How can I stay strong for them and let negative comments roll off my back yet be of the most help to them at this time?

Asked by

After about a year of getting ready for this move, Mom and Dad move on Wednesday to a two bedroom apt. out of their home of almost 50 years. I am going over for a few days this week and will be there the day before, day of and day after their move to their new place. It is a very emotional time and will bring out the tensions, etc. Mom already can be very demanding and negative of Dad and me and this may make it even worse. How can I stay strong for them and let negative comments roll off my back yet be of the most help to them at this time? I am an only child and have no siblings to bounce opinions off of regarding Mom and Dad. It is emotional for me too, but I need to be strong. Any tips, comments? Thanks in advance

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
I can certainly feel your pain as I am an only child too and I live 800 miles from "Mama". I have been reading a book called "Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent : A Guide for Stressed-Out Children" and it has helped me tremendously in realizing that our parents either can't or won't change at this point and it not worth all the upset and effort on your part to try and argue back or convince them that what you are doing is correct and in their best interest. I have completely quit fighting with my mother and when she says mean things I just say "I am sorry you feel that way" and leave it at that. I am not taking blame and I am not arguing the facts. I just continue to do what I think it right and move on. Believe me it has been very liberating even though in the beginning I wanted to make my Mama see that I was right, I have now given up on that. As long as you know in your heart that you are doing what you think is best for her out of love for her then you are golden!
I will be praying for you.
I also have a very negative, demanding mother, who feels entitled to be taken care of, down to the smallest detail. I like what Bayoubaby said, and I've read that book -- and a lot of others! I have siblings, and for the most part, it makes things more complicated rather than easier. Why? Because we cannot work together to care for Mom! Like Bayoubaby, I t hink you need to just "mirror" her feelings and let it go. I am just learning how to do that, and it's very hard. It's also hard to watch your parents age, I think, so emotions are always right under the surface. I've become, with therapy, much more aware of taking the victim role. Stay strong, and hand in there!
First of all, I don't think you should be shocked when they DO go a little crazy when having to move out of their home. I think you should just expect there to be fallout, and get yourself prepared. Maybe by preparing yourself for the inevitable, it'll help when it DOES happen. It's like when they say you see a wild raccoon acting all friendly and letting you pet him, THEN you know there's something wrong. Because a wild raccoon is SUPPOSED to try to bite a person's face off. :)
If this was a decision they made on their own, perhaps they have played out the majority of the emotions envolved during the year leading up to this week. I can think of lots of positives in moving to a smaller place at their age...heck at my age it even sounds good. Maybe just focus on the positive aspects they will enjoy in their new home. Know that any negative comments are not directed at you. Sometimes striking out is the only way for some folks to express themselves, including my Mother! Wishing you all the best!
I would tell them when they are being nasty and rude. I'm done with being passive and taking in peoples' negativity. I simply state, "that is rude" or "that is unreasonable", "that was thoughtless" or "that is too careless". You don't have to go into a speech, but 3-4 little words can help you release your tension, help you acknowledge the reality of what you heard and sets a small boundary that lets them know you are not agreeing consenting to all their bad behavior. They may be stunned into silence for a few moments -- and that is mission accomplished. You won't change them, but you can change your reactions and how you feel. You can practice these phrases before you go, so you will feel like you have an arsenal and some tools to cope.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape.
This is a huge move and traumatic emotionally for all of you. I think the best advice is to try as best you can to ignore comments and only respond with the positive aspects of the move and saying "I'm just trying to help". Depending on the nature of the elder parent (and you know them best), I found; the less said the better. Often if we respond with how we feel to a parent who is combative, it only ignites resentment and anger. That is what I found, anyway. Just know in your heart that you are doing the best you can and they are so blessed to have you. And on some level, they realize this as well even if they don't show it. Thinking of you and sending hugs across the miles.
My mother doesn't say negative or mean comments to me. But she does have dementia and asks the same questions over and over and repeats the same stories over and over. I used to try to answer her questions and comments and correct her but it only drove me into great irritation and anger because she really doesn't want an answer. And even when I did give her an answer, she wouldn't understand it and more unanswerable questions would pop up and it would further agitate me and agitate me. I've learned not to answer any specific dumb question or a question that requires no answer or an answer that she wouldn't understand anyway. I just appease her now and it works wonders. Just by saying, "OK" or "I'll look into it later, "You're right" does wonders to stop the questions and negative comments. There is no answer she can give, negative or not when you answer in that fashion. I hope this helps you because it has helped me tremendously and the load of agitation has subsided greatly.
I'm dealing with my 81 yr. old Dad, who has always been one way, doesn't care what his says or does or who it affects. This morning I have a roof repair man coming to look at our roof so my Dad didn't get to go and have breakfast at Denny's. After hearing 10 times how I take all the joy out of his life because he can't go have breakfast, which is doable if it didn't take him 2 hours to eat. So I made him breakfast here, mind you it is same thing he gets a Denny's. After 3 bites of eggs and two bites of sausage and half a shaker of salt he tells me he's full. All the while I'm still taking all the joy out of his life. So now he'll pout half the day.I finally told him it just sucks to be you. Then he goes into I just can't do anything right. This is how most of my days go. I try to let roll right off my back and remember to respect my Dad, but he really makes it difficult. Trying to change this is pointless because that's just how he is. I try to make his days enjoyable and see to it that he gets to do what he wants, regardless of what anyone else may have to do. All you can do is your very best and let the rest go. I try to remember "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference. I live for today because the only thing about yesterday is to learn from it because you can't change it and not worry about tomorrow because it not here yet. I have 3 sisters but their lives are more important than worrying about Daddy because I'm here. My best to you iowaly, your not alone in this. This site has been a big help to me knowing there's more of me out there dealing the best we can. :)
During this move I would put up with whatever comes along but after this I would learn to set boundaries-if I understand right you do not live too far from they they are moving to-if that is the case I would bite my tongue for that period of time but after they get settled I would plan not to let them continue to make me feel bad and if she is verbably abusing you you will have to let her know that you will not stick around for more abuse and leave the house or f on the phone say goodby as fast as you can and detatch yourself -you do not deserve to be treated badly since they are depending on your help and during this move if things get out of hand and you can leave early and reread what others have written some may be doable for you to adopt.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support