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My parents live in Florida both in their early 70's. My family and my brothers family live I the northeast so visiting involves airfare car rental and hotel ... Not cheap. The grandkids are older teens young adults. The last couple of visits have been terrible due to their drinking . Mom starts on the wine mid afternoon --- full glasses drunk like water , and dad drinks vodka. Eventually he becomes argumentative and mean and she starts rambling and gets sloppy. She has told our kids her opinions about things in our lives that have upset them greatly and he has said some mean things. I've confronted her recently told her the drinking is a huge problem etc but of course she is stubborn and now mad at me. My question is what do we do now... Continue to spend money to visit..I don't really see where an ultimatum will work . They just act like petulant children. The distance makes things very difficult. Anyone have any experience with long distance issues? Thank you

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Philis,

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad what I wrote helped. It sounds like you have learned some painful lessons.

I think that I have lost one very long time friendship because we are no longer comfortable around each other. Frankly, he told me more than he really should have which should have been told to a therapist and I highly doubt that his wife knows. We have always shared our struggles in life and work together, but not only have we grown apart in some ways, I just know too much about him and it is impossible to know that. I talked about this in general terms with my wife without going into details for I'm not going to betray his confidentiality. She agrees that it sounds like he's shared too much.

While you don't specifically say it directly, part of what I hear you saying is that even the intimacy of marriage cannot bear all of our issues in their raw pain. You are right.

I think people expect too much from one person in a marriage that is just not possible. I've conclude that only to God and to your therapist, plus possibly online anonymously, as long as you don't give identifying information, can we totally bear our entire souls.

Thus, I believe this frees the marriage up emotionally to do what it can do without expecting what it cannot do. Sometimes people seek to escape their dysfunctional family by getting married, but that often solves nothing for their parent still lives in their head. Others, seek the mom or the dad that they never had or someone who can stand up to the parent that they never have stood up to, but they need to in order to be free. Sometimes for some reason people will marry someone very much like the parent that they had issues with.

When we can look to each other as each other's mate in marriage instead of look for each other to be one another's perfect soul mate who will fit perfectly with them.

Well enough on that. I tend to get long winded.
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Thanks cmagnum, I think you have just given the best reason to use a councilor/therapist that I have ever considered. I always had this idea that everyone would want their husband-wife to know everything about you and everything you think about, well to tell you the truth sharing too much of my pain with the last 2 I was in relationships with is actually what made them turn away from me in the end and I never did anything wrong other then expose my sadness to them. Now if you would tell your secrets to your best girlfriends or best male friends there is a large chance those secrets would be exposed and come back to haunt you, but with a therapist/professional you have a higher degree of hoping they will keep the confidentiality factor so that you can rant on and on and on with them and it won't come back to you through the grapevine. I know I would have this deep want to talk about everything with someone I was married to, but in the end I am coming to the conclusion that people are never going to understand you truly and if you talk about certain things you can unknowingly seed things into the other person you never had any intention of doing or even knew you were doing, which can then lead them to distrust you or feel depressed about you or whatever, which can lead them to leave you in the end and you wondering why. I think if I ever meet someone again I am not going to talk about certain things in life with them, I will do that anonymously on the internet, with a councilor or maybe rarely with someone who does not know where I live or if I am married or something like that with no future grapevine connection possible. Then I can have my ranting time fulfilled but I didn't torture my spouse in the process.
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Sorry, my eyes failed and I typed Philip instead of Philis.
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There is a lot of wisdom in what Philip has sad!

I think one reason that spouses and friends can only bear so much of our stuff is that their natural response is wanting to fix it, change it or go beat the people up for you because your pain and what others did to your to cause that pain makes them so angry.

Thus, they loose their objectivity and the emotional gas tanks begins to get used. With the lack of objectivity, I think some this sense of hurry to see you get past this real soon so you are happier. When this does not happen, I think a sense of powerlessness to help begins to creep in as does some tiredness. So, if this one thing they can't really help you with becomes all you ever talk about things get strained.

I think all of these issues and weakness come from a lack of being able to stay objective which is understandable, and yet that is what you get with a therapist. It is easier for them to be patient with your progress in the process because they have a sense of objectivity.This is also why a therapist cannot do therapy with their own family. They lack objectivity there.

I think part of what I mean when I add remember to breathe after saying keep pushing in your labor or a new life is while being focused do breathe in terms of relax from it all from time to time so that your passion for your goal does not become an controlling obsession of your life. Try to find something that you can do for you that you like, seek some fun things you and your husband can do together just the two of you, maybe find some time to spend some down time as mother and daughter plus the family needs to have some fun too. You don't have to plan all this by yourself. Get your husband's input and your daughter's input in putting things together. I think this is part of your self care while at war. Even in war, there are times after a strategic move that the troupes need fresh replacement of need to pull back some to regroup.

Take care!

I hope this both makes sense and is helpful for I've never put this together before, bu this is what comes to mind this afternoon.

I believe much of this comes from both my experience with my wife and her battles with her mom, my own issues and our feeling a bit worn out from getting sucked into her twin sister's drama with their mom. Frankly there is nothing more we can say other than we love you because it has all been said either by her therapist which she told us what she said or by us who have said the same thing. I somewhat would like to rescue my SIL from the wicked witch of the west but Dorothy needs to realize that she's got what she needs in getting back home from the emotional world of Oz back to Kansas. Neither my wife nor I can rescue her. Yet, there is an emotional connection that leads me to believe that she's like for me to rescue her in place of the weak dad she had as well as the weak husband she has. However, I refuse to be someone's emotional substitute. for what they didn't have or don't have. I'm not an object for use. *Sorry, but this had nothing to do with answering your question)

There are things about my wife's past war that she just doesn't want to talk about anymore and much of what her twin sister is dealing with reminds her too much of that. She's learned not to use me for pre-counseling before seeing her therapist. Most of the time when she begins doing that, I will point that out by saying that really needs to be discussed with your therapist whom your seeing later today. Likewise, I know my wife's issues well enough that I only share with my therapist some painful issues that are just better dealt with in therapy than unloading on her. I'll share overall how I feel that I am doing without going into details but that is me.

Again, your home sort of needs to function both as a fortress and a defense system which may need to fire some anti-aircraft weapons when attacks come from afar, but also to some degree a Mash unit also. I know it is tough to both fight and try to heal at the same time. Keep pushing and try to remember to breathe!!!!!
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"I've learned from experience that spouses like friends can only bear to hear so much of our stuff to a point without feeling frustrated"

I just started noticing this with a friend of mine, I would tell him all the crap I was dealing with with my bastard alcoholic brother and it affected my friendship with him as well as he would start to get angry with with about letting the bastard even live here another 2 weeks and that I should call the police and have him removed immediately. As much as I want to hear someone support me and what I suffer, I realized what you said that no one can support you, everyone you tell this crap to will suffer and be tormented just like you if you even expose them to it, you can't expose anyone to it except maybe non friend professionals or anonymously on the internet.
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You have finally taken the step to stop enabling your parents. Their drinking is their problem. You and your brother do not owe them apologies for any negative outcome due to their drinking. I hope you have enough strength in the future to keep that toxicity out of your life. I wish you well.
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Kimber166 thank you for sharing your story it helps greatly and I love the " this is between us" response. I do love my parents -- my real parents not the people they have become. The distance makes things very hard. We've decided not to visit anymore combined with a vacation. It's too hurtful forums and fact is something is going to happen that will necessitate me going anyway. My moms COPD wil only get worse and with all of this added stress it's only a matter of time till she ends up needing some help. Also they are thinking of moving and I will be needed at that point too I know it.

She is refusing to call my brother and feels he owes her an apology. Everything I've said to her --- everything -- she's refusing to acknowledge and I am very certain she hasn't told my dad any of it. She's a big one for not telling everyone the whole story so as not to make waves. Dad is a stubborn angry person and she thinks she can keep him from getting upset--- I know this from many years of experience. It's never that he needs to apologize for anything it's "why did you have to bring that up?" Directed to me usually as the oldest child.
A few years ago my dads sister and her husband went thru a thing with their adult kids and grandkids that it all came out in the open her husband had sexually molested his granddaughter and upon being confronted (with the help of a therapist) my aunt and uncle got mad and now none of them speak to each other. My mother and fathers stance was ok he is a monster but she is their mother they have no right to cut her off . Seriously.
So my mom has the same perspective here....he might be a jerk but we are supposed to look past it and not take it out on her

As I've said she's probably got a worse drinking problem than him --- I've told her all of this but the refrain is still that she was wronged by my brother

That's the dysfunction
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ms1231 - I have no additional advice - the advice here is wonderful and I pray that you follow it. Many years ago my husband and I were in very unhealthy relationships with manipulative parents (my mom - bipolar, would not get treatment, alternately loving or hating; his parents - micromanage and control our lives). We had to set boundaries, firmly, lovingly and consistently. with your therapist (it might help to go with your husband) decide what you will do, will not do, and how you will handle the bad behaviors. World War III happened, friends of parents called us to ream us out, relatives called us to ream us out - and after the initial guilt and thinking we were being jerks, we decided that it was unfair that they were bringing all of these others into it, and that reinforced our boundary setting. Plus the therapist - who was great - and helped us foresee the attempts to manipulate and helped us lovingly prepare. My mom and I didn't speak for over a year - it took that long for her to realize that as soon as she started screaming at me, I would hang up or I would leave. My husband's parents took 6 months to realize that when they started in on him, he would likewise disengage. As for the relatives and friends calling, we would state "we love our parents, this is between us. goodbye" Years later, we have a son, and have good relationships with our extended family and whenever necessary - we bring back boundaries. I think for my husband's parents - they finally realized that we were adults and they respect us now. It was a very tough road and we had enormous guilt. Our therapist and priests helped us healthily acknowledge our love for parents, no tolerance for certain behaviors, and how to calmly disengage. You can tell I get on a soapbox about this :). You have a husband and daughter and your primary relationships are with them. You love your parents and need HEALTHY interaction with them. Good luck to you and I hope you and your family can make a step by step start to change the current cess-pool. God bless.
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Ms1231,

It is good to hear from you and to learn of your progress. You are figuring this out and you and your husband have become a team which means a lot for a stronger relationship.

It's a position to hate for along with anger very often there is shame, but even that can fuel your determination to get free. Here's a very good article about dealing with shame."How to Despise Shame"

honorshame/despise-shame/

I hope you don't mind my using the labor of giving birth as analogy for your situation and anyone in a situation like yours.

I use that analogy because your giving birth to a new life, your own.

Plus, like the labor of childbirth, there is a lot of pain which I've only observed in my wife having given birth to our two children.

Lastly, like labor pains, they are so quickly forgotten with a new life birthed into the world which is my way of saying, your labor may be long and hard, but the joy of giving birth to your own new life will outshine the pain.

Thus, despising the pain, keep pushing forward and as they say in the labor room, remember to breathe.

Take care, get the support of a therapist which you two will probably need as you get into what I'd call the hard labor of transition. I have all the confidence in the world that with your insights and determination plus teamwork with your husband that you and your family will find new life.

I'm sorry that your brother is feeling bad. What exactly does that mean in terms of the dysfunction?
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I have done so much reading in the last week , so much of it has been extremely helpful! Lots of people over the years have told me , kindly , that my parents are overly attached, critical and expect too much accountability from me and I guess my brother. Fact is I've allowed this to continue-- I know I have no responsibility for the drinking but it is within my power to recognize the unhealthiness and to shape my own future

Surprise-- this is exactly what we have decided to do.

By the way mom called the other day and acted as if nothing had happened. She was less happy than usual, there was an undertone of tension but I guess we are back to don't ask don't tell.

She has not called my brothers family , he is starting to feel bad ... And so the dysfunction begins.

My husband and I have been doing a lot of talking and its helps greatly .
Cmagnum-- I am digesting all of the reading you have suggested. And yes there's anger to even have to be using my time to figure this out when they are just feeling sorry for themselves that their kids are so disrespectful ugh.

I really hate being in this position and am working on channeling that anger to fuel my determination that we are going to step off the drama triangle and not put ourselves in emotional harms way again and again
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Boundaries, boundaries! I would go to FL in Jan and never mention the trip. As far as your parents are concerned, you could be going to AZ - you won't be there for them to beat up emotionally. You will be there for *YOUR* family - your husband and daughter. The first step is simply realizing you can change your behavior and reactions to the problem!
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Amen! vstefans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember reading one story here where the narcissistic grandmother who was already emotionally enmeshed with her husband somehow manage to dupe the lady's daughter over to her side. I think one thing that helped grandmother do this was living with her son when she really had no health reasons for being there.
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Ms. 1231, bless you for being willing to see this for what it is. I feel a need to add one more thing that I hope does not add to your burden, but is just honest.

Don't expose their grandkids to this. They need to understand that this behavior though it is being done by adults, is unacceptable. We had some negative consequences just from letting our kids see how bad my MIL and FILs house had gotten when it was necessary to clean it out after FIL died of an aneurysm and MILs placement in geropsych then skilled nursing was clearly going to be permanent. The idea that people would let themselves go that badly and be allowed to refuse help for it was too much and too incomprehensible; I think instead they internalized a message that screwing up your life was not so bad because we all stepped in to fix things. We had to do a lot of talking about the whole thing and help my daughter get back on track academically afterwards, because she started to not do her work at school for a while.
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Ms1231,

Good news! Let that anger fuel your passion for change. Your husband likely has some anger over this. Team up and use your anger together as you move forward.

This journey definitely includes a lot of labor intensive pains and anxiety. However, the pains and related anxiety of such labor will fade in the joy of having one's new and own life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep pushing and remember to breathe!!!!!!!!!

There are parents do not view their children when they become adults as fully functioning adults with their own identity. How dare one step out and claim their identity as their own individual person when such a parent only sees the adult child as an extension of themselves. (My wife has struggled to get her freedom from this and her identical twin sister has yet to act on what she already sees and her therapist has advised her to do whom she no longer sees.)

Thus, the need for such a focused determination to dam the torpedoes, despise the pain of the journey and have a take no prisoners outlook in the pursuit of the goal of living as one's own person.

There is often a shame side to the pain of having to deal with this. If that is true in your case, try to despise the shame of the pain for the joy set before you..

Keep this before you like your own eye of the tiger that you may know from one of those Rocky Movies in the past. Even as strong individual needed an Adrian to get his "Eye of the Tiger" back and stay on track.

I think you might find it encouraging to read a portion of the thread "Is it normal she's so negative?"

I suggest starting with njny1952's post on July 12, 2015. Here's the link to that page. AC usually will leave links to items on this site in place.

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/is-it-normal-shes-so-negative-169355.htm?cpage=103

With your brother living so far away, it might be a good idea to talk with him as preventative medicine in case your parents call him up to get him to fix what's wrong with his sister. Parents have been known to do such unhealthy triangulating.

Please don't keep all of this bottled up if you are. Talk with your husband about this.

I wish you the best. Do something nice for you today.

Keep in touch.
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I am going to read up on drama triangles today -- and the other topics you referenced .

I am also considering al anon -- I have a lot of anger over the position they've put us in and as cmagnum advised any self protective actions on our part are going to make them angry --they already have .

On the one hand I feel bad for my daughter , that her family is becoming splintered and I take that onto myself for "causing trouble" by confronting the parents. I know that any rift that develops will be " my fault" in their eyes, and the tale they will tell to friends up here that don't realize what's happening . I'll be labeled as over sensitive and judge mental .

But the reality is so far from the tale they tell .. I hate "he said,she said" situations and I'm angry they've put me in this position

And it is me because my brother lives another 10 hours from me so I'm the one left where we all grew up around people my parents knew before they moved

I appreciate ALL of the advice given
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Have you considered an Al-Anon meeting? That would be a network of support for you, a way to get past the feelings of guilt. Put the visits aside for now, realize you are being punished by them for the crime of growing up and having your own life.
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Family problem rarely take place is isolation from other people in the family.

It is likely that you were emotionally groomed for your role in the family and thus the feelings of guilt. There are some articles on this site that deal with Fear, Obligation and Guilt which I want go into here. Those who have been emotionally groomed are shocked to see what has been going on when their eyes are opened. Some, unfortunately never do see the light. So, congratulate yourself for seeing what is going on and reaching out for help.

Right now, you and your husband as well as your brother and his wife are in an emotional triangle with ya'lls parents. The children are involved but they are not directly in the triangle like ya'll are.

Some would call this a drama triangle since it is not healthy. Unhealthy triangles are made up of people with different roles i.e.; the victim, the persecutor and rescuer.

The way these kind of triangles work is that when one person changes their role, the whole thing is thrown out of wack.

For example, if you or your brother decided to focus more on the health of your own marriage and family, that would lead your parents to react negatively as if you or your brother are the ones with the problem when in fact either of you dong this is much healthier than what your parent's are doing or the current approach of putting out fires which are symptoms.

In other word, be prepared for your parents to react negatively.

Google drama triangles and look for an article. AC doesn't like folks to post actual links. There are several article about drama triangles. One that I found was from affinity counseling services

For a basic understanding of families as systems, I found the following to be a good basic article.

5. Murray Bowen, M.D. and The Nine Concepts in Family Systems Theory

Yes, you have a lot to consider. This information would be helpful for your brother if he is open to such.

Keep in touch. I wish you and your family the very best!
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Just beginning to realize this is all as much about me , my family and my brother and his family as it is about my parents . Up till now it has been a lot of " what should we do/ what can we do/ what are you going to say " all about them. Apparently it messes with the rest of us too.

Cmagnum-- it is so true much of our energy as a family is spent trying to figure out what's going on and how to deal with it that it's probably not leaving much energy to tend to our own relationships .

Never thought about the damage we --I -- have been allowing to happen. We've been putting out fires the fires , being honest and realistic as we can be with our daughter and as someone said it's a good life lesson for her---however it's still about them(parents) not about us.

So much to consider
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Ms1231,

I'm glad you were open to what I had to share. I realized that I was writing more straightforwardly than I normally do and thus my warning that you might not like this plus sorry about sounding so blunt.

I just got back from a visit with my wife to see her identical twin sister and their narcissistic mom who is in an assisted living but whose mobility has declined severely. My wife has fought for and gotten her freedom from her mother, but her sister has stopped going to therapy and is not doing what she needs to which is continuing to create a lot of anger in her husband. We tried our best to remain emotionally detached for we have no more to say because it has already been said either by her therapist or by us. We stayed in a hotel and on our way home on Monday found some fun things to do which included going to this one restaurant in a chain that we discovered when visiting my dad in June. It has both nice food and it's one of those places that you feel like you've escaped a bit of reality which is nice also. I was so glad to see my therapist on Wednesday and I vented a lot there.

I've learned from experience that spouses like friends can only bear to hear so much of our stuff to a point without feeling frustrated or helpless.

So from that, I may be still a bit on edge and thus more blunt than usual.

Allow me then to share with you a very likely husband and child perspective which I'll state positively and I'm sure you will pick up on the negative being true.

Husband will rejoice to have his wife back emotionally and will feel the intimacy improve between the two of you. Frankly, the marriage bed will feel less crowded.

Daughter will be glad to have her mom more emotionally available to her which she needs at 19.

Making the needed changes will model a good lesson to your daughter and others about the importance of healthy boundaries for a marriage and in life in general.

Frankly, what you have been modeling for 8 years has not been healthy for anyone nor a good lesson for her. Our children learn more about marriage and parenting from what they see us to than they do from what we say or they read. It's like an emotional script written into them which can be unlearned where it needs to be if we become aware of it.

Thanks for your honest statement of self-awareness, "enough emphasis on what is is doing to my family -- they love me and have been going along but I have been putting my daughter in harms way emotionally probably not to mention my husbands frustration"

Unfortunately, like I did for several years, your husband has been enabling your behavior by going along with it and carries some responsibility as a parent for your daughter being subjected to that abusive mess. He probably needs some help with his codependency in his relationships with you.

Daughter may need some help to heal from all of the stuff that has been thrown at her over the years.

Try to remember. You are married to your husband whom you promised to love and to cherish as well as to forsake all others which meant this marriage relationship was now primary in your life. Might be a good idea to revisit those marriage vows.

Try also to remember that has a wife and parent, you have a child that needs both of her parents to be parenting her. It is possible, for I've been there, to feel like a single parent even when you are married.

BTW, my step-dad was an alcoholic and my mother became one despite all of the promises she told my dad that she would never become one because her dad was an alcoholic. Her alcoholism, narcissism, poor boundaries, over attachment to me as her only child all caused manifold problems.

You have much more going on here than just alcoholic parents. Get your own marriage and family in order before anything else.

Take care and I wish you the very best. Love the one you're with and love the one you two co-created with God that is your precious daughter!
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Cmagnum-- I appreciate blunt -- am that way myself, which is why mom is angry right now

Everything you say has merit-- this has been going on about 8 years. I have travelled to see them alone -- due to death or sickness of other family members there and alone cause it was only financially feasible for one -- and both times were disasters.

No point in going in to details -- but all due to their drinking. The next day they act like nothing happens and I did the same to keep the peace to get thru he reasons I was there.
Tried to talk to her and as everyone is saying the behavior never change.
This is my first experience dealing with alcoholism as well as aging parents and all of those issues

You are absolutely correct that I should probably seek some counseling to sort out my own feelings -- I don't put enough emphasis on what is is doing to my family -- they love me and have been going along but I have been putting my daughter in harms way emotionally probably not to mention my husbands frustration

Thank you for your perspective and it's great to hear you were able to put things to right in your home. I am sure it was emotional but worth it in the long run-- it's what I need to hear
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Yes, you are seeing things as a person from within the family system while they do not.

I endured my abusive MIL mother in law for years, even taking her on vacations because my wife wanted me to. However, I reached a point where enough was enough and I put my foot down about her mother. She's not been on a vacation with us in years and we are much happier for it. She's still her narcissistic, abusive self, but we don't have to have the sickness of hers worshipfulness with us.

You are not going to like reading this , but your husband might reach such a point to and not do what you want. He is his own person and can make his own decisions as an adult.

Like any husband would be, he's tired of seeing you getting hurt and upset. Not his battle for they are your parents. How long has this been going on?

If you want to see them that badly and feel that guilty, then go visit them yourself by yourself and go with your husband and daughter on ya'lls vacation and enjoy! Why ruin a good vacation with them?

Their alcoholism is their problem, not yours. Your didn't make them that way, You can't fix them. You can't control them. And you can't rescue them. They're adults although they are not acting very mature, but that's their right to do so, if they so chose.

You are not their little girl anymore. You are an adult woman with your own marriage and family which I suggest you honor before honoring them. If this is totally stressing you out, then this may mean it's time for some marriage or personal counseling to help with some healthy boundaries.

Sorry this post sounds so blunt, but I'm tired of people getting beat up because one person can't see how unhealthy things are because their possibly enmeshed with their parent(s).
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And actually maybe someone can give an opinion on this -- sure would be appreciated : We have booked airfare and vacation arrangements for January . We always tie in two days for the parent visit then the rest of the time is at a destination 2 hours away. We never tell them till shortly before cause of moms COPD she will try to overdo it getting ready.

Anyway my husband suggests we just forget the visit part rearrange our other plans and don't even tell them we are in Florida

It has some merit ---- why do I still feel guilty?

He will do whatever I want , he's just tired of me getting hurt and upset

19 year old daughter will be with us , she agrees with him.

Makes me wonder if I see the situation through blinders because they are my parents -- is that possible?
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Eyerishlass --- everything you said , everything! I think all the time well it could be worse they could be here --- ugh then feel bad.

Cmagnum- thanks , pretty much where we are at--- we advised all of the grandkids not to visit alone . My brother said they are going to be 10-noon grandparents. Of course they completely have themselves in a snit about this guess we will have to wait till they cool off to talk again. It's so sad ... I just know that the future holds a mess --- trying to just take one day at anytime. Sooo glad I came here for help
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Cwillie- love your comment cause it is pretty much what we are doing now so I feel better about that , thank you. Our family actually vacationed in FL for many years prior to them moving 10 years ago so we go down there , visit with them a few days and then go on our vacation. They refuse to travel up here ... Mom has COPD so oxygen issues and dad just won't travel -- he actually does work -- and to be honest he can be a real jerk. My brothers family was just there and there was a huge blow up mom called to tell me her side and I just had to tell her it's all because of the drinking. It's very hard to be so far away ... Tempers flare ...distance makes it hard. For now the driving isn't an option we both work so it's too much time to use up. Thank you for verifying how we are dealing with this this!
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I think I'd tell them if they want to see the grandchildren, then they will need to stop the drunkenness during visits. You need a boundary not to change them but to protect yourself and your family.
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You commented that the distance makes things difficult but while I was reading what you wrote I was thinking, "Good thing the parents are so far away."

But I know what you meant. How can you help them when they are so far away? I don't think you can. I'm not sure you could help them if you lived right down the street.

You're right about the ultimatum. It won't work. Your parents are alcoholics and you can't reason with alcoholism. If you were to tell your folks, "Either you stop drinking or we stop visiting" you'd just give them one more reason to drink.

You may just have to wait until there's a situation to try to get them the help they need and I think even that's a long shot. Alcoholism is a disease. An alcoholic can't just stop drinking and that's the end of it. The disease needs to be tended to on a daily basis. It requires an entire life and personality overhaul and that would be very, very difficult for people in their 70's. Elderly people fight change as it is and recovery from alcoholism is all about change. Constant, daily change.

I don't know how often you visit them but if the visits are so unpleasant don't visit as often. I know they're your parents and you're worried about them but unfortunately there's nothing you can really do for them. With their age and their drinking habits eventually one of them is going to take a nasty fall or become ill and end up in the hospital. That would be your only opportunity to try to change the way they live and it's a slim chance at that.

A more drastic way to go would be to call APS (or whatever it's called in FL). Adult Protective Services would come out to their house and do an assessment.

There are many people here who try to do long distance caregiving so I'm sure you'll hear from some of them. I wish you the best of luck.
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You can't stop the drinking, you can only change the way you deal with it. Make the focus of your visits a holiday for the family with small doses of your parents mixed in.... It sounds as though you are staying in a hotel when you are there and not with your parents, so you can try limiting visits to earlier in the day before the alcohol consumption adds up, or try to arrange outings together where it is not available. As upsetting as their behavior is for your kids, sounds like they are old enough to deal with it... if nothing else it is a good life lesson on the problems of excessive drinking!
BTW, if you are in the northwest why don't you all take turns driving down to Florida like all the Snowbirds do, it would be a lot cheaper than air fare and car rentals.
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Ms1231, it sounds like they may have started drinking out of boredom. I don't know if there is anything you can do from a distance. The thing you can do is let them know you won't be able to visit if they are going to be drinking. You can encourage them to do something else to occupy their evenings instead of drinking. If they were involved in something, they wouldn't have as much time for drinking. I hope someone else will have some ideas on how to deal with alcohol from a long distance.
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