Author Topic: Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective? Pseudo-update  (Read 8968 times)

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Amasi

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective? Pseudo-update
« on: April 22, 2013, 04:04:31 PM »
The past:

When I was in my teens and lived with my parents, my mother would expect me to fetch a lot of drinks for her. When I was getting ready for school in the morning, she would lie in bed calling my name until I brought her a tea tray (though God help me if I needed help with anything - she would scream at me). At other times, I would be expected to instantly drop whatever I was doing and run to get her a drink as she sat on the couch or lay in bed. We had a lot of fights about this, and it culminated in me moving out as soon as I graduated high school, which is probably the only reason we have a positive relationship now, although even after I moved out she would try to get me to run around after her whenever I visited, fetching her drinks and feeding the cats, which I'd usually refuse to do.

Adding to my resentment, I haven't noticed my two younger siblings being treated this way, so I feel singled out :(

The present:

My parents have recently returned from a long trip abroad. I'm so happy to have them around again! However, this old battle is rearing its ugly head.

My boyfriend and I visited my parents for dinner on Sunday. I asked her if she wanted help with the dinner, and she asked me to feed the cats. I did that without complaint, and there's really no problem here, since I offered in the first place.

Later, she offered everyone a hot drink, and after me, my boyfriend, and my dad accepted, she asked me to make it, because "I knew what everyone likes". This annoyed me, but I did it.

Then, when she was serving dinner, she asked me if I wanted a glass of coke. I accepted, and she replied that it was in the fridge and I should get her one as well. This annoyed me even more, but I still did it.

So I have a couple of questions. Firstly, is this actually a big deal? Is my history with the issue just making it seem more important than it is? Should I just try to chill out and let it run off my back, and fetch and carry when I visit my parents, and enjoy the otherwise fairly good relationship we have now?

Secondly, if it is worth doing something about, what should I do? Refuse all offers of refreshment when I visit? Use my words when it happens and tell her that it upsets me? "Turnabout is fair play", start pointedly doing the same for her when she visits?

Please help me approach this like a mature adult and not a sulky teen :)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 04:47:33 AM by Amasi »

artk2002

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2013, 04:12:33 PM »
Is it a big deal? To you, clearly it is. And, I would agree with you that it's a big deal in general. She treats you like a servant, not an adult guest in her home. The history is very relevant because this is the continuation of bad behavior. It was bad when you were a child living under her roof and it's worse now.

As for what you should do, I doubt that refusing offers of drinks would help. I'm sure if anyone had agreed to a drink, you would have gotten tasked with making it. "Turnabout" is a lousy way to deal with this. If you want to say something, try "Mom, I feel very disrespected when you ask me to prepare drinks when you are hosting." But don't expect it to have much of an effect. Look for my "Magic Words" post for a good discussion of this kind of thing in a general sense.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

bopper

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2013, 04:14:27 PM »
Not sure her motivation...could be
1) Power play. She wants to tell you what to do.
2) Love Language (See Gary Chapman's Love Languages) of "Acts of Service". THe way she feels loved is to have people do things for her. She has to ask for these things from you to feel love.
3) Role- You were the oldest one so you were the one to help.  Now she still has you in this role.
4) Gender role: You are the girl so you have to do these things.
5) Feels like she isn't getting the help from you that she thinks she deserves.  Maybe she made dinner, so she wanted you to help with drinks.

Quote
Later, she offered everyone a hot drink, and after me, my boyfriend, and my dad accepted, she asked me to make it, because "I knew what everyone likes"
.
"Sorry mom, I was about to make a phone call for work/school.  Can Sibling do it?" and then walk off and pretend to make a phone call.  or  "No thanks, none for me."
Quote
Then, when she was serving dinner, she asked me if I wanted a glass of coke. I accepted, and she replied that it was in the fridge and I should get her one as well.
  Normally this is a passive aggressive move.   The person wants a coke, but won't directly ask. In this case I would normally advise you to say "Mom, if you want a soda, just ask."  But in this case there is some weird drink power thing going on.

One thing you could try is to bring it up..."Mom, I notice that you have this thing about me bringing drinks.  What is up with that?"
Her: 'No I don't."  You: "Actually, (example 1, 2, 3).  It is really strange. Why the emphasis on drinks?"
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 08:48:08 AM by bopper »

QueenofAllThings

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2013, 04:38:14 PM »
Is it just drinks? 'Cause that's a little weird. No fetching of snacks, slippers, eyeglasses, TV remote, mail?

Virg

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2013, 05:34:20 PM »
Amasi wrote:

"So I have a couple of questions. Firstly, is this actually a big deal? Is my history with the issue just making it seem more important than it is? Should I just try to chill out and let it run off my back, and fetch and carry when I visit my parents, and enjoy the otherwise fairly good relationship we have now?"

I agree with artk2002.  If it's a big deal to you, then it's a big enough deal to do something about it.  Your history is actually what makes it a big deal in my eyes.  If it was something new, I'd be more inclined to let it slide, but it's a recurrence of a behavior that drove you away before so it's reasonable to take action to fix it.

"Secondly, if it is worth doing something about, what should I do? Refuse all offers of refreshment when I visit? Use my words when it happens and tell her that it upsets me? "Turnabout is fair play", start pointedly doing the same for her when she visits?"

The adult way to handle it is directly.  When you're not visiting (or are visiting but haven't been called on to step and fetch), tell her directly what she did and tell her it bothers you.  Tell her that on this Sunday, she did it three times, and that you don't want it to keep going.  If she denies doing it, simply tell her that the behavior is why you left as soon as you were able, and ask if she really wants to drive you away again.  Then act on it.  Every time she does it, tell her she's doing it.  If she does it X times in a visit, cut the visit short and leave.  Train her to recognize it (or at least train her that you'll act on it) and she'll be forced to react to your "fix it or I will" actions.  There's nothing rude about setting and keeping a boundary, as long as you're polite about setting it and adult about keeping it.

Virg

Thipu1

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2013, 05:46:12 PM »
I encountered that sort of issue in my family.

  It wasn't my mother who made me her gofer.  It was an aunt.  They were always little things like drinks that I would happily bring but there was an itch in the back of my head when she said, 'Thipu, bring me a glass of water like a good child'. 

She never said 'please'.  She never said 'Thank you'.  it was just expected that I would do what she wanted. 

It wasn't until I was in my mid 30s and married before I confronted her on this.  I told her, in what I hoped was a polite but firm way, that I was no longer a child and did not appreciate her way of addressing me. 

She probably knew what she was doing was PA but the way of speaking was a habit with her. It was a control thing because she was supposed to be the one in the family who could leave me money.  When I finally told her how I felt, tears welled up in her eyes.  'You'll always be a child to me'. 

Yeah, right.   ::)



 

EllenS

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2013, 05:59:13 PM »
I don't think there's anything wrong with expecting your kids who are old enough to help around the house, do tasks/chores for their parents - it's called "pitching in" and "contributing to the family".  I do think singling kids out and expecting them to do things you are not willing to do for yourself, or yelling/screaming at them for asking for help, is wrong.

I also don't think there's anything wrong with a parent asking an adult child to share responsibility for hosting, or attend to their own basic needs like getting their own drinks.  However, the way your mom did it was a bait-and-switch and would certainly push buttons based on your history.

The version of this I would find OK would be if your mom said to the side, "would you help me in the kitchen by getting the coffee?" before offering it to everyone.  Similarly, saying "there's coke in the fridge if you want some" or "I'd love a coke, would you pour me one, my hands are soapy/messy? "

So there's a way of doing this that I think is not manipulative, but there is definitely something hinky about your mom's way and it would probably do you good to talk about it with her.

NyaChan

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2013, 06:17:08 PM »
This reminds me strangely enough of my grandmother and aunt who was married very young (15ish I think).  The family she married into was very formal while my grandmother was an easygoing sort of person.  My aunt came home to visit during the day and then left in a big huff.  My grandfather stopped her and asked why she was angry and my aunt responded that she was leaving because she was insulted that she had been sitting there for 30 minutes and her mom had not yet offered her tea!  My grandmother, completely confused responds, "It's your house too, you know where the kitchen is, why didn't you just get some?" 

I think there is something hinky going on in your mom's mind based on the information about your childhood, but I suspect it might be as simple as her expecting more of you as a child because you were the oldest, and now it might be that she doesn't consider her daughter to be a formal guest and having you pitch in doesn't seem odd to her.  Her way of asking, however, is odd and I might ask her about it - but at the same time, it is one of those things that seems trivial on the surface and people who are manipulative almost always seem to twist it around on the victim in these cases. 

Amasi

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2013, 06:24:44 PM »
I think there is something hinky going on in your mom's mind based on the information about your childhood, but I suspect it might be as simple as her expecting more of you as a child because you were the oldest, and now it might be that she doesn't consider her daughter to be a formal guest and having you pitch in doesn't seem odd to her.  Her way of asking, however, is odd and I might ask her about it - but at the same time, it is one of those things that seems trivial on the surface and people who are manipulative almost always seem to twist it around on the victim in these cases.

I didn't mention it before, but this has also happened when we both visited third parties. This lead to an embarrassing incident when I lost my temper in my grandma's house. She'd asked me to get her a cup of tea, I'd said I would when I had finished what I was doing, she continued to badger me, and I ended up yelling: "If you're so desperate for for it, why don't you get it yourself?!", causing many horrified stares from assorted family members.

Edit: Weird, I wrote a large response before this post and it seems to have disappeared. I'll try again....
« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 06:29:22 PM by Amasi »

SiotehCat

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2013, 06:36:21 PM »
This is actually a thing in my family.

The youngest child fetches the drinks for the older people. This means, I made many cups of coffee and have fetched many glasses of water or soda in my life. I never questioned it, that's just the way that it was.

Big M, DS's father, had the same rule in his family. In his case, it was his younger brother that fetched the drinks and he  hated it. He didn't do it for long, because a younger nephew who also lived there was able to do it shortly after.

When I visit my parents now, I fall right back into that role. I like being able to do it for them.

For me, its a cultural thing. Its the way that I was raised. Since it does not seem to be a cultural thing for you, why not just ask your mother? Maybe she doesn't realize that she is doing it.

Amasi

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2013, 06:51:26 PM »
As for what you should do, I doubt that refusing offers of drinks would help. I'm sure if anyone had agreed to a drink, you would have gotten tasked with making it. "Turnabout" is a lousy way to deal with this. If you want to say something, try "Mom, I feel very disrespected when you ask me to prepare drinks when you are hosting." But don't expect it to have much of an effect. Look for my "Magic Words" post for a good discussion of this kind of thing in a general sense.

You're right, in my experience turnabout has never ended in "Oh, so this is how it feels when I do X to you!" and always in "How could you do X to me?!" "Because you always do X to ME!" "I do not!" "You do too!" *enormous fight ensues*. I kinda hoped it might work in this situation because it's such a satisfying fantasy :)

Not sure her motivation...could be
1) Power play. She wants to tell you what to do.
2) Love Language (See Gary Chapman's Love Languages) of "Acts of Service". THe way she feels loved is to have people do things for her. She has to ask for these things from you to feel love.
3) Role- You were the oldest one so you were the one to help.  Now she has you in this role.
4) Gender role: You are the girl so you have to do these things.
5) Feels like she isn't getting the help from you that she thinks she deserves.  Maybe she made dinner, so she wanted you to help with drinks.

You may have something with the Love Language idea. My immediate family is very reserved (something I think came from my dad) and tends not to express emotions with words or touch, although we always rally to help when a family member asks. Also, my mother has always been the designated rememberer of special days, meaning I think she has been regularly short-changed regarding her own birthdays etc. Since both her birthday and mothers' day are coming up, I intend to make an effort to remember and do something nice. Maybe if I make an effort to show my love in other ways, it will make it easier for her to ease up on the fetch-and-carry when I start pushing back.

Is it just drinks? 'Cause that's a little weird. No fetching of snacks, slippers, eyeglasses, TV remote, mail?

It's not limited to drinks, but this is where 90% of the arguments and hurt feelings occur. She drinks a LOT of tea and coke, so there's a lot of requests. Also, after I moved out, feeding the cats (which belong to my siblings) became another ground for contention. That's the only reason I mention the cats in the OP - it wouldn't be noteworthy if it weren't the first time she's actually got me to feed them.

The adult way to handle it is directly.  When you're not visiting (or are visiting but haven't been called on to step and fetch), tell her directly what she did and tell her it bothers you.  Tell her that on this Sunday, she did it three times, and that you don't want it to keep going.  If she denies doing it, simply tell her that the behavior is why you left as soon as you were able, and ask if she really wants to drive you away again.  Then act on it.  Every time she does it, tell her she's doing it.  If she does it X times in a visit, cut the visit short and leave.  Train her to recognize it (or at least train her that you'll act on it) and she'll be forced to react to your "fix it or I will" actions.  There's nothing rude about setting and keeping a boundary, as long as you're polite about setting it and adult about keeping it.

Virg

I think something like this may be the way to go, even though it's going to be difficult to start wtih, especially since my family are so averse to expressing themselves and rocking the boat.

I don't think there's anything wrong with expecting your kids who are old enough to help around the house, do tasks/chores for their parents - it's called "pitching in" and "contributing to the family".  I do think singling kids out and expecting them to do things you are not willing to do for yourself, or yelling/screaming at them for asking for help, is wrong.

I also don't think there's anything wrong with a parent asking an adult child to share responsibility for hosting, or attend to their own basic needs like getting their own drinks.  However, the way your mom did it was a bait-and-switch and would certainly push buttons based on your history.

The version of this I would find OK would be if your mom said to the side, "would you help me in the kitchen by getting the coffee?" before offering it to everyone.  Similarly, saying "there's coke in the fridge if you want some" or "I'd love a coke, would you pour me one, my hands are soapy/messy? "

So there's a way of doing this that I think is not manipulative, but there is definitely something hinky about your mom's way and it would probably do you good to talk about it with her.

I completely agree with everything you said. My problem isn't being asked to help, or being asked to look after myself regarding refreshments, it's feeling "tricked" and manipulated and as if I've been used to host for her/get something she wants under the guise of giving me something. If I were asked directly to help or get a drink for her, that would be perfect and I'd be happy to! My goal is not to avoid doing any work, just to be asked respectfully :)

JenJay

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 07:28:46 PM »
The next time she invites you over for dinner you should decline with "Thank you but I've had a long day and don't feel like playing waitress tonight."  :P

It would bother me and I'd start saying "No thank you" when offered something and "Mom, if you don't feel comfortable fixing everyone's drinks then we can all fix our own, can't we?" as you get up and fix yours.

Something that might make you feel better is to take the initiative and say "Mom, I'm going to get a glass of coke. Would you like one?" or "The coffee is almost ready. Would you like me to see who's having a cup?" Granted, you'd still be helping, but on your terms and without the resentment of feeling like she invites you over to serve her.

Bluenomi

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2013, 08:21:00 PM »
She's doing a bait and switch. She asks if you want a drink, then when you say yes, tells you to get it yourself and her one as well. I'd be annoyed by that as well!

Otterpop

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2013, 11:47:23 PM »
Can you get yourself a drink without saying anything?  Have it in your hand the entire night and keep refreshing it.  That way, she won't be able to ask if you want one and pull the switcheroo.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 11:49:41 PM by Otterpop »

weeblewobble

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2013, 11:45:31 AM »
I have a feeling this more about control and feeling like she has won than the tea and cokes.  If she gets you to do what she wants, she wins. She gets to feel like the status quo of your original household is returned to balance, you haven't grown up, she hasn't gotten older and she is the pampered mother again.  And she knows exactly what she's doing and that it is annoying/upsetting to you, otherwise she wouldn't pull the bait and switch tactics.