How do you deal with an abusive parent?
Carol Bradley Bursack, Jun 3, 2010
Over the span of two decades author, columnist and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Because of this experience, Bradley Bursack created a portable support group, the book "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories."
These two articles may be worth reading. Good luck. It's hard.Carolhttp://www.agingcare.com/127206 Caring for parent who didn't care for youhttp://www.agingcare.com/137122 Elders abusing their adult children.
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Aug 10, 2011
Jaccare - my mother is just like that. She is currently in assisted living and, of course, hates it! They don't do things quick enough or correctly enough, etc. All she does is complain and I have been putting up with this for so many years, I can't even fathom the number of days and hours I have wasted on her. I am an only child... so there are no bad siblings to even vent to. I have taken her on vacations.. that she has ruined, she has ruined every holiday in my childrens memories and she even told my daughter that "she was a disgrace and never should have been born".. the stories of emotional abuse are so many that I could never even begin to tell you all of them.. However, I recently began to see a therapist and she is slowly teaching me to put me and my family first.. I take care of her financial and medical needs - she is in a facility that takes care of her needs and I don't need to have her interferring with my family any longer. I see her when I can and talk to her on the phone, when I am mentally prepared.. other than that I keep my distance. SHE HATES IT!! since I have ALWAYS been at her beck and call, she can't and won't understand why I have backed off.. I have always wanted that sweet and loving mother who my kids could adore and have happy memories of.., but I finally get it.. that mothers does not exist, so no all I can do is protect my family from the mother that does exist and move on with my own life. I still feel guilty about not running over there every day and not answering the 20 phone calls a day, but at least I am doing it and learning that there is a life out there for me and my family that does not include being subjected to her abuse and ingratitude..It's a long row to hoe.. but with fortitude, we can make this!!
Apr 24, 2011
I deal with a BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) mum and find I have to set limits and review and reset them continually. It isn't easy as she continually pushes the boundaries. Detaching with compassion is great if you can get there. I periodically need to distance myself - which in my case means not responding to any contact - taking a break to lower my stress levels. For me recently the pressure has triggered some bad childhood memories (PTSD) for which I am going to counseling. I am hoping to develop more strategies for dealing with mother as she ages and her needs increase. I don't know what your arrangement is with your parent, If he or she lives in your home it is much more difficult than if he or she lives separately. Hope you are finding some answers. It is a very tough problem.
Jul 31, 2011
I just finished reading Carol's "Detaching With Love: Setting Boundaries in Toxic Relationships." Mom has a PhD in Child Abuse, and made sure to install lots of buttons to have an excuse to "work" us when we misbehaved. At the time, moms were considered goddesses who knew best; so she could go on "disciplining" us with cigarette burns, a hot iron to an arm, raw rice we knelt on while watching each other's naked bodies, a whip made up of telephone wires (if you were 12 y/o you'd get 13 lashes [1 extra just in case she forgot to punish your for a real or imaginary transgression like asking for a mango pit]).
She was a peach. Broken down, I "detached" into my mind so the pain wouldn't hurt anymore. During a family reunion in sun-drenched Puerto Rico she rambled to my sons about how tough she was with me and all that "I don't care is he's 7 feet tall, I'll slap the s__t out of him." I smirked, and she got up from the other end of the table to actually do it. I told her I'd hang her bones to dry in the beach if she ever touched me again.
Unable to inflict any physical abuse, her mouth is running on all 4 cylinders -- even in her sleep. That doesn't work either. Easter of 2005 she dressed as Mary Magdalene. People around me talked about what a faithful woman she was. I wanted to stone her. The following year she had to do one up, and carried a crucifix she made from tree limbs in the backyard. I wanted to nail her to a cross that could hold her weight long enough for stray dogs to take the bones away in the middle of the night.
Instead of seeking forgiveness from her children, she's atoning through outside sources. My sisters feel sorry for her, and now claim she's been a source of inspiration in their lives and are grateful for the ongoing psychological abuse. They should all be committed. But I know better. Mom's just "dopefiending." She's as manipulative as ever. During the day a wanna-be Mother Theresa feeding and caring for the neighborhood's little "angels." Thugs in training who don't go to school, work as "spotters" for the drug pushers, and have no respect for their own parents. At night either the Gangsta B__ch, Heroin, Homicide, or Hooker Barbie outfit comes out and anything goes.
In sum, she fears me. She knows that I know who/what she really is and what she's up to. I've "detached;" she keeps her distance from a son who doesn't know how to be grateful for all the sacrifices she's made on behalf of her brood -- including killing our spirit, dreams, and aspirations. Come to think of it, our self-respect, self-esteem, and self-respect were dictated by a woman who's never had any. To gain her acceptance, we had to do whatever this slavedriver wanted. A woman whose terror tactics were designed to ensure her children's subservience. It's no wonder my sisters never did much in life except become of replica of their mother.
Her platinum hair and white daily wear don't fool me. But she's a martyr to everyone else. "Saved" through her daily deeds, she's already paved her way to Heaven.
I'll take care of her tombstone when her time comes: "Heaven Doesn't Want Me, He'll Afraid I'm Going to Take Over." Wherever she goes, there won't be any buttons to push.
Everyone thinks (or acts like they think) my mother is the grandmother found in all of the generic storybooks. She isn't. I have tried to deal with the issue in the following ways: I call her on her behavior, I have pointed out that she is stuck with me as her caregiver and we need to work toward getting along, I no longer pretend she is easy to deal with when people tell me what a sweetheart she is, and I am going through counseling to help me deal with her. I read books that help me understand her. Leaning on this website helps. Before my father died, he asked me to take care of my mother because she was so tough to deal with at times. He told me that I would stand up to her when necessary. I am a special ed teacher and I work with children who have neurological disorders and behavior issues. My training helps me with Mom. My mother and I are only 5 feet tall,but my family is afraid of her. I have learned to stand up to her because I know I deserve better treatment. I refuse to pretend she is Mother Teresa, but I have learned to love her where she is at and she seems to love me back in her own way. At times I just walk away for awhile. It is very important to do so at times. I can visualize my father grinning at me from a cloud in heaven while pushing me to hang in there with her. Oddly enough, my mother and I are developing a working relationship. I avoid my siblings who treat her with sainthood characteristics and live miles away from her, and I try to remember that love is what counts. I hope some of this helps.Best wishes.
Emjo... my mother also has BPD.. I have been verbally abused and belittled by her for so my years, I can't even count, however, I always jumped at her every need (no matter how much it hurt me or my family). I finally started seeing a counselor about 6 months ago and she is teaching me to set my boundaries, stick to it, etc., but I still need to do certain things for her, such as take her to the doctor,etc. She lives in assited living, but she wants ME.. my children and my husband refuse to see her anymore as she is so mean and hurtful to us all, so now, when I do see her, I do it alone. This is fine because I have put my children through way too much their entire lives. She has ruined EVERY family occasion or holiday that we have ever had. So... today, I am taking her out.. is she happy about it? No, of course not, because "I have turned her grandchildren against her".. so, i will have to listen to her rag about why my children aren't along, instead of trying to have an enjoyable afternoon with her. She tells everyone how mean I am to her, how I never come and see her, etc., but because she also has dementia, she can't even remember that I was there last week and took her out to lunch..I find the entire situation impossible, but feel totally stuck since I am an only child and my father died over 10 years ago. I read the book "Elder Rage" and although it does give some pretty good ideas, my mother does not learn from the boundaries.. she simply calls more and leaves more messages..One good thing though is that my therapist suggested i get an additional cell phone. Only she has the number to that phone, so I can choose to simply put it in a drawer and not answer, and then when I am mentally prepared I can listen to the 17 messages that she has left me in the last two hours. LOL!! (the number of messages is totally true!)I pray for everyone who has to deal with this type of parent and look for answers and guidance where ever I can. The problem is.. we can't get rid of it entirely, because we still have to manage the money, the doctors appts., balancing the checkbook, buying the groceries, dealing with the mail. Thank the Lord that she does not live with me.
If he's of sound mind -- and if you can afford it -- tell him you're going to kick his a__ to the curb. Either he cleans up his act or finds someone else to put up with all that BS coming from left field when you least expect it. Some men, however, need to be trained to say "Pretty please" and "Thank you." ... You're not his beast of burden, and he won't get more unless he gets that through his head.
Aug 18, 2012
Husband is in counseling - just started a month ago or so but it is helping some already. I have seen a counselor for over a year and a half now and that has helped too. I suppose I need to conquer and divide how pissed they make me when I am tougher with them and separate their passive aggressiveness from myself. Every day is LONG. Trying. I have hope that they will get used to my being less nice and more blunt about stuff. I think the brother and sister-in-law went through this too or rather I know they did, and then all of the problems were blamed on them, the caregivers at the time, and a big poor me was given to us. I really get sick of it all. Probably a good night sleep will be of some help too.
Mar 23, 2013
After reading all the comments about this issue I realize the best solution is you don't have to deal with it. To me, abusive people are no different than garbage- you dump it in the trash to be be disposed of. I could not control the abuse when I was young, but as an adult I can chose not to put myself in that situation ever again. I have 0% sympathy for abusive parents that are now the "frail elderly". Let them at least experience the loneliness and helplessness from their absentee abused adult children.
Aug 7, 2012
Wow. As often as I hear about other people with this kind of mother I am always amazed that there are 'others' out there. Being a mother myself it has always been astounding how she could possibly not love me. I can't recall that I ever felt warmth from my mother. To compound things, my dad married her 60 years ago at 17 (he was 20) and they dysfunction he sprang from taught him to make up his own lies about reality too. He has stuck by her, sung her praises, is truly if not totally insanely still in love with her. He has also told me all my life how much she loved me even though I could tell, as a kid and teenager, that he knew she was not treating me well or like the rest of my siblings. He just chalked it up to "I just don't understand women" and "you and your mother are exactly alike" (which is not true - I have been much more like him in fact - I look like him, am a business person while she has never held a job, I have been told all my life that I think more like a man as far as reasoning goes (didn't really consider that a compliment but there it is!) while she is an attention seeking drama queen. My husband (2nd one, the first one treated me just like - surprise! - she did) says she complains with her mouth full. I can remember being in my bedroom where she threw me in a rage as a little kid and praying to God that I could say the right thing so she wouldn't hit me or smack my face or be mean to me. She told me at one point in my adult life that she didn't really think that she ever really bonded with me, sort of in the same tone that you would say you just ate a sandwich. She has told my children that she feels sorry for me that they have me for a mother. My son in particular won't go visit them anymore because he and I have a very good relationship and with his wife as well, and they refuse to be around my mother who continues to bad mouth me. My other two kids just have totally stopped talking to them and never visit. Of course, my mother has written to me that I am evil and that I am to blame for the misery 'in your whole family'. She is and has always been on a campaign of smearing me. I have been though counseling and I understand so much that I did not before (my divorce which was 22 years ago). I never truly knew how badly dysfunctional my family is.I agree with Eddie, above, who stated that she is afraid of him because she knows he knows how bad she truly is. My mother is a charmer when she wants to be. People think my parents are 'cute' and that it is so wonderful they have been married for 60 years. To me, those 60 years were ones that were particularly at my expense. Neither of my parents protected me. My dad had to believe she was a good person or otherwise he would have had to do something. He also took a few liberties with me that he shouldn't have when I was younger and there of course has been no way for me to receive any empathy or support for that. Now they are elderly. They are also fairly wealthy. I have been more or less "rumored" three times to be written out of the will. Whenever my mother decides to go on the attack against my unwillingness to let her run right over me, that's when it starts. And the rest of my siblings, who have not experienced her really bad side, although they all are aware it's there, distance themselves. Nobody else wants to be the 'goat'. They also live nearby and I do think the constant exposure to her craziness has numbed them over time. I live away and when I am around it, I am just appalled. The most recent thing was my dad's 80th surprise birthday. My mother did not even invite me, although she did invite my son and his wife. I do believe although they care for him and really seem to like him, it isn't lost on her that he is after all my child and she can't help but feel the need to attack him sometimes just do to the fact. They for instance got there, after driving all night to get to their house and so the next day slept in. My dad got up and threw out the coffee when they weren't awake around 10 am and then berated them, saying things like he didn't see why they even bothered to come at all. So rude. When the party was actually held, my mother was walking around telling people that she wanted to get married again when my father died! At his party! It then got even more bizarre when some of my siblings took sides about whether or not she SHOULD get married again! My son said the party ended and the fight ensued about this topic with alcohol involved. My mother ended up throwing some people out of the house, my dad followed them out asking them to just stay and that she didn't mean what she said and people were crying, etc.! SOOOO glad I wasn't there anyway! Total insanity. Thankfully, I do have other siblings to take care of them in the future. But in protecting my own sanity and self respect, I know one day this is all going to culminate in real ugliness when they die. There will be, I know, bad scenes to come regarding their stuff, money, etc. I don't even want to go to their funerals when the day comes because all of this makes me sick to my stomach. I am grateful for faith and I continually turn to it for solace and to God to help me 'do the right thing'...though with people like this I am not sure what that is.
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