Being asked favor from friends.

Started by

Hi,I am starting to feel like a bad person. I get depressed when friend asks for a favor. Which doesn't happen to often....but I am not handling well.
Here is my situation.

My mom has been living with me last 10years,she is 80years old , in good health and she is on her best behavior. Since she is not bedridden,may be I won't qualify as a caregiver yet....

But living with her is taking a toll on my emotional well being.
I also have a 3years old toddler and a jusband.

When I get asked to babysit friend's toddler, I get depressed.
If I say 'no' I feel guilt, if I say "yes" I feel resentful.

In general, I just no longer able to handle favors for friend.

Since my mom is in good health, and I'm a stay home mom, I have to say I DO HAVE PLENTY OF TIME to do a favor or tow for others.
But I just don't have a hart to do it.

Is this normal? I feel like a jerk ...


AndyPandy: YOU ARE NOT A JERK. I don't mean to scream at you, but you are not a jerk. Honey, you have your mom with you all the time. That takes a toll. I'm so happy to hear she is healthy and on her best behavior, but she is still there. She's been with you for 10 years.

How long have you been married? If you lived with only your child and husband, you might feel like these trade off babysitting things were worthwhile to you. Or you might love going to the parks with other moms and sharing thoughts and experiences. Maybe you do that.

When you come home, however, there is something so special about feeling like you are in your own private sanctuary. The house may not be perfectly tidy and the laundry might be piling up, but it is your home. There are no other voices.

I doubt any of your friends have a parent living with them. I think it is wonderful that your mom can live with you and watch her Granddaughter grow up, but I also think it is natural for all of us to want our own nest, our own home, our own privacy and our own space.

Take a look at your life and ask yourself what it is that you feel you need at this time. I think it would be nice for you to have some intimacy in your life. Maybe you can hook up with a friend in your age group that doesn't need babysitting trades and can just have lunch with you. Someone you can talk to who hears what you are saying. You need a place to be you. I don't know how old you are, but if your mom is 80, I'm assuming you are older than those who normally have 3 year olds. I'll check your profile to see if you put in your age. Can't do it now or I will lose this post.

Anyway, tell me more and let's see what others offer too. You are a good daughter, that's for sure. You don't have to be a saint. Hugs, Cattails
cattails: Thank you for your kind comment. I really appreciate that. I hope I am not a jerk but sometime I feel like a jerk or selfish and may be I appear that way to my friends....and I feel guilt.

Since you asked, here is my situation. I am 47years old Asian living in USA almost 30years. I've been married for 5years, had a first and only baby when I was 44years old. When my dad past away, my mom came to live with me in US, She speak no English or read. And it's been 10years since. After she moved in with me, I immidiately started to notice some inconvinience in some situation, especially translating everything, loss of privacy and freedom. After I had a baby she has been very helpfull with babysitting,but for some reason things are getting worse in my head and emotions. I feel the need to include her yet I also feel strong need to create my own family without feeling her presence.
I feel guilt because she have very few friends here who speak her language,I know she long for companionship from me. But laterly I have been very distant from her, almost avoiding to communicate with her except bare nessesity. I finally decided to go to see thrapist last few month, and I haven't seen much improvement so far in myself.

So,basically my main problem is my current living situation.
But, I started to notice how I am also not capable of certain friendship.
I just get so worked up when I get asked for a favor.

My husband is very helpful with my mom's situation, we sometime laugh that she is the best mother in law since she can not communicate with him,therefore no argument ever! But, about this "favor" situation with friends , my husband thinks I am going overboard and being worked up too much.

AP: How old are these friends who want to trade babysitting? Do you need babysitting or is your mom able to do that for you?

I'm glad you are seeing a therapist and working out some of the issues you have with your mom living with you. That's a great start. Have you mentioned the problem you feel with favors to your counselor?

I don't feel that friendships should be based on favors. I think they are based on a personal connection that draws you to the friend and is returned to you in that special connection that friendship offers. When you say that you are not capable of certain friendships, I am guessing that you don't like friendships that ask you to do things you don't want to do. Like babysitting. I think it's ok for you to not want to babysit other peoples children and if that is what the friendship is based on, then you have some decisions to make.

You are 47 years old. How old are the friends that want you to babysit? Are you really close to them or are they just friends because their children are the same age as your daughter? Do you socialize with them, do they understand you and your life, are they close to you? If you say yes to all of this, then I would see them as really being friends, rather than acquaintances. Acquaintances would be people you have something in common with, like children the same age, but not a real soul connection. You need to tell me, which is it. Are they true friends that you relate to on many levels or nice people who happen to have children the same age as yours?

The bottom line AndyPandy, is if you don't want to babysit other peoples children then you should not do so. You can tell them nicely that you are not able to do that because having you mom living with you puts limits on what you are willing to give up in personal time. Does that make sense to you? I'm just asking because I'm not sure how clear I am at making my point.

I think the biggest thing you have to work on is how to make room for your mom in your household. That's more important than favors to friends. If they are truly your friends, they won't abandon you because you can't babysit.

You are caught in a cultural divide. Your mom needs you to help her navigate the new world she lives in and that ties you down. I was raised in an area that had numerous people from any number of countries and their children and I grew up together. Many of the parents of my friends (mothers mostly) even after 20 years, had not learned English and their children interpreted for them. Still, I felt there was something very holy about their families. They were families and the cooking and meals were amazing. Most of all there was love.

Andy, my suggestion to you is to seek love. It doesn't matter if your only have one or two friends as long as there is love. That's worth much more than 20 friends with three year-olds who need babysitting. If you can keep you mom with you and your daughter can have the benefit of learning a bit about her roots, then that is a blessing. Maybe a little of your moms language too. What a blessing to be able to speak two languages.

I want to mention that my husband and I practically raised our grandchild. She was born when we were 40 and 41 years old. We would have done anything for her, but I would not have wanted to babysit 3 year olds by the time I was 47. I'm now 63 and taking care of my father who needs 24/7 care. He is 89 and had a major stoke last July.

Your family is your husband, your child and your mom. Your friends are those that appreciate what you are dealing with and who support you through the good and bad times.

Stay in counseling and work through your fears and discomforts. You are a very good person and I so respect you going to counseling. You are very wise.

By the way, my brother married a lovely lady from China about 8 years ago. Cultural differences, but lots of love and friendship.

Give me a reply and tell me what you think. I am open to more discussion.

Lots of love, Cattails.

If you don't feel your therapist is helping you, perhaps you would do better with a different therapist. It is not at all uncommon for a therapy patient to switch therapists. It is not that the first one is bad or incompetent -- it is just that you have to "click" with his or her approach.

Your husband is probably right that you are going overboard and being worked up too much. That is one of the reasons you are seeing a therapist, right? You will get this on a more comfortable level.

All of us have the right to turn down requests for favors. (Many people have sure turned down my requests since I've become a caregiver. And many times my requests are granted. That is just how life is.) If it is close friend asking you may want to give a reason, "Rita, I'm just having a hard time in my personal life right now. I'm afraid I am not up to having another little person to be responsible for, even though your Sam is adorable and sweet. It is my problem and I'm dealing with it. I'm sorry I'm not up to helping you right now. I appreciate your patience." If the other mom is an acquaintance rather than a friend, no explanation is necessary. "I'm sorry, Connie, but I just can't take that on right now." This does not make you a jerk and you have no need to feel guilty. Maybe in the future you will be in a better frame of mind about this kind of request. But, really, just because you are a mother is no reason you should automatically want to care for other people's children.

Good luck!
It is better to say no then to say yes when you really do not want to do the favor-a good friend will understand-I have learned to say no to things I do not want to do-but it takes time to get that strong to know what is best for you-I hope you have a good best friend that understands you and how you tick.
cattails: she is around 41-42, and I don't feel very close to her and I am not sure if I want to get too close. Since she ask for more favors as we get close....
I will say she is a one of our circle of friend whom I did get close last year, we mainly did kids play date. which was great, but play date while we also get to enjoy each other and babysitting her kids are differrent to me. I have never asked her to babysit my child.
jeannegibbs: I have been to therapist about 8times and so far I haven't seen much change in myself, but I have never been to thrapist before this so it is hard for me to know what is like to "click" or not click yet. I hope to see more result from thrapy in the near future since it is costing a lot$....

About saying "no" I have done that with her, and letting her know in a nice way.
So she did back off for a while, but time to time she asks again.

195Austin: you wrote "I hope you have a good best friend that understands you and how you tick."
yes, my best friend does understand me that way. but this person seems to not understand "how you tick" after my numerous attempt to send a sign of how I feel. so that does bothers me.

I have a counselor, I cared for my mother with ALZ, I still care for my brother With TBI and ALZ . I think woman are natural care givers and we give till we can not give anymore... Saying no to someone who asks for a favor is hard but ok to do.. It does not make you a bad person... You sound like you know if you were not already responsible for your mother and now having a child that you would do the favor in a heart beat... Please, learn to say no before you are more unhappy,, As far as your mom goes, take it from me, when she is gone you will cherish all the time you have with her..If I may suggest, you find a senior center that she can spend a few hours at, it will be an adjustment but you will get a break from her and she will have an outside interest.... It took me a long time to find a senior center for my mom, after she started there we were both much happier,, she made friends and had such good times there... My favorite memory is of her and my brother getting on the bus to the center together holding hands as they walked to the bus... I was her child yet I was putting her on the bus like she must of done when I went off to school... I was also an abused child so caring for her in the beginning was very difficult...We both came to terms with my childhood and it was an amazing thing.... I hope this is helpfull and please give yourself credit, saying no to a favor is ok.... When your plate is not so full then you can go back to doing favors.... By the way, a stay home mom is probable the hardest job out there.....
Andy, I don't think you are selfish at all. Maybe you could try a little experiment and ask your friend to do YOU a favor and see how she responds. If she wants nothing to do with it, then perhaps she is one of those people who sees "friends" as someone who will do for her, and not a mutual give and take, and perhaps that is why you feel a bit tired and perhaps resentful...
I have another thought about your mother, and forgive me if it is inappropriate, as I don't know her situation at all, but I wonder if she would be open to ESL classes? Even if she were only to learn the most basic English, it would be a way for her to make friends, have a bit of independence from you, and give you a break for the couple of hours each week that she is in class. IN my community, the ESL classes are free or low cost, and offered at a "community campus" three times a week. I don't know if a similar resource might be available near you, but if it is, perhaps that might offer you some respite. Sending hugs your way.
Andy, Is it possible that your feelings are hormonal? It is possible that you're heading for an early menopause or at least your hormones are out of whack right now? That could attribute to your the feelings of being overwhelmed too. If I were you, I'd rule out the possible physical side of a problem before I'd ever go see a shrink. And if it turns out you're A-ok, then you need to get out once in awhile with a girlfriend, and goof off. Your mother is NOT joined at your hip, and you shouldn't be treating her like she is. She also needs an outlet other than you. Do some research to see if there are any Asian activities going on in your area that she could get involved with. I would think it would be very appealing for her to talk to people her age without having to go thru a translator. Check into it. And make sure you and your husband are going on a 'date' at least once a week too. Don't let that relationship falter, cause then you're in DEEP trouble.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support