Mom frustrations...advice?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by GFLPraxis, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    First allow me to vent a little.
    Argh; working with my mom when it comes to computers is very frustrating. She's an artist with a MacBook Pro. She paints. And she rocks. All of her pictures are scanned and put on her computer. The computer has Photoshop 7.

    She insists I show her how to do everything, but when I suggest actually taking the time to learn Photoshop (I have a book and offered to act as an instructor) she insists she doesn't have time to learn because she's always so busy (which is true).

    But she wants me to teach her how to do certain advanced things (selections, adding her signature digitally to a picture she didn't sign, filters, text effects, removing blemishes, adjusting colors, resizing and printing images) without learning the basic underpinnings of the program (layers, tools; she still has to call me sometimes because she can't figure out how to move something, usually because she doesn't have the move tool selected or is in the wrong layer).

    She's not old or senile (she's in her forties), she just doesn't want to take the time to learn and wants to essentially work as a 'trained monkey' and call me every time she has trouble. I expect her to call me for something almost every day (often multiple times), and I'm very busy (university student + part time IT job + volunteer work), so I understandably sometimes look a bit irritated.

    She sometimes gets angry at my attitude (explained below) as I'm helping her do some incredibly simple task that I've already shown her a hundred times over but she doesn't understand.

    I've suggested she get someone to do the image editting work, but she's pretty much pulled the "family responsibility" card and the "you live in my house" card.

    The most frustrating part is this; I come up to help her, trying to smile about it and be cheerful. As I work, she sees things she has only a partial understanding of, and she interrupts me trying to tell me how to do it. How to work with certain tools she doesn't entirely understand, how to search for help on Google (she doesn't know the terminology), how to work with layers and layer masks and tools, etc. I've been working with the trackpad using the clone stamp tool and she grabbed the mouse (sending the cursor flying and messing up the image, forcing me to undo).

    It gets to the point that I just blow her off and ignore her when she starts making suggestions because I know she doesn't know the concepts involved and I know I know better, but that's when she gets mad at my attitude and says I treat her like she knows nothing.

    She says I would never ignore a customer like that to which I respond that a customer wouldn't be standing over my shoulder telling me how to operate Photoshop.

    She's got a bazillion files on the desktop and her images are entirely disorganized (some through the iPhoto library, two or three different watercolor folders, an ART folder on the desktop, seperate stuff in the documents folder) etc and she often can't find things but expects me to be able to.


    What should I do? Is it wrong for me to be frustrated over this? Should I try to say something? She gets offended if I try...

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I love my mom, and we get along great, with the only time we ever get into arguements being when we try to get something done on the computer.

    (oh, Photoshop guru's, please see this thread
  2. calculus Guest


    Dec 12, 2005
    I bet she did this for you too when you were young!
  3. Poseidon macrumors regular


    Feb 14, 2007
    Coralville, IA
    Wow. Lot going on there.

    Without getting too personal, may I ask what your set-up is? That is, do you live with your mom? Do you pay rent and/or bills? Is she totally supporting you or are you two more akin to roommates in your arrangements? How far are you willing to go to stand up for yourself?

    The way you've presented things makes it seem like she's taking heavy advantage of you, and "family responsibility" or "mother privilege" aside, it doesn't seem fair for her to constantly demand your time - especially to go over the same material again and again. Given that do you have your own life and your own committments, I can imagine that it must be very frustrating to know this is going to happen and not be able to do anything about it.

    Without knowing more specifics though my first (possibly overly simple) reaction would be to say that you two badly need to set boundaries.

    Trying sitting down with her when you're not helping her with computer related items and see what sort of compromise you two can come to. Try and convince her when tempers aren't hot that her learning this material is her best bet; but that if she absolutely MUST have your help, she needs to work within your schedule as well as hers. See if you can set up some sort of daily or weekly schedule well you devote time to helping her - that way she knows you're still around to give her a hand but you can get on with the rest of your life.
  4. TheAnswer macrumors 68030


    Jan 25, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    A couple of approaches...

    First...explain to you mother that since at this point, you understand the software better than her, it's best to leave you on your own while doing the work because there are ways of working in Photoshop that she doesn't understand yet. If she's too busy to learn...she's also too busy to stand over you every second and just watch you could also try to work out a "come and check out my progress every XX (# of minutes), and then you can focus on the changes at that time."

    Also, ask her to set aside two periods (either hours or half-hours) a week towards learning the software better herself. Make it clear that you aren't doing this to get out of family responsibilities, but so that she better understands the possibilities of the software. After the first lesson, tell her what you will be teaching her in the next lesson and ask her to have set some relevant portions of a project set aside so that the two of you can work on together as she learns. She doesn't need to become an expert, but if she at least knows the possibilities, that will make your life easier.

    Also, when you are teaching her...remember everyone learns differently...especially if you are more logical/technical and she is more artistic.

    Also...try to get her to buy you a Wacom tablet if you don't already have one. Since she might feel more at home holding a stylus than a mouse.

    Good luck!
  5. GFLPraxis thread starter macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    And she did. Unlike most snotty teenagers, I really appreciate everything my mom's done for me. Which is why I don't tell her off, I don't want to hurt her feelings. And why she hasn't made me move out; I was never rebellious.

    But she gets so mad at me when I'm trying to help her, which is frustrating.

    As long as I'm in school and I cause no problems she's supporting me entirely. I pay for my own gas and food but I pay no rent or bills. (I'm 19, with a two-year AA working on my four-year, working an IT job)

    She has the right to ask me for help. I agree with that. I just don't like the current situation; it devlolves into an arguement every time she needs help. (and I wish it wasn't on a daily basis)

    I've tried :( A lot of times she wants me to pretty much edit large portions of her picture for her, in which she wants to be able to sit there and tell me how to adjust the colors and which parts of the picture to adjust.

    I've had some success telling her to just email me instructions for what she wants me to do and let me do it, but the problem that arises is that I'm too busy doing other things and the work doesn't get done for like a week sometimes and she gets frustrated at that.

    The wacom tablet idea is pretty good.

    She's said in her own words that something that takes me ten minutes can take her over five hours. And I've seen it.

    I've had a day where I had a huge homework load and she knew I COULDN'T help her. It took her all day to get things done I could have done in half an hour, she had arm cramps and back pain from sitting at the laptop too long, etc, and I felt guilty.

    Scheduling doesn't work so well; it comes down to her getting help now or not being able to get anything done till I'm free. I can give it a shot though.


    Things have already gotten a little easier; previously she was making me work as her web admin too, manually editting a flat file database to add new pages and working in HTML every time she wanted to make the slightest change to her web site on a whim. I managed to introduce her to a friend of mine who she hired to modify the web site with an SQL database and better admin tools, now she can update the site herself (she's still having the problem of uploading high-DPI images on accident though; she doesn't realize it because everything is automatically resized, but I see some pages taking forever to load because of big images).

    I wonder if I should just show her this thread. Do you guys think she'd be offended?
  6. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    firstly, can i politely slap you upside the head for 'she's in her forties and senile'?!? :) lol i'm 35 and far from senile :)

    honestly, i would find some online photoshop courses, pay for them and treat it like a gift for her. Give her a card which says I love you, i want you to learn this so you understand how to best utilize your potential b/c you do rock as an artist. i would suggest a course at a local college, but it doesn't sound like she has the time for that. there are some great online sites out there.

    treat it like you're doing something FOR HER even though you're doing it for both her and you. take yourself out of the equation b/c in the end, you will also benefit. show her a sample.

    a course will help with the organization too.

  7. GFLPraxis thread starter macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004

    I said she's NOT old and senile ;) Hm. Maybe I should edit it to say "not old or senile" to make it more clear.
  8. Roger1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2002
    I liked the idea of suggesting she take an online course, or community college course. Maybe explain it that if she spends a couple of hours a week, for a few weeks learning, she wil save many, many hours in the long run. Especially when you point out that it takes her 5 hours to do something that takes you 10 minutes. You can also explain that when you spend all this time doing HER artwork, you are not focusing on your studies. Ya gotta be nice though :)
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    This isn't particularly germane to the original topic, but I think it's important, and it wasn't discussed: is her system regularly backed up? It sounds like it's fairly disorganized, and files could get destroyed accidentally (never mind hardware or system failures). As she is someone who relies on the computer and its files, it's sort of critical.

    Second, assuming things are backed up, is there any chance whatsoever of organizing things better? Probably not, but it'd be nice if there was at least some sort of "Pending" folder or whatnot where she could put things when you were busy and then allow you to get to them later.

    Third, could she use something like SnapzPro X and a microphone to record a movie of her giving you instructions - she could speak, move the mouse around to point, etc - then let you do things later? I know email isn't all that descriptive, but perhaps Snapz Pro would be more intuitive ("take this part here, do this", etc.).

    Finally, do you think, sometimes when she isn't working, that you could, a bit at a time, introduce her to things? A class would be ideal, but it doesn't sound like she'd feel she had the time. But a "hey Mom - do you have five minutes so I could show you ____?" might work when she wasn't distracted by work.
  10. hana macrumors regular

    May 23, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Yes...give scheduling a it "office hours" or whatever.
    1. You have other responsiblities such as school, homework, a job and your vollunteer work. It's a lot to juggle.
    2. Communicate to her the times you'll be available to help her with those projects and questions. Let her know how much lead time you'll need (can she ask you today to help her in the afternoon) to block out a time and also if exams/whatever during a certain time will keep you from helping her out.

    This is the sort of thing I've been doing for years with co-workers - folks in the working world will tell you that there is a whole "class" of people who put on their CV that they know how to use Word or Excel...when actually they mean they know what the icon for the program looks like and how to click it. :rolleyes: I've dealt with quite a few that want instant tutoring now, but have learned to set bounderies by telling them when I'm busy and picking a better time.
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Two words: Call block. :p

    But seriously, if your mum is being so stubborn, then just tell her that if she's going to grab the mouse from you when you're trying to help her, you won't help her. Plain and simple. I'm sure she helped you often when you were a child, but if you acted like a little brat, I'm sure she had none of that.

    That, or avoid confrontation and print off step by step instructions (with screen captures and Photoshop button icons inserted) for 5-10 of the tasks she does most often. If she calls and asks you about something that you know you wrote down for her, tell her to read the manual.

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