Dear Annie: Every summer for the last 15 years, my mother has insisted on driving 1,500 miles to spend 10 days with me. We have had some really fun visits, but now she is 88 years old and just had heart surgery. She frequently falls despite using a walker. Additionally, she drives with my brother with special needs, who also has mobility limitations.
I am worried sick about my mother’s and brother’s health and safety because I think of so many scenarios that could happen. They spend six nights in hotels on the road and 10 more nights in a hotel once they arrive because I live in a small one-bedroom townhouse. This excursion is very costly, and the financial burden falls on my siblings and me.
I offered to fly her out, but she insists on driving. She has flown to visit friends and left my brother home alone so I know that isn’t the issue. I also frequently fly to visit them throughout the year.
Another frustration is we don’t do much during their visit because of their limited mobility. They drive 1,500 miles just to sit in my living room and watch TV all day and go out for lunch and dinner.
I finally was firm and told my mother that she will NOT be driving 1,500 miles this summer, and I will buy her a plane ticket instead. Her reply was she is the parent and will take the trip her way. Any other ideas how we can halt this cross-country drive?
— Exasperated with Stubborn Mother
Dear Son of a Stubborn Mother:
The first step is to try to change the way you view your mother’s challenging position. Stubbornness is a close relative of persistence — a trait needed for success in many areas of life. Judging from her persistence in seeing her family, and the value family holds for her, I say that this is a great quality. Your strong-willed mother might not be easy to deal with, but it sounds like she has a lot of determination.
Now that you have a little perspective on the beauty of stubbornness, let’s get to the safety issue. Congrats on offering to fly them out. That is a generous solution.
Take a deep breath before your conversation with her. Tell your mom how much you appreciate her wanting to visit. Let her know you value her persistence. However, you have concerns about the long drive. It comes from how much you love her and your brother and want them to be safe. Try not to raise your voice with her and instead tell her how much you love her. It should soften her heart and help her to hear yours and her grandchildren’s points of view.
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