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Problems with my mum and my children - don't know what to do

(20 Posts)
OhWesternWind Fri 26-Apr-13 13:49:51

I have no idea how to write this post as there are so many things going on. Sorry, this has turned out really long but please read and help if you can.

My mum is quite difficult and has been for as long as I can remember. She always played favourites with me and my sister, and since my dd was born ten years ago things have been very difficult between us. She has no interest in me or my ds nowadays and is very noticeably (to other people as well as to me) over-fixated on my dd.

She is a very volatile and irritable person and I do find it difficult to spend a lot of time with her. She complains that I am cold and brusque with her, but the only way I've found to deal with her is to withdraw slightly and put up my barriers and as far as I'm able to call her out when she starts on stuff I don't like her doing. She is very critical of me as a person and as a parent and is also very critical of my children and is downright nasty in how she speaks to them, name calling and all sorts.

A couple of years ago I moved back to my hometown where my mum lives when I split with my ex. Ex was physically and emotionally abusive to me and the children, we had police involvement and all sorts, horrible time. My mum offered me a lot of practical support with childcare, but no emotional support or understanding at all. I can't recall her once asking how I was, if I was coping or anything. When I got home from work she would leave almost without speaking to me. I can remember trying to talk to her about making a decision on whether to go ahead with statements to the police for them to look at arresting my ex, as I was scared of repercussions off him, and she just said, "Well, why are you talking to me about it? What do you expect me to do?", another time when we had just moved and I was pretty upset, missing my old house and work and friends and she just turned on me and said, "Well, just move back then, we don't need you here". She also witnessed my ex physically assaulting me and did nothing and never spoke about it again. Lots of instances like that.

Like I said, she has been very helpful with looking after the children for me after school and at first this seemed to work well, but after a while there were arguments and them falling out. My mum would always blame the children, and the children my mum. There was a bad incident on mother's day when we went out for a meal and in front of me she pushed my daughter and snatched a glass out of my son's mouth. I went to talk to her about this and she just yelled at me for patronising her (I was really trying to stay calm and was probably talking quite slowly and calmly so as not to lose my temper) and walked out without apologising or anything.

After the Easter holidays she came to look after the children again but things got bad really quickly. She hit my dd which she admits but says it was in self-defence and dd had attacked her. My ds says she has also hurt him. She put the children on a bus then wouldn't get on herself so they were alone on a bus (which they have never been before) and had to cross a main road by themselves to get home. She also accuses my dc of attacking her with a drill or a drill bit, shouting at her in the street that she has hit them in front of other people.

The problem is, my children did have some issues with violence after we left their father, because of their history of abuse, and they had counselling for this. My mum knows about this and is saying that I have to believe her and not the children as the children have hit me before now so I know that this can happen. But this hasn't happened for a long time, over a year now, so I would be very surprised if they had done this unless extremely provoked and she'd done something first, either verbally or physically.

She wrote me a letter late last week saying awful things about the children and me, really nasty stuff. She says the children are mentally ill and dangerous and that she thinks they made up the stuff about my ex hurting them like they have made up stuff about her. She has actually said this stuff to them too, how damaging is that.

Since then she has come round to see me and behaved reasonably, but the next day she sent another letter saying the same sort of thing about the children, and banging on about how had they been punished, I had to state categorically that I believed her and not them, all sorts of stupid stuff.

Dd told me that my mum has told the GP that I neglect the children and also that my mum is going to call SS on me. My mum has told me direct that the children are guilty of elder abuse and she might call the police on them.

I have found other childcare for them so there is no need for them to be left with her any more. I think my mum might be mentally ill or havign some kind of breakdown. She has fallen out with all three of her sisters, her partner, me, my children, everyone apart from my sister who lives away. It is incredibly difficult to be with her and I feel like I am walking on eggshells all the time. I am not perfect in my behaviour with her, but I never do anything like this and try very hard to keep my temper with her.

Could anyone give me advice please? I don't want to cut her off as I am worried about her (as well as finding her very difficult) and she doesn't really have a lot of other people to care about her, but I need to protect myself and my children as well. I'm finding this an incredibly distressing and difficult situation. Please help.

forgetmenots Fri 26-Apr-13 13:56:12

I haven't been in this situation OP - this is horrific and I'm sorry you are going through this. I would speak to a solicitor, you may be able to get a statement put in writing, but above all I'm afraid you MUST cut her off or if it comes to it you could be seen as complicit in this behaviour towards your children. If she is ill you can try and get her help but she must want to take it. Your children will be feeling mixed messages too if they still have to be around someone like this - do all of you a favour and say enough's enough.

That sounds like a horrible situation t obe in but I really think you have to cut her off for the safety of your children.

Can you have a chat with your GP about your concerns about her, but then help / get her referred from a distance?

OhWesternWind Fri 26-Apr-13 14:08:01

I doubt if she will take help because she doesn't think there's anything wrong with her, it's everyone else who is wrong.

Her father had dementia/alzheimers and I am worried it is something like that, maybe, but I think that she has some underlying MH problems. She's been diagnosed with SAD and has ADs during the winter but I think the issues she has go far, far beyond that.

The latest incident happened last Friday and since then I have been very worried about her as she's just not right. I'm also very worried about the children and as well as what she has done to them, the effect on them of losing someone else who is their close family. They have no contact with their father and now it is looking like they are going to "lose" their grandmother too. I am very, very sad for them, and for me as it also feels like I have lost my mother.

I have no-one to talk to about this irl - my sister lives away and doesn't believe (or want to believe) anything against my mum, and my aunts are all elderly and live away as well. I feel very alone dealing with all this so thank you so much for your replies.

As far as your children go, it will be much, much better if they have a relationship with a grandma who's mentally well, rather than one who hits them and tells them all sorts of lies, and who puts them in danger sending them on a bus on their own. So don't feel bad for them.

Have a chat with the GP anyway - others will know more about this but someone advised me once (in a similar but different situation) that you can sort of put the wheel in motion for another person to get a visit from the mental health crisis team if there's that much concern, even against their will. <hope someone will come along to clarify/ correct that as needed>

peachypips Fri 26-Apr-13 14:25:11

This sounds so tricky OP. Poor you- you seem to have had a tough time in life. Well done for picking yourself up and not becoming bitter and uncaring.
If it was me (my dad has MH issues) I would stop her from seeing your children at all as she could undo all the work you have done with them since you left your partner.
I would still see her but leave it til the kids aren't with you and meet in neutral territory like a coffee shop. You will prob have to accept that she will never look after you as a mother should and give up in that role.
Hope you're ok x

peachypips Fri 26-Apr-13 14:25:31

*on that role

Your children do not need their toxic grandmother in their lives; she has done quite enough damage to you all already.

You state that you are worried about her but she is not and never has been at all concerned or perhaps even bothered about you and her grandchildren. You may well be worried about her as well because apart from you, no-one else is or can actually be bothered with her. If this is the case, being the last one left in is hard but your childrens' welfare as well as your own mental and emotional wellbeing are much more important.

She is not the mother or grandmother you wanted her to be; she was and is just not built that way. Toxic people generally do not improve
behaviours with age; I note too she has always been difficult. She may well have some undiagnosed personality disorder.

BTW what do you know about her childhood?. Pound to a penny abuse featured within it. It is NOT your fault she is like this, that damage was done many years ago.

Protect yourself and your children by having nothing to do with your mother. Walking on eggshells to my mind is code for writing "living in fear" and adult children of such adult parents have FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) in spades.

OhWesternWind Fri 26-Apr-13 14:43:47

I must admit I have felt a huge amount of relief this week not having to see her, I really have.

The meeting on neutral territory is possibly a way forward and I'll have a good think about that, thanks Peachy.

Jammy I don't think she's going to turn into a mentally well person, really. She used to be able to control herself at least with the children (though not really with me) but that has all slipped now and I can't really see things changing in a good way. I do feel very sad for the children that they have lost another family member although I do realise she's not good for any of us. It's sad that they don't have a proper grandma there for them. Our family is getting very small!

Attila, yes she is getting worse as she gets older. She has a lot less control over herself and behaves badly in public as well as in private, which she would not have done a few years ago. She's in her early seventies now and has been "difficult" with a bit of a temper ever since she was a girl. My grandparents were both lovely, no mention of abuse that I have heard of at all, and her other sisters are also all very pleasant well-adjusted people with no MH issues.

The FOG thing is so, so true. I have all of those in spades.

OhWesternWind Fri 26-Apr-13 19:57:41

My mum's emailed now asking to meet up for lunch tomorrow.

forgetmenots Fri 26-Apr-13 20:10:57

Don't reply. You don't have to do anything.

Snapespeare Fri 26-Apr-13 20:15:41

i would go for lunch tbh & look at it as an opportunity to establish new ground rules. you will not tolerate any criticism of your parenting. you will not accept written communications from her -just because she feels the need to write to you does not mean you have to read it, or respond. if she wishes to seek help for her mental state then you will support her, but you do not have to listen to her version of events or watch her deterioate.

your children are your priority, then you, then your mum. sad as it is, because she's your mum , you can only help her if she accepts your help.

SundaysGirl Fri 26-Apr-13 20:22:30

OhWestern Congratulations and really well done on getting an abusive person out of your children's and your lives. Thats incredible and should make you very proud. smile

What you are describing here with your mother sounds very difficult, but from what you have said it seems as though now you will have to take the step of removing another abusive person from the children's lives at the very least.

My heart goes out to you, but the behaviour you describe is abusive, unacceptable and very damaging for those on the receiving end of it. If your children are in recovery from abuse from your ex then being exposed to more toxic and abusive influences is not going to aid that recovery.

This is the infortunate bottom line as I see it from what you have described.

Hissy Brazil Fri 26-Apr-13 22:47:36

God! I wondered if you were me for a moment!

Don't worry about the sze of your family,its quality not quantity, and you've been throuugh hell at the hands of her and your family.

rootypig Fri 26-Apr-13 23:14:42

OP I don't have much wisdom to add but wanted to say that my heart goes out to you, you sound like you're doing the best for your kids. Don't be disheartened for them that your family is getting small - family comes from lots of places, not just the people we were born to. There will be other lovely relationships in theirs and your life.

OhWesternWind Sat 27-Apr-13 15:16:51

Very foolishly, I did see my mum today for lunch. I've no idea why she wanted to do this as she barely spoke and when she did it was rude and snappy, wouldn't look at me, had a face on her like a slapped arse. I tried chatting to her but she was having none of it. It was horrible and embarrassing as she made a real show of herself acting like this in public.

I can't understand why she instigated this - any ideas?

Anyway, I think that's pretty much put the tin lid on it for me. I can't carry on with her if she's going to be like that. Feeling really crap about it though.

OhWesternWind Sat 27-Apr-13 15:17:58

And I'd like to say thank you all for your messages of support and understanding. It does mean a lot to me, thank you.

Hissy Brazil Sat 27-Apr-13 16:48:16

She instigated it so that she could treat you like this, she sounds very 'troubled' indeed.

Pull back love, you don't need the mental anguish.

Remember this is HER issue, not yours. You wouldn't treat your DC like this, so why would you let her treat you like this?

It's not normal, it's not right and it's not your problem.

Don't feel foolish - it's a big descision you're making, I think many people in your situation would want to meet up just to see if the situation could be salvaged. As it goes, the meeting's given you your answer so, in that sense, it wasn't wasted.

Sorry it's so upsetting though, at least you now know to refocus your attention elsewhere and building stronger relationships with friends etc instead - you and your DCs will probably benefit from that much more.

I should think others who've been through this will know what to suggest now, but I should think she won't let this go easily, and might try all sorts of tricks to get your attention back again.

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