My mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia today after spending a week in a psych ward. Docs say she can’t live alone. My bro in law wants her to live with us until we find permanent care, but he doesn’t want to rush his decision. He’s hoping to figure it out by July. I’m not sure I can last a month. She has never been nice to me, and although my husband and I have a solid relationship, every fight we’ve ever had involves her. We’ve even had to change family vacations because I can not tolerate a week with her because of how she treats me and my kids. All she does is sob now and I am concerned about how that will affect my young children, among other reasons. My husband wants to just enjoy the weekend as a family before picking her up on Monday. He doesn’t want to talk about what our daily routine would be like yet, maybe because he doesn’t know. But I need to know. I feel we should prepare the kids. He doesn’t even want her to know it’s my sons birthday, afraid she’ll feel bad about forgetting, but I feel that downplaying it is unfair to him. I am working from home due to Covid, yet my husband is going in to work. I will be home doing all the care. Finishing homeschooling, taking care of my kids, and my own work from home has been challenging enough. I feel that to be supportive I have to go along with this plan, but I don’t know that I can. I was given so much responsibility for something I’m not prepared for, and nobody asked for my input before signing me up. I fear what will happen to our marriage. I fear what it will do to my children’s image of her, and their mental health seeing her as she is. If I need a break, I won’t even be able to go stay with other family members because of quarantine. Am I out of line? Please help with any advice you may have.

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Because you had better prepare yourself now.

I love you. I support and respect you. But that respect will decrease over time if you allow other people to have a seat at the table of our marriage and home because you don’t want to make them angry.

THESE are the things you should consider over the weekend. I have given this a great deal of thought. I will not be changing my mind. I will not be a caregiver/housekeeper for anyone. I will not be part of a breach in our marriage and family life. I am protecting our home and will continue to do so.

I am a soft-hearted person, but I can also have a lion heart when it comes to protecting my family. The emotional manipulation your brother has employed in the past will no longer work for me. I will fight for you and our kids, even if you can’t right now. That is how much I love you.

If you are with me in that, we will come up with a response to BIL and MIL that is helpful to MILs needs, without rocking our whole world.”

The three hardest things when dealing with emotionally manipulative people are A) being firm in your decision without getting emotional B) staying off of the defensive... you do not need to justify your decision to anyone C) not letting them suck you back into emotion... they will push your buttons - guilt, cultural expectations, etc. - and they know you well enough to know which buttons are most effective.

You have to step out of their game. If you stay in, they will win... they are VERY good at the game. You have to move off their board. For some people, it takes years of therapy. You have about 10 minutes to get these skills. I wish you the best.
Helpful Answer (35)
notgoodenough May 2020
This is, hands down, some of the best written, best advice I've ever seen...I think I need to print this out and hold onto it.
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Say no.

If you can’t pull the strength to say it for yourself, do it for your kids. Do it for your marriage. Heck, do it for your MIL.


No. Calmly, without any emotion. Over and over again. Pull money from your accounts... enough to cover some hotel/housing, etc. for the next month so you can get you and your kids out of there if you are not heard.

Believe me, it is hard enough to live with olders who need caregiving if you have a long history of good feelings. It would be a nightmare with someone you don’t get along with.

Homeschooling while working is already a heavy workload. There is NO WAY adding adversarial caregiving to the mix is a smart idea.

The only way it becomes a viable option is by manipulating someone else’s emotions. The reality will not bear that out when probed. From now on, you deal only with the facts. Do not cry, do not argue, do not get sucked into the emotional side of this.

No offense intended here, but you need to straighten your back and decide - fully and firmly - that this is not an option. And that you will be strong in the face of the displeasure of others. And that you are like a mirror. All you can do is reflect their selfishness and bad arguments back on them.

BIL needs time to “decide” (whatever that means)? Then, BIL houses her or arranges for temporary nursing care elsewhere. If he gets to “decide”, then you have zero responsibility. I am guessing you don’t go to his home and cook or clean for him, so why in the world would you (or your husband) allow his desires dictate what happens in your home?

It doesn’t make sense. But you need to clearly see that for what it is, so you can be strong.

As for your husband. This is one of those things where you acknowledge his responsibility to his mother. “We must look at this from all sides that are within our circle of influence. MIL, our marriage, our kids. Of course, we want what is best for MIL. That means she gets proper care. You and I also must consider our marriage. You are aware that the relationship here is not ideal. MIL is not kind to me. Of course, that is on her, not you. It will not get better in our home. Our home and lifestyle do not have the infrastructure to support two working adults who are also homeschooling/raising kids and have other responsibilities. Those are just the facts, dear. I would think that a healthy family life would be our shared priority. Your mother is, of course, a person we care about. We care about BIL as well. But, they are not a part of our decision-making processes.

A decision such as this requires unanimity. If both parties don’t want a roommate, the roommate is not invited. I will support you in saying no. I will respect you greatly for standing up for your family. There are ways to say no that will minimize the displeasure of BIL and MIL. However, this is our home that other people are attempting to control.

I hope you can see that your brother is also trying to use us to take MIL off of his shoulders. If you are ok with that, so be it. But I will not be party to this. It may be that I take the kids to a hotel for the time it takes BIL to “make his decision”. That way you and he will be able to take care of your mother the way you want to. If it is that important to you, I support you in wanting to care for her. But, make no mistake. Even if I remain in this house, and you decide to steamroll my wishes, I will have NO part in her care. You can make food for your mom, shop for your mom, clean up after your mom, come when she calls, take her for walks, give her baths, listen to her complaints. And you will also still need to be present for our family when we need you. How do you think you might handle that? Do you honestly think BIL will be helpful to you? Do you honestly think that once she is here that he will be ANY help getting her to proper care? (Cont)
Helpful Answer (26)
elaine1962 May 2020
499hopefloats exactly!!! Amen!!!! She needs to leave the house with the kids if he can’t stand up to her bil and lets mil move in their house. If she leaves with the kids, hubby will be begging her to come home and he will find a facility for mil.
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"My bro in law wants her to live with us until we find permanent care, but he doesn’t want to rush his decision. He’s hoping to figure it out by July"

Forget about July. It will NEVER hapen. If brother in law doesn't want to rush his decision, that means once he dumps his mom at your house, he will not even try to make other arrangements for her. Why should he? His life isn't in any way affected. He will use the COVID19 as a reason to not move her anywhere else. If his mom can stay at your home for 1-2 months, then why not 3-4 months, then why not 5-6 months, then why move at all, it's working fine for HIM.

One more thing, If you think it's hard to say no to her moving in now, it will be 10 times harder to move her out later. Imagine the guilt your husband will have thinking he has to kick his own mother out of his own home.

DO NOT let her move in, even temporarily, because once she's in, she'll very very likely never move out. I have read many times on this forum about MIL/FIL moves in and takes over the house and treats their child's spouse (usually the wife) as their personal assistant. At that point, you'll think it's easier for YOU to move out.

DON'T agree to let her in. PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN. This is the proverbial field to die on.

If your husband still insists on moving his mom in, tell him you will pack up the kids and go on a vacation for a month. Let him take care of his own mom. If he balks that he has to work, tell him your work at home is also work, you can't take on more responsibility, especially taking care of someone you detest.
Helpful Answer (23)

I agree with the other posters. I think it takes a lot of gall for your BIL to "suggest" his mother move in with you and you assume her care. Why isn't HE stepping up and inviting her in? Could it be because he's married and his wife has absolutely refused? And I also believe once she's in your house, she will never leave. And then your house will be transformed into HER house.
You are not out of line. I think it was very disrespectful of your husband to even discuss this with his brother before he spoke to you, especially given the dynamic between you and his mom!
You have gotten a lot of good advice on how to approach your husband with this. Whether you use that advice, or come up with an approach on your own, you need to have that discussion right away, before your MIL is on the verge of discharge and she ends up with you because "there's no other place she could go".
Good luck!
Helpful Answer (21)

The fact that she can't live alone does NOT mean that she has to live with YOU.

Have your husband and his brother discussed placement with the psych facility social worker and discharge team?
Helpful Answer (20)

How KIND of BIL to suggest YOU take this burden on.

Your comment that your only disagreements with DH have had to do with his mom--that's telling.

My DH also thinks it's a great plan to just move his mother in here and I can care for her.

Uh, I told him, in no uncertain terms, he brings her here and I will leave him. HE can take care of her. She hates me (has verbalized this repeatedly for so many years)--why would he even suggest it?

All 5 of my kids have said I could live with them (dad can't, but I can--that's kind of been hard for him to hear)---and my plan is to live independently until I can't anymore and then move to a care facility or have FT caregivers live in our basement apartment.

The lack of planning is how we got to this point where MIL is half-demented and mean and wants to live alone, but requires a LOT of propping up.

DO NOT LET MIL MOVE IN. It will be a nightmare from day one.

Just a thought: IS BIL suggesting this awesome move b/c he wants to see all her money safe for inheritance? My BIL was like that with FIL. Just a thought, and maybe not off course.

Be tough and loving. You aren't completely stepping away from MIL's care, just her care in YOUR HOME.
Helpful Answer (20)

You are NOT out of line. Tell everyone no. The facility will have to find a place to safely discharge he to. I wouldn't even waste time with hubs and family. I would call the facility where she is to talk to discharge. Tell them that care plan is you, and you are not able to provide the necessary care. And that this is an unsAfe discharge.
Helpful Answer (19)
Beatty May 2020
Yes this. Bypass Hubs & BIL as they are operating from emotions. Practical solution required here instead.
Lovingly refuse. You are not in any way out of line.

You have major responsibilities now, and the time between now and July IS HUGE.

Your BIL has absolutely no right to request that you assume responsibility for a difficult adult. I am hard pressed to recall anything more unfair than his automatic expectation that you be the person to do this. Why has HE not stepped up? I venture to guess if he were to be directly responsible for a few days, he’d find that his decision making would quickly be moving much faster than in his present plan.

Also you need to realize that once BIL sees “how well Mom is doing with you”, he’ll begin to see that “it will be wonderful for her to stay with you for just a little longer”, and her placement with you will start moving towards permanent.

I hope for your sake that you and your husband can be firm, unemotional, and totally resolute. Not safe in the pandemic, not fair to Mom to be in a temporary situation, not reasonable in a household with young children, themselves in a disrupted schedule........add more of your own, but in fairness and good conscience, SAY “NO”.
Helpful Answer (19)

I agree that bil has absolutely no right to assign this task to you and dh has every responsibility to consult you and with you make the best decision for you and the children. Bil has the responsibility to find a temp placement for his mother.

You are not out of line. Give your input - asked for or not - and make it clear that you are not doing this. Please work on a back up plan for yourself and the kids. I know that the covid situation makes this much more difficult.

I agree about being firm and unemotional. Don't fall for the FOG - (fear, obligation and guilt). Let us know how things work out. (((((Hugs))))) and prayers.
Helpful Answer (19)

Ohe thing I learned from a kind and compassionate discharge planner many years ago..." she's in a bed".


"Bed to bed transfers are priority. Hospital to rehab, rehab to SNF...If you discharge a patient from a bed to home, you go to the end of the waiting list".

It sounds as though BIL is being sold a bill of goods by discharge. Please help him and your DH to say "no, we cannot possibly take her home. No, sorry. NO we really can't do that"
Helpful Answer (18)
FloridaDD May 2020
Agree with Barb.  I would be pro-active and call the hospital and say you are not willing to care for her, and there is no other adult at home.
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