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My mother just turned 80 and lives with me. I’m currently experiencing an issue with her acting out when I try to spend time with my friends. It has literally come to yelling matches and her making insensitive comments about them while they are present! I’m trying to be understanding since she has had health issues that have restricted her ability to get out for the past 6-8 months. I have two trips coming up this year with said friends and she normally takes care of the 2 dogs (Golden’s exceeding 100 pounds each). I’ve suggested boarding the dogs but she refuses. I know if I hire someone in to help out with the dogs (and also check on her) that she will say it isn’t needed. Does anyone have suggestions on how to rationally discuss these with her???? I’m really at a loss, as I feel she is going to take anything I say as an insult. Boarding the dogs will make her lonely, but would really reduce the risk of injuries while I am away. And I really need her to try to understand my spending time with my friends. She has me to help take care of her as she ages, but I am an only child for the most part. I’m 43 with no human children or spouse, and don’t see either of those situations changing. My friends are who I am going to have to rely on as I age. I just don’t know how to get that point across. She used to be very social until she retired and I know that is part of the issue. But she chooses to stay home to take care of the dogs (I try to get them to daycare once every two weeks) and know they would be well taken care of while boarding. Sorry this has been all over the place, but I just could use some opinions/suggestions!!!



confused in NC

Rational discussion is not going to help. Board your dogs, since you "know they would be well taken care of while boarding." Your mother's actions might be her true personality arising, which happens when elderly abusive people cannot hide their aggressive tendencies any longer. Boarding your dogs will ensure their safety, no matter her protests. Remember it's about the dogs and your mom's safety.

Insulting someone = your last concern, since she needs to not be alone with two large dogs while you're away. Hiring a CNA to check on your mom while you're away sounds fair, since she is 80. Contact local agencies, for further information.

If she chooses to be rude, remember it's a choice that she's making. Perhaps meet-up with friends elsewhere, away from the abusive grump. Finding a solution, doesn't need to be relayed to your 80 year-old mother. You're going to need to keep her away from your friends, instead of justifying her behaviors. You wrote that she uses your dogs against you for guilt trips, which is a sign that your mother is abusive towards others.

Your mother's opinion+ feelings are not the issues upon which you need to focus; instead, your 80-year-old mother's safety + your dogs' safety are collectively your needed daily focus.
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Stephanie4181 Jun 4, 2019
wow! I don't think a psychologist could've stated that any better. Well said!
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You don't have to explain why you are taking a break unless your mom is paying for it. You are an adult, your mother is an adult and she's of sound mind. In your position I wouldn't be explaining anything. I would tell mom I'm leaving, tell her I am boarding the dogs while I am gone so they can have a vacation too. I would tell her that someone will be stopping in to check on her daily to see if there's anything she needs help with. I would ask her if there's anything she'd like me to do before I leave and then I would go. When adult kids and parents live together it's easy to slip back into the mommy/child norm of things and harder to maintain the adult room-mate reality you have. It's hard to get that established but it will be worth it.
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Mbirkhimer Jun 3, 2019
Thank you! I have considered having someone come I to check on her and the dogs. She doesn’t like the idea, but I think this is the route that I’m going to go.
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Maybe stop trying to get your mother's agreement. Discuss an issue with her and move on, You don't need her agreement for you to hire someone to help you with the dogs. Get your friends understanding that your mom sometimes acts and says irrationally. Get them to help you problem solve on how your visits with them can go more smoothly. If your friends are your family, than bring them into the problem. You might find that not only are they not particularly offended by your mother, but they also may some useful ideas.
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I’m not sure that a ‘rational discussion’ is going to get your mother to behave in a way you think is reasonable. You are going to have to push it. She lives with you, and you need to decide what is reasonable – what you do and what you will put up with. If she is rude to your friends, she gets told so at the time, then next she stays in her room while you have company. If you worry that ‘she will take it as an insult’, you will let her decide how you live your own life. It’s not just about the dogs. It goes downhill from here.
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Mbirkhimer Jun 3, 2019
Thank you! I think deep down I knew this is what I need to do, it’s just a matter of sitting down with her and laying it out there. So thanks for the nudge❤️
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Restricting access to your friends is no less than abuse. If a spouse did it would be advised to get out ASAP, just because it is your mother there is no difference. Get a week planner and tell her when you will be out each week if it varies use a wipe off one but tell her you will be seeing people and she will not be coming in whilst they are there or you will be seeing them away from home. This is intolerable behaviour and goes beyond being manipulative.
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You are way too young to give up your life . That’s never a normal relationship if that is expected of an adult child. Stand firm, you are allowed to lead your life just like your mother led her life.

Tell your mom she has a choice of sitting home alone or to start going to senior activities. You don’t need to sit there with her. I assume she is safe alone from your post . If she isn’t, get someone to stay with her. I’m not saying everyday but at least a few times a week. Or for vacation. Maybe leave the smaller dog if you think she may not be able to control the large one.
I’m sure she’ll squawk but she’s being selfish. Its not up to us to make someone choose to enjoy life, that’s their responsibility. It’s up to us though if we let someone walk all over us.

It’s odd how many on here have the same problems. I think maybe many here have been the “ good “ child (or only child)who gave more so a tyrannical parent or even just a self absorbed parent got used to it and demands more and more as they can do less and less without help.
They recently had an article here claiming a dementia suffer can not manipulate.HAHAHA. Bull. If that’s their basic personality, it’s second nature. That’s why my narcissist mother still , at 92 with vascular dementia, plays my sister against me and vice versa. She may not be as good at it as she was years ago, or maybe we just can spot it better, but she still does it.
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cherokeegrrl54 Jun 6, 2019
I read that article too and my response was the same as yours!!! Once a manipulator, always a manipulator....
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I'd hire a twice-daily walker, and make it an anti-obesity issue. You don't want to get back and find that you've got 2 x 200 lb labs: the amount of exercise they need is more than I could easily cope with and I'm 55. Do you know of a reliable walker? Could you introduce one ahead of time to give her and you and the dogs a chance to establish a routine?

I'd also try to separate out my own anxiety about being away and leaving her to it, from her resentment that she is no longer able to go away on nice breaks with her friends.

The worst case scenario that I can well imagine would be running through your head is that you get back to find that she tripped over a dog on the night that you left, broke her hip and has since been partially eaten. I used to find it almost impossible not to conjure nightmares like this every time I was planning to do anything at all to suit myself.

Well. The tripping over/broken hip part, which is the actual bad bit, she could manage at any time whether you were overseas or right there in the back yard. The fallout from that would be that if you were away there would be a longer delay in her receiving help. But that's all. The *additional* risk is a minor factor, and unless your mother is suddenly doing daft dangerous things I should just accept it. Presumably there's an emergency contact network in place, is there?

Don't negotiate on your trip: you're going, end of.
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my2cents Jun 4, 2019
This is a good idea. Dog walker gets the dogs out a couple times a day and checks on things at the house to make sure she's ok without feeling like someone is babysitting.
If her mind is good, then you need to have the conversation about nasty comments about your friends. She clearly sees them as people taking you away from her from time to time and she lashes out. -- Was she the type of person who had lots of friends...or perhaps just one friend at a time? I found the later type just can't be nice/friendly to more than one at a time. And for now - you're it. The choice can be - keep nasty to yourself or you will go to them for visits and she will be excluded all together.
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There have been many well meant suggestions that involve "reasoning" with your mother and generally trying to handle her with kid gloves. This will sooner or later take a serious toll on you. IF you are already certain that your mother is not acting as she is because of a serious health issue on her part, then it is time for you to get some courage to just do what makes you comfortable and let her know that you are doing so. "Reasonable" conversations are simply enabling her to keep behaving as she has been. If boredom is her problem, than it is something she needs to deal with. You can help her if she requests reasonable help, but so far, it seems you already know that here responses will be negative. So, again, take care of yourself...and the animals, who can't take care of themselves.
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Reply to oldmamabear77
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First suggestion is..Tell your mom what you expect. Say if you bother us we are going to leave. If you are having friends over and she "starts in" get up and leave the room. Go outside, to another room or even say ya know I think we are going to Starbucks for coffee...then leave.
Get someone to come in and care for the dogs. I am quite a bit younger than your Mom and I would not want to care for 2 large dogs. Just tell her that the person is going to come in to help out is for the dogs not for her.
If mom is doing nothing all day she may be bored and you might want to look into Adult Day Care for her or at least the activities at the local Senior Center and drop her off a few days a week.
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I agree with the dog walker. They’re not small dogs. You don’t want her to fall while you’re gone. Plus, that’s a twice a day check in, without her getting suspicious. Go and have fun!
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