Posted by: Tracey | 2009/04/05

Mom issues

My mother(64yr) and father stay in Cape town and me(38yr) and my husband in Pta...So we don' t see each other to often....When I do visit them I like to spoil them, ect. My husband has a good job with very good income, where as my parents are struggling a bit financialy...So my mom has a bit of a low self esteem regarding money and comparing us. Because of this she also has a great deal of defendce meganisms that kick in when she feels inadequit when it comes to posessions....We sometimes give them gifts, like DsTV and we even support them sometimes (behind her back), because she would freak out if she finds out that we help to pay the Dstv every month....We helped them to buy a new fridge (this upset her also), ect. Now we bought my father a plane ticket to come and visit (they have n' t been here in 10 years!) She doesn' t want to leave her dog alone...She said that she will never except a ticket...I also want to go and buy him some clothes as a surprise( and because I know he needs it...) But if she finds out that we bought it she will be rude to my dad for excepting it and she says that she doesn' t want any gifts because then she ows us stuff (we have never ever made them feel bad because of things we gave them)....How can I handle this situation? We realy have the finances to help them...If we don' t help them they will never be able to come and visit us or go on holiday with us.....I' m their only child and it gives me great pleasure to help them...My mom has PLENTY issues regarding trust and excepting love and nurturing re her past....She also feels excluded in the relationship that I have with my dad (we are very close), though I speak to her 1-2 times per day, EVERY day over the phone, sharing every little detail of my life.....She also sometimes withhold affection towards me or is even rude...(I think with out knowing it or meaning it)...

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Our expert says:
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I know what you mean. An older generation than ours placed great emphasis on being self-sufficient, on " if you can't afford it --- don't have it ", and on a complex acounting of who owes who what. You could NOT acept an invitation to dinner from a couple if you couldn't afford to entertain them in return --- at the same level of cost.
Some people find it hard to give affection, or to show it in any obvious way. They may express love in concrete ways --- in things they can do for you, rather than in what they say. And the way you describe your mother's past, fits well with how you describe her behaviour. And she's a bit old to make majo changes in her assumptions about life.
Are there ways to make her feel more useful to you ? Are there things she could do for you ? Such as constructing in writing a family history, as far back as she knows or can re-discover ; collecting and assemlbnl;ing family photos and annotating them ( I find, since my own mother's death, a treasure trove of family pictures dating back into the 1800's, but almost all without notes of who they are ! I wish we'd had the time for me to find them and discuss them with her, to understand their full importance. I'm sure you can think of other things she can do, which will have obvious value, use her strengths, and allow you to pay the expenses, or some allowance for all the time she would have to put into the tasks.
And why is all the talk in your message aout HER not visiting you ? Can't you visit her ?

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