How to deal with a difficult parent. (Blog marathon post 10)
Last evening I got this mail in my inbox:
I am a regular reader of your blog and I have read two of your books too. I
really enjoy your writing style. But more than the style, what completely
impresses me is your great insight about life. I love all those positive
things you write - be it about time management, living life to the fullest
or showing your love to those who matter.
I have been wanting to write to you for a very long time. But I hesitated,
because we have never met or spoken before. But now I saw that you are on a
blog marathon. So I felt this was the right time to mail you, because you
would be obviously in the look out for fresh topics. I was wondering if
you could take some time out and blog about the issue I have in my life...
I lost my Dad in an accident when I was 4 years old and my sister was 6
years of age. We come from a middle class family hailing from Kerala. My
mom had a government job. My mom was a typical Indian wife who cooked and
cleaned, and had no idea about what happened in the outside world. After
we lost our Dad, no one came to help us out in any way. So my mom struggled
a lot to raise me and my sister. And I love my mom a lot for all that she
has done for us. That said, my mom is a very unreasonable woman. Even
though she is a very caring person, she never gives me any peace of mind.
She nags and fights with me over every little thing in the world. I do care
a lot about her, and try hard to keep her happy. But at the end of it, she
still picks on something and blames me about it. Iam tired of trying to
keep her happy all the time.
Then, I met a wonderful woman - an attractive, fun, intelligent and genuine
person. We used to work together in Bangalore, fell in love and got
married. After marriage, I moved to the Middle East, because I got a better
job offer. And I took my mom and wife with me. And ever since we got
married, things have got worse. My mom and wife are always at logger heads.
Initially, my wife was very understanding and supportive. She used to
silently deal with my mom, and she was actually sympathetic towards my mom.
Infact, she used to even mediate the fights between me and my mom. But
after a while, my wife could take no longer.
Now the scene in my house is very chaotic. There is not a single day I can
remain peaceful in my life. I do know that most of the time it is my mom
who is at fault. But she is beyond any reasoning or logic. Since my wife is
an intelligent woman, I tell her to be more understanding. But my wife says
that Iam being very cruel to her, by closing my eyes to my mom's rudeness.
Now things have reached a point where my mom and wife can't stand each
other. My wife is an independent woman who likes to live her life on her
own terms. And my mom is of the old school and believes in controlling both
me and my wife. She doesn't let us enjoy any couple time. She creates a big
hue and cry when I take my wife out. I do know that we are entitled to
couple time. And I don't blame my wife for wanting it. But since my mom is
reacting very strongly against it, I find it very hard to take my wife out.
I don't know how to balance this situation. My mom is old and lonely in her
life. She is overtly dependent on me for everything. And she doesn't want
to live away from me. I can't afford to provide her a different home with
all amenities in the Middle East. I will have to send her back to Kerala.
But I know that she won't be able to cope with that at all. And even I
don't have the heart to do it. I love my mom very dearly.
But I love my wife also very much. She is adamant that she doesn't want to
live with my mom anymore. I know its unfair to tell my wife to tolerate my
unreasonable mom. My wife is a really lovely person, and my mom has hurt
her many times. But my mom has lived all her life and sacrificed all her
happiness for me and my sister. I want them both, and I want them both to
Whenever you are looking for something to blog about, can u pls blog about
my situation? I would really like to hear your feedback about it. I do
feel that you have a great way of dealing with difficulties in life. And I
feel that since you are both a wife and a mother, you would understand the
perspective of both my wife and mom. My wife is an independent thinking,
open-minded woman of today. But my mom is a narrow-minded, conservative,
dependent person. Feel free to share this mail on your blog, but pls don't
disclose my full name.. If someone has a
similar experience, it would be great to read their experience in your
Thank-you so much for reading it. I am really looking forward to your
suggestions and tips.
After reading the mail, I felt I had to publish it in my blog.
Here is my take on this situation.
Dear Reader who has requested to be anonymous,
Firstly I understand your pain and frustration, and deep sense of duty towards your mother. Your mother raised you and your sister, after your father passed away, and you feel extremely duty-bound towards her, because of this. As a son you have been really dutiful and you have brought her along with you to the Middle East. Your wife has tried her best to be understanding and sweet towards your mother, but both of you are now at your wits end, because of your mother's unreasonable behaviour.
By going on giving in to your mother's demands, you have inadvertently set yourself up for the 'victim' role. I am sorry to say this so frankly--but your mother is definitely bullying you. You are unable to say a firm NO to her. There are constant fights between your mother and you and you have said that your wife used to even mediate between you two. I must say your wife is a remarkably understanding woman.
Perhaps your mother is subconsciously projecting her frustrations on to you? It must definitely not have been easy for her to raise you and your sister by herself. She must be having a lot of suppressed pain and emotions, which she does not know how to deal with. It comes out in her interactions with you, as you are the closest to her. (we are usually our true selves only to the ones closest to us)
You have not mentioned what your sister does. Is she earning? Can you not send your mother to your sister's place for 6 months of the year, and then keep her with you , for the remaining six?
You also have not mentioned whether your mother has any siblings or not. Can your mother not spend a month or two with a sibling?
I understand your mother is old. But by letting her being overtly dependent on you, to the point of it affecting your marriage--that is just not done. No matter how much she has sacrificed for you and your sister, rudeness is just not acceptable---especially towards your children, who love you!
As much as we love our parents, we have to realize that we are really not responsible for our adult parent's happiness. What you are trying to do is parent your mother (By trying to be everything for her)--and that is simply not possible. Quit trying to make her happy all the time. You cannot do that. She has to take responsibility for her happiness--ALLOW her to do so. (Right now, from what I gather, the moment she wants you to 'fix something', whether, real or imagined, you rush and oblige.Stop doing that.) Do not allow her to pick on you.
You will definitely have to put your foot down and tell your mother that you have to take your wife out. She might resist in the beginning. Be firm but kind towards your mother. Be patient towards her. Don't fight with her. Just smile and say "Yeah mama--I will be back at so-and-so time and we are going to so-and-so place." She is bound to throw a huge tantrum probably. Be prepared for it. But whatever disapproval she expresses, don't react or retort. Just smile. (This is easy to say but very very hard to follow, I know..because this is what I try to do)
Your wife is a woman who fell in love with you--and you too love her a lot and appreciate her so much. Keep that love alive. Guard it. Do not allow negativity to cloud that. It is precious. Tell your wife how much you appreciate her. Hold her hand. Take her for drives (if you own a car). tell her how beautiful she looks, and how much you admire her intelligence.
Tell your mother that you love her a lot, but you will not tolerate negativity, fault-finding and rudeness. And sending her to Kerala for 6 months or 3 months or whatever time-frame you choose, is really not being cruel, provided she is in a safe and comfortable place. So don't feel guilty about it.
I do hope my words have helped.
May your home be filled with love and peace.
Sending you positive vibes.
I do invite all of you, to comment with your take on the situation. Do share your thoughts. If you want to remain anonymous, you can. (All it takes is a valid e-mail id for commenting on this blog. Name need not be disclosed)
Sharing is empowering.
Do offer your thoughts, and perhaps they will help this person who has reached out and is asking for help.
I look forward to your comments
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