Gransnet forums


How much independence is....

(51 Posts)
ChaosIncorporated Sat 08-Sep-18 06:50:48

I have been contemplating how much independence is "too much" independence, and would appreciate others thougts.
Please accept my apology for the length - I wanted to set the scene fully.

I am very fortunate to have wonderful DD's one great SIL and one DDs partner who is not terribly sociable but is a perfect fit for my daughter and they are very happy, and two adorable GC. We are all close with open and honest relationships.
The girls have been quite protective of me since their late teens, and very supportive since I divorced over a decade ago.
As I said, I am very lucky.

One DD recently told me that I am stubborn and 'difficult' about my independence. It was said kindly, not in argument, as part of a wider conversation, but I have taken it to heart and feel upset as I hate to think I cause her any worry.
The whole point of saying "I'm fine" or "I can sort it" is so that they don't worry!

Both girls have needed support in recent years due to health problems, particularly the one who lives locally as she has two small children and a husband who travels away much of the time, plus having had a severe illness which impacted on her ability to cope physically for quite some time.
It has been my pleasure to help wherever possible....a) because that is what mums are for, and b) because I had zero support at a similar stage in life and would never want someone I love to feel so alone.

When asked if there are jobs SIL can do, when they are popping in, I invariably say no. If I mention needing to decorate/trim hedges/fix things/go for hospital appointment/etc tbey invariably offer to come and do whatever it may be....and I decline.
They are a young couple with a young family, and very little time together. Why would I want them to use up any of that time on me?

DD says I am unreasonable about it, and helping should be a two way street. I disagree. AC shouldn't feel that level of responsibility for a parent who is still working part time, and relatively fit albeit starting to slow up and with a health issue which occasionally impacts.
I support because I am a mum, and feel time will come soon enough when I can't avoid needing help.

Am I wrong?

kittylester Sat 08-Sep-18 07:05:34

I'm with you all the way chaos.

When our children (mostly the daughters!) say anything like that I say - just wait until we do need you - then you'll be sorry.

Seriously, keeping going for as long as you can seems the way to go on the 'use it or lose it' basis.

MawBroon Sat 08-Sep-18 07:15:30

I have mixed feelings on this!
Paw had no skill or inclination where practical issues were involve so I am quite used to “getting a man in” but since losing him I have been touched by offers of help and grateful for the taking down of the garden parasol, fixing of the shed hinges, refining of my fancy “loo chain” light pull in the downstairs loo and have managed to smile serenely when told I should not go into the loft or even walk Hattie without my phone!
There have been other offers (decorating and furniture moving among them!) which I have accepted graciously in theory but not taken up simply because I know how busy they are and how precious their time together is, but people have to be allowed to care and go show that they care. There can be a fine line between independence and stubbornness without tipping over into needy - my nightmare.
Smile and wave!

NfkDumpling Sat 08-Sep-18 07:17:20

There is pleasure in helping others and also not feeling beholden to parents and being independent. Perhaps they feel you’re still treating them a bit like children?

Could you ask them to do small jobs which won’t take too much of their time? It would make them feel better. Hedge trimming would be a good one. A family day with everyone mucking in gets the job done quickly and you couold provide a meal at the end of it.

ChaosIncorporated Sat 08-Sep-18 07:26:09

Thank you.

Maw ... to be thought "needy" is my nightmare, also!

nikdumpling ...I don't think I still treat them as children, but will reflect. The DD who made the comments actually moved back home for a while in her twenties, and the relationship definitely shifted into two adults sharing the home.
Do we ever stop feeling maternal though?

ChaosIncorporated Sat 08-Sep-18 07:42:37

I think it may be a matter of not wanting them to feel any additional obligation just because I live alone. They do not feel the need to offer similar support to SILs parents.

DanniRae Sat 08-Sep-18 07:55:53

Surely the fact that your daughter felt the need to speak to you about this issue shows that there is a problem. Be grateful that you have such a caring daughter (daughters?) and ease up a bit on your rigid rules of not accepting help. In other words try and see it from her point of view. She has told you that 'helping is a two way street' surely she can't make it any clearer that she is not happy with the situation as it is!

mcem Sat 08-Sep-18 08:00:49

This really resonates with me.
My family is very similar to yours chaos including a daughter with 2 children and chronic illness. I've always been there for her, DD2 and DS whether practically or financially. I'm a fairly practical person and enjoy my independence.
I occasionally ask for help e.g. asking DS to climb the ladder to put the C........ tree away but nothing major.
Breaking my leg earlier in the summer meant I really did need to ask for help - even with minor stuff like asking DiL to change the bedding or DGD hanging washing outside. I'm struggling to adapt because I was making excellent progress but a couple of weeks ago just 'stalled' and now I feel I just won't get 'back to normal' at all!
Like you maw I was told not to go shopping or take the bus alone and for a little while I complied but was very optimistic as I healed.
Now I 'm confused and significantly more pessimistic!
I think this thread is just what I needed to say what I 've been thinking but not admitting.

M0nica Sat 08-Sep-18 08:01:19

Chaos I know exactly how you feel, I am have always been my own person and determinedly independent, so I can understand your predicament.

Why not used all the skills you have honed in having such harmonious relationships with your family to solve this problem. They want to help. Try and think of a few tasks they could do for you. Nothing that impinges on your independence but little jobs you really cannot be bothered with,

In other words do what nfkdumpling has already suggested! (must read other posts before replying)

cornergran Sat 08-Sep-18 08:24:40

There are two of us so slightly different as Mr C seems to find offers of help a personal insult. We have and still do help our adult children with practical tasks and with the children. We say ‘no’ to the majority of offers to help us when sometimes if we were honest a helping hand would speed things along and smooth a path. It is frustrating to offer help and be constantly refused, we compromise by asking them to do small tasks when they are here. Things like moving a heavy garden pot or putting something in the loft. Mr C is happier that way, the family are also happy. You’ll find your own middle way chaos, as others have said little tasks could be the answer, it works for us.

OldMeg Sat 08-Sep-18 08:34:47

I’ve been asked by my daughter recently ‘mum why won’t you accept help?’ and it made me think. So when DH was away in the States for 2 weeks and, although I was doing quite well by myself’ I did ask them to walk the dogs on a couple of occasions, plus oldest grandson (13) helped out too (I paid him to do a couple of jobs for me).

Like some have said it makes the family happier too.

sodapop Sat 08-Sep-18 08:55:14

I am very much like you chaos with being independent. However family and friends do feel rebuffed if we don't sometimes let them help, they are then reluctant to accept help from us. It is good to receive gratefully from time to time then everyone is happier.

wildswan16 Sat 08-Sep-18 09:04:22

You like to help your family - partly because that is what a mum does, and partly because you feel it is the right thing to do.

You brought up your children so it is not surprising they have the same outlook as you. They feel it is what a daughter does for her mum and it is the right thing to do.

So sometimes, let them do it - they will be happy to have helped you, you will be happy that you have let them be happy etc etc.

annsixty Sat 08-Sep-18 09:18:44

I have just the opposite problem, I have always been the one who copes, the go to person, that my AC think I am invincible.
Fortunately for me my GD thinks differently and she does lots of things without being asked.
I need my meters read and I cannot get to them easily so I will ask her to do them when she visits tomorrow.

mcem Sat 08-Sep-18 09:52:30

ann I know that feeling very well and am trying toadmit that things are changing.
Coincidentally it's my DGD, who is living with me short-term, is the one who's most aware of this.

annodomini Sat 08-Sep-18 10:41:30

My sons live too far away to be helpful on a practical level but it's clear that their perception of me has changed in the past decade. I've always been self-sufficient and able to cope, even especially during my marriage. When DS1 comes he always asks if he should bring his toolbag and does the odd jobs I used to be able to do myself. Since the accident a year ago when I broke my shoulder they have become more aware of the fact that I'm now really quite old! I would like to live closer to them but wouldn't want to be the kind of mother who leans on her sons and grandchildren.

petra Sat 08-Sep-18 11:29:56

Other way round here. My Daughter has just phoned and asked if I would do some wall papering for her grin

Melanieeastanglia Sat 08-Sep-18 11:33:34

I think you are mostly right.

Perhaps, in order to keep your daughter/daughters happy, accept help for some little thing next time it is offered.

Maybe they feel guilty accepting help from you and doing nothing for you in return.

People have their pride. They sound good daughters who think a lot of you.

Bluegal Sat 08-Sep-18 11:46:51

I think helping SHOULD be a two-way street Chaos, providing help is needed that is!

I think you do need to stay as independent as you can for as long as you can. The difficulty could be in the future when perhaps people don't recognise exactly WHEN they do need help? Am thinking of my 90 year old mum now. She was always like you and now she really does need help but refuses to let people help (other than me that is....sigh!) She could make life so much easier by admitting she needs help instead of the automatic "I'm fine, I can do it".

On the other hand my own D's seem to think I am Superwoman...juggling work, mum and their children and throwing in "could you just pick up such and such when you are at the shops"!! Haha.....I moan at times but wouldn't change it.

But if any of them want to do my housework/gardening....bring it on smile

lemongrove Sat 08-Sep-18 12:17:05

If that is how your DD's feel, then go with it, helping you now and then is empowering them don't forget.
Always mothering them is keeping them from totally cutting the apron strings, in the nicest way you are not really doing the best for them, because yes, it is a two way street.

ChaosIncorporated Sat 08-Sep-18 12:38:50

That hit home lemongrove ... which undoubtedly means it touched a nerve.
I would be mortified to think that I may not be doing the best for my family, although to be fair they have done things such as shop when I have been too ill to argue truly poorly.
Your point bears thought on my part.

Thank you, everyone! I needed a balance view and, as usual, GN has provided.

paddyann Sat 08-Sep-18 12:45:17

I think theres no harm in accepting help,its not offered to make you feel bad ,its because they love you.We do a lot for my MIL and would often ask her here for a week while OH did some jobs for her on the quiet.
She does appreciate it and often says her friends say how lucky she is to have family who care .
Like others I do a lot for my AC,my daughter has health issues so I'm on hand to help as and when needed .She would like us to move closer to her but that 's not practical as we also care for our sons daughter .Wouldn't it be good if you could split yourself in 3 even pieces ? I'm lucky ,apart from a disc problem I'm fit as a flea so I'll keep going as I am for as long as I can .Isn't that what families do/

grannyactivist Sat 08-Sep-18 13:31:32

I adore my parents-in-law who are fiercely independent and both still working. They are now in their eighties and are finding they can't keep up the pace they used to and they have some health problems that are not major, but nevertheless are slightly limiting. We have an agreement to always be honest about health matters and they know that I want to help in any way I can, but I am aware that their greatest desire is never to become a 'burden'. I have explained until I'm blue in the face that caring for them and helping them is a privilege and not a burden, but they see our busy (very, very busy) lifestyle and don't want to impose. I am planning to retire fully in 2020 and hope that they will then see that I have the time and inclination to be there for them.

They have always been there for me and I think it would be somewhat unfair if they were to refuse me the chance to reciprocate when the time comes. Give and take, that what love is about, isn't it?

lemongrove Sat 08-Sep-18 14:20:16

Chaos wink

Luckygirl Sat 08-Sep-18 16:28:07

Since I fell and broke my foot; and since OH has had PD my family have been unfailingly supportive. But I do know that feeling of wanting to be independent.They have become more protective of us: "Mum are you sure you can manage that?"

I do ask when I need things done and they always help.

What I need most from them is for them to keep OH company while I go out - but I never ask this - I feel OH would feel belittled by this. I do tell them when I am going out if he is having an off-day - and they phone him, which is reassuring for me.

I do loads for them - child care, school runs, shortening trousers (why did I not teach them to sew!?) etc.and hope to continue that as long as I can.

It is a difficult balance; and so weird when they are so protective.