How do I deal with a negative mother and the pressure to have her live with me?

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
How do I deal with a negative mother and the pressure to have her live with me?
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Thu, 08-16-2012 - 11:05am

Hi friends: I am originally from India and my mother lives in an assisted living facility in India while l I stay on the east coast of USA. I have been visiting mom every year for at least 10 days and stayed with her in the facility. She is generally happy there but is 75 years old. If she is in good health and has no Alzheimer's etc, she is ok there. But she will be in deep trouble if she falls seriously ill - good hospitals are far away and somebody has to supervise her care. 

 

Now my extended family are asking me when am I taking mom back with me to America. Generally speaking in our culture, the parents stay with their son as they age. Now my brother (DB) does not want to be proactive and move her to his house while she is still in good health. DB and his wife (my SIL) have old issues with mom and are not at all keen on mom as a permanent fixture in their house.

 

That leaves me. I am also not keen  because mom can say mean things and she is also a pessimist and can drag my spirits down with her conversation - no doubt DB and SIL hate all this too in addition to some fights they had a long time ago. I am really nervous about mom living with me permanently. When I was growing up, mom would always compare me to others and point out my faults and I don't remember her being maternal at all.  (However, I can somehow bite my tongue and put up with mom  because I know she cannot live alone indefinitely in the facility. ) 

 

So what do I tell my relatives who insist on knowing "our plans for mom?"  There is no plan and I keep telling them mom is happy in the facility. Today I got a lecture from an aunt that I have to be responsible etc etc and ultimately, children have to care for their parents. 

 

So my questions are: 

1)Shall I just tell these relatives a  lie that mom is moving to USA in 2013? At least that will end their lectures for now. But when 2013 comes, I've to do something but what?

2) Did any of you have in-laws/parents glued to your lives? Wherever you went, did you take them also? If mom lives with me and we go on vacation, we have to take her with us. She will grumble about not getting proper food/being cold/nothing on TV/why DB does not call her etc etc- I can overcome these problems but wanted to give you an idea of her grumpiness.

Thanks so much,

Chimi

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-19-2010

Hi Chimi - I am also Indian so I understand what you must be going through. My two cents:

Indian relatives always have opinions and are never afraid to share (and most times impose) them. This does not mean you need to do what they say or be afradi of them. The best solution for me with relatives has been up front and honest and unapologetic about choices. Some will get offended but that's their problem. (And in my experience, their opinions and advice change like the wind anyway.)

With the situation regarding whether or not your mom should live with you I think you need to ask yourself and your immediate family (DH and perhaps your children) a serious question: HOW STRONG ARE YOU ALL MENTALLY to deal with aged, grumpy person. When you take in any person into your household, it needs to be a family decision. You may be able to deal with your mom and her personality but maybe it will cause strain on your family (and this is ok but you need DH to OK it.)

If you decide to bring her in, know that you and your DH have a good understanding of how you will deal with conflicts. (Also, how will you respond to your MIL who I'm assuming will not be happy with his DIL's mother living with you guys.)

Personally, I come from a family of two daughters. I understand that Indian society assumes that parents never live with daughters and only with sons. (But that kind of screws the parents who only have daughters!) My DH and I have an understanding that whenever my parents feel like they cannot live on their own or do not want to, then we will take them in (as long as they don't have any severe medical problems that cannot be treated at home and would require professional medical assistance). I have also agreed that we would do the same for his parents. This is a joint decision - regardless of pressure from relatives or any other societal expectations. And we felt that it was the right thing to do. (And yes, both sets of parents have their quirks.) But at the end of the day, we feel that it is important for us to be there for them as much as we can and set some good examples for our daughter.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004

No, I wouldn't lie.  If your mother needs to come to America and you agree, why does she have to live IN your home?  Can't she live in a facility here in America, especially since she's already in a facility in India?  You could go visit her on YOUR time schedule and wouldn't have her involved in every second of your life in your home wreaking havoc there!

Sure relatives (and mom) will complain, but you can't make everybody happy.  Tell any complaining relatives that your Mom needs more care than you can provide and that in a facility she has nursing care 24/7 so will be safer there.  Then, go about living your life, visiting grandma and bringing her to your house when appropriate for a meal together or for family events when it seems like the right thing to do.

I definitely would NOT bring anybody whose goal in life was to make me and my family miserable no matter what the relatives say.  The idea of a daughter taking in her mother is not normal in your culture, so nobody can rightfully complain you've gone against the Indian culture by her living in a facility here.  You've married and had a family and THEY are the ones you "owe" the most to (cultural norms or not).

 

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Thanks, asiandil - I remember you. How's little one and how old is she now?

Dh and kids are fine with my mom living with them. Now my in-laws stay with me 6 mos/yr, they are used to elder folks around them. ILs may not be happy at the idea of mom with me but I think eventually they will adjust to the idea - they know she has nobody in India and Dh will be on my side.

My problems is, in phone conversations, my relatives overpower me with their persistance lecturing and I cannot be rude to them. I don't know how to ask them to shut up or be diplomatic to them.

Thanks again,
Chimi
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2008

I'm with Silliesadie and I wound't tell them a lie either.

I'm not as knowledgeable of your culture but caring for elderly parents is universal.  My sister and I had to care for my mom but we did it differently.  She had my mom come live with her for a time and each time this happened it would end by making my sister miserable.  To the point that she didn't even wish to come home in the evening.  My mom sounds a lot like your mom with the critical things that she would say etc.

I, on the other hand, brought her close to me but in her own apartment close by.  I also set up some things that would enable her to have access to house maintenance care and other types of care when I did go on a trip.  There's a lot out there, especially in the US that you can learn about resources for caring for an aging parent.

I don't believe that anyone really benefits from bringing an aging parent into their home.  It causes so much turmoil and will cause resentment and jeopardize your relationship. 

 

As for the nosey Aunt and others - tell them that you are trying to resolve the long term situation but for now - mom is fine and happy where she is.  Don't let others push you into answering their questions.  Simply change the subject.  Maybe you will even need to be stern with these people.  But, this is your life to manage not theirs.

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
No, no, no, I'd not put her in a facility in America unless she is really, really in a bad shape. In India, she is with lots of other people from the same cultural background who speak the same language and celebrate the same religious events. The Indian facility is actually little independent bungalows next to each other and the folks go to a main dining hall for food and other events. It is community living and maybe assisted living is the wrong word - sorry for the confusion.

If I don't take her in, there is nobody else and I cannot imagine mom alone in her last moments. I've to find a way to get used to her grumpiness and work around it. Fortunately DH will be on my side in all this.

Thank you for your perspective,
Chimi
Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Thank you summergirl123. I have to learn to be firm with the relatives and yes, definitely change the subject and pretend that they are concerned about my mother, hence all the questions.

Mom cannot live alone in America. We live in the suburbs and the condos are about 10 mins away from the houses and it will be expensive for us to pay her rent/expenses and definitely waaay cheaper to have her with us.

Was your mom happy in her own apt? Did she not find something new to grumble?

Thanks again,
Chimi
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
  • >>>I don't believe that anyone really benefits from bringing an aging parent into their home. It causes so much turmoil and will cause resentment and jeopardize your relationship.

I disagree.  It worked amazingly wonderful for my daughter and SIL to move my mother in with them.  My brothers and I built a suite for her at DD's house using 1/2 of their double-car garage, giving Mom sort of her own apartment.  She always kept the door of her "apartment" open between her space and theirs except when she slept (It opened onto their kitchen).  That way, anybody could just walk by as if to get a cup of coffee and glance in to double check Mom was OK without her feeling she was being watched.  Made her feel very independent. 

The children were 3 and 7 when she moved in and the third was born a year afterwards.  The kids always asked their Mom's permission to "go to Oma's house" and knocked on her open door and waited to be invited in before entering her personal space.  They watched TV together, played games, invented imaginary friends, heard about their family history, assembled puzzles, learned to sew on buttons, and how to do embroidery and sometimes cooked with their great grandmother.  She read to them, and they read to her.  She told them about school in her day and learned about their school time.  She told them about how she and their great-grandfather dealt with the Great Depression and about his going off to World War II and her raising my brother with a husband off at war.  She lived with them for six years.

My husband and I live next door and spent a lot of time helping out with Mom, having her over at my house and all 4 generations going places together.  She LOVED having children in the house and they all adored her.  The youngest child was a bit cholicky, and Mom would hold her and rock her for hours allowing my daughter a respite from a cranky baby.  Mom LOVED that!

My grandchildren have a deep respect for older people...they volunteer at the nursing home Mom eventually went into even now (5 years after Mom's death).  They have no discomfort around the elderly and still say how blessed they were to have had her in their home.

My SIL was adopted by strict elderly parents as a baby.  This was his first introduction to a "real" grandmother.  He adored her.  They played little jokes on each other and laughed together all the time.  My daughter benefitted from being able to care for the grandmother who had ALWAYS shown DD and DS that she loved them.  We were away with the Army, but my mother wrote me and my family a letter EVERY SINGLE DAY and always included a stick of gum, a newspaper clipping, a clipping from the funny papers and occasionally a dollar bill to each of my children...EVERY DAY even 3000 miles away, she said "I love you" in those little small ways while they grew up.  My daughter adored my mother and having her in her home was VERY special to my daughter.

For me, it was fabulous having such a close, loving family to look after my mother, to have her right next door to me...my brothers and their families basically ignored Mom once she was widowed and not as able to get around as much. 

I can say it very much benefitted all 4 generations.  My husband adored my mother and loved having his MIL next door...I was delighted to have her there, and DD and her family were as well.  DS was there every few days and loved bringing Grandma her home-town newspaper he'd picked up at a certain newsstand that carried it or brought her flowers or just came and let her talk about "the good old days" oftentimes repeating the same story over and over.

So, I disagree that it is of no benefit to anyone...IF the people are in it for the right reasons, have the ability to look past the idiosyncracies of the elderly (and the elderly having the ability to look past the idiosyncracies of the young), then it can be very beneficial to ALL generations involved.  However, I do realize the above is a BIG "IF"!!!

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

Just wondering, since in your culture the son usually takes in his mom, why are the relatives asking you? Why don't they ask your brother? Can you say that you know that it is brother's duty so you're waiting for him to step up? Is your brother in India or somewhere else?

Will it be easy to get a visa/green card to bring your mom to the U.S. to live, probably for the rest of her life? 

What DOES your mom want to do? Does she want to move to the U.S. to a strange culture where she has no friends or community? If she's grouchy now I can't imagine how she will be when in culture shock. Is there an Indian community in your area?

My mother's mother lived with us for about 10 years. My mom was an only child so there was nobody to share the responsibility. Grandmama could be very difficult to be around, before long she and my dad did not get along and it caused a lot of tension in the home. As we grandchildren became teens she had opinions on everything that we did "wrong" (music, clothes, etc) which caused more tension. While it was fine for me when I was a little kid it became more difficult over the years, and was extremely stressful for my mother to feel in the middle of all of the conflicts. So I'm not one to sing the praises of bringing a difficult relative to live with you! 

Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
DB is generally a non-communicative guy and he is another foreign country but I am in India right now. So it is easier for relatives to bug me. I don't want to bad-mouth DB and wash dirty linen etc. Mom has a visa, so that;s ok.
Mom ideally wants to stay back in India but as she heads into her 80s, we have to do something. Right now she forgets only names but what if she forgets more stuff?

OMG, I totally get your grandma's nastiness. My mom too was an only child and her mom lived with mom and dad. Dad and grandma never got along. In fact, I think mom gets her meanness from grandma. Mom would always grumble about dad and grandma fighting. I am HOPINg that history does not repeat itself with my Dh and mom!!!

Now I remember a long time ago, DB indicated we could split mom's stay between us, 6 months each. So I have to follow this up.

Thanks,
Chimi
Avatar for chimichanga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-08-2000
Wow, a truly heart-warming story - I am glad that your mom was in great hands.
Chimi

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