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DNiece is having a nightmare with DSis - WWYD?

(52 Posts)
IHideVegInRice Wed 15-May-13 14:00:49

Family driving me utterly insane, thank god for MN for venting!
So DNiece is in her early 20s, and is back home for a few weeks to study. She's mega academic, fairly quiet, and just in general a lovely girl - is fab with my DCs, really kind to everyone. We've always been quite close and I was fairly involved with her music when she was growing up which was a privilege and DSis grateful as she isn't musical but wanted to support her. She has just phoned me in tears because DSis burst into her room while she was revising, calling her massively fat, lazy, slovenly, a let-down etc etc...and has taken her violin away until she does some exercise to shift the pounds. To put this in context, she is a size 10/12 and about 5'9" - she's not fat in the slightest! She eats very well, and is naturally very pretty - long eyelashes, gorgeous dark curls. She isn't a runner, but she goes swimming and walks or cycles everywhere, and most importantly is happy with the way she is. She is also in the middle of her medical exams and chose to come home to study to escape the mad hysteria at university. I've said that she's beautiful, and to be proud of who she is etc etc but it all seems a bit hollow because her own mum has left her doubting herself. I'm absolutely fuming and I'm going to ring DSis shortly - how can she a) be so out of line about her daughter's body and b) take away her violin, which I know she plays as a bit of stress relief (and she's bloody good at it too - has a diploma!). WWYD?

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Sat 18-May-13 11:22:29

Some of this rings massive bells for me. My mother went through phases of verbally attacking me, spying on me, saving things up to have a go at me about. It was worse when I was in my late teens, and in the first couple of years at university.

From the position I'm in now, with all this 20 years behind me, I'd say that most of this vitriol was driven by my mother's lack of self confidence. She was bright but under educated, and felt that she could have been more than she ended up as. Having intelligent daughters who were brimful of confidence and thought they had the world at their feet brought out the worst in her. It was as though she wanted to bring us down a peg or two

Most of the put downs were aimed at making her feel better - the sort of mentality whereby she could yell at me about whatever to prove that she was just as intelligent as I was despite not having done much (in her eyes) with her life.

Some of this behaviour was exacerbated by drinking - certainly she could and would suddenly turn on me if she'd had a drink or two, but drinking wasn't the only trigger. She was a SAHM without many close friends, and would sit and brood for hours. People would congratulate her on her clever daughters, and I think on some level she resented us being congratulated, and wanted to let us that we weren't all that special, hence the vitriolic shouting. All very complex and deep emotions, I've no idea how she would have been with sons or grandchildren as opposed to daughters. And interestingly, my sister didn't get the brunt of this, I did, as the more academic and slimmer one of us.

HerrenaLovesStarTrek Sat 18-May-13 14:31:51

Hindsight I could have written your post about my own mum, right down to the details of when she got worse. I agree with the conclusions you've reached about why she did it; however I do also think that my mother's opinion of us was dependent on praise we received from others (i.e. external validation required rather than just loving us for ourselves). So she resented the praise but also craved it.

I used to hear 'You think you're so clever because you're doing SCIENCE A-levels!!' a lot hmm grin two emoticons because I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it!

op like I said, I bet your DNiece is very glad she has you to speak to right now. Word of warning though: my mother would get very very jealous if my DSis and I indicated that we liked any women of her age (e.g. aunts, her friends, our friends' mums) more than we liked her. Do tread lightly and warn your DNiece not to speak about you too much (or any other sort of potential mother-figure) to her mum, otherwise she may get an earload of abuse over her perceived lack of love for her mum as well.

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