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Why my mother is so bloody defensive?

(22 Posts)
froofroomcgoo Sat 01-Apr-17 21:09:22

I'm a very open person, quite self critical and live and let live. No one like their flaws/ faults being pointed out but I take it on the chin and then consider if I want to change it. Same with criticisms/ comments on my life generally.

My mum is the exact opposite. She's never wrong, has no flaws, everything she does is beyond question.

For example, in the last five years I have, expressed concerns that my brother has a speech impediment (he does, school wanted to refer to salt but she refused), expressed concerns that my gran may have Alzheimer's - I work with dementia patients as does my mum (though in different capacities), I visited with my partner of 8 years who she'd seen at least twice a year and she couldn't remember his name, she also demonstrated other signs of aphasia and was unusually rude. My mum told me I was wrong, my grandma's memory was "exceptional" for her age. 2 Years later she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Last year she had a leak, all fixed but her house continued to smell damp - I mentioned this to her and she told me I was wrong, it didn't smell. Earlier this year my mum came to visit and told me my hall smelled of cat. I immediately got the cleaner out and sprayed/ wiped/ hoovered and mopped. I thanked her for her honesty, I'd rather know than not.

Earlier this year mum got a puppy. When I visited I mentioned the puppy wee smell. Was told I was wrong, it didn't smell, the puppy never toiletted in the house (bloody good puppy!).

It isn't as though she's defensive at the time and then does something about it- my brother still has a speech impediment 5 years later and the house smells worse than ever.

Obviously she doesn't want to know but I feel bad not saying anything. My siblings agree but know better than to mention it after the reaction I got!

Why does she have to be like this? Are some people just like this?

She has always been like this, it's one of the reasons my dad and she split and remember similar things from childhood.

There's also loads of other examples.

I'm not overly critical of her it's one thing a year max. She criticizes me every visit. Some warranted, others not.

LovelyBath77 Sat 01-Apr-17 21:18:52

Mine can be like this as well. Not sure what to say but i do understand. Mine did things like when i was ill, I asked her to cook tea for the children, but she thought it was due to the dust or something odd, started dusting! (had a sickness bug). She is convinced my dad doesn;t have a heart condition (he does, I picked him up from hospital after a cardioversion procedure). They are also divorced. It is very wearing.

She is also very critical of me, for example after my brother's wedding she took it upon herself to lecture me about drinking as if I was a teenager, and breastfeeding, which she sees as disgusting. When DS was a baby she would be totally unsupportive about it, asking me why couldn't; I wait till we got home when i needed to feed in public. She would have odd ideas too about things like the children not needing coats on when it was cold (they don't need that!) and not needing the buggy cover either. I felt totally undermined as a mother.

It got to the stage with me where I have gone no contact with her. This was after she blamed me for an illness which required life saving surgery and was totally unsupportive. I hope things work out better with yours. It is a relief in a way to be honest.

froofroomcgoo Sat 01-Apr-17 21:23:26

I wonder if that's a theme lovely, unable to take even minor criticism whilst giving it out in buckets!

Huldra Sat 01-Apr-17 21:36:48

Yes, unable to take anything negative but gives it out easily. Not that anyone dares to give her advice or critisism! Some of it is wierd, she will gasp and comment about food I eat, whilst eating several cakes herself confused Say I have a bowl of salad with a little dressing she will start off with a disgusted "I didn’t
think you ate that sort of thing" then comment about all the fat and sugar in the tbsp of dressing. Moments later she will talk about how the nice cake, take another slice and get grumpy because I won't have any confusedconfused

LovelyBath77 Sat 01-Apr-17 21:48:59

Yes, that is what it's like. Huge criticism from them but unable to take any. Mine won't go to the doctor as they mentioned she needed to lose weight. That sort of thing. They got insulted as a friend gave them an oven (a kind thing) and they fell out...

LovelyBath77 Sat 01-Apr-17 21:49:56

I wonder if the cake thing is a kind of projection. have you heard of that? It is where they sort of project feelings about themselves on to others. To kind of make themselves feel better..

Huldra Sat 01-Apr-17 22:08:55

You could be right about the projecting and food, hadn't thought of it like that before. She does project in other ways, if she's in a bad mood she'll focus on another female and go on about how bossy and controlling they are but she is the one who has to be in charge.

LovelyBath77 Sun 02-Apr-17 06:56:37

Well it;s interesting that it's her behaviour she is describing in others!

JustHappy3 Sun 02-Apr-17 08:18:58

I've realised with my MIL that in her world to admit to a "fault" in any of her loved ones is completely akin to saying you love that person less.
So she'd rather insist that my DS is perfect and i'm doing some weird Munchausen number on Drs/teachers to trick them into thinking he has delay and food issues. I used to get very upset about it but now i see it as a "disability" that she has due to chronic low self confidence and it annoys me less.
She's obsessed with what people think - but it's her values and thoughts she attributes to these unspecified people. She is so busy living to her own standard that she would be aghast and offended if a fault was ever pointed out. It would be seen as an attack. Whereas she is being helpful and loving pointing out faults in our house. "That needs cleaning." is a frequent early comment when visiting.
So i have no answers sorry. I think that thing of you can't change them but you can change your response comes into play here.

hmmwhatatodo Sun 02-Apr-17 08:30:51

I really don't understand parents who refuse SALT. It's so hard to get it in the first place and it can work wonders. How old is your brother? How bad is his speech? I'm feeling so sorry for him, I really would push more for it. I wonder if you could somehow contact the school to raise your concerns and ask what they think though they may not give you answers.

EivissaSenorita Sun 02-Apr-17 08:36:13

My mum is the same. When my Dc were small and I asked for advice on sleeping/feeding etc she would say she had no advice as none of her 4 babies ever cried or had a tantrum, they all slept 12 hours straight from birth and were potty trained by 3 months hmm. Can't admit to any faults or weaknesses. Never takes ownership for anything it's always someone else's fault. Ggggggrrrrr.

Sammysquiz Sun 02-Apr-17 09:23:28

My mum thinks I'm criticising her even when I'm not. Everything my children have which I didn't have when I was little, she takes as a criticism of her parenting. For example...

Me: "DD starts her ice-skating lessons tomorrow, she's so excited!"
DM (in heavily sarcastic voice): "Oh well, I'm so sorry you didn't have skating lessons when you were a child, you must've been so deprived"

LovelyBath77 Sun 02-Apr-17 09:45:53

Yep I get the weird thing about relying illness etc as well. My brother needed glasses and she said I don;t think he does, his eyes are fine! and the same about dad's heart condition.It is like it is a fault or something. It's odd and not sure but maybe something in the past has caused it. Not sure but I understand.

LovelyBath77 Sun 02-Apr-17 09:46:04

denying illness, i meant.

LovelyBath77 Sun 02-Apr-17 09:47:04

Sammy that sounds very irritating, It's all about them at times isn;t it. bet it makes you feel you can't share much with her if that's how she reacts.

froofroomcgoo Sun 02-Apr-17 10:21:33

Sammy my mum does that too! At the weekend I was over as was sister, who is pregnant I said "are you planning on bottle feeding again?" Mum jumped in with "breastfeeding isn't a requirement" I was finishing my sentance with "I have a nearly new sterilizer and bottles you can have if you want". As though my breastfeeding is a criticism of her not doing it (she bottle fed us all).

My brother is now 18. His speech is OK, just a bit lazy/ lacking annunciation.

Sammysquiz Sun 02-Apr-17 12:08:52

Oh god yes, the breastfeeding thing! I struggled with breastfeeding but really wanted to do it, and dm took it as such a criticism of me being bottle-fed as a child.

LovelyBath you're exactly right, it does mean I don't want to tell her things, which is such a shame. I'd love to be able to say something like "we're taking the kids to Spain next week" and her to reply "how lovely, enjoy!", rather than get all sarcastic and grumpy about how we only had UK holidays (which incidentally I always loved going on and which I've told her many times!).

honeylulu Sun 02-Apr-17 12:23:40

People who do this seem to be either narcissistic or completely at the other extreme - insecure and lacking in self confidence.
My mum is the latter but it took me years to work out as she comes across as very bolshy and domineering. She seems to think me doing anything or making life choices different to hers is a complete insult/affront/ rejection of her. It has made things very difficult as she will criticise, complain and jab at me but if i say anything back she sulks and ignores me ad infinitum (until I make the effort to get in touch).
My sister is much more like her in terms of life choices etc so there is a golden child/scapegoat dynamic as well.
The thing is my mum is essentially a good person who I know loves me, but her crushing lack of self esteem has ruined our relationship.

hmmwhatatodo Mon 03-Apr-17 11:13:27

If your brother is 18 the he would be able to go and seek salt support on his own without your mum interfering surely?

limitedperiodonly Mon 03-Apr-17 11:47:36

I've realised with my MIL that in her world to admit to a "fault" in any of her loved ones is completely akin to saying you love that person less.

JustHappy3 makes a good point. My mum was fantastic but she would do this. Also it would inspire guilt in her that she had somehow failed the person by not being the perfect mother.

SignoraCarmignola Mon 03-Apr-17 12:05:34

Everything my children have which I didn't have when I was little, she takes as a criticism of her parenting.

I've had many similar comments from my mother over the years. The one that particularly sticks in my mind (because it was so daft) was when my parents came to us for Christmas one year. We laid the table and put crackers in each place. That was different from the way she'd always done it, we'd never had crackers at home for whatever reason.

She looked, sniffed and said: "Oh something else I didn't do right!" and stropped about it for an hour or so. Over Christmas crackers FFS.

Sodomeyes Mon 03-Apr-17 12:09:24

My mum is also never ever wrong about anything.

Yesterday she told me I was wrong about how old I am going to be this year.

hmm

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