Parents must be eased from dependency on son
Q : I’m in love with my brilliant, driven, and extremely caring boyfriend. We’re early 30’s.
I’m career-focused, ambitious. We share dreams of traveling the world and starting our own business.
My schedule’s packed between an office job and my sidebusiness. His schedule’s similar.
However, his family’s worrying me. They rely heavily on him for tasks (“can you check my email?”) and errands (“drive me to the grocery store”).
He spends much of his free time at their house. They’re middle-aged but far from elderly.
His mother calls him almost daily – often to unload her stress, which is then passed on to him. He long ago developed chronic anxiety.
Lately, she’s been theatrical and emotional when I visit with them. She’ll cry, saying how hard her life has been, and that she relies so heavily on her son.
Recently, she told me she knew there’d be a time when he’d have to leave but she can’t bear the thought.
I’m empathetic when listening and always polite.
That evening, the parents proposed that we should move in with them for at least part of the week to make things easier (for them.)
I refused. I can’t live in that stressful environment and spend my free time assisting her with house chores while my career suffers.
My boyfriend struggles with telling them “no.” But I feel the mother’s trying to drive a wedge between us.
I remind him that if he wants to travel and run his own business, it’ll be impossible if his parents cannot be a little more proactive.
He agrees. But he won’t raise it with her because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings.
How do I begin dealing with this?
— Feeling Choked
A: You both must deal with this now.
Plan a realistic timeline for you both as a couple – when you’ll move together and where. You have a right to a future on your own.
Consider what help his parents absolutely do need – e.g. regular cleaning help, access to grocery-shopping, periodic garden and house repair work, etc.
Decide together whether a once-weekly visit to look after some of the needs, plus a social visit together for lunch or dinner, is workable. And/or whether paying for some help (e.g. a cleaner, grocery deliveries) will be necessary.
Together, tell his parents your plan and listen to their reaction (past any drama), for what may actually be essential to add or adjust.
It won’t be an easy change, especially for his mother.
Also, with his own anxiety, your boyfriend may find this move very difficult. If so, you’d be wise to get counselling together.
Q : My wife is overly contrary. She’ll later realize it and apologize, but no matter what I suggest, she first says No.
The idea/thought is always initially “wrong” until she rethinks it and realizes it’s okay.
She’s the youngest child and grew up almost like an only child. It seems like she never had to compromise.
Example: I bought a barbeque. I’m the only one who cooks on one and initiates using it. It’s basically a purchase for me to cook for the family.
But she didn’t like the number of burners on the one I chose!
How can I get her to stop being so negative?
— Tired of “No”
A: You can’t “stop” another’s personality quirk.
But you can 1) accept that it’s likely to occur; 2) remember that it can change with a rethink, and; 3) discuss it as just a quirky reflex and have a funny buzz-word to alert her, e.g. “oh oh.” Try it.
FEEDBACK Regarding the childless woman who wasn’t invited by her pregnant friend’s sister to a “mothers-only” baby shower (July 6):
Reader – “Just when you think there can’t be another way to make infertility taboo!
“Here are the struggles men and women dealing with infertility face:
“Examples: The monthly grief they experience, the invasive tests, expensive drugs and procedures, the time needed to attend several appointments.
“Or how we schedule our lives around injecting ourselves with hormones or using suppositories.
“Add the horrible comments we get from insensitive or some downright cruel people.
“Comments like, “Relax!” blame the person with the medical condition. Saying “maybe this is what God intended,” “have you considered adoption,” “you’re too young/too old,” “you must have so much time/money because you don’t have kids,” etc. are very hurtful.
“People facing infertility often feel isolated, because they can’t get the support they need from even close people who “don’t get it.”
TIP OF THE DAY
Adult children must plan how to ease unnecessary parental dependency.