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Advice Please...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

As you know, we moved from Tennessee to Maine last month to live with my parents... They needed our help in order to prevent the state from forcing them into assisted living. For the most part things have gone smoothly... they know they need us here and that things would be bad for them if we moved out. My mother tends to be a controlling person, but for the most part she has been trying really hard.

One area we struggle with is since she can't be controlling in a direct way, she has reverted back to using "passive aggressive guilt trips" to get her way or at least try to. When ever she doesn't want to do something or is confronted in anyway she takes on the tone of a "whipped puppy" and says things like..."No, that's ok... I'll never (insert whatever here) again"... I usually try to ignore her, but that doesn't appear to be working. Let me give you an example.. This morning she once again didn't wake up when her alarm went off... most mornings it goes off at around 7:30, and goes off until one of us go in, turn it off and wakes her up. Today it went off at 6:30 (she wanted to get up earlier..aghhh) and went off for 40 minutes until I gave up trying to sleep through it and went in and turned it off... We have discussed this nearly every morning and she always says she will use a different alarm clock, but every morning we have the same issue... This morning I didn't wake her up... I just let her sleep, so she thought her alarm didn't go off. When she wandered out at 9:30 AM I calmly told her that her alarm went off for over 40 minutes please could she use a different clock... Her response... "Don't worry, I'll never use an alarm clock again." (in that annoying defeated tone) ... What?!?!?.. I just walked away... but I think she is starting to think my walking away and not fighting with her is her winning, so she is doing this more and more... At least seven times in the last two days that I can think of off the top of my head and she is starting to do it with the girls too... (They are starting to avoid her... and I don't blame them.)
Help... I could really use your advice... Do I confront her?... Do I continue to ignore her?... If I confront her, how do I keep it respectful?... I know I need to tell her the issue and let her know how I plan to respond to her manipulations in the future, but... oh, I don't know. All I know is this can't go on, it is escalating and I can see things exploding if they aren't dealt with...

Let me know what you think,

Thanks for listening,


  1. I hate to say this, but that alarm clock might just need to disappear!! Sledge hammer to the clock LOL. Perhaps the best thing is to stop walking away and talk to her about it later in the day. You have sacrificed a great deal for your parents. Perhaps you can gently remind her of this and let her know you compromise needs to be made for the sake of your sleep and sanity!

  2. I will give this answer to you as my mom gave a similar answer to me. I was having a problem with not confronting my MIL about something, and my mom told me to just talk to her about it. To keep it respectful she told me to not place blame but to say how you feel. Like when this situation arises it makes me feel yadda yadda yadda. Now I'm horrible at confrontation, but really if you want peace of mind and life, sometimes you need to!

  3. Wow, I really, really love Crimson and K's advice here! I know how you feel! I struggle a lot with how to respond when people say hurtful things to me. I often only think of what I SHOULD have said long after the moment has passed. Often, I am completely stunned silent. I hate that! I agree that talking in a calm, thought-out way is really the best way. Try to be non-confrontational, but don't be afraid to defend yourself. Good luck!!

  4. I agree. Sometimes I think we need to flex our boundary muscle and let the person know that we we have a line that we won't allow them to walk all over, whether or not they do it knowingly. It is because you love her that you desire a healthy relationship and manipulation is not good for either of you. I can imagine as she loses control of so many things in her life that she wants to control something - in this case its you! Sometimes reason can cut through the drama. What would she think if you held her to her statement - no more alarm clocks!

  5. I'd very calmly and very carefully say, "Mom. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Stick to the subject instead of the drama." Ev.ery.single.time she busted out the martyr crap. Yeesh. I'm sorry. Good luck.

  6. Try this. Laugh. Say, "you're so silly mom, you would sleep 24 hours a day and forget to get up! Do this by giving the most absurd possibililty that could happen if she "never does something again." She wants to be in control of something. Ask, "would you like to come shopping and we can find a nice one with a loudness control or would you like me to surprise you?"
    If that doesn't work try to sneak in at night after she's asleep and turn it off.
    Or of course it could always be stolen by gnomes...pesky things; )


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