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My children and grandchildren do not have the financial advantages that my elderly mother has accomplished. I want to help care for my grandchildren so my children (their parents) can work. My mother can afford care, unlike my children who are living paycheck to paycheck. My mother is the type to look for any free care regardless of who has to perform it. I have made the decision to help my children and grandchildren. How do I deal with the guilt and obligation to my mother when I know my children and grandchildren need me more because of their limited financial resources?

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You have chosen some boundaries in your caregiving based on financial need which is nothing to feel guilty about. If your mother is making you feel obligated to her, then that sounds like the unholy trinity of emotional blackmail, i.e. Fear, Obligation, and Guilt.
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Debralee, you have it fairly easy in the decision-making department. If your mother had no resources and no where else to turn your "obligation" to her might compete more forcefully with your good intentions toward your children.

But Mom can afford her own care. HooRay! If she isn't spending her money on her care, what is she saving it for? An elaborate funeral? To pass on to you and others after she dies? You need not feel obligated to enable either of those things.

A complicating factor here is that your profile reveals that you and your mother do not get along well. Being her personal hands-on caregiver might not be the healthiest move for you even if you had no children yourself.

There are things that have nothing to do with available resources that you can still do for your mother. You can call her, you can visit her, you can send her cheery cards -- all within the boundaries and limits you have said for dealing with her. You can be her loving daughter. But you certainly don't have an obligation to spend large amounts of time with her or provide her free services that she could hire someone to perform.

So, where is the "guilt" coming from? If Mom is trying to send you on a guilt trip, just don't accept the ticket. If it is your own inner voice, be firm with that voice. There is another voice that is urging you to help your grandchildren have a good start in their lives. You get to choose which voice to listen to.

If Mom has installed some guilt buttons in you and is a master at knowing how to push them, see a counselor for help in disconnecting the buttons. This is a common problem, and there are experienced therapists who can help.
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