How to set boundaries


I’m sorry I always seem to have questions and no answers.

I’ve been helping my dad care for my mum for about 3 years. I stay over one night a week so my dad can get a full nights sleep. I also go on Mondays for 4 hours so dad can go to a club and another 4 hours on a Friday. I also call in most days, and when I do I wash mum, put a clean nighty on, put her creams on, give her food etc. Generally I go every day apart from Saturday.

I’m married, have 3 children and work as well. I also like to do a particular sport.

My dad wants me there every day, which is fine, but I can’t go the amount he wants. He accuses me of “gallavanting” and every time I’m meeting friends I get a text and my husband gets phone calls demanding to know where I am and that I have to go there to wash mam. Inbetween me leaving today and getting the text they would have had a 1 hour carer visit for my mum.

Today, I was there for 4 hours this morning. I let it slip by mistake that I was meeting a friend this afternoon. I could have predicted what would happen as I had a text (which I hadn’t read as I don’t look at my phone when I’m out with friends). When I did not respond to his text, dad rang my husband who said he sounded quite rude and wanted to know where I was. As it happens, my husband knew who I was with but not where. So could not get in touch. I go out with my husband twice a year and everytime I get a text saying my mum is dying and ot go there as soon as possible. This has gone on for around 10 years.

Dad wants me there at 9am every day and then again at teatime. I think he wants me to move in, which is a non starter. Last weekend we had a bit row as I’d taken my youngest son away for 2 nights which meant I did not go there for 2 days (I went over before I left and I went there before I went back to my own home). Apparently I was gallavanting. But why shouldn’t I gallavant? I’m 52 and I have other responsibilities. When I say anything to him I am told that I’m upsettting him and making him stressed and that I’m making him ill. It makes it very difficult to hold a conversation wtih him aobut this. But I’m gong to have to do this. I just don’t know where to start.

You have to start by standing up for yourself, you have your own family and your own life to lead. There is not really any way that you can tell your Dad in a way that will seem diplomatic to him: he’s made his mind up that it’s your job to do what he wants, it isn’t, it’s as simple as that.

Has your Mum had a “Needs Assessment”? Who is paying for the carer that comes and how often do they come?

The only power your dad has over you is the power you let him have. Stop looking at texts, turn your phone off, and take control. Say I will be here tomorrow at 7pm, or similar. Arrange a Needs Assessment from Social Services, if he wants a carer.