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Ok so here's the situation. I moved out of my parents home after two years of living with them approximately 10 months ago. I love my parents. They are really cool people who I wouldn't change for the world. For about 3 months they were living by themselves and my mum got really REALLY lonely. My parents love each other very much but my dad has a real difficulty with sharing himself with anyone. He is of the generation when men did nothing in the house. His sister used to tidy his bedroom for him etc. Consequentially he expects my mum to do a full time job (which he doesn't consider to be a "job" - cos it's no where near as strenuous as his) and look after the house. Add to this that he is as petulent and spoiled as he ever was as a child- he expects the TV to be on what he wants to watch all the time. He doesn't like whats being watched he either insists on changing the channel or stomps off in a huff. This is where the problems start.

My mum is willing to watch stuff she hates just to spend time with him. Whenever my dad isn't working (he works shifts in a police cells) he is on the computer playing war games. This means that my mum is left on her own sometimes for a whole day. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that 1) my mum hates being alone and 2) she is a terminal wall flower and doesn't make friends well. My dad can be off work for a week and she'll see him for dinner and before he goes to bed. Sometimes he can be wonderful. He knos he's been a pillock so he'll take her out to dinner etc, or he'll want to spend time with her so she'll drop everything she's doing to go out or do the garden with him etc.

Ever since I moved out my mum has made me feel guilty for leaving. Not consciously of course but still. She was finally getting used to the fact that I wasn't going to be there when BOOM!! My sister and her boyfriend asked if they could live there for a couple of years whilst they saved up to buy a house. Now my sister is in the position that her and her boyfriend feel guilty if they spend time away from her. They feel that they are expected to spend their evenings watching TV with her so she doesn't feel alone.

To top it all off she isn't finding her job very stimulating so she's looking for a new one. She asked me today about a position I mentioned at the school I work at that I had told Holly about (she's training to be a teacher - good experience) If my mum came to work with me I would lose all of my friends. She would monopolise my berak times and I would feel guilty if I didn't invite her to join me. I don't mean to sound horrid but I spent years sharing my friends with my mum (she has none of her own) and I like the fact that she's not met many of my friends from work.

I've tried getting her to go to courses and clubs but she won't go anywhere that she doesn't know someone already. I tried to get her to go to an art course. She loves drawing. I can't draw a stick dog. She told me she would go AS LONG AS I WENT WITH HER!!!!

My mum is a lovely woman but she is putting a strain on both my sister and her boyfriends relationships and her relationship with both of us with being so very needy. I phone her up to find out how she's doing and the first thing I get is "Oh I'm sitting here with the dogs all alone. I guess I'll go to bed in a minute. I know it's only 8 but there's nothing else to do"

I don't want to tell her what I feel and what my sister feels about this as it would break her heart and make it even worse (no one does a guilt trip like my mum) we've tried it before and it results in silence and a depression like state. I'm running out of ideas.

Sorry it's such a long one
That's a really tough one. Trying to improve a relationship with a person who is very needy is incredibly hard even on equal terms (such as dating) but in families there is a whole level of added difficulty.

I think the root of these kind of situations is usually in self-esteem, which positions her as the victim, but if you look at it in terms of energy and control then the pattern appears different: she enjoys monopolising your time because it gives her control that otherwise she doesn't have in her life. By asserting the power that she has she can continue to escalate her position in the only ranking that she has actively engaged in, family life. It sounds like your father hasn't helped this, by encouraging her to play housewife, but he has also decided that he doesn't want to be controlled by her so has created the defence mechanism of asserting his own wishes, even when they contradict hers.

There are probably two things that might improve the situation, one is nicer than the other, but a bit less likely to work.

The nicer one:
Get her enrolled on an art course with the Open University or an affiliate that does distance learning. She is already used to the idea of working around the home, and now she could have homework! Getting a qualification can occupy her for many years and learning new things really improves self-esteem. Such courses do occasionally have meet-ups, so she might make new friends through it too. This would give her something of her own, that she doesn't share with anyone else, it would occupy her time, and give you something to talk about with her... I'm guessing that she doesn't have a lot to say when you ask her what she's been doing? She can probably talk about her life, but doesn't actually have a lot to say. Just giving her a topic to talk about would help her a lot, changing the focus from being internal to actively external.

The less-nice one:
Do what you want and don't allow her to control you. Put your foot down. Ignore the guilt trips. Force her to realise that she can't and shouldn't control you. Nasty, in the short term, but probably the most effective way of getting the message across to her that she can't continue feeding off of your lives and so she has to find her own.

Like I say, it's a really difficult situation to break. It's a cycle, and they do self-perpetuate until someone forces a change.

Oh, and get her into soduku, because it's massively addictive and it can eat hours of your life while doing your brain good!
I'd go with mata's nicer option. The thing about growing older, is the more likely you are to find it difficult to do new things. So I'd say small steps to getting her out of the situation would be better for her than putting your foot down and ignoring her desire for attention. Of course that's harder on you.. and from what I gather you're wanting to start a new life in a place together with your fella soon so you have to keep that in mind too.

So what I'm saying is.. she'll need to take small steps.. maybe go with her to her art thing to get started off.. then when she's settled you can maybe cut out. Maybe once she knows what it's like there she'll feel better to absorb it into the things she can just do without others?

I don't know it's a hard one, but it does sound like she needs to be weined off her depency on certain people a lot, but I don't know if just cutting off suddenly from people would be the best way, maybe more gradually show her stuff she can do to fill her life?
Any progress Ryn?
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