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Aibu re embarrassing grandparent?

(41 Posts)
NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:23:08

This is a relationships AIBU thread, wanted a less brutal response than one often gets on AIBU so posted here!

Background: As a teen I was mortified by my mother's appearance. She was and still is very alternative. On a good day she looks ethnic/ bohemian (fine)... On a bad day she looks like a tramp. Proper scruffy. Really unkempt. Not always especially clean. Sorry to sound so brutal but it is true. I am sorry if this makes me sound shallow, but although I love my mum, she still embarrasses me to this day, on occasion. I wish I didn't care about her appearance, but it embarrasses me. I am just being honest.

We've just had a situation with 12 yo dd and a school transpires that dd is embarrassed to have her grandmother come sad I feel sad about this but also really understand my dds feelings. Dd is so caring and was mortified to eventually tell me how she feels, as she loves her GM.

Aibu to tackle this issue with GM or to conspire to keep her away from the school? I Spent years embarrassed by my dm, and dont want dd feel like I did sad

I promise I'm not mean and shallow in general, but some childhood things can stay with you so a bit if help with perspective would be good!

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:35:46


chattychattyboomba Tue 25-Mar-14 20:44:18

Noonar I don't think you sound shallow. Kids are very easily embarrassed. My mum used to dress like mutton as lamb. I hated it growing up absolutely hated it. Attention seeking... Embarrassing... I wished she could just be like the other mums! Some examples used to be white platform thigh high patent leather fm boots, teemed with purple leather mini skirt, fish net top going all the way to finger holes and hair in a sharp bob with bright red sharp fringe and the back half jet black and purple. I used to say "you're my mother! Not my teenage sister!" But she was a "free spirit" expressing herself. It was mean. Cruel almost. I was (and am) such a conservative style dresser so it was like polar opposites. Anyway fast forward 20 or so years she has toned it down a bit but I did have to have a talk to her, and tell her exactly how it made me feel. It's the only thing for it I'm afraid. At a risk of hurting her you need to let her know that your daughter is at an impressionable age and like so many girls will want to fit in and not stand out in any way, and that includes how her family present themselves.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 25-Mar-14 20:46:17

Realistically how will your DM take having this pointed out to her? If it will all kick off I would just avoid having her there by pretending there were limited tickets etc.

shitonit Tue 25-Mar-14 20:46:30

I wouldn't tell your Mum I just wouldn't invite her. No embarrassment for anyone that way.

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:50:26

Chatty, I feel your pain! It's so hard though. Your mum sounds really ott with her clothes, but somehow my mums issues are more 'personal' iykwim. I feel like I could say... No hippy clothes, but wouldn't want to hurt her by saying ' your coat doesn't look clean' does that make sense? It's so hard sad

StrawberryTartYum Tue 25-Mar-14 20:51:16

What kind of event is it? If DGM is just sitting in a big audience it should be ok? And if you and DD are well turned out she shouldn't need to feel embarrassed, and you could give DD some quick one liners if any friends are cruel about her later on. Sometimes I was embarrassed of my DM but I am glad now that I never tried to hide her and that she is a confident enough woman to dress as she pleases. Hope you find a solution!

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:52:59

Trouble is...she is due to collect her from school that day but usually waits in car down the road. I am working... It's an after school event so would have to arrange for the other grandparents to go instead!

She wouldn't kick off, but would be very hurt and act very wounded. Guilt us the currency, here.

chattychattyboomba Tue 25-Mar-14 20:54:54

Ooo it's tricky then. Could you not say "hey mum, Mother's Day is coming up... I notice you don't treat yourself to much pampering... I would love to take you shopping and see you looking really smart"... Or is that just another way of insinuating she looks like a sack of rags? Ugh I should be better at this.

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:57:07

Strawberry, alternative style is one thing, scruffy/ unkempt/ almost dirty is another. Hippy, I can deal with! Hair not brushed is embarrassing.

TwittyMcTwitterson Tue 25-Mar-14 20:57:45

Is your mum my mum? Seriously, I could have written that about DM!

Tell her! I do, my mum hates it but if I compliment her when she looks good rarely then it takes back the bad grin

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:58:05

Chatty, I have even bought her coats to smarten her up. It doesn't work!

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 20:58:56

Evees, it's the pits isn't it?

TwittyMcTwitterson Tue 25-Mar-14 20:59:33

Oh noonar! My mums hair is always a mess. Could be amazing though as it's thick and long hmm. I say to her what's going on there? Her reply is always 'I have brushed it' really enthusiastically like that's all it takes.

I'm so glad it's not just me!

VoyageDeVerity Tue 25-Mar-14 21:01:12

I don't think you are being nasty. I think you are being sensitive to your DD. Kids can be very cruel and they just want to simply fit in.

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 21:03:11

Evees , my mum won't go to a hair dresser so it's sometimes just so wild and straggly! It looks pretty when she wears it back with little slides in, but other times she looks like a vagrant. Tis odd really, the vast range of 'looks' that she has!

chattychattyboomba Tue 25-Mar-14 21:03:45

Ohhh I wish I could be more helpful! Sounds like you have tried everything!

SanityClause Tue 25-Mar-14 21:04:52

My mother also dances to the beat of a different drum. she never understood embarrassment, when I was growing up.

She has been diagnosed with Aspergers/HFA as an adult, which explains a lot!

I don't really know what to suggest to you. I have had a situation where my mother was sort of stalking DD1 on Facebook, and I had to tell her she needed to give her some privacy. I got a bit of a guilt thing then, but it did stop.

I think it might be worth a try to mention it to her, as kindly as you can.

I do empathise!

cloudskitchen Tue 25-Mar-14 21:04:57

I have a family member like this and it's really awkward. Theres only so many times you can mention dirty clothes etc without nagging and anyway in my experience it changes noyhing. Could you arrange for dd to go to a friends after school that day so there's no need for your mum to be there or even know about it? thanks

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 21:05:22

Thanks voyage. I think I might just say in a jokey wAy ' remember it's quite a posh school so dress up or they won't let you in!' ( actually, it isn't the smartness but the unkemptness that I wish to tackle, but feel that would be a less hurtful way to broach it).

HillyHolbrook Tue 25-Mar-14 21:05:36

My feelings on my Dad are very similar, dresses like he's homeless, thinks he's magic and can curse people in the street if they're a bit rude, hardly any personal hygiene, long filthy nails and rotten teeth.

From what you say, your DM isn't quite so bad, but I feel your pain. My dad wasn't only embarrassing but unhinged so I'm NC now, but I always said ever since I was young that he wouldn't be coming to my wedding or any public event. I wouldn't invite him to school plays etc and would walk 5 paces behind from as young as 7-8.

If your DD isn't comfortable, I would say something in all honesty. If she is reasonable and knows you both love her very very much, she would make the effort to smarten up a bit and make her granddaughter feel more comfortable. Take the 'you know how teen girls can be!' angle. She might be a bit offended, yes, but you aren't asking her to change forever.

TwittyMcTwitterson Tue 25-Mar-14 21:06:18

It must be the same woman! There can't be two out there! I never noticed other people in the house though!

I try so hard to get her to take pride but she won't. My mum does go to the hairdresser tho. She currently has an electric blue fringe that's down past her nose so really just another section of hair

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 21:07:07

Clouds, actually, my mum isn't really properly dirty, but she often smells of cooking smells and the appearance is grubby, iykwim sad I feel so mean sad

Blu Tue 25-Mar-14 21:12:26



Ideally I would try and give her the confidence to tough it out, laugh it off, and say 'obviously the hairbrush gene regained dominance somewhere down the generations' and to be proud of her GM's eccentricity. Because we can't always control the things we feel self conscious about, so it's a huge strength to learn to feel that confidence.

She loves her GM, focus on what she loves about her, what other people think matters not a jot.

Easy to say - I was mortified by my parents hand painted-in matt paint Morris Minor when I was at school - but looking back, I know what's important, and am doing my best to support DS to know that if anyone laughs that is more of a reflection on them than on what they laugh about.

Maybe start with yourself as I bet she has picked some of it up from you.

Or can you say to your Mum 'Oh, God, Mum, I used to dread you coming to sports day, you were so different from the other Mums - do dd a favour and put your suburban housewife outfit on!"

NoonarAgain Tue 25-Mar-14 21:12:40

Lemony, you poor thing sad your dad sounds challenging. That must've been so hard growing up.

Eeves, how do you tackle it? Do you have dc?

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