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Mom is 80 years old & extremely manipulative. Both Mom & Dad (83) live with me. I told Dad she was manipulative & he said she couldn't be. Classic example: we went to dinner and Mom was using her walker. She was fine during dinner, but walking out, she got within 10 feet of the car, started crying, stating she was in agony, couldn't go on and wanted her wheelchair. I had to move the car, get the wheelchair out and wheel her 6 feet all the while she was moaning. We got in the car, and I said, "so, we're going home?". She was perfectly happy and said, "no, we're going to costco". She was able to get into Costco fine with the walker, and puttered around for a couple of hours in the go-cart. She moans and groans and cries when we insist she walks for exercise (20-30 feet walks) if it's just the 2 of us, but if there's company, she's quiet as a mouse.

Dad say's she can't think manipulatively, and refuses to confront her on this behavior.

Am I nuts or what?

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A reasonable amount of self-defense is warranted here. I agree with others who say, "If she whines, take it away." No one with any sense would allow one of their children or a friend to treat them this way. Just because she's your mother does not mean you have to let yourself be verbally and emotionally abused.
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It has helped me immensely to find this site, and particularly this discussion.  My 81 year old mother has been a manipulator all my life, and when I was suddenly widowed with three small children 17 years ago, I knew better than to move closer to her.  Now that she and my stepdad are increasingly frail, I have moved them closer to me, since other siblings refused to help with their care--having been alienated from mother years ago.  This is the third week my mother is spending in bed, claiming she is fine while there, but that getting up makes her sick and weak.  My son called EMTs five days ago, and they would not even transport her, telling her sge had not had a stroke, etc.  Next day, when I could finally talk her into a doctor's appointment, doc told her same thing.  Now that she has been evaluated more than once, I simply recognize that her "good" behavior is exhausted, and she has fallen completely back into her lifelong ways.  So Yes, I have decided to set firm boundaries, be as kind as possible, and I refuse to be manipulated.  It truly is a case of staying one step ahead.  Thank God for school teacher experience, and lots of time spent with small children!  It all helps.

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One thing that I have seen with many older people is that personality traits get more pronounced as people get into their eighties and nineties. If they were immature and had a tendency to be childish when younger, they will be much like a spoiled brat when they get older and lose some of their independence. When I was a child my mother used to tell me we were going home when I would pitch a fit in a store, so now the tables are turned. When she starts to argue with me and embarrasses me in public, we just leave the store and go home. I really think that in many cases it is manipulation and a way to control the person they have to depend on - kind of a way to show you they are still the 'boss.' The bad thing is that when people like this use illness or discomfort as a way to manipulate, it is like crying wolf as they may really be in distress at some point and no one will believe them.
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lisakmann, you're not "nuts," but are you sure your Mom is not having intermittent pain is the first thing that came to my mind. Also, what would happen even if your Dad were to perceive or be able to see that your Mom is potentially manipulative? Is walking a prolonged distance the problem for her, perhaps? If so, would it help to plan for shorter walks for her? How often is it happening? I can't tell because you only shared one example. That is an eye-opening example, but not enough to know what else your Mom may be doing that concerns you. I guess nothing in your shared example makes it clear why she would want to go to Costco. Did she not want to go to dinner in the first place? Was Costco her destination objective? Maybe that is what I am missing? I wouldn't say she is manipulative based on that one example, though I agree with you that there is something wrong. Is she becoming mentally confused and just contradicting herself without being aware of it, perhaps?
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I agree with Crow....my mother is just plain mean (oh I mean BPD) and my father has battered 'person" syndrom. It saddens me to know so many of these dysfunctional families exist. I thought (hoped) mine was the only one...........
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oh, before the days of wonderful diagnostic names, therapist called people whom we now know have BPD just plain mean people of which the male population part of this group are almost all in prison
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Sorry, I'm not as on top of things like I sometimes am. It does sound like NPD. However, the borderline witch and the borderline queen mother both behave very much the same and often have enslaved, codependent husbands as seen with my MIL and FIL. I've never seen a man so enslaved and psychologically emasculated into basically nothing nor a dominating, abusive wife who thought God died and left her in charge with such hatred toward men while all along proclaiming everyone is equal and being so big on making sure she and her family were in church every Sunday and reads her denominational devotional every morning.

I tend to view my MIL as a borderline queen mom with a lot of witch in her. However, a good case could also be made for NPD with some strong BPD traits. It normally takes one narcissistic parent (mom) and a passive parent (dad) to raise a child who become one of four different flavors of BPD. Narcissists are supreme invalidators and people with BPD have an extreme sense of being invalidated which they have been.

MY FIL recognized the game and told my wife and her twins sister that he saw it but that he could do nothing. I know that feeling and the enmeshed, co-dependency that keeps one locked in. It take a lot of work and therapy to get out of that.
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Crow, I am surprised you did not bring up Narcissistic Personality Disorder!

Lisa was your mom always like this even when you were growing up. The one who ran the show and dad was obedient...like my mom and dad...as others say the pair. That pair strived against me, their only child...go figure...good parents support their children...okay wrong rant. Yeah he is always going to side with her like my dad did, they get whipped...yes co-dependent was the right term a previous poster mentioned. A few posters said they recognized 'the game' ...yep my 86 year old mom can still pull that 'game' out as well. I have been telling her that I have her game figured out and she always tells me there is none...yeah right. Narcissists LOVE THEIR ATTENTION...and will do anything to get it...so beware!
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Sounds like your mom may be the youngest child like mine - used to getting what she wants if she has a hissy fit. I am considering getting counseling for a co dependent relationship. If you suspect that you may have the same with your mother, counseling to learn how best to deal with her moods should be of some help.
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I understand where your dad is coming from and it has hardly anything to do with loyalty or his generation. It's plain sad and something most wives would never put up with and many husbands would not either, but usually it takes some counseling to get to that point. However, at some point the abused gives up and never realizes that actually they hold all of the power because the abuser is actually dependent upon that person's willingness to be abused plus other things like my MIL with my FIL.
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Funny, my Dad was the same way. When he became ill with Parkinson's and Colitis, Mom was horrible to him. He would still say how sweet she was and how precious. One day I told him, "Dad, she is just plain mean. " He looked at me and said "you know your right".

Your Dad probably sees it all, but for some reason feels as if he can't say anything. Maybe loyalty, or his generation. But I would bet he notices.
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Wow! Your mom and mine sound like twins! I am an only "child" and she waits to tell me all the "bad" stuff and to say how everyone is mad at her, hurting and/or neglecting her.

I can't add anything to the wisdom others have shared except this:
Get counseling for yourself. Go out with friends. Be /enjoy who you really are at least part of the time. Also( I learned this from my counselor) sometimes good enough is enough. Don't aim for perfection.
God bless you !
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Lisa, I guess you're gonna have to pick your battles with your mom. But I do agree with lcs, in that I would never have allowed her to go on to Costco. I would've told her, 'sorry mom, if you're that uncomfortable that you can't walk 25 feet, then you need to go home.' Don't reward her bad behavior. And as far as proving to your dad that she's manipulative, he already knows it. He's lived with her long enough now to have figured that one out.
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The toughest thing to really get about people who have been manipulators or who very likely have some undiagnosed personality disorder is this: You did not cause them to be that way; You can't fix how they are; Nor can you control how they are. All you can really do is to chose a healthier path to live on and if they decide to get on a healthier path of relating to others fine and if they don't fine for living with good boundaries is not about changing the other person but about changing yourself so that you are not hoovered in to their drama and entrapped by it. Also, you can expect a strong reaction against your choosing to live with healthy boundaries because they want to be able to push your buttons again very often with some version of fear, obligation, and guilt.

My wife thought she was free of her mom, who was and is just like this, until the birth of our first child. Her dad was a quiet, nurturing man who saw what was going on but like he told his twin girls when they were little, he could not do anything about it. To make a long story short, my wife ended up in therapy for several years to get the freedom she has and I've been in therapy to get the freedom that I have which has involved each of us making our own boundaries and mine have necessitated some stark consequences because I wanted my life back although I didn't even know how to define it at that point.
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retrain your Mom (typo error)
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Read "'Emotional Blackmail" and Stop Walking on Eggshells" to learn to deal with her. Watch yourself, you may lose your sense of self catering to a manipulative mother. I escaped at 17 only to be lured back into the dysfunction when my children were born. Now 25 years later I am struggling to separate myself from the dysfunction. Your parents relationship sounds like just like my parents, Dad never says anything, Mom walks all over everyone. Try to retain your Mom. She may get it and act accordingly. Mine never has and never will get it. Good Luck!
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Even though my dad knew my mom was difficult, whenever I complained as a kid, teen or adult, he always stood by her, he didn't defend her but he stood by her. So I agree with Ed, your folks are a unit. Right or wrong you have to admire them for their loyalty. It'll probably take some effort but you need to stop your mom from working you. I say this because I let my mom walk all over me forever and then one day I woke up and stopped it. If your mom is going to act like a kid, treat her like one. I agree with the others, if she can't make it to the car then she needs to get your butt back home. Costco should've been a "treat". I know you meant well. Some situations require drastic measures. Good luck, you can do it and I'll bet you'll see a big difference in everyone, hopefully to your advantage!!
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LISA:

No matter what you say and do, your parents are a team. She's playing you like a fiddle; and he's the silent partner who will not intercede until you find the courage to put your foot down and she starts dumping on him. Pitting them against each other is a losing proposition, so treat them as a unit. And yes my dear, Peter will definitely have to pay for Pauline. It's your house, they are your guests, and you are no one's beast of burden. As long as you keep catering to your mother's every whim and tantrum, nothing is going to change.

-- ED
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Manipulation is probably normal. My dad told me he felt "pathetic" bc he was forced to rely on mom and me (his daughter). IMHO, you will gain peace by putting this all in perspective. I recommend against being defensive, tape recording, etc. That behavior serves only fuel the fire and build walls in this new family dynamic.

Keep your eye on the ball . . . these people need you. And you are doing God's work by helping them and caring for them. Any peculiar behavior is nothing more than noise.

Slow down and recognize that you are in the role of the responsible adult. I know that is an uncomfortable place to be bc your parents will always be just that!

Cherish your time with them. Roll with the small stuff . Try to put yourself into the place of your mom and imagine her fear and thoughts.
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You have to learn to take things away...if she wants her wheelchair ONLY at certain times when it is inconvenient, tell her it will be easier for everyone involved if you just take the walker away and "we will only be using the wheelchair from now on". I realize you want to discuss things with your Dad to get feedback, but obviously he isn't wanting to see or CAN'T see the reality of it, and YOU are the one having to care for your Mother's needs, so, my advice, if she whines about ANYTHING, take it from her and say there is no need for it any longer if it gives her pain. You have to show tough love at times, even to your own parents that we are all suppose to honor and respect.
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You didn't mention anything about whether your mother has always been this way but, I assume, since you are writing about it here in this forum, it may be a more recent development. You also didn't comment on your mother's health, but her manipulation may be a symptom of something else. For example, my mother has advanced Parkinson's Disease, and one of the first signs of something being drastically wrong with her were personality changes along with some coordination problems and a general slowness in her overall mobility. That was in 2004. For the past year or so, my mother has been very manipulative along the same lines as your mother, and such "events" are becoming more and more frequent, now numbering at least three or four times per day. As frustrating as it often can be, it helps a bit to remind myself that it is not my mother but her illness that is causing her to be this way. I still point out to her that I know that she's manipulating me when it's really obvious (and insulting), but it's less stressful on us both if it doesn't become a major issue leading to an argument. The way I see it, life is too short, and time with our parents is running out; let's enjoy as much time with them as we can before our time together ends. I wish you patience and love. :-)
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I have the same experience with my mother-in-law and successfully have done what LCS has suggested. I call her bluff. I have taken her home and told her since she is so ill, then she needs to be home resting. then she does not try it again for a while. either she forgets so just tries her antics again, and again I call her bluff. My husband was siding with her until I let him take care of her 1/2 the time. Over time he has realized-it is just the way she is and has always been. He now calls her bluff also and being an only child, this was hard for him at first
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Definitely don't ask your father to sort this out because he will probably deny it. Also, I've found that paying attention to my gut feeling lets me know when someone is trying to manipulate me much quicker than my brain figures it out which by then is usually too late. Manipulators use chaos, etc. to accomplish their goals so that we are not in tune with our feelings enough to know when they are putting on the manipulation game with a load of guilt while cracking the whip of fear and obligation.
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Please forgive me for saying so but your mother sounds as if she was acting like a whining child when she couldn't walk ten feet further to the car. Perhaps she REALLY couldn't but if that was the case, why did she want to go to Costco? Your mother should have been taken home. That's what one would do with a child that said it couldn't walk any further to a car but then wanted to go to a toystore. I may sound mean and nasty but I think you have to " call her" on this manipulation. If you had taken her home and she sulked, so be it. Sulking won't kill either her or you; she would have lived to see another day and you would have been pleased with how you handled the manipulation. If she had asked why you wouldn't take her anywhere but home you could just have said that you were so concerned about her since she said she was in SUCH AGONY and could not finish the walk to the car that you thought it would be uncaring and irresponsible of you to take her anywhere but home.

You have to outsmart her if she starts what, to you, looks like manipulation. Don't ask your father to sort this out. I think you did right to move the car and get the wheelchair because there WAS the possibility that your mother WAS in agony. But when she asked to go shopping, then you needed to stand up to her and say that since, in the previous few minutes, she had been in such agony you couldn't possibly consider taking her to Costco. Perhaps your mother has reached the stage where she thinks more like a child than an adult and therefore needs you to act like a wise mother. Please let me know what happens if she acts in a similar way again and you act like a wise mother dealing with a child instead of you being your mother's dutiful child trying to keep her happy. Good luck.
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Just laying down and accepting manipulation is not healthy for either the manipulator or the manipulated unless of course one has a need to be dominated and enjoys the pain. My own approach is to let them know that I see their game, but it is their game and I refuse to play otherwise I just get out of the room.
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Does it matter if your father understands his wife is manipulative? Even if he sees it, he will probably support her and ask that you do whatever she manipulates you to do. My guess is that the real issue with you is being annoyed at her manipulation. I can understand that! People who manipulate, usually win, because they will go to lengths that we will not go to. I found it easiest to just accept it (every now and then I blow! but mostly, I just accept it and then it doesn't bother me. )
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Your dad sounds like he is codependent upon your mother and so enmeshed with her emotions that he can't see it because that would be too painful.
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Try to get her complaining on tape -no your not nuts, ya might get that way in time tho- tape, so Dad can hear her--good luck
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