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Family Christmas issues already!(30 Posts)
I can't believe I'm having this issue and we haven't even finished June!
Since we had DC1 5 years ago we have alternated between the three sets of grandparents for Christmas day. This year it would be my DM & SDF. We had the call this week, they want to know our plans to get flights booked for Christmas. This would be the only get together this year, the DC's would all be happy enough to see them even if it's cramped in our tiny house.
The issue is DH strongly wants this year to be just us and the DC for Christmas day. It sounds nice but I am feeling like the bad person because it will be me breaking the news and having to explain why they can't come. DM is a narc, SDF is her enabler. I have been in therapy most of this year to recover from damage she inflicted and I'm doing really well.
It's not helping that DH and I aren't very close at the moment, due to his lack of effort with our relationship. I just don't know what to do, do I stick with DH and accept the fall out (it will be epic!) or do I get it over with for the sake of one day or so in the year?
Could you compromise and agree that next year is family only. ?
Then you can let people know now so there are no surprises.
I understand having a narc mum. But you will need to decide if having her in your life at all I worth it. That is very hard, especially as is sea you have only just started on the journey.
That is a separate issue though to your husband. I hope you guys can sort it out.
If you haven't already have a look at the stately homes thread. It may help
Thanks Aussie, I have been lurking on there for some time, very rarely post under another name. They helped me massively with confronting 'D'M & SDF. They literally followed the script in the op, at least I was ready with responses. I reduced contact as much as possible with going NC for a few reasons.
The suggestion of just us next year works for me. DH just gets angry, I can understand neither of us are fond of spending time with them. They have created a lot of drama for us over the years, when we dared not do what they wanted. We declined trip to see them in summer, that didn't go down well.
I don't know if DH and I will work it out long term or not, I feel let down by him with other issues.
I feel stuck between them and him at the moment.
Honestly, I'd put off your DM and have a family Xmas - she sounds awfully hard work. However, if it's your DH that strongly wants this, why can't he be the one to tell them? Presumably he has reasons for wanting this and feels he can justify it, so he should be the one to communicate it. Just because they're your parents doesn't mean you have to be the one to tell them the news, especially if it's not really you driving the decision. Do it now, get it out of the way, you've got 6 months to manage the fallout and ensure it doesn't spoil what could be a lovely Xmas for just you, your DH and the DC.
Could you compromise and they come for New Year instead and you Skype on Xmas Day or something?
Christmas planning and all the guilt trips involved is pure hell with a family like that. Loads of sympathy. Well done for accessing therapy by the way - this sort of stuff is too dark to go through by yourself.
If you can, try to set aside what you think you 'should' do, and focus on what do you want to do. What sort of Christmas would you like to have? Where would you like to spend it? Because you're allowed to have a say in this! You're a grown adult and you don't have to be a people pleaser anymore. Take DH out of the equation for a minute - how would you feel about spending Xmas with just him and DS? You may well feel guilty about not being with your DM, but is it the sort of guilt you could cope with? The first year I didn't visit my parents for Xmas, I felt very guilty but still had a much better time without them (both narcs). The next year it got a bit easier, the year after was easier again.
I do recommend talking all of this over with your therapist. My Christmas conversations with my therapist began in July last year, so you're not alone
If your mother is as bad as you say then what on earth have you got to lose by telling her she isn't coming this year?
Focus on your marriage. Blood ties do not mean we should allow people to hurt us and inflict emotional harm.
I would like a family Christmas day without travelling or accommodating others. DH, DC's and I are all very laid back. We'd probably have a PJ day and munch crap watching movies. Yes, that is a wonderful thought actually. We are aware they are growing fast, it may be last year with SDD being into it.
I'm missing DH now thinking about it, that's a good sign!
I think it is time for me to let DH do the talking. He will take no shit where as I try to talk them down (habit if a lifetime). It will be very blunt and be something extended family will be unhappy about.
We decided that reduced contact was better for DC's rather than sudden removal. I vet everything that is sent to phone before I let DC see. Very little time spent with them.
My DB is a worry for me, I don't want to lose my relationship with him. He's having a very difficult time so any fallout going NC would incur more guilt there. I've got a fair bit of FOG to work through I guess. Topic sorted for therapy next week then.
'I've got a fair bit of FOG to work through I guess'
Yes and that's understandable - this stuff takes time. You have decades of conditioning and guilt trips to undo, so go easy on yourself.
It sounds like you have a very clear idea of what sort of Xmas you would like and you sound excited and relieved when you describe it. Hold onto that thought. You can make this happen. If you think that DH would be better at the talking than you, and he's up for it, then use that approach.
You can do this!
Thank you for the support, it definitely helps to have people who understand. I have anxiety from the years of EA, I'm getting stronger and breaking away. On advice of therapist, I do things like play bingo when we tell them something we know won't be received well. I have been able to laugh with that.
It could be rather explosive but yes I am going to ask DH to tell them. I can't go back to rolling out reasons why I want to do something. They have upset him so much and have the balls to bitch about him and his 'controlling' behavior. They actually said I wasn't 'like this' before I met him, they mean standing up to them.
re your comment:-
"It will be very blunt and be something extended family will be unhappy about".
Get your DH to talk to your mother and explain that this year Christmas will be your own family unit only. No further comment to her from him will be necessary.
You will also have to ignore the "flying monkeys" that will be employed to talk at you because they will not be acting in your best interests either.
Well done for getting yourself into therapy; this is not the sort of stuff that can be dealt with without professional outside support. I think you still have a fair amount of FOG to deal with.
People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles. What has been your DB's role in your family of origin's dysfunction?. Does he have any sort of relationship with his mother these days, is he in the same country as her?. How does he get along with you?.
You may well find that the current level of low contact between them and your children may well have to go into no contact. With regards to your children I would have to say that narcissistic grandparents make for being deplorably bad grandparent figures. Its painful to watch a narcissist interact with their grandchild mainly because there is no interaction. Its like watching a re-run of a tv show you have always hated. I would not even therefore give them any mail from your mother and her enabler/hatchet man of a H. She will act differently around them as she did to you but she and her H will emotionally harm them given any opportunity to do so; they may well make one of your children the "golden child" and other the "scapegoat" for instance (like it happened I would think with your brother and you) and making children their narcissistic supply.
A good rule of thumb also if that if a parent is too toxic/difficult to deal with its the same for your both vulnerable and defenceless children. They are not good grandparents now and she was not a good parent to you as a child.
Don't forget either that you've been trained by your mother from shortly after birth to serve her so there is an awful lot of stuff to undo here via therapy.
You may also want to look at the website entitled "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" and read "Will I ever be good enough" by Karyl McBride.
'They actually said I wasn't 'like this' before I met him, they mean standing up to them.'
They hate it when you're not under their control any more. My narc parents have never been keen on my DP (wouldn't be keen on anyone though!), and I think they see him as very controlling. He isn't in the slightest, but I have changed so much in the past few years. They don't realise that it's down to therapy, not him. They also have no respect for me knowing my own mind and making my own decisions, and see me as particularly dizzy 10 year old rather than a grown adult, so it suits them to think that its all his fault. I honestly don't care anymore!
Detaching from people like this will do absolute wonders for your self respect. You are starting to realise that you just don't have to take it any more. It's a whole new world!
I like the flying monkeys comments, its very fitting and exactly what will happen. I feel for my DB as he is the golden child and yes I'm the scape goat. Also seen as they scatty or fickle one as they call me, the disappointment.
DB has pushed himself so far in pursuit of their ideal, money and stature, he's burnt out. Yet if I mention Christmas his tone becomes the same as theirs and not nice. I don't like that side of him but its not his fault, when he's away from them and with DF he's his lovely self.
I suspect DH will relish telling them, will tell him the good news tonight.
I cannot see your brother wanting to relinquish his golden child status; he would rather lose his relationship with you than be on the receiving end of her disapproval or rage. The golden child role is a role however not without price but he is unaware of that. He is really unduly influenced by his mother and stepfather.
I thought I was a lot further on until this week. One step at a time, this Christmas stuff may tip us into going NC.
I can see what your saying about the DC Atilla, it worries me. DC2 said they don't love him this week DC1 is already not fussed about them too much. I called my DM & SDF on being shit contacting them earlier in year, they apologised and made an effort for a while. Seeing DC1 light up to that increased contact was part of why we only reduced. Are we making a bad mistake and setting them up for hurt and disappointment?
You are no contact with your mother for very good reason.
How old are your children (roughly, are they pre-teens?).
Your whole family unit need to be no contact with them too. They are already starting on your children and will do them emotional harm given any opportunity. They will use your children to get back at you.
Remember, you are the parent. You're older and therefore more experienced which is the point of being the parent. The child is dependent on your good sense and protective wisdom. You're smarter than your child; use that to your advantage (such as using the distraction method). You are the final authority. This is not a negotiable issue. Your child doesn't get to decide on this one because they lack the understanding, wisdom, experience and good sense that, hopefully, you have. So don't look like you're unsure or open to quibble. You'll undermine yourself if you look anything but firm and resolved on it. Use your advantages as parent to smooth the effects of the cut-off. Over time this will all quiet down. Kids tend to accept what is.
Most of all, do not operate from a fearful mindset. Don't be afraid of your children's possible, or actual, reactions. Don't be afraid that you are depriving them of something important by cutting off a set of grandparents. You are only "depriving" them of bad things. Reassure yourself with that truth. Family is not everything. Blood is not binding. You are escaping the Mob Family. What should connect us is how we treat each other with love and respect. This is always a good lesson to teach our little ones. If any part of you is unsure of your decision then, for Pete's sake, don't show it. Your resoluteness will go a long way toward reassuring your children that you are acting in everyone's best interest. If your children know that you love them, they are going to feel reassured that this decision is also based in your love for them. They will find an added sense of security to know that you, as their parent, are willing to protect them even at the cost of your relationship with your own parent(s). Rather than being fearful, see the plentiful opportunities in this. You are protecting your children from someone whom you've experienced as being abusive; you are reassuring your children that you are in charge and are watchful for their best interests (creates deep sense of security); you can teach healthy family values which include that family doesn't get a pass for abusive behaviour; you can strengthen and reinforce the healthy relationships in your extended family. Kids are less likely to feel like there is a void in their life if you fill it with good things.
Cutting off from your narcissist parent is a good thing. No need to act otherwise. Your children will sense it is a good thing by how you behave. Model how you want them to respond and it is likely they will imitate. Don't be afraid of their questions. Kids are amazingly resilient and well-equipped to handle truth. Parents are supposed to protect their progeny. If your child doesn't agree with how you go about that don't worry. They will often disagree with your decisions for their best interests. Nothing new there. It is your job as parent to make the tough decisions. If you know it is the right decision then proceed with confidence. Showing confidence is a quality of leadership. As a parent you are supposed to be a leader. Lead...and they will likely follow.
Sorry I have probably not been clear, I have minimal contact with DM & SDF too. I keep away from personal info and fob that off, so avoid giving ammunition. I did that so I could moderate their contact with DC's. Also to avoid full on monkey's invading my already fragile state of mind. Confronting them about how they treated me had bad effect on me. All denied and blamed on me and DH, as you would expect. It purged a lot of locked up emotions and I better for it. Plus I know DM couldn't give a shit about me (despite playing mother part exceptionally well for show purposes) and SDF is way down the rabbit hole of denial.
I can see why anyone reading would think WTF,why do you have anything to do with them at all?! So glad I married into a loving family that help and support me, as well as provide great role models for DC's.
Closer to home... do you think your DH has 'walled' you off because he cannot cope with them or their effect on you? If so, do you think that if you explained how you feel and how much you value his ability to say no and mean it for both of you he would be able to lower his guard with you?
If so, then asking him to tell them no and then planning and enjoying a Pyjama Christmas might be just what you need.
It must be really draining/frustrating/really fucking irritating (delete as applicable) for him to watch you get sucked in/wound up/tearful. He may just be in self protection mode (I know have reacted like this to DHs troubles with his poisonous family). You could use this to both strengthen your own resolve and open up discussion between the two of you.
Good luck with it!
The energy you spend on managing your family would be far better invested in yourself and your marriage.
We have Christmas just me, DH, and 2 DC.
It is bliss We spend the whole day in PJs lazing around
I highly recommend it!
If you have established a holiday rotation schedule, simply explain that you forgot to put your family in the schedule. You are adding yourself in this year. And therefore this year's "home-just us" will not be a one time aberration, but to also be expected regularly in the future. It is early enough in the year that everyone has plenty of time to make their own plans (and that is their problem, not yours).
Good luck. It will be worth it!
LazyLouLou, we have a very open relationship with discussion between DH and I. He has been immense in helping me see how dysfunctional they are, for which I am very grateful. I can appreciate there are times in the past where I have (wrongly) asked him to let me deal with them. It has frustrated him but he deals with the now and then moves on, I wouldn't think he's feeling that way but I will discuss it with him tonight and make sure I haven't just made an assumption.
The more I think about the PJ day, the better it seems. We will stick with just us and they will have to accept it. Oh I wish it was as easy as typing that.
I really wish any explanation offered here would be acceptable but sadly unless its what they want, they pull the betrayal card. It can only be likened to a tantrum. Phone calls will then be made to my family about how could we do this to them, we treat them different to other grandparents etc etc. They genuinely have no interest in our feelings or what we want, been that way my whole life when I have made life choices outside their expectations. Mad how conditioning can make you feel like the bad one, anyone else and I would be saying run like mad!
Shared Christmasses are very stressful, even if you get on well with your family. Could you not do a cycle of one Christmas alone, then one with relations over 6 years?
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