Author Topic: Catering to the particular person  (Read 4409 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

LadyL

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2907
Catering to the particular person
« on: October 14, 2013, 01:36:53 PM »
My mother is a very particular person and because of this there are a lot of restrictions on how she lives her life. I keep running up against situations where I try to accommodate 1,2 or 3 limitations and then end up down the rabbit hole of  accommodating 5, 6 or 7 of them instead, and I need wording for how to politely draw a line.

Example 1: if we drive somewhere with a large parking lot, like the grocery store, a movie theater, or the mall, she strongly prefers to park in the spot on the corner of a row so that her car is visible from the building entrance. She says she doesn't feel safe parking further away (even during the day in a good area, etc.) At places that are busy like the mall or target these spots are almost always taken. She will drive around for a while looking for one regardless. She will eventually settle for one 2 or max 3 spaces from the end of the row after passing them 2-3 times,so it might take 15 minutes to park instead of 1 minute.

Example 2: She wears an unusual shoe size because of the width so I offered to help her find shoes for my upcoming wedding. We went to a very large DSW store that unfortunately didn't carry her width, but we did find some brands and styles for her to try on that met most of her criteria. The issue we ran into was that in addition to the width restriction, she also doesn't like: heels narrower than 1" around or higher than 2.5"; open toe shoes; sling back shoes; shoes with buckles on the toe; and shoes that have a heel that is a different color than the shoe. Some of these are comfort related (the heel thickness/height) and the rest are more of a preference. That literally rules out 99.9% of formal shoes that come in her size (I searched exhaustively online on all the major shoe sites, brand sites, google, amazon, etc.). We finally found ONE pair that met her criteria and they are out of stock in her size.

I could list more examples but I think you get the point. She is like this about the kind of TV shows she watches, the technology she will use (basically none), the clothes she wears (her dress for the wedding requires special alterations to meet her criteria, which is fine, but again it was a lot of hemming and hawing from her during the fittings and extra work for the seamstress), the places she will and won't drive to by herself/at night, etc.

I on the other hand like to try new things and at some point tire of always catering to her routine. The same restaurants, the same parking spots, etc. etc. etc.

She writes off her limitations as "being an old lady" but she is not that old, my father is older than her and doesn't have these limits, heck my grandfather in law is pushing 90 and doesn't either. I need a polite phrase that is matter of fact and not me criticizing how she chooses to live her life, while also acknowledging that it can make her a PITA at times. Something like "So options A, B, C and D don't work - maybe we should go shoe shopping/to dinner/etc. another time then." I just have trouble imagining saying that without it sounding like "Well you're just too much effort for me to deal with so go away."


Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5706
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 01:54:04 PM »
Well, maybe it's not so much a phrase as a behavior, but for your examples, if she's driving, you could ask her to drop you off at the mall entrance, and then meet you at a specific store near the door. So she can drive around all she wants until she finds a parking place she's comfortable with, but you don't have to sit through it.

Or with the shoes--you said you'd help her find something, but I think you could say you're done helping now, as after the store visit she now has a better idea of what's available. So she can just go off and get herself whatever shoe she wants, and you don't need to be there for it. Don't do anymore searching for her, just say in a confident tone, "I'm sure you'll get the shoe situation sorted out before the wedding!" with a big smile. And you know what, even if she shows up in tennis shoes, so what? That's not such a big deal.

I can be particular sometimes, but I try not to subject other people to it. Maybe she tries to make her problems your problems, but this is something you might be able to resist--refuse to take on her burdens. She's paying a seamstress to alter her dress--that's cool, you look forward to seeing it when it's done. Why should you be any more involved in that? I know it can be tough when you get so immersed in these things and are used to being the one to solve problems or at least listen to them ad nauseum, but maybe try to take a step back, tell yourself and her that she can figure this out for herself, and see how that goes.
~Lynn2000

lowspark

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4165
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 01:54:32 PM »
In example 1, who is driving? If she is, well then, I guess it's her perogative to drive around waiting for the perfect spot. If you are, then why not drop her off at the door and park where you want, then pick her up afterward?

In example 2, I think you just tell her that you have x amount of time to help her with finding shoes and after that she's on her own. Mom, I have from noon to 2 pm to accompany you to the store and I can devote one hour to looking on line so once that time is up, you'll have to make a decision or continue looking without my help.

In other words, I think you need to take control of the situation in addition to setting some boundaries. I know it sounds a bit icky-sticky to set strict boundaries but the alternative is that she will take advantage as much as you let her.

Girly

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 912
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2013, 02:49:50 PM »
For #1 - If your mom is driving, I think you just need to suck it up and let her park where she wants. If that includes driving around until the spot she prefers is open, that her prerogative. If YOU are the one that is driving, a compromise might be to drop her off, park where you want, and then pick her up again when you are done shopping.

For #2 - If she wears such an unusual shoe size, are there specialty stores that are online that accommodate better? You can usually order more than one pair, try them on, and return ones that you don't care for. If not, how about she not wear something so 'formal'? Or is your wedding more like a black tie event?

Just because you and she don't do things the same way doesn't mean she does it 'wrong' any more than the way you do things. If she likes things a certain way, then that's the way she likes them. Just because something is more inconvenient for someone else (they'd 'make do' with something else), it doesn't necessarily make the first person rude.

BTW - I could certainly see her being really picky about the way she looks at your wedding - You are her daughter, and this is your big day! She wants everything to be perfect for (her) and you!

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6788
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 02:54:18 PM »
Quit catering to her and giving options

Always drive and park where you prefer. Drop her off at the door if you want.

Call and ask if she would like to go to X for dinner at 7. If she says she doesn't like X say ok, you'll get with her next week as you and DH really want to go to X.

For personal issues like shoe preference, just sit patiently while she shops. Don't make suggestions. Don't walk around collecting shoes for her to try on. If she says she can't find anything say " Darn, I don't have a suggestion for a different store. Why don't you think about other places and we'll go back out in a few weeks."

bonyk

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 821
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 03:20:10 PM »
Hmm, we may be cousins.   ;)

If your mom is like my relative, she doesn't want a solution, she wants the drama of the problem.  Honestly, we've turned it into a bit of a game in my family.  "So, you need a pair of shoes?  These won't work because they're too high?  These are too toe-buckley?  These are too black?  Looks like it's pedicure-time!  You're going barefoot! Oh, that won't work?  Okay, let's try again.  How about the high shoes?"

Relative toned it down once it was obvious that the rest of the family was enjoying her drama more than she was.

darkprincess

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 394
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 03:26:16 PM »
I have a family member like this. My solution:
I drive
I don't offer to help go shopping
We eat at food courts so she can pick what she wants from lots of options
We don't go anywhere without a plan that has agreed upon times and details. If she wants to change the plan in the middle I let her know I am going to continue with the plan and will meet up with when it is done.
If I invite her to my house for a meal I let her know the menu in advance, she can accept or decline. I have found if I agree to one change another and another and another will be requested.

lowspark

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4165
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 03:27:12 PM »
A suggestion for the shoes, have you tried Zappos? They ship free both ways so she can order a bunch of pairs, try them all on, then return what she doesn't like. Because it's free shipping, it's easy to order lots of different stuff in more than one size. And it's easy because it's delivered to your door. They are super at customer service there.

JeanFromBNA

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2327
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2013, 03:38:52 PM »
I agree with lowspark.  Zappos is your shoe friend.  They have a lot of sizes from super narrow to extra wide.  You can narrow the choices down quite a bit with their filters.  Easy to order and return, fast service.

But, yes, I know it's frustrating to try to please somebody who has a long list of "don'ts."  Describes my inlaws.  So I just don't try to please them.  They've made their own decision to live in such a narrow way.

sweetonsno

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1429
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 04:33:01 PM »
First of all, yes, Zappos is fantastic. They also have a great selection of wide shoes.

For drawing the line, I mostly agree with Hmmmmm:

Situation One: if she's driving, then she gets to pick where to park. I think you can reasonably ask her not to park in a bush or in such a way that you can't get out of the car, but I don't think you can tell her to take any old spot if she doesn't want to. It may well be that she's using "safety" as an excuse. If she's getting older, she may not be as comfortable trying to park in between two other cars. The end spot gives her a bit more space to maneuver. The best solution in this situation is to be the driver (offer to drop her off and pick her up at the entrance). If she insists on driving, then you can ask her to drop you off at the door while she drives around looking for the ideal spot. Say that you want to browse the lingerie for a few minutes before she comes in or something, and if she's anything like my mom, she won't have a problem with not accompanying you.

Situation Two: I don't think it's reasonable for you to expect your mom to buy a pair of shoes that she finds ugly or uncomfortable in order to appease you. The line that you draw here is on your time. If you're going shoe-shopping, then set a cap on the time. If she asks for your opinion, elicit hers.


EllenS

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1696
  • I write whimsical vintage mysteries.
    • My Author Page:
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2013, 04:55:10 PM »
Concur with pp's, and offering a general principle:

Her restrictions are her problem, and her job to deal with.  They are not your job to deal with. Make a decision on your own as to how much help you are willing and able to offer. Offer that gladly, without any eye-rolling or demonstrations of impatience. Then, when you have reached your predetermined boundary, just stop and let her do the rest on her own. She will either solve her own problem, or figure out her own compromise.

If she is driving, she gets to decide where she parks.  If you don't want to ride around with her, meet her there.  If you are driving and she doesn't want to walk from a far-away spot, offer to drop her and pick her up at the door.

If you are willing to look for shoes for a certain time, or at a certain number of stores, tell her so (as suggested below).  If she can't find something to suit her, "sorry, Mom that's all I have time for. I'm sure you can find something for yourself."  What is the worst that can happen?  She does not have new shoes for the wedding.  Would you rather have her show up in last year's shoes, or have stress about it?

You can be kind and helpful to your mom without constantly trying to please her.  It's possible that, like a small child, she creates complications to get more of your attention.  If you give her attention for positive behavior instead of negative, she will tend more in that direction.
......................................................................
                www.ellenseltz.com
......................................................................


baglady

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4661
  • A big lass and a bonny lass and she loves her beer
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2013, 05:57:26 PM »
Tell her she's on her own for shoe shopping. Let her drive the salespeople crazy instead of you. They are paid to deal with picky customers. You have a wedding to plan. You can give her some suggestions, such as looking into Zappos, but she is an adult and is capable of shopping for her own shoes.

As far as her parking quirk, if she's driving, she gets to park where she likes, within reason. A passenger's health would take priority (example: Driver likes to park far out to minimize the risk of damage to the car, but passenger is physically unable to walk far. Then the driver should park closer or drop passenger off and then park). But that doesn't sound as if it's the case here.
My photography is on Redbubble! Come see: http://www.redbubble.com/people/baglady

veronaz

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2225
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2013, 06:01:08 PM »
Quit catering to her and giving options

Always drive and park where you prefer. Drop her off at the door if you want.

Call and ask if she would like to go to X for dinner at 7. If she says she doesn't like X say ok, you'll get with her next week as you and DH really want to go to X.

For personal issues like shoe preference, just sit patiently while she shops. Don't make suggestions. Don't walk around collecting shoes for her to try on. If she says she can't find anything say " Darn, I don't have a suggestion for a different store. Why don't you think about other places and we'll go back out in a few weeks."

This is good.

She is controlling you because you are allowing her to. 

m2kbug

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1665
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2013, 06:11:50 PM »
I've been waiting for someone to address the driving issues, as I'm not exactly sure what the best way is to handle this.  How close does she live and how often do you do things in an area or time she has particular difficulty with?  My sister has to deal with driving issues with her MIL, which often results in her having to spend the night, so Sis will try to plan things to end before it gets dark to avoid this, mostly because she ends up having to entertain MIL while DH (son) goes off and does his own thing until Miss talk-a-lot MIL decides to finally be off on her way.  She lives about an hour's drive, and between getting older and health issues, it's harder for her to travel.  I guess the solution would be to plan a trip out there a couple times a year or more if she can no longer travel, or somehow Mom make other travel arrangements.  Of course you can try to accommodate her, pick up, drop off, meet at an easier spot for her to find and drive together to the meeting location (restaurant/kid's party place, etc.).

What are good driving restriction compromises?

As for electronics, a lot of us have managed w/o these things for years, this shouldn't be a huge issue.  My mom is so confused about a lot of all things electronic and using the electronic system for bills and stuff, it's enough to pull my hair out.  If Mom can't figure out the internet, then she's going to have to go store to store, and I agree with the other posters to put limits.  You have to be home by 2 or you will go to three stores or limit the distance you will drive to said stores.  With TV, your family likes to watch "Survivor," so that's what's on the agenda, take it or leave it.  Sorry, we planned on "Burger Barn," we'll go to "Potato Shack" next time. 

I think you can work to accommodate some of her restrictions without completely going overboard to the point of making your own selves miserable.  It sounds like that's what you're attempting to do, she's just not willing to bend a little.  Something's gotta give.

As for the parking lot, I think I would either do the driving or agree to meet at a specific time, and just avoid riding with her all together.  You can drop her off at the door if she can't walk a long distance.  Also, as others have mentioned, ask she let you at the door and you can meet her in 20 or 30 minutes, so she can drive around in circles and you can tackle an errand in the meantime, but I think I would just not have her in charge of transportation at all, especially since you will be at her mercy if she wants to go make "just a quick stop" at another shoe store.   :)

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8545
Re: Catering to the particular person
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2013, 09:03:20 PM »

A good strategy is to detach yourself from her preferences so they don't inconvenience you.

So avoid offering to help her find shoes, or clothes, or cosmetics - if she wants to take six hours and three stores to find herself the perfect pair of shoes she can do it, but you don't need to help. If her dress needs alterations, she can handle the seamstress herself. Offer to drive (and use your own car) so you can park where you want, and if she throws a fuss be matter of fact - "The lot is packed - I'll park where there is a space available or we'll be here all day"). Or say you'll meet her there because you need to run errands on the way home - and leave 15 minutes late to compensate for the circling time. If she says she can't drive somewhere you've invited her, then express your regrets and hopes that she can make it next time.

For restaurants I'd go for a mix. If you're making plans to go out together - yeah, it's going to be one of her special places. But you can also say "We're going to X on Friday - would you like to join?" and again, express regrets if she declines, but if she tries to change the place you say "Maybe next time - we're specifically planning to try out this place"

For technology - don't push her to use something, but if she's out of the loop because of it, don't go out of your way to tailor a special delivery method for news or pictures or whatever it is.

If she's driving, she gets to decide the parking style, however. And if you're at her house, she gets to decide the TV show/music/menu etc. For something like her birthday, I'd also give in and cater to her.

But otherwise, she can still keep her finicky preferences, but the responsibility of catering to them is now hers, not  yours.