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Guest cassidy

Anyone Have A Challenging Family Member?

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Does anyone here sleep? I'm glad you don't because there are always new replies to read but it seems like other people are also up at strange hours. My cat got a window shade cord wrapped around his neck last night. I ran to him and pulled it off but he was thrashing around and it was tight. We took him to the emergency vet and they gave him some pain medicine and said he would be fine. I was up most of the night because he was groggy and wanted to stay in the pet carrier instead of sleeping in the bed like he usually does. He is much better this morning, but that was quite a scare. He never goes near that window and it is the only one that the cords aren't secured on.

Gah! That's scary! I know it's the helplessness of our little-fur (or feather-) babies that makes it so much harder, but *shudder*. I'm glad he's doing ok now, though.

As always, you make good points. I think I will try to arrange the visit after the birth now so she can pitch her fit and we can get it out of the way far in advance. My husband didn't think that would work but he is also looking at it from her perspective and how she will be upset if she doesn't come immediately. I don't think anything would make her happy other than moving into my skin, so I guess I'll just try to make me the happiest.
It's so tough to tell with these people sometimes. They react *so* differently, that it's harder to figure out the approach, and sometimes I think the dread of the ever changing (so it seems) unexpected is half the stress. (Ha! I suppose it's not that the 'bad part' is unexpected, you just don't know when it's going to hit you. Unpredictable punishment? lol :lol: That's great that you've got your husband's help and perspective on it!

He also doesn't think she should sleep on the couch because she is the guest, but when the baby comes we are not going to be inconvenienced; the baby and me as his food source will come first. My husband will support me but he doesn't see how this is mostly her issue, he just wants us to get along.

I think some people really don't get it. My husband, and friends, really really didn't understand at all how my father and I could get along so poorly until they saw the real interaction between us. But have you guys gotten an inflatable mattress yet? They're not too expensive, you can get self-inflating ones (power cord hooks up to the wall), and will give her a non-couch option.

I guess I didn't see it as inconsistent rewards, but that is completely true - they work well in gambling. It is hard to be consistent when you have to choose every word, unless you just choose not to talk very much. I'm going to try to think about that more when I'm talking to her.
It is hard - and draining. With practice, it gets easier, but it often felt like running a mental marathon: have to prepare for it, run yourself ragged, and deal with the aftermath when you're done. Once you're in shape for it, it's a little more routine, but it's always a major effort.

She likes to call everyday. If I don't answer the phone or call her back, then she will call and call. I was in my 20's and left my cell phone at home one night and spent the night out. Before I got home the next day she had come to my house and looked all around and called hospitals because she couldn't find me, and that happened more than once.

GAH! Sorry, flashbacks to my first semester in college, where it was much the same, only 10 years ago, most of us didn't have cell phones as freshmen, so it meant being in my room studying all the time. Ooo, the flak I got for missing a call while being outside playing volleyball with my dorm-mates one weekend afternoon. Sometimes I wonder if the phone was invented by a closet controller. It seems like such a good communication tool, but man, can it be used for nefarious purposes.

It's possible that breaking her of that habit (and you are definitely rewarding her by talking to her and satisfying her need for attention (affirmation?) every day), may improve your visits. Might not, as it might concentrate her, but it depends on her personality. It might be a tough one, but maybe the baby is a good time to make that change?

That book may make some good points, but right now I'm focusing on reading about giving birth and the baby. Understanding her better would be helpful but it still is more than I'm willing to do right now.

I'm just glad that I seem pretty well adjusted and that I will be conscious on how I treat my baby and do my best not to cause him emotional issues through messed up communications.

I understand. Isn't it amazing how sometimes we can break some patterns, even if others aren't so easy to break? I'm sure you'll do just fine. The fact that you're dealing so well with this (and really, you are!) is a good sign. Don't forget to remind yourself, when it's really hard, that you *are* doing a pretty darn good job in the face of some pretty darn tough challenges!

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Guest cassidy

Tarnalberry,

I do very well with guidelines so I decided that I will talk to her for 10 minutes every other day and wean it down from there. I think a book that would most help me now is not one explaining how we got in the situation but one that gives you ideas on how to deal with someone with this type of personality.

I paid more attention to what she was saying yesterday and she says things lilke "tell me" "you will want to do that" and it makes me think "no, I don't want to tell you/do whatever you want me to especially the way you say it."

She also asked me a question and asked me what she should do. I don't think saying "I don't really care what you do" would be a good idea, do you have an idea of what to say when she asks for advice about things that I don't think it is my place to advise her on? Whenever I give a direct answer like you have great decision making skills, you can figure that out on your own, she gets mad.

Also, any idea what to say when she asks a personal question that I don't want to answer? Again, saying that is none of your business, or a nicer equivalent, also sets her off. I guess I could fight with her every time and it isn't that I have a problem with confrontation, it is just that it is exhausting to do that every time we talk. The more bad conversations we have in a row the more she will act out - sending me an incoherent letter or calling my husband.

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My mother came for Christmas and just left this morning. I'm an only child and she has been divorced for years and doesn't have any other family or close friends, so as she says - I am her everything. She came down as always to have Christmas with me and my husband's pretty large family.

Since I was a child she treated me as an equal - I made out checks to pay the bills and she consulted me about making decisions at a very young age. Ever since I got out of the house I have been trying to put some space in the relationship because I don't want to be her decision-making partner. I don't want to tell her things about my household and marriage because those are things between me and my husband and I don't want to know her personal details because it isn't my business. Whenever I back away she cries and tells me what a horrible daughter I am so it is a balancing act that I try to maintain from afar. When she visits it is very difficult because she stays with us and really smothers me. I refuse to give in to her and share personal things with her because it doesn't make me feel good, so she ends up crying and pouting and things get very uncomfortable. She also doesn't like most of my husband's family and loves to talk about them when we leave them their house. Those people are my family too and I don't want her to talk badly about them, she also gets mad when I ask her not to do that.

I'm pregnant and she is acting like she is the one having the baby. I don't want her to come down again before the baby comes because it is stressful, not helpful. I don't want her to spend money she doesn't have buying the baby stuff that I have to say I like 100 times or she gets upset. I don't even want her to come when the baby comes. She knows this and she tried to go behind my back and talk to my husband asking him if she could come back down.

I really want to enjoy family holidays and not have this stressful situation all the time. She keeps saying she will visit once a month when the baby comes, and I won't be able to handle that. I end up feeling bad because she leaves upset because I push her away all weekend just to get a bit of space.

Any advice?

Anyone else deal with a relative like this?

It sounds as if you are getting flustered about this entire relationship thing with your mom this could be moods swings that sometimes goes with a pregnancy. Even though your mum may seem over bearing bit believe me you will need her in your last trimester especially when the baby is near due and just after you have the baby. Having a baby can be very stressfull, lack of sleeping constant monitoring of baby, diaper changes, making bottles, or breatfeeding takes a toll on the body. There will be days when yourself & husband wished you had a third party just to catch a nap. I believe your mother just loves and you should try in the most gentle way to love her and still be in charge of your life. You will need her soon and as this is your first child her being there will help to balance the time you spend with the baby and your husband as sometimes we forget about our mate and their demands.

When your mother speaks about your inlaws, change the subject nicely or tell her you don't think it is right to critize others.

I have four kids and I couldn't be a succesful mom without the help of my mother, yes we have several diffrences but no one can ever replace her and the love she has for my children.

I wish you all the best with your baby, and hope that things will soon work out.

Jamrock

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Also, any idea what to say when she asks a personal question that I don't want to answer? Again, saying that is none of your business, or a nicer equivalent, also sets her off.

How would you handle this sort of question if it were from a colleague (you have to treat colleagues with respect if you want to keep your job) rather than from your mother (where there is all sorts of long-term emotional baggage on both sides)? Most of us tend to be much more patient and polite with annoying colleagues than we are with annoying family members.

So, how about (in as sincere and apologetic a voice as you can muster), "Aw, gee, I'm sorry, Mom, I'm just not up to discussing that right now." That gives the message that you will not discuss it, but doesn't carry the accusatory tone that "this isn't your business" does.

Does she have a favorite TV show? Maybe that would be a good (and safe) topic to switch to at these times.

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I do very well with guidelines so I decided that I will talk to her for 10 minutes every other day and wean it down from there.
Sounds like a good approach. Even that might be manageable without going down further (I'll hope it is, for you, anyway. :D )

I paid more attention to what she was saying yesterday and she says things lilke "tell me" "you will want to do that" and it makes me think "no, I don't want to tell you/do whatever you want me to especially the way you say it."

If nothing else, paying close attention to what she's really saying (and the motivation behind it - you know, an analytic psychological approach), will help you find humor in the situation, once you get past it just being frustrating and annoying. :) After discussing this sort of thing with a number of people - including listening very closely when it happened to me - I came to the conclusion that "you'll want to do that" is really their way of saying "I've been here before, and know what the best route forward is, and you should spare yourself all the trouble, and pain, of doing something different, and just take this best route, which I know about." Her thinking may, or may not, go as far as my experience which included "We're very similar people, so this is the right decision for you." I don't think they recognize the differences.

She also asked me a question and asked me what she should do. I don't think saying "I don't really care what you do" would be a good idea, do you have an idea of what to say when she asks for advice about things that I don't think it is my place to advise her on? Whenever I give a direct answer like you have great decision making skills, you can figure that out on your own, she gets mad.
Hmm... my guess is she's looking for you to give her the answer that makes her life easiest, or - depending on the situation - testing you. I voted for honesty in situations likes these: "I don't feel comfortable advising you on that, I'm sorry." Or, if it was more an issue that it was just a bad idea to give advice, period, then I might try turning it around, "What are your options?" and rather than giving my opinion, walk through a series of questions that tries to elucidate the situation. (Though that honestly ends up in "Well that's a tricky situation; I don't know what the best thing for you to do is." Still a true answer, because she's the only one who would be able to figure out the *best* thing for her to do. :D )

Also, any idea what to say when she asks a personal question that I don't want to answer? Again, saying that is none of your business, or a nicer equivalent, also sets her off. I guess I could fight with her every time and it isn't that I have a problem with confrontation, it is just that it is exhausting to do that every time we talk. The more bad conversations we have in a row the more she will act out - sending me an incoherent letter or calling my husband.

Oh, I hear you on the exhaustion. It's sometimes hard to believe that a conversation can be that exhausting, isn't it?! I got a number of these, by my second or third year in college, and I went with "I do not want to talk about that subject right now." (When called on the "well, you may not want to, but I do" line, I'd follow with "I am not going to talk about that subject right now.") And I stick with it. I probably repeated that line at least six times (in a row) on the phone on more than one occasion.

Though what's with calling your husband? That seems totally out of place and manipulative. *shudder*

I like Fiddle's advice for thinking about the situation, at least as a practice exercise to start with. She's your mom, and you guys have emotional baggage together. But in your interactions with her, at the moment, she may need "collegue" status. It gives her a bit of a push down, and you a pull up, in the mental map of the power struggle, which is more appropriate for your current ages anyway, so I'd say a good thing. And it helps give you a different context to compare your approach to.

I'm sorry it's so tough. And the second hardest part I had, was letting go of the expectation that I should have had a normal parent, in this capacity. The hardest part was/is (it's a process) letting go of the hope that the relationship would ever change. *hugs* You don't need the stress right now, but there's life, eh?

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She also asked me a question and asked me what she should do. I don't think saying "I don't really care what you do" would be a good idea, do you have an idea of what to say when she asks for advice about things that I don't think it is my place to advise her on? Whenever I give a direct answer like you have great decision making skills, you can figure that out on your own, she gets mad.

Here is the only part where I can't help pitying your mother. I would be devastated if I asked ANYBODY I know fairly well for advice and heard them reply (in not so many words), "I don't care what you do." Which is obviously what you are thinking. If somebody close to you is asking you for advice, I feel that it DOES become your place to advise them, even if it is onlyto point them to a professional in whatever subject they are asking you about. For example, if she is asking your advice about her sex life (that's the most unreasonable thing I can imagine a mother asking a daughter), I would say, "Gee, Mom, I'm awfully uncomfortable discussing the details with you, but here are some websites/magazine articles/books/tv programs that I think might help answer your questions, I found some great info here, blah blah blah."

Saying, "You have great decision making skills," or "you can figure that out on your own" really strikes ME as a slap in the face.

And maybe that's the real problem here. Maybe you are in so much pain after all these years that all you want to do is lash out at her, even when she is not being unreasonable.

Just because she is the most annoying person on the face of the earth doesn't mean that her own needs on the mother-daughter spectrum aren't real and valid. From what you have written, it sounds like you are willing to be physically near her for short periods of time, but that you are unwilling--or perhaps truly unable-- to do anything in the way of two-way communication with her.

What if her asking for YOUR advice is her way of trying to meet you halfway? And, if she is taking care of HER mother, I imagine that that is an incredible stress emotionally for her. Sounds to me like she is on the verge of losing both her mother and her daughter (in different ways, obviously).

It sounds like you have been doing some serious soul-searching with the help of a therapist. Sometimes one can find a different kind of help from a minister, priest, or rabbi, or even prayer on your own. ( I apologize if you are not religious and that offends you--I'm just trying tothink of ways to help!)

What it comes down to in the end is this: the ball is in your court (and a very unpleasant court it is, too!)--the actions are totally up to you--but what kind of consequences are you willing to live with?

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Guest cassidy
Here is the only part where I can't help pitying your mother. I would be devastated if I asked ANYBODY I know fairly well for advice and heard them reply (in not so many words), "I don't care what you do." Which is obviously what you are thinking. If somebody close to you is asking you for advice, I feel that it DOES become your place to advise them, even if it is onlyto point them to a professional in whatever subject they are asking you about. For example, if she is asking your advice about her sex life (that's the most unreasonable thing I can imagine a mother asking a daughter), I would say, "Gee, Mom, I'm awfully uncomfortable discussing the details with you, but here are some websites/magazine articles/books/tv programs that I think might help answer your questions, I found some great info here, blah blah blah."

Saying, "You have great decision making skills," or "you can figure that out on your own" really strikes ME as a slap in the face.

And maybe that's the real problem here. Maybe you are in so much pain after all these years that all you want to do is lash out at her, even when she is not being unreasonable.

Just because she is the most annoying person on the face of the earth doesn't mean that her own needs on the mother-daughter spectrum aren't real and valid. From what you have written, it sounds like you are willing to be physically near her for short periods of time, but that you are unwilling--or perhaps truly unable-- to do anything in the way of two-way communication with her.

What if her asking for YOUR advice is her way of trying to meet you halfway? And, if she is taking care of HER mother, I imagine that that is an incredible stress emotionally for her. Sounds to me like she is on the verge of losing both her mother and her daughter (in different ways, obviously).

It sounds like you have been doing some serious soul-searching with the help of a therapist. Sometimes one can find a different kind of help from a minister, priest, or rabbi, or even prayer on your own. ( I apologize if you are not religious and that offends you--I'm just trying tothink of ways to help!)

What it comes down to in the end is this: the ball is in your court (and a very unpleasant court it is, too!)--the actions are totally up to you--but what kind of consequences are you willing to live with?

I don't think it is that I'm unwilling to help her it is that I think some things are personal and none of my business. My husband's parents are married and I have no idea how much money they make, what financial shape they are in or any personal details of their household. I guess I like that because I don't think those things are my business. They don't know anything about our finances either. They don't call us if they are trying to decide most things in their life. An exception to that was when I wasn't happy with the medical care my father in law was getting for his heart. Everyone seems to be ignoring the bad doctor and I found him a new doctor and made him an appointment and it really helped. That was an isolated case where I was happy to step in and a bit frustrated at his sons (one is a doctor!) for not getting more involved when he clearly needed help.

That being said, here is one of the latest with my mom. She is in debt up to her eyeballs and keeps her heat as low as possible to keep the bill down. So, she decides to get her yard landscaped by a professional. Why did she get her yard landscaped when she has no money? It is frustrating when she makes what I think most people would think is a very poor decision and gets herself in a worse mess. I obviously told her this was a bad idea, which she didn't listen to. Now she is asking if she should pay her taxes or credit cards, because she can't pay both. I don't think that should be anything I give her advice on especially when she consistently does whatever she wanted to do in the first place and it is usually a decision that I think is very unwise and frustrating to hear about. If she wants to keep making poor choices, I really don't want to be involved in them because the choice she made 5 choices ago that started the new mess was something that I thought was a bad idea.

I guess I don't know if other parents (and I'm not talking about the point when they can't take care of themselves - she is in her 50's) consult their children on things like this. I would think these are decisions that you would make with your spouse, or if you don't have one, make by yourself. I feel like her consulting me is putting me in the role of her decision making partner like she has done since I was a child. I don't want to be her partner, I have a husband and my own family to make decisions for. I just don't think that is healthy. That is the reason it bothers me. It isn't like she is coming to me about things that I am an expert about. Do other grown parents ask their children about such things? If if didn't make me feel uncomfortable to be consulted on everything, then I would certainly try to help, but it really makes me feel uncomfortable. She does like to play the victim and I don't want to rescue her from all of her mistakes like someone would bail out their child that doesn't know the value of money yet. I just don't think that is my place.

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If my mom asked me for financial advice, I would be happy to either give her advice if I could think of something helpful, or make an apointment for her with a financial planner, and go with her if necessary.

Sounds to me like you are trying to make "I just don't think that is my place" as the focus when really, the problem is the relationship itself.

Usually, when there are major problems between two people, they tend to make the little disagreements into the big whopping problem and therefore the focus of the relationship, when really, there are deeper problems that are the true issue.

Again, I would suggest that you treat her as though she were a great mom and a terrific person--in which case, if she asked you for advice on financial stuff, you wouldn't distance yourself and say coldly, "I just don't see that as my place." I'm not saying for a moment that she is a great mom and a terrific person--I am taking your word for it that she has serious issues. But it sounds like you are caught in the trap of butting heads with her; it really does sound like a major power struggle.

It must be extremely difficult and frustrating, and I do sympathize. I don't want to just pat you on the head (so to speak) and tell you it's all her fault, though--that won't help you in the long run. It's a very, very tricky situation. I think this thread is a great idea, because you will get lots of VERY different perspectives and ideas. Can you seek other help as well? Perhaps a different counselor with a different point of view?

Some people sever ties wtih their parents and feel good about the decision. Others do so, and it doesn't really help them, and they regret it. I also know someone who severed ties with her parents, claiming emotional abuse. Nobody else in the family could figure out what she was talking about (her words were, "if I have to explain it to you, then you wouldn't understand, anyway"), and, while she seemed to be happy about her decision, the rest of the family was devastated.

I wish I could wave a wand for you and make everything work the way you wanted it to!

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Just had another thought--you mention that she always treated you like a partner. Could it be that, as you are entering motherhood yourself, you are upset that you never had a proper mother-child relationship as a child, and , now that it is actually appropriate to be in a kind of adult partnership with your mother, you are unwilling to enter that because you never went through the part where she was a proper role-model-caretaker-sort-of-mother when you needed it as a child?

Sorry to be playing armchair psych here--if my thoughts are way off base, just forget them, okay?

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Guest cassidy
Just had another thought--you mention that she always treated you like a partner. Could it be that, as you are entering motherhood yourself, you are upset that you never had a proper mother-child relationship as a child, and , now that it is actually appropriate to be in a kind of adult partnership with your mother, you are unwilling to enter that because you never went through the part where she was a proper role-model-caretaker-sort-of-mother when you needed it as a child?

Sorry to be playing armchair psych here--if my thoughts are way off base, just forget them, okay?

I don't think that is it. If she only asked me every once in a while, that would be one thing, but everyday she is asking me to help her make decisions. I guess I look at like this, before I got married I wanted a spouse that saw things in basically the same way I did. Of course we don't agree on everything but I mean basic philosophy. I think if two people are married and one wants to spend every dime and the other wants to save every dime, they will have some serious arguments about money and it will be a frustrating situation for both. My mother and I have completely different views on finances, politics, religion, and most other major topics. Some times it is fun to debate other people in a casual way when you know everyone has different view points. But to consistently ask someone to help you make decisions when you have different viewpoints is frustrating.

I'm not planning on severing ties I just want some space. I don't want her to ask about every detail of my life everyday and I don't want her to tell me every detail everyday. I don't want to know how much she makes or how much she has in the bank or how many bills are due. I actually think my biggest concern is what someone brought up a while ago. I wonder how all of her poor financial decisions will turn out. If she is 85 and has no money and can't work and can't keep her house if she doesn't work, what do I do then? I can see that coming now and I am powerless to stop it. She hasn't listened to any of my financial suggestions, she just keeps making poor choices. I don't think I should end up being responsible for bailing her out when I didn't cause her problems and I have tried to help. We were poor when I was little. I worked 2 jobs during college and worked very hard to get ahead since then. I don't want that jeopardized for my family because she is making poor choices. If I can't change her choices, then I would rather not hear about them because they frustrate me.

I still don't think it is a healthy adult relationship to be that involved in a parent's life if the parent can take care of themselves.

This is a good thread because it is helpful to see how other people view things. Thanks for all your input.

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Oh. I understand a little bit better now. So sorry I was barking up the wrong tree there!

It almost sounds like she needs to be legally declared incompetent, but I guess that would open up a whole other can of worms, wouldn't it? (Sigh.)

Can her husband have her name taken off all the financial stuff and just give her a small allowance? Can he close the credit cards in her name, and refuse to sign ANYTHING with her name on it?

I wonder if this is some kind of legit disease like gambling? It sounds like some kind of compulsive disorder, doesn't it? Would there be some kind of support group for gamblers' families that could offer some kind of support/direction for you?

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Cassidy, I have been reading along and I think that everyone has brought up some great points---at the very least, have provided some thought provoking discussions!

I don't have any world-changing advice to give, but I wanted to add my congratulations for your upcoming addition to your family! :) Also, I am impressed by your willingness to define boundaries...sometimes that can be hard for a new family, even under "ideal" circumstances, so good for you for standing up for what is best for you and your family.

Good luck,

Laura

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The trouble here is - and I figured this was the case as I think your mom and my dad were cast from very similar molds - she's not asking for advice. "Should I pay my credit card or my taxes?" is not a question of advice. There is *only* one right answer to that question, and asking it in the first place is silly. Worse, in this case, it's manipulative. She's trying to get pity, attention, heck- maybe even money, out of you. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if her choices were attention getting in the first place. (I got some of those too - like "what should I do with your inheritance?" That *really* was an 'I don't care'. :D )

I have to disagree with Fiddle in this case - not all parent/child relationships involve even low levels of the partnership that is more typical of marriages. One that was very damaged to start with, or involves very different people may never be able to have that (though maybe that can happen someday). While there is value in helping her through giving advice, as you still care enough to maintain the relationship, there is value in her honoring your boundaries as well. And everyone's boundaries will be different, and there may be some compromise involved, but it's not conversation by her rules either, when it comes to subjects. Unfortunately, carving a new path for your conversations (and relationship) is *HARD*, especially if only one person is interested in doing it.

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Guest cassidy
Oh. I understand a little bit better now. So sorry I was barking up the wrong tree there!

It almost sounds like she needs to be legally declared incompetent, but I guess that would open up a whole other can of worms, wouldn't it? (Sigh.)

Can her husband have her name taken off all the financial stuff and just give her a small allowance? Can he close the credit cards in her name, and refuse to sign ANYTHING with her name on it?

I wonder if this is some kind of legit disease like gambling? It sounds like some kind of compulsive disorder, doesn't it? Would there be some kind of support group for gamblers' families that could offer some kind of support/direction for you?

She doesn't have a husband, that is part of the problem. She isn't close with any of her family members and doesn't have any close friends, she completely relies of me for all of her friendship/companionship. That is why it is so overwhelming. It would be hard to be everything to my husband and I think he is wonderful. I think everyone needs a support system, not just a single support person.

She isn't incompetent because she has a job and pays minimums on her bills, she just makes poor choices. I've read that most of America is in debt, so I don't think that is uncommon, I just don't choose to get in debt over frivolous purchases. I'm sure there are many other people that live that way, and it is their choice if it only affects them. Right now, her choices do only affect her and I won't bail her out or loan her money, and I don't want to hear about them. That is why it is frustrating when she buys me tons of stuff that I don't want and could buy myself if I wanted it. I would rather have her save the money or put it toward bills, but I can't convince her to do that.

I have learned to trust my body when dealing with celiac and learned to trust my mind in other situations. If something makes me uncomfortable then I chose not to do it. It makes me uncomfortable to be that involved in her life, so I don't want to be. I think it really does have to do with boundaries and not compromising yourself for the sake of others.

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I have to disagree with Fiddle in this case - not all parent/child relationships involve even low levels of the partnership that is more typical of marriages. One that was very damaged to start with, or involves very different people may never be able to have that (though maybe that can happen someday). While there is value in helping her through giving advice, as you still care enough to maintain the relationship, there is value in her honoring your boundaries as well. And everyone's boundaries will be different, and there may be some compromise involved, but it's not conversation by her rules either, when it comes to subjects. Unfortunately, carving a new path for your conversations (and relationship) is *HARD*, especially if only one person is interested in doing it.

Actually, I agree with you on this. :o

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I have to disagree with Fiddle in this case - not all parent/child relationships involve even low levels of the partnership that is more typical of marriages. One that was very damaged to start with, or involves very different people may never be able to have that (though maybe that can happen someday). While there is value in helping her through giving advice, as you still care enough to maintain the relationship, there is value in her honoring your boundaries as well. And everyone's boundaries will be different, and there may be some compromise involved, but it's not conversation by her rules either, when it comes to subjects. Unfortunately, carving a new path for your conversations (and relationship) is *HARD*, especially if only one person is interested in doing it.

I agree, too. In the beginning of this thread, I thought she sounded this way, but couldn't say it nearly as clearly as Tiffany did. My mom is a classic manipulator in this fashion. Impossible to please. I just had to put distance between us. Hopefully, your mom won't need such a drastic means ... each situation thought they have similarities, are completely different.

I think the important thing is to not let her do this anymore. Make the boundries (like she doesn't get YOUR bed), then stick to them. You need to decide what the boundries are, but you don't need to dictate them to her, just deal with them as they come up. My mom responded to this by trashing me to the whole rest of the family ... so be careful, you don't know what her reaction will be.

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The trouble here is - and I figured this was the case as I think your mom and my dad were cast from very similar molds - she's not asking for advice. "Should I pay my credit card or my taxes?" is not a question of advice. There is *only* one right answer to that question, and asking it in the first place is silly. Worse, in this case, it's manipulative. She's trying to get pity, attention, heck- maybe even money, out of you. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if her choices were attention getting in the first place. (I got some of those too - like "what should I do with your inheritance?" That *really* was an 'I don't care'. :D )

LOL, this is actually the part I meant to quote.

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Guest cassidy

I talked to my mom last night - I'm sticking to the 10 minutes every other day. I usually talk to her on my way to work because I have a 1-2 hour drive each way. She commented that I would need to find another time to talk to her when the baby comes since I won't be in the car that much. I've been off work since before Christmas so she probably thinks I haven't been talking to her because I haven't been in the car. I have meetings this week so she probably won't realize anything until next week. I hope there won't be a horrible conversation then.

She sounded so excited to talk to me - like we hadn't talked in months. I only get that excited if my husband is on a long business trip and calls me or if I'm talking to a friend that I haven't talked to in months. She even thanked me for calling.

I've been cleaning my house out getting ready for the baby. I'm selling stuff on ebay and trashing the rest. She said that she is now doing the same thing. I just wanted to tell her that we aren't the same person and she doesn't have to do everything that I do. I realize that is a bit harsh but didn't like that she was cleaning everything out just because I did it.

I'm no longer upset after the Christmas visit but these conversations are still exhausting.

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Tarnalberry,

I do very well with guidelines so I decided that I will talk to her for 10 minutes every other day and wean it down from there. I think a book that would most help me now is not one explaining how we got in the situation but one that gives you ideas on how to deal with someone with this type of personality.

I paid more attention to what she was saying yesterday and she says things lilke "tell me" "you will want to do that" and it makes me think "no, I don't want to tell you/do whatever you want me to especially the way you say it."

She also asked me a question and asked me what she should do. I don't think saying "I don't really care what you do" would be a good idea, do you have an idea of what to say when she asks for advice about things that I don't think it is my place to advise her on? Whenever I give a direct answer like you have great decision making skills, you can figure that out on your own, she gets mad.

Also, any idea what to say when she asks a personal question that I don't want to answer? Again, saying that is none of your business, or a nicer equivalent, also sets her off. I guess I could fight with her every time and it isn't that I have a problem with confrontation, it is just that it is exhausting to do that every time we talk. The more bad conversations we have in a row the more she will act out - sending me an incoherent letter or calling my husband.

Your mom doesn't have a disorder.

I'm in your same situation, except my mom seems milder-thank goodness! Perhaps b/c she has a life partner and two other kids. But, she's in a domestic violence situation, so it's not wonderful.

Have you read the longitudinal study they published on children of divorce? They followed these kids for 25 years and found EXACTLY your circumstance. The oldest child usually tries to protect the weaker parent and it turns into almost a parenting the parent situation. The solution some of the kids grew up and tended to do is to set firm boundaries, which you are doing.

I'm an optimist almost to a fault at times and I have a lot of the same interests as my mother, so we get along on the surface really well, so I didn't realize how severe my situation was until my mom asked me to buy her a house!!

I was flabberghasted...but I needed that lightbulb moment!

You really sound like you are doing really well with it! I think it's great that you did like me and MOVED AWAY!

As for responding to her requests for advice, I find that answering her with a question is good, leading her into her own solution--it's actually a teaching technique we use. Works for me w/my mom!

P.S.

My mom has already told me when I get pregnant she's taking a leave of absence and moving across the country to live with me for 6 months! SHe's also already crocheted the baby blankets and asked me if I want them now or should she save them for me when the time comes!!!!!!!!

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Guest cassidy
Your mom doesn't have a disorder.

I'm in your same situation, except my mom seems milder-thank goodness! Perhaps b/c she has a life partner and two other kids. But, she's in a domestic violence situation, so it's not wonderful.

Have you read the longitudinal study they published on children of divorce? They followed these kids for 25 years and found EXACTLY your circumstance. The oldest child usually tries to protect the weaker parent and it turns into almost a parenting the parent situation. The solution some of the kids grew up and tended to do is to set firm boundaries, which you are doing.

I'm an optimist almost to a fault at times and I have a lot of the same interests as my mother, so we get along on the surface really well, so I didn't realize how severe my situation was until my mom asked me to buy her a house!!

I was flabberghasted...but I needed that lightbulb moment!

You really sound like you are doing really well with it! I think it's great that you did like me and MOVED AWAY!

As for responding to her requests for advice, I find that answering her with a question is good, leading her into her own solution--it's actually a teaching technique we use. Works for me w/my mom!

P.S.

My mom has already told me when I get pregnant she's taking a leave of absence and moving across the country to live with me for 6 months! SHe's also already crocheted the baby blankets and asked me if I want them now or should she save them for me when the time comes!!!!!!!!

You have some good ideas - answering with a question. I'll give that a try. Do you have any more specifics on that study - I would like to read it.

Enjoy your baby blankets! My mom actually tried to give me an engagement ring to give to my boyfriend when we hadn't even talked about getting engaged.

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You have some good ideas - answering with a question. I'll give that a try. Do you have any more specifics on that study - I would like to read it.

Enjoy your baby blankets! My mom actually tried to give me an engagement ring to give to my boyfriend when we hadn't even talked about getting engaged.

How does that not surprise me! :rolleyes:

Keep on keeping on!

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I totally understand your dilemma: mine is a bad decision maker too but thankfully isn't in debt. She is child-like in her ways and is stubborn to good advice. I just tell her what I think because I am afraid that the problem is going to slap me in the butt later anyway. I am the person who picks up the pieces. My Mother in law is too dependent and needy and I find her situation harder to deal with than my mother. Mother in law "smothered" her children to the point that she is the center of the universe for them.

Family dynamics is hard to change or modify. Sometimes the personalities involved are too close or expect too much of the other family members. Sometimes I feel that when I first got married we should have moved far, far away.

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Cassidy, for what it's worth a new viewpoint...

Someone once said when you have kids then your responsibility for your parents shifts towards you being responsible for your child first. That's the way society works. And your child will have to then look after his or her child over you. They also say you must protect your marriage first because you might end up divorced and then your child suffers. This mentality might help ease the guilt factor.

I totally sympathise. Your mother's behaviour is not acceptable! Manipulation from parents can cause problems in a marriage (including just being sick of talking about it!). Whether you can get her illness dealt with or not, you're gonna have to get even more clever! for your own self preservation. There are techniques out there to help you deflect/deal with her issues. Perhaps when she's asking you for advice about her life (attention seeking) you should just say Sorry ma I just don't know. I'm not up on finances, perhaps speak to a financial advisor/doctor/specialist. That way you don't get drawn into it (and there's no backlash of oh you don't care etc) Another line (even if it's not true - who cares about a white lie if it saves days of arguing, stress etc) is 'doctor's orders' no one can argue with that! 'It's not good for the baby...' Choose your battles, set boundaries for the most important things ie she can wait a week after the baby is born. You might feel you need time to recover (you don't know what the birth will be like), time to bond, time as a family with your husband.

Your mother (and I think many grandparents need to realise this) has had her turn - now it's YOUR turn. A well-respected psycologist says 'grandparents don't have rights. It's a privilege.' In other words, if they are causing problems to your family, in extreme cases, they shouldn't see the kids for a while until they prepared to respect your family's boundaries and rules. You are your own family unit now with your own ways of doing things.

Also, it sounds like she doesn't have much of a life to focus on/occupy herself. Perhaps as a Christmas/birthday present you could buy her classes (there are cheap ones, esp if she's about 60 plus) like cooking, computer or whatever she might like so she has to attend. She'll meet people, it'll give her something to talk/obsess about etc. Even better if you/your grandma/your mother's friends (if sympathetic) could somehow get her involved in a 'cause' or a community organisation. Even if it just gives her another cross to bear it'll take the heat off you. At the end of hte day, sometimes it helps (when you are worrying about her) that you can't change people (unless they want to change of course). You can only change how you deal with it.

Best of luck x

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PS I hear about lots of friends having problems with grandparents in general. It's a pity that some grandparents just don't realise that if they played it well, kept unsolicited advice/opinions/gossip to themselves, offered help (once not 20 times), if they are given an inch they don't try and take a mile, accept their sons/daughters family rules, and were just easier to have around then couples would relax, and welcome them with open arms, call them up and include them all the time. It's a bit of a game, take your ego out of it, play it well and reap the rewards.

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Guest cassidy

I've been doing very well with our 10 minute calls every other day. We really can't get into much during that short time. I wish she would buy the idea that I can't offer financial advice. My husband is in the financial industry and is a certified financial planner, so she knows I know about that stuff. I can feel her frustration building and I know one of these days she will ask why I'm not talking to her ask much and tell me how much it hurts her feelings. If I'm honest then she will cry and hang up and we won't talk for a while. If I deny a difference/tell her I've been busy, she will say that I'm lying, cry and hang up. I'm giving it another week or two before that happens.

We just finalized the date for my baby shower. I told her it wouldn't make sense for her to come back down before the baby comes but she told my husband that she wanted to go to my shower and that he was supposed to make sure she was invited (he won't do this). So, I debating whether to tell her upfront she isn't going to be invited or just not bring it up at all and let her wonder if I'm even having a shower and deal with it when she brings it up. My husband's birthday is next week and I didn't send her an invite to that party - who goes 500 miles for a birthday party? She acted all offended that she didn't get an invite and insisted that I make one for her (which I didn't do) because we both knew she wasn't planning on coming.

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