The coronavirus has been novel in more than it's medical/scientific ways. There's also been a behavioral effect: Our grown kids are parenting us--or trying to. They are not only worrying more intensely about our health and well-being but setting down guidelines for how we should take care of ourselves--what we should and should not do on a day to day basis.
One friend, who babysits for her toddler and infant grandkids three days a week, has been told by her daughter that she cannot sit outdoors at coffee shops or restaurants or otherwise socialize in person with friends. Her daughter has also forbidden her to see her dentist or go to supermarkets--the daughter shops for her and drops the groceries and other supplies at her door. My friend, who has no underlying health issues (except for being 71) doesn't want to give up her babysitting gig so she has taken her daughter's orders seriously and kept away from all of us.
The situation is understandable in that the daughter, who works in a downtown office three days a week, is doubling down to make sure the virus is not brought into her house. But sometimes our children overstep the mark and we need to assert our independence.
A Carolyn Hax column carries a case in point of how some of grown kids try to control their parents' lives--or parts of it. It's not related to Covid rules but the situation applies.
A woman wrote to Hax to say that after her children and grandchildren moved far away she went through a difficult period. but now has a very busy life that is filled with responsibilities to others. One of her children insists her mother get away for the winter and has rented a place for her in a sunny clime--all expenses paid. The mom doesn't want to be away from her new life for such a long period of time. She wants to know how to say no to a "beautiful offer"without antagonizing a daughter who is " not one to take "no" for an answer."
Some highlights from Carolyn's answer:
The only way to go about refusing her offer is to just refuse the offer. That’s it. Prepare yourself beforehand to ride out the drama-storm that ensues.
Now, all this having been said: You do note that “I really don’t want to leave . . . for so long.” Is there a period you would be eager to spend in this sunny clime? If so, then you can also say, “I’m sorry, I cannot accept two months. A week, however, would be lovely. Let me know if that’s possible.”
Say this only if you trust yourself to hold that line. Otherwise don’t even suggest it — just stick to the “no.”
And if/when she flips out on you, remain calm: “This is not up for negotiation. Let’s either change the subject now or talk another day.” Be ready to hang up as needed. “I’m interrupting you, hang on — I’ve got to go, bye.” Click.
I know this probably looks/sounds terrible, but it’s not unkind. It’s letting an emotional trespasser know she needs to get back on her side of the fence.
photo: Palo Coleman