AIBU to want parents to accept me as I am?(66 Posts)
I live close to my parents so we see eachother a lot, and they are always commenting on that I'm 'different' now but its just silly insignificant things like if we eat out they'll comment on my meal choice saying 'I thought you'd have had x, you always used to have x. Are you sure you don't want x?' if we're shopping mum'll try t o have me try on clothes other than my picks by saying 'don't you like this? you always used to like this style of top/jeans etc'. When we redecorated our house dad commeneted that mum said she was surprised we didn't use a certain colour scheme at all because 'it's what i always wanted in my bedroom'. They'll mention the name of friends i've not been in touch with since school and comment that 'I'm surprised you've not stayed in touch, you were always so close'. Mum even said something like this about a boyfriend I used to have in front of my DH! If i do do something i 'always used to', one of them will say 'oh, it's so nice to see you getting back to your old self!' or 'it's nice to have the old you back'.
Problem is this things they do the 'always used to' with are things i may have done/liked when I was a child, and naturally i don't have the same tastes as I did when i was a child. My 'old self' is in the past and i'm tired of the nigglging and pressure to show the same likes and dislikes as child me had. If i comment on their comment and say people change etc, dad will usually repeat 'but you've ALWAYS wanted/liked x', and mum says thing like 'I don't feel like i know you any more" and 'what happened to my baby?'. They seem to be geniunely disappointed that my tastes and likes/dislikes changed, even though it's irrelevant things like what i choose to have to eat
i think they're upset that I am an adult now and that i haven't really stayed like I was when I was younger, which suppose i understand, but I'd like our relationship to reflect that and be more like one between adults and not parents pretending ther 'baby' is still a child. Most of our conversations are mum asking if I rememeber when certain things from when I was a child happened and I've started placaiting her and saying yes all the time even though no i don't remember most of it, as most people don't remember day trips as a 3 year old, because she gets upset if I don't remember things. i'm an only child which prob contributes, but I have a 2yo DD they see a lot, so if it was just missing having a child around, I thought being around her might've helped, but if anything its making it worse because they're starting to push DD to be like child me too, and she's her own person not a mini me!
I really want to ask them to stop and enjoy being with me not who i was when i was a child but i don't know how to do this without offending them. AIBU to want it in the 1st place? DH thinks I should let them be and he finds the things they say funny, which I see it could be to someone whose not having the comments directed at them, but It's starting to put real strain on the relationship as i come away from spending time with them annoyed and i don't want that - we have always had a great relationship,but they're stuck in the child/teenager years and it's not working.
I think the only way to handle this without offending them is to change the subject every time they bring something like this up. Shrug and smile then talk about something else, distract them for example. Eventually they'll give up.
A big confrontation might offend them. The offence may only be short term, only you can weigh up whether it is worth taking the risk.
Interested to see how this pans out as my DM is exactly the same.
I'm finding myself being quite harsh with her now as I can't take the guilt tripping if I can't remember something from years ago or if I make a change. A change can be something as minor as ordering something different in a restaurant, similar to yours.
It is really frustrating, I feel your pain!
Any chance you could move a bit further away and see less of them?
It sounds horribly oppressive!
Tbh though on rereading your post I would probably limit visits to the bare minimum though. Sounds very annoying and somewhat soul destroying.
Or if you are very brave you could decide to have the most fun you can with this. Quietly challenge them with your most'shocking changes'. Take them right out of their comfort zones! Desensitise them, so to speak.
So, for example, outrageously change your hair, make up (temporarily if you like) and take them out to a new favourite restaurant to eat food they've never had and then to the theatre to see a really alternative production.
YANBU to want your parents to see you as you are and to treat you like an adult with your own tastes and opinions. I know exactly how hurtful it is when this doesn't happen. It can seriously damage your self esteem and can make you feel invisible.
What has worked for me is distancing myself from them emotionally. I don't share anything much with them anymore and I rarely see them. This has been very painful and I'm still grieving the loss of our relationship but its the only way I could become my own person and recover my self esteem.
YANBU at all. Take care of yourself x
glad i'm not the only one, but sorry other people are also going through the same thing!
Oh, the hair colour change.... when i was a kid I was a natural blond and had long hair. I've had chocolate brown bobbed hair ever since i was 18 and I'm always, always hearing how i looked so much better as a blonde, or with long hair. my natural hair is darker now anyway. I've tried on a long blonde wig before and look ridiculous! Maybe I should get some bright coloured clip in extensions for it.
oh my goodness, I lurk more than I post but had to post a fist bump of solidarity here. My mother is exactly the same. I never know what to make of it!
For example (one of so very, very many), after 20+ years of vegetarianism, I started eating meat again. She isn't a veggie, the family are all completely carnivorous, she thought it was so odd as a child that she took me the doctor because she was so worried by it. But after I made a concious decision to resume meat eating as an adult, she spent several months sending me vegetarian recipes, and even now, several years down the line, will cook vegetarian food for me whenever I visit. It's like she can't handle the concept of my changing!
For many years, she sent me job adverts in the field of journalism - my degree and my career were in law, but apparently as a child I wanted to become a journalist.
She's convinced I can't make friends easily, as I was a rather solitary child, but actually have no problems forming friendships as an adult. She like to check regularly that I'm still seeing my friends, and always with a faintly critical tone, as if she expects them to suddenly come to the conclusion that I'm an arsehole one fine day. I've had the same two best friends for 26 years, as well as a full and happy social life with many other friends and acquaintances.
WTF is it all about? It makes it so, so difficult to spend time with her (I live in another country these days), because it's like she doesn't see the "real me" at all, just this slightly disappointing child who needs managed as if I were still 6 years old...OP, I totally understand what you find so frustrating about it. What is behind it and dear god, if anyone has any ideas for stopping it, I'm ALL EARS!
just this slightly disappointing child who needs managed as if I were still 6 years old
OMG, yes. That's exactly how it feels! I'm the same with the friend thing. I've a good circle of friends that I met through uni but it's the school friends I've not seen for years they always ask after and comment on how I was so close etc. - maybe b/c they saw me interacting w/ those friends but have only met my current friends a few times, I don't know, but its infuriating! And the job thing. They'll still tell people I want to be a bloody vet when I've got a great career in business and have no interest in anthing medical or sciency
MIL does this to DH and it's very weird. She'll ask how our holiday was and I'll say that we had an amazing meal of sea bass at the harbour. She'll say DH has never liked fish. I have no idea what to say. If he's there and says well I like it now, she'll look at me as though I've corrupted him.
Drives him crazy. I'm generally just confused.
Ooh, yes do the clip in extensions! I always remember DH's Mum subjecting us to a right lecture when we joked the transfers we got free at a music gig were real.
They do give up in the end. My MiL used to subject me to the most embarrassing grillings over stuff she thought I should do - I used to smile change the subject and ignore her, do what I wanted anyway. She seems to have stopped now (took about 8/9 years though). Thankfully did not see her that often during the 'inquisition period'. I also made a conscious decision not to bring her up in conversation to my DH so she was out of sight and out of mind.
I can't believe I forgot the worst one of all!
Whenever she comes to visit me, each and every time, without fail for the last 20-something years, within an hour of her arrival, she will say something like, "oooooh, isn't it lovely and clean in here?"
It IS mostly pretty tidy and clean - that's how I like it. The only exception to my general liking for a clean and tidy home was when I was at uni, when I shared a flat with a bunch of people who would never, ever clean, so to her vocal and lingering horror, it was dirty a lot. Since then (I graduated in 1996) it has lodged in her head that I don't clean my house, and every time seems surprised that it's not teeming with dirt, and isn't it marvelous how I'm staying on top of it.
I'm a fucking adult and I know how to clean my house. I am getting high blood pressure just thinking about it.
What would happen if you said to them, "do you still live your life exactly as you did when you were a child?" And if, as I assume, the answer was 'No' you could say, "well - neither do I - and you can either mourn the loss of the child I was or enjoy getting to know the adult I have become. I'd hope you would do the latter and be proud of me!"
Or go all biblical and proclaim, "when I was a child, I thought and reasoned and acted as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things!"
Not my mum, but I have a friend who keeps commenting that my home isn't what she expected as I've always liked a particular style. Yes I did like that style years ago, but tastes change
over 15 years .
She keeps saying how my OH must have had a massive influence on me and how nice it is to see a bit of the old me in one area with said style.
I have to brush it off because it gives me the rage and I don't trust myself not to rip her head off which maybe an over reaction but my OH likes the style and has input (he can't visualise it without clear options) but it's completely my style and influence that I'm (ridiculously) proud of and pleased with that I put a lot of effort into, not some Deren Brown mind game.
I think the rage comes from the fact that she clearly put me in a box years ago and is now dumb founded that I no longer fit in it where as I don't expect her to still be the same as she was years ago.
My Mum is pretty good about most things but finds change very discombobulating.
Whenever she observes that I have ' changed ' I nod enthusiastically and say ' I should bloody well hope so.'
I had this from my grandparents (my parents were in their teens when I was born and I was raised as much by my grandparents as by them).
For years I didn't know how to deal with it, and I actually felt guilty about growing up and changing, not being "their" little granddaughter anymore. I had the hair thing (it was sooo nice when it was long) the food thing, constant references to school friends I was no longer in contact with, why are you doing x when you always said you wanted to do y and so on. In the end I came up with a strategy, every time they did it I pointed out how many years ago I'd said something, and tried to put it in context.
Like this- "Your bedroom is cream, but you always wanted a purple bedroom."
"That was when I was fifteen, twenty years ago. A child born when I was fifteen would be old enough to vote now."
Or- "But angel delight used to be your favourite."
"When I was five, I expect you used to like things when you were little that you grew out of."
I just kept hammering the point home every time they did it, and they did get somewhat better, and I felt better making a stand against it.
entredeuxmers your story about the messy uni flat reminded me of my own mum, who could never get past me getting older or more mature than 14.
Like many 13/14 yr old teenagers I was prone to outbursts at that age, and yes, arguments were had, doors were slammed and tears were cried.
Thing is...my mum's perception of me seemed to stop there. So even when I was all grown up and had a child of my own she would determinedly refer to me as "volatile" or "moody" or "explosive" even though I am none of those things as an adult, and if anything am known for laid back.
Basically she would pedal it out if I disagreed with her in any way, no matter how trivially.
"Och...but you've always been so volatile"
could you say "yes I liked it - ^twenty years ago^" with a laugh? Optional extra "Just like you liked XXX when you were a kid and don't now"
Or what wordfactory says, that's good!
Or when she goes on about something you liked when you were 6 "yes, isn't it good that I've grown up now?".
The thing with nodding and smiling and saying Yes is that it creates an extra distance between you. The habit of little white lies becomes constricting after a while. Trying to break out of that would be harder for them than consistently pointing out all along that you have changed.
It does rather sound like you might have to adjust to your parents becoming Old People on the inside though, no longer people you can really communicate well with. Sorry :/
Every time my mum phones before lunchtime, she asks 'are you up?' I'm 34, have a 9-5+ job and a toddler. It makes me see red and bite my tongue very very hard.
Oh God, my parents are forever asking after classmates I wasn't even friendly with (but my parents knew their parents and hence had registered them). I left school 30 years ago and none of us have lived in the country I was at school in for nearly 20 years. It makes me want to see red and it is so, so hurtful. As if they've never known me at all!
In my own mother's case, I think it's desperately trying to find some common ground with the daughter she didn't parent effectively, has nothing in common with, and who won't indulge her more manipulative habits. Hence the regular enquiries after school friends I haven't seen in 30 odd years, as well she knows. It's sad, and I read it as an attempt to belittle my grown up self.
All I can suggest is honest responses to your parents, but I know how very very wearing it can be.
i think it's a bit of the common ground thing with my parents too, in that they know all about my life as a child but not much about my adult life... except, they'd know a lot more about my adult life if they were interestd in talking about it with me instead of doing this. neither has shown any interest in hearing about my job, for instance. They'd rather talk about my grades in secondary school than my recent promotion!
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