To wonder why my mum acts like this?(44 Posts)
For as long as I can remember my mum asks or repeats questions that she knows the answer to. An example, before Christmas I mentioned we might be having a Boxing Day party and invited her. She politely declined. The next day she asked me who else was going do I explained that we were not doing it anymore as we had too much on. Next time I spoke to her she asked if I was still having the party. I said "no, we have too much on". A few days later she asked if we were still doing the party. I repeated "no it's not happening now, it was only an idea to begin with, never set in stone". The next time I spoke to her "so are you looking forward to the party?". I again told her it wasn't happening.
Christmas Eve I rang her, she said "are you still doing the party?" !!!!! I said "no! Remember I said it wasn't happening?".
Christmas Day "have you for your party tomorrow then?". I simply said "no" and she knew!! She didn't even question my response!!
After Christmas - "did you have your Boxing Day party?"
She does this all the time. It's not that she's forgotten, she just gets fascinated by something and constantly asks questions even when she knows the answer. It's so frustrating.
Another one - I mentioned I was going shopping in the afternoon. She then asked me 4 times within an hour if I was going shopping.
She also gets fascinated by non events such as the bus driver accidentally dropping some change. Anyone else would forget about it soon after it happened but my mum goes on and on about it, makes a huge (what she considers) comincal story about it which she retells over and over again and she'll remember it for years.
It's very frustrating and makes it so difficult to talk to her and she's just fascinated about stupid things and won't discuss anything else without reverting back to her current topic of obsession.
As I've got older I've wondered if it's a mental health problem or some kind of personality disorder? She's also narcissistic so very difficult to get on with. She gets absolutely obsessed with one shop and gets so defensive over it. It used to be Morrisons, she'd shop there and would refuse to shop anywhere else, would question other people's decisions not to shop there and would get irritated by anyone not singing Morrisons praises and would start pressuring and arguining about why others don't shop there. It's since changed to Aldi and recently she went on and on at me about why I don't shop there saying she "always will" and doesn't care what anyone else thinks etc! I tried telling her that most people don't hold a loyalty to one particular company so it's not a big deal but it makes her so argumentative and difficult. Feeling frustrated that I can't just have a normal conversation with her.
How old is she and is she working? It sounds like she doesn’t have enough to occupy her mind. Very annoying for you!
Has she always been like this? Does she drink heavily?
She said in her 60s, hasn't worked for years and doesn't drink. She's always been like this though, she gets obsessed with people or objects.
Another example was a story about a spider that walked across the living room floor about 8 years ago. At the time she mentioned it everytime I spoke to her for about 4 years and even now she mentions it if the subject of spiders comes up.
My uncle once made a flippant remark about not been able to find a decent pillow. My mum repeated what he'd said continuously for years and would even try and engineer conversations so she could mention it.
Maybe she struggles socially? So she has conversations based on subjects she knows she can engage the listener with?
Some people are better following conversations started by others.
There is something going on there isn’t there? She sounds incredibly like my niece, with ASD.
How does she respond if you try and tackle this?
What do other family members make of it? Sounds totally maddening but also in a weird way hilarious. I know it probably doesn’t feel like that but it sounds harmless just bloody odd!
Yes I wonder if it's ASD. She becomes fascinated by stuff like the boiler man going - she'll sit and stare out of the window for hours anticipating his arrival, will discuss nothing else and will repetitively mention it "ooo I wonder what time he'll come, I wonder if he'll think the house is messy? I wonder what he's like? What do you think he'll be like? Do you think the house is tidy enough? Will he get parked ok? Where do you think he'll park?" Etc etc for hours on end. During one of these episodes there is absolutely zero chance to discuss anything else.
She sounds like my daughter who has additional needs.
Or my friend who is a really heavy dope smoker.
My mum does something a bit similar. I've long suspected she has undiagnosed asd (several family members have diagnosed asd). How are your mum's social skills otherwise? It's pretty obvious when you know my mum quite well that she's completely clueless when it comes to social cues, but she's quite good at 'conpensating' - ie she's very chatty but will engineer conversations to fit in her regular topics/obsessions/stories, or she'll just blatantly state what's on her mind even if not relevant to the conversation, and she often has a stream of consciousness type way of talking.
It sounds quite childlike in a way. I know my dc will ask me questions over and over it tell me the same thing twice. I think it is either when they are looking for reassurance or because they are still developing social skills and really want to connect with me but can't think of a way to move the conversation forwards.
It sounds massively frustrating though and I wonder what you could do about it? Maybe you could try treating her a bit childish. E.g. Mum: 'so what is happening with your party on boxing day? You, smilingly: 'oh mum you know that already. Remember I was we cancelled it. Change subject....' Or you could meet her where she is, ask really detailed questions about the spider/pillows/aldi. would that give her the outlet she's looking for?
The suggestions assume it is worth the effort though-you mention she is narcissistic so I imagine there is history of her really not being great with ypu? In which case it might be better just to stonewall. 'I told you already, change s inject or goodbye?'
Sorry for hopeless autocorrect on my kindle
What works with my daughter is I don’t answer the question when I know the answer, I ask her it back so she can tell me the answer. This helps her ask it less because she has answered it herself.
Does she have other close relationships? Your siblings and dad?
If I tackle her on it she gets defensive, argumentative and will then replay the conversation for years: "remember when you said I go on about stuff? Do you still think I go on about stuff? Do I get on your nerves? I think I get on people's nerves. Don't you like talking to me? I better not ask you about the shopping or you'll think I'm going on ... ". This could go on for years. I learned a long time ago not to tackle her on anything but then you're constantly walking on egg shells and it's maddening.
She's also very self obsessed. When her brother was dying she went on and on about herself, how it affects her, how she wasn't being involved, how she wasn't asked to clean his windows but her sister was etc etc ...
When her husband started having heart trouble she started playing out a scanario in her head that he'd die and what it would mean for her. She even said "I don't want to be shoved on some council estate". I was thinking "wtf?? You think your husband could die and all you're bothered about is your housing needs?"
My mum used to do this too: making a big story out of the tiniest incident that no one else would even really notice. I think it's because there was nothing going on in her life and she was bored and lonely and wanted attention.
But now I come to think of it, maybe my mum had some kind of ASD too.
My MIL does this to a certain degree. She asks the same thing over and over and also repeats stories.
I think in my MIL case it's because she 'switches off' when we speak to her, I can't really explain it but she is quite self absorbed and always thinking about the next thing that's happening so she doesn't pay attention. DH thought it might be dementia but I don't think it is, just a bit of narcissism!
My mum does this, though to a slightly lesser degree. Also (IMO, anyway) narcissistic or at least highly self-obsessed. I agree with whoare - in our case I don't think there's much going on in her life, so her mind got taken up by very small, inconsequential things.
I think the key here is your mention of "for as long as I can remember." Anyone else and I'd be asking how old she is - considering forgetfulness, as a symptom of early dementia - but my DS (14) has a friend a year older thsn him who is pretty much exactly as you describe.
I'm not qualified to say what the cause is, and he has no formal diagnosis, but as well as getting fixated on things and repeating himself a lot - asking the same questions within 30 minutes of the last time he asked - he seems to have incredible recall for sequences and is a total maths wizz. Everyone except for his parents can see he's not NT. Thankfully he intends to move into his family business when he leaves school, and it's one where his limitations won't matter and his strengths will be an asset.
A huge difference between them is that ds's friend is very placid, whereas you describe your mum as frequently getting annoyed. Maybe that frustration is a result of the age difference and a different upbringing?
Either way, yes, if she's always (in your memory) been like this, I would say that she does have some genuine disorder or difference in her neural development, rather than just being an annoying person.
A relative of mine with schizophrenia would do this when her meds needed tweaking. She was fine, super intelligent etc but she developed diabetes and it would send her other meds wonky and she would go like this - obsessing, repeating, ritualising.
I have made my kids promise that if I start going on and on over and over the same stories like my mum, they have to tell me.
I didn't want to hurt my mum so I found it difficult to keep telling her, but I know that she managed to piss off everyone she spoke to because she went on and on saying the same things.
My mother is like this. Over her hardships and everything she’s done for me. It’s classic narcissist with a martyr complex. For example almost 20 years ago, she and my stepdad insisted on helping us out with some stuff in our house, which we were renting out. We were willing to pay someone to do it but they insisted. And we paid them the going rate. Yet years later if anything is ever said about the house, she goes on about how it almost killed her doing it. She brought it up a couple of months ag. So why bloody offer?? And why absolutely insist when I argued against it ?? Dh and I were living and working abroad at the time so we couldn’t do it btw.
Sounds draining op. I have no idea why she does it but you could think about some 'blocks' to preserve your own energy levels.
My mum is completely obsessed with herself - it makes for a very one sided conversation. I have to limit the time I spend with her as she will just talk at me for hours on end about repetitive and inane topics. I crochet while she talks so at least I feel like I'm doing something for me while she witters on. I also take her to the cinema so we don't have to engage.
Sorry, it's painful I know. I am at peace with the fact that my Mum could never love me because she's so obsessed with herself, but it's taken years of therapy.
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