Need advice

ms_minnamouseMay 13, 2011

This is kind of the opposite situation. I'm an adult child living with my parents. I would love to move out but I have some seriously debilitating health problems and can't.

This is an weird situation and I need advice and thought this would be a good place to post. I mean, yes you guys are strangers but hopefully since you guys garden, you can understand this situation better than other people.

Though I am ill and living with my parents, one of the very few joys I have in life is horticulture. We live on 2 1/2 acres surrounded by woods and I had this dream of planting a bunch of native plants to help wildlife. My parents were okay with it. After all, I paid for these plants. I don't have a lot of money since I can't work but it's one of the things that I do spend my limited money on. A lot of these plants were grown from seed or bought young and I've nursed them along.

My dad is going senile. I don't know if that has anything to do with the problem though. The problem is that he mows the lawn and when he does, he mows over my plants and he mows over animals. He doesn't look where he's going and he goes at top speed.

I've tried all kinds of methods to protect my plants but they fail. I've tried borders, cones, flags, etc. He mows right over them and has even broken the mower multiple times. He, himself, told me to use stakes to mark the plants and even though it's ugly, I do. But he mows right through the stakes!! He also takes them out.

I have volunteered to mow the lawn and my brother has also but my dad tries to beat us to it. For example, he'll mow the lawn in the rain when we're waiting for the next dry day to do it. And when we do mow the lawn, even though we do a good job, my dad will re-mow it the same day or like a day later! He never even reimburses me for the plants he destroys. But it's not money I'm concerned about.

Plants and animals are the only two things that make me happy. I've invested a lot of time, work, and money into these plants. It really bothers me when he just kills them. But if that's not bad enough, it really gets me when he mows over wildlife. There's no need for it. My brother and I don't kill anything when we mow.

I know this is HIS land but he's killing animals needlessly. The plants are one thing but the animals are more important. They shouldn't be dying just because he want to mow the lawn like a bat out of... heck.

I've spoken to my mom and sometimes she steps in, other times she doesn't. There's no consistency there.

I don't know what to do...

Should I just dig up all the precious plants I have left and sell them off before they'd destroyed one by one?

And what can I do, if anything, about the animals?

Back to the plants... Am I more sensitive about them than I should be? It really feels like he may as well be stomping on anything I plant and grinding them underfoot.

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asolo're planting your stuff in the lawn...the lawn that you know is going to be mowed by a careless man and your efforts destroyed by him? Why would you do that?

Not sure I have the whole picture here.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:35PM
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asolo're planting your stuff in the lawn...the lawn that you know is going to be mowed by a careless man and your efforts destroyed by him? Why would you do that?

Not sure I have the whole picture here.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:20PM
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No... I'm not planting stuff in the lawn. That wouldn't make any sense. I plant them in beds or outside of the lawn and he mows into the beds and into plantings and the woods.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 2:38AM
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Hi there

I know excactly how you feel. I have been in your exact situation ! I lived on acres, I propagated native plants from seed, I revegetated damaged grasslands to turn them into forests for animals and insects. I had my silly DH mowing down revegetated areas. I know the passion of doing such a project. I know what it is like to damage native animals unnecesarily.

My way of dealing with such problems was to take control of the whole thing. I ended up doing all the mowing, so I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I know this might be difficult for you.

I also made things easy by starting my plantings near an already establised tree. For instance I had one big tree and close by I would plant my little plants. I always put a small stake near the seedling, these plants where about 20cm tall. On top of the small stake I would tie some flurescent plastic tape, like that grafting tape. It was really easy to see all the plants and when I wandered around I could get a really good picture of how many plants where there. It is very easy to "loose" small plants when doing revegetation. Perhaps you could "hide" your precious plants so your dad can't mow them down.

My revegetation project was over 10 years, so when I finally moved from this property in 2009, I knew I had done the best job for the local wildlife, there were more birds, wallabys (I live in Australia), more lizards and insects.

Some people don't like getting rid of their lovely grassy lawns, as was the case in my area. My property had a big sign out the front saying "Land for Wildlife".

I can understand how hearbreaking it is for you to see animals mowed down by the lawnmower. I would be the same.

I think your father's behavour is a bit strange, maybe he thinks that his mowing is his job, and resents someone else taking it over. Perhaps you could make a deal with him, that he mows to a defined line and no further, and you and your brother could take care of the maintenance in that area which is the area where your plants are.

I wish you well in your plant quest. I think it is a wonderful thing you are doing and I urge you to persevere.

Last week I went for a drive past my former property where I had done large swathes of native regeneration. A particular favourite area, for me, was along the driveway up to the house. I had grown, from seed, palms, shrubs, and ferns along the driveway. These were all native plants, really precious to me and it look spectacular. The new owner had chopped it all down....I was shocked. He had grassed the whole area, all the plants were gone. What a nutcase, I am still grealty sadened by it all, he obviously did not realize the treasure he had in his hands.

All the best and enjoy your passion.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 10:26PM
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Thank you Popi. You really do understand my dilemma. And you're right, his behavior is strange.

That's terrible about your previous property. Not only did all your hard work go to waste but the animals really lost out too. What a shame.

I admire a lot of Australian native plants, they're so gorgeous and unusual. How anyone can prefer a boring lawn over those plants is beyond me. Especially with the droughts you guys have been having. I'm not sure where in Australia you live but I'm aware that large areas are having a tough time with getting enough water.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 4:09AM
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It does sound like your dad's senility is a big part of the mowing problem if he's mowing in the rain or days after the mowing has been done, in addition to his technique. I sure hope he doesn't drive like that. :-(
Personally I'd be doing something to disable the mower so he CAN'T mow.
What animals does he run over? That's disgusting.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:34PM
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"Personally I'd be doing something to disable the mower so he CAN'T mow. What animals does he run over? That's disgusting."

A neighbor at a building I used to live in did that. She was a bossy, nosy woman who thought she owned the place. She mowed over anything and everything. She would brag about how much the landlord liked her and how well she was being paid.

Another neighbor got tired of listening to her brag and poured some water into the gas tank one night. When she went to mow again, nothing happened. She had to call the landlord to come 'fix' it.

The landlord decided she wasn't as responsible as he initially thought and took the mower away. There wasn't much bragging after that.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 11:54AM
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"What animals does he run over? That's disgusting."

Mostly snakes (including an endangered rare (in this area) ribbon snake), rabbit nests, ground nesting birds, etc. Basically anything that gets in the way and doesn't or can't move. Especially my poor plants.

I can't disable the mower because he would just fix it and the grass would get really high, we'd get even more ticks and fleas than usual, and animals would start moving into the lawn. I try to keep it short so that snakes and rabbit nests are as little of a problem as possible.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 11:27PM
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It seems as though your father's going to mow, no matter what.

But, could you perhaps enlist the aid of your brother to block off your flower beds in a way that your father CANNOT mow them? Build raised beds--at least a foot or 2 high--from railroad ties. Or maybe put a sturdy fence--something that would be difficult to remove or mow through. Of course, you'd need at least your mom's agreement to make changes like that on the property. If those things aren't possible, what about getting some containers and growing your plants in those? I know it's not quite the same as having a garden in the ground, but it would be at least some way to enjoy your hobby. Or how about a small greenhouse (there are some that are very reasonably priced these days) where you could do some container gardening. Or would you be able to garden a plot in your community garden--if there is one? or possibly would a neighbor permit you to garden a bit on their property? Sharing one's interest can be very rewarding. You might even look into helping the students at the local elementary school start a garden--all elementary schools in my town have them. That would be a fantastic way to share your gifts with those who would appreciate and learn from them.

Is there any way you can all sit down and discuss the 'why' of his actions? Would he tell you? Is it an issue that, working together, your family might be able to solve?

Hope you find a workable solution and can get back to enjoying your garden again

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:22PM
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No, I don't think there's any solution to this besides building an old fashioned moat around my plants. He won't sit down and tell me the "why". He'll most likely get angry for some reason (he does that a lot and surprise, it's a symptom of dementia even though my mom won't agree that he's not all there) no matter how calm and polite I will be forcing myself to be.

Whether my health improves or not, I need to just pack it up and get the heck out of here. Maybe I'll sell my plants, maybe I'll dig them up and bring them with me but I will not leave them to be destroyed.

My brother can't be counted on for anything.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:47PM
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Sounds to me like somebody should flat-out straighten his stupid a** out and be done with it. You really have described a considerable b**tard.

Apparently there's nobody there interested in the undertaking. That's a shame. I do understand it...but still a shame. Such people should not be allowed to just plow ahead in obliviousness.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:29PM
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Yeah, I do agree and it's driving me nuts. I would so like to get along with my own father! I think senility (not dementia, I mixed them up in a previous post) is playing a large part in this. Not just because he's forgetful or whatnot but because it's turning him into a person that I dislike so much.

And no one will do anything about it.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:10AM
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Look, I realize that your own health issues probably have you focusing a lot of your existance on yourself--that's natural. However, I do want to point out that IF (and it truly sounds as if your father has health issues) HE'S suffering from Alzheimer's or another type of dementia--there may not be alot that anyone can do to improve the situation. Yes, there are some meds that are effective in slowing the disease, BUT at this point in time, it's really not curable.

I tried to offer some practical solutions above to the garden issue, but I think, you do need to step out of yourself for a few moments and take a look at the larger situation. Your father is sick. It's a scary time for him. Your mother is in denial (that's common--when my MIL was in the beginning stages of Alzheimers, we were ALL trying to convince ourselves it wasn't so), so she's not trying to get him help. Please--take a few minutes out of your day, and give your father's dr. a call. Tell him you do NOT want him to discuss your father's medical issues with you, but that you just want him to listen. Then tell him about the issues that are concerning you. Hopefully, that way, the next time your father goes in for a check-up, his dr. will go a step further than usual, and may be able to diagnose and treat your father.

Again--I know that's a lot to ask, when you have issues, but your father needs to be checked out medically. He needs someone going to bat for him (and obviously, your parents have been there for you if they've permitted you to live in their home as an adult, when you've got your own issues--yes, that's what parents do, but it's STILL a big imposition on them, in a lot of ways.)

Let's put the cart first here--get some help for your father, get your own health seen to, THEN maybe it will be time to plant your garden.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:34PM
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I know it's not curable but slowing it down is better than doing nothing. He's wasting time by not doing anything about it and my mom is allowing him to waste time by "being in denial". I really don't care if she is in denial, it's not her health and mental facilities that are in trouble here.

I ALREADY did call his doctor and it was a waste of time. They won't test him for anything or even just discuss it with him unless he brings it up. I didn't want to know anything about his personal medical care, I made that clear, I just wanted them to do anything about his senility. Even if it was just giving him a pamphlet or making him aware of the symptoms but they couldn't be bothered to do that.

I know gardening isn't the priority here but because of my dad's issues and no one doing anything about them, everything that is important to other people besides him gets trampled on. It's a bit impossible for me to not have at least one thing that I allowed myself to care about and bring me a temporary vacation from all my issues and also impossible for me not to care when it gets destroyed.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 6:07AM
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With you suppose he could be doing this specifically out of resentment toward you?

You've described a troubled family dynamic overall. Is part of his strange behavior striking out against that "thing" that his conscious or sub-conscious doesn't know how to deal with otherwise?

I have no training in this area so should probably shut up about it but you've described some pretty strange goings on. Combined with your own problems. In the end, it's all mixed up together. What are the chances of your getting out of there?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:36PM
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"With you suppose he could be doing this specifically out of resentment toward you?"

I suppose it's possible but given his other behaviors, it doesn't seem likely.

"You've described a troubled family dynamic overall."

Oh, Lord do I ever know this.

"'ve described some pretty strange goings on. Combined with your own problems. In the end, it's all mixed up together. What are the chances of your getting out of there?"

I'm at the point where I'm considering living under a bridge if it means getting away from here! My chances aren't very good. I can't hold a job and I can't function in school. I *think* I could move out and take care of myself, though not very well, if some one else is footing the bill. I don't know if they'd consider doing that, I have to sit down and talk to them about it.

I do sound ungrateful but you have no idea what my family is like. Monetarily, they're very supportive but during my childhood there was physical abuse and the mental/emotional abuse has never ceased. And it is going on ALL the time, I really do suspect that both of my parents harbor bipolarity given that you never know what will set them off and when it'll happen and to what degree.

It feels like a war zone and I have to be on the constant defensive and not be emotionally vulnerable and leave myself open to attacks.

Once I was a sweet child but I admit I've grown emotionally cold and distant to them. If I close myself off, then I'm safe. I hate that I'm reliant on them, but what can I do with chronic depression even on high doses of anti-depressants and debilitating sleep problems that leave me with no energy, make me sleep most of the day, and have ravaged my memory and ability to focus. I am getting treatment but it's not working. Try feeling like you have mono for over 10 years!

Money is plentiful, the house is large and beautiful with a swimming pool, there's wide open yard space with lots of wildlife, there's a tv in almost every room, yada, yada, yada. It's everything you could want on the surface but underneath it's a h*ll hole. I am NOT bragging. I am just trying to explain.

I apologize for telling my life story... It's been a tougher than usual last few days.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 5:02AM
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ms minnamouse,

I don't know what part of the country you live in, but I wonder if you can try NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness). If you run a search online I believe it is Start there first and ask questions. I don't know if they are in your area or not. Then try calling a county mental health and describe the situation in your household to see if someone may be able to come out or to do an evaluation.

Maybe you could see if your area/city/county also has a adult protective services (that may not be the exact name) as they sometimes may have advice or at least know who you may try to contact.

I'm throwing out as much as I can to problem-solve. You describe a situation with emotional/physical abuse and mental health issues and certainly there must be someone who you can try to call to help with these issues or at least point you in the right direction.

I'm uncertain what to do about the plants and gardening, but the other issues need to be addressed.

As far as the animals go and his destroying wildlife maybe you could try a wildlife organization or wildlife bureau and/or farm bureau and asks questions to see if they may help you to problem-solve.

I wish you the best with these issues.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Alliance on Mental Illness

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 6:01PM
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'I don't know if they'd consider doing that, I have to sit down and talk to them about it. '

This is well worth giving some further thought to. Come up with a a place you have found to live, the amount of money in $ that you need to survive.

Perhaps a drastic change in YOUR living arrangements might trigger a much happier frame of mind for you. Your current living arrangements sound very depressing.

It is good that you have a creative outlet with your plants.

I wish you well, I can imagine it is tricky for you to sort out the problems in your life in your current frame of mind.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Thank you SO much flowergardenmuse for those resources! I am looking into getting disability support (hey, if I'm so messed up, I may as well get disability support for it) but even with full coverage, which I'm unlikely to get, I doubt it would be enough to support myself. I'll bookmark and look into those resources you gave me. Not even the many counselors and psychiatrist I've spoken to over the years have been as helpful as you've been in this short post! My current counselor wants me to have family sessions. That'll be reaaalll useful, especially since my parents don't admit any fault and turn everything around on me and lie through their teeth. Some how they conveniently forgot all the physical abuse of my childhood when I brought it up in family sessions years ago. I was in a hospital because I tried to kill myself and they still couldn't be bothered to admit to any faults and tell the truth!

Popi, I did sit down and discussed it with them tonight and I almost cried because they can't or won't pay for separate living arrangements for me. Even with disability support going towards my expenses, when I get it.

I'm holding out the very small hope that I may be able to find a place with roommates that isn't very expensive and that they MIGHT consider it, especially if I ever am able to start going back to school.

I know they can't support me forever, even if they agreed to the above, but I'm hoping that one day I will find a treatment that works for my sleep problems and that I'll be able to go back to school and get a job and eventually build a life for myself.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 1:11AM
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ms minnamouse,

You're welcome. I've been down the mental health road seeking problem-solving solutions in having to cope with my mother and own family. I also suffer and have suffered from very serious bouts of clinical depression brought on by all the stress of having to cope and deal with not only my mother, but also my in-laws and their crazy-making behaviors as well as the nut-inducing encounters with the general public as well.

If your counselor isn't working out for you consider finding another one, but maybe you should print out the advice and then talk about it to your current counselor as well.

I do know and can fully empathize with how difficult it can be to find resources and help. Yes, even counselors and people within the mental health industry can be lacking in common sense or even offering valid resources.

I forgot to mention or inquire if you may have a pastor or a member of the clergy who you could possibly trust as well. I'm often reluctant to suggest that since sometimes the so called good intentions of religious people tends to create a lot more problems.

You're also not alone in dealing with the issues that you have with your family. Emotionally abusive parents generally don't tend to take responsibility for their faults and behave as yours do. Sadly, that is pretty common behavior, even though it is very destructive.

Here's another good site that addresses family problems/issues like yours that may lead to estrangement. You may not be in that point in your life, but I think you may find the site offers encouragement and addresses other issues that may be of interest and helpful to you.

Anyway, good luck to you with all these issues.

Here is a link that might be useful: E-Stranged

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Miss Minna, my mother's doctor said that Dementia and Alzheimers are so similar they often don't try to tell the difference.

Your county might have an ordinance about not killing animals, where you could report what your father is doing. I certainly hope he is no longer driving on public roads!

I know all about families that are in denial, and about depression. I wouldn't try to "fix" them; I think you need to figure out what would make you happy. I would suggest doing your gardening in another place; a public park often appreciates volunteer gardeners, so do schools and local government buildings. Do you think that if you found a place to volunteer, you might feel better? Is there any garden within walking distance, or can you drive or have your mother drive you?

PS Just throwing this out there, but if you went to college and ever want to try for a Federal job, please contact me.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:49PM
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