My mother recently moved in with me while she is recuperating from a fall. I live with my wife and two young children and there have been a few hiccups with the living situation. My wife has been very understanding and her only complaint has been that she would like the television to be off in the evenings after dinner – this is when we play family games and finish homework. My mother likes to watch her shows and our only TV is in the living room where the family gathers. I’ve offered to buy a second TV for my mom’s bedroom but she loudly complained that she didn’t want to be stuck alone in a room. What can I do to satisfy the needs of everyone?
Muting My Mother
Dear Muting My Mother,
Your very last statement tells me that this problem has reached a boiling point, but I’m happy to report that we will solve this problem. I just need you to do one thing for me before we begin our problem-solving journey.
Stop trying to please everyone!
Who have you pleased in this situation? Are you pleased? Is your wife pleased? Is your mother pleased? No. So let’s start by tackling the easy stuff. First, your wife is completely rational in asking that the television remain off in the evenings. This is family time, a cherished moment with your Miniature Humans that will soon be over. Playing games, finishing homework, talking about your day…
It’s like a 1950s era family has managed to survive untouched for the past 70 years.
Second, your mother is completely rational in wanting to watch her television shows – something she has probably done for years without giving it a second thought. Where your mother veers a bit off-course is expecting the family to accommodate her, without her having to give up any concessions of her own.
I admire your mother’s gumption in managing that while sitting in someone else’s domain.
However, I don’t have to live with her gumption – you do. Set up a recording device and program it to save your mother’s shows. She can watch these while the family is out during the day, being productive citizens like she used to be. (Did you notice I laid the compassion on quite thick? I’m sure losing her ability to live independently has had more of an effect on her than you’ve realized.) Then, when the family is gathered in the evenings, the television remains off while you all play a game. Maybe your mom can roll the dice first!
Just be sure you don’t make your mother so comfortable that she’ll refuse to leave once she’s recuperated. I do not think you’ll appreciate my answer to your wife when she writes in for my help.
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