Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 09:13 am
I am a single man who has two aging parents. There are no other relatives besides me. They have no friends to speak of. I don't have any friends either; just a few acquaintances at work. As is not atypical, older people become grouchy. Increasingly, my mother complains about everything. The world is becoming unrecognizable to her--things are changing too fast. I agree with her observations, but what can one do? One has to continue to live. I have a job that offers me unbelievable amounts of flexible work time; so, I am able to spend lots of time with my folks, having earlier dinners with them. Nevertheless, my mother continually complains about my job because I work at night and because there are meetings I must attend. I find that I become anxious in just telling her that I won't be able to make it to their house by 4 pm for dinner because of a meeting at work. She usually blows up and says that I should just blow off the meeting; that the job is crap and that everyone else just blows off meetings when they want, so I should, too. My feelings is that I should play by the rules and build up goodwill with colleagues so that when there is a real need to blow off a meeting or some responsibility, people at work will be more willing to understand or help me. Blow off the small stuff and people begin to notice and resentment sets in.

Sometimes, just listening to her continual complaints builds up to the point where we getting into shouting matches; particularly when it focuses on my work. It seems like everything is a loyalty test--do I put family (increasingly, my mother's priorities) ahead of everything else? I don't want to get into a shouting match with her, and it makes me feel bad when it happens, but she pushes and pushes and pushes to the point where I become upset. It seems like polite conversation does not work with her...she doesn't get it until you get upset.

I often wait a few minutes after a phone argument and call back to smooth things over and to say that I am sorry that voices were raised. She has always calmed down by then and I explain calmly why I need to do work related things. She apologizes, too. But, it is just something that happens with aging parents.

There has always been an element of this in life, but as she is now 80, things have become more and more this way. I would view this post as not being a complaint, but rather as a case study. I'm sure we all face things like this in life.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 1,116 • Replies: 20

 
Linkat
 
  5  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 09:51 am
@jim 1968,
I feel for you. You are in a tough spot.

You probably are aware (but just to confirm for you) - you have every right to put your job first. Unless your aging parent(s) really needs you --- ie they feel and need you to assist them -- this would be a temporary sort of thing.

They are adults and you are an adult and are allowed to live your life. You are very consideration son -- not all sons or daughters would be so flexible with their parents and spend so much time with them.

Now how to handle - I think you need to make boundaries - try as much as possible not to raise your voice but be firm. Simply say I am sorry I will not be over today I have another obligation. If your parent starts yelling - then simply say sorry I need to go --- goodbye and hang up. Do something similar if you are in person. That way you stop having to deal with their irrational behavior and you are not falling into the trap of yelling back.


this is almost like a toddler's tantrum. Don't punish them -- ie yell back at them; just walk away. They learn they are not getting the attention they are trying for whether negative or positive if they yell at you.
jim 1968
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 11:07 am
@Linkat,
Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I hope that what I wrote is helpful to others--knowing that they are not alone in experiencing Older Parent issues.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 11:19 am
@jim 1968,
jim 1968 wrote:
But, it is just something that happens with aging parents.


nope

it's not the norm

plenty of aging parents are reasonable adults

__

It sounds like you and your parents have gotten into some kind of spiral of escalating things over the years. It will be hard to break the pattern but you have to try - for your own health and well-being.

As Linkat has said, you need to step away/walk away/leave/end the conversation.

Calling back after an argument to smooth things over? stop that. stop that right now.

An argument starts? you leave.

Just because they're family doesn't mean they are people you have to spend time with. Family isn't always good to each other.

I sometimes have to remind myself that family/close friends must be treated with the respect I'd offer to strangers. I also have to be treated with that same respect.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 11:21 am
@jim 1968,
jim 1968 wrote:
I find that I become anxious in just telling her that I won't be able to make it to their house by 4 pm for dinner because of a meeting at work.


there is no need for you to make excuses/offer explanations

if you can't go (and why would you do that too often in any case?), you simply let them know you're not available and end the conversation

make your part of the conversation brief and polite

Hi mom. Just wanted to let you know I won't be coming over tomorrow. I'll give you a call when I'm available to reschedule. Say hi to dad. Take care. Bye.

<hang up - do not engage>
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 11:23 am
I would add to this - consider a part-time caregiver or at least helping your parents get into something they enjoy, whether it's classes or a theater subscription or a pass to the local park or a book club or adult day care. Whatever it is, give them something in their lives that creates news that is not all about you or about their ailments.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 12:14 pm
@jespah,
great idea - it sounds like you are your parents' entire world. They need to find some other interests besides you - I know in many communities there are senior centers - they offer a variety of activities including taking bus trips to places of interest, card games, book clubs, dancing, bingo, etc.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 12:18 pm
@Linkat,
and I meant to add it is not unusual even if not the norm for aging parents to act this way. Think of it this way --- they spent a good amount of their years raising you and now you no longer need them, they are retired so they do not have work --- their whole life for years was surrounded around their child/ren and work.

So for those aging parents that had little or no outside interests besides family and work they are bored. If they were busy had other interests they would probably have a whole new positive outlook.
jim 1968
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 06:52 pm
@Linkat,
It is an issue that goes back to childhood. Very traumatic events that I can't even mention here. These things were never dealt with by either me or my family. These things are rarely discussed, but have been discussed. My parents are closed off to others. Extended family exists, but they are shut out. There are, in my estimation, about 15 people in our family who have been shut out permanently. I wouldn't even dare contact them because it would create WWIII. I have been contacted in the past by others to attempt reconciliation and I don't even respond; often, I just hang up so as to avoid problems. Literally, the WHOLE family outside of the three of us is out. Loyalty has been drilled into my head since childhood. Senior center? No way--they would be insulted if I suggested it. And, they still take complete care of themselves, so no need for in-care assistance. An earlier comment was that I am the only person outside of their world. For the most part, yes. They do their own thing, but I am the primary human contact. If I devote some time to a relationship with a woman, or have friendships and spend time with others, that is increasingly viewed as a disappointment, particularly if they do not like the person, which almost always turns out to be the case. It used to be if I had a work-related responsibility, then that was "okay" but now that is also becoming a source of ire. After 40 years of this...things won't change at this point--it is too late in their lives and mine, too. I'm sure that others face similar issues in their own way. It is just the price of having older parents who had colorful lives, I suppose.

That said, I appreciate your advice--everyone. You make me realize that it is out of the ordinary. You make me realize that I am under a lot of pressure even though I often try to convince myself that I can handle it by myself. Thank you Smile
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 07:03 pm
@jim 1968,
I both sympathize and can well imagine such a situation, but I not only see you as a kind of victim, but take from your posts on your threads that you are primary in making yourself a victim. On top of that, I don't see it as doing your parents any good either, so it appears from here as a self sacrifice in vain.

I think you need help to stop sacrificing yourself all the time, a matter you seem quite set on. Not my business, but it seems that you've had little rebellion over the years, and there may be background for that.

I'm no psychiatrist or psychologist and, besides, we don't offer medical advice here.

I wish you well, in figuring all this out.

jim 1968
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 08:37 pm
@ossobuco,
Thank you.

No rebellion on my part, by the way.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 08:44 pm
@jim 1968,
That is noticeable.
0 Replies
 
glitterbag
 
  5  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 09:35 pm
@jim 1968,
First of all, Welcome to A2K

My husband and I were the support for his elderly mother and my parents (Mom diagnosed with altzheimers at 58 and Dad hearth disease) mr. G'bags brother died in 87 and my brother didn't feel a need to help, but at least we had each other and our son to help with the responsibilities.

Please don't beat yourself up for trying to keep your parents happy. It's only you, and I'm sorry they don't understand that you are entitled to an independent life.
You wouldn't have posted if you thought this was normal, and if you want someone to tell you you are entitled to your feelings, I'm more than happy to tell you you are asking the right questions and no, you are not solely responsible for keeping them entertained.

Personally, I have found support groups too often depressing with no one offering real ideas mostly just bitching about how difficult it is. But don't rule them out, some can be wonderful. You should be talking to people who know what its like to deal with demanding parents.

The others are right about expanding your independence, and I think it might be a good idea to think about those other 15 relatives and reach out to one of them that you remember as nice, fun,or family when you were much younger. You really shouldn't ask for permission, just call someone who has tried reaching out to you. Don't talk about old family slights (thats between your parents and the others), you probably have several cousins who would love to hear fro you. They probably have a much better understanding of the situation than you realize.

The last thing in the world you should do is put your life on hold until your parents are gone. I'm not being flip, you are entitled to be as happy as you can be. You might not always have the luxury of flex time, and you can't jeopardize your future because you want to keep your mother mollified.

I hope you stick around because I think you will find folks who can be helpful.. This might only be virtual friendship right now, but I've been sharing things on this forum for many years and I've come to know many wise compassionate folks.

My only suggestion right now would be to use this forum as an extended family. Hopefully you will continue to seek out real life family relationships and develop a circle of friends.



Linkat
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2015 11:07 pm
@glitterbag,
Glitter bag has some good advice.. I once dated someone so close to his mom and dad that they came in between us ....it was to the point that he gave things to his parents that I purchased for me .. my thought is a parent encourages their child to do what is best for them over the parent.

I am a parent now and my love for my children is such I would prefer they do what is best for them over mr. I still shocked over any otherr esponse,
glitterbag
 
  4  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 01:17 am
@Linkat,
Hi Linkat, I hope he sticks around, I like to see him get guilt free an making friends. I suspect his parents have created this unhealthy situation and Ill bet it started when he was very very young. And the people who he trusted the most hammered into him that the rest of the family is useless.

His mother did him no favor by depriving him an extended family. She managed to keep him so isolated he is just starting to wonder if this situation is normal. Hopefully he will give himself permission to branch out.
jim 1968
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 09:52 am
@glitterbag,
"Victim" of international kidnapping as a child, and there was a failed "contract hit" on me and my parents.
glitterbag
 
  2  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 11:17 am
@jim 1968,
OK, I don't have any advice for that. If there is any chance you could still be in danger, I hope you make sure your activity on-line is protected. Please understand I'm not making light of your situation, I just don't have anything in my bag of tricks that I trust would keep you safe.

I really wish I had something for you that could make it all normal. I think everyone here would be happy to help if you think it might be useful. So, visit and talk, but keep yourself protected.
jim 1968
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 12:02 pm
@glitterbag,
Thanks for your warmth, concern and encouragement Smile

I don't share these things with gfs or friends. Friends with whom I have shared this, I have felt the need to "ditch" because I have made the mistake of bringing them in on my life's details. Gfs don't understand my closeness to family, but I can't explain to them. I separate my love for a gf from trust. This is a problem, of course.
glitterbag
 
  2  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 12:35 pm
@jim 1968,
It's been my experience that when you share a painful experience from the past with others, you lose the privacy of the situation. What's painful to you might become someone else conversation starter. They don't mean to betray you, and it's not that they aren't sympathetic, they simply don't have the same dire need for privacy as you do. Not everybody of course, but my mantra has aways been, if you want something to be secret...don't tell anybody.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2015 12:40 pm
@jim 1968,
definitely stuff to talk to a professional counsellor about
0 Replies
 
 

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