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Old January 27th, 2009, 12:31 PM
ksenija.krusevac ksenija.krusevac is offline
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How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

First, I'm sorry this post is too long, I just didn't have the time to make it shorter.

Second, I apologize for all spelling/grammar mistakes, English is not my native language.

Here it is.

I, a med student of 22, have been living with my grandmother for three and a half years now. She is 67, in reasonably good health, responsible, and a great cook, always willing to help.

However, living with her feels harder every day. Reasons are many, and I'll try to be as short and as precise as I can.

- She will not let anyone decide on anything without giving her long, detailed and authoritative opinion on it, and she just can't be stopped, no matter how absurd the topic is (her cousin's choice of a name for his son, my sister's jeans, my mother's weight loss program, my boyfriend's search for the perfect apartment, etc.), she will keep going on and on and on until something distracts her or she feels tired of preaching. Needless to say, none of the persons involved actually wanted her opinion.

- She is very negative about everything, including the mark, type, size and cost of the refrigerator she bought, the quality and the price of groceries she brings home from the market, my marks at university, etc. all of which are, IMO, at least satisfactory.

- She always complains of her health, her life choices, her neighbors, the noise of the elevator, the sound of traffic during the rush hour, our home, politics, money (which she, by the way, has more than enough)

- She never lets anyone, including me, "interfere" in the daily life of the home, and when I do she makes me regret it by criticizing my use of soap, my "window-cleaning-technique", my choice of rags, my choice of time to start doing something around the house, almost everything.

- She plans, schedules, and then re-plans my daily, monthly and yearly duties, as if she feels the need to warn and guide me through my everyday life, from waking up to going to lectures; she eavesdrops and looks at my calendar and speaks endlessly and tirelessly of the way I should get things done, from shoe-shopping to my next exam to the way I treat my best friend, she wakes me when she thinks I should wake up, she, in a whining manner, at the verge of tears, forces me to bed when she think it is time, she gives directions of how to pack my bag and what to eat for lunch at school.

- She always corrects me, from "the right way to use toilet paper" to cooking the right way, to changing my habits one by one by constantly just constantly hitting my head with commands on whatever she finds necessary.

- She sees no one on a regular basis, has no obligations and spends most of her days either shopping for groceries and comparing prices or watching TV. I signed her up two times for an English language course at the school called "University of the third age", both times she refused, claiming she had no time for it (?!); although many senior citizen centers are near our home, she never goes there because "she has no company".

- She never ever lets anyone confront her, and when they do, she starts whining of how she does everything out of best intentions; her whining sometimes gets to the point of her threatening me of having a heart attack if I don't come home at a certain time in the night, or blaming me of raising her blood pressure.

- She never listens to what I have to say about the way she's treating me, even when I do it "by the book" (e.g. "I realize you want me to be the best in my class, but I really think I should be the one to decide when it's the best time for me to go to bed"), she abruptly changes the subject, refuses to talk about it, or lowers her voice and starts speaking in such a defensive "poor me" manner, to the point I start losing my temper and yelling to which she, of course, starts crying. I've tried talking to her daughter (my mother) about it, and the two have spoken about it a million times, and every time my mother realizes the same - that she just can't be talked to.

And, yes, I'm progressively more tired, started avoiding every conversation with her and losing interest in my home. I'm practically confined to my room, because she literally drains my energy, leaves me restless, unable to concentrate and feeling angry, miserable and sad. It can take me hours to recover from one fight, and yet she acts as if nothing happened, she sings, does her housework, and cooks without trouble, and she never notices how broken I am.

And yet, I can't move out, I have to live with her for the next couple of years.

The thing that troubles me most is that I know I will miss you when she's gone, and now, when she's here, she makes my life a complete mess.

***** The questions:

What should I do to recover when she starts spreading her negative energy to me?
What are the simple everyday strategies I could use to avoid being so drained and lifeless after a simple conversation, such as the conversation about the weather?
Is there any chance I could make this relationship work, because I, even after all, hate having no special relationship with my grandmother?

Again, I'm sorry that this question is too long, but it's been piling up. And it's getting overwhelming.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 01:31 PM
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

The easiest answer to all your issues is to MOVE.

But since you FEEL that is not an option....

1. Spend as much time away from the house as possible. Pack your lunch and dinner in a cooler - leave the house in the morning and return only after she has gone to bed. (Med students love the library I hear.)

2. If she starts nagging, badgering etc. LEAVE. GM - you know that is not true, etc. And then GET UP AND LEAVE (go to the library, a friends, grab a cup of coffee.)

3. When she says she does everything out of the best of intentions - call her on that... "No GM - you are doing it to feel important." or whatever reason at the time.

4. When she re-writes your schedule - THROW IT AWAY

5. Buy a LOCKING FILE CABINET for your personal things you don't want her messing with.

6. GM - I am old enough to know how to use toilet paper.

7. Learn these phrases:

"Hmmm that's interesting..." move on to whatever you were doing.

"I'll give that all the consideration that deserves."

"I have it covered."
I'm a people, she's a people, he's a people, we're a people - wouldn't you like to be a people too?

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Old January 27th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

The way I see it, she probably has early senile-dementia, or possibly Aultzheimers, her behaviour seems to have all the hallmarks.
I nursed my Nan through Aultzheimers, till she required more personal care than I could provide. It was heart-breaking, and hard on the nerves, there's no hope of improvement.
I suggest you get her to a doctor, probably on a pretext, and have her assessed. You will need to pre-arrange this with the Doc'. If it's not either of these, perhaps you could enlist the Doc's assistance in getting her to go places, make it a health issue? Older people tend to hold Doc's in some regard, it may work. How about home-visits from a nurse, or social-worker of some sort, another focus for her attention?
The best advice is the hardest, MOVE OUT!
As for your question about "dealing" stratagies, there's only one that will work, get a life outside the house, and spend as much time as possible there.
You say you "have to" stay there, but I'll bet thats for your convenience, unless there's a court-order?
There is always a way, you only need to be desperate enough, and you sure sound as though you are. Stop thinkingf you're stuck with it, your NOT! YOU have chosen this life, YOU can un-choose it, you've just got to make the change, even if it means hardship, it can't be any worse than the strain you're already living under, can it?
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Old January 30th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

IMO this woman does not have Alzheiemers or dementia but is controlling and obviously
unhappy, possibly lonely despite your efforts to get her to participate in Classes.
What sort of life did she have when your parent and other children were growing up in her household?

I does it seems suit you as you say to live there so she does not have to change to facilitate you. I suppose having someeone to complain to is the downside of this situation.

I cant help think that you should move on and leave her to her ways. It is unlikely she will change now.

If this does not suit because of the financial side of things then you will have to make the most of the situation and respect her right to behave as she pleases in her own home.
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Old January 31st, 2009, 03:23 PM
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

Originally Posted by ksenija.krusevac View Post
I, a med student of 22, have been living with my grandmother for three and a half years now. She is 67, in reasonably good health, responsible, and a great cook, always willing to help.
G'day ksenija.krusevac;25603, your elderly grandmother sounds like a caring soul who just want to do her best for her grandaughter ... she sounds like a great cook and carer ... look after her with loving care, she will not always be there for you, like she is now ... Huge Hugs Lynnie
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 02:34 AM
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

Hi Ksenja,

Good on you for being so good to your Grandma when she is so bitter, and you are so busy. Learning to deal with people like this only comes with experience, and it is really hard when you are young, and have to depend on this person the way you do with your GM.

Is it possible that your Grandma is clinically depressed? One suggestion is that you print out your first post, and talk to one of your Profs about it, particularly if there is someone in your medical school who deals with geriatric psychology? They might be able to get her some help, before she drives away all those who would otherwise help her in the years to come. She may have drained you so much that you could probably do with a bit of support, too.

Good luck with this, and best wishes for your studies.
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Old February 14th, 2009, 05:29 AM
Black Box Black Box is offline
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

All the advice above is good. Get a lock for your room. And get headphones. Wear them ALL THE TIME at home.

Also I'd have trouble with her criticizing her own choices. She complained about a refrigerator and groceries she herself bought? I'd be hard pressed to point out why should anyone should listen to her opinions when she can't even make decisions to please herself.

Some people get into a habit of complaining and just don't hear themselves and cannot stop. It's hard to be around such people.

But probably earphones and an ipod are the best choices. Plug them into your computer when you are working there, wear them at night playing white noise. All the time so you can't hear her. And you can put them on while she's talking.
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Old June 18th, 2011, 10:31 AM
bsmith98 bsmith98 is offline
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Re: How to deal with a passive-aggressive, overbearing grandmother?

My husband is also a constant complainer, but I love him dearly. I hear a lot of advice to move out, but if you can't/don't want to - that's okay. Your questions are valid.
I've learned over time to deal with his negativity by being around positive people. When he says something that's obsurdly negative, I counter with a polite - but opposite and therefore positive- reply. It's taken him a while, but he's finally getting a clue.
I bet he has a lot in common with your grandma - he's a caring, wonderful, kind person, who is just a bit of a grump.
The other thing that's helped a little to bring light to his own actions is I made of little nicknames for him like "curmudgeon" or "scrinch" (combination of scrooge and grinch). None of these are ever used to blame or make him feel bad about himself - they would lose their effectiveness. But when he goes on a rampage, I just laugh at him and tease him a bit with one of these names. Most of the time, he'll chuckle a bit too and the tide is turned.
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