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New baby, fallen out with parents, feel conflicted...

(17 Posts)
InLocoParentis Sat 22-Oct-11 21:08:27

[Sorry it's a long one but thanks for reading if you do...]

I just had a baby last week and my parents decided to come and visit me for almost a week now to see the baby, so they said, and stay with me. I told them it wasn't a good time for me and DH as it was so early and I was recovering from a difficult delivery so we needed a bit more space. They didn't listen though and just came anyway, getting my sister to book their flights (they don't live in the UK).

Anyway, the visit was a disaster. Initially I was trying my best to be patient with them but I was at the end of my rope by yesterday and just couldn't bite my tongue any more. As background: my parents are difficult, very introverted and self-absorbed, as well as being quite emotionally abusive. My mother is passive-aggressive, makes snide remarks and sulks if she doesn't have things her way. My father is quite controlling and when I was a child / teenager would try to control and intimidate me (and my siblings) by physically threatening us, being verbally abusive etc. He never actually hit me but did grab me by the arm, shake me and threaten me. Since I moved away from home at 18 they didn't get away with their behaviour and since being married (7 years) I don't see them unless my DH is with me. Whenever I do see them alone, they start to fall back into their old behaviour.

So the first night they were here, my mother started commenting on how I was caring for the baby and they just sat and stared at me while I was trying to settle him etc. I made one sharp remark to her where I said that I didn't need to be told what to do with my own child and she sulked for the rest of the evening, turned her back to us and wouldn't speak. The next day, they came back to the house (I asked them to stay away in the end and booked somewhere nearby for them because I knew staying with me would end in tears) and we had a reasonably good day, they were nice about the baby etc. Then at lunchtime, my mother start sniping at me again so I asked her not to speak to me like that in my house. She flared up and started screaming at me, then my father got up and started threatening me. My Dh came downstairs and asked them not to be speak to me like that and they told him to shut up and and stay out of it. Then they just launched into a tirade, saying that I was ungrateful, had a bad attitude and was selfish and hypersensitive. My father started to get threatening with my DH and insulted him, saying he was arrogant and unfriendly and insulted his parents too. They just came out with a stream of frustrated vitriol. My mother was screeching at me in hysterics, accusing me of all kinds of things. All this was with the baby in the room, in my DH's arms. I just can't believe they'd come out with a tirade of abuse in front of their grandchild. It was like they'd been storing up some hatred for years or months and were just waiting to let loose.

The evening ended with them walking out of the house. My DH offered them a lift back to their hotel because I felt guilty about having them make their own way back but they were just rude to him and refused the lift. This morning they came back to the house acting like nothing had happened but I confronted them and said they had no right to behave towards me like that in my house. My DH asked them for an apology and they said 'you should be apologising to us'. My mother screamed at me 'I'm your mother, you won't have me for much longer. Next time you'll be seeing me, it'll be my funeral' and other emotional blackmail she says regularly.

Now I don't know what to do. My DH knew they'd been nasty to me in the past but had never seen their behaviour up close before. He says to me that they're emotionally and verbally abusive and he doesn't want me to see them again for my sake and for the baby. For me their behaviour was just 'normal' as it's how they've always been. I am in two minds: do I go and see them tomorrow to try and settle things before they leave? Or do I follow my DH's advice and just leave them to stew and realise what they've done? I feel it's cruel to let them go home on such bad terms but I also feel sick to my stomach at the thought of seeing them again. They were so hurtful and nasty and in front of my baby and husband as well. What can I do to get past this? DH says he never wants to speak to them again. I feel angry too but they are my parents at the end of the day and I feel guilty about falling out with them. I just feel so awful right now and upset. What can I do???

reelingintheyears Sat 22-Oct-11 21:19:09

You have a family of your own now.

Your DH must have been appalled to have what you'd told him confirmed like that.

They sound as if they have no respect for you or your DH in whose house they were.

They will continue to make you feel guily but in your shoes i would cut them loose.

No contact again....but i'm quite a hard old mare and i know it's difficult,we dont have any contact with DPs parents for similar reasons and they don't see the DC either.

GnomeDePlume Sat 22-Oct-11 21:25:03

you cant choose your relatives

What exactly do they bring to your life, your DH's life or your child's life?

If you want (and quite frankly they dont deserve it) give them a final warning. Breathe in a way which you dont like and that is the last they have seen of you, DH and DC.

Dont go chasing after them, I would send the above in a letter which they can read when they get home.

Right now they are not an asset in your life.

kunahero Sat 22-Oct-11 21:26:47

Hi InLoco, poor you. The last thing you need with a brand new baby is abuse and vitriol like this.

Is this their 1st dgc? Do they still treat your siblings the same way?

I dont have any answers, I'm sorry. My MIL is not as bad but she is a control freak and cannot understand the way we want to parent our dd. We do AP and unconditional partenting which she refuses to conform with.

We just ahve to bite out tongues for the few hours each week that she spend aroung dd as saying anything isnt worth the aggro. I've learnt from experience that you do not express your opinions to MIL unless they coincide exactly with hers.

The only glimmer of hope I can offer is that they are only here for a short while, they dont live close (unlike my MIL, we tried moving 200 miles away but she followed a few weeks later) so they wont be having too much contact with you and dc.

Hope you can come to terms with this. You seem to have a lovely and loyal dh. stick with him and get through this together.

Good luck.

RandomMess Sat 22-Oct-11 21:31:46

They are not ever going to change, do you really want to expose your dc to their behaviour?

cecinestpasunepipe Sat 22-Oct-11 21:38:13

You poor thing.
Congratulations on your new baby - please do not let this upset with your parents spoil what should be such a joyous time for you. Don't feel guilty in the slightest - this should be a time when people - especially family - treat you tenderly and with loving kindness. My DD has just had a baby boy, and I have never felt more tender towards her. It sounds as though your DH is supportive and you have your little one - that is your family now.

babyhammock Sat 22-Oct-11 21:41:50

They sound awful, just awful. So sorry you had to deal with that just after you had your baby sad. You know that they will not see sense, they are just not nice people.
So glad you've got your DH and if anything positive can be taken from this its that your DH got to see first hand what you've had to live through.

I'd stay away x

cookcleanerchaufferetc Sat 22-Oct-11 22:12:16

How awful. It is going to be hard but now you have your baby, things must change otherwise they are going to treat you like crap for the rest of your life, and your baby will be witness to it. I would tell your parents that their behaviour is unacceptable and they will not stay in your house until they can be civil and respectful to you and your DH. Put your foot down and be strong. Dont feel guilty. Out of interest, how do your patents treat your siblings and grandchildren?

maras2 Sat 22-Oct-11 22:13:05

HOLY CHRIST.I can't get my head around this sort of behaviour.You and your DH. sound as if you're strong enough to wether it but my goodness what a lot of bad stuff from your parents.You do realise that this is not normal behaviour and no one should put up with it.I've seen lots of advice on here about 'Toxic Relationships' but have no first hand experience but hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me will be along soon.Much happiness to you and your baby. Mx.

InLocoParentis Sat 22-Oct-11 22:54:03

Thanks for all the messages. It helps me clear my head and realise that DH is right. We were both sitting there in tears at the idea of our child's grandparents screaming at us in front of him. We are so happy with our DS and how lovely he is. All I want to do at the moment is spend a couple of days in bed with my son, cuddling him and feeding him and instead I'm sitting here in a rage / tears, so upset with my parents. sad

They treat all my siblings the same, more or less. If anything they are nicest to me. My eldest brother lives at home with them - he has some issues in terms of anxiety / autism that were never properly diagnosed. He is in his 40s but has never really worked and lacks confidence. He is kind of like a broken man, somehow. My sister also lives at home with them and has learning difficulties. She had a low IQ throughout school. When she was 7, her teacher recommended getting her assessed for special needs but my father refused out of embarrassment and was just angry that the teacher questioned him. So my sister has never really had the help she needs and is reliant on my parents. I feel most sorry for her because she is fairly vulnerable and really needs more support. My parents ware quite cruel to her growing up, acting as if she was just stupid, My next sister is fine, lives away from them as well but does struggle with them too. They've been rude to her when they've visited her in the past as well, just walking out of her house because things didn't suit them etc. They used to criticise her a lot when she was young and made her self-conscious about her weight / self-esteem.

I think the main issue with them is control. They were reasonably good parents when we were small children but they could never accept - especially my mother - when we grew up and became adults with our own lives. They wanted to continue to control us out of fear that we'd end up doing something they weren't happy with. (They're religious and conservative). Their way of controlling is for my mother to throw a tantrum and sulk and my father to back that up with physical threats / verbal abuse. This is what they've continued to try with me whenever they have a chance but it hasn't worked since i was old enough to know their game. The fact that they tried to do this with me now, when I'm vulnerable and have a baby to look after really makes me feels so sick.

All through my pregnancy I'd dread their phone calls because my mother in particular would just say the nastiest things to me. I lost my job when I was pregnant and she said 'how are you managing to fill your time now?' and 'I hope you haven't told anyone in [our home town]. I had a miscarriage just over a year ago as well so I had extra anxiety in this pregnancy as a result and extra scans - all my mother said was 'what's all the scans for, we had no monitoring, we just took it all in our stride'. The first thing she said to me when I rang her up excited to say that I was having a boy was 'oh you shouldn't have told me that. I wanted a surprise'. I was always in tears coming off the phone from them.

This is why my DH doesn't want me to see them anymore because he sees how much they hurt my feelings. It's difficult though because if you spoke to them they'd say that I'm 'difficult' and hypersensitive and just flew off the handle at my mother for no reason and don't make them feel welcome in my home. They have a big problem with the fact that I don't see them very often and don't visit much. They know there is a problem there but I've never been honest with them why. It's partly because they're in their 70s and I feel guilty at causing them stress. It's also because I know that they'll never change and nothing I say to them will get through.

izzywhizzysfritenite Sat 22-Oct-11 23:32:33

They may be in their 70s but age does not necessarily mellow those who are venoumous by nature - it tends to compound their malcontent and as, they're never so happy as when they're spouting bile at all and sundry, you've done them an immense favour by allowing them to spew their hatred at you.

If feel that you've caused them any stress, honey, just look on it as them getting a very poor return on all of the stress they've visited on you and your siblings over the years.

As for 'seeing your dm at her funeral' that's not going to happen, is it? You'll have no need to see her as her body will be in a box with the lid firmly screwed down while she'll be on a spit between Hitler and Stalin for a few millenia.

I know this is easy for me to say because they're not my family and I'm not the one who's tied to them by blood, but you have created your own family now and it is entirely in the natural order that you concentrate your attentions on your 'new' family and relegate the 'old' one to the back burner with maybe a card at Christmas & birthdays and the odd phone call - bearing in mind that you can hang up anytime.

If you can, try to see them for what they are. Toxic elderly people who no longer have the power to hurt you and who are far from being the angry gods of your younger years that you must appease at all costs.

WRT to them telling others that you're 'difficult, hypersensistive, and fly off the handle', I can't imagine that they have many ardent listeners hanging on their every word.

They know there is a problem there but I've never been honest with them why Is it surprising that you've never been honest with them? Honey, they wouldn't listen if used a megaphone to tell them. You'd be wasting your breath as they've perfected their double act over the years and they only hear what they want to hear.

Take to your bed and cuddle up with gorgeous pfb and dh - and be thankful that, as the bad fairies turned up before the christening, they now have no power to adversely affect the future happiness of the 3 of you in any way.

And tell your sister not to book any more flights for them again unless she's planning to accomodate them.

BTW, according to my crystal ball, if they run true to form you'll get a phone call from them in the near future and they'll act as nothing untoward occurred and no cross words were spoken. But you know how to handle them now, don't you?

Childcarewoes Sat 22-Oct-11 23:49:41

OP, I really can empathise my folks are the same. From my own experience whatever you do to trying to please them will never be enough. I don't have anything to do with my parents any more.

You have your own family concentrate on them. Life's hard enough as it is without such toxic people.


mousyfledermaus Sun 23-Oct-11 09:47:17

first of all, congratiulations!
second, good for you for sending them to stay et a hotel.

regarding contact with them, it is up to you to decide. they are clearly toxic and you have to put distance between you. maybe change phone numbers for a start so you don't jump anymore when the phone rings. keep contact calls to a minimum and don't let it get personal, think they are like the person at the checkout, you wouldn't really share feelings with them.

and now, just do what you want, snuggle up with baby in your bed and let your lovely dh bring you cuppa after cuppa brew

Dozer Sun 23-Oct-11 10:18:17

Congratulations on your ds!

But sorry about your parents. They sound really difficult, and you shouldn't have had to deal with that just after giving birth. Perhaps it'd be a good idea for you to talk through stuff with a counsellor, if you can find a good one and have the cash, sounds like there's a lot of stuff to consider. Or, if you can't afford it, read up on toxic parents. Their behaviour isn't "normal".

For now, a period of space from them might be good, so that you can focus on your lovely ds with your dh.

InLocoParentis Sun 23-Oct-11 13:49:15

Thanks again for the messages of support. This morning my mother rang me from the hotel trying to do the emotional blackmail thing again, saying that she wished me well, hoped my baby would be OK and that she'd always be there as a mother if I needed anything 'however long we have left alive'. I was quite firm with her and said that I wished she had just had a conversation with me explaining how she felt or how her feelings had been hurt in any way instead of screaming vitriol at me, sulking and trying to bully me. I said I was sad that the visit had turned out so badly. Then she said 'well, who started it? That's your own fault'. So at that point, I gave up and told her that my father's behaviour was totally unacceptable and they were a disgrace ('that's just the way he is, I've had to put up with it for years'). She tried the blackmail again then but it didn't work so she said 'well, if that's the way you're going to be, I don't know what to say'. So we ended it there.

Their big issue is control. They had a little fantasy in their heads of how their visit was going to be and it didn't interest them how my DH and I felt about it. Then when things didn't go their way, they got nasty.

I think the advice here on getting some space from them is good. That's all I feel like doing anyway. I used to always jump when I heard the phone ring already. They used to phone me every Sunday night at 9:30pm and it always upset me. I used to dread their calls. So I'm free of all that for a while anyway. It makes me sad for my son that his first contact with his GPs was so bad but he'll never know. I'll be the only one who has to think about that. I still feel sick at how they behaved but at least they've gone now so I can focus on DH and the baby now sad

InLocoParentis Sun 23-Oct-11 13:52:01

Re counselling, Dozer, I did go to a counsellor around 10 years ago when I was in college and it really helped me to deal with some of the anger I had about my parents to the point where I was able to cope with having a semi-functional relationship with them.

It's something I would consider doing again in order to get me past the guilt about breaking off contact with them. I'll think about that so thanks for the suggestion.

DontGoCurly Sun 23-Oct-11 14:08:29

You can't do anything, they're the ones with the problems. Your parents are toxic. Please read Toxic parents by Susan Forward.

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