My elderly parents are bullies.

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My elderly parents have always been users, demanding, manipulative, sarcastic, and controlling. So, why would I think anything would change now that they are older? One can dream I suppose. However, now that they have limited computer knowledge, their bullying tactics are cyber related. My parents must sit all day and think up ways to push my buttons. They have now resorted to forwarding emails to me about my politics, weight, marriage status and whatever else they can dream up. And then, when face to face, they simply act like they never sent any of those things to me.

My nerves are rattled because of this and they know it. One of the emails said they question my intelligence because of my political views. I am the only daughter in our family of five. I live the closest to them, and I am the one who is called to take them places, fix things, cut grass, clean the house, organize, etc. Recently (within last few months), I have distanced myself from them. Not calling or going to see them as much. I am guessing this is why they are bullying me. I am single with grown children, and I work full-time.

They also call family members and gossip about me. My siblings know exactly how my parents are, so that doesn't bother me so much. But they also call my aunts, uncles, and cousins and their neighbors to discuss my business. I have been told by family members that these are the only parents I have and that I should help them more.....WTH! When I am around their friends or neighbors, I get the cold shoulder, so I know I am being talked about behind my back.

When does this stop? My parents are in their 80's and still sharp.....obviously. And when they have had health issues over the years....strokes, heart disease, eye problems, pneumonia, ER visits, hospitalizations, etc., guess who went to stay with them? Sometimes, around the clock....cooking, cleaning, shopping and you name it. I know it will never stop no matter what I do or how I react. I just needed to vent today. Thanks for listening.

67 Comments

Really easy to block their emails, I would just put a block on them and let them be spam.
Please read The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie Donaldson. It will open your eyes. I have read it several times and am in the process of reading it again.

Your needs are not being met, i.e., respect, validation and love. I suspect this is exactly as it was in childhood. You have been assigned a role. Now the hard part is not accepting the role and distancing yourself. You seem to be on a good path because you have recognized the problem and you are starting to make changes.

Unless you recognize your family dynamic for what it is, they will continue to hurt and manipulate you. They will never change. But you can. You really don't need their validation, you are an adult afterall.

I have the same situation, only my father passed several years ago. Now it is just my brother and mother. Both are disrespectful and hateful to me. Mom spreads lies and dismisses everything I say or do. My brother is the golden one.

My problem was I needed and wanted their validation. Something I never had. When I realized why I was so hurt and emotional because of their rejection, I realized I had never had any of my emotional need met, ever.

The definition of a narcissistic family is when the parent expect the children to meet their emotional needs. That was my family and my mother still expects us to make her happy. When you recognize yourself in the senarios of this book, it is liberating. Then the hard part starts of making the real changes. Good luck to you. I hope this helps.



Also, look up the term gaslighting. My mother is a pro at gaslighting. I used to think I had a bad memory until I realized what she was doing. I do believe your parents are good at this tactic also.

so are mine I just try to make the best of a bad situation It'll all be over eventually I just tolerate a lot of yelling and verbal abuse Over the years I've developed a thick skin and a sense of humor about it all As they say in latin, illegitimae non comburundum (meaning don't let the bastards get you down) have a great day! :-) Wayne
Two words, beautifulsc: block, detach. These patterns are so long-standing that they are not going to change them at this age - after all, it worked for them for so long, they got what they wanted, so why would they now? Your situation is identical to mine. Just me, mother, and "golden boy" brother who revels in his position of doing nothing to help either my mother or I. He never calls her, takes her over to his house once a year.....she calls him at least twice a week, telling him all my business, but will not share word one about him (this is called triangulation: the parent is at the top of the triangle and keeps the two children separate, that way she can control what each of them know about the other and enjoys the control this gives her.
Don't worry about what she is telling your other relatives. YOU know the truth about what she is doing. Don't share anything about yourself with her that you wouldn't want repeated, you know she is going to do that. Anything you say can and will be used against you like ammunition to put you in a bad light.
After all, the narcissist uses gossip and untruths to make themselves look better or worse, depending on the flow of their narcissistic supply.
I am very sorry you are in this position that I am all too familiar with. I have been bullied since my parents since I was born. My father died in his early sixties by his own hand which I'm sure he felt was his only escape from my mother. She continues her manipulation now that she is in her late eighties and living with us.
At first I used to "bite the bait" but now I turn a deaf ear and continue on with what I want to do, whether she likes it or not. These people will have you jumping through hoops to get what they want all the time. Just make sure you have an agenda of your own, and stick with it. Too bad if they don't like it!
Sooner or later you have to realize that it won't be over until they are gone and I know the hard work you have to do, because I am doing it too (especially the medical B.S.) but you are your own person and you are not going to get what you have always needed from them, they just aren't capable of giving it, so find other areas of your life where there is some enjoyment, and joy. Make a schedule that includes some time for yourself to do the things that YOU want to do.
If they rail against that and are constantly wanting things done for THEM, tell them you will fit it into your schedule!! Why should THEY come first? They never put YOU first did they?
Good luck and God bless. You are doing the best you can, and remember, it isn't you, it's THEM!!
Madge1- SPOT ON!
Another thing is you can forward back to them your emails that were forwarded to you till the cows come home. Where are your other four siblings????!!!!! Why is it just you helping, and where is all the help from the Great neighbors? My neighbors think I am a demon seed, maybe I am come to think of it, anyhow, they do not understand my mother's disease, she has none to them. I say now to myself that I owe them NO explanation, I have tried to explain and educate them once and that fell on deaf ears, it was more of if you did this or that more or try this, please. Now that I think about these neighbors, they have not once been here to help me, they do not pay any of my bills, give me no support, I owe them NOTHING, they stand outside of church and gossip gossip gossip, now that is brotherly love for you.
I would agree with most of the advice here...it is obvious you love your parents, but they are unable to love you in the way that you need to be loved (the way that EVERY child deserves to be loved). Having recently gone through something similar to this, I agree that you need to block their emails and distance yourself. In your heart, you know that you will always be there for them IF and WHEN they truly need you. Right now, they are trying to manipulate you.

My husband and I broke all contact with his mother several years ago and had a wonderful year of peace. When she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, broke a hip, and entered Hospice care, we were by her side until the end. That year of peace gave us the perspective to realize that she loved to the best of her ability...which sure wasn't what my husband deserved or needed, but we could not change her behavior. The only thing you can control is how you react and interact with them. Take control....and please don't worry about the aunts, uncles, neighbors....they don't matter. In the end, they will realize that you love your parents.

Many hugs to you.
seven13, thank you so much for describing "triangulation". That's exactly what my mom did to my sister and me. I never realized why she did it until I saw your response. Now I understand. Mom used to do that to the entire family as a matter of fact. She NEVER invited all of us over to her house at the same time. We never had family gatherings at her house, even when she was still able to cook. Now I get it. I also wonder if at family events at my daughter's house she was uncomfortable because she temporarily lost that control that meant so much to her. I see her in a different light.
madge, I will get the book you recommended. Even though my mom passed away, I have a need to try to understand what drove her to make my life a living hell. It scares me that I could have perpetuated her actions on my own children if I had not had the inner strength to rise above Most of it. I was nurtured by my father but not by my mother thank goodness.
Turn this into a major, major growth front: how not to let yourself be bullied when the bullies are your parents, people you don't (didn't) want to walk away from a and whom you want (wanted) validation from. It's very hard, but it can be the most important growth move you ever make.
One thing that helped in my family was to not let my parents' divisiveness work by simply including everyone in the family on every communication. You might prefer this to bouncing emails back, and it might be better: you are exposing a force that is destructive to all. Some narcissists know enough to behave better in public; they're sneaky with manipulation and if they can't get away with that they calm down. There may also be a flareup if they find out -- how dare you etc etc? Your response is, it's important for everyone to be in the loop. Don't think in terms of battling for people's positive opinions, because that is a total swamp and you will get sucked in. Just think in terms of letting people know what's going on. Having all your siblings in the loop is particularly important as your parents age. Also be letting people know what you are doing. What you are building here is a more collaborative future, which you are going to need unless you choose to divorce your entire family. On this forum people are saying, block and detach, and I agree; that's the emotional growth piece. For practical reasons I am ADDING that letting people KNOW "the facts, just the facts" in a totally clean way is one key to doing good stuff going forward.

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