Coping with my overly needy parent

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I go back and forth with my 86 year old dad. He's a good person, generous, kind, etc., and I know it could be a lot worse. However, he is making me nuts at times.

How do I describe it? He's annoying, needy, relentless, self absorbed and rude. He was a traveling salesman and gone most of the time when I was growing up so my mom really raised me and my brothers. She has very good manners and even at 91 is happy spending time by herself. She wouldn't think of dropping in on someone without calling first and she is always polite. She has some problems now with dementia, but she tries to be neat and have good table manners.

My dad is the complete opposite. He will call at 7 AM, drop in unexpectedly, his table manners are disgusting, and although he can take an interest in what's going on with me and my husband, I feel like he only asks so he can get it over with and move on to HIM! He has done so many annoying things since retiring and having me nearby that I've already gone into counseling once and recently I scheduled myself to see someone again.

He is extremely social and wants to have something to do every day of the week. So, even though he has friends, goes to the senior center and also has hobbies, he still clings to me.

He still drives, but I can see that we are getting to a point where it won't be much longer before that needs to end and I'm truly dreading it.

My husband and I moved to my parents' community about 8 years ago and bought their property. We built on a few acres of it, but let them stay in their home, only asking them to pay property insurance on their home and part of the taxes. I have had every intention of helping them and we have.

From the day we moved into our newly built house my dad was unbelievably obnoxious. He would walk into our house unannounced, whenever the mood hit. We had to talk to him about that. There have been so many problems with him invading our space that I could write a book. When I've tried talking to him, he has actually hung up on me and I swear I was not yelling or emotional, just trying to get him to see it from our point of view.

Recently my husband had foot surgery and my dad wanted to come to the hospital, but it was day surgery and, frankly, my husband I didn't want to deal with my parents. We kept my dad at bay by telling him we didn't have an exact time (which was actually true until the day before). Dad called about 3 times that week and then he called again after the surgery. I told him everything went fine and he wanted to know if we wanted to go out for dinner!!! I told him we couldn't do that for at least a week. Dad left us alone for one day and then decided to drop in. Neither of us wanted to see him so we didn't answer the door. So after leaving my dad called and I didn't answer. Then he called again and I still didn't answer. The next thing I knew he was back again and this time he used his key to let himself into our house.

I know a lot of people are going to say something about the fact that he was concerned, etc., but Dad wears me out. When he walked into the house I confronted him and I'll admit I was upset. He kept saying he was worried and I felt like saying, "it was foot surgery not his heart!"

I don't know what I'm asking here. I guess I just needed to vent. My dad is wearing me out and although I want to be a good daughter, he just won't give me a chance to take a break.

I think I read more stuff about manipulate mothers, but I'm here to tel you my dad is the King when it comes to that!

34 Comments

Your dad fits the classic model of a 50s father during a time when gender roles were strictly defined. Dads went out to "hunt," Moms stayed at home and raised the families and kept the home fires burning. Now that he stopped working and is home all the time, he needs to find something to "manage"....namely, you and your life. If your mother is suffering from dementia, she is not enough of an audience for him.
If his behavior was not effecting you emotionally, I would say that you are on top of things. So, you need to use tough love. First, take away his key to your home. Second, get an answering machine and caller ID...if it is an emergency, you can screen and get right back to him. Tell him that he MUST call before he comes over, and if it is not a good time, he must respect your wishes. If he comes over unannounced, you are not obligated to answer the door.
It is a blessing that your dad is enjoying such good health at his age, but he needs to channel his energies elsewhere. He really does not care about learning more about you or making up for lost time, he just needs a captive audience....and I agree, it sounds exhausting.
Can you have friends drop in on him for a visit? Does he have a hobby or be willing to try a new one? Can he volunteer his time?
Unfortunately the true NPD parent is only interested in themselves and their needs and most of us are still trying to figure out how to deal with that.
Good luck...if you are new here, welcome..
Lilli
Theirdaughter, you say your Dad is kind, generous, and good. What he is doing is not good. He is thinking only of himself and his wants. I know this guy, he was my father too. They never change. Try reading as much as possible about Narcissistic Personality Disorders and see if you see a pattern. They are very difficult to deal with. My father was only interested in himself, knew no boundaries. Have your locks changed and don't answer the phone or door. He should get the point, hopefully. True he is probably bored, but that is not your problem. Gently nudge him toward some "activity" or interest. Maybe something with other elderly men. They love to talk WWll stuff. Most of all you are a good daughter, never let him make you feel you aren't. That is just more ammo for the Narcissist.
TD:

You're probably working up the courage to tell him, but eventually you'll have to pull him to the side and have a conversation about his manners. Start with the positive things, then list the things he needs "work on" or be "aware of" before coming to visit. For starters, he HAS TO call first.

My uncle Pedro used to pop up at my door with that piggish wife of his, Nury, for their usual Sunday mooching. She had chronic halitosis and burped like a rhino; and thought there was nothing wrong with it. He ate with his hands and picked his teeth with a fork. To my wife, Southern hospitality was a must. So I suffered in silence at the dinner table. A few hours later I offered to walk them to the bus stop. They became indignant when I told them to call first before visiting. They snapped demanding RESPECT, so I asked them to spell it. ... They couldn't. Last time I caught sight of them they were mooching at my sister Ivette's. Nury wasn't stinking off the place with her breath, and Pedro was eating with a fork instead of picking his teeth with it.

People can change, if they're willing.

-- ED
My mother (when she was alive) was a person who it was 'my way or the highway'. It wasn't until after my step-dad passed away that she felt lonesome and joined the local senior citizens group--they had an elderly glee club there among other things. It might do your dad some good to be with people in his own age group. He can try it out and if it's not for him, he doesn't have to return. ...but my bets would be that he'll like it. ((((((HUGS)))))) & Good Luck.

I know this is not in his age group, but my son is very picky. When my husband got a job down in FL, he had definite thoughts and made them known that he did NOT want to leave his friends here in OH. Since he was still a minor, he had no choice but to come with us. When he enrolled in the school down there in FL, he made friends instantly. He decided he liked it. Then we had to move due to my husband's job. At least he finished his freshman year down there. For his sophomore year and still here at present time, we moved back to the same school district. We made the decision based upon my husband's mom, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's (AD). She was his only live grandparent, he had lost two (2) grandparents the year before we moved and he was close to them also.

Take care, lach61
Oh you guys are great. It's horrible how manipulative parents can be. I hear everything you are saying. In fact, my husband just called and I read all the responses to him. This has been even worse for him--it's not his parent!

Unfortunately, my entire family has never been good about communicating or confrontation. We tend to stew about things and eventually hope they go away or we somehow get over them. I'm currently not communicating with one brother because he has decided not to deal with some issues. I had a problem with my other brother a couple of years ago and we finally managed to work things out. But as I already mentioned, my dad will literally run away or hang up when things heat up or I finally stick up for myself.

In the past I could at least talk to my mom, and unfortunately, that's no longer possible. But despite her dementia it's interesting to see how she can still hold her own against my dad!

All of you have helped me to see how unfair my dad is being, something that has been extremely difficult. He does just enough "nice" things to make me question my fairness in being upset with him. My husband and I met him and my mom for lunch on Sunday. We talked about getting together for dinner the following Friday and my departing words were, "We'll see you next Friday," and I felt kind of guilty for that, as if I should be in touch midweek.

Another part of the conversation was (my husband is doing my parents' taxes) some documents were missing and my husband gave my dad a list. Even though my husband won't be available until Friday my Dad had already stopped by our place that same day (we were gone) with the documents. Then, of course, he called and I told him we would get them Friday!

But I get it, guys. I need to be more assertive and I'm trying. I'm hoping the therapist will also help me (thanks for bringing up NPD--I'll look it up AND talk to the therapist about it). I will tell you that when I went to a therapist the first time (over depression and my dad), she would look at me in amazement sometimes and tell me how rude his behavior was.

And, ED, I apologize, but I laughed so hard at your comments! It's really not funny when it's happening to you, but I sure do get it. Here are two disgusting things my dad does: he will pull out his one false tooth in front of family because some food got caught in it (YUCK). He always wants a toothpick when he has dinner at our place and we ALWAYS say we don't have any. Also, he has really bad "man boobs." Okay, it's not his fault, it happens. BUT for God's sake, don't go around without a shirt!! When my mom had her act together she told him to put on a shirt. Now she just looks at him and turns to me and says, "your father needs a bra."

Oh can I relate to the "it's all about me" complex. I have been calling it "self absorbed". I'll have to check NPD.
I have been care-giver for my FIL since he moved in with my hubby & me in 2004 (yes, 2004). I am on duty 24/7/365 except for, Thank God!, the respite care-giver (first with home health now hospice) that comes once a week for 2 hours and whatever time my hubby can give me off. Hospice gives families a 5 day respite time with the care-receiver in a facility.

I asked Papa how he feels about my hubby & I using the 5 day respite: he said "I'll be pissed". Well, thanks a lot, Papa! I gave up a full time job to be his care-giver, he needs assistance with toileting, 2-4 times a night, I puree ALL his food (he is allergic to onion in any form), keep his food warm while he eats his meal, etc.

Ah well, he IS on hospice and might have around 2-4 months left; and trying to change a 95 yr old is, well, not worth trying. He sure is good for my prayer life, he sends me to the Jesus prayer a lot! LOL!

Take care,

Evpraxia
TheirDaughter, Dad may or may not be too old to change, and that may depend on whether he has some impairments. But you are not too old to change. The fact that you are going to see a therapist again and that you are posting here is evidence of both the ability and the will to change. Dad has friends, attends the senior center, and has hobbies. That is great! He has a near-by daughter and son-in-law he can have dinner with and visit once or twice a week. That is also great. He has a wife who needs his attention. That too can be very fulfilling if he takes advantage of it. Your dad is a very, very lucky man. (Just browse around in other posts if you doubt that.)

You are NOT neglecting a poor deprived impaired parent who can't do things for himself. You are (or need to be) setting appropriate boundaries. He is very lucky. Don't let his luck become your bad news.

The positive in all this is that you know things need to change and you are working on it. Good for you! You CAN do it!
It's funny (in a good way), but things have been going better and I have to admit that I do see much worse problems that other people are having with their elderly parent(s). It's always so much easier to tell someone else, "don't put up with it," because that what i want to say to Evpraxia! And yet, I know it's difficult and we all have a tendency to bottle it up.

I have managed to make some room for my husband and myself by not trying to take things on that my parents can handle themselves. My mom is still involved in her church and someone there got my dad to take her to some kind of meeting where she met other people, watched a movie, etc., and I think they both enjoyed it. This afternoon they went on a bus trip through the senior center to Wisconsin Dells! I didn't have to do anything!! And last night we celebrated Father's Day by taking them out to dinner. My mom was really funny and she has actually been doing better lately.

I still have issues with my dad because I realize that it doesn't take much to set me off, especially if I'm stressed or tired. That's something I intend to explore further with my therapist.
Thanks for reporting back. I hope things continue to look up for you. There will be bumps in the road, but you CAN handle them!
It has been a long time since anyone has posted, but I really need advice here! My dad is quite "young" for his age, has friends & health. He lives alone about a mile from me, and has been single for about 20 years. He had some medical issues which are now resolved, but only has my family to focus on. He doesn't have an hobbies, gets angry at daily situations, only talks about himself, and holds such negativity, it is hard to be around. He isn't ever there when we really need him, unless it benefits him. For example, we had to leave town on an emergency, and asked him to watch our dog. We learned that he was only going over to our house once every 12 hours, so we had to find someone else to do it. I think he did a bad job because he really didn't want to do it! When my child was young, I think he only watched him a handful of times, and was never wanting to baby sit or do fun things as a grandparent. He shows up to my house un announced, and calls all of our phones trying to get a hold of us at the same time each day (the moment I get off work). Usually he has a few drinks, and calls when he is tipsy at night 3-5 times per night. I am really busy with my work/home life, and do make time on the weekends to see him. But, that usually isn't enough. Then, if I don't answer the phone, or don't see him, he makes comments about how I am avoiding him and that I should talk to him more. He is pushing me away! He even made a comment to a family member that he will always live by us and hopefully with us in a few years! He is wasting the best years of his life focusing on us! Every time I try to help him try something new, or meet new people it backfires on me and I get even more irritated with him. I tried taking him on an outing, and it turned into him criticizing my driving and complaining about the cost of everything and of everyone we came into contact with It's not supposed to be like this! How do you help such a needy parent, or might it be a medical condition?

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