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How to deal with people (family) being awful when you tell them you're pregnant?

(50 Posts)
magnificatAnimaMea Thu 24-Sep-15 22:20:07

I've just found out i'm 4.5 weeks pregnant.

My parents are pretty emotionally immature and illiterate, to put it mildly. My mother is excessively self-centred and genuinely doesn't understand that the world is not all about her rather nasty perceptions of it (and no, she isn't a postmodern philosopher). My father has much more insight but is babyish and aggressive and quite nasty and selfish while having a serious superiority complex over anything remotely academic. My sister is an insecure, self-centred nightmare who just cannot cope with attention being off her - particularly over anything medical. Me being pregnant will probably send her into hospital.

They're not the easiest people in the world to get on with. My sister's mental health issues around medical things in other people are a whole other thread, but she was given a really hard time by our parents over having my niece.

When my sister announced her pregnancy (stable marriage, job, house, all OK), our father got his angry face on, slammed a few doors on the way to the bookcase, slammed back into the room carrying a copy of a famous book on overpopulation from the 1970s, and asked if she was happy she was contributing to the wrld's problems. Meanwhile our mother had slammed her way out of the room to go and cry in the bathroom, refused to discuss it for weeks and eventually told my sister she should have an abortion. Both parents whinged about it to me, saying they thought my sister should abort it, they weren't pleased as it was going to disrupt their lifestyle - they actually said "it will interfere with our golf". I told them they were being ridiculous and my mother refused to speak to me for months. They didn't want to know anything about my sister's pregnancy or the birth, and went round telling people that they hadn't even held their granddaughter until she was about a year old. My mother in particular was aggressive and nasty, for example telling my sister to breastfeed out of sight "because noone wants to see that, it's disgusting."

Things have gradually improved there, so they all get on quite well - but I have never got on with my mother, at all. I can imagine it's going to be difficult, and swing between icy silence and mother (verbally) hitting out at me with the nastiest things she can think of. She did say to me around the time my niece was born "I hope, if you're ever stupid enough to have children, that they hate you for being graceless, ugly and subnormal. You'd be ridiculous and useless as a mother." (I have ASD and ADHD, but as far as I am aware those aren't barriers to being a good parent.)

Unfortunately I'm going on holiday with these people at 6-7 weeks, and then again at 17-19 weeks. Even if by some miracle I manage to keep it a secret at 6-7 weeks without puking on them, it's going to be impossible by 17 weeks. And I'll have to tell them eventually anyway.

Anyone got useful strategies for how to deal with this? In recent decades I've tended to just avoid family knowing anything about my life other than very superficial stuff. My DH is supportive and helpful and very willing to learn, but he isn't great at knowing what to do usefully about my family - he tends to just ignore anything that can't be dealt with empirically.

Sorry this is so long. Thanks for reading it.

annandale Thu 24-Sep-15 22:22:44

You're going on HOLIDAY with them?


magnificatAnimaMea Thu 24-Sep-15 22:32:24

Compromise. We live in a different country from them and see them once or twice a year. They're generally much less unpleasant on holiday than they are at home.

The 6-7 weeks one is actually our honeymoon, very belated (2 years after our wedding). My father passive-aggressively bought DH and me a honeymoon-type holiday package, quite obviously intended to show us (DH particularly) up for not doing things properly (my mother hated our wedding, it was shabby apparently). Trying to see the good in both the individual and the generosity of the offer, we accepted. My parents subsequently announced that they were coming too. We couldn't really say "no".

The later one is family Christmas. It's less bad than the alternative (Christmas at their homes).


magnificatAnimaMea Thu 24-Sep-15 22:43:12

Also - we do what we can to protect ourselves. We will do what we can to protect our child.

Going no contact isn't totally appropriate, even if it would be easier.

These people are damaged and flawed, but the problems stem from lack of insight, and they generally only damage their own social interactions.

Acting like an arse and being an arse are different things, even if they do overlap a huge amount. My family generally only act like arses - they are genuinely hurt when people think they are arses. Though I have little patience with their bewildered "poor little me" act when someone pulls them up for being twattish. They're intelligent and highly-educated adults, it's not like they couldn't turn into less twattish human beings with a bit of effort at learning self-examination and humility.

But at the moment, I have neither the desire nor the willpower to lose contact with them, nor to spoil these holidays.

NotEmptyNow Thu 24-Sep-15 23:07:16

Hmmm...they sound terribly hard work I feel awful for you! I think you'd be better to just bite the bullet and get it over with on this first holiday. Try to mention it in as casual a setting as possible. It'll be harder for them to work themselves up into a drama from that.

Say something like "obviously it's early days so we aren't getting to ahead of ourselves but...yadda yadda" if they gripe and complain nip it in the bud and move on. "I'm sorry that for whatever reason you feel disappointed by something which for most people is a joyous event but it doesn't change how we feel about it". Then go out for a drink and leave them to it.

magnificatAnimaMea Thu 24-Sep-15 23:24:29

If i can keep it out of sight on the holiday in a few weeks, I'd be tempted to leave it until Christmas. But yes, announcing then shutting down further discussion is probably useful.

Cheshirehello79 Thu 24-Sep-15 23:49:12

I feel for you ..ouch

Well pregnancy is a blessing and a wonderful thing. I think you and your hubby should break the news on last day of holiday to avoid any tension,. At the end of the day it's your lives and they will either support you and start learning to be future grandparents or act like self centred immature adults as you put it and try see the worst in a fantastic blessing.

Good luck x

FishenNuggets Fri 25-Sep-15 05:50:03

Do you have to do it face to face? What about a text or an email? Then you didn't need to be there to experience whatever their initial reaction is?

magnificatAnimaMea Fri 25-Sep-15 06:29:34

That's realy tempting. i think that if it is possible to keep it quiet during the first holiday, and we get through all the relevant tests with no indication that the 20-week anomaly scan might indicate problems, then telling them by email would be ideal - because at 17 weeks I won't be able to hide it when at the beach in a swimming costume...

BexusSugarush Fri 25-Sep-15 07:18:40

That is one very dysfunctional family, it says alot about you that you're so tolerate and understanding; they should be thankful you care enough about their opinion.

As to what you can do, it's really down to what you and your partner feel comfortable with. Personally I would, over the next few months, let them know that you're considering having a baby at some point. Plant the idea in their head so it won't come as a complete shock to them. Give them time to adjust to it, inform them of any changes it would theoretically make to yours and their lives. It's less threatening if it's only theoretical. Then, if there comes a point you feel comfortable doing so, break the news to them, ideally face-to-face so you have the opportunity to defend yourselves and your choices. Make sure the DH is with you 100% of the way though; you shouldn't have to do this alone.

Best of luck, keep us updated x

CarShare Fri 25-Sep-15 07:55:29

Perhaps sounds harsh but I'd find it all too stressful and would cut ties completely (obvs wouldn't go on holiday with them). I wouldn't want them around my children either so would have to make the break during pregnancy.

Sighing Fri 25-Sep-15 09:30:56

This sounds awful. I am 18 weeks pregnant now. For reasons I wont detail: my parents have no idea. You can keep it from them. However, dialling back contact woild liberate you and, surely, going forward you wont want to subject DC to that environment.

dizzylemon Fri 25-Sep-15 10:26:35

That sounds rubbish and you sound more forgiving then I would be.

The truth will out in the end, and I think it's best just to be honest. Given their previous reaction, you know to brace yourself for a shitty reaction and sound like you can probably handle it, even if it would make you sad. Beyond that point, I'd be inclined to tell them that you don't really care for their opinions/advice and then keep them out of the loop, as you have done previously. With how they behave, they don't really deserve to be part of thire grandchilds life and do you really want their kind of unhealthy perspectives inflicted on your child? I probably wouldn't.

Our parents have been great BUT I am bracing myself for a possible bad reaction from my own sister. She also has mental health issues and has historically not been great with important/life changing events. I asked her to be a bridesmaid, then register witness at my wedding and she acted like the whole thing was a massive burden and she just isn't good with the important life stuff.

magnificatAnimaMea Fri 25-Sep-15 10:50:59

I've never worked out where the cutoff point is between person whose behaviour/character you don't like, and person whose behaviour/character you don't tolerate. At what point does acting like an emotionally-illiterate, immature, selfish, aggressive twat, while self-unaware; become just being someone who is intolerable? People can change, though it's really not obvious that it's worth waiting for a miracle in some cases.

I haven't drawn the line between "acting like" and "being" and walked away, yet. The fact they've managed to learn to get on OK with my sister and niece gives me hope they may have grown up a bit. Thus i'm willing to give them a chance rather than just not tell them at all/ cut ties, even though that would all be so much easier.

But if I get the usual special treatment from my mother because I'm me and not my sister, I'm not going to tolerate the behaviours or expose any child of mine to them.

TenForward82 Fri 25-Sep-15 10:55:49

Ridiculous justifications you're making. "Acting like" or "being" is totally irrelevant.

Go NC, you don't want these people in your child's life.

FishenNuggets Fri 25-Sep-15 11:03:30

People will only change if they want to. You can't change anyone else no matter how much you want them to. If you want to keep them in your life, you might have to find a way to accept that this is them.

This is about your new family, and they have already shown themselves to be untrustworthy of your emotions. They're not going to suddenly snap out of it.

Make it as easy as possible for you, not them. You don't need to defend yourself or your choices.

Avoiding telling them face to face doesn't have to be done in a horrible way. You could even send a really lovely card with the scan photo inside. That's still a nice way to do it but keeps you out of harms way.

Intradental Fri 25-Sep-15 11:07:13

You really have no responsibility to them.

I found, like others, that having my own kids really brought my feelings about my own parents / upbringing crashing out. Suddenly you realise that you would never countenance such behaviour towards your own children, and you have to process your own feelings about the way you were treated.

Why do you say Going no contact isn't totally appropriate, even if it would be easier.?

zzzzz Fri 25-Sep-15 11:07:49

What people fail to realise is you can have spectacularly trying family and still be in contact with them and still be happy.

I think your plan to tell them later rather than earlier is workable. Be prepared to find their "abrasiveness" harder to deal with when pregnant. It is quite trying emotionally anyway and they will make that worse. Personally I'd wait till after the second holiday. If they guess, you can tell them but I really just looked a bit porky with my first rather than pg for long past 17 weeks. Get a one piece swim suit and wear a Tshirt on top while you swim to cover your "sunburn".

Congratulations on your pregnancy, how lovely for you and dh. thanks Just have fun in your own life, they can manage their own angst.

newbian Fri 25-Sep-15 11:19:43

Is this your first pregnancy? I didn't look pregnant at 17 weeks. I looked kind of chubby until 24 weeks. Given how difficult your family is, I'd keep it to myself and tell them once you've gone your separate ways.

TenForward82 Fri 25-Sep-15 12:03:04

What people fail to realise is you can have spectacularly trying family and still be in contact with them and still be happy.

Really? Does the OP sound "happy" to you?

zzzzz Fri 25-Sep-15 12:43:03

confused she sounds like she is looking for ideas to manage her extremely trying family. I'm sure she will share with you her how happy she is day to day if she feels it is relevant. To me it sounds like she manages their nonsense admirably.

PotatoGun Fri 25-Sep-15 12:54:04

OP, I can't say this any more clearly. People ARE their behaviour. There is no such thing as a graceless, violent, selfish, emotionally-illiterate pillock who consistently behaves with warmth, insight and generosity, any more than consistently cruel, verbally-abusive self-centred behaviour is carried out by a kind, loving, thoughtful individual.

I understand that you are trying to 'manage' your dysfunctional parents in your own head, but no amount of mental gymnastics will alter that the fact that what your parents are and how they act is the same thing. Recognise that and decide what to do about their behaviour and its impact on you and your child.

Do you really want to be explaining to a confused and frightened toddler that 'Granny only acts like that, she's not really nasty!'?

zzzzz Fri 25-Sep-15 13:06:16

I don't think that's true potato, good people often behave appallingly, and there are behaviour disorders and social communication disorders that make judging someone purely on how they behave not only difficult but highly unfair.

PotatoGun Fri 25-Sep-15 13:29:36

People can behave out of character due to stress, drugs or illness, sure, zzz. I think anyone would acknowledge that. Though the OP seems to suggest her parents have always been this way, and makes no mention of specific triggers or special needs.

But I don't see how you can conceive of a 'good' person who only ever acts badly? How would that work - a sort of abstract, theoretically good 'core' which somehow never feeds through into good acts? Does a tree fall in the forest if there's no one to see it? Is a good person good if there are no good acts to judge his goodness by?

spatchcock Fri 25-Sep-15 13:34:57

I wouldn't want these people around my children. You're insane going on holiday with then.

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