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My mum is 87, a covert narcissist with whom I have always had a troubled relationship, but who moved to live in an AL near us and has shifted responsibility for her life to us (without asking if we minded!). My brother, who lives 25 miles away, and I always took it in turns to have her with us for Christmas after our dad died. But she now says she doesn't like going to their house for various reasons, most of which my brother has made efforts to overcome. As my mother is not a sociable person she won't go to the Christmas dinner provided by her AL. So we are left feeling obliged to have her here every year, even though we have three children and four grandchildren in different parts of the country and they like to come to stay too.


You might say it's not much to ask, having an old lady over once a year, and that's true (we do an awful lot else for her as well). But it's the sense of obligation and the perceived unfairness that niggle me: do my husband and I have the moral 'right' to choose what we do, which may involve going away with our own family one year, or do we have to put Mum's wishes first?

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BHItn2u and Mahogany,

People like helenb63 and myself have almost always known a lot of guilting for a lot of years in our lives.
We usually come from narcissistic, gaslighting, abusive parents too. All too often we are the ones who drew the short straw in childhood and became family scapegoats. We became emotional dumping grounds and whipping posts for our selfish, narcissistic, bullying mothers to 'take it out on' because they're usually too cowardly to take it out on another adult.
So, employing the old familiar guilt trip of 'mom won't be here forever' and 'you'll be old yourself someday' doesn't fly with us. People like us have had way too much blame and guilt put on us for a long time and we did nothing wrong.

NO ONE owes an old person anything simply because they are old.
No one has a right to expect to get in this life what they were never willing to give themselves.
Some narcissist who always came first, last, and always in their life does not deserve nor should they expect their adult kids to cater to them when they become needy and demanding in their old age. I don't think so. These kinds of parents should count themselves lucky if their adult kids make sure they have food and a safe environment to live in and that's usually more than they deserve.
This is a support group. No one needs to have the guilt trips put on them here.
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NavyVet90 Oct 26, 2021
BurntCaregiver,
Bingo! If I could give you a thousand "likes" instead of just one, I would.
Narcissists are emotional vampires. People who had a nice upbringing with normal parents instead of toxic and abusive ones have NO idea what we have endured. My sociopathic Narc father was so impossible to deal with that both my physical and mental health were ruined to the point I had to go No contact a couple months before the pandemic broke out. I made sure he was well taken care of at the ALF. I had lost all love and respect for him years ago as my mother bore the brunt of his abuse. I lived in the F.O.G. for so many years. We did not spend his last Christmas (2019) with him. Hubby and I stayed home and had a quiet peaceful day.
It is often said that extreme Narcissists usually die alone because they have driven everyone away. He was a miserable toxic person. It was such a relief when it was over; no more gaslighting, scapegoating, temper tantrums, complaining, lying, crying wolf, wild goose chases, etc.
I have not felt an ounce of guilt or grief. My blood pressure and PTSD are doing much better now.
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In healthy loving families, we have freedom to choose and freedom to have boundaries. Don’t listen to anyone who thinks it’s selfish or tries to shame you. You are allowed to have a life outside of your mother ( my daughter does and I’m so thankful).
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I decided after my marriage ended in divorce I was going to spend holidays with people who I liked and who liked me. I do not worry at all about other people's expectations of what I should do for the holidays.

I do not spend them with either of my parents. After decades of criticism from both of them, I have no interest in listening to it anymore. If I were to serve anything other than turkey all heck would break loose. Well you know what? I don't like anything other than the thigh meat and would rather have a nice roast for dinner, or better yet, brunch, the spend the day reading my new Christmas book all alone.

Helen, you have every right to spend Christmas any way you like. Do not feel any obligation to have someone who does not like to socialize anyways dictating how you spend the holidays.
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Just had a similar conversation with my Mom yesterday. She would rather come to my house than my daughters. Too bad. We will pick her up to go to my daughters or she can stay home. Do what u want. She chooses to go or not.
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I've skimmed your past messages. Do you set any boundaries with your mother?

Your health is being negatively affected by your mother. Even though she is in a facility, she is still the puppetmistress pulling your strings in a masterful way.

Instead of having her over for Christmas, can you (as a baby step this year) stop in very briefly on Christmas morning? I think she shouldn't be allowed to dictate where she goes for Christmas -- high time she started demanding to see your brother the Golden Boy.

You can't control your mother's making unreasonable demands on you, but you can control your response. You don't have to be her puppet.
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helenb63 Oct 24, 2021
We try, and are a bit better than we used to be, after counselling! But it's still not easy, especially as my husband can't deal with confrontation and tends to give in 'for a quiet life'; he doesn't seem to notice the way my health has been affected since she moved here.
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helenb63,

I can't tell you how many times the 'not too much to ask' has been incorporated into my life as well and I know exactly what you mean.
Yes, it is 'too much to ask' that you have your Christmas holidays ruined by your fussy, narcissistic, demanding mother.
Perhaps it wouldn't be too much to ask for you to have her for Christmas if you didn't also have the full responsibility of her life as well.
The family should try explaining to your mother that she is lucky that her son will have her for the holidays. She should be grateful that she doesn't have to spent Christmas at her AL facility because she has family to go to. Many seniors don't and they would be mighty happy if they did. If she doesn't understand this reasoning or refuses to, walk away. Let her spend Christmas alone in her AL then. You and your brother should not feel guilty if she chooses to cut off her nose to spite her face as they say.
Have a happy Christmas with your family and don't let your mother ruin it with nonsense.
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helenb63 Oct 24, 2021
'Perhaps it wouldn't be too much to ask for you to have her for Christmas if you didn't also have the full responsibility of her life as well.'

Thanks for your understanding.
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Frankly, when you get to your mother's age, Christmas can be any day in December or thereabouts. Just because you aren't there on the 25th, doesn't mean you aren't having "Christmas" with her.

You pick a date, call it Christmas, and that's the day you spend with Mom. Then you do Christmas when you want to with whomever you want to.
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Boy oh boy do I get that. Unfortunately I have no choice because my mother LIVES with us. She's 93. What a dilemma. I feel for you, I really do.
UNFORTUNATELY..... most people do not have the slightest idea what it is to have to have a narc for a parent. I do. I would say, LEAVE TOWN. Just this once- tell her you promised the kids, whatever. You definitely need a break. Don't listen to people who say you are being selfish because with a parent like that, believe me, YOU HAVE TO BE SELFISH FOR YOURSELF because they will take everything you have and everything you are.
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Reply to Golddog1
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How about telling your mother that your brother would be incredibly hurt if she didn't stay with him this coming Christmas and that it's very important to him that she spend the time at his house...and it's really important that you all respect his wishes! How could she say no to her own son! Just explain that he's really looking forward to it - so it's already arranged !

Maybe it's all in the delivery of how you present the info to her - you can spin it to make it positive! :-)
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BurntCaregiver Oct 23, 2021
Hopeforhelp22,

This is the best suggestion on the thread. Using "reverse guilt" to get the mother to go to the brother's house.
Very good idea. Helenb63 should lay it on thick to her mom about how bad her brother will feel if she doesn't go there for the holiday.
She should also add in that is it 'too much to ask' that mom go and spent the holiday with her son.
Brilliant!
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When I was a kid my uncle and father had a falling out and did not speak for several years. We used to spend all our holidays together. My grandmother was not content to spend one holiday with one family and one with another. My uncle did most of their celebrating Christmas eve so my grandmother would be there, we celebrated Christmas morning and she insisted on being with us too. Problem was my grandmother and uncle lived 50 miles away. So my father (who was conditioned to my mommy happy at all costs) would get up in the middle to the night to drive down and pick her up so she would be with us Christmas morning. My mother made the trek with him just once then put her foot down. She was not leaving the house at 4am to pick up her mother in law only to come home and cater to the woman for the rest of the day. So yes, sometimes it is too much to ask.
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