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Stuck between son and mother

(23 Posts)
evilartsgraduate Fri 10-May-13 22:26:15

Moved from LGBT thread as it is gathering dust there...

My son (24) is bi and has a civil partnership. Unfortunately my mother, who is in her 80s and pretty much your typical Daily Mail reader (not that that is exactly an excuse, however) is having a hard time with this and has said some really tactless things (e.g. introducing his partner to her sister as his "friend" to which my son iciliy corrected 'actually, {name} is my spouse' and was pretty pissed about it in private later - he has a temper on him, not a help). She has said to me that it's "a shame" son has a male partner. I tried to protest it wasn't as they are very happy but sadly OH - who has been scrupulously polite, welcoming and appropriate to son's spouse, albeit I know he has his own reservations - tried to stop me, IMO validating mother's objections. I tackled him about it later but he handwaved it with 'well, she's entitled to her opinion and you shouldn't go on at her'. He's our son, ffs, and it was one, sharply worded objection, not a rant.

Further complications. Son's spouse was assigned male at birth and brought up male and referred to as male all the time I have known them until last year when son told me spouse was trans* and I have been trying hard since with preferred pronouns [hence what readers no doubt have noticed as written awkwardness of this post, English is wonderful but sometimes inflexible when you don't want it to be], to discuss with spouse on serious basis etc. Son has not yet discussed this with his father, though I have encouraged him to, let alone with grandma. Not sure if in her eyes this would make matters more acceptable or less tbh!

I'm getting a bit tired of feeling OH would not fundamentally support me/son/spouse if there was (heaven forbid) any kind of showdown. I only just headed one off when son was threatening to cut off contact with her because of Daily Mail reading and that arse Littlejohn's treatment of Lucy Meadows (see above re: temper). I pointed out that do that, and you speak to virtually no-one over a certain age except (some) Guardian readers, she is still his grandma and my mother, etc.

And of course there is older sister and her perfect, 'normal' kids with opposite sex partners and gender-perfect hobbies (boys at footie, girly girl in pink doing ballet) to contend with. Mother has not openly said it but it's clear that's her preferred second generation. Our other son has ASD, we are defintely the polar opposite of normal all through.

Sigh. Yes, I know, it's not about me. OTOH I feel I'm carrying a lot of it.

DuchessOfAvon Fri 10-May-13 22:37:45

All I can do is offer wine or flowers or both - take your pick! It sounds like you are doing everything you can to mediate all the relationships between all of those people - all of whom you care about.

It seems to me that you have two options - carry on as you are, trying to smooth paths and keep connections going - and having a good rant when it becomes too much


butt out and leave them to shake down between themselves. They are all adults - their own relationships can stand or fall independent of you. You can refuse to take sides, emphasise that you love them all but that you refuse to get stuck in the middle.

Neither route is easy - so it boils down to what you feel comfortable with.

Donnadoon Fri 10-May-13 22:49:05

No advice I'm afraid but just wanted to give you these flowers
And what I will say is that your dear old Mum is old and your dear son is young still and maybe both will chill with time maybe.

JustinBsMum Sat 11-May-13 04:15:35

Gosh, I wouldn't be too bothered about what an over 80 year old said about anything. tbh. will probably get lambasted for a lack of respect but gosh, we are listening constantly to reports in the news of molestation, or worse, by sexist men during the 60s and being shocked by it, DGM was born in the 1920s a different world, her views are bound to be completely different to a 24 year olds.
It's hurtful that she has perfect DSis's family to go on about but nothing you can do about that. I just wouldn't engage with her, and tell DS to avoid her if it upsets him. At 24 he is an adult and can decide his own response. So take a back seat in all this.

AuntieStella Sat 11-May-13 06:44:28

Your DCs are grown up. They can form relationships with whoever they like and on whatever terms they like, and that includes within the family.

Let them cut contact (temporarily or permanently) with a family member they cannot get on with.

I think your role should be to influence them to do it in a way which minimises fall out in the wider family, and leaves reconciliation as a possibility should your DC choose it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 11-May-13 07:24:23

I think you stay out of it and don't take sides. Have your own relationship with your DM and your own relationship with your DS. The relationship they have with each other is entirely down to them. If there is a 'showdown' then that's their business and that's what you have to tell him.

FWIW my brother couldn't stand my GM. There was no LGBT aspect, no major differences of opinion or foot in mouth moments. He just found her annoying for some reason personal to him and didn't want to spend time with her. It's a shame but there you have it.

jayho Sat 11-May-13 09:27:11

I think you might be me (almost) my son is bi, currently investigating whether he is trans, married a woman two years ago and has a baby with her. They separated earlier this year.

We just didn't bother telling my mum anything. It's all too complicated, she'd be a nightmare and, frankly, it's nothing to do with her or me. I did try 'managing' it all for a while but I've got enough on my plate without all this.

Let it go, there's nothing you an do, like everyone else has said, they're all grown ups.

springykitsch Sat 11-May-13 09:59:03

Gosh, I'm astonished at your stance, JustinB, that you wouldn't take any notice of anything an 80yo would say. I wonder how you'll feel when/if you're 80 and all you are and stand for is dismissed because you are old. The current generation doesn't have all the answers and isn't necessarily superior - we have gained a lot over the generations but we have lost a lot, too.

She is wrong to not introduce his partner as his spouse, but that's your son's (and his spouse's) business, not yours. HOwever, I would be on my son like a ton of bricks if he was rude to his grandmother. He can make his feelings/opinions clear without being rude.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 10:03:55

Stay out of it, he can cut contact if he wants. If his grandmother holds And expresses views he finds offensive, why should he have to listen, just because she happens to be his relative?

They are both adults, let them get on with it.

Your OH sounds more of an issue for you IMO.

diddl Sat 11-May-13 11:12:43

Why are you so desperate for him to keep contact?

I don't really get the "must put up with all the shit from them because they are old/related".

evilartsgraduate Sat 11-May-13 16:33:52

diddl: I'm not, and of course he can make his own choices (I'd like to see someone try to stop him, LOL) I just didn't want son to fire off a preremptory email (yes, he was going to email out of the blue!!) saying essentially "either stop reading the Mail or I'm never speaking to you again" with no face-to-face discussion, no "look, this is why it's hurtful to me and mine to think you might actually agree with Littlejohn", no actually telling anyone except me about the trans* issue and generally doing it all arse-about-face and in a temper. Plus my mother has an historical split in her birth family (other reasons and not her doing) and it would be very painful blow to her. She is still my mother and I love her.

Trust me, I do not "put up with shit". If I believe my mother is in the wrong I will and do say so, and so does my son . But for my part I don't really get the "hold some views I don't like and you're history" which appears to be some people's line here. Not to mention age has zero to do with it, my aunt is the same generation and was A-OK.

Surely would it not be better for her to change her mind? I don't believe that's impossible.

DuchessOfAvon Sat 11-May-13 17:54:21

But only she can change her mind - and you can't force that. You can make the case on your son's behalf but ultimately it will come down to your mother and son to chose how they are going to get along. You can't regulate either of them.

If it does all blow up, it'll be horrid for you - stuck in the middle of two opposing and inflexible view points - but probably not that different to where you are now.

It would appear that neither of them is likely to budge on their macro social/political views, so you can only appeal to them on the micro familial grounds of maintaining relationships between relatives. But blood is not thicker than water and if they decide that they can not work it out, then they won't have a relationship with each other. But they will still be your Mum and your son. All you can really do is focus on that.

diddl Sat 11-May-13 18:17:38

Well it does sound as if he should reign his temper in, but he maybe gets quite sick of people having an opinion on his relationship & bloody well voicing it to him.

"Son has not yet discussed this with his father, though I have encouraged him to, let alone with grandma."

I don't get this-why should he be discussing stuff with everyone unless he wants to?

If you tell people too much, it can often lead to them feeling too involved & giving opinions/advice.

evilartsgraduate Sat 11-May-13 18:42:18

diddl: well, perhaps it might be an idea to broach the subject with his own father, bearing in mind we meet spouse on a regular basis and at least they (preferred pronoun) might like to be properly addressed? I'm not saying "everyone", and it's not that he doesn't want to, he's just a little nervous. It's a fairly significant piece of information.

I'm finding it quite difficult to envision a family in which no-one communicates important stuff like this, but ymmv I guess...

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 18:46:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

evilartsgraduate Sat 11-May-13 18:51:37

Plus, if you are going to threaten to cut off contact because someone reads a paper with a transphobic journalist, some context probably helps?

evilartsgraduate Sat 11-May-13 18:54:04


That's very kind. I don't think I'm that great, not really, but at the end of the day, he's my boy and I'm blowed if I'm going to let people say him being happy is "a shame".

ThePinkOcelot Sat 11-May-13 19:03:52

I second that WouldBe!
Can your son not just let it go over his head? I know its difficult and he's hurt by it, but your mum is 80 and just doesn't "get" these things. My mum is 84, so I know where you are coming from. Sometimes, its just as easy to nod and smile than to try and disagree or point out their inaccuracies.
According to my mum, everything wrong with this country is the fault of all of the immigrants! I know! I just let her get on with it tbh, its her opinion not mine, but I can't be bothered with an argument. That might be a bit like burying my head, but I just think life is too short to have a row or a fall out. Hope you know what I am trying to say?x

diddl Sat 11-May-13 19:21:25

Oh I see, I got the impression that you thought he should be discussing it because his father/GM have a right to know everything about his & his partner's lives-sorry.

My in his 80s Dad comes out with some crap which I ignore because he's my dad-but none of it is specific to me.

So I think really the GM needs to try to keep her opinions to herself, as much as he needs to try to calm his reactions down?

I agree that it must be difficult for your mum-but then there's no need for her to be intentionally rude.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 19:52:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 19:53:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

springykitsch Sat 11-May-13 20:12:07

My mother - also in her 80s - would really struggle with this. That's fine, it's her generational view, strongly, deeply, genuinely held. She may say 'it's a shame' because that's how she feels about it - she finds it very hard to accept that he is gay. So would my mother if my son was gay. She would cry a whole world of tears in private and probably never get over it - but to me, and to my son, she would tone it right down to a major understatement like 'it's a shame'. Hats off to your mum for trying to keep the peace but at the same time not burying her feelings.

I am truly appalled that your son would fire off an email like the one you suggest. If he wants tolerance, then be tolerant with her. It is not his right to hold everyone to gunpoint and force them to see the world the way he does. Let him exercise some tolerance and understanding before he casts the first stone, so to speak.

Your mother's view is not necessarily homophobic btw.

evilartsgraduate Sat 11-May-13 23:59:22

didl: indeed, he absolutely does not need to tell us (or anyone) everything, I just didn't want him to allow his dad to be rude to his spouse unintentionally because he wanted to avoid an awkward conversation/spring a subject on people without context.

springy: well, as I say he did consult me first so I was able to head it off at the pass and he didn't send the email. It was in the immediate aftermath of the Lucy Meadows tragedy so feelings were running high in his house. They have had a lot of nastiness including public comments and open discrimination and a falling out with spouse's family, and he was even attacked in the street a few years back. So the anger is understandable, but he needed to approach the subject differently. He always has been a bit "explode first, ask questions later" (bit like his dad) and needs to carry on working on that.

Yeah, actually I do think that deliberately not acknowledging son's spouse in front of family is homophobic and rude, even if not intended directly to be so. I'm not giving her a pass on that one.

Harriet: yep, I think what you say is wise. She does love him but needs to remember that whatever her opinions, they are together and plan to stay that way. And he has no problem whatever ranting at me!

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