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Relationship with mum after kids

(19 Posts)
Marylou Wed 04-Apr-01 17:56:56

This is a 'taboo' subject but wondered if anyone out there has found the same...basically my relationship with my mother has really deteriorated since having children. There is a power struggle going on and she takes every opportunity to question or make a point about what the children should be doing now. It feels like there is a competition going on....but I don't know why! It could be connected with the fact that my brother was a very difficult child who caused lots of problems - don't know if she's trying to 're-live' bringing him up through my children.

Any amateur psychologists out there with a view of why it's happening and how I can make the best of the situation, as she is very good with the children and I don't want to fall out with her?

Thanks in advance.

Kia Wed 04-Apr-01 19:24:51

For what its worth, I'd tell her how you feel and see if she reacts, better you sort this out now rather than have years of resentment. Perhaps she truly doesn't realise she's doing it and just wants to 'help you not make the same mistakes she did'. At some point we all have to tell our parents to back off (or some such words!) and take the responsibility of doing so even if it hurts and someone gets the sulks for a while! I work with someone who has never done this and puts up with all manner of crap from mumsy, and then complains about it in the office! Perhaps agree a code word for when you feel she's competing against you - olympics perhaps?! That you can say to her in front of others which doesn't embarass her or you? Try the 'you'll always be my mother, and the children's grandmother, but the buck stops with me, not you' talk! Don't let her get away with the I only want to help routine, its a classic that parents pull on their kids and its meant to keep you quiet out of guilt! Yes, yes, officer I'll come quietly!

Star Wed 04-Apr-01 19:59:55

Message withdrawn

Chelle Thu 05-Apr-01 05:27:54

My comiserations Marylou! I am in a very similar situation except for me it is my MIL! I don't ever seem to be brave enough to have it out with her though and go through phases of fuming silently every time she says something, trying to find reasons to avoid seeing her (although she still sees plenty of her grandson during these times!) and trying to pretend she didn't say anything at all (which is what her family do all the time and I think is pretty rude!). Any suggestions most welcome!

Marina Thu 05-Apr-01 08:50:00

Kia, I wish I could have a copy of the gene that makes you so feisty and makes the way you stand up to people sound so sensible and easy. Do you do life-coaching? You and Croppy could develop a profitable side-line in giving scruffy wimps like me a good overhaul, cosmetically and emotionally.
Like others here, both my aged p's are giving me a lot of unwanted advice on potty-training and organising my life generally at the moment and I just know that if I tried to tackle my mum about it in the way you suggest, she would go off like a ton of Semtex and never speak to me again. My father, a loyal husband who has seen her fall out, permanently in many cases, with family members over the years, always quietly takes her side - as he says, no-one else does. So Mary-Lou, I can offer no sensible advice whatsoever but a lot of sympathy. As for re-living and trying to correct your own parenting mistakes, mine freely own up to this and I am sure virtually all grandparents have this agenda consciously or otherwise. This is after they have tried to make their daughters into diplomats/architects because they missed out on a good education themselves, of course...

Pj Thu 05-Apr-01 10:34:26


You are not alone... I have spent hours trying to figure my mother out since I had a baby. W were never the closest mother and daughter in the world but we had a fairly good relationship. She was very supportive during my pregnancy but seems to have undergone a personality change. She adores my baby (her only grandchild) and practically lives for him. I even thought maybe she was deluding herself that my son was hers. She completely takes over and sabotages my best efforts ie feeding him chocolate, giving him a bottle in the middle of the night... When I commented that my babys eczema improved when we stayed with my parents (they live by the sea, soft water etc) the witch had the cheek to reply "well, he does get alot of attention when he is here". As if to blame his eczema on my lack of parenting skills. I was so upset by that, anyone who has a baby with eczema will know how heartbreaking it is and to have your own mother then blame you , well .... I am still fuming. Enough ranting. Marylou we do need to stand up to our mothers, we are mothers now and our children need to know we are in control otherwise they may be confused. Im going for it this wekend, let me know how you get on.

Tigermoth Thu 05-Apr-01 12:23:58

I'm going to come at this from a differernt angle, because I have no interferring mother to rant about and mother in law lives far away, well out of fighting range.

Just to say, and call me a sentimental fool, no matter how meddling the mother, at least it's attention. When my son brings back yet another picture from school, or the toddler increases his vocabulary to two whole words, they can only rely on me (and my husband) to praise them. OK, friends are interested in a PC/polite kind of way, if they happen to be around, but they are hardly waiting with baited breath to hear how the potty training is going, and they are not going to swell up with family pride if my older son gets 5 out of 5 in his spelling test.

Friends with their busy lives have not got the same urge to give and to hear a running commentary on my familys' goings on. Sometimes ( not always!!) I would give a lot to have an aunt or an uncle, a mum or a dad pop round to get their regular fix of our family progress.

As for the power struggle, MaryLou, I think you've been given lots of good advice. All I can add, from a posiiton of some innocence, is this:
Could you open up a discussion with your mother by saying you really think it's important that all the adults in their lives present a united front to your children. Hopefully your mother won't disagree with this. Then outline your very general view on important areas like eating, sleeping, smacking etc. Hopefully you can reach some very general agreement with your mother on this. Then write it down and show your mother.
And then if she ever oversteps the mark in a big way, find a method, as Kia suggested, of tactfully reminding her. As for the little things, let them go, especially if she is doing them if or when she has your children, and you are not around - all free baby sitting is to be encouraged!!

Kathmary Thu 05-Apr-01 12:36:29

My relationship with my Mum has always been very intense, my dad died when I was young and my sister and I and my Mum formed an intense family unit. Since my kids have been born, my Mum has been really good with them; she loves them, they love her and she is their only grandparent, thank god she's a good one .... but I find that being a parent has reawakened painful memories of early childhood and I find it hard to forgive my Mum for the way she was with us. There were so many secrets and taboo subjects, so much bubbling under - my Mum's relationship with the truth has always been a little strange. I cringe when I think of what was going on and what my sister and I knew but could never ask about, and the understandable mistakes I made in interpreting things without honest help and advice from my Mum.

It has meant I find my mum hard to be with sometimes now, though I don't blame her for what's happened in the past; but it just makes me determined to be very honest with my kids and to tell them how incredibly proud I am of them and how wonderful they are at every opportunity - while having a good framework of boundaries for them to knock against.

As for advice - if my Mum ever hazarded advice, I just said "well, things have really changed now". They're my kids and I'll decide what to do with them. Very blunt - but I was pleased to overhear my Mum saying to a friend "things are so different now than in my day - and better too I think"...

Tigger Thu 05-Apr-01 15:06:00

One very good tip in getting great satisfaction out of the Mother OutLaw, ask her to kindly not park her Broomstick so close to the house as it clashes with your scenery!. Believe me it works like a treat, as I have done it and even to my own mother, when she really pissed me off.

Star Thu 05-Apr-01 15:20:12

Message withdrawn

Rhiannon Thu 05-Apr-01 16:21:33


Both my parents often call my 6 year old son by my estranged brother's name. He left home with little contact ever since 10 years ago and he will now be 37 years old. Scary.

Kate71 Thu 05-Apr-01 19:08:45

Someone emailed this today, I thought it may get some comments.
The Images of Mother -
At 4 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mommy can do anything!
8 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 YEARS OF AGE ~ My Mother doesn't really know
quite everything.
16 YEARS OF AGE ~ Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 YEARS OF AGE ~ That old woman? She's way out
of date!
25 YEARS OF AGE ~ Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 YEARS OF AGE ~ Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 YEARS OF AGE ~ Wonder what Mom would have
thought about it?

Kia Thu 05-Apr-01 19:27:45

Marina I looked at your post and mine whilst I was at work today and felt like a total wally! Yes, it sounds not too difficult to do, after all its your mum who loves you etc etc, but when you actually have to live in reality its not easy,is it? I know how I bite my lip to rags when MIL 'goes off on one' as my kids say! Both my mother and MIL had vile dragons for MILs and vowed they'd never interfere (well my Mum managed it, but MIL does like her 'little jokes'!) I'm actually quite a doormat when it's my own life I need to deal with, but encroach on my children and I'm dynamite!! I find myself aghast at the emphatic words which come out and how firm and business-like I can be. Best Beloved now just says 'light blue touchpaper and stand clear'! I did spend 5 years teaching women (and some men!) returning to work and half the battle was to make people believe in themselves, I've been accused of being evangelical (poor students!) but if I believed they could do it, then so did they -eventually! I've a problemo at work just now which really needs a 'tell them how you feel and see if they react' talk. So, having read the posts and thought what an arse I was for posting it, I put my money where my mouth is and said how I felt! Not too good, is the only polite way to put it. The gentleman in question was very angry and refused to discuss the situation without a superior with us. The temperature in our office today has not been above freezing and my boss and I have been communicating via the miracle of e-mail since she is the one who has to referee! I'm about to take 10 days holiday so who knows what may have happened in my absence! Watch this space! Best beloved also says 'life's a bitch and then you marry one' but that's another story!!

Star Thu 05-Apr-01 20:36:48

Message withdrawn

Kia Thu 05-Apr-01 21:26:43

I'm off tommorrow morning to Dubai for 10 sweet glorius days!! Yes, Star I do need it, my rant percentage has risen dangerously over the past few days and I'm in need of some quality time with family to get things into perspective! The kids are so sensible, in bed tucked up getting some zzs,I've had a quick strim round the more visible areas (!) in case of swimming costume time and I'm trying to restrict best beloved's holiday shirt collection to the bare minimum JP Gaultier might approve and trying not to loose my rag!!! Just had a thought - do you think this 'surrendering' lark might work on mums too? Perhaps the way forward is to agree with everything they say or suggest and just let them take the strain?! Not! Thanks for the nice thoughts, and the support these last weeks.

Blueberry Fri 06-Apr-01 10:37:10

Dear all, my probs with MIl are negligible compared with most but I did find the dodgy atmosphere totally changed the first time I took a minute to praise and thank her for being a lovely Gran - which she is. I refrained from following this up with any buts..though they burned on my li'l forked tongue. Her attitude to me warmed up about 100%, and consequently it's been much easier to relax and let be about our petty differences.

Batters Fri 06-Apr-01 14:34:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marylou Fri 13-Apr-01 08:27:07

Thanks for all the expert advice! I no longer feel so alone with this situation. I'm going to try and speak out more often when my Mum upsets me - I think maybe make more of a joke of the situation so at least she realises it has effected me. In the past I have broached the subject with her but she completely over-reacted and burst into tears both times! She finds it hard to take even constructive criticism.

Will keep you posted as to how I get on. I've recently read that useful book 'Don't sweat the small stuff' which advises 'choose your battles wisely' so I'm going to try not to be wound up by the little things - it's just not worth it.

THanks again for all your support!

Peaches Fri 13-Apr-01 21:12:04

I feel like I can never talk to my mum about my problems. She says they are always in my head. I feel like I am her support barrier though. I have suffered from depression for the last three years and in that time my mum has commented that I am mental and cannot cope with bringing up my kids which is completely untrue.She is totally set in her ways and does not listen to my own opinion.When I say I don't want the kids to have sweets at that time she takes it personally and gives them to them anyway. That totally undermines me and I feel like I am not respected by her as a parent myself. Also I'd like to know if anyone else has problems with their mums/dads not getting on with their husbands to the point where they only say few words to each other.

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