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My mother and I have never gotten along. She's been very critical of me from day one and never misses the chance to get in a "dig" about my driving, my weight, my looks, etc.


I've tried limiting my time with her and that has helped A LOT! But, when I DO have to talk with her on the phone or take her to an appointment, it's awful!


I've tried telling her how her comments hurt me, but she's oblivious. Says she's only trying to "improve me".


I have found alternate transportation for her, which she uses occasionally. She still lives in an apartment, but no longer drives. She's 87.


I'm her only nearby relative, and her POA...I'm "IT"!


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I would suggest two different approaches, depending on which one you think might work. The first one would be to treat each criticism as funny - laugh when she criticizes you like you think she's nuts and her opinion is ridiculous. "Oh mom, you're a hoot. I love it when you're being funny. Hahahahahaha. You think my blouse doesn't look good? Hahahahahaha. Funniest thing I've heard all day" That might throw her off her game if you do it every time she comes up with something critical. And you can enjoy shaking up the dynamic of your relationship.

The other option would be to be very direct - "Mom, I've tried to tell you how your criticisms hurt me, but you don't listen. So from now on, whenever you criticize me for anything, I'm out of here (or off the phone)." Then do it! "Oops, sorry, mom, you just criticized my driving. I'll get you to the doctor's office, but you'll have to call a cab home. Maybe the cab driver will drive to your satisfaction." Try that once or twice and she may change her tune.

What she doesn't realize (and you don't realize yet yourself) is the dynamic has changed. YOU hold the cards. She needs you, you don't need her. She dishes it out because she thinks she still has the power and you take it and quietly steam. Change the dynamic because YOU hold the power now. See what happens. And please let us know how you're doing, we care.
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There's a book by Deborah Tannen called something like "I'm only telling you this for your own good". It's about communication issues in families like yours.

Your mom does not yet see you as an adult. Sometimes leaving the nest also means not picking up the phone and not caring so much about what our families think about us.

Have you even considered going "no contact' for a couple of weeks or a month?
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She's "got your number" and knows that she's upsetting you. Sounds like there are some control and domination issues involved.

And as long as it upsets you, she's likely to continue this behavior. So, I think the questions might be to ask yourself if you want to continue allowing her upset you (and I'm certainly not suggesting that you're enabling her on purpose) or step back, take a good assessment of the situation, and decide to stand up for yourself and challenge her.

Some suggestions as a retort:

"I'm sorry I don't meet your standards." If you want to equally nasty, you can tell her she doesn't meet yours either. Then leave or hang up the phone.

Or, perhaps: "I'm sorry you don't think I'm a good (person) (caregiver). So I'll leave now and you can find somebody who meets your standards.

That takes a lot of nerve so think it over. It also requires a change from being passive to being more independent if not aggressive. It's not a solution for everyone.

But recognize that SHE is not going to change, so you can try to change your attitude by ignoring it or responding with a retort.
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87 not likely to change if she has done this all your life. Are there other siblings and does she treat them the same way? Are you the most successful? Maybe the smartest or have you made the best of your gifts and she is actually jealous of you and is trying to bring you "down". All you can do is limit your contact and not let her get under your skin. That is what I had to do with my Mum. Admit to yourself that you actually don't like her. Whether you feel responsible or have to "love" her because she is your Mom are operate issues.
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If her comments really bother you, then, I'd be honest and tell her that you just can't take it. Life is too short, mother, please let's be civil and kind. If so, we can have fun, but, if not....I just can't take it. Or, talk to a counselor about it. It sure would be a shame for her to run off her only child as she enters her final phase of her life.

I suppose that I am more tolerant with my parents. BOTH of them constantly criticize my driving. I mean, every minute they are telling me, watch out, turn here, check that way, slow down, etc. AND this is while I'm going the speed limit or slightly below. They are hyper vigilant when passengers in a car. EXCEPT NOT when they ride with other drivers. Just me. lol (Also, I'm a safe driver. Very responsible.) I just laugh out loud. I think it bothers them, but, I don't care. Sometimes, I say, "Can you believe that I've been driving for over 35 years and never caused an accident?" OR, "I figure out how to get home by myself all the time. It's a miracle." lol I try to make light of their crazy behavior.

With my mom, I'll say, "Mom, I know that you don't like those tops with the cut out sleeves, but, they are fashionable and I bought one. So, just be warned. lol

My dad and I disagree about politics all the time, but, I try to ignore him and consider that we will never agree. We are just different. And what does it matter in the scheme of things? I try to bring up something that I know we can agree on, like animals or cars.

So, I think it boils down to trying not sweat the small stuff. If you're really hurt by her words, I'd attend to that, but, if it's just trivial stuff, I'd try to let it roll off your back. Oh, also, if she's getting cognitive decline, that could be making her agitated and critical. That sometimes happens.
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She obviously has deep emotional/spiritual problems and you probably cannot heal her, especially since she has no insight into her destructive behavior. I believe you have to decide just how much of her abuse you can safely take for your own health and limit contact accordingly. You don't have to be her POA if you don't wish to be. Resign. I'll be blunt here - is she able to understand "push back"? As in, upfront, this is the extent of what I will do. I will not tolerate abusive comments - if you continue to do this, you are on your own. Since she is not demented, she has the adult responsibility for herself. You are willing to offer help, but on YOUR terms. Beggars can't be choosers.
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