole means of support for her. Why aren't your sisters helping more? WOuld they be willing to help with the rent?

Your Mom has developed a keen sense of entitlement when it comes to you, and I would not stand for that. Multigenerational living should work for both parties-it should not be one person giving 100% and getting nothing in return. In fact, less then nothing.
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#5 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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I could've written it myself--except my dad is in a camper in the back yard. I'll keep reading for suggestions.

Crunchy con wife with 1 DS and 1 lil DD born in Jan. I love breastfeeding, CDing and Friday night family bed.
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#6 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:04 AM
 
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Wow. I can totally see how stressful that can be.

I can also imagine that the advice to kick her out isn't going to feel like "wow! why didn't I think of that!" for you. I don't have any brilliant gems of wisdom but what occured to me is that it's time for you to start asserting yourself and stop feeling guilty.

You CAN go out to dinner just the 3 of you. Yes, your mom will bitch and moan and whine. Can you readjust how you see it so the whining is all about your mother, and not about what an awful daughter you are? Even better, set a weekly habit of going out, say, every Thursday night. Your mom can plan ahead. Go out to a movie. See a friend. Go through her favorite drive-through. Stay home and enjoy some peace and quiet. Whatever. She can make herself a victim in this but you don't have to play along.

I know this is easier said than done but I just think this is the only way you're going to manage. It's YOUR house. There needs to be some back-and-forth. OK, let's take the restaurants again, sometimes you can go to her resstaurants and sometimes you can go to yours. She doesn't like Indian food? Oh, ok mom, would you like to stay home and order yourself some pizza, or would you like to come along with us and see if there's anything you might like? Next time we'll go to the steak place.

She is NOT entitled to be served at her every whim. There's give-and-take in every relationship. If you were talking about a FRIEND, you'd switch choosing restaurants every other time, wouldn't you?

I haven't read the book Boundaries but I see it recommended a lot, and sounds like something that could help. I think it will help ease a lot of your stress if you felt more empowered and less enmeshed.

It's your house, you can set ground rules. Do you need her to do more around the house? Tell her. Put up a whole family chore chart. No, she doesn't have to check it off every day or anything stupid like that, but just list who is responsible for what. Put your jobs on there too, you get credit for that

But I still feel you, I CRINGE at the idea of my mom coming to live at my house. And even so, my mom would not be complaining like that and not expect to be dragged along to every single family dinner, and she would certainly pay her way or something like that (even just springing for the tip... SOMETHING).

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#7 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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Wow. I can totally see how stressful that can be.

I can also imagine that the advice to kick her out isn't going to feel like "wow! why didn't I think of that!" for you. I don't have any brilliant gems of wisdom but what occured to me is that it's time for you to start asserting yourself and stop feeling guilty.

You CAN go out to dinner just the 3 of you. Yes, your mom will bitch and moan and whine. Can you readjust how you see it so the whining is all about your mother, and not about what an awful daughter you are? Even better, set a weekly habit of going out, say, every Thursday night. Your mom can plan ahead. Go out to a movie. See a friend. Go through her favorite drive-through. Stay home and enjoy some peace and quiet. Whatever. She can make herself a victim in this but you don't have to play along.

I know this is easier said than done but I just think this is the only way you're going to manage. It's YOUR house. There needs to be some back-and-forth. OK, let's take the restaurants again, sometimes you can go to her resstaurants and sometimes you can go to yours. She doesn't like Indian food? Oh, ok mom, would you like to stay home and order yourself some pizza, or would you like to come along with us and see if there's anything you might like? Next time we'll go to the steak place.

She is NOT entitled to be served at her every whim. There's give-and-take in every relationship. If you were talking about a FRIEND, you'd switch choosing restaurants every other time, wouldn't you?

I haven't read the book Boundaries but I see it recommended a lot, and sounds like something that could help. I think it will help ease a lot of your stress if you felt more empowered and less enmeshed.

It's your house, you can set ground rules. Do you need her to do more around the house? Tell her. Put up a whole family chore chart. No, she doesn't have to check it off every day or anything stupid like that, but just list who is responsible for what. Put your jobs on there too, you get credit for that

But I still feel you, I CRINGE at the idea of my mom coming to live at my house. And even so, my mom would not be complaining like that and not expect to be dragged along to every single family dinner, and she would certainly pay her way or something like that (even just springing for the tip... SOMETHING).
Good advice, but I just wanted to address advice about kicking her out. I do believe that people sometimes need permission to entertain the thought of doing something drastic. When you grow up in an emotionally abusive environment you often believe that you deserve certain treatment and that the abuser's needs come before your own.

-Melanie
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#8 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:32 AM
 
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Good advice, but I just wanted to address advice about kicking her out. I do believe that people sometimes need permission to entertain the thought of doing something drastic. When you grow up in an emotionally abusive environment you often believe that you deserve certain treatment and that the abuser's needs come before your own.

-Melanie
Well said. OP it sounds like you are having lots of issues about trying to please your Mom, carrying over from childhood perhaps? If you're not ready quite yet to tell her to go (though I think this needs to happen eventually), then start with small changes. Cook what the heck YOU want for dinner! Go with just DH and DD to dinner. A "normal" mom would get it. Every family needs their alone time.

Oh, she needs to start pitching in with housework. And a Mercedes? seriously?

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#9 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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You are amazingly generous. I do believe in taking care of my elders, but you are going way above and beyond. From what you say, your mom reminds me a lot of my own, BIG TIME!!!

If asking her to move is not an option, then I think you need to get some boundaries. This is not easy and I had to set some with my mom. It took a lot of time, discussion and reinforcement. Sometimes she still gets pissy and says or does something I don't like. Thankfully she does not live with us, or I'd be in prison. She brings it up from time to time, even moving closer to us, and I manage to deflect.

You have to be absolutely clear in her interactions with your DD and what they are to resemble. This is a non-negotiable. My mom once called my DS1 a "weird kid" to his face. DS1 who is very sensitive was hurt and I asked him to go watch some dinosaurs while I quietly read her the riot act and my expectations and the consequences if she did not live up to them. What she used as parenting for you is not okay for your DD. You have to figure out what those consequences are and stick to them.

Likewise with interactions with yourself. Every time my mom starts on me about my house, how I do something, how I cook something, I ask her "Do you treat your best friend this way?" she looks at me, and I say "Then you don't treat me this way." I am an adult now, I would not tolerate constant nasty behaviour towards me from a friend. Family gets a little more leeway, but I am not going to be someone she can guilt, dump on, criticise, act spoiled or demand her way.

It's not unreasonable to ask for family time or alone time. Since you share some spaces like kitchen or bathrooms, you should define your space in another area. You can also ask for different times, like a dinner or lunch, or go out to brunch without her.

I'd sell the Mercedes (if it's still your car) and get a Civic. The gas, insurance and whatnot must be costing you a fortune. Unless she is going to take over the expenses. If she can afford to buy junk, she can afford premium gas and insurance.

Secondly, if she doesn't like your cooking, she can cook or get take away or whatever. Set a meal plan for the week, let her know that on Tuesday, you're going to be cooking Indian. My mom is picky too. Meat, potato, vegetables boiled to death. Anyone in this house either eats what I cook, or they're welcome to get themselves a piece of fruit, make their own, etc.

Going out, what DH's family did, once the boys were old enough to have preferences is that everyone takes a turn to select their restaurant. If she's not interested, then she can stay home. She can also pick up her own tab, not just $20.00 of it. Separate cheques.

Write up a chore's list. If she is contributing to the household mess, then she can help tidy it up.

I'd try to find another method of getting DD home from school, at least in the interim if you're going to go this route. I think things may get a lot yuckier, before they get better. They DO get better.

My mom, is generally 90% good now. Before the kids arrived she was a pill. I remember telling her when I was pregnant that I'm about to be a mother and I cannot take care of her anymore and would not put up with X, Y, Z. So if she wanted to have a relationship with me and her grandkids, this was the tune.

Your other options are as I see them, is getting her her own place, which you said is not an option. Building her her own kitchen and bathroom so she can have her own living space period. Sharing common areas, but otherwise leading pretty separate lives.

This is not going to be easy. I feel for you, I really do. Have you considered therapy? It does help. There are some topics I won't even broach with my mother, because she gets defensive and shuts down, but it did help me become a stronger person and ask for the courtesy I deserve.

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#10 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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I don't think you need to kick her out, but I do think you need to set some clear boundaries.

Another expense, but could you get her a mini-fridge and coffee maker for her area of the house, so you can have your mornings to yourself?

Look at your day and identify when she is stressing you the most. Then try to come up with solutions.

My mom is very difficult to talk to, and also very defensive, it is definitely easier to "go along" with her than to rock the boat. But sometimes, you need to do it. One thing that helped me in my relationship with my mom, was to think about what I DID want, not what I don't want.

You want a harmonious home--what would that look like to you?

You need some space and privacy--how can you get that?

You want your relationship with your mom to improve, not disintegrate--how can make that happen?

Is there a way you can have that conversation with your mom, even if it's difficult. Can you preface the conversation with a statement of love and support--that you do love her, that you want her to stay, but in order for the arrangement to be a long-term success, she needs more independence and you need more privacy. Try to find ways to frame what you want for her as positives--as in, you want her to have an independent life--not, you want her to stop being lazy and dependent.

About her interactions with your daughter, that is troubling. Part of me says, address it immediately. Part of me wonders if you deal with the three things above if her behavior will fall into place or at least be way minimized.

I'm sorry you are going through this, it stinks to do a nice thing and then feel taken advantage of, and there is something so primal about problems with your mom--even if they've been ongoing for your whole life. I had two solid years of fighting with my mom, and now we've come out to the other side and our relationship is actually loving and functional.

One book that really helped me was Dr Wayne Dyer's Power of Intention, which is kind of his version of The Secret but it has some good advice about relationships and how to let go of that negativity that can really poison all of your interactions.

I have a feeling that working this out with your mother won't be easy, but I think you are rational and level-headed enough to do it.
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#11 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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And everything Joyster said, too. You might be my Canadian soul sister--that's pretty much my exact experience.
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#12 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 11:21 AM
 
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I would be wild if my sister said what yours did in that situation. But looking at it from afar, I can see another side.

It may be that your siblings have separated themselves from your mother's behavior and are refusing to take responsibility for it. Because they know what kind of situation it will lead to. And that is one possibility for you - she is a grown woman. We are responsible to help our family, but not to save them from themselves. No one can do that.

I think that your other option is to lay down the law and not respond to her manipulative behavior. If she makes a fuss because you go out without her, too bad. If she will only drive a fancy car, then she can buy it herself.

To me, it sounds like she has something like Borderline Personality Disorder. If so, it's unlikely she will change, and you will have to decide how you want to deal with her in that context.

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#13 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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I wouldn't say generous, I would say co-dependent. Each one of the scenarioes you have described does not include what you have done to put the limits on the situation. I'm not trying to be mean, but I do think that you are responsible for this situation because you have gone through these extreme measures and you can't figure out why she isn't more grateful. She isn't going to ever be grateful. She isn't going to change. She's an adult.
You don't have to kick her out in order to make some serious changes in YOUR life.
You tell her that she can live there but she needs to PAY for a SMALL part of the bills. You start setting limits on the living arrangements.
You are responsible for your life now. I wouldn't even bother to bring up the past. She cannot change the past. You cannot change your childhood. It sucked. But YOU can navigate the present and the future. For some reason you are the only one carrying this guilt for something in your past and you feel like you owe your mother something--but what? You said your family isn't buying into it or helping--but really, why should they? They have obviously set limits and are making her responsible for herself...and while it seems mean spirited, it's actually the healthiest thing that they can do for her and for them. I would be afraid that after a while this woman could destroy your current family. And then where your mom be?
I would seek counseling for myself and read TOXIC PARENTS. I would also get into a co-dependent group of some sort--mayb an Al-Anon type group. I would start setting small boundaries at first, if it is painful to you, and then larger ones. You need to get a grip on this now BEFORE she goes from an able-bodied person to a person who is not able-bodied, because when that happens, it's a whole different set of problems. I hope this works out--your heart is in the right place, but this is actually a bad situation for EVERYONE involved so it's up to you to start making changes.
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#14 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies.

I think setting boundaries and just "getting on with life" is the best path to take. I wish I had time address all the replies, but I don't right now. It was good to get it off of my chest, though.

My mother only gets about $700/month income through SS, so it's not like she's spending a ton of money. She could pay for her own meals out and that might be a good path to take. I don't want it to sound like she spending thousands and could substantially help out with bills. She probably has a few hundred left over each month after paying for her medicine and medicare supplemental.

Setting boundaries is important. We didn't do this when she moved in.

I'll respond more later. I have a load laundry to get to and supper to prep... which is Indian tonight because Mom is gone.
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#15 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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And everything Joyster said, too. You might be my Canadian soul sister--that's pretty much my exact experience.
We need to start a support group for daughters with challenging moms that we love, but wouldn't mind dropping a water balloon on sometimes.

Don't trust anyone under 5! Mom to 3 boys under 5. Blogging to save my sanity.
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#16 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Setting boundaries is important. We didn't do this when she moved in.
I just wanted to give some hugs... I don't have time to respond right now-- but please, please, please don't become me.

I wouldn't wish my life on anyone-- not even my MIL.

s.

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#17 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 12:17 PM
 
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The whole situation would drive me crazy. But yes, boundaries! It sounds like she complains no matter what you do, so oh well - do what you need to. Everyone is entitled to family time, and so are you. You are also entitled to alone time. Maybe you are most frustrated with yourself for not putting your foot down sooner. But there's no way around it, you have to.

And really, not all retirement homes are $4000 a month! Maybe ones with all the bells and whistles - but, I know near me AND also near my parents who live in another state, there are very decent and nice senior apartments for those 65+, where the rent is just a percentage of whatever their income is. This is very common. This may be a better option for you all, rather than going slowly insane.
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#18 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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If I lived with my dad, I'd be having boundary issues, too, I know, so I feel for you.

I'm on a 'Love and Logic' kick right now, though and it occurred to me that it would work so well with your mom. Have you heard of it? It is billed as a parenting technique, but works so well with adults (I use it on my husband all the time ).

I'd pick one issue to tackle at a time - probably the food one, since that would be relatively easy (not painless, mind you, but easy to figure out what you should be doing). Pick a day when you have the strength to deal with your mom without losing it and when everyone is in an OK mood. Tell your mom that you are happy to cook things she enjoys, but that you've realized that you've stopped making food the rest of the family enjoys to accomodate her, and that can't continue. Let her know that you are going to make 'x' for dinner tonight, and that she is free to join you or to go out on her own for dinner - she can choose. If (what am I talking about - when ) she throws a fit, don't engage her, don't apologize. Come up with a stock phrase like "That is so sad" or "I love you too much to argue" and keep repeating it as many times as you need to with empathy. Being empathetic (and not sarcastic) is key. You don't want to punish her for her behavior - you just want the behavior to change going forward. Don't let her ruffle you. I suspect it will take a few times, but she'll get the picture that 'how it is' has changed.
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#19 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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Come up with a stock phrase like "That is so sad" or "I love you too much to argue"
"I am sorry you feel that way."

First, I would make a list of nearby and far away relatives she can stay with. It would be possible to plan a "vacation" for her to visit your sisters and other relatives. 2 weeks per sister, 1 week for other relatives.. this would get her out of your hair for a while. It is a backup plan, not an immediate "fix".

When a retired person has no assets, there are state-sponsored nursing homes and subsidized rent apartments which could take her in. You could put her on a waiting list for whatever is appropriate. I have seen the inside of one of these apartment buildings, the apartments are small but safe and very livable. She might even be happier living with many other retired people. (constant social interaction, no cooking required!) She would have the best car in the whole place! Another "out" is to take her to a hotel, pay for a night, and not let her come back home. The state will find her a place to stay. Sure, you won't do this. But that is because you are a nice person, not because you can't do it.

At her age, she is not going to change. (unless medication will help) The complaints are going to be permanent. You need to change your reaction to them. If she is not happy with a Mercedes, she is not happy, period.

Make what you like for dinner. If she complains, she does not have to eat it. Go out when you want to, where you want to go, without her. Leave a frozen pizza for her. Decide what behavior of her needs to be changed (probably how she interacts with your daughter) that is the only behavior of hers you need to try to change. Everything else, just ignore.

You have done so much already. If that is not appreciated, nothing will be.
s
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#20 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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My mom living with me! Did anyone else just feel the cold hand of death pass over?

I think it's easy to tell someone to just pack their parent off to a nursing home or lay down the law. Unfortunately, parent/child relationships are just so much more complicated than this. For those who have been able to do this I applaud you. For the rest of us, it's just so dang difficult to tackle the years of baggage and pain.

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I'd pick one issue to tackle at a time - probably the food one, since that would be relatively easy (not painless, mind you, but easy to figure out what you should be doing). Pick a day when you have the strength to deal with your mom without losing it and when everyone is in an OK mood. Tell your mom that you are happy to cook things she enjoys, but that you've realized that you've stopped making food the rest of the family enjoys to accomodate her, and that can't continue. Let her know that you are going to make 'x' for dinner tonight, and that she is free to join you or to go out on her own for dinner - she can choose. If (what am I talking about - when ) she throws a fit, don't engage her, don't apologize. Come up with a stock phrase like "That is so sad" or "I love you too much to argue" and keep repeating it as many times as you need to with empathy. Being empathetic (and not sarcastic) is key. You don't want to punish her for her behavior - you just want the behavior to change going forward. Don't let her ruffle you. I suspect it will take a few times, but she'll get the picture that 'how it is' has changed.
I think this seems like a fair and reasonable approach. Small changes, simple language. Give her and yourself time to adjust to a new approach. In the meantime I'd look into senior housing. In our area, there are places that are subsidized and are actually quite nice. That way if behavior modification doesn't work you have a Plan B.

And . Dealing with parents is rough stuff.

lather, rinse, repeat
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#21 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 05:48 PM
 
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This might be already and definitely WILL be damaging to your daughter. Is this really the dynamic you want to model to her? Also, do you want to send the message that you will tolerate someone being cruel and disrespectful to you and her? I think you need to lay down some boundaries immediately and include some consequences. It seems absolutely wrong that you should let your mom ruin your life .
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#22 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 08:35 PM
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You don't owe your mom this. You don't owe her anything.

How much is a studio apt. where you live? Here, it's about $400/mo. That's all she needs--a roof over her head.

If you can't kick her out for your sake, do it for your dd. Do you want the ENTIRE REST OF HER CHILDHOOD to include this woman in her home?

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#23 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 09:52 PM
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AND you said that your mom is "bad with money." This is what dh said about his mom and her bad spending habits:

"She refused to make sacrifices and save her money. So, why should I be the one making sacrifices instead?"

I think it's good advice.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#24 of 71 Old 04-08-2010, 10:06 PM
 
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Well...you can't make anyone else change you can only make changes yourself. You are choosing to do all the things that are making it possible for her to behave and live this way. On a practical note, you might want to read Love and Logic for Teens with your mother being the teen.
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#25 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I want to thank everyone for the responses.

I have written down all of the books suggested and will look into them at the library.

I agree with those that say that there needs to be a better environment for our dd. She really loves my mom and the majority of the time, there are no issues at all with them - it's when things happen that I just get my mama claws out. Dd is 8 now, and knows that if my mom starts talking short with her, she can walk out of her rooms and come talk to me. I've had many talks with my mom about it. She did say last time that she is going to try to work on that. I asked dd last night at dinner (mom's gone visiting) and dd said that my mom has not lost her temper with her for a very long time. Dd also needs to step it up a little and not trash my mom's rooms with her toys and crafts as much. My mom gets most frustrated with dd's messes and since she never learned how to discipline, just punish, she doesn't handle it well. I've told her that rather than yelling at dd, like she did us, to tell dd that until she picks up her toys, she can't play out there any more. Clean up the mess first, then they can play. Works for me. If my mom would stop yelling, that would be 80% of the battle right there. Other than that, she actually does respect my parenting decisions... she's never tried to spank or punish the way she did us.

As for kicking my mom out... dh just won't do it. We put on a $$$ renovation/addition to our house for her. He's not going to pay rent as well. That is certainly something I would consider, but I'd have to go back to work full-time and I can't do that with dd's school being an hour away. It's also not a sacrifice that I will make for mom. Dh and I planned our lives for me to be a SAHM. I work 15 hours a week in a job I love at a library. I will not go back to the daily grind I hate and not get my summers and vacations off with dd just because of my mom. That is not something I will compromise on.

There is a subdivision for >55 in our area. It's quite nice, although they are all trailers. Definitely *not* your typical trailer park neighborhood... it has a HOA and everyone must keep up their places immaculately. We could, by sacrificing our savings habits, buy a place there, then the lot rental is only about $250/month. I've contemplated that, but dh nixed it last night. So mom moving out will not work.

My sisters (they are half-sisters) are not able to help. One is going through a nasty divorce and is barely making it on her own and the other (oldest) had a mid-life crisis when she hit 50 and took off. I'm not even sure where she is and haven't known for a couple of years. I do NOT have a good relationship with the her and the middle sister is too selfish to help out even with her time (as is evidenced by her comment last year when I asked her to take mom for 2 weeks).

So, in talking with dh and telling him some things mentioned here, he said that I'm just going to have to put my foot down with Mom. I can't MAKE my mom help out around here more. In truth, she doesn't make ANY messes in the main house because she's only in here to eat and use the bathroom. It would just be nice for her to help out that way, just because she appreciates that we're supporting her. I will talk to her about this.

Dh is from a country where you take care of the elderly no matter what. They literally do not have nursing homes... the families take care of their own. His sister took care of their mother for 10 years until her death. He takes this responsibility very seriously. He said we can sit down and talk to her and just explain that we need to set some boundaries (especially about the food), but that asking her to pay us is not something he's comfortable with. I respect that... the key is getting my mom to respect that as well.

The thing that I think *I* need to get over is feeling guilty when she pulls her passive-aggressive stunts. The comments like "I can't do anything right in your eyes", I need to follow up with something like "when it comes to the way you treat my daughter, it's my right to ask you to interact with her with respect" and just leave it at that. I'm not going to respond to her passive-aggressive behavior anymore. It's something I have to do... even if I have to go to a counselor to learn how to do it. I've not ruled that out!

Anyway, this has helped me think through this a lot more. I don't necessarily agree with everything everyone has said, but it's ALL good food for thought and I appreciate every comment. I'm open to any and all ideas on this, so if there are additional thoughts, please let me have them.
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#26 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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It seems to me that the first place to begin is to get your dh on the same page as you are. This isn't working for you, and eventually you will (if you aren't already) become resentful of his stance on this situation. This can't be good for your marriage.

Set aside time for you to discuss this with your dh. If you need to, I would suggest counseling to bring in an impartial 3rd party to help you sort this out. You have options, but unless you and dh agree there will continue to be friction in your family.

(No one has mentioned government subsidized apartments - many apartment complexes set aside units that qualify for this based on income, and meals on wheels - just other thoughts.)

ETA: I see that your dh wants you to put your foot down. That's great, but he needs to be a part of this, too. I wouldn't let this message come only from you, but from both of you. Present a unified front.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#27 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems to me that the first place to begin is to get your dh on the same page as you are. This isn't working for you, and eventually you will (if you aren't already) become resentful of his stance on this situation. This can't be good for your marriage.

Set aside time for you to discuss this with your dh. If you need to, I would suggest counseling to bring in an impartial 3rd party to help you sort this out. You have options, but unless you and dh agree there will continue to be friction in your family.

(No one has mentioned government subsidized apartments - many apartment complexes set aside units that qualify for this based on income, and meals on wheels - just other thoughts.)

ETA: I see that your dh wants you to put your foot down. That's great, but he needs to be a part of this, too. I wouldn't let this message come only from you, but from both of you. Present a unified front.
Actually, I disagree with this. I've read a million times on these boards where people have had issues with in-laws and the advice is *always* that the spouse whose parent it is should handle the situation. I believe that to be so. I don't believe my dh should have to deal with this.

I love that my husband supports me in the changes I am trying to make. Our marriage is stronger than any other marriage I've ever seen. We are on the same page, but it's not his problem to deal with. He doesn't have the past with her. My mom knows that when I speak for the family, I'm speaking for all of us, dh and dd included. He's behind me 100%. Paying for my mom's own place is out of the question. I'm trying to find ways to deal with the situation to ease the tension.

Oh and I did look into subsidized housing. In our town, there is only 1 apartment complex that is subsidized and it's in a bad part of town with a lot of drug traffic. As much as I don't like the living situation now, I wouldn't send my mom to live alone in a dangerous part of town.

Thank you for the suggestions, though.
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#28 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 11:16 AM
 
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Actually, I disagree with this. I've read a million times on these boards where people have had issues with in-laws and the advice is *always* that the spouse whose parent it is should handle the situation. I believe that to be so. I don't believe my dh should have to deal with this.
Typically, I agree with this, too. It just seems to me that you are in a unique situation since your mother is living with all of you. I've know some passive aggressive mother/MIL's that look for a divide and conquer situation. It doesn't seem like this would apply to you.

And it's good that he is supporting you - you definitely need that. He may not have a past with your mother, but he does have a past and a future with you. You will work this through with your mom.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#29 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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Actually, I disagree with this. I've read a million times on these boards where people have had issues with in-laws and the advice is *always* that the spouse whose parent it is should handle the situation. I believe that to be so. I don't believe my dh should have to deal with this.
I just wanted to comment on this. It's this kind of thinking (in the extreme) that really made a bad situation terrible in my case. If you all are planning to live as a family, your dh should feel comfortable talking to your mom about issues. If you are planning on physically and financially living like a family, your DH should be willing and able to 'deal' with your mom along side you. I don't mean that he should have to do the heavy lifting, but he should be able to speak up when she complains about the gas in the car, ect.

I know this is not what you mean, but I just wanted to comment on that piece of advice in the situation where you are living with the IL's.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#30 of 71 Old 04-09-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Last post, I swear--

We are also from aculture where you can't just cast off your elderly. (even though my mil is not elderly, yet).

What got me some relief from the daily stress of living with her, was to just litterally set boundries like the following:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we have dinner alone.
Please be done with your kitchen stuff by noon.
You have to ask before digging up anything in teh yard.

Just basically told her what we expected. She threw a tantrum, but life became at least livable.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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