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Thread: How to deal with elderly demanding parents who were not perfect growing up?

  1. #1
    Member GingerMay's Avatar
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    How to deal with elderly demanding parents who were not perfect growing up?

    For adult children who now have elderly parents, how do you deal with their demands of your time and energy when you just feel exhausted from their constant neediness? My parents still live in their home of 30 years and have various health issues but nothing life threatening. What they want is my time and constant attention. I hesitate to use the term "narcissist" but their behavior and attitudes are a prime example of the dictionary definition.
    Growing up, they did not physically harm me but they always preferred my older sister and would defer to her during arguments. My requests and my needs only came after everyone else's. I was always just there in the background like a silent support beam for their life. I had to be happy at my sister's accomplishments or parents would accuse me of not loving her or them. My sister never had interest my activities but parents never encouraged her to. As a kid, mom used to tell me she did not even like me much but it was alright because she would always love me. WTH? If I had any issues in school she would always sigh and just say her own mother used to tell her that some day I would be a blessing to her and then she would just walk away. I felt like my mom never gave me the unconditional love or support for being who I was.
    My dad was more empathetic, but never advocated for me. I used to think he liked me more than my sister, but looking back I don't think he did. I recall one occasion when I was 7 years old and my older and larger sister stole my barbie doll and taunted me with it. I scratched her on the arm. She went screaming to our dad how I hurt her. Dad saw the scratch marks and dragged me onto the sofa where he took out toenail clippers and cut off my nails. I cried so loud because I was scared. When he was done all he did was make fun of how I "cried just because he cut my nails." He made my pretty nails that I loved look so ugly. No physical harm, but emotionally that event still haunts me. They gave me money, birthday parties, clothes and shelter. They paid for my college education. I got a job, found an apartment and never lived under the same roof again. My parents are friendly, active in the community, and everyone seems to think they are great.
    Fast forward to now when they call almost every day. I just let it go to voicemail and answer when I have time. Several of the voice mails berate me for not returning earlier calls. They tell me I should call more often. They tell me they are hurt I do not see them more frequently, and their life would be so much better if only I just spent more time with them. I told them I was going to back off a bit and tried to get along by only talking to them once or twice a month and seeing them only on holidays. They said they don't understand and they just keep calling. The sound of their voice and tone of anger makes me nauseus. I recently blocked all calls and emails. I used to hear of adult kids who cut-off their elderly parents and I thought it was awful, but now I get it and understand how necessary it can be. Is this odd? Are my parents nut jobs? Any advice from others experiencing similar? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Bronze Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    I don't think you should cut them off completely. Stop letting them get under your skin. You're still playing the role of naughty little kid....don't do that.

    You are an adult with your own life. Tell them calmly that your job and your responsibilities don't allow you to communicate with them more than once a week. Ignore the hostile voicemails. Eventually when they learn that they're not pushing your buttons anymore, they might desist.

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    Silver Member Betterwithout's Avatar
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    This is a toughie.

    I have witnessed people who had parents that would do anything for them. And as time goes, those kids would do anything for their senior parents now.

    But that doesn't seem to be the case for you (and plenty of others). No two families are the same.

    For your case, I think you need to find some level ground with them and sit down with them and set boundaries and expectations.
    Those past hurts will still be there, but you need to work past them, and be there for your parents in their final chapter of their life.

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    Gold Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    You're entitled to your own life and space. If you need a breather, I think it's best for everyone involved. I am getting the impression that you are a little difficult to manage. Try to practice filtering a bit more and don't let things bother you so personally so much. Feel confident in the way that you are and the life that you have carved for yourself. Things will fall into place. You might not be so agitated with everyone around you or easily irked. I'm only saying this because I'm sensing a lot of frustration and comparisons with your sister. Stop that. Live your own life and be proud of your own choices. It all starts from the ground up.

    Your outlook will change when you start feeling better about yourself.

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    Silver Member Nickel Speed's Avatar
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    Was anyone perfect growing up? Take some time and space if you need, but I would attempt to forgive them. They won't be around forever. I didn't talk to my mom for 15 years. I forgave, and now we have a decent relationship.

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    Silver Member Betterwithout's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Nickel Speed
    Was anyone perfect growing up? Take some time and space if you need, but I would attempt to forgive them. They won't be around forever. I didn't talk to my mom for 15 years. I forgave, and now we have a decent relationship.
    Nickel used one of the most powerful F words every relationship should have. Forgive.
    Indeed, you need to forgive wrong doings of your parents, and be thankful that things weren't worse growing up.

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    Gold Member smackie9's Avatar
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    Oh god I hear ya. Get them onto social media so you can communicate with them more that way. Buy them a laptop, and they can get lessons at the seniors center for free. Seeing pics, and story line stuff on your FB page will ease them off a bit. My mom is in her 80's and she's on social media more than I am. She still complains about me not calling her or answering my emails, but it's not as bad as it was before. Oh and she got a new dog, so that's keeping her busy too.

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    Bronze Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    ^^^^ That's a great idea. Get them on Skype so you can communicate without being there in the flesh.

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    I'm curious as to whether your parents have the same demands/expectations of your sister? I'm in a similar situation, both with a mother who fails to acknowledge that I can't keep popping over when I am 60 miles away, work full-time and study for a degree, and with very much being the less favoured child (she contacts me to tell me every little thing she's not happy with but mentions nothing to my brother).

    My therapist told me to look after myself, put boundaries in place and learn to be OK with saying no. It's easy to succumb to emotional manipulation and it can really get you down.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member shellyf62's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Rose Mosse
    You're entitled to your own life and space. If you need a breather, I think it's best for everyone involved. I am getting the impression that you are a little difficult to manage. Try to practice filtering a bit more and don't let things bother you so personally so much. Feel confident in the way that you are and the life that you have carved for yourself. Things will fall into place. You might not be so agitated with everyone around you or easily irked. I'm only saying this because I'm sensing a lot of frustration and comparisons with your sister. Stop that. Live your own life and be proud of your own choices. It all starts from the ground up.

    Your outlook will change when you start feeling better about yourself.
    What does the bolded part mean?

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