How do you deal with an aging parent's constant negativity?

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It's funny, but I never realized until my Mother moved in with us just how negative and judgmental she is. Looking back over the years, it has always been this way - I just didn't realize how it has affected me throughout my entire life. Her compliments are always followed by a "but" (your dress is pretty, BUT why don't you do something with your hair?"... "That dinner was good, BUT next time try it with ____", and my biggest pet peeve of all is her pointing out to any and everyone their physical flaws. As a child, I was always reminded that I had a "bubble butt" or that I was "chubby" - the food we were fed as children was the cause, but there was no responsibility taken there. We can't go anywhere in public without her pointing out how "fat" someone is, how "horrible" that person's choice of clothing is, etc. etc. - and because she is hard of hearing, these comments aren't exactly whispers...other people hear her.. IT'S SO EMBARRASSING!!!

Now that my mother is living in my home, the constant negative comments are really taking their toll where my grandchildren are concerned, and I refuse to allow her to treat them the way myself and my siblings were treated. It was never to the level of what I would consider to be abusive, but we all had an extremely low self esteem as a result. The most I've said to her about it is "Geez mom - would it kill you to say something nice once in awhile?" Of course she thinks she's doing the person a "favor" by drawing this stuff to their attention. Oy.

I was just curious if anyone else has dealt with the above, and what they do to cope with it??

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TrueFaith, that is so sad and it sounds like it is dangerous for your family. I wish you had money so you could get away from your mother. Saying she's Christian and doing the rosary doesn't mean a thing if it isn't felt inside. Many people pray to the walls and worship the ceiling.
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Where do I begin...my mom is born and raised Catholic all her life and never missed church. Prays the rosary like 2x a day...but then can't figure out why she's such an angry mother and always negative...she's closed minded and believes she's perfect and what she does, being verbally abusive and physically abusive is normal to her coz I guess in her eyes I'm such a bad daughter when I'm literally the nicest person or daughter a mother can ever asked for. I am the most positive person, not perfect, but I know I have a heart of gold when it comes to people and never judge anyone,,, I feel like I'm her enemy, when a mother is suppose to care and nurture their kids forever,,,my mom is very temperamental and traumatize me and my sister driving her coz she would start a fight in the car while you drive,,so now we don't ask her to take her out anywhere,,,today I was making spaghetti, and I have a headache, she kept attacking me with hurtful words and calling me names...so I couldn't help to call her "ugly" and "pangit" that's ugly in my language...i laughed and my dad laughed, but of course she beats up my dad for laughing and then came attacked me with a backscratcher, and breaking it, so I pulled out a knife to give to her and knocked it off my hand...so I picked it up and handed to her again and took it and showed me how closes she was to actually stab me,,,my dad told her I have grandchildren that are 2 1/2 and 1 and another on the way that I'm the one providing for these babies and told my mom she's out of her mind and crazy...so I walked out and cried in my room and took a drive to get some fresh air...so sad that when she's 80 and getting older...im the only one who will be there for my parents .. my mom is so toxic to me, my daughters and my grandchildren, I wished to move out when i can afford to...so I PRAY lot, not the perfect Catholic like my mom, but I know God understands why I'm not a perfect churchgoer like my mom coz I'm scared to be like her...so I just keep faith, believe, and stay strong and positive for my daughters and grandchildren...God Bless us who are in pain,,, We stay humble and pure...keep a healthy mind, heart, body and soul...We have Angels!
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Beckncall, just a reminder that your "texting" style responses are difficult to read for many people, including myself. I think what you say is probably important, but when something is difficult to read, I tend to skip to the next response. And I don't think I'm alone. Take the few extra seconds. thanks so much.
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My father is EXACTLY the same. He is living with my husband, daughter and me since he became ill and unable to live on his own. (My mom passed away years ago.) He is unfailing polite to strangers, but treats me like a slave. Requests are never posed kindly. He barks, "Did you do this? Why hasn't this been done yet?" Or worse, "You didn't do this right." He requested a chicken dinner from our grocery store deli "like he used to get from the store near home." When I brought it, he yelled at me that he really wanted just a couple of pieces of chicken, "and what are you going to do with the rest? You better have room in that freezer of yours." As with the other posts, it's all making sense why I had such low self-esteem for years. Nothing I do is ever right. One time, my dad said I should have followed a certain set of steps when dealing with starting the car on a cold morning. When I said I did that, he said his new car was the exception, and I really should NOT have done that. Even my husband commented that it was a trick question, LOL! This experience has made me more mindful, though, of how I treat my daughter. I am trying to correct her behaviors in more positive ways so she learns from her mistakes without feeling utterly worthless. I don't expect my dad to get on bended knee to ask for something. I just expect to be treated with human decency. I don't think he would treat paid help this rudely.
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My mother has recently gotten into a thing of telling me I need to get out more. I work at home. She wants me to get out and find a husband to take care of me. I've been married three times, so I'm apparently not so good at picking. She has been pushing at me so often that it is making me uncomfortable to be here. How does one work when being told they need to get out? I get out a good bit, and work from when I wake up into the night. I know it is just her way of trying to make herself superior, but it is making it hard for me to concentrate on my work. When I say I'm working, she'll say it's not a real job. Leave it to my mother to try to build up her children's sense of self and accomplishment. Of course, she is just saying these things over and over to help me. (Roll eyes)

I would love to get out more. In fact, I would love to get out to another city. :)
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Wow! Well I'm glad I'm not the only one that goes through the same thing. Yes, thanks to Dr. Phil and Oprah, the "borders" of the definitions of abuse have definitely expanded over the years. I suppose if a parent gives off enough negativity to the point that it damages a child's self esteem then it would be considered emotional abuse in this day and age...I just never even looked at it that way before, to be honest. My mother has never been a positive person, but it just wasn't as obvious as it is now...or maybe my perception/tolerance of it is what has shifted? I don't know. What I do know is that her attitude has gotten worse as her own health declines, so I suppose maybe that is her way of "dealing with it" to make herself feel a little better? Hopefully as long as I am aware of it, and put her in her place where my grandkids are concerned, I can minimize the impact on the next generations.

Speaking of this subject though...my mother was transferred back to the hospital from the SNF last week - she has a colon infection & is weak. When I went to visit her yesterday, The Price is Right was on. She said "Every single person they have called up there to play today is overweight - and I mean HUGE!" I looked at the TV for a minute and I said "umm - Mom - it's a pregnancy special...they're expecting a baby, for goodness sake!" (((shaking my head)))
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Purplesushi, when I first started reading and making comments on this site I was a very frustrated person with a low self esteem. I had many moments when I was brought to tears by stories that were so similar to mine. I read the sites and books recommended and my outlook completely changed. I realized what negative comments and emotional abuse can do to a person. Even though I knew my Dad was verbally abusive, I never realized how bad my Mom was. It all made sense. Over the past five years I have come to realize what abuse is and the many sneaky ways people use it.

You will never change your mother, but arm yourself against the abuse. I hope you can still have a relationship with your Mom. I do not have one now, it was my only option. I finally stood up for myself and narcissistic people will not tolerate that......ever. Good luck
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(((((judy)))) - that was pretty bad. I don't know how you put up with it.
Madge, I agree with you on 2 counts - I think purplesushi's mother is abusive - it is called emotional abuse. Constant negativity and pointing out people's flaws (real or perceived) is abusive, and I agree, judy has nothing to apologise for. I am glad you got some of that out, judy
purplesushi - that it is abusive is evidenced by your lowered self esteem. You may find that you cannot keep your mum in your home because of too much negative effect on you and your family. Your kids/grandkids don't need it, any more than you did or do right now. It is draining. My mother has borderline personality disorder and is narcissistic, and I would never take her into my home. You may want to look up constant negativity, narcissism and personality disorders on the internet. Narcissists do what they can to get attention, so you correcting your mum is probably filling that need for her. It won't make her change. She wants a reaction - positive or negative. If you google "daughtersofnarcissisticmothers" you will find a site of that name, and may find some useful information. Mine is the champion of backhanded compliments, as you described above, and also sees things in black or white, no shades of grey. She sees physical flaws, and other flaws in people too, and doesn't hesitate to point them out, but never sees them in herself. If I were you I would run for the hills - metaphorically speaking - meaning put as much emotional distance between you and her as you can. How long do you think you will be able to care for her in your home, and survive as a healthy person and have a healthy family atmosphere? People with her problems are toxic to spend much time with. Have you considered other arrangements for her care? My solution has been to not take my mother into my home. No one is obliged to, and especially an abusive parent The aim is to "be humane but prevent further harm to yourself." (From psychologist Pauline Boss) I am 75 and she is 100, so it would be too much for me in many ways, but I would never had even when I was younger because of the emotional abuse. Mother is well looked after in an ALF, (though she complains all the time) and I am the phone contact for the hospital, her doctor etc. At one point, Mother liked to go "shopping" with me or my sister, implying that she wanted to buy us something, then direct us to try on this or that, and make negative comments. That didn't last too long. After one more negative comment about how I dressed myself, I asked her if she thought I didn't dress well. (I have compliments from others as to how I dress). Her answer was that she was just trying to be helpful, and that my sister appreciated her comments. My answer was that I didn't find it helpful, and neither did my sister. It didn't happen again, and we went on no more "shopping" trips. I find being honest is the best thing I can do for myself -and maybe for her, though I am not trying to change her. When she says that so and so is fat, I answer that I don't care to make comments on her appearance, and that she is a very nice person - or whatever.
Wishing you well. Let us know how it is going, You are certainly not alone! ((((((hugs))))
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JudymW, no need to appologize. I hope you feel better. That is what this site is for.:)
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omg.... I just saw how long my rant was. I'm so sorry! I just got carried away. So embarrassing.
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