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Middle aged men in an enmeshed relationship with a parent, how are you coping?

I (40s) inherited my mother (70s) a little over a decade ago when my father passed, and at the time, as a morbidly obese recovering addict, it wasn’t a big deal to be living with and taking care of my mother.

Now, as someone in shape who has his life more together, I’m finding the separation from her to be quite difficult.

We’re enmeshed in ways I’m having trouble setting boundaries for. She has very few friends besides me, expects way more of me than I can give most days, and… even during the best of times, she’s not exactly a kind/loving mother.

For what it’s worth, she’s never had many friends, never had a relationship outside of my father, and never lived with anyone but us and her parents, so she’s never, ever been alone, and I don’t know if she’s even capable of it at this point (she’s fine cognitively, but also naive, stubborn, etc)… but I also need my independence and the idea of giving me space is completely foreign to her.

As with everything in life, I doubt I’m alone in this, and figured I’d seek out advice from friends out there.

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Thanks for your help.

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  1. If you have the means, hiring a part time care taker/nurse might be the best immediate solution. This can sometimes be covered by insurance or medicare.

    Hire someone who can take her to local events for people in her age group, once its safe from covid. It could help separate her from you a little – make her less dependent, especially socially.

    Moving forward. If living togeather is unmanageable. And once she is more confident in making friends.. maybe start looking at assisted living arrangements. Or split homes.

    Its important we take care of our families, but also ourselves. Theres going to be a lot of suggestions on what to do – but only you’ll know whats right for your situation. You sound like a kind person, im sure you’ll resolve this issue with your mom. It may take a while, but its worth it.

  2. Sounds like a really tough situation. I’d do what you can to get her involved in some social groups to ease the pressure on you. It should be easier now that most people her age are vaccinated. In terms of your own enmeshment, that’s definitely something I would talk to your therapist about. Congrats on how far you have come, it sounds like it has been quite a journey.

  3. OMG I really feel for you and your mom. I am same boat with my mom (Age 68) and I feel like I am drowning. We lost Dad in 2018 very unexpectedly and it has been very difficult beyond comprehension…Pure Hell.

    Mom is very old school and very limited English and feels like Assisted Living is not an option for her (plus I don’t think it’s affordable anyways). I have been exploring many options, but since I am still trying to deal with losing dad, is a slow process that keeps ending up on the back burner… Especially now that mom is expecting some Health Issues and I keep having to drive her to her doctor and called 911 2 times in less than 6 months.

    One of my ideas that I am exploring is…. To build a New Garage with an Apartment on Top (it’s not a big property at all but it’s zoned in my neighborhood to allow for that and I would physically live in a separate building with privacy, but still be able to take care of her). I have been also looking into Smart Technically or Smart Home Solutions that allows me to monitor her unintrusively and she will have reinsurance and be confident that she is not fully alone. Only problem is that since she has no friends like the OP’s mom… it’s the companionship that she would be seeking (even though when she is sitting in front of the TV see does so for hours in her own world with all her shows while I am in the basement). That is fine but not too healthy for her both physically and mentally. I got her on FB and IG on an old iPad and her phone, but since she can’t read English she looks at the pictures and videos… That keeps her mind active in a different way other than the TV.

    I could write much much more about this, but I will end it here. It’s a very stressful situation and I am not getting any younger.

  4. Buddy, you want to get out from under your mother. Good on ya. You deserve a life of your own. This situation will exist until you DO something.

    Suggestion: Find the money to get yourself out of this situation. Look for a home care company that offers a wide range of consulting services on how best to approach you and your mum specifically. Pay for an hour or two of advice. It should at least give you some direction. It is going to be rough. All my best.

  5. > Now, as someone in shape who has his life more together, I’m finding the separation from her to be quite difficult.

    What’s stopping you? Can you not afford an apartment of your own?

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