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Difficult/disapproving mother

(40 Posts)
mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:13:34

I've posted about this before, but I still feel I'm struggling and need a bit of help. The problem is that my mother makes me feel really anxious and unsettled almost every time I see her.

I think I know what's happening: whenever I see her, she seems to give off these quite subtle signs the she doesn't approve of how I am bringing up my child and/or of how I live my life. (I live a fairly "standard " life - nothing to be concerned about I don't think).

She was here today looking after my Dd and now she has left I feel very anxious and a bit teary. There was no fall out or cross words, but I know she is annoyed/displeased with me for a couple of minor reasons.

Does anyone else get this and how do you deal with it?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 07-Nov-13 18:16:12

Why do you need her approval? Do you feel others are judging you? Do you need the approval of others?

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 18:29:41

That's a horrible feeling.I know it too.I'd be really interested in hearing why it is that we seek the approval of others.Sorry I have no advice to offer.

Hissy Thu 07-Nov-13 18:32:57

You need to find better childcare!

You don't want this kind of person being overly involved in the care of your child.

If it's not working, get it fixed.

Procrastinating Thu 07-Nov-13 18:35:53

Can't help you either mermaid. I have this with my mother, she leaves me feeling awful (yes, anxious and unsettled) although all looks fine with out relationship on the surface. I cannot work out how she does it or maybe I should say I can't work out what is going on (allowing for the fact that it might just be me but I don't think it is).

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 18:38:00

Yes procrastinating I get that too.Not with my own dm but mil.And like you said all appears fine but I come away feeling not good enough

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:46:08

I don't know why I need her approval. Rationally, I know that I'm probably never going to get it. I'd love to not worry about it. I would say the overall I do tend to seek approval from others, but it is "managable" and doesn't impinge on my life the way this feeling with my mother does.

She doesn't do regular child care for us, but the odd day here or there. Strangly I feel much worse when I haven't been with her for a long period if time. Today I was at work and saw her for about ah hour. If she had been visiting I.e. we had spent the day together with my DC, I know I probably wouldn't be feeling nearly so bad.

Thanks for the replies.

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:49:46

Yes! A feeling of not being good enough.

Did you feel like this throughout your childhood. I really did. I would have thought that at nearly 40 I might have got over it by now!

catellington Thu 07-Nov-13 18:50:47

I have this. I thought everyone had this but maybe not?

I could write a list of nags by DM, some subtle, some not, at the end of each day she looks after dd.

Today's list - should move cot away from our bed gradually otherwise dd will still be co sleeping when she is three
Why don't we have a bookcase for dd

The vests are all too big because we get next size up, poor dd

Comparing dd to me saying when I was just older than that (she's 9m) I could walk and would go and get my potty and sit on it!!!

I am not sure if I am being over sensitive or not.

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:56:34

Oh the list of nags! But dressed up as helpful advice. Does it make you feel particularly unhappy/anxious/down or are you able to shrug it off? How do you respond to it when you mum says these things?

IamGluezilla Thu 07-Nov-13 18:56:37

Mermaid, sadly you will never get over it unless you make a really concerted effort to get to the bottom of it and actively reject every point of her criticism.

IamGluezilla Thu 07-Nov-13 18:59:32

Ways to respond: (a) see it as her problem, she can't feel good about herself unless you feel shit (b) tell her it is a really bad habit, and it makes you not want to spend time with someone so relentlessly negative (c) call her on it, ask her why she would choose little barbs rather than just being pleasant.

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 19:01:03

I don't know what it is.Will we be like this too when we have grandchildren?Lots of little things.Is it their own anxieties making us feel anxious or is it our own personalities-a combination of both?I sometimes wonder how does she think they survive at all .Much easier on second dd though as I'm more confident in my choices.

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:09:35

I suppose I think I do I know the root of it: my mother is quite a cold, unhappy person. She doesn't really value things like warmth and kindness and joy. Most things in her life are done either for show/appearances or as some sort of calculated exchange. For example, she once got up very early to give a friend a lift to the station. When I commented that it was a nice thing to do and would have been a great help to her friend, my mum responded that she had to keep her favour bank full so to speak as she didn't have many people in get life she could rely on (possible dig at me- she thinks I'm unreliable).

I would like to challenge all points of criticism, but sometimes I do sort of agree with them. For example, today she took washing out of the machine and hung it up. She commented that it seemed it had been there a while. She was right and I had hoped my partner would have hung it up before he went to work, but he didn't. This is just a small example right enough. I could try to call her on other things, but she rarely comes right out with it. It is mainly done through looks and comments and pulled faces!

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 19:14:01

Sounds very much like its her problem.If she wanted to help you with the housework great but she shouldn't have bitten her tongue.It kind of takes the good out of it.

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 19:14:18

Should have

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 19:29:11

Well, exactly. It would have been easy to say something pleasant and encouraging along the lines that its hard working and having a family and it only took a few minutes. The sort of things most people would I suppose. Or just leave it and not do it.

Just made me feel like I'm not doing a particularly good job and as a working parent I guess that kind of comes with the territory.

I just wish she would say something encouraging or helpful from time to time!

marryinhaste Thu 07-Nov-13 19:43:45

Oh this really resonates with me too. I'm a single parent with a pretty full-on job. Everyone else I talk to tells me I'm amazing. My mum looked after DD for half term (staying at mine) and I just got negativity from her - not a positive word. Some of my favourites:

DD had a tantrum. Mum told me I need to take her to see someone about her behaviour.
Mum said if she was me she couldn't go to work knowing the mess she was coming home to.
I should have coat hooks at child height as the kids just dump stuff when they come home. They are 5 and 3.
I have a terrible life ahead of me because I let the kids get away with too much.

Why do they think it's OK to critique everything in our lives? Is it because we're their children? I would never tell her how to live her life. It's exhausting!

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 20:01:11

Yes I think we put enough pressure on ourselves as it is.It is hard to be a mother whether you are a sahm or working outside the home.I think any woman who has had children would be well aware of this and try to offer support.Seems obvious to me!It must make her feel better to belittle you.

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 20:15:43

It is so exhausting isn't it! I think I'm a bit better placed to deal with it when I'm not too tired or frazzled. But it's when you feel like this you need a bit of support.

Had anyone ever had a "talk" with their mums about this. I'm toying with the idea of sitting her down and yelling her exactly how I feel. I know she will react badly and it will cause a big drama (and possibly lots of guilt for me) but it might be worth it? On the other hand maybe she's too old to change and I should try to change how I react. Although I haven't been particularly successful in that regard thus far!

I'd love to hear if anyone has tried this and what the result was?

mermaid101 Thu 07-Nov-13 20:19:53

Telling not yelling. Will make sure I don't yell. That would be the end of any "conversation"!

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 20:40:35

Haha.I'm sure there will be someone along soon who can give some good advice on how to approach it.I know, it's worse when you're exhausted.I suppose the important thing to remember is that its not you.Sometimes I wish I didn't care but its hard when its people close to you finding fault with your actions.I would like to read of find out more about why I need others approval though.

Procrastinating Thu 07-Nov-13 20:43:52

Yes, timidtessa I think it is my mother's personality and my mother's anxieties. I don't think she knows what she is doing and has never stopped to think about it. Parents in the 60s and 70s didn't seem to question themselves much, so I think our generation will be quite different. I know I think about the effect of just about everything I say (or don't say) to my children. Which might just be a different kind of madness.

I have thought about talking to mine but I just wouldn't know what to say because I still haven't quite worked out how she does it (and I'm in my 40s).

I think her method is a kind of witholding of praise rather than a lot of criticism, and no empathy either. I look after small children all day and work all night but she has never offered to help, or expressed admiration or said 'you must be tired'.

My mum does not acknowledge that I have spoken 50% of the time, and she often talks over me. I don't feel that she is critical of me as a parent, but me as a person - which I think is worse.

Procrastinating Thu 07-Nov-13 20:46:39

We probably need approval because we didn't get it as children.

Timidtessa Thu 07-Nov-13 20:57:14

I think you've hit the nail on the head.Yes dm or mil would never praise me but very quick to point out anything I should do.Different generation?I certainly give a lot of thought to what I say too.

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