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Need advice regarding my parents.(23 Posts)
I am really needing some objective advice regarding my parents. I feel really awful writing this as they are very kind and generous people but I'm really starting to dislike them intensely and find and time spent with them stressful and draining and feel really on edge. This will probably end up really long so please try and bear with me.
My parents have always had short fuses and I can remember even when I was younger the feeling of having to tread on eggshells. They were never physically abusive but they would sometimes blow up at the slightest thing. My dad would have been worse than my mum. Now he has retired he is even worse and I just feel it spoils any time we spend with them as my DC's are starting to get a bit scared of his temper.
My parents also expect your full attention when speaking to you and if interrupted by a phone or my DC's they get quite cross. If my dad wants my attention he will not wait and literally either shout or get right in my face until i turn my attention to him. If I am dealing with my DC's he would say to them that's enough with mummy now, I want to talk to her.
They are also intensely judgemental and inappropriate when making comments about people when out in public eg. Making fun of people with disabilities in front of the DC's so they laugh. When I pull them up about it I am told to get over myself and get a sense of humour. When I said that if this carries on they wouldn't have DC's as much, I was called a politically correct do-gooder.
Their behaviour has never really upset me as much as it is at the moment, I have always just excepted that they can be grumpy at times but otherwise are loving and generous and we were never short of affection growing up. If you ask a favour of them they never fail to help. Their anger and general behaviour just seem to be getting worse as they get older and I don't really want to spend time with them as it always ends up a miserable experience.
Forgot to add that I don't live in the same country as them and would see them about 6 times a year. They are both in their late sixties.
This is probably the time to stop being 'the child' and start being 'the adult'. Shift the power-balance. It's too easy to stay trapped in your kid persona when in the presence of parents but all that does is perpetuate everyone's bad habits & stock responses and leave you feeling upset/inadequate.
Pick them up on inappropriate comments. Tell them shouting at each other or at you is unacceptable. In short, don't accept behaviour from them that you wouldn't accept from anyone else. Deal with them as you would any other difficult person. They won't like it - as per the 'politically correct do-gooder' remark - but you have to stand your ground, be consistent and be firm.
Someone will be along shortly using words like 'toxic' and recommending you don't see them again. I prefer the more assertive route where you maintain contact but swing the power-balance your way. You can do it.
Agree with Cogito.
You can't make them change...all you can do is decide what you will and will not tolerate yourself...and that's perfectly within your own jurisdiction.
I have been doing that this visit as it has been horrendous. I firmly told them the other day that I would not be coming back if things don't change as it is not a good environment for the kids. I get accused of over-reacting and causing problems and my mum gets all huffy and emotional so I end up looking like a bitch.
They really have been awful this time, I'm wondering if it's because my DH isn't with me this time. I just feel so ill with stress my nerves are wrecked and I'm counting the days until we go home.
I just feel so ill with stress my nerves are wrecked and I'm counting the days until we go home.
I think it's time to bring up the "toxic" word.
Here are some useful resources you might get comfort and good advice from:
- Toxic Parents
- of the Self-Absorbed
- When you and your mother can't be friends
- Stately Homes thread.
Good luck. You are not alone, and it's perfectly ok to feel this way about your parents.
All us assertive women 'look like a bitch' (Thinking of having that printed on a t-shirt) That's just the price you pay for being the grown-up whilst others go around chucking their toys out of the pram and being childish. What you find however is that, once the huffing and puffing has died down, they regard you with a new wariness and are slightly better behaved next time around. It's stressful at first because standing up to parents is reversing a life-time's habit.... however, when you get home, you'll be very pleased you stuck to your guns under fire. Have a or a in the meantime.
Thanks for all your advice. Not having a good day, spent most of it in tears. To top it all off my dad has just kicked the dog in a fit of temper in front of the kids.
I am now at the park with the kids as they were pretty upset by what happened. My mum has just rang my mobile to say I'm being OTT and spoiling their time with their grandchildren.
I don't think we'll be back for a long time.
Think I would be tempted to text back you need there behavior to change before you feel happy revisiting-give them something in writing to mull over before you go back
Is it your dog? I'd be appalled if I saw someone do that. If it's their dog I'd be calling the RSPCA and telling them the dog is at risk.
Tbh they sound like bullies.
Your parents are bullies, and enable each other to carry on bullying (cf your mother's claim that you are being OTT...)
No wonder your kids were upset!
I understand that sinking feeling when you realise that your parents are just not nice people, and that they do choose not to treat you and others with respect, and refuse to hear criticism of their behaviour.
Just walk away from all that dysfunction. You cannot change them, and you are playing a role in their drama by giving them someone to put down and gang up on. Who needs that in their life?
I second the posts above about setting boundaries, esp Cogito's. FWIW, I also have had a difficult relationship w my folks. Growing up we all walked on egg shells around DF due to his temper and mt DM is drama personified- she's great if it's all about her, not so great when I have needs or small children to attend to (I have 2 DC).
The most important things for me in standing up to them calmly was knowing I didn't want the same for my kids. And a lot of the time when I first set boundaries or called them on their inappropriate behaviour, it was rea
Ly hard- one time telling my DF that all I was doing was being a mother and if he didn't like that (because of his issues w my DM (acrimonious divorce), that was his problem but we wouldn't come back- they live in a different country to me too. Since then it's been much better (though unfortunate in that instance it took a stand up row to get there).
With my mum, she simply doesn't engage with them- we were in my home town last weekend and mum sat and read the paper while DC were having their tea at her house. This is while saying she loves them so much, wants DD (ds is only a baby but dd is nearly 4) to come over for a trip by herself etc etc. But you know what- it doesn't matter. Previously I'd have been so upset at my mum ignoring my DC but by lots of practice of letting both my folks know what is and isn't ok (which at times has involved saying my piece and then legging it to park/friend's house/loo to cry), our last trip was fine. Nothing had changed w my folks, but I made sure we spent lots of time w caring friends, limited time w somewhat toxic family and didn't take the crap personally.
Good luck- it's hard, but so worthwhile. And you and your DC will benefit so much from you taking the adult role in your relationship w your folks.
Ps sorry for length!
Don't be afraid of being the "bitch" and upsetting them by asserting yourself. After all, they're not at all concerned about upsetting you and your dcs, are they?
They sound absolutely vile. And as for spoiling their time with the gcs, come back with, "No, YOU are spoiling it with your shouting, horrible jokes etc."
Sounds very difficult.
Omg - so they behave like a pair of ill mannered, domineering turds, and if you express displeasure, you are spoiling the time spent with their grandchildren?!
Sounds to me like your father is a raging arsehole, and your mother is conditioned into thinking his revolting behaviour is acceptable and normal...to the point she defends it, and even joins in.
In doing so, she's just as bad.
Fuck that OP - the can't behave so stay away.
BTW... part of the stress probably comes from living in their house when you visit. Being on someone else's territory - especially if it was ever your childhood home - always puts you on the back foot. Perhaps, before you visit again, consider booking into a nearby hotel. You'd have somewhere to get away to if they start misbehaving.
Yep- hotel makes a massive difference- we were in one on our last trip. It meant I always had somewhere to escape to.
They both sound like complete arsewipes, OP.
I hate to say that as of course they are your parents and you care about them considerably. But making jokes about disabled people or fat people or little old ladies or anyone is not nice and doesn't teach the DCs to treat people nicely.
Your Dad's temper sounds completely out there and if he kicked your dog, I'd seriously consider never seeing them again because that's abuse. All of this is abuse really, plain and simple. If it's their dog as someone mentioned, call RSPCA. A dog shouldn't have to put up with such vile individuals and neither should you.
Does your partner normally draw a line then, if they have been worse this time? Either way, I'd consider keeping your contact with them to telephone calls if they always act in such a disgusting manner.
No wonder your DCs are scared of your Dad. Are you scared of your Dad? Do you think your Mum is? If she is, it still doesn't excuse her behaviour but it explains why she laughs it off as some use that as a coping mechanism. She sounds emotionally aggressive and your father, physically.
I know it's difficult to distance yourself from your own family as you care for them and hate to see them in a bad light. But you have to think about what's best for the DCs - I'm sure you wouldn't like them to start behaving like your DM and DF.
Be firm with them.
If that doesn't work, give them a warning about their behaviour.
If that doesn't work, remind them of your previous warning.
If that doesn't work, cut them out.
It seems you're on the last stage at the moment. I hope you're OK OP and hope your DP supports you in any decison you make. What does he think of all this?
Sorry this was so long :O
I agree with Cogito. You need to get out of the usual patterns of behaviour from childhood. I would just sit them down -with DH- and tell them that you are now an adult and that you want changes which are ..................
Easier said than done I know.
Wow they are unbelievable. How many days have you got before you can go home? Can you leave early?
Really there is nothing to lose in raising these issues with them. They are going to miss out on the GC if they don't change their behaviour- but it might be easier to converse with them once you have got home.
Or you could just wait until they invite you again and then explain why you are not going.
Your father demands your full attention?
Is he a toddler?
I have never heard the like!!
Kicked the dog?
Can you leave?
I´d be trying to!
They sound exactly like my parents. I second all the advice here. Not because it necessarily works with such childish twunts* who refuse to see any point of view but their own, but because you know you don't want to facilitate their behavious, and particularly you don't want their behaviour happening in front of your children.
*also known as embattled human beings with zero emotional intelligence who are discovering that their 1950s schoolyard strategies for dealing with life no longer actually work. I feel really sorry for them when I'm sufficiently far away from them (any closer and I'm too busy feeling embattled myself).
Imagine the shock of being allowed to behave like a sulky toddler all your life and suddenly being told aged 67 that it's no longer acceptable. Even worse, being told it by someone for whom you have no respect, automatically, because they're your child - because authority figures don't include other humans just like ourselves, insight only comes from people on TV or headmasters or something.
Excellent post, Anna.
OP - I feel very sorry for you in this situation and agree that your children don't need to be exposed to their frankly appalling behaviour. Since it's very unlikely that your parents will change, especially not on your say-so, since you are their child and therefore inferior and subordinate to them in every way in their heads, the only thing you can do is reduce contact and tell them, in as objective language as possible, exactly why you are doing so.
You definitely need to stay somewhere else. Although obviously this will probably be a HUGE battle - because they KNOW that it will take a whole lot of control off them, and regardless of whether they are sensitive to others comments you will probably get 'What will X think??!!'
Staying somewhere else gives you the ability to walk out with the DC if they start shouting or doing things you don't approve of/don't want you DC exposed to. I did that with my DM years ago, she kept asking me about something I didn't want to talk to her about and she kept trying to get me to talk to her about it. I warned her that the next time she brought it up that I would walk out of there, and I did. I didn't say a word to her, I picked up my bag and walked out of there. The fact that I had to walk 45 minutes to get home just made it even more pointed. Worked though!
Are they bored and frustrated? Have they recently retired or had to give things up because of illness? Lost friends due to them being ill and not able to get out as much? I know my parents can get a little like this, but they have/are suffering massively due to illness and I know the pain and frustration gets too much for them at times.
But.... one thing that I noticed in you posts is the comment that if your dad is talking to you and your DC interrupt he gets upset with that. Do you do anything to stop you DC interrupting? I understand that if it's a long conversation then your DC will at some point interrupt, but it can get frustrating trying to talk to someone who always lets their DC interrupt and almost control the conversation. My DC interrupt, and I really try to tell them it's 'grown up conversation time - unless it's very urgent'. But my DH and I do that with them at home so they don't get a sudden shock when we do that when out.
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