What do you say to an argumentative parent that cannot be satisfied no matter what you say?

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Grannyberyl - I feel for you. I don't think there's much to say. I'm going through the same thing. My mother is constantly complaining and/or arguing about everything. Every time I try to get her to change a subject she ignores me and starts complaining or arguing with me. It's gotten so that if I change the subject and she starts arguing, hubby and I cut our visit short. I can't take the arguing and complaining all the time. I try to understand what she's going through even though she thinks I don't but I have to survive and keep my sanity. You have to step away for a little while and do something that you enjoy. Good luck. I hope things work out.
I do not even try to make my point I just ignor what she says as if it did not bother me I learn from caring for the husband when he died I had a talk with God saving I was sorry he now had to deal with it now. Whem I stay with her it is too give my sister a break and do not let her see how she makes me feel -I should have put her in her place when I was a kid and now she is 91 and I am afraid to try to justify myself I would not want her to have a heart attack and did because of me-I just do what needs to be done and leave it at that.she is missing out on my love and concern and she has a very sharp tongue I just take more xanax and give her space,

Remember when The Honeymooners' Ralph Kramden used to say to Alice "Ah, shut up!" Did it work? Of course not. She was always right.

Three suggestions:

DEFUSE HER -- Stay calm, don't spit angry words at her, and whatever you do don't cry (this will only encourage her behavior). Try ignoring her by looking away or starting another conversation with a totally different topic. Find something you can agree with or praise her, even if you don't mean it. Don't ever join her in bashing, blaming or complaining; especially when she's talking about someone else who might knock on your door and sucker punch you the moment you open. Gossip does spreads like wildfire, especially in small communities. Do not bad talk to her face or to anyone else because then you'll be sinking down to their level. You can also redirect by focusing on something positive in the situation or in the conversation. And do your best to stay calm at all times.

DON'T DEAL WITH HER THE WAY YOU DO WITH OTHER 'IMPOSSIBLE" PEOPLE -- In some ways, she needs to be treated like a child. Give up all hope of engaging her in any kind of reasonable conversation. It will never happen, at least with you. Remember the last 10-20 times you tried to have a civilized discussion about the status of your relationship with her? Chances are were blamed for everything. Girl, it's time you quit banging your head against a brick wall.

Since you've been forgiving and forgetting because of her mental status, she's on the power cake now. She's "regressing," which means you have to find a way to nip those nasty tantrums in the bud and take away the license to tear you and other people down so she can feel better about herself. Negative behaviors without consequences will repeat themselves and escalate.

Push comes to shove, do a Ralph Kramden. It just might work.

-- ED

Empathy. Letting them know you understand the pain, you recognize it. There is no solution except what they can do for themselves and only what you can do for your own self. Ignoring and changing subjects before giving the epithetic response may only force them to continue as they have no feedback.
My mom complains about being tired all the time. And she is. So I tell her I understand and the is not nice for her. Then I remark that she might as well accept it and move on, because it is just the way it is for her now.
And then she agrees. And yes, this will repeat itself.
Example "I understand you hate that walker, I guess I would too, big wheels and it's bulky. But, it sure does cut down on you falls, thank goodness".
Top Answer
Grannyberyl, when all these other ideas don't work, go to your 'happy place' in your head and ignore her. Maybe it's time to invest in an IPOD, load it up with music, plug in the ear buds and tune her out.

An iPOD would be perfect. Maybe I should get one. There's a lot of chatter and gossip around the office.

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