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Just found this fabulous site tonight and this is my first post so I hope I don't ramble too much "coming out of the gate" and that hopefully my post is clear.

How can I disagree with my mother without making her so mean and hurtful? Tonight we were discussing what to give everyone for Christmas and she asked what my husband would want. I told her he wanted this new tool for work and she could only find it at this specialized store. She responded back saying ok I'll go to the hardware store and I'm sure Bob there will have one. When I told her the hardware store won't have it - she said I needed to quit argueing with her all the time.

Do I just suck it up and take it or what? I told her I was sorry she felt that way that I was just trying to help. She flatly said "NO you were trying to argue with me!!!" So I said I needed to go fix dinner and would call her tomorrow and she said "Oh NOW I made you upset with me, now if you would quit trying to argue with me you wouldn't be so mad"


So does being 72 give you a free pass at being rude regardless of the situation? If so then I don't know how to "behave" or even talk to my mom anymore. Here I am 49 years old frozen with fear because in 2 short weeks my family will be at my parents house (out of town) for a week over Christmas.

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"Well, sure, try Bob first, Mom, and if he doesn't have it, the specialty store will."

Why do you want to argue with her? What harm is there in her trying Bob at the hardware store?

I wish being 72 gives one a free pass for any kind of behavior -- I'd have something to look forward to in a few years. It doesn't. But you know what? Your poor mom lives day in and day out with a husband who has dementia. That is nearly enough to send anyone round the bend now and then.

I suggest that you cut dear mom some slack. Let her be right, even when she isn't. Suck it up. Offer helpful information, but not in the tone that says she is wrong and you are right.

When you are at your parents' house, I hope you can spend a lot of time with your father, to give your mother a break. Probably in the past she has been hostess. Don't be surprised if that role is hard for her this year. Pamper her a little.

Happy holidays to you all.
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I sympathize with you, River. I live with a mother who lays in wait to start an argument. I try to steer clear of buttons that I know will get her started. So then she will start in on me and, like your mother, will accuse me of being the perpetrator. It can be crazy making. I know there is no winning, and if I try to defend myself, I will just make her very angry. It is not a fair situation. They have two power cards -- they are the parent and they are old.

I wonder how you deal with the anger it can cause. I do things like leave the room and punch my palm to deal with it. Then I pet my rabbits and feel all better. I try to reassure myself that it isn't me. The arguing and criticism can be wearing, though, when it happens for a long time.
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Well, being 75, I can say, uncategorically "No". Being 72 does not give you a free pass to be rude regardless of the situation. Has your mum always been like this, or is this behaviour relatively recent - i.e. since your dad got dementia? I don't disagree with other posters, that your mum may be burned and a bit "short: because of that. I would back off, and pick your battles very carefully. If Mum wants to buy a tool for her sil from Bob, so be it. Let it go. Even if it is not the one he wants. I am sure he would be gracious and aoppreciate it anyway., My mum has always been difficult, and does not tolerate being disagreed with - never has, so I often say nothing, or murmur something that sounds supportive, even if I do not agree with her. Occasionally, if I think it is important enough I state my different opinion, and take the flack - and there always is flack.
Regarding the week over Christmas, it may be wise to rethink your plans in light of this. A week is quite a long time to manage difficult relationships. My backup was always to go to a hotel if things got difficult, in the days when i did stay for a visit, Good luck, and come back and let us know how you are. ((((((((hugs))))))) Joan
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It is not healthy nor does it contribute to an adult/adult relationship for a parent to view their adult children as still being little kids. In fact, it is rude and not respectful at all. It also opens the door for a parent to use emotional blackmail on their adult children via Fear, Obligation and Guilt, also known as F.O.G. Some parents need to grow up instead of merely growing older.
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River, I do get it - you just want her to accept what you said is true (that only the specialty store would have it) and not instantly ignore what you said and then get angry with you when you reassert it. I'd guess your mother does this in many many areas of your life for most of your life. I too am finding as my mother ages that patterns that were hurtful and chronic all along have now become much harder to bear. Easy for me to say, but your best tactic is just to let it go unless it is a matter of great practical importance. It's only a game of tug-of-war if both parties are pulling on the rope....drop your end, you'll feel better.
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OMG River, we must be long lost sisters cuz it sounds like we have the same mother! My Dad is 75 and was diagnosed with Alzheimers several years ago, but he is not the problem. He is still living at home, but Mom says he is too much for her. We tried getting a home health aide, but that didn't even last two weeks (He's gonna steal us blind!), so my DH and I tried to take the place of the aide. This was in addition to taking them both to appointments, relatives and other visits, grocery and other shopping and anything else they needed. Since Mom got rid of the aide, I offered to step in to do showers for my Dad, even though I was very uncomfortable with this at first. My DH would distract Mom while I was doing this (she has to be in the middle of everything), and he would do housecleaning, yard work, etc. We were also cooking meals and delivering them so she wouldn't have to cook. Well, this all worked out well for a few weeks (or so we thought) until we got a call from her financial planner (who is also ours) telling us he was getting weird letters and emails from her implying that I was somehow misappropriating money from her and planning on selling or renting out her house, or moving somebody in without her knowledge (how would you do that?) Anyway, we had a family meeting with the parents and my two brothers to change the POA and medical POA from joint with one of my bros. and me (she hates my other bro) to just my bro. This happened about 5 weeks ago, and we have REALLY backed off. I feel bad about this in regards to my Dad, I worry about HIM. My mom has always been a paranoid and nasty person, and she is just getting worse as time goes on. I'm sorry I don't have any real help for you, except to procede cautiously, as you never know what somebody else might be thinking. I know that the other shoe is just hanging there for us, and will drop probably when we least expect it. Do you have to go to your parents for Christmas? Maybe you don't have to stay as long? I wish that there was some kind of free pass for us, as apparently I don't know how to behave or talk to my mom either! I hope things get better for you! I am pretty new to this site too, I have mostly been reading other threads, and there are a lot of people on here who are very wise and have a lot of experience in the various aspects of caregiving and family dramas. Sometimes it really helps to vent, and this is a great place to do it without being judged. Hugs to you and yours! Beanie
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River, I didn't see you as being argumentative at all. Caregiver and other children's feelings can get stepped on a lot. Many times parents can turn their frustrations on the person they are closest to. I guess we should be honored that we are chosen to be the ones to see the ugly side. It means they trust us not to leave maybe? Sometimes we have to look for the positive side. (Other times we have to find a good non-destructive way to vent our bad feelings.)
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River, you aren't being argumentive in reality, but to our parents we are still children and they tend to take the attitude that we are challenging them, they always know better than we do no matter how old we are. JeanneGibbs' answer is a good one, humor your mother without sounding condescending. After some practice you will get very good at avoiding confrontations with her and you will even get to where most of your encounters with her will become pleasant. Many parents when elderly live their lives doing things the same way they have for years, and have not updated their thinking. For example, my mother has had a debit/credit card for many years, she will still charge things on her regular credit card instead of using the credit on her debit/credit card. I have explained to her many times over the years she would not have to pay interest if she used the credit on her debit/credit card but she can't get her mind around that idea and she worked in a bank for 30+ years. Now that she has Alzheimer's, I don't bother explaining it anymore.
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River525 "OK" remember these 2 letters, this one simple word. and make "OK" your favorite answer (in most cases) to save yourself a lot of grief!!! The trick is act like you mean it even if you don't, you are now an actor, what I mean by this advice is.... no matter what you say or do it's going to be wrong... most Mother's do this, and I think it is because you are now in her former position, her roles are slipping away. As a wife she can't take care of her husband, but will never admit that, and as a mother, she's trying to do anything she can to be at least in charge of her own ideas. This is the point in time when you have to ACT like she's in charge, but, you really are. This is what I refer to as "the need to know basis.". For example: my Mother still does not like when I go to her room at the nursing home and go through her closet, I do this to see what she needs, what's missing, if her clothes are clean etc.. So I wait until she is in another room at the NH. She does not see it, so, I avoid the argument, but still am doing it. She doesn't need to know. When she catches me she says "that's my closet, I don't go to your house and go into your closet do I.?" Then I say "Oh I thought it was the bathroom", or some other excuse like I am clueless and not her.
When we were in the car I used to ask her which way do I turn next, I forgot the way... she felt like she was teaching me again. It's all about loosing control and not wanting to. When It comes to safety though you have to set boundaries or rules but if you can, act like it's because you might be in harms way and not her. Say things like.... maybe the best thing to do is let you decide.... and she'll most likely make you do something for her because she really knows she can't, but forcing in anyway, even if it's for her best interest and you making decisions for her will be a reason for her to disagree. I am not saying your wrong and your not, she just doesn't need to know your right. You know you need to take control but she doesn't have to know it. It's kind of funny, but, the only time my Mom remembers that I am her daughter, at this point is when I forget what I just suggested to you, and I slip up and say something.... as if I am in charge of her. Then she say's "remember I am your Mother you are not mine." Then she gets confused and has a look like did I just say that ....and walks away from me because I think the reality hits her for a fleeting moment and it saddens her. I myself am not a Mother but I believe that the mother instinct runs deeper than her dementia. Your Mom may not have dementia she is just trying to preserve what's left of her normal healthy self. With all that said "If your the target of the abuse it's because your tuff and she knows it." Ask yourself this question... will you through in the towel and give up for any reason? I know you your answer is No, and I know that because you came here instead!!!! One more thing for now.... it's a Thankless job.... verbally, financially and in other ways, but what you will feel in your heart as a caregiver is more than words can say or money can buy. Welcome and be Strong It is worth it!!!
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oops! Meant to say I have rearranged my life for her, but it will never be enough. Mother keeps getting wonderful ideas on what to do for Christmas, or sponsoring a soldier, or getting another dog, all of which fall on my shoulders. And of course you have to go along if you don't want to be heartless. Fortunately for me they always tend to run dry after a day or two, but it just gets tiresome. Conversations always end up being about Mother's thoughts on life or her memories, as she doesn't have the patience or interest for much else.
You have my full sympathies, esp when it comes to the tone of voice thing. Even a resigned sigh can start an argument. My thought that in the end you're best off picking your battles, just let her talk and go around her when you can. Is there anything you can agree on? Do you have a husband who supports you?
Is she picky over everything or just a few pet peeves?
Christmas is never an easy time for even the kindest families.
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