General Etiquette > Family and Children

I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.

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I made a very difficult decision recently, and moved back in with my parents, even though they're toxic.  I don't want to rehash the details, but lets just say that it was not a decision I entered into lightly.  Now, I know I need make the best out of the situation, so I'm trying to tread lightly, but this morning my inner chi went bonkers. 

Pretty much as soon as I got up, and before I even had a chance to go pee, my mother started in on the PA stuff.  As I was walking through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, she looked at one of my kids and said "your mother is making pancakes this morning".  I sort of ignored that and continued on to the bathroom.  As I was getting my shoes on to take the dog for a walk, she went on and on about how very hungry she was and so on and so forth.  At this point I lost my temper and said "So, when are you going to ask me to make breakfast?".  She replied that she already had so I said, "No, you announced to one of my kids that I was making pancakes without having any sort of previous discussion with me.  Don't you think that's rather passive aggressive of you?", then I promptly left the house with the dog.  Keep in mind that it wasn't even 7am, I hadn't had my coffee and I don't do mornings very well.  Also, my mother has recently had ankle surgery so she can't cook for herself.  I have no problems cooking.  Actually, I've specifically requested that I be allowed to do ALL the cooking while I'm here because of my severe food allergy.  I'd rather take over the kitchen than risk death. If she had said "Gee, I'm really craving pancakes this morning, could you make them for everybody for breakfast?"  I would have said "Sure!".  Actually, I would have probably said, "are waffles okay?", since that's actually what I wound up making.

Anyway, my question is how can I handle situations like these without causing any unnecessary drama.  My mother has been pouting in her bedroom all day over this morning's exchange, and I'd rather not have all the drama in the house. 

Honestly, I think you were fine. You need to re-train her to ask questions.

If your tone was a bit short, simply remember in the future to be calm and say, "Did you want to ask me a question? I hear a lot of statements. Is there something you need to ASK me to do?"

She can pout all she wants, but grownups ASK when they need something.

Since you can't stop someone from being who they are, and you probably can't move right away, keeping the mindset to the fore that you're grateful to have a roof over you and your children's heads might help mitigate your temper (which I totally understand having a hard time controlling with people behaving like this).

So I'd probably try dealing with stuff as it comes up. Now that you know she'll be a PA whiner about breakfast or possibly food in general, tonight, before bed discuss your breakfast plans so she doesn't have to wonder. Maybe post a menu on the fridgeof the weeks meals since you'll be doing all the cooking anyway. Give her a reasonable meal schedule (I mean what times you will be making meals or snacks).

Apologize even when you don't really mean it to keep the peace and try to lay plans to leave ASAP since you can't have a reasonable sit-down discussion with toxic people. I like baconsmom's thoughts but it's hard to re-train toxic people.

DO have regular private, age-appropriate discussions with your kids about your parents so they understand why they are living in this situation and can help make the best of it.

Best wishes and I hope you're able to leave soon!

I think it's hard not to respond like that when you grow up with that kind of PA stuff.  Just speaking from my own experience, I've had to learn how to counter PA with PA, and to know the "opponent's" mind games inside and out due to sheer self-preservation.  Then I had to unlearn it, because there are other ways of handling it that are more polite and less exhausting.  Sometimes I fall back on old habits with my mother, because I've got her tongue and my father's temper. 

Everyone falters from time to time, but I don't think what you said was really all that bad.  I'm not a morning person either, and you did end up making breakfast.  In the future, you might not be able to get her to change the way she "asks", but you could turn it around by asking her, "So, would you like me to make breakfast?  I wasn't sure if you were being funny."  Or you could even leave off that last bit. 

Oh Joy:
I'm sorry that you're in a difficult position.  But let me make sure I've got this straight: you moved in with your kids and requested that you do all of the cooking.  On the first morning, your mother was in the kitchen with one (or more) of your kids when you passed through and then returned to take your dog out, and you ignored her PA comments.  Had you set up any expectations for when meals would be prepared or what she's supposed to do if your kids were hungry before you got up?


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