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The grandmother that I have talked about here, the knee replacement one, has always been horrifically cheap all of her life. She lives on her own and does her own grocery shopping but buys the cheapest stuff available at Save a lot then complains that the fruits and veggies that she got are rotting a couple days later. My response was maybe you should either quit buying them or maybe take a look at the thermastate on your fridge and turn it down, and naturally, the fridge is fine. But her latest thing is calling me up telling me that I have to buy her a laptop and set up an internet connection. I asked if I could expect a check for buying her a laptop. Her response was that I wasn't going to get a check or any kind of money. I don't have a whole lot of extra money period to spend at the end of the month, I'm lucky if I have $150 breathing room at the end of the month. I told her that she was going to have to get off her butt and go to Best Buy and get herself a laptop. She had a meltdown, which I expected because she calls every day asking me to buy her things but has no intention of paying any one back. Between her pension, Social Security and investments, she has $4,000 a month. She has no house payment, no car payment and her bills total are $1,500 a month. Other than cutting her completely out of my life, how do I deal with it?

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"No" is a complete sentence. My husband's parents are both retired with income and got a BIG chunk of money from husband's grandmother. They still want their sons (both with kids in college and wives with cancer survivor issues) to pay for things or provide free services. A lot of narcissists just don't understand why you don't put their needs first. Just. Say. No.
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It's very freeing to tell someone who's been manipulating you, that it's not possible for you to do X. And then move to another topic. I think we get cast in the role of child for life, and we sometimes forget that as adults, we are allowed to tell our elders that no, we can't do that, without any additional explanation.
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So true, Linda. The other day I was thinking about getting another dog. I couldn't shake the feeling I needed to get permission from someone - who, my mom? I finally said to myself "Rainmom, you're an adult. If you want to get a new dog - get the freakin' dog!
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She tells you she wants you to buy a laptop; you explain why you can't. I'm wondering why you feel there's any need to explain at all why you can't afford a laptop for her.

I'm going to take a step back and venture that the friction isn't about the food or the computer or other issues. It's about control and manipulation, and she's literally got you around her finger. She complains, you feel an obligation to respond or explain.

To me, that's the critical issue.
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How do you deal with someone who won't pay for a dang thing? Let her do without.

Just say no.

"I could pick that up for you. Are you paying by cash or a credit card?"

"Maybe you should pay a little more and enjoy the fruit longer."

If grandmother has been firmly attached to her money all her life, don't expect her to change now. But that does NOT obligate you to pay for things she won't buy for herself.

Just say no.
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"I will help you shop for one, but if it is for you - you pay for it" What is the big deal? She gets mad? So................ does lightning strike you? (A little joke- my therapist assured me that lightning would not strike when I set boundaries with my mom. She was right)
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Evermore - don't kid yourself about the not bathing - it was the first symptom my mom showed and unfortunately I just wrote it off as her being her usual quirky self. As far as the computer goes - since she knows how to use one, tell her - "sure, I'll go pick out one for you but I think you're gonna have to give me cash cause I'm sure the store won't let me use your credit card".
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I do not think it's a good idea for mentally fragile elders to use computers unsupervised. Computers tend to make people antisocial and older people, some of whom are already difficult to motivate to engage, need to interact with their peers much more than they need to stare at a computer screen. Why won't your grandmother use the computers at I'm sure are available at the senior center or library? Is it because she doesn't want to bathe and get out of the house? That your granny isn't bathing is a much bigger cause for concern than her cheapness and pestering you to buy her a computer.
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I just would like to add that if I had known that my cousin was having such mental decline, confusion, fear, etc. I would have been more understanding and attentive. I admit that I thought she was being silly by asking for my help. I mean, who can't go and buy sheets by themselves, right? I am so sorry that I did not see what was happening and that she really did need help with purchases. She was scared to drive and to be in a large store as she got confused. Later, it all made sense.
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Seems to me that you're trying to explain too much. You're an adult and as adults we teach people how to treat us. You don't owe any big explanations. I've had to teach this lesson to myself with a demanding relative. Just state what you can do, and that she will need to pay for it with no further trying to explain and/or justify. You have to concentrate and practice this habit. It's not rude or mean, it's being an adult and not being manipulated. God bless.
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