Dear Snarky – Our Toxic Mom Wants Us to Take Care of Her

Dear Snarky,

I’m the youngest of three (I’m 40) and our mother has recently attempted to worm her way back into our lives. Since our dad divorced our mom when I was six all of us have had very infrequent contact with her and what contact we did have was awful.

When she pops back into our lives, she brings oppressive negativity and what my brother calls her “evil spirit.” She’s so hateful that my niece had a destination wedding out of the country because we knew our mother didn’t have a passport and wouldn’t be able to crash it and ruin the event.

Surprisingly my mom has been married (very briefly) a few times. Her last husband left her comfortably well off or so we thought. But now this woman who has done nothing but make any encounter with her scary and miserable has reached out to us demanding that we have to take care of her because she’s in failing health.

My brother, the oldest, says he won’t subject his family to my mother and that we owe her nothing. My sister says pretty much the same thing and my husband says he’ll take our kids and move out if my mother comes anywhere near us because she’s so cruel.

I agree with all of this but a part of me thinks it’s wrong to leave an old woman alone when she’s asked for help. Any suggestions for how to handle this?

Signed, Help

Dear Help,

Let me make one thing clear – your family and by that, I mean your husband and children supersede any claims being made by a woman who by all accounts was a mother only in the biological sense and brings misery with her wherever she goes. 

I understand you wanting to help your mother but you need to be very careful. I would suggest telling her that you both need to meet with an elder care attorney and look at her finances to see what your mom can afford in terms of assisted living etc. and if she’s eligible for any government assistance.

At this meeting, be very frank and tell your mother that she will not be living with you nor do you want to be responsible for her care but you and the attorney will help her look at her options so she can make her own informed decision.

I’m betting that your mom won’t even show up for the meeting because she sounds like a woman who doesn’t want to lay all her cards out of the table. (#ConArtist) My best guess is she’s trying to manipulate you and that’s why you need to shut it down.

If your mother is a no show that’s her issue because you attempted to do your due diligence and if she does show up, then you’ve helped her look at her options.

The bottom line is just because someone gave birth to you, and has sporadically flitted in and out of your life dousing it with turmoil, in no way means they have a free pass to command that you take care of them. 

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