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My mother and I have never really gotten along, and are rarely on the same page about anything. Fortunately I live several states away from her, so I only speak to her by phone. She's deaf and very out of touch with the outside world, so we have really nothing to speak about. She listens to news on the radio all day long, and takes every word very seriously. Every time I tell her what her great grandkids or granddaughter are up to, her first reaction is to go immediately to the darkest place possible. I happen to be going to a comedy show that I'm very much looking forward to. Her reaction was that I'm going to get monkeypox and give it to my grandkids. I just don't even know what to say to that! She gives me advice and tells me what I should do. I'm 63, I'm not gonna listen to her any more than my 40-year-old daughter listens to me. She simply can't let things go, and tell herself that things are not her problem to solve and that her relatives are adults and can make their own decisions. I know she's very old and I should be more respectful, but I just have no patience for anything that she says anymore. I try not to even speak to her because I know it's just going to make me crazy. She's quite healthy and cogent in most ways, but she just cannot ever resist saying something negative about what might happen. Does anyone have a calming mantra that I can tell myself on the next phone call?

I guess just expect her to do what she does and let it roll off your back. Don't engage. Just say something light and vague like "oh, I guess that could happen". No sense arguing or trying to get her to see that what she's doing is unnecessary and annoying.
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Sunnydupree Aug 21, 2022
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After 63 years, you've had about enough negativity and advice coming from your mother. I know. I had the same situation myself. At my wedding in 2009, my mother couldn't even congratulate me b/c she was SO worried I'd left my windows unlocked at the house. The Boogeyman could have snuck in while I was saying my vows, waiting to kill me and my new husband when we got back from our honeymoon, that was her message to me. It just reaches a point where you can't talk about anything that's 'neutral territory' w/o some negative message sneaking in there sideways.

I don't have a calming mantra for you to use, I'm sorry to say. Just set a timer for 5 minutes and if/when the convo goes south, ring that bell and get OFF the phone in a hurry. Bye ma, someone's at the door, gotta GO! TTYL.

It's really the only way to deal with her negativity and save your own sanity. Respect is a 2 way street, by the way. I'm sure you've asked her to respect YOUR wishes a few thousand times already & stop with all the naysaying & free advice, right? But that never happens no matter how many times you ask. So now it's your turn to hang up the phone when the aggravation reaches a certain limit. It really IS possible to have a normal conversation with our mothers; they've just chosen to ramp things up to a whole new level of heartburn.

Good luck!
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MattyWelch Aug 17, 2022
The thing is I did this to my daughter briefly after she had a a baby. She basically told me, no, not acceptable. And all the grandparent forums said the same...MYOB. I've lived with my daughter and her family for 10 years now, and what gets my through is my personal mantra "this is not my problem to solve ". She's a (mostly) competent adult, and she smacks me back verbally when I cross a line occasionally. I've tried and tried to get my mother to see that soooo many things that she gets worried sick over are simply not her problem to solve, but to no avail. She refuses to get Internet or cable, so the only entertainment is radio news all day long. Now that she's 98 she's certainly not gonna change. I just have to force myself to follow everyone's advice and let her rant for 5 minutes and then "have another phone call" or something. Thanks for your advice!
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Oh my goodness, thanks guys. She called again this morning with the same oh my God, you're going to get monkeypox and give it to your grandchildren because the news said that the CDC said people aren't paying attention. It may be true that certain vulnerable populations aren't heeding the CDC as much as they should, but I'm still going to the show and I'm still staying in a hotel. I'll wear a mask because the host thinks it's a good thing, and it is a big crowd, so I'm fine with that. But I'm not gonna take crazy extraordinary measures. I did what was suggested by you guys, basically spoke to her the way you would a young child and then redirected to a fun thing that the family did yesterday. It worked! We got off the phone in a much calmer spirit. She'll never change, I realize that she's had some mental illness her whole life. But now I realize that I don't have to get so upset about it. Thank you thank you thank you! This forum has been a lifesaver. Or at least a sanity saver.
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Grandma1954 Aug 21, 2022
👍👏👏👏👏👏
That is a major accomplishment to realize and accept that SHE will not change so you have to in order to keep your sanity.
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OMG I could have written this. My mother is the same age and is exactly the same way, adding negativity to it. She always looks at the bad side of things. At least you get it by phone, she lives with me so I get it 24/7. If we’re sitting on the porch, she points out all the crummy looking trees and flowers that are dying, if we watch a ball game on TV she gets annoyed that both teams are wearing the same color and it’s hard to figure which team is which, if I call her doctor to refill a prescription, and they don’t do it immediately, she gets mad. If I’m a little late getting back from an errand, she is calling me, thinking I got into an accident. You get my idea. I completely understand how you feel. My mantra every morning is “please, God, teach me patience when all day long my heart is troubled by troublesome crosses”. I actually say it several times a day if she is in a bad mood. I remind myself that there will come a day when she will no longer be here and I will miss all the negativity. I also think (in my mother’s case at least) at 98, they are tired of living. I wish you peace.
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purrna2go Aug 21, 2022
Your mom might need to be evaluated for thyroid. My mom does a little better with her thyroid Rx. However, that aside, nobody expects to be caring for a super senior mom. (I am, like you, doing that). Give your mom some speed-dial numbers for her friends or your neighbor that she can call if there is an emergency; she calls you because she knows she'd be in trouble if you didn't come home. Also, she can't rest because she is worried about you, and that is her mom instinct, a good thing. I can't even go to the bathroom or out of mom's sight line. But she is one of the most precious things in my life. Hold that in your heart. Just hold her, give her a hug and kiss often as default mode to help you both cope.
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Don't tell her about all the things and people and activities going on outside her immediate environment. They might provide you with some opportunity to vent or to fill time, but they are of no interest or value to your mother. Talk about what conerns your mother.
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Cut back on the phone calls! As you’ve figured out, she isn’t interested in your world. Sadly, that seems to be the norm for many nonagenarians. Keep in mind that all nonagenarians are constantly aware that the Giant Sledgehammer of Death is poised right above their heads, so they should be excused for their annoying attitudes of gloom and doom. We’ll all be like that someday ourselves if we live that long.
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sp19690 Aug 21, 2022
A sledgehammer of death poised right above their heads. Love it! Reminds me of the movie saw. You know you are going to die you just don't know when.
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Some people are just Eeyores for life, even when they’re trying to be supportive.

On health concerns, I might say, “I hear ya mom, but our doctors say it’s ok.” Throw in an alternative medicine provider. “It’s really ok now, and by the way Billy made the team.”

She will probably argue that he for sure will get CTE, in which case just redirect with that we’ve checked with the experts and it’s fine.
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MattyWelch Aug 19, 2022
She'll say "But I heard on the news that… ". She lives and breathes for the news. I so wish she'd do some thing else with her time. She was in such good shape for all these years, but she didn't want to learn to do anything, nothing with new technology, and the world just passed her by. She's such a cautionary tale for her children.
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Talk about only the most inane topics possible, like the weather, what’s blooming outside, recipes, etc. Keep family news brief, give her little information to feed the fire of negativity. Listen to as much as you can take emotionally and get off the phone.
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You will not change her.. I would do short calls more often. My mom at 89 really can not have deep conversations. The news is always so bad …so she thinks the world is all bad. I try to remember if I have the privilege of having a long life I will do the same to my daughter.. get counseling it helped me develop better patience and understanding of advanced elderly behaviors.
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MattyWelch Aug 21, 2022
i've already told my daughter that if I act anything like my mother, get in my face and tell me to knock it the Frick off. And then remind me what was happening. I don't expect to live to be 98, but I pray to God I never am like her. My daughter wouldn't put up with it anyway. I know this.
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Does it occur to anyone else that whether we are 63 years old, or 5, we often communicate with our mothers and expect them to communicate with us, as children rather than as intelligent, concerned adults?
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