Parents Need Boundaries Too
Like children, elderly adults can and will manipulate. As a caregiver, it is something I have seen and learned. If in your younger years, you remember your mom or dad being the type of parent that would control you through anger or guilt; it is possible and very likely that it will be the same way when they become elders. Even worse, the years will make them very good at making you feel sorry for them or bad about something you did or said.
The very first thing you must understand is that this is never going to stop, especially when they get old. This is the time though when you have to grow stronger because not only are you caring for them, you also have to care enough for yourself to sometimes ignore and intelligently play their game to the best advantage.
Defending ourselves against our parents’ manipulative behavior will never be easy. Even if you are all grown up and you know that you have the right to set boundaries, you might still hesitate to do it, however those boundaries have to be set. Will your parents be happy about it? No, they won’t. As a caregiver you cannot permit to be treated in a way that makes you feel bad or uncomfortable. It is not only unhealthy for you, but it is even unhealthy for the care-receiver.
There are three golden rules that you must always ensure are being followed by everyone in the caregiving equation:
- No one will control you or make you feel bad about yourself
- You have the right to take care of yourself, live your life, follow your dreams, be with people you like, have hobbies and enjoy activities.
- You are NOT being selfish when you take care of yourself and NO ONE has the right to say you are.
How you React
The fact that you are dealing with a manipulative mom or dad does not take away the need of respect towards them. Regardless of how far to the edge they take you, you can never incur in a lack of respect for them. Some parents will complain over everything you do or say and will never have a nice comment for you. If you choose to take it personal, it will make things worse because you might want to snap back at them.
When decisions have to be taken, regardless of what they think, always take the ones that are in favor of their health, their well being, their protection, and their sanity. Sometimes making them happy will not always be the case. Manipulative parents might want things done their way to be happy, but sometimes their way will not be the best way and it is in your hands to maturely take the right decision.