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Mother who doesn't seem to care

(8 Posts)
Jamkancat Wed 07-Sep-16 14:23:36

I'm a 45 year old married mum of 3 dc but I seem to be in constant turmoil about the relationship with my parents, my mum in particular. Since they moved two hours away two months after the birth of my first child 15 years ago they have been fairly absent in my life. They have only once babysat my kids and never want to visit saying they can't leave the dog or in recent months my mum says she doesn't feel safe with my dad driving (he is 71 and in perfect health). I've offered to have the dog or have suggested that my sister who lives in their road might have it for the day, but to no avail. The only time we see them is if we drive to their house. In the meantime she rings once a week but the conversation is all about her and her ailments and my resentment is growing. I've tried to talk about it with her many times but she changes the subject or makes out that what I'm asking is unreasonable and then I'm left feeling guilty. My dad won't even speak to me on the phone and hasn't done for years and my mum says "oh you know what he's like"!
I feel so sad about it all and am struggling to accept they're just not interested. It's taking up so much mental energy that I'm beginning to think I should just withdraw all contact with her. I'm just wondering if anyone else has been in this situation and tried this and what advice you might have? Many thanks.

skyyequake Wed 07-Sep-16 14:31:16

I haven't been in your situation exactly, but I do know what it's like to have a mum who just doesn't care... It sucks, and whilst the general MN response in these situations is "fuck 'em" (which has its own merits) I understand how painful it is and want to offer my sympathies flowers

I see you've tried talking to her/them about it so I think the only options left are to go completely NC and see if that shocks them into action (bit risky) or to just accept it but stop putting so much effort in yourself...

It's a crap situation OP sad

Lottapianos Wed 07-Sep-16 14:34:37

I hear you OP and lots of other posters will be on here in a minute to say the same. My parents are very similar to yours. Almost never visit me, hardly show any interest in my life, expect me to be responsible for keeping the relationship going, are cold and distant and judgemental. Its terribly sad and extremely hurtful.

I got professional help to detach from them because they were poisoning my life. I spent several years in psychotherapy and it was the best thing I have ever done. I am less angry, less depressed, more grateful for the good things I have in my life, more contented overall. I am in very low contact with my family now - they live in Ireland and I live in UK (a huge factor in the souring of our relationship). I see them once or twice a year, no phonecalls, text contact about once a month. It will never be enough or the way I want it to be, but I'm kind of ok with it at times. I chose myself rather than them. I'm working towards accepting that's just the way they are, and that they will never change. This is not easy and is not like flicking a switch - it hurts. However, it seems to be the path to sanity for me.

So my advice would be to detach, to stop hoping that they will change, and to start putting yourself and your own needs first. And remember that you are an independent adult with your own life and it is not up to you to make your parents happy or to be who they want you to be

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 07-Sep-16 15:04:29

Know this situation all too well and would certainly agree with Lottapiano's counsel to detach. I have had to do this for my own peace of mind as well as further lower my already very low expectations of them. As far as I am concerned now I am done with the two of them, they have let me down too many times and this year they did not even acknowledge my birthday.

I wrote this some years back:-

"My mother told me when I was much younger that she was never going to look after any children I had because she had been there and done that and did not want to do that again. She has stuck to her word. Nowadays she continues to clean my childfree brother's house. She feels more comfortable with doing this rather than interact with other people. My mother has no friends"

This is how it still is.

Such people do not change. Its not you, its them. You really do not need such unkind and selfish people around you.

Jamkancat Wed 07-Sep-16 15:06:17

Thank you both for your replies. It's good to know I'm not alone in this. i don't feel that many of my friends get this and it feels wrong somehow to complain about your parents. The annoying thing is like you Lottapianos, I've done a couple of years in therapy going over all this and I thought I'd resolved it. It really is just the hardest thing to give up on the idea of having loving parents. I try so hard every day to do things differently with my own kids (not always succeeding) and I suppose I think well if I can put in this much effort, why can't you? I'm going to try to reduce the phone contact first. I've just got to bite the bullet and do it!

Lottapianos Wed 07-Sep-16 15:13:52

Its an ongoing process OP. It would be nice to feel that after X amount of time in therapy it would all be done and dusted but of course you have decades of this behaviour to come to terms with. Your parents are so absolutely instrumental in influencing who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you feel about the world, that detaching from them can be excruciating. Decent, healthy parents help you to do this in a safe way when you're a teenager and young adult, but if that wasn't the case for you, you have to learn how to do it yourself. Its sad and lonely and frustrating.

It really does get easier with practice though. You're right - just do it. The sky absolutely will not fall in. It sounds like you've been well-conditioned into keeping your parents happy and meeting their expectations of you, and standing up to that can be properly terrifying. You can do it though. You deserve much better than this.

Jamkancat Wed 07-Sep-16 21:50:12

Thank you all for your responses today. It has really helped me to get things into perspective. I do deserve better and I'm going to start doing things differently. X

Brighteyes27 Wed 07-Sep-16 22:03:52

You have my sympathises. I have a similar situation. My parents only live 2.5 miles away and show little interest in my children it's always been like that. Yet they basically brought my sisters daughter up who is 16 months younger than my son. I think this tired her out so she wouldn't even look after my children for a couple of hours once a month. DH's parents live 3 hours away and are older they do virtually nothing either. Both ask after the kids on the phone briefly but that's it. I tried ignoring my parents, not phoning and not visiting for a month at a time it felt so hard hurtful and upsetting it was eating away at me. Yet I don't think my parents even cared or noticed.
I think as others have said all you can do is lower your expectations of them, accept that it is there loss and don't bend over backwards to visit them too much and bring your own children up to know that they are truly loved. I feel sorry my children may have missed out on a relationship with grandparents but you can feed a horse to water but can't make it drink.

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