Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

How to deal with Nana's abusive behaviour.

(22 Posts)
Rowanhart Sun 23-Sep-12 11:15:04

I love my Nana very much and she has lots of good qualities But she can also be really nasty and hurtful at times.

Over the past couple of years she had a massive and extremely nasty go at me about the fact that I wasn't inviting my second cousin (aged 20) new husband whom I've never met to me wedding. This regardless of the fact we didn't get an invite to her wedding. Huge kick off, screaming and shouting, tears and saying that having friends there over family was disgusting.

Earlier this year she started saying horrible things about my Dad who had been nothing but a fantastic father to me. It got worse and worse until I got upset at which point she turned on me, called me a drama queen and trouble maker. I said "Nana I love you and I'm not prepared to do this." at which point she said I didn't love her and she had been so hurt by my behaviour snd the fact I clearly love my "other family" more than her. DH then said we were leaving and told her she was out of order. Got the biggest shock of her life as first time anyone has stood up to her!

The whole thing caused quite an upset, and my mum, who does pretty much everything for my Nana has told me she will cut her out of her life if she does this again. When she has a go at me she is really abusive and will say the most hurtful things.

Apart from the big kick offs where she gets hysterical and then takes to her bed in distress for a few days there are the sly digs. These can be about my job, my voluntary work/hobbies etc etc.

I'm 32 weeks pregnant with first baby and today we had the following:

Nana: How long do you think you'll wait until the next one?
Me: I don't know if we'll have another one.
Nan: well that's just selfish. Only children grow up much more self absorbed and much more likely to only think of themselves. She'll be lonely and probably have emotional problems all her life.
Me: I'm an only child Nana and I'm okay.
Nana: Everything conversation as to be about you doesn't it? You have to start an argument. Maybe if you had a brother or sister you wouldn't have been such a drama queen. Next you'll be turning on the tears.
Me: Fine, can we drop it?
Nan: don't tell me what to do. (rant, rant about what a selfish ungrateful madam I am all the all the way to her house when I said I had to rush off and wasn't coming in to see Grandad. Left her open mouthed by side of road.)

Normally I'd go to my DM for advice but can't as I don't want to cause a final rift between them. What DM has really achieved by saying she will completely cut Nan out is me keeping my mouth shut about her behaviour as I don't want to be the cause of a huge family fallout.

Really don't know what to do and how to handle it. V upset but don't feel like I can raise it with anyone in family. Any advice?

thetrackisback Sun 23-Sep-12 11:22:08

Has she always been nasty or is this behaviour recent? If she has always been like this she us toxic if not could she have dementia? Hope you're ok it is really unpleasant when family members are like this! (())

fiventhree Sun 23-Sep-12 11:22:30

Yes. Stop protecting Nana, and think of yourself, and your child.

If she treated you so abusively all the way to her house, it is her issue and problem, not yours.

Your h has the right idea- just walk away. Tell her she is being rude again, and start walking. If your mum made less dramatic threats, and just did the same- ie get up, tell her why you are leaving in calm and polite tones, and then LEAVE, she will stop soon enough.

You do know, dont you, that she is the drama queen??

procrastinor Sun 23-Sep-12 11:43:08

I agree that your dh has the right idea. Walk away. Say that you're sorry but if she's going to be nasty then that's the end of the conversation. Hard I know.

Rowanhart Sun 23-Sep-12 11:48:30

She's always had her moments track but she is getting worse it seems.

She also picks her victims. She knows I'm a bit of a soft touch and take things to heart. Other cousins receive much better treatment and nice times. (I get chores, they get taken out for nice cups of coffee and cake) I'm eldest grandchild though and there was only me for six years.I also brought shame on family as mother was (and still is) unmarried.

One of her sons his currently getting a really hard time because he and his DW are fostering. She thinks fostering is morally wrong as it confuses the kids to be passed around. Also had tears about the baby (who they've had for four months) and the fact she's got attached. Her eldest son, on the other hand, can do no wrong but behaves really badly towards her and siblings regularly.

It makes it worse that she picks and chooses how she behaves as you realise she loves others more an you. (that's what her second son said to me the other day. We are both regular victims of her wrath).

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Sep-12 11:48:56

Sounds like no-one has been able to stand up to this awful woman before now.

Think your H has the right idea.

What do you get out of such a dysfunctional relationship now with your Nana?. Your Nana is projecting all her issues onto you. You would not put up with this abusive treatment from a friend, family are really no different. You do not have and should not see this woman.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Sep-12 11:51:25

Toxic parents like you Nana was at one time more often than not make for toxic grandparents. Was not altogether surprised to read that she has been difficult and a bully to others as well as yourself.

I would have no further contact at all with this person; you are not here to take such abuse. Also your Nana has acted like many such emotionally damaged people do i.e never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.

HissyByName Sun 23-Sep-12 12:03:27

Cut contact, you don't need this, she's a vile bully.

Put your own family first.

Rowanhart Sun 23-Sep-12 12:05:20

Thanks for the advice.

There are good sides to her. She can be lovely. Had knitted a lovely teddy for my little one and pats my tummy all the time saying I love you to the baby which is nice. Also DM says she tells the neighbours and people at church about my successes at work and good career all the time. Work and qualifiction wise I'm the family success story. She's never said anything to me (other than talk about the bad sides if career women) but it's nice to know she's proud really.

She's had a very hard life and done her best to overcome it. My mum is really her much younger sister and she raised her after getting her away from their very very abusive parents. Although DM got very angry than Nan told me all about the abuse (I was 16) in a 'take to her bed' moment when she had never confided to her own grown up daughters. It was pretty graphic and I had nightmares.

She also did lots of nice things in my childhood. I remember her bringing snow inside when I was little in a baby bath so I could play with it in the warm. She taught me how to knit and bake.

Was a bit of a captive audience today as in car but did what she wants which is basically sit, remain completely passive and show no emotion, while she tells me how shit I am.

chipmonkey Sun 23-Sep-12 13:36:48

Abusive people are always nice sometimes. That"s why people put up with the abuse. It doesn't excuse the bad behaviour.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Sep-12 13:46:48

Why am I also not surprised to read that her own childhood was abusive?. What happened to her is no justification for what is happening to you now. Abusive people can do nice/nasty very well but its all part of a continuous cycle.

You need to protect yourself from her and raise your own boundaries re her a lot higher than they are now. Put your own family and you first.

fiventhree Sun 23-Sep-12 13:59:12

Buy this book.

Really, buy this book, and then it will be clear how to handle every situation like this.

I first heard of it on mn.

It teaches you to recognise abuse or any kind of unfair behaviour, and what to do about it. You can use it with all kinds of relationships.

The authors have a christian background, as i was told on mn when i first found it, but i dont, and it didnt bother me at all. It is a brilliant book.

fiventhree Sun 23-Sep-12 13:59:52

Badvoc Sun 23-Sep-12 14:07:53

Simple question...
Do you want her to speak/treat your child like this?
I hope the answer is no.
And I hope you distance yourself from this vile, narcissistic woman.

MissFenella Sun 23-Sep-12 14:23:19

Are you able to do a really blunt 'stop being a nasty cow nana, or I am leaving' in a calm and reasoned voice? Then leaving if she continues. No fuss no arguments.

purits Sun 23-Sep-12 14:40:34

pats my tummy all the time saying I love you to the baby which is nice ... She also did lots of nice things in my childhood.

There is a certain sort of powerless women who like LO because, basically, they are easy to manipulate and lord it over. They cannot cope when the LO grow up, realise that mummy is not the centre of the universe and start behaving independently. It sounds like your nana is one of those. All they can do is transfer their 'affection' to the next unsullied generation.

DM says she tells the neighbours and people at church about my successes at work and good career all the time. Work and qualifiction wise I'm the family success story. She's never said anything to me

Of course not. She's not saying nice things because she is proud of/for you but because you are something for her to boast about.

Don't worry. You will learn to be strong. Having DC does that to

Rowanhart Sun 23-Sep-12 15:42:25

Missfenella if I did that there would be war to pay. And she'd take to her bed for at lest a couple of days. Maybe have an angina attack and call an ambulance (what she did after last big row. Mam said she did it to get out of an argument over it between the two of them.)

Thanks for the advice. Some of this is really giving me food for thought. The idea of her loving me when I was little for example Purits. Am also looking through links so thank you.

DM has said she thinks Nan is jealous because she is really bright but had to leave school at 15 while I went to Uni etc.

She's really good with my cousins who are depressed or in a rut or have some kind of drama. But I'm really happy and I'm not prepared to whine just to give her something to offer advice too.

For example one of my cousin (next eldest grandchild) had been round for dinner and was on really good form having just returned from six months in Iceland. A few days later went round to Nans and she told be how miserable the same cousin was and how worried she was about her following a meeting the same day we'd had dinner. I said she'd seemed great to me and Nan said that was because I find it hard to focusing other people's problems (DH agreed cousin actually seemed really happy.)

I think DCous was deliberately miserable for Nan's benefit. On one hand that pisses me off because she's a 73 year old woman who could do without the stress. But another part of me wonders if my relationship would be equally as good if I was miserable too and played woe is me. (not that I'm going too. Couldn't be bothered..)

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Sep-12 16:01:42

I would read up on Narcissistic Personality disorder and see how much of that fits your nana. This woman will do your self esteem no favours at all.

I think your mum has seen the dynamics of all this pretty well actually. What your Nana has done in your first paragraph is actually typical of what toxic parents who become toxic grandparents do.

As for her age now its still no excuse. She's always been difficult and crabby hasn't she?.

You really do need to distance yourself from her for your sake because she will start on your child soon enough or if given any opportunity.

thetrackisback Sun 23-Sep-12 16:10:22

She sounds very difficult but some of it is an inverted compliment too. You need to read up on scapegoating in families as well as narcisstic personality disorder. You will then get a greater understanding. However you said it yourself you are really happy. Don't let one unhappy person ruin that.

RabidCarrot Sun 23-Sep-12 16:26:17

Wow are we related, she sounds like my late nan.

Put distance between you and her, she is evil and will drag you done

Rowanhart Sun 23-Sep-12 18:31:10

Well here's me keeping quiet in case I cause a rift between nan and DM. But she's rang Mum and told her how upset Grandad is that I couldn't be bothered to pop in and see him (he's pretty much housebound) for five minutes today and that she feels like she can't say anything without being offence these days.

Apparently said to DM that she shouldn't have to walk in egg shells incase she sets me off. DM says well you can speak your mind if you want, but you have to deal with consequences of the fact you might lose people you love.

Anyway DM has rang to ask what's gone on and after long chat has agreed not to have a big row with Nan but has said only if I promise not to be alone with her anymore. (Her first sentence was i want rip her head off for doing this again while you are pregnant). So I'm only to go round if DM is there is a buffer (she would never do these kinds of things in front of DM).

Also says she thinks I should reduce contact to once a month. So one visit once s month with DM there.

She's rang one of Nans other kids to organise someone to take over the church and doctors runs I do. First Nan will find out is when someone else turns up to pick her up next week.

Apparently DCous said she wouldn't blame me if I never went back. Lot to think about.

HansieMom Sun 23-Sep-12 21:25:19

Your Mum sounds great. Tuned in to you and looking out for you, and fully aware of what Nan is up to. Maybe Nan will learn if She is nasty to people, they distance themselves.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: