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Old 02-05-2012, 05:48 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
558 posts, read 1,089,912 times
Reputation: 598

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I am a middle aged person who is the child of an overly critical mother. She opens her mouth only to criticize. I know she loves all of her children and I truly believe she thinks she is helping.

She has always been this way, and up until the last ten years or so, it was tolerable (barely.) Now that she is getting older, it is getting worse and worse. I think some of it is that she is lonely (my father died many years ago.) You can't say anything to her about her behavior. To do so makes her defensive and more angry. Now that we (her children) are grown, she has moved to our spouses and our children. She is causing all sorts of pain within our family and I don't think we can take any more of it.

I don't want her to die alone and cut off from her family. I think about when she was younger and nicer and it just breaks my heart.

I have spoken to friends and they say similar things about their aging parents. Is this a "normal" part of getting older? Is there anything that can be done about it?
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Jersey
870 posts, read 1,216,968 times
Reputation: 876
For the first part of your post, I though you were talking about my grandma. So I really have nothing to contribute
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:11 PM
 
35,121 posts, read 37,790,060 times
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My Mother was like that for a few years until I told her I was sick of hearing her criticism for no particular reason and I would not listen to it any longer. Our relationship has flourished since then.
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:46 PM
 
Location: TX
6,009 posts, read 4,943,552 times
Reputation: 2585
Generally, I would advise this much (to whatever extent that it's possible)

Keep in communication with her and keep visiting. You can tell her how you feel, but don't ever cut her off entirely.

But minimize how often your children visit. They don't need a hurtful influence and they don't need to see her as a bad person.

This advice depends in part, however, on how old your children are, and how old SHE is...
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
39,014 posts, read 37,656,456 times
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I agree. My mother is this way also. Having her come visit was never about, "Oh, yay, Grandma is coming over! I can't wait!" It was always, "Oh, no, Grandma is coming over. How are we going to manage her? How can we keep anyone from hurting her feelings? How can we make sure she doesn't get into a fight with someone?"

She is not going to change. You can only control YOUR behavior. So I also would advise limiting your kids' time around her. If your kids are adolescents, they can understand a little bit about people and how their personalities are different and how their behavior isn't usually about the other person.

I had to explain to my older boys that even though grandma is a grandma, she is a person just like me, and them, and I am HER child, just like they are mine. And that we all make human mistakes and decision. And that our behavior is sometimes tolerable and sometimes not. This is when they start understanding family dynamics. It's not fun, but it's necessary.

As for you and your time with your mom, I would stand up to her. It is going to SUCK, but it has to be done for your sanity. If she starts getting personal or attacking, you can just get up and leave. Stay calm and explain why.

Sorry you are going through this. You don't choose your family, but you can choose how you let them treat you. Just because it's your mom doesn't mean you have to take whatever she throws at you.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:30 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
558 posts, read 1,089,912 times
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Thank you to all for your words. This is so painful and it is comforting to have someone reach out to help. Thank you.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:06 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
17,566 posts, read 21,741,355 times
Reputation: 44317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eeyore1 View Post
I am a middle aged person who is the child of an overly critical mother. She opens her mouth only to criticize. I know she loves all of her children and I truly believe she thinks she is helping.

She has always been this way, and up until the last ten years or so, it was tolerable (barely.) Now that she is getting older, it is getting worse and worse. I think some of it is that she is lonely (my father died many years ago.) You can't say anything to her about her behavior. To do so makes her defensive and more angry. Now that we (her children) are grown, she has moved to our spouses and our children. She is causing all sorts of pain within our family and I don't think we can take any more of it.

I don't want her to die alone and cut off from her family. I think about when she was younger and nicer and it just breaks my heart.

I have spoken to friends and they say similar things about their aging parents. Is this a "normal" part of getting older? Is there anything that can be done about it?

I stay away from my remaining critical parent. At first it was a difficult thing. Now, it's become the easiest and most healthy thing I've done!

I send holiday cards and that's it. My spirit is lighter and I feel free.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
7,215 posts, read 7,563,902 times
Reputation: 7717
Have you checked with her doctor to make sure it isn't some form of dementia, etc? It may not be, but it's worth asking about. Maybe you've already done this.

I remember reading someone's very similar question in a newspaper advice column. They basically said you should tell the older person that it's not enjoyable to be around them when they're so unpleasant. Then if they continue, just get up and leave. Eventually they'll hopefully get the message, but if not, at least you won't have to deal with it any longer. Some old people feel they're entitled to make others miserable, unfortunately.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
3,388 posts, read 3,225,745 times
Reputation: 2387
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaseMan View Post
Have you checked with her doctor to make sure it isn't some form of dementia, etc? It may not be, but it's worth asking about. Maybe you've already done this.

I remember reading someone's very similar question in a newspaper advice column. They basically said you should tell the older person that it's not enjoyable to be around them when they're so unpleasant. Then if they continue, just get up and leave. Eventually they'll hopefully get the message, but if not, at least you won't have to deal with it any longer. Some old people feel they're entitled to make others miserable, unfortunately.
I was wondering the same thing. Not that it makes the behavior any more pleasant to deal with, but with advanced age tends to come a rigidity of habits and a decreased functioning in the executive control parts of the brain- the part that tells us to keep our darn mouths shut when we have a critical comment that is socially inappropriate. I think it is very worth trying to figure out how you plan to react as the adult child, but she may not actually be able to control it if there is some early stage dementing going on. OP, I'm sorry for what you are going through.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:10 AM
 
11,229 posts, read 9,225,730 times
Reputation: 14654
It may be too late to train your Mom to different behavior. But people treat you the way you let them. And for all these years, you let her. Don't try to talk to her to get her to see your point. You don't need to. Tell her what you will and will not tolerate. When she does the intolerable, end the visit. Rinse, repeat.
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