I am 29 and I live under the same roof with both of my parents (72 and 73) and my two children (9 and 11). I am home full time with all of them and I am a full time student. I make dinner 7 nights a week, and lunch several times a week. No one else cooks, but they sure do bring their negative attitudes to the table for every meal. Lately nothing I make is good enough, and I have to hear them whine like children at every meal. Its hard to feel happy about cooking for them when they just treat me like crap. Ive asked that my parents leave on Fridays so I can clean the house and enjoy myself by listening to music while doing it. They never leave and Im stuck cleaning up after them in silence like a maid, which makes it a really daunting task that I never look forward to, plus the house never gets fully clean because they are always in my way or making messes where I have just cleaned. I do all of the yard work and repairs to the house, as well as keep all electronics in working order for both of them. My dad has early onset dementia and my mother has what I believe to be untreated bipolar disorder. My dad is fine usually but does have aggressive rages every so often(rare and always aimed at my mother), usually his problem is forgetting to do important self care, which I can help him with. My mother is angry all the time and walks the house trying to get one of us to argue with her. Today, she started an argument with me because I used a trash bag, to put trash in, when I was cleaning my childrens room with them.... I pretty much lost it. We aren't poor, we can afford trash bags, and im going to use them whenever I please. Im tired of living around someone who hates everyone and everything. Its depressing and exhausting. But if I left, one of them would end up in a nursing home very quickly, which I know they dont want and I dont want that for them either. This is just a snippet of our home life.... but does anyone have any tactics, ideas, or words that might help me see the light? Sometimes I just want to leave and never come back.
Your primary responsibility is to your children, not your parents. If your mother is bipolar and your father has early onset dementia, you are putting yourself and your children on a rollercoaster for the foreseeable future. Is that fair? Is that good parenting?
Your parents need a plan. And that may include a nursing home and/or memory care facility. Do you have durable power of attorney? If no, get it before your parents become incapable of signing. If they refuse to give it to you, it is a terrible idea for you to take responsibility for them without having the authority.
You have a lot to think about because children are involved. Their needs must come first.
As for the meals, you can try to plan meals together for the week so that everyone gets some input. If that doesn't help, and anyone complains, tell them to cook for themselves.
If you moved out to an apartment or home of your own, you would make dinner 7 days a week, keep you place clean, keep all the electronics in working order, do laundry, and possibly do yard work. The only tasks you wouldn't have are those related to helping your father.
So I know it isn't the workload itself that is the problem. It is about as easy to cook for five as it is to cook for three.
The problem is the lack of appreciation for what you do, anger permeating the house, and someone trying to micromanage your actions.
I wonder how you can reduce that? What if once a week you sat down with them or at least with your mother, and came up with 7 menus for the week? And then you have a rule that there will be no complaining about food they have approved. If there is any complaining there will be cereal and toast for dinner the next night. If they complain about how you've prepared the food they approved, they can hire a cook, and you will cook for yourself and children. Oooo ... I'll bet they'll be unhappy with that, but you are unhappy now. Why should their happiness be more important than yours?
You feel that your mother has undiagnosed mental illness, maybe bipolar disorder. Most mental illnesses, including bipolar, can be treated -- not necessarily cured, but dealt with in a way that enables the patient to be more functional and emotionally stable. I have two bipolar relatives, and proper treatment is essential. So ... mother needs a thorough medical exam, with the doctor being apprised of her behavior in a note from you before the appointment. She won't go? I'd make that a condition of your continued help.
You should probably tell your dad's doctors about the occasional rages. They may prescribe sometimes to use as needed to help calm him down.
You are right. The health of your parents is only going to get worse. Down the line some kind of care facility may be necessary, no matter what they want. Your help can perhaps delay that time, but dementia is relentless and doesn't respect any wishes or help. This will be Not Your Fault, whether you are living with them or not. The progress of dementia is Not Your Fault. Your mother's mental illness is Not Your Fault. Keep that firmly in mind.
I am kind of glad you blew up about the trash bag! If you were sharing a house with a friend and she got all pissy about trash bags, I'm sure you would either tell her off or have a conversation with her. Your housemate is your mother, but you are an adult. Your relationship should be as equals, as adults. She cannot micromanage your behavior just because she is your mother. Maybe in the future, instead of blowing up (that is what she wants -- so she wins) you can state your case calmly and firmly, and go on doing what you are doing. That may take some of the wind out of her sails.
If I were in your situation, I would make two conditions for staying, and if they aren't met I would look for a different housing arrangement.
1) No complaining about food at the dinner table.
2) Mom has a thorough medical exam and then follows up with any referral that get made.
Come back and tell us how this is progressing. We care.
Get therapy for your self and your kids.
Why are you not gainfully employed?
You need to find outlets for you to be you and have some fun. Maybe spend time as a family planning and then sharing in the meal prep. Try new things. I used to do that when I had five children and my FIL at home and my husband worked evenings. Start an exercise routine. Find a hobby you love and devote a few hours a week to doing it.
I would assume your children are in school, or even home schooled, so choose a topic to discuss at dinner related to their studies. You said you are a full time student, are you going to a school or doing an online program? Share your learning with your children.
Sometimes it helps to just focus on the positives. Make a list of all the positives that make you choose to do what you are doing and post it by your mirror. Look at it each morning. Post positive quotes around your home.
Approach this as a career...study and search for the best ways to parent, caregiver, bi-polar and dementia behavior management. (I spend a lot of time doing this.)
Invite others to dinner, it is nice to see company manners being used by all ;-). Set up a game night.
If your parents won't leave so you can clean and listen to music, see if they will stay in one room and get headphones for your phone or iPod, etc... And listen while you work. I like to listen to audible books while I clean, I put one on my phone, put on my head phones, tuck it in my pocket, and work away.
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