To not change my stance even in the face of my mother threatening suicide?(163 Posts)
Several months ago, I cut my mother out my family’s life due to the repulsive comments she made to my daughters regarding their appearance. My kids are half black/half white (14 and 11). DD1 has olive skin and DD2 has light caramel skin. The last time their grandmother saw them, she told my babies that it’s a shame DD2 doesn’t have her older sister’s lighter skin tone. And that DD2 would be so much prettier if she had her sister’s olive skin tone. This greatly upset both my children.
When I found out, the rage that consumed me was overwhelming. I had it out with my mother and told her that I never want her anywhere near my kids and my husband again. Over the last few months, my mum has been bombarding family members, telling them about my “cruelty.” Last week I received a letter from her – it stated that without the joy of her grandkids, she sees no point in living anymore.
Now, this isn’t the first time my mother has threatened to kill herself. She’s never done it directly to me, but a few times to my dad. I remember when I was a little girl, she once took a knife and pointed it to her stomach – she told my dad she would stab herself if he went out for a drink with his colleagues that night (I kid you not). She’s always been the melodramatic and manipulative type.
When I got the letter, I called my mother and we spoke on the phone. I told her I can see her, but my children just can’t be around her. I don’t want them recalling what happened. When I told her the kids are still off-limits for her, she reiterated her suicidal threats. Then she started shouting at me – saying how unfair and cruel I was being.
She hurt my daughters tremendously, and that’s something that I not only find hard to understand, but to forgive. And it’s something I’m not willing to risk for a second time.
What is she like generally? Is she a loving doting grandmother or is she always volatile?
Absolutely do not change your stance, for your daughters' sake. Protecting them from her racism is more important than her empty, manipulative threats.
She's not remorseful. She's having a tantrum. I'm not sure that people who are genuinely suicidal threaten it so loudly.
Your husband going for a drink and never seeing your grandchildren again cant rrally be compared in any way.
On the face of it it was an awful thing to say but clearly theres a huge back story as to why you are going NC and not just making it clear she cant say it again.
I dont think we should lose sight of the fact it will be very difficult for her and call it a tantrum because she has done that before.
Her actions were obviously wrong though.
I think there's a very good reason you went NC with her.
She's not remorseful for upsetting these two grandchildren she supposedly can't live without, she's upset at being called out on hurting them.
I'd take a bet that there's a lot more going on than just this situation too.
I am wondering if her badmouthing you and making these threats actually proves exactly why she shouldn't be around them (or you). Family is very important for a whole number of reasons, but that doesn't mean we have to accept everything they throw at us.
She's not actually going to do it she's just using emotional blackmail to try and get her own way
I think changing your stance now would send her the message that it's okay to do this to people.
Next time she does this call someone. An ambulance, 111, police and have them come. If she is that unstable to threaten you with it; she's that unstable to do it. Even if it seems unlikely. People do stupid things and take it way too far.
Seeing some consequences to her threats could shock her into stopping when she has to explain "oh well I didn't mean it" if she does, who knows she may get help for her awful manipulative coping mechanisms.
Is it the first time she has made a comment like this? As Honey asks, is she usually a loving GM?
What was she like with you when you were a child and do you think she will be the same with your DC?
Just trying to see if it would be better to make clear to her that you won't tolerate such comments and give her another chance. One more strike and she's out.
honeyandfizz - My mother is quite the character. Always has been. She can be very volatile when it comes to interactions with other adults, but when it comes to children she's never been like that. What enraged me the most was the fact that she merely chalked it off as a "trivial mistake"and thought I was being "too PC."
Sirzy - My children have said they don't want to see her for the time-being. What happened greatly upset them, and the worst part of it is that DD2 has began developing insecurity issues regarding her skin tone because of what happened. Prior that, she never even thought about life that way. It kills me inside.
No way would I let her near my kids. She has never apologised, she's angry there are sanctions. Suicide threats are the ultimate manipulation. Stay NC. By getting in touch over this you are justifying her threats.
Chloe - Yes, it was the first time she made a comment like that to my kids. When I was marrying my husband, she did initially oppose to it (we're South African - a lot of unsavory racial history here) but she eventually came round. When I was growing up, she was a good mother for the most part. But she would be prone to child-like temper tantrums (especially with other adults), and during those moments, she would become melodramatic and manipulative.
Has she apologised? To you/your daughters? Does she understand why that kind of casual racism matters?
If the answer to all those was no, or there was a long backstory of racist/hurtful behaviour, I'd stick with NC.
If she is genuinely sorry and is prepared to make an effort to educate herself, or there is some other mitigating factor we don't know of, I might reconsider.
Your poor dds.
cvbn - Speaking to other family members she has complained to, I get the sense that my mother thinks what she said was just a little mistake. I don't think she grasps the depths of the damage she did. DD2 has started to develop insecurity issues because of it.
Ah, the South African background probably explains the weird obsession with skin colour. Really her problem, not your dds. She needs to sort those issues out not project them onto others.
She does not get it.
I say do not change your stance.
They're likely empty threats, but if they weren't that's not on you, she's trying to abuse and manipulate you.
Once you're children want to see her again, maybe they can....but it would be time to think carefully about it and see what her attitude is.
Have you told her/does she now know how hurtful her comment was?
If she's old-school South African, she my just view her comment as (yuck) a statement of fact.
Could you write to her or pass on the message how devastating it has been for your dds and that contact can only be resumed if/when she addresses her own racism? And that racism is not a 'little' matter to those who are victims of it?
Surely she can't expect her granddaughters to hang around and be racially abused by their own grandmother?
Im completely NC with my family so I understand how tough it is. Initially limited contact but the more I did that the more crazy stunts like this they pulled, the more lies and accusations flew around. Its control. You are not behaving how she wants you to.
NC has been the best thing i have ever done. They still spread lies about me that now and again i find out (that i have had my children put into care was the latest ) but its so liberating not having to deal with toxic negativity and drama anymore.
Im guessing theres more to this than one incident. Stand firm. Its manipulation
I think yanbu, her comments were completely out of order. Especially as she doesn't seem to even be remorseful.
This I am a bit about though:
What happened greatly upset them, and the worst part of it is that DD2 has began developing insecurity issues regarding her skin tone because of what happened. Prior that, she never even thought about life that way. It kills me inside.
It kills you inside...? That seems rather overdramatic to me. Why not just reassure dd2 that granny is talking shite and that she is beautiful. That skin colour has sweet FA to do with beauty (well actually being pale / milk bottle white I actually think black skin is beautiful tbh). You sound very hung up about it though - I am guessing there is a back story here of years and years of nasty racist digs from family.
Increased I picked up on that. Seems her mum isn't the only melodramatic one!
Yes, it does kill me inside. I don't think it's over-dramatic to be emotionally affected when your child is questioning herself over something as trivial as skin tone. And of course I have reassured my daughter that she's beautiful, and that her grandmother's comments were nonsense. Even long before what happened with her grandmother, I and my husband spoke to our kids about it (colourism is a huge problem here). But children have their insecurities (I had mine as child) and even though I and DD2's dad have constantly reassured her, I note subliminal changes in her behaviour - changes that were non-existent prior her grandmother's comments.
cvdn - yes I have told her about how hurtful the comments were. And while she did apologise, she did say I took it too far by barring her from the kids.
I also think if this is an isolated incidence yabu and OTT. Your reaction is probably having a more damaging effect that what your DM actually said.
Some people are very direct with words and are just thinking out loud, they don't actually mean anything by it. One of my siblings has red hair which my DGM adored and used to say that she wished we all did and that it was more beautiful than our hair colour. It became a joke in the family, we knew that she loved us and whilst I think deep down it annoyed my DM her eye-rolling really made us feel it wasn't a big deal. I say that as someone with mixed race children myself.
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