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My mom has a puppy dog, who is a lot of fun and I enjoy taking on walks. However, he’s not very well trained and tends to chew things up. On a number of occasions he has taken my shoes and hid them or chewed on them. My mom told me I had to put them on the stairs leading up to my brothers room (my brother still lives with her) out of the dogs reach. On a number of occasions my brother has gotten mad when I leave things on a chair or on the stairs and throws them around the house.

Tonight when I went to visit this happened, and I couldn’t find my shoes. My brother went to his room and closed the door and when I asked if he knew where my shoes were he didn’t reply. I told my mom that I couldn’t find my shoes and needed to leave and she said to go pound on my brothers door.

First thing that bugs me is, whenever the dog has gotten into my stuff or my brother has moved it, my mom laughs and has a very flippant attitude. Second thing is, I don’t know what to do in situations like this? On one hand it is my brother’s fault for moving my belongings without asking me. On the other is that my mom probably should train her dog better so I don’t have to leave my stuff in awkward places. I don’t really want to be caught in the middle.

I eventually found my shoes and my brother had moved them not to far from where they first were but still enough so I had trouble finding them (he basically put them underneath a near by pile of shoes). The first thing my mom said was “so whose fault was it?” I find this question very immature and don’t want to play the blame game.

Also my mom had asked me to take the dog for a walk earlier. I told her I didn’t really have time and she said “just a 5 minute walk”. I agreed but when I wasn’t able to find my shoes I told her if I don’t find them in 2 minutes I won’t be able to take the dog for a walk. Since it took more like 15 minutes to find them, I ended up not taking the dog. My mom said if I’m going to act this way I’m not allowed to come over. While it’s true I was mad for having my stuff hidden, I wasn’t really mad at her and know that I can choose not to walk the dog. I told her to remind me not to come over as we usually don’t get along.

I know it kind of sounds silly as this huge ordeal was over a pair of shoes, but still they cost $200 and I use them in my running group (most of my shoes aren't the expensive). Also the dog (and my brother) has gone after my jacket, which has my cellphone and keys in it, so I see this as a very serious problem.

I find I communicate with my mom best by email so I’m thinking of sending her this.

Hi mom,

If I come over could you please ask me to take the dog for a walk in the first 15 minutes of my arrival? Otherwise I might not have time. Also, I can say no for any reason and this needs to be ok.

It’s happened a few times that valuable items of mine such as my shoes have been misplaced or (almost) damaged by the dog or my brother. I can’t afford this. What can be done so this doesn’t happen? Until this gets solved I won’t be coming by your place to visit.

Thanks, snowchym

As per my other questions I have a bad relationship with my parents. A few answers suggested not seeing them (as much). I believe there is some natural instinct on a person to want to see their parents, so how can this be dealt with? I feel like I know I shouldn't see my parent's, as it usually ends badly, but I keep forgetting. A friend of mine blocked his parent's phone numbers which I don't think is a good solution.

I forgot to mention I haven't lived with my parent's for 6 years, though I recently moved back to the same city they are in so I'm seeing them more.

  • I've edited the question a little to make the title more of a direct question and some other minor things. If this isn't ok, feel free to rollback the edit. – Becuzz Jan 25 '17 at 13:49
  • I'm not sure what you're asking. Based on what you describe, it seems to me the problem isn't that a dog chews on your stuff, or that your mom asks about work. But you express you want to treat this symptomatically (via your reactions) instead of addressing core issues. Your mother tells you that you are not welcome there, and you ask her to remind you? There seems to be a vast and complicated background to your situation, and I'm unsure what the particular focus is. Do you have a counselor available to talk to about your family relationships? – user25972 Jan 26 '17 at 2:22
  • @user25972 my question is, could you please proof read the email I will be sending? I won't be talking to councilors or therapists. – snowchym Jan 26 '17 at 5:05
  • Well, I'm no English teacher, but your e-mail looks perfectly fine to me. Whether its content is appropriate for your relationship with your mother/rest of the family, or whether it is going to achieve its purpose, I find impossible to judge. – user25972 Jan 26 '17 at 10:02
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I think the very fact that you keep trying says a lot about your character.

However, I am going to talk to you like a mother. Could you hang up your coat and bag in a closet, or on a hook? Even the high corner of a door could work. Carry an extra bag for your shoes that can also hang. When you arrive, how about asking your mother if you could walk the dog? If there are other chores or things you could do to help -- offer. This puts the reins in your hands.

It is also what adults do; we take care of our own problems. I know email is the 'thing to do', but conversation is better, imo.

When I was in my twenties and trying to set boundaries with my parents, who thought of me as a child (and treated me like one), I would answer all their questions but still give them only the information they needed and I wanted them to have.

Our relationship was very complicated but here are some sample questions and answers: Father asked: "How much money are you making?" I answered,: "Thanks Dad, I have enough money to pay my rent and for everything I need. Aren't you nice to ask!" Now this meant to him that I thought he was offering money when in reality, he was being nosey. I had turned his negative nosey question, into a caring and concerned one. He would have 'lost face' to continue. Mother asked, "When are you going to get married?" This is fairly normal, but when I did not have an answer I said, " When I find the person who makes me as happy as Dad makes you." So again, I made it complementary and never shared anything I did not want to share. I did share things like getting a new job, moving to a new apartment, getting a new roommate, passing courses.. but I shared what I wanted them to know. By offering information, it helped stop all the questions.

My other 'trick' is to show interest in them. Ask them about their work, their health, the time they visited that place, or what was it like when they...? Showing interest will make them feel like you care and quite frankly -- that is what my parents were trying to do -- show me they cared.

  • Why do you think talking face to face is better than an email? I prefer email as it gives me time to think before speaking. Also avoids yelling. – snowchym Jan 26 '17 at 5:01
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    @snowchym I think that when we talk face to face, we can better understand the other person's reaction to what we said. If I say, "Please make your bed." You could read it as a gentle reminder or, you could read as I am exasperated beyond reason. Face to face means that I could tell you that I am or am not angry. I would see and understand your reaction. I am misunderstood frequently. I think I am being nice and straight-forward, and someone else thinks I am being harsh and unkind. It happened to me here only yesterday in another comment. So my idea is to make sure your mom understands it. – WRX Jan 26 '17 at 12:48
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My first idea was: Don't wear your most expensive shoes there. I used to live on a farm and whenever a friend of mine wore super new white shiny shoes there I was shaking my head. They knew it was gonna be dirty. And you do know that there is a chewy dog (and your brother) awaiting you. So a quick solution would be: Buy super cheap shoes you don't care about.

But this doesn't help you over the long term. But talking it out with your family is probably way more effective than writing an e-mail like you wanted to!

So my advice is:

  • get cheap shoes
  • visit your family with good intentions
  • talk about solutions and offer your part (maybe not only walking the dog but training him yourself a little, or maybe bring him a chewing toy)
  • make clear you are an adult that can have his own opinions but also respect the opinions of your (also adult) mother
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    Are you being serious when you say get new shoes just for the dog to chew them up? – snowchym Jan 25 '17 at 10:48
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    You said your shoes have not been chewed up yet but there is the possibility. So what is more important: 10$ shoes, or never seeing your family? And yes I am totally serious. If I visit a farm I buy rain boots first. It is not that big of a deal as you make it. – Pudora Jan 25 '17 at 10:52
  • That's a creative idea :) The problem is I have other things like my jacket and wallet and the dog and my brother move/hide them. – snowchym Jan 25 '17 at 11:05
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    I can understand that you don't want to watch your stuff when at their home. It think openly talking about it is still the best approach. Try not to talk down to your brother but show that you care about him and try to understand his motives. He will have a reason for his behavior and if you can understand it you will find a solution together, – Pudora Jan 25 '17 at 12:27
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The period of time after you first move out of the house is a difficult one for family relationships, because you're transitioning from one kind of relationship to another. You aren't a child any more, but there's no other role for you in your family's home.

It's entirely natural and common for adult children to limit their time with their birth families for a while. You may find that your relationship improves in the future if your brother moves out, or you get married and/or have children, or any number of other things happen.

So in summary, I wouldn't burn any bridges, or take any of this too personally. Instead, focus on your own life as an independent adult, limit your time at your parents' home, and don't view this as a failing on either your or your parents' part. If your mother questions it, just tell her that you that you still love her, but you need a little space to establish your own life. The current arrangement is probably stressful for her as well.

  • I forgot to mention I haven't lived with my parent's for 6 years, though I recently moved back to the same city they are in so I'm seeing them more. – snowchym Jan 26 '17 at 1:04
  • @snowchym It's really less about the length of time, and more about transitioning to a new role. My sister and I couldn't really stand being under the same roof with each other and our parents until after we were both married and had kids --then we started getting along great again. – Chris Sunami Jan 26 '17 at 18:11
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As per another answer on one of your questions, your email is an example of trying to set healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are important in good relationships. Adhering to boundaries shows basic respect for another person.

Your email seems reasonable enough based on what you've said, both here and in other questions. I might word it slightly differently or offer an alternative other than never visiting, but that is really up to you.

It's really an awesome thing that you want to foster a good relationship with your parents. Just remember that any good relationship requires effort of everyone involved. If your parents want this relationship to be successful, they will have to put in some work, just as you will. Keep trying, but stick to your guns (boundaries) and hopefully they will soon start to work with you on creating a better relationship.

  • If you have any resources on setting boundaries I would appreciate you sharing it. I tried google searching but most articles contained things that were religious (e.g. meditating or asking a priest). I think in life I'm a bit rigid. For example I tried to set a boundary not to talk to my mom about work but she would always ask "are you working today?" and when I reminded her I won't be discussing work with her then she would say "well then how do I know which days you are free to visit". So I guess boundaries sometimes can have exceptions? – snowchym Jan 25 '17 at 13:24
  • @snowchym I googled "setting healthy boundaries" and this, this and this were among the first few results. – Becuzz Jan 25 '17 at 13:35
  • @snowchym As far as your mother asking about when you are working, what you do depends on where you want to set your boundary. If even mentioning work is off-limits, then you are doing the right thing. If you want to keep it to "just don't talk about what I do or how work is going" then wanting to know when you are working / available, is ok. Personally, I would say wanting to know your availability isn't really asking about work, but rather your schedule and would be an ok topic. If it derailed into criticizing your job, then it just crossed the line. But that's just my opinion. – Becuzz Jan 25 '17 at 13:39
  • What I don't like about this answer is that it leaves the brother out completly. If you keep ignoring him and only adressing the mother his behavior won't get better. But I really love the last paragraph! – Pudora Jan 25 '17 at 13:51
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    @Pudora What applies to the mother applies to the brother. Set boundaries with him or ask the mother to parent the brother and not allow him to hide the OP's things. The boundaries need to be set one way or another. – Becuzz Jan 25 '17 at 13:59

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