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Any suggestions how I can deal with DM? Sorry long.

(22 Posts)
nellyjelly Mon 08-Oct-12 08:15:39

Short version. Mother is borderline NPD imo. When I heard that term and researched it my whole relationship with her fell into place. I spent my 20s rebelling and my 30s trying to make a decent relationship but of course she never listens, accepts resoonsibility or recognises or cares about her passive aggressive behaviour and manipulation. Anyway now in my 40s and I 'manage' my relationship with her. Keep her at a distance and keep things shallow. No talk of feelings, sharing etc. it works for me.

Parents live 200 mls away. They visit once a month to see my kids who are 3 and 7. DM is obsessed with them, more than I would expect for a normal grandmother but that is her style. She showers them with gifts, too many and I am uncomfortable with. Her get out is 'this is what grandmas do'. 'We are allowed to spoil our GCs'.

They visited this weekend and as usual brought a shed load of stuff. I had already asked them to tone it down to no avail. Most annoying DD had asked her to bring a doll but I said no as she had tons already that she never plays with. DM had initially agreed with me. But lo and behold she brought the doll and sweets which I am trying to get them to cut down on and she knows this. Also later I hear DD asking for something else and DM says'yes I will buy you it. it is nanna's job to spoil you and get you stuff you mum won't'. She said this when she thiught I was out of earshot.

I am bloody furious. I don't want my children to be so spoilt and I don't like my mother to ignore what I ask. However if I raise this I will be accused of spoilong her rleationship with the kids, being a killjoy. She only sees them once a month blah blah blah.

Any advice? Bear in mind she is not a straightforward woman who will deal maturely and sensibly like an adult with me.

Floralnomad Mon 08-Oct-12 08:22:29

Unless you want to fall out with her just leave it alone, although you could have a word with your children and tell them to stop asking for stuff. As you say she only visits monthly so it's not that bad. My DM lives 20 minutes away and is much the same ,my DCs are now 19 and 13 and it doesn't seem to have done them any harm. Life's too short to worry about things like this . You could tell her to top buying sweets though ,tell her the dentist had some issues.

Katisha Mon 08-Oct-12 08:30:50

Actually I think something does need to happen because he is continuing her non-benign influence into the lives of your children now. It all seems harmless enough at the present showering but sooner or later it will turn darker as they do not behave in the way she thinks they should.

We had an NPD attached to our family for a long time and excessive presentn-giving was one of his traits. It s form of control, of power. See how generous I am, And also, I will give you this whether you want it or not - I remember the totally inappropriate massive bouquet of red roses he sent after the relationship was over for example.

Not sure what you do though as these people cannot change. They live in a different version of reality. I think you just have to start limiting the visits unless she will comply with your wishes. And this isnt just about spoiling grandchildren, its about how she perceives you as well.

Floralnomad Mon 08-Oct-12 08:36:56

The OP said that she thought her mother was borderline NPD ,it was just her opinion ,she may not be . She may like my DM just be a grandparent who wants to buy her GC presents , some just do and don't expect anything in return.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 08-Oct-12 08:42:38

To my mind it is not possible to have a relationship with a narcissist and apart from anything else your mother is using your children as her narc supply. That is very bad for them; she will start on both your children when they are of less interest to her. She's already using them to get back at you; she is telling them derogatory stuff about you out of earshot and using gifts to show them what a good person she is and ius buying their affections. Its all about making her own self look good, your children are really of no concern to her.

You need to raise your boundaries with this woman a lot bloody higher than they are now. Have a look at the website entitled Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.

Also such damaged women like your mother always but always need a weak willed enabler i.e your Dad in this case to help them.

You do not get anything positive out of such interactions with your mother and I doubt very much that your children will as they get older.

nm123 Mon 08-Oct-12 08:43:14

Marking place!

My DM is very similar and it fucks me right off irritates me that she is so obsessed with DD, not just in a normal GP way but more than that. She undermines me, brushes off things I say, pretty much ignores anything else if DD is in the room, treads on my toes with lots of things. We have to be careful what we say to her because she's so sensitive and overreacts!

So it ends up in this weird ridiculous situation where I kind of just let her get on with it. Which makes me feel weak and powerless and disengaged. Grr.

I said to DH yesterday that I think the only thing I can change is the way I react to it. She isn't going to change and having a chat with her will just make her hit the roof. She's totally unaware of how self-absorbed she is or how her actions make other people feel. I know she does mean well most of the time but it is always about her.

So whilst I don't know the answer to this, I can sympathise. I'm also dreading doing the same to DD when she's older...

nellyjelly Mon 08-Oct-12 08:44:15

I told you a short version. She had NPD traits. Yes it is imo but if I told you everything I would be here all day. You will just have to accept my view. Her behaviour is not benign. Honestly.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 08-Oct-12 08:44:50

"I spent my 20s rebelling and my 30s trying to make a decent relationship but of course she never listens, accepts resoonsibility or recognises or cares about her passive aggressive behaviour and manipulation".

The OPs mother is a classic toxic parent at the very least. Such people too never apologise not accept any responsibility for their actions. Also OPs mother seems to have never wanted to repair the relationship because she liekly thinks she has never done any wrong in the first place.

Floralnomad Mon 08-Oct-12 08:47:44

OP does she undermine you with the DCs in other ways ?

nellyjelly Mon 08-Oct-12 09:22:11

Thanks. Will be backl later to respond. i value all of your inputs. Really helpful.

nellyjelly Tue 09-Oct-12 07:10:04

Thanks for all replies. I don't feel I can take her on without destroying our relationship. My situation sounds just like nm's. i expect I will just go along with it, try and manage what happens with the children and keep an eye on her. And swallow my resentment and anger....sad

BerthaTheBogBurglar Tue 09-Oct-12 13:01:11

What do your children get out of their relationship with her? (apart from dolls, obv!). Do they like seeing her, do they enjoy her company? Does she really enjoy their company, and see them as real people? Does she consider their emotional needs, do things they want even when it isn't what she wants? Do you think she'll adapt as they get older and want different things?

What is your relationship with your dad like? What is your children's relationship with him like?

What I'm getting at is, do you have a good reason to see them every month? Other than feeling that you ought to, or feeling guilty if you don't? And is it good for your children to see her?

mummytime Tue 09-Oct-12 13:33:41

Can you cut back on the visits? My kids have never seen their GPs who live about 200 miles away, more than 3 or 4 times a year. And their GPs are a perfectly benign influence.

Does your older child have activities she wants to be involved with? As she gets older she will have less free time for grandparents.

nellyjelly Tue 09-Oct-12 18:34:55

They like seeing her but I think after a weekend visit they are glad to see the back of her. She is just soooooo intense. If she lived nearer it might even be better as we would see her more but for less time. She does play with them and take them out as well as presents.

Trying to cut back in visits would = world war. She would go ballistic.

Not sure how things will go in future. If it is same as with me, when they become teenagers and want to be independent etc she will probably resent them. She needs to be the centre of everyone's world. She is not the centre of the children's but tries so hard for that. Hence all the presents and full on stuff.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Tue 09-Oct-12 20:14:20

And if she goes ballistic? Is that a problem? Why does she have to be appeased and kept happy? Why are her feelings more important than yours? Is she the Queen?

You don't have to listen while she is going ballistic, you can ignore her till she has finished. She lives 200 miles away and you don't have to answer the phone! You might get lucky and find she responds well to being stood up to. Or she might go off in a strop and ignore you, until she realises it isn't getting her anywhere and she decides to pretend nothing happened. Win-win situation, there.

nellyjelly Wed 10-Oct-12 08:02:12

Not sure am ready for that tbh. I still want a relationship with her (witin limits) and the children do like spending time with her. Though they are ready for her to go at the end of a visit as it is all a bit intense.

I think I will attempt to tell her not to bring gifts next time. Another try.

Is interesting. I recall her saying years ago that she wants to be 'adored' by those around her, family particularly. She wants this with my kids. I wonder why she is so needy?

FishfingersAreOK Wed 10-Oct-12 08:19:08

No idea if this will help - but you could do a 2 pronged attack.
1) Make up a mother at school who is having major issues with her ExP not listening and bringing children inappropriate things. (Make the story either something fairly true to life if you are rubbish at lies grin- or something that will "ding" a bell in your DM - eg she hates cats so a exP buying a cat for severely allergic DC. Try and get the discussion to the point where you are-agreeing with each other that it is a shocking thing to do.

2) Start a discussion with her about trying to teach the children the value of people, experiences and not things. Big her up on the fact that your DC love spending time with her and really adore how she plays with them and takes them to the park. So valuable. So wonderful. And that she would really be the most wonderful grandmother and mother ever if she could help you by toning down the gifts.......and then as an aside - "Because I know you are too wonderful not to ignore wishes - unlike my friends DP"

Hope this makes sense. No idea if any use... School run beckons...dashing

swallowedAfly Wed 10-Oct-12 08:27:21

the only assurance i can give you is that having 'normal' parents and influences around you makes all the difference.

my niece may not have the term NPD in her consciousness and she doesn't know that telling lies to your face (eg. denying having said something you KNOW she said) is called gaslighting but at 13 she is well aware grandma does x, y and z and it isn't normal. she's also able to articulate, "the reason we don't say anything is because we're all scared of her and how she'll kick off".

they see. they get it. you keep on having an authentic three dimensional 'real' relationship with them and stick to your way of doing things and teaching them to be decent whole human beings who are allowed to be good, bad, happy, sad, right, wrong and everything in between. they will be able to see what she is and what her tricks are in time honestly.

you just counter it with you and reality and normal human behaviour and relationships.

the difference is that they have us and we didn't - we had the crazy narc ruling the universe.

AgathaFusty Wed 10-Oct-12 08:30:45

I've no advice but my mother was similar to this with our children, until they got older and less bothered with her, then she was much less bothered with them. Now she barely sees them at all, yet still goes completely overboard at Xmas with a sack of presents for them both - our oldest is 21 so this is a little inappropriate now, I think. So, I can understand how you feel, and can understand that you may not be ready for the accompanying grief that would arise if you challenge her.

AgathaFusty Wed 10-Oct-12 08:32:47

SwallowedAfly - yes, our children are aware of what their GM is like. They become more and more aware of the odd behaviour as they grow older.

autumnmum Wed 10-Oct-12 11:02:41

My MIL does the same excessive present giving and I think she does it as a way of showing the kids how much she loves them. It drives me nuts too. Classic example of her behaviour is one Xmas when they came to stay she opened one suitcase and removed two huge plastic santa sacks filled to the brim with presents (easily £100 worth of plastic tat in each) and then proceeded to tell my kids Santa had dropped them off at her house and asked her to bring them to them. My jaw hit the floor and this resulted in some very tricky questions from my DD about had Nana met santa, why had santa gone to her house etc etc. I have repeatedly asked her not to bring so much, not to spend so much etc She also insists on buying my DD mountains of pink princess stuff which my DD hates and has told her she doesn't like. Last Xmas she bought her a fake fur coat shock, which needless to say has never been worn. She also buys both children presents on birthdays (so the other one doesn't feel left out). I specifically asked her not to do this as this is not something we do in our family. Next birthday she did the same and said "I know you asked me not to, but I felt I had to". I took present for child who wasn't the birthday child and said I am putting this away and she can have it later in the year. She hasn't done that since.

What irritates me the most is that it is quantity, not quality. She buys things the kids don't want and don't like and spends way too much. I end up re gifting mountains of it or even selling it on ebay and using the proceeds to get the kids stuff they really want. The kids who are only young (4 & 7) will often ask why does Nana buy us so much stuff, or why doesn't Nana know what we want? They are not rolling in cash and I'd really rather she spent £20 on one item they really want, than £100+ on rubbish.

I get on OK with my MIL (honest!) and just have to try and rise above it. I have only put my foot down about presents from Santa and extra presents for the non-birthday child. I've realised it's a battle I can't win on the excessive unwanted presents. I think you might have to do the same with your DM. Like other posters my kids have worked out that this behaviour is odd and I think find it as frustrating as me.

Oh and on the sweet front, last Xmas she bought them 4 selection boxes each! When I asked why there were so many, she said it was because she didn't see them often (so she wants to make them fat with bad teeth?) Those were put in the cupboard as well and I have asked her not to do it again, and that one each would be lovely. We'll have to see what happens this Christmas.

My advice - Pick your battles and learn how to use ebay!

nellyjelly Wed 10-Oct-12 17:50:22

Thanks all. Some great ideas.

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