Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Mum interrupts EVERY single sentence I ever utter, how do I cope?

(40 Posts)
feesh Sun 10-Nov-13 17:51:14

My Mum does an 'Uh-huh' or a 'Hmm' (an agreeing sort of noise) halfway through every single sentence which comes out of my mouth so she never, ever listens to the end of a single sentence I say.

It drives me absolutely insane. How do I cope?

Throughout my childhood, she never listened to me, and because of this I am extra sensitive to it now as an adult. I don't think I have ever uttered a single sentence to her without being interrupted.

I call her up on it at least 3 or 4 times a day when I am with her (she is currently staying with me for 12 days) but it has no effect.

I call her up on it when it makes her look stupid (i.e. she makes agreeing noises to something which, in the context of the rest of the sentence that I haven't finished yet, makes no sense at all) and when she is agreeing to something that she clearly knows NOTHING about (i.e. basically implying yes, yes I am already an expert on what you are telling me, there is nothing you can say which I didn't already know about).

It really upsets me that when I am trying to explain something to her about which I know she knows nothing, but I actually have something interesting to say, she just makes all these noises which basically mean 'Yes, I know, I already knew that' as if she can't wait for me to finish talking.

I have also called her up on it outside of a normal conversation, i.e. sat her down and said that it really upsets me when she doesn't listen to me. Nothing ever makes a difference.

I know I can't change her, but I need to change my reaction to her. I just feel depressed being around her. It brings back awful feelings of not being listened to as a child.

The irony is, it made me really insecure about speaking out loud as a teen, and she used to nag me about mumbling and sent me off to elocution lessons as a result!

RevelsRoulette Sun 10-Nov-13 17:59:08

Some people do that. I don't think it is normally intended to stop the other person talking. I don't even think they are necessarily aware they are doing it, tbh. and I think that if they even know they are doing it, they believe that they are showing they are interested in and listening to the other person.

They're not saying yes so much as they are saying mhm, I am interested and listening, pray continue... grin

What makes you feel that she is not listening to you? What did she say to you when you told her how you feel about it?

Have you tried stopping talking the moment she says it. So mid sentence? What would she do?

feesh Sun 10-Nov-13 18:05:44

Hi Revels,
I can't really explain it very well, but it's not the normal noise you make to encourage someone to continue. She actually uses the word 'Yes' sometimes and the tone is very much yes, I agree, now be quiet. I know she doesn't listen to a single word I say, because I have actually tested her by throwing in sentences which she couldn't possibly reasonably agree to, but she does anyway.

I guess I do stop talking when she does it, as she either carries on talking over me or drifts off noticeably and my voice kind of peters out.

I don't think she knows she is doing it and I do think she just wants me to stop talking. She genuinely has absolutely no interest in listening to a single word that comes out of my mouth. She has no interest in my friends, my interests, my job. She overrides anything I ask her not to do and does it anyway.

She just makes me feel like shit, to be honest.

feesh Sun 10-Nov-13 18:07:45

Oh and when I confront her on it, she just says 'Yes I know I am a crap mother, I can't change as I am too old' in a really sarcastic way. And flounces off or goes into a strop.

Whenever I confront her about anything in life it results in her disappearing for a few hours and pulling some weird passive aggressive stunts.

RevelsRoulette Sun 10-Nov-13 18:12:42

ah, ok. It's not the noise I was thinking it was then grin

I'd just stop trying to tell her anything.

There's only so long you can go pulling at someone's skirts before you have to just give up.

I'm not surprised you feel like shit, it would make anyone feel that way.

My parents don't give a shit about anyone but themselves. It used to upset me, now I just don't give a crap. I see them (mostly when I go to see my sister as she lives across the road from them) They see the kids about 3 times a year if that and my kids don't give a shit about them.

As you sow, so shall you reap. <shrug>

As you say, you can't change her, only how you react to her. So you either come up with some coping strategies for when she does it, or you stop talking to her so she can't do it. Or a bit of both, reduce her opportunity to do it, and have a plan in place for when she does.

You could try abruptly stopping talking when she does it, if you think that might have an effect. Asking her if she's ok everytime. Or you could start talking utter bollocks and see how long it takes her to notice, like patch adams.

Confuseddd Sun 10-Nov-13 18:20:30

I feel for you Feesh! My mum is a crap listener as well and it undermined my confidence too. In my case, it's like she has a set idea of who I am and interprets what I say in her own way and as a consequence I don't bother with confidences or allow closeness any more.

Unfortunately if you've raised it many times, and she won 't reflect on her ways, she is putting your relationship at stake. Do you know why she does this? You might need to withdraw and keep communication very formal and restricted to practical stuff. Don't risk your feelings anymore if you've raised it and she's decided not to face it.

Btw, if this is a historic problem, be careful about recreating the dynamic by attaching to people who are dismissive/ poor listeners.

GrendelsMum Sun 10-Nov-13 18:24:12

Well,could you just talk less to her while she's visiting? If she doesn't listen to what you say, just put the TV on, or get a book or the paper, and don't bother about chatting. And no doubt the great advantage is you never have to phone home!

I'm afraid some people just aren't great at listening, and it sounds like your mum is one if them.

dozeydoris Sun 10-Nov-13 18:27:01

My mother did this, she's since passed away, I'd forgotten until I read your post. I think I just stopped and didn't finish the sentence and thought to myself that I didn't give a monkeys what her views on the subject were anyway or whether she heard me to the end or not, which was true. She was elderly and I was just making conversation to pass the time. But it wasn't a life long problem like yours OP.

dozeydoris Sun 10-Nov-13 18:28:11

But it is infuriating.

Get one of those big football hooters and let it off in the middle of her sentences.

Stop talking. The moment she interrupts, stop dead and say nothing. Stay absolutely silent and don't speak again. If that means a silence develops then let that happen. If she asks you if you're still there (on the phone) then say 'yes' and nothing more. Rinse and repeat.

TBH though, your Mother sounds toxic - have you looked at the Stately Homes threads?

Confuseddd Sun 10-Nov-13 18:53:01

Lol Mrscakes

TweedWasSoLastYear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:30:09

Genuine LOL at MrsCakes.
Or just get a referees whistle and wear it round your neck on a string.

Once shes got 3 words out 'tooot tooooooooot' halve time.

MrTumblesKnickers Sun 10-Nov-13 21:03:55

This sounds dreadful, it must be depressing spending time with someone who cares so little about what you say.

I'd be tempted to ask her to repeat what I'd just said, or quiz her. "So where did I just tell you I went on Tuesday?" or talk about my addiction to heroin and how you're scared it'll impact my job as an astronaut.

Sorry, no sensible suggestions but I empathise, this would drive me to distraction.

HellonHeels Sun 10-Nov-13 21:23:05

Oh feesh I understand where you're coming from and it's shit sad

My mum is quite similar to this, I think. I've pulled her up many times on finishing my sentences for me (often with a conclusion I was NOT heading for as I spoke) and I've always felt she was never interested in what I had to say.it affected me so badly, it crushes your sense of self and self esteem. Only fairly late in adult life and after a lot of group therapy (where it was just SO difficult for me to speak up) have I been able to find my voice, express my own opinions and feel that I am actually entitled to speak and be listened to.

I live on the other side of the world from my mum now. Conversations tend to be one-sided events, she chats on about all her stuff. I tell her one or two things which she does acknowledge but promptly moves on to what she wants to talk about. She never EVER remembers anything about me or my life, even quite momentous events eg I won a really fantastic exotic holiday and she didn't ever ask me about it again.

I've given up now and have zero expectations; I find that is the most manageable option. After a conversation with her I have a mini-offload to DH who does understand, then i put it from my mind.

I do love MrTumbles suggestion of quizzing your mum on what you've just said though!

Hope it makes you feel a bit better to know you're not alone in having a mum like yours X

zatyaballerina Sun 10-Nov-13 21:58:55

Don't waste your time (or sanity) talking to her. If she was interested in what other people say, she would have developed the ability to listen by now. She hasn't and that's her problem.

Retroformica Sun 10-Nov-13 22:30:06

Agree if she interrupts stop talking for quite a long while.

Also phone a friend for a proper chat if you can't get that from your mum

feesh Mon 11-Nov-13 04:31:01

Thanks everyone, it's kind of reassuring to know I'm not alone, but sorry for everyone else who has to suffer like this too. I am going to just stop talking today every time she does it, I will let you know how it goes!

I might get my vuvuzela out later depending on my mood :D

She's already accused me of mumbling once this morning and it's only 6.30am here :D

I moved abroad a few years ago and a big part of that was to get away from my family. I don't tell her very much at all these days. It's just very draining having to now spend extended periods of time with her as she comes to stay a few times a year. I always feel like I should get some counselling after every visit; I think this time I will.

mirai Mon 11-Nov-13 04:45:14

My mum is the same but she doesn't just make noises she actually starts to speak over the top of me.

My parents and I went out for dinner a whole back and at the end my dad said to my mum, "Do you know Joan, that at one point in this meal you had a 21 minute monologue? Do you also realise that even though you haven't seen mirai in 3 months, you haven't asked her a single question about her life or what she's been up to?"

And it's true. If I call with any news there's never any questioning about it, she just finds a way to turn the conversation around to herself then off she goes.

She tells me how I should think about things, she tells me how others see me and she tells me what I should and shouldn't do with my life.

I have considered career changing recently and she has even written me a letter saying I do not want to go into X career. Not once has she even asked me, "what do you think about X career? Would you like to go into it?"

OP, you have my sympathies.

Cinnamon2013 Mon 11-Nov-13 05:22:52

Hi. My mum used to do something similar, she would also finish my sentences (always incorrectly, so it felt again like not listening, although she was trying to be nice in doing it). She'd also do that 'I'm a crap mum..too old to change' thing at the first hint of criticism, which was so infuriating as it shuts everything down. And it is passive aggressive like you say. Things are much better now. Every relationship and situation is different, of course, but here is what worked for me/us:

- I focused on the goal : improving a relationship through better communication
- I talked to her about it at a time when the atmosphere was light and we were getting on well. I kept focus on how her behaviour made me feel
- I reassured her (a lot!) that she is a great mum and all I wanted was to make things even better
- resisted the temptation to 'pull her up' on things/ criticise/ cite examples, which only repeated put her on the defensive
and shut communication down

I agree it sounds maddening, but she also sounds like a woman who really cares about you and wants to do things right (if not she wouldn't care if you thought she was a crap one). We are all human and have our faults. I dread to think what my son will say to me when he's grown up!

Things with my mum didn't change overnight, but they did change and improve a lot. It was so worth it.

Good luck

FixItUpChappie Mon 11-Nov-13 05:48:24

Are we long lost sisters OP because you describe my mother to a tee grin.

I have nothing helpful to add other than to empathize really. It drives me utterly batty and like you I am super sensitive to it as its been a life-long issue. My mum doesn't listen and knows everything - even criticizes me for mumbling as you mention yours does. I tend to pull my mum up on it but this only serves to make me seem touchy and overly sensitive in her eyes.

I suspect there is nothing I can do to amend this quality in her other than to smile and nod and try to keep things light instead of being biting which only harms our relationship.

dimsum123 Mon 11-Nov-13 05:52:14

You could try recording your conversations and playing them back to her. Or do the same thing (interrupting) to her. I did this with DH and it worked a treat.

tracypenisbeaker Mon 11-Nov-13 05:55:18

I feel your pain, OP. Theres always that person who waits for a gap between your sentences, solely so they can talk about the 'good stuff' (i.e themselves.) Another bad thing is when you are trying to change the subject/ give examples/ share experiences to add a dimension to the conversation, and they'll immediately revert back to talking about themselves as if they arent acknowledging you/ valuing your contribution. My mum does this about her job. We could be talking about her work for 20 mins, and I could say something that would be a natural progression in the conversation, e.g 'Bet youre looking forward to christmas then. What do x and y want for christmas btw?' and then she will say 'I'm not sure' and get her work diary and start talking me through each and every shift that she has around christmas! Not my idea of a two- way interesting discussion. Everything always ends up being about her bloody work.

tracypenisbeaker Mon 11-Nov-13 05:59:54

I think it is just your mothers nature in that she isnt a reflective listener. I feel like the easiest way to make friends/ get to know potential OHs is by asking questions and making people feel valued in conversation. Does she have issues with making friends at all? I could see how this habit of hers could be a barrier in social interactions...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now