Is Mother Too Dependent on Me?
"I swear that my mother is saving things for me to do when I visit, and it is maddening! I think she can do some of these things herself, but she has become so dependent on me."
Your comment just makes me smile. Sorry, I can’t help it. The role reversal is just so very funny. Sometimes my mother does exactly the same thing. She is in her 90’s and is as sharp as ever. She is active and capable, with no dementia, for which we are all very thankful.
One thing Mom does is have her children review everything she wants a second opinion on. Sometimes when I come over I am asked quite a few questions. Frankly, I find it reassuring that Mom is seeking advice. The fact that she shares bills and communications with us that she would otherwise have discussed with Dad is a very good idea. With all of the “entrepreneurs” out there trying to make a living on the elderly, it reassures me that she is not falling prey to someone’s scams. If your parent is concerned and cautious before making decisions, you do not need to worry as much as you should if your parent complacently agrees to everything.
If you are presented with more tasks - legitimate tasks that will take more time than you have - you will need to learn the gentle art of negotiation. Yes, it can be rough if there is a list of things to do and too little time to do them. What you should do is make your parent aware of the amount of time you have available that day. Let’s say you stopped by to drop something off, and you have 30 minutes before you need to pick up the children. Mom presents you with five things that she needs done. In this case, simply say, “Mom, I have 30 minutes before I must leave to pick up the children. In what order would you like me to accomplish these tasks?” Then become silent while she prioritizes which tasks she wants done first.
Remember we all must make choices every day: what to have for dinner, what show to watch, which room to clean first. You get the picture. Mom is just giving you her entire list. But if she instead prioritizes her list before she gives it to you, you can avoid being managed by Mom. She may decide that there are things she can figure out on her own, or other things that can wait until the next time she sees you.
When you leave, be sure to tell your mother when you are returning, so that she can make other arrangements for tasks if the list is lengthy. If you are able, give her a sense of how long you can stay next time. Try not to let yourself feel guilty. There is no need. Give your parent a reasonable amount of support and help him or her to find outside resources if necessary.
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