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... to feel sad about my family.

(33 Posts)
kinloss Sat 15-Apr-17 10:38:22

This is about my parents and siblings.

It is fashionable now to think that all sorts of differences may be related to people being 'on the spectrum'.

But this would certainly explain some of the behaviour of both my parents and my younger brother.

Because my father was so socially withdrawn, when he was alive my mother would always appear to be the one who made conversation. However, since my father's death it has become more apparent that her conversation is only about herself and her interests (which mainly consists of saying what she will and won't eat.)

She is incurious and only ever asks me about my husband's business and my daughter's well-being. Never about my own work and interests She has never been interested in feminism - so this may partly be a way of making it clear to me that my only proper roles are as wife and mother.

Meanwhile my younger brother visited yesterday. He talked at me for three hours about his job and again the only questions he asked me where about my husband's business and my daughter.

I try to be a good person. I am aware that my mother is elderly and that my brother is lonely and is having work difficulties. But I do rather dread those times of year which are meant to be 'about family.'

user1491572121 Sat 15-Apr-17 11:26:11

I relate. My Mother asks breifly about the children and then talks about her cat or herself.

No interest in me at all. I wonder if it's generational? My Mum is 70...how old is yours?

Also you might get roasted on here for saying it's "fashionable" to mention autism in relation to people struggling socially. It's not fashionable really it's just that people are more aware.

Batgirlspants Sat 15-Apr-17 11:29:37

My dad is eighty four and as sharp as a needle. Just got an I phone and is regularly online. It's not an age thing. You can't change people op. My dsis is very similar but at least feigns interest. wink

user1491572121 Sat 15-Apr-17 11:32:43

Bat no...I didn't mean in relation to their ability to use media or devices but just how they were brought up by their parents. I don't suppose parenting in the 40s and 50s included much concern about kid's welfare or personal lives did it?

kinloss Sat 15-Apr-17 11:34:39

To me - and I'm aware this is controversial - all sorts of terms that have been used by psychologists and medical professionals, are also used in everyday conversation now, in the total absence of any kind of formal assessment or diagnosis. And everywhere on Mumsnet

'My mother's a narc.' 'I'm a bit OCD' etc.

My mother is now 90 though in good health for her age. She and my late father were not of a generation where such conditions were thought about. People didn't go for assessment. Similarly my younger brother's various eccentricities and quirks passed under the radar, when he was a boy. Maybe particularly because to my parents such behaviours seemed quite natural. (I was the 'different' and 'difficult'' one.)

I really have no idea whether they might have - or have had in the case of my late father - high functioning autism. But having found out about the condition is interesting, because I'd say that the way in which I function is more 'neurotypical'. Whereas - while knowing there is a huge range of behaviours and personalities among people who have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism - their social behaviour and conversational style, does seem to show some patterns that can be linked with autistic spectrum disorder.

ExplodedCloud Sat 15-Apr-17 11:37:52

My mum is mid 70s and very interested and engaged in my life. I don't think it's generational. She is, however, still active and has friends and interests outside of the family unit so she's not let her horizons become small.

helpimitchy Sat 15-Apr-17 11:40:34

Fashionable? hmm that's pretty offensive.

I am autistic and I don't drone on and on about myself. I also ask questions to elicit conversation with people.

You obviously have no understanding of autism in any shape or form if you think it can be reduced to a list of symptoms that all autistics have. We're not a tick box exercise.

I suggest you spend less time with your family if they irritate you this much.

helpimitchy Sat 15-Apr-17 11:41:48

Oh, and we're not 'eccentric' or 'quirky' either hmm

Boulshired Sat 15-Apr-17 11:45:19

She sounds like she reverts to conversations where she feels confident, it is usually very low self esteem.

kinloss Sat 15-Apr-17 11:46:30

helpimitchy I am sure you are a delightful person.

However, I fail to see what part of this statement is offensive

"I really have no idea whether they might have - or have had in the case of my late father - high functioning autism. But having found out about the condition is interesting, because I'd say that the way in which I function is more 'neurotypical'. Whereas - while knowing there is a huge range of behaviours and personalities among people who have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism - their social behaviour and conversational style, does seem to show some patterns that can be linked with autistic spectrum disorder."

If people with high-functioning autism are so various, it follows that while some of them will be delightful social companions, others will be less so.

I have a stepson who has been diagnosed with autism and a close friend who has had a similar diagnosis, and have read up on the condition extensively.

I do think relationships between neurotypical family members and others who are not NT can be quite complex and frustrating for both parties.

helpimitchy Sat 15-Apr-17 11:49:55

You haven't 'found out' about the condition at all. It's quite obvious that you don't understand it at all.

kinloss Sat 15-Apr-17 11:52:52

No, what's obvious that you don't understand me or my situation. I'm not debating this any more with you.

Huldra Sat 15-Apr-17 11:53:06

fashionable? hmm

In my family the only people who take any interest in me is my youngest brother. With the rest the conversation goes: How are the kids? How is Mr Huldra's job? Once I became a wife and mother it seems there is nothing interesting about me. Even when I had a technical job my technically minded Father wouldn't ask me about my work, or for help with a problem. He would talk to my husband and other brothers at length, despite them having no knowledge confused

helpimitchy Sat 15-Apr-17 11:59:01

Crack on then, but you won't find the answer to your problems by indulging in armchair psychology.

Perhaps you're the problem, not them.

MudCity Sat 15-Apr-17 12:00:15

I don't think this has anything to do with being on the autistic spectrum. It has everything to do with some people only wanting to talk about themselves and showing no interest in others. I can go for whole, lengthy conversations with people (family and non-family) without them asking one single question about me and only talking about themselves. None of them have autistic traits, they are just centred on themselves, have a lack of interest in others and boring, tedious company.

whatsleep Sat 15-Apr-17 12:08:38

I have done a fair bit of training around ASD and whilst on the courses most of the 'traits' brought up during the course, I could attribute to people who I know. Infact I match many of the behaviours myself! I have come to the conclusion that we are all quirky in our own ways, some of us are less comfortable in social situation and some of us are less articulate at small talk, but I don't think everyone that 'ticks the boxes' is on the Autistic spectrum? Does it make a difference to who I am, or who you are?

GabsAlot Sat 15-Apr-17 12:14:05

my dsis does this -its not autism its low self esteeem

she just has to talk about her problems an life it makes her feel better

mistermagpie Sat 15-Apr-17 12:25:07

She's 90? Then I do think it's an age thing. There is a big difference between 70 and 90.

My grandmother is 90 and has become much more self involved over the last few years. She lives alone and is in good health, but the fact is that since my grandfathers death (years ago) she only ever has to consider herself and therefore her world is quite small. She also talks only about herself really, for example I had a baby a few weeks ago and when I phoned to tell her we spent more time talking about her new fridge freezer than we did about the baby (or me). I don't mind though, I figure at 90 she has earned the right to be a bit self-centred and whilst she's pretty sharp I think she finds it difficult to take on a lot of new information, so it's easier to talk about herself.

It sounds like your mother is similar, and at her age she really isn't likely to change. Can you put up with that? Also, at her age, does it matter if she is 'on the spectrum' or not? I'm not saying she's on her way out or anything, but a diagnosis at this point wouldn't have a lot of value.

Giggorata Sat 15-Apr-17 12:32:27

Exploded's words make sense to me. I've seen DM retain her interest in me, the DC and life generally, up to the end. MIL's horizons diminished as she aged, so that her main topics of conversation related only to her world - aches and pains, and food.
It has certainly taught me to try and keep my mind stimulated as I grow older.

kinloss Sat 15-Apr-17 12:37:51

No, absolutely agree that a diagnosis would have no value.

It's more that since my father's death I have been thinking a lot about my family. I had assumed, for example, that my mother and I might become closer after he died. He was a very 'difficult' man and I felt that some of my mother's behaviour arose from the fact she was moulding herself round his habits and routines and wishes - and couldn't pay any attention to anyone else.

Now I feel as if my family - mother, father, two brothers, myself - falls into two groups with a gap between. We are all different, all individuals.

But on one side there is my older brother and myself. Though we have quite different characters, there's a level on which we can listen to each other and understand one another. On the other side there is my mother, my father and my younger brother.

I can't possibly explain them or myself in a way that could 'prove' to strangers on the internet why they are/we are as we are.

I suppose the only thing is that the idea of high functioning autism is - for me - a kind of framework that might explain this sense of a gap or a difference. Other explanations would be, for example, that my parents and younger brother didn't have the same sense of social etiquette that my older brother do. That they were 'rude' or 'didn't know how to behave' . (Or had low self esteem or social anxiety.)

Perhaps all that's important is that I find a framework that helps me in my relationship to them. Though In real life, I also value the insights of those who know members of my family well.

missyB1 Sat 15-Apr-17 12:49:31

My in laws are like this, they are 86 and 80 and very self absorbed. They dont ask about ds (their only grandchild) or ask us about ourselves. All their conversation is about themselves, and endless stories from their past (which they repeat over and over). I dont think they were always quite this bad so in their case I think it might be an age thing, in conjunction with Mil (in particular) being quite a selfish person.

Noregretsatall Sat 15-Apr-17 12:49:41

I feel for you OP. I lost my mum two years ago. We were very close and she was very engaged in the life of her two children and three grandchildren. I have never been close to my dad. Since she died, I hoped that dad and I might become closer. Sadly, he's completely disinterested in anything and everything I do, briefly asks about the children but, in general, it's all about him! His daily struggles, his routines and problems. He calls me only when I can do something for him. It gets me down because I compare this relationship to the one I had with Mum. I find it increasingly hard work to maintain contact and a relationship with him simply because it is so one-sided. I just find myself not being bothered if I don't hear from him. It makes me sad and I feel guilty for feeling like this but he's not going to change so I know I should lower my expectations.

NameChangeInCasePeopleRecogn Sat 15-Apr-17 12:50:17

Perhaps you're the problem, not them

Doesn't sound like it to me!

60sname Sat 15-Apr-17 12:55:50

I don't suppose parenting in the 40s and 50s included much concern about kid's welfare or personal lives did it?

You think that by and large post - war parents, across the board, didn't care about their children hmm

And my mum is 70 and has just joined WhatsApp. She, for one, is not some ancient recluse

Sprogletsmuvva Sat 15-Apr-17 13:44:39

But I do rather dread those times of year which are meant to be 'about family.'

I find this bit sad. Because OP you do have a family: you've mentioned a husband and daughter (and stepson).

Has your mum always been like this- even if milder? Because that would tell whether it's 'just an age thing' or not.

A typical conversation with my dad will go a minute or so of him asking after DD, then rattling on about himself, what he's been up to and anecdotes thereafter. He's always been pretty self-centred. My mum I think might originally have had a bit more interest in others, but prefers to live round my dad's preferences for the easy life. Ironically, I suspect if anything I'm the one with AS tendencies: I was always the one failing to 'get' social cues when younger.

OP, no-one is 'owed' the company of their family. Obviously you cut someone a bit more slack if they're in early stages of dementia, has been recently bereaved etc. But no, you're not obliged to keep trying to engage with them if it's a one-way street and leaves you feeling like crap.

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