Boundaries v Keeping the Peace.

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My father is in an ECF for rehab following surgery. I live across the country but have been calling daily. He has been unusually weak and we haven't spoken much. There are some relatives he speaks to daily on a normal basis. However, since his recovery isn't going quite as planned, he has asked me to call them daily and say everything is fine since he doesn't want them asking questions and saying the wrong thing." I said I was uncomfortable with this as these aren't relatives I ever speak to on the phone and it looks funny for me to be calling daily. He said if I don't do it I'll make it more difficult for him. He has always been secretive and I'd like to just tell the relatives no news is good news. That I'll call if something arises but not daily just to say he is fine. I agreed to do it this week so as not to stress him more, although it stresses me more. Thoughts?


I think you are on the right track with your own solution there. You might also tell them that he needs his rest and quiet time, keeping outside stimuli to a minimum, so that he can recover quicker, and be able to resume his daily social routine. Ideally, HE should tell them that, but hopefully you can get the point across to them.
Totally agree but he won't tell them, and he;ll be upset if I do. He called today and said he feels better and will try to call tomorrow. He wants daily contact via someone. Well he will call and then grouse about how they said the wrong thing. And on another topic, why do elderly need to give daily bowel reports? I don't really need to know...
They say the wrong thing, huh? I'm smiling. Does he like to have something to grouse about? Maybe a few relatives saying the wrong thing gives him something to focus on. Do you think he really wants them to stop calling, or is that just something to complain about?

It is great to be able to take bowel function for granted, but with age that becomes less reliable. At my husband's geriatrician's office recently we were going over the litany of bowel issues, and she was giving advice about what to do in various circustances. She shook her head and said, "No wonder old people talk so much about their bowel!" It can truly be central how a day goes. I remember listening to my father and thinking, as you do, "I don't really need to know." And now I am listening to my husband, and though I don't especially want to know, I need to, to help him manage his health. I just try to divert him when he starts talking about it to other non-medical people.

Long distance caregiving must be challenging. It sounds like you take it seriously and want to do it well. Dad is lucky to have you!
I think jeannegibbs got right to the issue in her first paragraph. I'm so amazed at the wisdom on this forum!
If I gave you the full background to this family relationship, you'd be amazed. Could be right he needs it to focus on, but I'd prefer to be left out of the craziness!
I like your clever use of right and left, imaamy, even if it was unintentional. :)

It sounds like an interesting story. I know my own response to the request would have been "that's not going to happen."

I wondered if the surgery may have had an effect on your Dad's thinking. I wondered if he is also concerned that he might not say something right, particularly if he is not feeling well and is on medication. Let us know how it all turns out, imaamy.
Yes for sure there are some pre-existing chronic conditions affecting thought and decision making. I feel I should do whatever I can from far away and a short phone call shouldn't be too much, but basically he is asking me to lie. I even feel bad that with the time difference I honestly forgot to call the relatives until it was too late. I'm gonna be in trouble.

I didn't even realize I used right and left!
This kind of stuff goes on all the time with my parents. I think it is related to the old dysfunctional 'triangulation' technique! Last year my siblings and I all put $$ together to pay for an 80th birthday cruise for my father. My mother immerses herself in gossiping about other family members, couched in 'just getting it off her chest' (ie, it is all about her so if she's stressed out re a situation that isn't really HER situation, she can vent and pretend it's because she emotionally 'cares' so much that it's causing her to (fill in the blanks ) - be so tired, so depressed, so worried, etc.). Shortly before the trip she tried this with me regarding one of my sisters and her kids, who had moved back in with my parents after a year in our city, during which my sister made no effort to adjust to the move and literally dragged her whole family down. She demanded and whined so much from my brother in law, who is totally cowed by her, that all his time off caused him to lose yet another job. We helped them tremendously during that year in many ways and when my mother just wanted to tell me about her being so tired, so stressed, so you name it and began talking about my sister, I had to stop the conversation and say that this wasn't a topic I could discuss with her. It really amounted to gossip and I didn't want to say anything not so nice about a person I was pretty frustrated with at the time. My mother became FURIOUS because NO ONE tells her how it is going to be - and I just did. A few days later I received a call from my dad who pulled emotional 'blackmail' saying that if I did not apologize (I did nothing but set a boundary) they would probably not be going on the trip. That meant that a)all the money we and my siblings had put into the trip, which was nonrefundable, would go up in smoke and b) everybody's good time, of course, would be ruined by ME. My feelings meant nothing in this and I was the one who put this whole nice thing together for my dad in the first place!
I stood my ground and said I hoped they would still go but that I had nothing to apologize for; that if I did I certainly would do so. I told him that I thought it would be very unfortunate if she were willing to ruin his birthday because of this but that I was going and they should go too and have a good time.
They did, but she punished me the entire time and I still get 'nasty grams' on a fairly regular basis bringing this up over and over and over. She has trashed me to my family and they all just want to make it stop, so they are also all over me to just say I'm sorry so we can go on down the road! I did send her a note about 7 months ago acknowledging that we were both stressed out at that time and I hoped we could move on, and that I was sorry for my part in anything becoming escalated. Not good enough. This NPD woman has ruled the roost forever (they have been married 60 years) and it isn't going to change now. But I am no Neville Chamberlain and I have had enough. Just because someone is older doesn't mean they cannot be nasty and manipulative and you have to at some point just be true to yourself, once you have truly examined yourself and your own motives. Peace at any price is not really peace.
"Peace at any price is not really peace". Amen to that.
What struck me when I first read your title "Boundaries vs keeping the Peace" was that boundaries should keep the peace - for you.
"You would prefer to be out of the craziness". Amen to that too. Reading between the lines, I susoect there has been a lot of craziness in your family, and you are wise to keep out of it.
This certainly is triangulation - you getting dragged in to deal with dad's problems with people he connects with regularly. Hmmm - looks like manipulation to me. My thought is that is it his business to deal with, and not yours. I do agree that if there is a drastic change in his health, calling relatives is your responsibility, but not just to keep things from being difficult for your dad. I see that as up some cans of worms.
"basically he is asking me to lie" Coming from a dysfynctional family myself, that is a big red flag, and I wouldn't be any part of it. If you do, it means you are compromising yourself, and that does not work - or not for long anyway.
Good luck, and let us know how it is going! It sounds like you have survived your family's craziness pretty well. Keep it up!
(((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))) Joan
Right on, Sister "EMJO"! Ha! I call this "the emotional fruit salad" in my family! If IMAAY's father is able to speak and is coherent there is not reason he can't speak for himself. I don't even get why someone else is supposed to get involved in this. But nutzo family dynamics although clearly nutzo are hard to understand in particular unless you are part of the family! This just rings of 'all off base' though to anyone who has 'been there'. I have personally not reacted - though believe me! I want to usually immediately when something newly nutzo happens! - but I find staying out of it usually causes things to simmer down. I am becoming the perverbial jello that cannot be nailed to a tree! Be jello and be happy! And you know, in every family, "there's always room for jello"!

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