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My mother complains about my father all the time: anyone else?

(28 Posts)
TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 05-Jun-15 20:36:09

Let me start by saying I love both my parents very dearly. Both are flawed, both have been amazing.

But my mother, increasingly in recent years although it's always been a bit the case, actually cannot seem to get a sentence out without some complaint about my dad.

I don't know how best to explain: it's just like absolutely any conversation can be steered to my dad , usually having done or suggested some fairly innocuous or even quite generous thing, being presented as his being shit. She does this to colleagues, relatives, my children ... And I think especially me.

I think my dad is a good guy: he irritates me sometimes, but only in the nature of fathers. Is she trying to tell me she's unhappy, and should I do something? Or just nod at the constant moaning from one person I love about another person I love? Or ask her if she realises how much she does this?

GoatsDoRoam Fri 05-Jun-15 20:49:01

I suspect that this is how her insecurities play out: by having a scapegoat.

You could ask her if she realises she does this, and tell her that you don't like it and don't want to hear it. However, this is their relationship dynamic, which they continue to choose every day, and which you cannot change.

All you can do, if you want, is set a boundary where you personally don't have to hear this stuff, or have your children subjected to it. It won't stop her doing it to him and to others, though. But only the conversations that YOU engage in are under your control.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 05-Jun-15 20:52:32

Thanks goats

She knows I don't like it: a few years ago we had too much wine and she said 'you don't like it when I complain about dad, do you: I can see you don't, and I'm sorry...' So for a while she would say 'dad has decided to book a hotel, which is very nice of him obviously but it does mean I have to do x and y and z, and I was hoping to do a b and c'. But now she just misses out the 'which is nice of him' bit again.

GoatsDoRoam Fri 05-Jun-15 20:57:15

Then have another session of wine and conversation? And then pull her up when she slips up again?

I've found that saying "I don't want to hear this" reminds my parents of the time I went NC with them, and they remember to curb their dance of viciousness and martyrdom for a little while. A very little while. Can't change 'em, though...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 05-Jun-15 21:01:08

Well, a wine session might not be a bad thing... grin

I dunno, I see both their flaws, but I love them, and it is so fucking wearying and actually upsetting and depressing the way my mum is about him. Does she actually want everyone she knows to think he's a dick? Because I suspect, if they only get her perspective, that's what they do think.

GoatsDoRoam Fri 05-Jun-15 21:19:45

Speaking ill of someone tends to reflect much more badly on the person casting aspersions.

GoatsDoRoam Fri 05-Jun-15 21:22:10

Does she actually want everyone she knows to think he's a dick?

No, I suspect that she wants to feel better about herself by putting someone else down.

I hear you on the loving them, but finding that kind of behaviour upsetting and depressing. The two things can coexist, if that's any comfort.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 05-Jun-15 21:24:38

Thank you: really appreciate your posts Goats.

m0therofdragons Fri 05-Jun-15 21:32:03

Mine both do this. When they moved house they said they'd need to get sorted so wouldn't call me for a few days. On moving day dad was calling moaning about mum as he was in the old house packing up last bits and mum was calling from their new house moaning about dad. I just smile and nod.

Amserhaf Fri 05-Jun-15 21:39:20

Well there is having a little moan and then there is being downright abusive. How does your Dad feel about it all? How old are they OP?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 05-Jun-15 21:48:46

I wouldn't say it's abusive: just profoundly, infuriatingly, complainy.

Both early 60s. Is this what happens when your kids are long gone: you just feel irritable all the time??

CalleighDoodle Fri 05-Jun-15 21:51:19

My mum is exactly the same towarda my dad. She is 70.

teatrailer Fri 05-Jun-15 22:04:41

I thought that you might be my DD posting about me. I know that she doesn't like me moaning about her dad, so I try not to.

Then he annoys her and she will have a moan about him herself, or in actual fact she will lose her temper with him. Cheers me up no end.

I expect that your parents love each other very much in their own way, just don't under estimate how annoying old men are when your stuck with one. wink

fancyanotherfez Fri 05-Jun-15 22:15:09

Yes my mum does this all the time. I just cut her off ands move the conversation on. They are massively incompatible (arranged marriage by people who clearly didn't know their own children!) and only had me and my dB in common. Now we have left home, they are stuck with each other. My dad goes out to escape the constant criticism, she moans that he goes out all the time or drags up some argument she had with his 100 year old mother before I was born. He is irritating, but only because he does things like goes on Digital photography courses when he can't work a computer, or buys crap from the £ shop all the time. He's an old bloke. Surely that's what they do? I don't know what the answer is. Its annoying and just makes me feel sorry for him.

RabbitsarenotHares Fri 05-Jun-15 22:33:54

My DM does this too. Not about my DF (he died a long time ago, though, interestingly, the only things I've heard about him from her have been negative) but my uncle. He did a lot for us after his brother died, visited once a week (he used his one free night a week to see us, rather than going out with his friends, every night for about 20 years), went on holiday with us, and came to all school events etc. Not only that, he gave money towards my sister's wedding, and gave me money when I went to university.

So you'd think he was a pretty decent bloke. But for years, until he got dementia, whenever my mother mentioned him she'd moan about something, to the point I'd never mention him as I just found it too painful to listen to her complaining about some perceived slight. I tried telling her how much I disliked it, but I'd get a hurt "I have to be allowed to have my own opinions" in reply.

Now he's in a home the complaints have stopped being about him per se, and have moved on to how terrible it is that she has to go and see him each week.

Amserhaf Fri 05-Jun-15 22:59:26

No it's not how it has to be. She sounds bored and maybe needs some interests and excitement and fun in her life. These are the years when after the children leave you find each other as a couple again and enjoy yourselves.

SleeplessButNotInSeattle Fri 05-Jun-15 23:44:10

Oh my god yes... And I actually feel quite bitter that I've spent my whole life listening to her bitching about my dad.
But she's also unable to accept she's in the wrong. After she moaned once I said "well why don't you divorce him then?" And she said "oh, no, not much point now". But with hindsight I'm sure she took that as me saying she was in the right and he was in the wrong. I didn't mean it like that.
She never says anything nice about him but it's hard for me to say anything because it will start a big argument and we all live together at the moment. But it was the reason why I was so glad to move out before.
She'll also pull faces behind his back which is not only childish, I think it's a way to get us to take sides. He can be annoying but rarely talks behind her back.
Actually, think I might ask her if she realises she never says a single nice thing about him.

infiniteregression Sat 06-Jun-15 09:04:43

OP - How is your mum with him otherwise? Does she start arguments with him over things that shouldn't really matter? Is he ever allowed to have the final say about family stuff? Is he helpful around the house but constantly gets told he's doing things wrong? Does he do more around the house when your mum's not there? If so, then maybe there's something more serious going on than your mum just complaining.

The "hopeless but nice dad" stereotype does still describe the reality of many modern families, but is sometimes incorrectly applied by abusive women as a justification for their abusive behaviour. Of course, the stereotype of the nagging, controlling wife is used by some men to justify their own lack of interest in the daily chores! Does either apply to your parents?

Sammasati Sat 06-Jun-15 09:50:51

Can you not just say 'look mum I really don't want to hear this, if you have a problem with dad then take it up with him' every time she starts to shed him in a negative light. Pull her up on every time, she will get the message eventually.

This is a kind of divide and conquer behaviour she is doing and it is not on.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 06-Jun-15 11:13:33

OP here - no, she does not start arguments. They rarely seem to properly argue, just have points of simmering bad feeling.

My dad is quite a (as my dp says) powerful individual - if he doesn't like or approve of something, you'll be aware. However, my response would be to not mind that - and it's silly stuff anyway. So if we were watching something he thought was crap, he'd make comments about 'is this all that's on?' and go ostentatiously for a walk or something. And I'd just chalk it up to individual preference and not mind. But my mum responds to, or presents, that sort of thing as a kind of absolute control: 'I would have quite liked to watch that, but I knew Dad wouldn't want to, so I missed that series because he was at home'. I think it's unfair to present him to the world as some kind of martinet, when she hasn't even given him chance to say whether he'd put up with something or not! And I think in most cases he would!

He follows a football team and has a season ticket - so quite often he will suggest they go to whichever town they're playing in, book a nice hotel, leave her to have a mooch around in the afternoon then have a meal and a night away. If DP had this hobby and we had the money to fund it, that would be a really nice way to spend a weekend - both do something we enjoy for 90 minutes, and have a nice evening out. But it's: 'well, I won't be around this weekend because of dad's football', rather than 'we're going away'.

All this stuff is sort of understandable as intermittently irritating - but it's the relentlessness. There seems to be almost no starting point in conversation which couldn't, within two sentences, get round to some fault of my dad's. If I say 'well, why not just say you don't really want to do that?', it's just: 'oh well, it wouldn't be worth it' - I think she's more comfortable in the role of martyr than taking responsibility for saying what she does or does not want to do. Better to go along seething with someone else's plan and then moan about it to everyone else than to just be direct about what you want, right?

fancyanotherfez Sat 06-Jun-15 17:37:02

I think you have it right there. It seems to stem from frustration and boredom. Its easier to blame someone else than to do something about it. I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing I can do about it though I just change the subject. My dad just goods out, and I don't blame him, because even when I ring, I'll speak to him or get the kids to speak to him and I hear her moaning to him and trying to get him off the phone. It must be constant. I know maybe he should make an effort too instead of just going out, but really, how much can you put up with?

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Sat 06-Jun-15 18:05:17

*don't under estimate how annoying old men are when your stuck with one*:

Which is why DW and I resolutely refuse to grow up. Making sex noises at phone scammers is a current favourite.

infiniteregression Sat 06-Jun-15 23:11:24

OP - it is a sad situation, sounds like your mum is stuck where she is and accepts it by not taking responsibility for her stuckedness. Would she be able (financially) to separate from your father? Is this something you would be OK with if it happened? Ultimately it's her choice but your feelings may help her make her mind up.

MeganChips Sat 06-Jun-15 23:28:40

Yes, I totally get this.

I live 300 miles away from my parents and see them a couple of times a year. Every time, I end up having a few glasses of wine with my Mum and then she unleashes.

I get to hear every detail about how selfish he is but she's a total martyr and never does anything to change it and I've realised she never will.

It's frustrating as hell and a bit depressing. I have a volatile relationship with him as he is selfish and totally entitled but not malicious if you know what I mean.

It still doesn't mean I want to hear all the gory details but I don't pull her up on it because I see her so infrequently. She's rather passive aggressive (although thinks of herself as assertive) and it will just make the visit uncomfortable.

I have stopped sympathising with her but it's still hard work.

HypodeemicNerdle Sat 06-Jun-15 23:40:06

OP this was my parents until 2 years ago, even on the morning of my wedding my mum was complaining about how bad married life was.

I had been expecting an announcement of their divorce since I was a fairly young teenager. What I didn't expect was my dad to meet someone else very shortly after he retired and to move his stuff out one day when my mum was out for the day. My dad is a quiet man and shocked the lot of us, he picked my mum up that day as they'd pre arranged, took her home, made her a cup of tea and told her he was leaving, just like that.

It was very much a case of shock but not surprise. My mum had a hard time coming to terms with it to begin with but they are both so much happier now. I kind of wished they'd done it years ago

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