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Emotional abuse.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again: our children are NOT an investment for old age. My mother, instead of asking straight up for help, made a nasty habit of emotionally blackmailing me into doing her bidding. "You owe me," "I am your mother," "You have to do this," blah, blah, blah. When that didn't work, she played the victim. That didn't get her far either.

It really amazes me how adept at manipulation the elderly become as their bodies grow weaker. When they can't impose their will on anyone, the nasty attitudes complete with barbs, hissy fits, and flat out tantrums pop out when you least expect them.

Our children don't owe us anything. From the moment they were born we owed them, and that includes respect. They are not part of an implicit IRA. My sons and I support one another not because of some built in moral obligation but because we love each other unconditionally.

If there hasn't been enough love to go around from the moment we held them in our arms, then I can see why emotional blackmail comes into play. But there's really no excuse for it.
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Well said, Eddie! I do NOT expect my kids to do anything for me, now or in the future. IF I need them, I ask. If they can help, they do, if not, OK. They don't owe me anything but to be decent, loving people. And they all are.
I was RAISED on emotional blackmail and it was so unhealthy and is so draining now. My mother plays that "Well, I might as well kill myself then" whenever she's denied something. THAT line lost all fear for me 30 years ago. Now when she says it, I just reply "Don't leave a mess." Sounds cold, but 59 years of this? I'm done.
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Emotional blackmail is unfair - totally and we all agree, but how come there is so much of it around? Is our parents generation unique or has this been going on since Adam and Eve grew elderly?

When I calm down (because I can get so A N G R Y) - I make a list of what I am willing to do for my dad/stepmom, my mom, and my inlaws. They are not comfortable on line - I will research, make calls, help with forms and paperwork. I no longer do things they can source (and pay for) locally - snow removal and lawn care, house cleaning, grocery delivery, meal preparation, trips to doctor(s), trips to see people, etc. Hosting huge get togethers with relatives that all bicker with each other, being the unpaid Bed and Breakfast for them and any of their friends passing through town (yes - they used to give our address to their friends on the road and expect us to board them and entertain them - even if we have never met them. You should have heard the repercussions the first time we turned away an elderly couple that walked up with their suitcase - your MIL said we could stay)

Unfortunately my list vs their expectations have a wide gap - hence the "you'll regret this when we are dead", "you just want me dead", "you owe me" etc. My In-Laws are especially good at whining to the extended family so then I get the phone calls about how mean I am to them (not my husband, mind you, me!).

With therapy - I learned to make the list of what I was willing to do, cheerfully, and with love that I mentioned above. I also wrote down how much time per week I was willing to devote. We also role-played over and over how I would calmly handle the guilt trips, screaming, swearing, door slamming, shouting, phone calls, etc when they didn't get their way. Best $$ ever spent. It amazed me how much time and energy my elders were willing to invest in trying to get their way - and they still do five years later. It never ends.

My husband, I and my 7 year old son are happy. We do some things for our elders because we DO LOVE them. We are able to calmly disengage when the @#$# flies. And we are happier than the days when we were angry and upset but jumped whenever the phone rang and went to help. I never thought we would be here.

There is hope but it isn't easy. You have to understand that if you set boundaries you will upset the @#$@#$ out of your parents and they will pull out all stops to get their way. Would you treat a loved one that way? NO!!!! Why should they?
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Midkid - my mom also use to use the "I might as well kill myself" line. I say "use to" as it never did get the desired reaction out of me. Not trying to make light of suecide here - I just knew in her case she'd never go through with it. Sometimes I think the reason every retirement community I've ever had any ecperience with has a strict "no guns" rule is to keep adult children from offing their emotionally abusive parents! Regardless - I'm one of those annoying people who can find a silver lining in any situation - lately I've been thinking that one of the blessings in having a seriously disabled child is that I'll never be able to put him through what my mom tries - both successfully and unsuccessfully - as old age begins to kick my fat butt around the block.
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I have no idea if this is a generational thing---it probably HAS been going on since the dawn of time, but so many things were just never spoken of. Most of my friends, whose parents are around the same age as Mother, have wonderful, mutually happy, healthy relationships. So, while I know it's not the norm to have a parent like mine (I can't say enough good about my daddy, so maybe that's one reason Mother is such a stinker sometimes...) I also know from other people and from this forum that the manipulative, narcissistic parent is not unusual. My grandmothers/grandfathers were darlings to the day they died. Like I said, I don't KNOW why mother is the way she is. Kind of don't care, either.
Oddly, my hubby has a lot the same kind of mother. Cold, was abusive to him, and now, he sees her maybe twice a year out of guilt, pure and simple. She's not a "problem" at all--she's just not a part of our lives.
Kimber--I am going to take a page out of your book. Mother isn't destitute and she can pay for whatever she "wants"...and she certainly does not want me at her place, no matter how well intentioned my efforts at cleaning or helping are. She asked me to butt out of her life and so I am honoring that. I don't have to worry about phone calls, as Mother has not bothered to learn my phone number (I've had the same one for 37 years).
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You simply tell them to write you out of the Will. That always gets their attention, because they think that's all you are after. Yup, tell them "I don't need your money, I have a million dollars." You had to see my MIL's face when I said that.
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Mid, Rain, Kim,

I thought my post was too gritty. Glad to know I'm not alone. Thanks for your support.
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Eddie--I think the people who were raised by loving, caring parents would find our comments completely horrible--but they are probably out doing fun stuff and not seeking emotional support online!
I don't find your comments gritty--I find them honest and forthright. You have a right to feel what you feel. Period. Again--I do NOT understand why my mother is the way she is. To a certain extent, yes, we put up with stuff she does. But past that "point"--I walk away. All the other sibs have. They are only on board now because I pitched a fit and made them *look* at her. We'll see how the next few months go.
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As a boy, Having been blackmailed and pushed back and therefore fought with my mother on and off all my life i am still at a partial loss as to how to handle her lack of gratitude and general lack of joy. I hate being around it and i hate my kids being around it. She has always kept score so she can say "after all i have done for you" and so forth. Its scary re my boys as of course she has been generous to them and i pray she does not drag that one out on them in private. I find most employers and mums do this because they seek to control their environment and the people in it esp when they loose control gradually of their bodily functions and ability to do things as they age and their world becomes very small. These days it just makes me sad that my mum will not die at peace given she has had a hard life, been controlled by men since she was a kid and by a mans world when seeking divorce and no child maintenance paid and back and forth to court just to live. My father was also a control freek and punished her for divorce. It is just so sad that Victorian era or just after find it so hard to move on BUT blackmail has always worked for them so why change a winning formula. Strap in i say and learn to roll with it and have your personal boundaries and just be sad as you cannot make them change. They have no desire, no pain coz they inflict it and so blame everyone else for your woes and so no need to change and around and around the circle we go. Enjoy the ride, they will be dead one day and the only person in the mirror who has to be happy and live with themselves is you. The rest is just sadness that it could not have been different and everyone cannot just wash their hands like my sister did. Sadly aged care is not that all encompassing
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I'm not sure what you mean by unfair demands. If a senior is disabled and not able to function, then of course, I don't think it's fair to demand that they act a certain way or perform a certain function if they are unable. I'm not sure what you mean.
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