Family: The Gift You Can’t Return

Discussion in 'The Hens' Nest' started by Scout, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. Scout

    Scout Chicken

    Now I'm an adult and I've flown the coop, it seems like my mother sees me more as a confidant. Which is usually fine, it's been great knowing her more.

    But mum is going through a hard time right now. She's just had to put gran into a home and is trying to sell her unit and furniture. Selling the unit due to the village fees will end up only giving gran a pittance to live on. Plus she has dementia. And the furniture mum is trying to sell to earn gran some cash is only getting responses from scammers, and mum doesn't know how to respond/can't identify them.

    Yesterday we found out that both my brother and sister failed their courses. My sister failed over a year ago and only found out when she was rejected from graduation. My brother has failed repeatedly and might get kicked out. Both are living home and can barely afford to keep their cars running without mum and dad's help.

    I just... I don't know how to help her. Her problems have ignited my anxiety, which flares regularly. I wish my siblings would get their acts together. Apparently dad just tells at mum when she asks for help. I've spent half the afternoon trying to figure out my sisters Uni, and moving on to my brothers because no one knows what to do.

    In short aaaaarrrrrrgggggggghhh. How have I turned into the fixer??? How do I deal with parental issues without turning into a wreck??
     
  2. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    I know this is easy to say, but hard to remember: it's not your job. It sounds like your mom is a fixer too, and not all of this is her job, either.

    Your siblings will need to figure out their own education. That's part of going to uni. As for the furniture, is hiring a professional to organize an estate sale an option?
     
  3. Scout

    Scout Chicken

    No it's not an option. That's not really a thing.

    I just don't know how to make mum feel better without offering ways to fix.

    It doesn't help that mum has a habit of making me feel guilty for not helping. Like, if I tell her that she needs to sell the furniture online, she cries and asks me to help because she doesn't know how. And I feel terrible because I know how to help! I can't just not help on principle!

    Ways I can help without fixing things??
     
  4. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    I wish I could help with that. I'm not very good at saying no. When my grandmother died, I told my dad to sell her furniture online. When he waffled, I told him to send me photos of it and I would post it. Instead, he packed up her entire freaking house and shipped it to me. That was awful, but in his grief, he just couldn't deal with it.

    I think offering suggestions and your advice are helpful. If you feel yourself stressing when her anxiety leaks into you, it's okay to withdraw a little. I've definitely had to tell my parents things like, "I'm sorry, but I can't handle this right now. Let's both take a break, and I'll get back to you when I can give this my full attention."
     
  5. StillContrary

    StillContrary Chicken

    I'm a fixer too. The way that I've found to keep my sanity is to identify what I CAN fix. If you live near your mom, you might be able to take pictures and post the furniture online for her. You also need to understand what you can't fix. You can't go back in time and make your siblings pass their classes. But you can have the conversation with your mom of how to handle the situation. And sometimes, your mom might just need a shoulder to cry/vent on. It's hard for a fixer personality to handle that, since you can't do anything. But it might be what she needs at that moment.
     
  6. Erie

    Erie Florida AF

    Yes I totally get where you're all coming from, I'm SUCH a fixer. It's so hard for me to just listen to someone and not try to fix it all for them. I agree that it's ok to withdraw for a bit and just say that it's too much at the moment and you need some space/time.

    I'm really scared that stuff like this is going to happen to us in the future, too. K's parents don't have much money but they get by okay. Combined, K and I make about 3-4 times per year what they make (but we're paying off massive student loan debt, too). His sister has just as much student loan debt as I do, but doesn't have a useful degree or a good job. K's parents pay for 95% of her life, including her student loan payments, car lease (brand new car lease BTW), insurances, cell phone, etc etc. She's about to move out of the place she shares with her boyfriend slash ex-boyfriend (not sure where that stands) and she just can't afford to live on her own...but she also won't live with anyone else. We're worried his parents are going to start paying for her rent, too, which will pretty much send them into bankruptcy if they don't tell her to figure her life out herself. We don't want to somehow become responsible for her too if their parents can't afford to keep supporting her and ask us for help. We're willing to help his parents if need be, but not her because she's not willing to take any responsibility and get a second job (which I did for years) or take a higher paying job she doesn't like as much (welcome to real life).

    Sorry vent.
     
  7. Fitz

    Fitz Leslie Knope Monster

    SC and Honey both make very good points. To add - can you take over the furniture-selling aspect, since you probably have a better idea of who the scammers are? That way you feel like you're doing something to help, and this is something you CAN control.

    Your siblings need to grow up and take care of their own stuff. Yes, university is hard, but they are adults and need to figure out how to help themselves.

    Erie, that stinks. It sounds like K's parents need to draw a line of their own with his sister.
     
  8. deet

    deet Chicken

    Send chocolate.
     
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  9. ToePick

    ToePick Chicken

    Scout, I couldn't agree more with everything that's already been said. I have a fixer personality as well and it's very difficult to want to help someone you care about when you see them struggling, but aren't quite sure how. The change in the dynamic of the relationship with your mom sounds like it's still new to the both of you and will take some time adjusting to. You went from being her little girl to her grown girl.

    Sometimes just offering up an ear can be so cathartic for the other person, and you're helping more than you realize. You can't fix everything though. Give yourself a break and help where you can, but don't beat yourself up over things. Easier said than done, I know. It's sweet though that you care so much! :kiss:
     
  10. Imabug1002

    Imabug1002 Chick pee

    I totally understand, I'm the same way. Moving 1,100 miles away helped me stay out of it. When I go home every few months I "fix" everything then leave again. Besides talking to my mom and trying to get her to stop paying for everything for everyone, I also talk to my siblings and tell them my concerns and give them suggestions on how to help themselves. I also let them know how they are hurting my mom because she won't tell them; they have majorly taken advantage of her for years and it's gotten worse since my dad passed. If you feel comfortable, I'd say talk to your siblings too.
     
  11. Scout

    Scout Chicken

    Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm going to read through more carefully but I just got up and wanted to thank you all. :)
     
  12. whatchyagonnado

    whatchyagonnado Chicken


    This. Scout one of the ways to help is have an honest heart to heart with your mom about how to wean off your siblings. I had to have a serious talk with my dad about why my 30 year old sister needed to take care of herself, and why he shouldn't be delaying retirement for her.
     
  13. Scout

    Scout Chicken

    I guess my siblings are just not ready though. My sister is 19...she's been working since 15, but only part time. Even if she quit studying, it would be a few years before she would be financially stable. My brother is 22 and needs a kick up the ass to finish his nursing degree, and he keeps failing. Sure they could cut them off financially, but that would ruin any chances of them finishing the degree.

    I guess mum was so ready for them to be done by the end of the year, so then they could get work and start saving to move out. Alas that won't be happening until they get work, which they can't get until they're qualified as nurses (unless they stick to their McDonald's gigs, which wouldn't earn them enough to move out).

    Sigh. I think mum relies on me because the other two are hopeless, but I can't make them less hopeless. They have to fix that themselves.

    I have to just stick to advice and support rather than offering to fix I think. I know that trying to fix makes me feel better and soothes my anxiety, but it's probably creating a dependency in my mum and siblings which is bad long term.
     
  14. Hooka87

    Hooka87 Chicken

    I think that there comes a time where the roles get switched. Where the child becomes the parent. This has always been my situation. I've taken care of my dad since he became disabled when I was 10 years old. Now, he's not an invalid by any means. I went to his Dr appts with him, made sure he had his meds and that he took them. Over the years it got to be I had to remind him to eat, he piddles around the garage and gets "Too busy" to eat. Eventually I had to take over my parents checking account and pay all the bills because my mom became very irresponsible. Recently they decided that they wanted to be grown ups, sell their house (That was in my name) and move to the land of old people (Florida). Needless to say nothing has really changed. Big D has already told me we can't send them money, that they are adults, blah blah blah. It's hard to stop taking care of someone/many someones when that has been most of you life. I understand your pain in trying to be a fixer.
     
  15. BLT

    BLT Chicken

    Long story short, T doesn't have the greatest relationship with his family. His parents have always favored his sister because T has long hair and listens to death metal. Fast forward to last weekend when his mom asked what T would like for his birthday lunch (usually Red Robin or similar). T is doing low carb, so he said "Texas de Brazil." If you don't have one nearby, it's a fancy Brazilian steakhouse like Fogo de Chao, where they come around with meat on skewers and there's an enormous salad bar. Granted, it's not cheap, but it's not horrible either, for what you're getting ($24-36 for lunch or brunch, $44 for dinner). They agreed, then called back 3 hours later to say they didn't want to go and please cancel the reservation.

    T was so hurt, y'all. We're constantly spending money on them and we don't care! They wanted steaks on the grill for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and his mom's birthday this month, all of which we happily brought over. Do they think we have a magic ribeye tree??? Needless to say, I'm taking T on my own on Friday night. His mom called and tried again to get us to come over there "for a nice home-cooked meal." She said straight to his face that the restaurant he picked was just too expensive and they didn't do anything like that for his sister. Keep in mind, they live in a gated golf club community in a 3-story McMansion, with 3 cars, all paid off. money is not an issue. Oh, and T is 35 and his sister is 38... I highly doubt she would give a rat's ass.

    Thoughts? I have no clue how to deal with these wackos.
     
  16. deet

    deet Chicken

    I sort of see both sides to this. I feel like there could have been some compromise between that expensive restaurant and just cooking at home. I've been to both, and after a meal, drinks, tips, etc. it IS expensive. I think y'all going there and having dinner with them and then going to the restaurant just the two of you is fine.

    If he has an issue outside of his birthday with his sister and the way his parents treat him, he should just talk to them about it.
     
  17. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    All I can recommend is distance, because you're not going to change them. D and I have pretty much zero expectations from our parents because they're like this too. As such, we also make very, very little effort. Does it piss them off? Yes. But they don't seem to understand that the lack of effort goes both ways. Anyway, we're happy. We do for each other, know what I mean?
     
  18. BLT

    BLT Chicken

    Honey, I wish we had the collective balls to just stay away from them. They expect us there for every major holiday and rearrange if we can't be there for some reason. T also HAS to call his mom every week or his dad calls and yells at him.

    Deet, the worst part was that T never asks them for anything. this is seriously the first time in 6 years that he's asked for anything specifically and they said no, after saying yes, because it not fair to his sister. Oh, and every time we go over there, his dad criticizes everything from how the car sounded pulling up, to how fat we are, to how much we spoil our dog, etc.
     
  19. deet

    deet Chicken

    Ok, then I'm with Honey. Why would you want to voluntarily spend time with people like that? Pass.
     
  20. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    That's the beauty of it. If T doesn't pick up the phone, there's no yelling!
     
  21. BLT

    BLT Chicken

    Yeah, that's what I'm leaning towards... I guess what I'm asking is how do you do that--cut ties with in laws?
     
  22. BLT

    BLT Chicken

    I wonder if that would work. Lst year, he tried not calling for a couple of weeks, then they showed up on our doorstep on Saturday morning, saying they were "in the neighborhood." We live 30 miles away from them.
     
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  23. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    It's not cutting ties, it's just sort of a willful defiance that leads to a tacit negotiation of terms. I mean, yes, we live hundreds to thousands of miles away from both sets of parents, so it's easier for us. But when we lived only 20 minutes from D's parents, they expected the weekly meals and regular phone calls and whatnot. We would just only answer when we felt like it, and give them notice about when we could visit, but not allow them to demand that we do everything on their schedule. We trained them a little. They're still pretty impossible, but at least now they understand that pulling manipulative bullshit isn't going to work.
     
  24. BLT

    BLT Chicken

    Innnnnteresting. I have to show T this thread!
     
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  25. deet

    deet Chicken

    It's up to you. Our method has been telling them here's our boundaries, XYZ. If they don't respect them, we don't participate. We have literally been at events with them and walked out. I don't think you need to cut ties as much as you need to make it clear things will be on your terms in some situations.
     

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