Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??

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Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« on: June 02, 2020, 02:32:16 AM »
Hello to the OOTF community,

I'm looking for fresh perspectives on a concern in my FOO. Please excuse the lengthy post. These are not very extreme difficulties (yet), but I appreciate the collective wisdom and experiences from my past involvement with this site. I haven't posted for several years, and it was in the PD In-laws forum.

None of my FOO members are PDs, although there is some codependent behaviour and boundary issues. My mum especially is a people pleaser. I have two Bs who are both married with kids. I suspect older SIL has covert narc traits. Older B and SIL are extremely miserly with money (to the dollar!), and they are NOT poor.

My Dad passed about a year ago, older B was not close to him. B and Mum are close, and have similar interests. M did not have enough money readily available to pay for funeral expenses. My DH works with M's financial planner (DH was very close to both my parents, esp. Dad), who he phoned, and who came up with a plan for M to access some of her own funds early (with no penalty or problem if she did so). When I phoned M to tell her what DH had arranged with the FP, she just sort of put up a wall with me and kept resisting, and said B, who was staying with her, had offered to loan her the money. I could not see the fiscal or logical sense to this - and this behaviour was out of character for her.

While making funeral arrangements, I noticed my B sat very near to M, and tended to dominate the discussion with funeral director, playing the role of 'big brother' (or replacement spouse??)   :o  After the meeting, he spoke privately with me, absolutely insistent that he would loan her the money, and not wanting to listen to other options. Over the following months after D's death, he began staying with M every few weeks. During these times, he has helped with shopping, banking, and monitors her shares portfolio online. He appears to be the one she turns to for help with financial things, and younger B and I help with other tasks, such as Drs appts, as M doesn't drive. Six months after the funeral, older B and SIL went overseas for the first time; B needed a credit card as security for accommodation, but doesn't have his own. So he asked M for an additional card on her account and he is 60 y.o.! I suspect he helped her with the funeral expenses in order to extract this favour from her later. Excuses were given by M that he couldn't get his own CC in time/is retired so was refused by bank/it was too hard for him/too much paperwork..... poor thing  :roll:

Also, older B and SIL have two adult sons with girlfriend and baby in tow, they all descend on M every Christmas and holiday celebration, with M paying for everything, and doing the majority of the work at 83 y.o! Last October I tried to start arranging a nice Xmas Eve for her at my place, and young B's for Xmas dinner (with his help). When I contacted M she resisted yet again, and refused, saying it had already been arranged by  Older B.....and yet again it would be at her house! In the past B would ALWAYS leave arrangements to everyone else (due to laziness/apathy), and has NEVER taken the initiative!! So apparently B is now front and centre spokesman for M - and she is okay with B and SIL exploiting her and her resources  >:(

M has now told B he should just keep the credit card, "in case she goes to hospital and needs him to buy something for her".  I think B having a CC is not necessary and potentially dangerous; his adult sons and girlfriend still live at home and they have had numerous boundary problems with them, both financial and relationship. I have tried to talk to M about this, but she became quite defensive, claiming B "would never cheat her".

Ironically, younger SIL has a B who is exploiting their own parents, and using his M's debit card and PIN at the automatic teller machine. The parallels between the families and the boundary crossings seem really telling to me, but also worrying.  DH thinks a lot of this is due to jealousy from older B; also he believes as her daughter I have the right to be equally involved in these things, so that B does not become her default right-hand man. I also sense older SIL may be involved behind the scenes. After years of diabolical behaviour by two NPDs from my in-law family, is it just me being paranoid and hyper-vigilant, or do I have a right to be concerned? I would really appreciate any similar experiences or new perspectives, thank you.  :)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 02:42:56 AM by SIQ69 »


Starboard Song

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Re: Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2020, 06:44:54 PM »
Gosh. This is an ugly dynamic. I am sorry you are having to deal with it.

If your mother is of sound mind and not under duress, I'd propose that her opinion is the end of the matter. You can suggest to her that she needs to review her own account from time to time. You can offer to sit with her to help. But I fear that nothing you described about how she is doing things is plainly wrong.

It is a great idea to be concerned, and to discuss with your mom options that might make her better protected in big ways. I don't think it is a great idea to ask her not to trust someone, or to ask her to agree with any particular approach.

These situations are ugly. You have to decide which battle you want, and to find out with your mom which battles you are entitled to.

Be good. Be strong.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 10:24:39 AM by Starboard Song »
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Re: Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2020, 12:10:03 PM »
SIQ69 - I think you are seeing red flags and are wise to pay attention to them in this situation. Elder financial exploitation is rampant and real.

That said, being in a similar situation with an elderly mil who places absolute trust in her GC who has proven herself very untrustworthy, it is a fine line to walk - offering suggestions and attempting to keep your mother from being taken advantage of versus overriding the decisions and wishes and autonomy of a mother who I am assuming has no cognitive deficits, but clearly has vulnerabilities that put her at risk.

There is a term that may be good to understand and may describe what you fear is happening with your brother/mother:

Definition of Undue Influence (per the American Bar Association & National Center on Law and Elder Rights): “When people use their role and power to exploit the trust, dependency, and fear of others. They use this power to deceptively gain control over the decision making of the second person.”

Definition of Undue Influence (per California State Law): “Excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity...

To summarize: financial exploitation is a subset of elder abuse, and basically means inappropriately using an older person’s financial resources, for the benefit of someone other than the older person.”
Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH
entire article found here:

I don't know who has POA for your mom (and am not asking), but if it is you or your DH, staying close and keeping watch over all of her accounts and purchases that are made, checks being written, that kind of thing, is very important at this point in her life even if nothing unusual was happening. Documenting any and all situations that could be exploitive or where you have questions and concerns is very important.

Huge red flags when an adult child who has floated the notion that they are financially well off needs their elderly mother to supply them with a credit card. For any reason.  :aaauuugh: If you can get your hands on all of the records of all financial transactions and such it might be important and help you figure out what's going on.

Good luck with this. Let us know how you are doing. This can be so hard!

"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
Amanda E. White, LPC @therapyforwomen

Bloomie 🌸



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Re: Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2020, 01:59:54 AM »
Thank you both for your replies and attention to this dilemma! Starboard Song, you are right, she is not actually doing anything risky with her finances at this point, and she is still of sound mind. It is more of the relationship dynamics changing since my father's death that set off my warning system. However, I do see I can only just continue to hope she doesn't make any more decisions like the CC, which was an uncharacteristic decision from a parent who previously always paid attention to making wise financial and legal decisions. (AND, older B would never have dared to ask when D was alive  >:()

Bloomie, I remember you from the In-laws forum when I used to post there several years ago, and thank you for the links you posted.  I recently read another report on financial elder abuse, which indicated the sheer entitlement and presumed 'ownership' of parent resources by such adult children impatient to capitalise on their inheritance. It described how even initially well-intentioned non-PD children sometimes start out 'taking care of mum/dad', and seemingly small favours and loans then segue into 'taking mum/dad's assets' :(
The Undue influence in an emotional, trusting sense is what I fear here. All three of us children were appointed Enduring POA before D died. (I detected that D did not like or trust older SIL, and this may have been the reason for not just appointing the older son as was traditional in their day). This will naturally be legally binding in future if a doctor diagnoses loss of cognitive functioning. Alternatively, in the case of physical frailty/incapacity, M may decide older B alone is to pay bills with the CC and handle her finances, for sheer convenience.  It is this circumstance I am more concerned about, and how to broach the subject in a tactful manner. I recently raised the illegal nature of one party possessing a CC in the event of enacting the POA, and the look of blank shock on M's face told me she had not even considered this potential difficulty.  :doh:
Bloomie you are right to detect she has other vulnerabilities, not the least of which is her closeness to B, her gently trusting,  and too agreeable nature and her belief in the very common refrain 'That wouldn't happen in OUR family'. Time will tell, I will post again if the situation unfolds further. Thanks again  :)



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Re: Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2020, 02:10:37 PM »
Sounds like emotional incest, enmeshment, and an inter generational problem of grooming your children as caretakers/surrogate spouses. Your brother also maintains dominance of his children because they are adults who haven’t been “allowed” to grow up.

My FOO has all of those elements. My uncle who is 60 is in your brothers shoes. It’s really dysfunctional and I think you may be in denial.

Maybe I am wrong, but from the outside, that’s what it looks like.



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Re: Codependency... or a possible PD....or is it me??
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2020, 02:58:04 PM »
IME it is a positive for you and your mom that the three way POA is set. This can allow you to keep watch on the CC statements and other finances for your mom. I would do that without guilt. You will be protecting everyone involved.
I have seen similar circumstances turn out badly in families. Several times Ive seen a person who was completely trusted break that trust with dishonesty for greed.
If something should come up I would calmly stating just facts presenting evidence without accusation of intent notify everyone involved.
Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 03:02:25 PM by PeanutButter »
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