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Adults with Parents who push buttons...

 
 
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 01:55 pm
I hope this is in the right forum... didn't seem to be one that suited the topic.

I'm presently dealing with parents who have moved too close (5 minutes away) and don't seem to want to give me any space. I've developed some health problems from the stress they've caused. I will move away, but I have a few years to save up for that.

I think its a shame that these are two people, who insist on being very close, yet I can't seem to communicate with them. My mother is the worst... almost exactly like Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond, dishing out the guilt in every single conversation. My father isn't much better.

Is anyone else dealing with this? How do you deal? Did you move away? I'd love to hear some insight and thoughts Smile
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,916 • Replies: 36
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beebo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:02 pm
I got a very mean German Shepherd.
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solar
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:06 pm
Haven't seen my controlling father in 4 years. Told him why to, said I couldn't take his behavior anymore, that it was unhealthy for me.
He said 'bye'.
easy!
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:34 pm
Yeeikes! What a living nightmare!

When they show up, pick up your keys and head for the door.

"I wish I had known you were coming, but I have plans."

Do not tell her what the plans are, ever. If she asks, just restate, "Plans," with a look.

Get in the car and drive away.

Never see them in your home.

Arrange to meet them at their house or at a restaurant. When she starts with the first guilty bit, leave.

You cannot change her, you cannot make her happy. It's not your job to do that.

You can only change where you see them, and for how long.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:41 pm
My brother and I don't have problems with my dad, but my mom can be a real pain, in too many ways to go into right now. We used to run from it, but we have both come to the conclusion that direct confrontation when we are bothered by something she says or does is the best approach. She was an only child, and always got her way. Our dad has to live with her, so he won't face up to her. Bro and I do, and it seems to work.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:47 pm
Ignore any demeaning comment or intrusive question.

Abrubtly change the subject to the weather or the latest news scandal.

Or, as suggested above, confront it directly ... but come up with one handy word and/or gesture that covers everything.

My dad used to use the word "enough" with his hand out like a "stop" gesture.

Covers everything!

Then, while she is absorbing the fact that you are not going to let her run rampant over your life and emotions, quickly insert a comment about the weather.

My mom and I talked about the weather for a whole year.

She's much better now than she used to be.

She learned.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 02:57 pm
L.R.R.Hood-

Quote:
I'm presently dealing with parents who have moved too close (5 minutes away) and don't seem to want to give me any space.


What exactly does that mean? Do they drop in unannounced, are they constantly calling you? What? With the information that you have given, I really could not begin to offer any advice. What exactly is happening, and how are you reacting to it?

IMO if a person knows how to deal with stifling parents, they can live next door, and it won't matter. If she can't, she'll have the same problem even if they are across the country.
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L R R Hood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 04:28 pm
Here's the scoop. My parents were emotionally abusive when I was growing up. Demeaning, controlling, untrusting, manipulative... didn't allow me to go anywhere without them... I felt like I was in a prison (because my older brother and sister were horrible and ruined their trust).

I tried a year of college, but I'm not big on being told what to major in and how to study for it. So I joined the army. I couldn't have been happier! I was across the country and only had to talk to them over the phone, and not all that often. I was able to live my life without a chip on my shoulder... I didn't even dwell on them at all. I was beyond it.

I got married and my husband wanted to go to college for something very specific... and the best school for that particular major is 2 towns away from my parents. I told him that I didn't want to move back here, but I would for him on the condition that we could move away again as soon as he was done with school. He agreed.

Now, my parents went from an hour away to five minutes away. They don't drop by unannounced, thank god, but you have to keep in mind... my brother and sister live here as well. So they call, they ALL call. They all talk to each other, and they all know what is going on with everyone else. That's not completely negative, but I have no privacy, nor can I confide in any of them if I need someone to talk to.

I've tried not answering the phone, but I will get messages like this, "Just calling to see if you're alright... haven't heard from you in a few days, thought you might have the flu or something." So even if I try to avoid the calls, they play the ol' guilt trip of "we're worried about you... please let us know you're alright." And even when I do talk to them, we can't have a conversation without me having to do some favor or time consuming, and unecessary, chore.

Since my brother and sister live so close, my parents can always guilt trip my about them... why I'm not closer to them, and doing things with them, and helping them. I feel bitter about this, since my siblings have flat out refused to help me when I actually needed it. Same goes for my parents.

Living close can work, but I'm having a very hard time creating emotional distance from them.
0 Replies
 
solar
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 04:38 pm
Hmmm Life's too short to spend your time doing things you don't really enjoy.

My eldest brother joined the army too, same reason!

And you are right about life. I figure that at best I'm 1/2 through mine.
The first half was enough of the negativity and demeaning comments.
The remaining half will be spent undoing the damage.
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 04:51 pm
Oh man, I can relate. I tell all my friends to listen for the banjos when the enter the neighbourhood.
My brother lives six doors down, my parents and my sister live kitty-corner to each other a five minute walk away - 2 blocks. It definatly has it's advantages, child care and all, but...my parents will show up unnanounced. I've asked them repeatly not to but they are old school, Europeans, family is everything. I lived in a city 10 hours away for a while and loved the weekly phone call. But I didn't call enough, according to my mother, the sarcastic phone calls were enough to scare the roomates.
Aside from the good advice here, have a mantra, only 2 more years, only 23 months, only 22 months and so on. Good luck and keep smiling.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 04:59 pm
LRR

Maybe it's time to be assertive, given that your parents upset you so much? It'd be very hard for you, I know, but why not sit them down & calmly tell them how they affect you? Of course, they won't see it your way ("We only do this because we love you." Shocked ) but a least you'll be taking some control for yourself. But be warned: it may take some time for the dust to settle! The alternative is meekly wearing their constant intrusions into your life.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 05:23 pm
I sympathize, LRR. My own controlling mother drove each of her children to a different corner of the US. Now she tries to do her controlling long distance, but it's not easy.

There was a recent article in the NY Times Magazine about people who grow to really old ages in this country (100+), and those who make it that long almost always have at least totally devoted child who has given up a huge chunk of their lives to support the old one. Gave me the chills, I tell you!
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 06:01 pm
LRR--

Take a deep breath. Now, shift gears.

You happen to be living five minutes away from some intrusive people who are presuming on a past relationship.

You must set limits--and stick to them.

Phone calls: Answer or dodge--and when the whining starts announce, "You know I'm not a telephone person."

If the whining continues, "Look, I explained, I'm not a telephone person."

And if the whining goes on, "Look. I am not a telephone person and this conversation has gone on too long. Good bye.

Don't complain--or suffer--because your family is walking all over you. Tell them you don't like it and get out from under foot.

You have the right to set your limits--and enforce them if the limits aren't honored.

Sure, this is hard. You've been compliant for years. Change yourself and the situation will change....or your husband will graduate...

Good luck.
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L R R Hood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 06:56 pm
You are all very helpful, very kind... I really appreciate it.

Mantra, assertiveness, call dodging, explicitely explaining (which I've been trying, but I won't give up)... thank you all!
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 07:14 pm
L.R.R.Hood-

Be careful about the explaining, as it may engender a new round of button pushing and guilt trips. If they don't catch on, right away, don't waste your time attempting to spell it out to them. A simple, "I really can't talk to you right now", will get you out of that situation.

Remember, your parents have related to you in a way that is comfortable for them. They may be unable or unwilling to give their methods. They won't change unless they really want a more mature relationship with you. It is YOU who need to change your attitude towards them.

Also, be aware, that during this process, you may receive a lot of emotional blackmail, and be prepared for it. Don't allow them to manipulate you.

Hey, it isn't easy. My mom is 94, and she still knows how to push my buttons, but I have learned how to cope with her. Smile
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Jim
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2004 08:51 pm
I've reached that age where I can see this both coming and going - as both an adult child and as a father.

I don't think my parents are actively trying to push my buttons. But it does surprise me, even at age 47, how their approval is still so important to me.

Our children are 20, 18 and 15. That pretty much spans the range from "still needing a lot of guidance" to "give advice only when asked for". I like to think my wife and I are giving the appropriate amounts of parental wisdom (said tounge in cheek), but I imagine our kids (at least our daughter) would be laughing hysterically if they heard that.
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Wildflower63
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 01:42 am
Try living an entire seven houses away from your elderly parents! Oh, my mother is a lot of fun. My dad is physically healthy, but getting so forgetful. He is a sweetheart. I wish that I could say the same about my mother. Her mind is sharp, but is diabetic, thyroid problems, and all the awful stuff that goes with it.

The real problem is the strange relationship between her and her mother. I live in fear that I will grow old and act as horrible as these two and never have a room mate at the nursing home! Seriously, it is that bad.

No matter how problematic my family may be, I would never advise anyone to leave elders in need, even if they wouldn't do the same for you. Family may seem like a disease you can't get rid of many times. The thing about family is the fact that they are always present in your life, good or bad. Friends and even spouses have a way of coming and going, but not family. They are ever present in your life, good and bad.

My advice, stay and help your family. I have been tempted to move also, like a few states away! I think this is a clear wrong to leave family in need of help. You wont ever regret help you gave. You may live to see the day you regret and feel guilt that never ends by not helping when needed.
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L R R Hood
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 05:52 am
Phoenix, you and my husband are saying the same thing. I've tried many times to explain to them, but it never seems to work. I'm starting to wonder if they do know and just don't care. I guess its best to stop... I've tried for the past 4 yrs, and nothing has changed. I did my absolute best to change my attitude toward them, but all I was able to do is keep my mouth shut when I disagree with them.

Keeping my opinions to myself poses some problems, though... In a way, I feel like I'm lying to them, since saying nothing is more like agreeing (in their minds). Also, when I do decide to let them know how I feel, it hits them like a ton of bricks. If I continuously disagree, well... it gets ugly. Worse than it is now.

Wildflower63... I will not stay and help. I have developed IBS and depression from being so close. They aren't exactly "in need", either, they just like the exchange of favors so they feel like the family is close. They all have enough money and time to be more independent, but to them that seems cold.

One other tid-bit of info... they are all "parade rainers". When I mention anything that I plan to do, they love to inform me of all the cons and negative possibilities. I have never had their support for anything I've ever wanted to do. I think that if I told them something that I wanted to do, and they said, "That's great! I'm sure you'll make it a wonderful experience!" I think I'd just die right there of a heart attack, lol.

I whine sometimes in a journal, and when I get older I'm going to read it... I'm hoping that it will prevent me from doing the same thing to my kids. Smile
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 06:30 am
Quote:
One other tid-bit of info... they are all "parade rainers". When I mention anything that I plan to do, they love to inform me of all the cons and negative possibilities. I have never had their support for anything I've ever wanted to do.


Been there, done that. My father used to give me a million reasons why I could or should not do something.

Actually, what I had learned is that it is counterproductive to discuss things (especially things that you care about) with people who return your enthusiasm with negative feedback. It makes life very draining to attempt something, with someone constantly reminding you that you can't do it.

IMO, you don't need to lie, or shut up. A simple "I don't agree with that", is sufficient. Then change the subject. If she persists, "gotta go now"............................click, will end the discussion.

I think that part of your problem (I KNOW, from experience) is that we become so used to relating to people in different ways, that it is difficult to change the pattern. But you need to. Your IBS is telling you something. You are literally having a "gut reaction" to the stress and strain. Break away, before your body gives you a bigger wake-up call!
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L R R Hood
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2004 06:58 am
[quote="Phoenix32890]IMO, you don't need to lie, or shut up. A simple "I don't agree with that", is sufficient. Then change the subject. If she persists, "gotta go now"............................click, will end the discussion.

I think that part of your problem (I KNOW, from experience) is that we become so used to relating to people in different ways, that it is difficult to change the pattern. But you need to. Your IBS is telling you something. You are literally having a "gut reaction" to the stress and strain. Break away, before your body gives you a bigger wake-up call![/color][/b][/quote]

You make some very good points, and I appreciate all of it. Its very hard to change the dynamics of a family. Sometimes, I think, distance is the best answer.
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