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Mom Hates My Suggestion to Move



"My 80 year old mother lives in a large home on a large lot, away from her family. I’ve noticed that she enjoys spending time in the town her family lives, which is about 15 miles from her. In fact, she shops and hangs out in the family town regularly. 

Without any pressure, I suggested to mom that she may want to consider moving to the family town to a home that is suited to her in size and lifestyle. What resulted was a firestorm of insults, threats, and anger. Frankly, I was shocked. Why the resistance to look at another option? Why the wild reaction?"



Oh, the reaction a suggestion can create! 

Your mother likely lives in the home she has owned for some time. It may be the home she and her husband built, or raised their children in. There may be years of memories in every corner of that home. The thought of leaving may be too painful to consider.

If such a strong reaction—perhaps an overreaction-- is out of character, that means you touched on a fear of hers that lives just beneath the surface. Do know that leaving the home is on the minds of everyone as they age. She is afraid and reacting strongly to ward you off. Think of a porcupine. What does that animal do in a fearful situation? You know the answer, and oftentimes it works. It clearly worked with you, at least initially.

I strongly suspect your mother is thinking about your idea. She’s mulling the concept over and is either softening to it or rejecting it. She may be more open to discussing the possibilities or options with you once a bit of time has passed. 

Feel free to revisit the subject with a few concrete suggestions at a later date. Start the conversation by expressing your desire to make life easier and more enjoyable for her. Let her know that you’re bringing the subject up again because you think she may want to take a look at some options. Maybe find a few houses or condos in your family’s town for her to ponder. Tell her there is no pressure and that you will drop it if she still feels strongly about staying where she is. Let her know that you love her and her comfort and access to family is why you made the suggestion. Do this at a time of low emotion. If your mother reacts with the same vehemence that she did the first time, you will need to drop the idea of her moving and accept her decision.

Change is very difficult for most humans. Your mother is in a vulnerable place, and you’re suggesting a big change. It will take time for her to consider your thoughts. Early rejection is not that uncommon. Give her space and time, because that’s what she needs at the moment.

You are on this journey of life together, and navigating it can be challenging at times. I wish you well.