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WIBU to write to my mum explaining what behaviour I won't tolerate?

(34 Posts)
MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 22:45:03

I've namechanged as is she saw this it could identify me.

I went n/c with my mum this spring after years of narcissistic and hurtful behaviour by her, including turning a blind eye to sexual abuse when I was growing up. It's a long story but that's not the issue here so will keep that brief.

I would happily never see her again, but the DC are asking why we haven't seen her recently. The older one finds her difficult and isn't that bothered but my little one wants to see her. (She tends to shower the DC with excessive presents which obviously works on a 4-year-old! She doesn't actually care about my kids and doesn't behave nicely towards them, but wants to be a popular granny hence the presents. The presents are always inappropriate, unfair and make the DC jealous, badly made tat and break, dangerous etc and always cause upset.)

I don't want my DC to grow up thinking I banned them from seeing granny and hating me for it. I cannot let them see her without me there (she's not responsible enough to keep them safe and has shown this in the past). So I have been considering low-contact instead of no contact.

I also have a stepdad who was a calming influence and who my kids love, but we haven't seen him either as he only sees us with her.

I have written a letter explaining all the reasons I couldn't handle her behaviour and explaining that we could meet up but I will not tolerate various things (things like slagging off my weight and appearance, inappropriate physical contact and oversharing about intimate things, and the excessive presents). It's calm and measured, not an angry rant but it doesn't hold back either. I want to say we can meet up if she wants but if the behaviour carries on I won't be up for continuing a relationship.

Is that a reasonable thing to do/send or would it be better to just continue no contact?

Part of me is worried the letter would provoke a furious reaction, or else it would destroy her.

OTOH I really can't tolerate the behaviour any more so I'm not going back to how things were.

I can't see the wood for the trees so would love to know what people think. Especially if you have experience of this.

GiddyGiddyGoat Mon 07-Dec-15 22:47:23

You should post this on the 'stately homes' thread in Relationships. You will get good advice there.

MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 22:51:21

Thank you goat, I have done that flowers

ImperialBlether Mon 07-Dec-15 22:53:14

It won't destroy her. I would think it would give her fire in her belly. It's good (for you) that you've written it but I really wouldn't send it. Her reaction will only hurt you.

I would definitely reduce contact with an eye to eventually having no contact at all. She sounds awful.

whatdoIget Mon 07-Dec-15 22:54:44

So you think your mum will add anything positive to your children's lives, or will she just upset them and you? I think it's fine for you to make the decision that you don't think it's good for your kids to see your mum. You can explain why you made the decision when the girls are old enough. They won't hate you for protecting them.

MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 22:59:49

I don't think she adds anything positive at all, apart from the excitement of having visitors. I think I'm worried that by never seeing her, the DC (or at least the little one) will think I am mean and she is fab and exciting, and possibly even seek her out when they're older (which she would just LOVE).

My stepdad did add something though, he is the only loving, genuine grandparent they have and I miss him. (My dad is estranged, DP's dad has died, DP's mum sees us rarely and isn't very interested.)

whatdoIget Mon 07-Dec-15 23:04:52

How sad about your stepdad. Will he not see you without your mum at all?
If your children see your mum from an early age, isn't it likely that she'll be able to influence them more and control them more? And try and turn then against you? And your kids will trust you if you tell them later what she's really like won't they?

ShebaShimmyShake Mon 07-Dec-15 23:07:36

I don't think it's wrong to want to tell her, but I do think if you intend to do it, you should do it face to face.

I used to be the queen advocate for letter writing for this sort of thing, but over the years I realise I have almost never seen it turn out well. The problem is that it's not seen as a two-way communication where you have to listen as well as speak...it's generally interpreted as a way of having your say without giving the other person any right of reply. And to be fair, that's usually why people do it.

If you decide you want to have some contact for the sake of your kids, tell her this face to face. You can still make it clear that you will discuss nothing but the practicalities of meeting them, or anything else you do deem acceptable. You can still make it clear that if she tries to discuss X, Y or Z, you will end the conversation and leave, and do so.

But if you're serious about having some degree of contact, if only for the children, talk to her properly about it.

Or you may decide to continue NC instead. It's your call.

MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 23:09:29

Stepdad is a relatively recent addition, they have been together 10 years but got together well after I grew up so I haven't ever had an independent relationship with him, IYSWIM. I could easily ask to see him alone but it would seem like a big betrayal and I think he would be loyal to her.

whatdoiget maybe you are right and the DC would understand. It's hard at the moment for me to get a handle on it, being NC with her is new territory for me (blissful for me, but I'm finding the kids' questions are making me doubt what I'm doing).

M48294Y Mon 07-Dec-15 23:12:05

You appear to want to have your cake and eat it. Continue being "NC"if that is what you really want. Your dc will forget about their grandma after a while.

You can't stop them from seeking her out when they are older though.

MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 23:12:21

I really see what you are saying about letters sheba and I think that is why a letter feels easier! It's very hard to talk to her face-to-face because if she feels criticised she will shout me down, cry etc.

ShebaShimmyShake Mon 07-Dec-15 23:16:52

I can sympathise...but it may be the only way. Perhaps you could try a face to face, and if it really can't be done, you could move to a letter. That might come across more as wanting to communicate, and trying this as another avenue when the first one failed.

I used to wonder why I so rarely got a good response when I or someone else tried the letter route...until I got one such letter from someone. And it pissed me right off. Suddenly I had received, unsolicited, several pages all about him and his feelings and he was nowhere around for me to tell him why he was full of shit and have my side of things validated. It changed my whole perspective.

If your kids are going to start seeing her, you'll need to have some degree of contact, so you might as well go for the face to face or phone conversation from the off. If it doesn't work, your letter could always start with, "We obviously can't do this face to face, so here's what you need to know if you're going to be seeing the kids...."

whatdoIget Mon 07-Dec-15 23:19:49

You're allowed to make decisions for your children that you think are best for them. It must be hard to know if you're doing the right thing though. She sounds like she would be a malign influence in all your lives though.

OhBeloved Mon 07-Dec-15 23:22:34

Leave out the dc's reactions - they are children and cannot understand the
ins and outs in their innocence. You have to make the decision you believe is right and protect them.

It does not sound like a rlshp with their gran will be good for them and will cause problems for you and for your family altogether.

Morganly Mon 07-Dec-15 23:22:54

I would stay non contact. The likelihood of her obeying your restrictions is minimal. Or she'll make a big issue out of obeying them while undermining you/them. Your children need protecting from her manipulative behaviour. If they seek her out when they are teenagers/adults, they will be more equipped to see what's what and protect themselves but at the moment they need you to protect them.

I do understand the difficulty about how to explain to the children now though. Maybe something like, granny keeps being horrible to me and upsetting me so I don't want to see her? Helps them understand that it is OK to say no to people who are horrible to you?

MsButteryMash Mon 07-Dec-15 23:35:30

Thanks so much everyone, you have really helped. At least for now I'm not going to send it and will rethink again and maybe talk to the DC, your form of words is really helpful morganly. Must get to bed flowers

wallywobbles Tue 08-Dec-15 09:41:25

Your daughter is 4. In a year she won't remember her. Just explain that granny is unkind to mummy. End of discussion.
Don't let this draw you back in. My kids have one granny left despite being young. You /they will find replacement grandparents figures as you go through life. Mine now have 4 granny figures, only one grandpa though.

mulranna Tue 08-Dec-15 10:13:09

I am in the same situation - I have chosen the bigger picture....I know that MIL is toxic, manipulative and devious - her actions undermine my marriage, my self esteem and my relationship with my children - I have gone NC - the older kids never ask about her - the younger one has a few times in the past year - and recently with Christmas coming up - it is painful and I question my decision every time but I will just weather the temporary and transient discomfort...and yes I say Granny doesnt like Mummy....

My children do not need her in their lives - she has no friends or family in contact now - you reap what you sow...

Beware the SD....these toxic people always have a spineless, enabling Mr Nice Guy at their side -- but he will always be enmeshed and controlled by her - do not get involved with him.

Letters are ammo for these people - she will wave it under the noses of anyone and everyone - she will interpret it to suit her agenda and paint you as she wants and her as the victim - dont hand her the grenade.

Time and distance is what you need - keep it up - dont go back to square one - you will get over this blip - in another few months you and your children wont even think about her.

Has Christmas raised this for you?

MsButteryMash Tue 08-Dec-15 10:22:55

Yes Christmas was what made me think I should offer her the option of seeing us if she could behave. I know how daft that sounds. One problem is I flip-flop between different states - thinking I should try that, then thinking "wtf was I thinking?" confused if that makes sense.

Christmas pushes my buttons because of the presents issue. My mum has always put HUGE pressure on me to accept tons of presents of her choosing (she asks what I want, then tells me it's not suitable) and makes a massive fuss over it, says what she wants and then acts like I am a wonderful angelic daughter to have picked it for her... it has always made me miserable and I should be thrilled to be dodging it all this Christmas. But some FOGgy aspect is making me feel bad that I'm cutting off her lifeblood - the present-giving manipulation extravaganza. I really needed the straight talking that MNers have given me here.

I can't work out her relationship with SD. He seems like a grown-up, kind, sensible person but I don't know what he sees in her. He never flying monkeys for her, never once. It's like he basically regards her as a child and gets on with his life. But then why is he with her? But yes you're right I shouldn't see him as some kind of solution or perfect parent/grandparent figure. The bar is set pretty low after all.

MsButteryMash Tue 08-Dec-15 10:28:00

My mum has also been cut off by my other siblings over the years (so it definitely isn't just me!). I wonder what her H must make of this? He has his own grown-up DC and he is a devoted dad to them. It massively pisses my mum off that he will go and help them decorate their house or support them after a break-up or whatever, instead of only focusing on her. She was even pissed off that when one of them got married, their own mum (her H's ex) was invited to the wedding and she, my mum, was not given mother of the bride status as SD's wife!

mulranna Tue 08-Dec-15 10:34:08

Yes for my MIL Christmas is some ridiculous OTT showing off extravaganza also. But I wont be giving her the oxygen this year.

I remember the first GC (not mine DN) - she was 7 months old - MIL dragged the DIL around the shops for weeks and I kid you not there was a full sized shopping trolly ("borrowed" from tesco) in the lounge on xmas day for the 7 month old....it was bizarre and grotesque.....all about the MIL - took hous for DIL to unwrap and fake delight at all the presents for benefit of MIL whilstthe poor little 7 month old was sidelined....!!

DIL put everything on e-bay or sold at car boot!!

That GC is 20 now - hasnt seen MIL/GM for 5 years - no drama just doesnt bother - kids can smell the over bearing toxic nonsense of these people - my teens havent mentioned GM/MIL since I have been NC...they dont even kniw that I am....but as they are 15,16,17 they can see her if they wish...

Threefishys Tue 08-Dec-15 10:36:06

Maybe your mum is trying to be nice by making a fuss of you and your children at Christmas? It may seem hollow and manipulative to you because you are conditioned to look for the negative. are you able at all to take it at face value or has it gone too far? The thought of wilfully cutting of your children from their grandma because of your relationship with her seems a bit cruel on the children imvho. I know you feel aggrieved and want to protect yourself from feeling hurt/annoyed by your mums physical presence and all that entails, but, your issues with your mum are not your children's. She may have been a crap mum but is trying to be as good a grandma as she can be. Can you forgive her for being a rubbish mum or are your hurting still for the relationship you wanted with her but have not had? I would write the letter for cathartic reasons but not send it. I would let her come and spend time with your children. Keep yourself one step removed to protect yourself and let any negativity from your mum (intentional or accidental) wash over and off you. You''re such a good person regardless of what you've been through that you can let your children enjoy their time with their grandparent. It will feel good, you will relax and see you are just facilitating this, not emotionally involved in it. That feels empowering. Been there and done it.

mulranna Tue 08-Dec-15 10:37:53

their own mum (her H's ex) was invited to the wedding and she, my mum, was not given mother of the bride status as SD's wife!....too right !! why on earth would she have this position when they have their own mother ?? and she has not shown any care for them - reap what you sow...but I can imagine her indignation and not been given some status at the event - ha f**king - ha....deluded nutter!

StrictlyMumDancing Tue 08-Dec-15 10:46:55

If she brings nothing but presents to their lives then you probably would be best on focusing on ways to explain your decision to your kids rather than subject them to her.

FWIW an xf of mine brought nothing but presents to my kids lives whilst being present but not nice in it a lot. My DCs are a little younger (5 and 3) but they haven't asked after her for months now. I expect the eldest may ask at christmas because there won't be a present there, and I'm trying myself to come up with a kid friendly way to say 'you're not getting one from her, she's a nutjob' wink

magicsparkles Tue 08-Dec-15 11:10:13

I actually don't think the letter is a bad idea. Your Mum's response may reveal a lot. If she is willing to listen there may be some prospect for positive change-if she flies into a Narcissistic rage that would also be revealing.
I know some posters are very fixed on NC as a solution but I think its always worth trying to improve things before moving to that stage.

What is your reason for saying that she doesn't care about the children and only sends presents because she wants to be popular?
Her attitude in not buying the things you suggest sounds a bit odd and her behaviour over the wedding sounds very self-centered.

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