Dealing With A Mean Grandma
There can be few things worse in life than having to put up with a mean grandma. Fortunately, they tend to be a rather rare breed, but once in awhile one just happens to come along. Whether you have a mean grandma or not can depend somewhat on your age. Most of us loved our grandmothers, or loved them if they've since departed, and most of us tended to favor one over the other.
When we are very young, our favorite grandma may be the one who just seems to be the nicest to us, lets us lick the bowl, and doesn't get upset when, as a three year old, we pull out all of her pots and pans on the kitchen floor to play with. Our other grandma, the "mean" grandma, is the one that makes us behave and doesn't put up with a lot of nonsense. She'll take you shopping with her, or take you with her to visit a friend of hers, but you'd better darn well behave.
If we all had a mean grandma of that type, we'd all grow up to be better citizens. Good grandmas seem to give unconditional love. Some mean grandmas give tough love, but love nevertheless. But all of that happened when we were little. Usually by the time we grow up, "Mean Grandma" has somehow turned into a very nice elderly lady.
Once in awhile though, a mean grandma is just plain mean, which is to say she is a mean person, or at least seems to be. Maybe she is aware of it or maybe she isn't. Maybe she's not real capable of giving love, or doesn't understand why others can't hold up to her standards. Sometimes it's simply because she is ill.
One of the most difficult situations can be when Grandma has Alzheimer's. Often, a person simply becomes more and more senile as they begin to deteriorate and remains a loving person even when he or she no longer recognizes you. Some however, and this goes for grandpa's as well, can become quite mean. It is really a heart-rending problem to face when it just becomes impossible to be around someone you have loved and still do.
Life Can Be Tough - It doesn't have to be Alzheimer's of course. Elderly people collect various aches and pains, especially arthritis, or begin to suffer from poor hearing or poor vision. In many cases they just don't feel well most days or are a little resentful about what is happening to their bodies. The tendency may be to become irritable, impatient, and in some cases downright mean towards others. There is a humorous birthday card in circulation, meant for an older person, that says something like, "inside this body is a beautiful young person wondering what the hell happened". Some older people feel just that way, and are resentful towards younger, more beautiful people, including grandchildren.
Keeping In Touch - What to do? You can ignore the mean grandma, and simply not visit her, or have her put in a home, where she'll just end up being mean to others. But that's not solving anything and is in effect running away from the problem. The problem may be unsolvable anyway, but there are things that can be done. Instead of ignoring grandma, visit her, but keep the visits short whenever possible. For one thing, it may put off acts of meanness, or if not at least limits your exposure to them.
Staying in touch is good medicine, both for you and for grandma, even if it may not seem to be changing her all that much. Older people can be hard to change, and it's often not worth trying. Giving love however isn't all that hard, even if you don't seem to be getting any back in return. It may be there, at least from Grandma's perspective, and maybe that's all that is really important.