I am recently divorced and have found myself needing to be back home with my elderly Dad. He is 77. We are actually helping each other out as I need a place to stay and he needed help with the grounds keeping and house stuff. My problem is setting clear boundaries with him. He is harmless but my boundaries are very valuable to me, especially as I have recently left a marriage where the boundaries were not respected at all. What is happening is my dad will impulsively attempt to enter my bedroom with news articles or to show me something even when my door is shut. I have repeatedly asked him to knock first. Most recently, he wanted to enter my room to show me a map to where a relative was moving. My door was latched/locked (it's a sliding door that isn't very secure to begin with) and even after the door would not open he proceeded to grab it by an opening and tried to open it anyway. I was baffled. When someone proceeds to attempt, whether successful or not, to cross my boundaries it really hits a nerve. I informed him that the door was locked for a reason and he said, "I know, I know." I then realized he has not processed the importance of my boundaries at all. He is not respecting them. I lost my patience this time and exited my room and told him that I needed that boundary respected or I am going find other arrangements, which was dumb because I have no other means of shelter right now. But I guess what bothers me is that instead of being remorseful of disrespecting my boundaries he got angry at me for my expressing my dislike of the boundary breaking. He is not remorseful, he is just angry with me for letting him know I didn't like something he did. And, you know what? I actually feel guilty for expressing anger to him. I didn't rant, I didn't rage or rave. I simply, in a very strong voice, made it clear that I lock my door and it means keep out unless I open the door. I would love to have a relationship with my dad where I don't wind up feeling like I've done something wrong when it is him who is continuing to cross boundaries. But I am also beginning to think there is a learning problem there at this age...I not not sure and I don't want to let him off the hook for responsibility of his actions. I am pretty sure he is just resisting the need to acknowledge his wrong... I mean he got mad at me for expressing something pretty important. So far just typing this out has helped me come to better understanding on this. Anyone with insight feel free to share. I feel I need to resist the temptation to go apologize to him because I didn't do anything wrong. I believe he needs to REALLY have to think about this. I sometimes feel I am too close to the forest to see the trees. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Do you think it's possible that he might be experiencing some early symptoms of dementia? Usually elderly folks start to lose their marbles a bit, and he is definitely old enough that it wouldn't be unusual to start developing dementia. Does he seem to be more forgetful and less aware of social type etiquette? Unfortunately, I think you might have to accept the fact that his mind is slowing going and he might not be able to process information as well anymore. Which is why he kept trying to get into your room even though the door was locked. That's totally something an old person with dementia would do. And when you questioned him about it and he said he knew, that too.
Thank you Kszan! It is very possible. Where I am having difficulty, and this is my problem, is understanding how to handle it all emotionally for myself. It is really creating a ton of stress, because there has always been disrespect of boundaries in my family by many of the members which created lots of problems. I guess my hopes were that with just the two of us it would be easier to relate and converse and respect each other now with less commotion of lots of people, etc. But you are absolutely right, if there is a dementia problem or any other kind of problem due to his age I really need to take that into account. I guess I better do some reading and really work on my own stress reduction because I REALLY don't like the way this played out. It just doesn't feel good at all. Thanks for your input. It has been very helpful. Blessings!
Im 27 and I live with my mother who is 59. Without getting into dementia and serious issues. I have noticed that parents as they get older, beocme more like kids again, they need that extra special attention and care. THey know theyre getting old, theyre not what they used to be etc.
Even though I know it would be hard, I urge you to be more patient with him, yes he needs to respect your privacy as well. But I think sit and talk to him like you would a small child and explain him gently and tactfully. Make time for spending quality time with him like say Saturdays play chess or bridge or whatever, so that he looks forward to that and wont find the need to maybe barge unexpectedly.
You seem like a lovely daughter who is considerate as speakig to him loudly made you feel guilty sort of. I really respect people who take care of their elderely parents when needed. rather be patient with him, the day he is not there you will find yourself wishing you hadnt been harsh.
All the best
You are very right. After posting this I spent a great deal of time in prayer and the Lord revealed this very thing to me. In fact, my Dad and I have since sat down and talked about what happened. I apologized to him and we talked some more about the importance of boundaries. We also had a great conversation about the reasons we do some of the things we do. And it was just a great conversation altogether. You are right on about spending more time together also. Thanks for your input! God bless.