Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
horrible past with mother, how do I handle a possible future?(9 Posts)
This is a long post, sorry, and I realize I’m worrying over something that technically may never happen. Long story short: I’m trying to get pregnant (had 2 m/c’s last year) and I have a very negative history with my mother, and I’m struggling with what to do. Of course it’s possible I may never have a child, but hopefully I will soon, and this is all taking up way too much space in my head. Can you help me?
Growing up, my mother was a great one, to young kids. She was very good to us and we were well-cared for. I have a few complaints that would foreshadow the future (telling me negative things about my father, etc. that was not right), but ESSENTIALLY she was a safe and caring mother. She did get rather controlling as we got older, but nothing abusive.
My parents never had a good relationship, and they divorced when I was 20. I am now 37. If it matters, there was no alcohol, cheating, gambling, etc. involved. My mother was absolutely horrible after the divorce, she has a very controlling personality and it just morphed into something awful. She couldn’t get me but she succeeded in alienting my 3 younger siblings from our father. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and there was nothing I could do about it, for years and years I couldn’t understand it, and finally I heard of the term “parental alienation” and finally I had a name for it. Still no fix, though. In time, my two brothers came around and they saw how wrong it was, and they have good relationships with our dad now. My father has issues with what my mother has done of course, but he doesn’t bad-mouth her and just seems happy to have my brothers in his life now. My sister, who has MH issues and has always been a “mama’s girl”, has not seen our father in 17 years. He doesn’t blame her, though, and still hopes she’ll come around (?!)
My mother will still not admit she did anything wrong, and I went NC with her 6 years ago because I could no longer bear straddling a fence and pretending I was even remotely OK with any of this. I told her to face up to what she’d done to the family, or lose me. She quite nastily chose the former (saying she would change the locks on her house? which I never was visiting at that point, anyway! That is CLASSIC of her.) It hurt, but suffice it to say, my life has been a lot more pleasant since. It seemed my mother would miss me at times, calling once in awhile, I’d reiterate that if she didn’t think she’d done anything wrong I couldn’t go on with her. ALL I ever wanted was even just, “Maybe I was a little harsh in those years... I shouldn’t have kept Dad from you guys, that was wrong. You guys should have a relationship with your Dad.” and I could MOVE ON, have a superficial relationship with her, at least? But that never came. By now I’ve pretty much made peace with it.
I have always had an extremely close relationship with my grandmother, mom’s mom, who disagrees with my mother’s actions but probably wisely keeps her nose out of things. Recently, my grandma broke her hip and throughout the hospital/healing period, my mother did keep in contact with me about it, and we were able to get along in terms of speaking about a “shared person”. It made me think that maybe, just maybe...we could do this if I had a child.
When I was younger, I’d thought to myself that well, when I had a child she’d be sorry then!! I wouldn’t let her see the child and she’d understand!! Very immature thinking, I realize, and now I know that...I just can’t do that my child, it would just be me repeating the past and punishing my own child! IF my child were to never know of the horrid things my mother had done, he or she could have a nice grandma, a relationship I have no part in, simlar to a (normal) divorced parents relationship maybe? The thing is, I don’t fully trust my mother, emotionally. My mother has a thing about control, and she would not be in control of this situation, and I fear she would somehow try to take control, or worm her way into my life. Making this harder, I am a single mother by choice, so I don’t even have a partner to be a stronger coalition with! Although I am an independent adult, I fear she would try to worm her way into my life and it would be like I was living under her roof again. If she were 10 years younger I’d seriously fear she’d try to gain custody of the child over any means she could, she is THAT controlling. She would be safe with and treat a child very well, I am sure...but there are bigger issues surrounding that.
I only want to do what’s best for my future child, and I think that would be allowing my mother to have contact with it. Even my father agrees! Part of me still hates the idea of presenting a grandchild to her, why does she deserve that after all the horrible alienation she did to my father and making our whole family suffer so much?! It pains me, but I have to think of the child’s best interest.
How do I handle this?
Wait till you have a baby and then decide?
You're twisting yourself in knots over an issue that hasn't arisen.
See how your relationship with your mum is when you have a baby, then decide how to progress.
Altho from everything you say, I'd keep your mother at arms length, she sounds very messed up.
Have you had any counselling to deal with your mothers behaviour, & the splitting of your family?
Ultimately you will be in control of how much or how little your child sees his/her grandmother. You will make that decision when the time comes, and you can change your mind if you think better of it later, also! It wouldn't be a disaster if he/she never saw your mother, so don't feel guilty if it comes to that. Your child will have you, and that is what is most important.
I think you will decide further when you do become a parent yourself and realise that you would never treat your own child like your mother treated you.
You are no contact for good reason. That no contact needs to be maintained.
Your mother also has issues about control and controlling behaviour is infact abusive behaviour. That is red flag number 1. Red flag number 2 re your mother is that she has still not apologised nor has taken any responsibility for her actions. Such toxic people like your mother never apologise nor take any responsibility for their actions.
She was not a good parent to you and such people do not change. A good rule of thumb also is that if you find her too difficult yourself to deal with, its the same for your both vulnerable and defenceless child. Your job when you become a parent is also to protect your child from malign influences.
You may also want to read and post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.
I would read this link as well:-
I agree with the above post. This is a bigger issue than your child. Good luck with that btw xxx but yes, your mother has issues and they have not gone away. I'd align myself with the reality that she is an issues still, and keep a distance.
But I fear you need to do some thinking in your own mind, I feel the door to her could still open and that is a problem. As Attila said, she hasn't changed, so if you go back there in any real way, she will cause you further hurt.
Have your baby and make your real family away from her and yes it is perfectly alright that she knows about this because it is true. Just don't ever expect her to agree or change xxx
All I can say is that I had one grandmother who was a controlling, probably narcissistic nightmare, and looking back I am utterly convinced that my childhood, my relationship with my family, mother in particular, and my overall 'template' for seeing how family relationships should work would have been much better without her in my life.
I would urge real caution before letting her in at all if you have a baby. Really think about it, and DON'T start from the premise that the worst thing is not having a grandmother.
Having my grandmother in the family, seeing her attempts to control people, hearing her endlessly bad-mouthing (especially my mother to me, subtly, all the time, whilst telling me that I was 'born for her' and 'her baby') did real damage.
The effects of having that kind of person in a child's life are so subtle yet so damaging. Getting used to hearing adults around you saying they love x, and then putting them down at every opportunity. Getting used to family interaction meaning bitchiness, backstabbing, complaining, the keeping of tallies of who has seen who when and who loves who more. My grandmother made me more reserved, less loving, more critical of my own mother. She made me sceptical of the idea of family and less trusting. She undermined the way I felt about my own mother, completely, and this was compounded by seeing the way my mother interacted with her, because, naturally, at some level my mother hated her. How could she not?
Think very carefully. It isn't a case of keeping your mother at arms length, keeping control. A poisonous family member poisons just by being there.
Thank you so kindly for all your responses! Where to begin...
I have never gone for counseling regarding any of this. I guess I figured I couldn't change my mother, when I was younger I thought "straddling the fence" was the best way for everyone involved, got to keep me in my siblings' lives, etc...then "NC" seemed like the best option. I guess I always felt I was dealing with a shit situation and no one could change anything. Since the whole trying to get pg thing has been going on though, I have thought I should talk to a counselor about this. I can get some sessions free, so I think I'm going to pursue that. I'm willing to let my mother have access to a child, theoretically, but I need to keep myself (and child) emotionally safe!
I very much appreciate the obvious telling to me, "it's your child, you're in control, and you can change that later." It's like...I KNEW that, but it was amazing to hear it, you know?
It is a huge red flag that my mother has never acknowledged her previous alienating behavior. My original stance was, "No relationshio with me, no relationship with kid". What I've been doing was rethinking that as "Maybe my mom and kid could have a relationship outside of me". ie, even if she never owns up to her behavior, maybe a child still deserves a grandparent. Having witnessed my siblings be the victims of alientation, I am hesitant to alienate my child from it's grandmother. The difference is of course, my mother alientated my siblings from my dad out of spite.
However, it's going to be difficult, maybe impossible. Already with the contact we had over my grandmother, it was civil/task-oriented, yet she still tried a few things off-topic, like sending me a picture of her cat, etc. She wants to get back "in" with me without facing her actions.
SylviansAtEase, I hear you. That's what i've been through and it's very damaging. I cannot put my child through that.
I still have time to do some thinking and pursue counseling. Thanks everyone for your thoughts!
I have a bookshelf full of books that were very useful to me in understanding my disappointing and terrible relationship with my mother. Here are a few of them:
Mothers Who Can't Love by Susan Forward
Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt by Peg Streep
Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother
by Susan Nathiel
The Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmin Lee Cori
Mothering Ourselves by Evelyn Bassoff
You're Not Crazy-It's Your Mother by Danu Morrigan
My mother has since died, but believe it or not, at age 48, I still have work to do around those issues and just recently went into therapy for it! I am doing this because I have to work this shit out before I die! But seriously, though, I have four kids, and reading these books helped me clear my perspective regarding her and how I wanted to deal with her re my kids. She did have involvement with them but I made sure that I was always there and available to mediate and immediately stop any funny business. You do seem very vulnerable to your mom's toxic ministrations so it might be that until you get that under control you will need to keep yourself and your child/children-to-be away from her.
You seem like a total sweetie and I wish you the best.
Thanks so much, Zillie... I will check out those books.
I'm afraid you assessed the situation correctly. I am loathe to admit it, but I am feeling vulnerable to my mother right now. It was SO EASY being NC those years, and while unfortunate, so pleasant. Now communicating re: my 91-year-old grandmother and trying to get pregnant, thinking I can't be an asshole and "alienate" a child from her (as she's done), I am facing contact with her and it's bothering me.
I'm glad you seemed to have managed with your toxic mother. It sounds like you were very aware/hands on. That's awesome. It's interesting to hear you're going to therapy now. I hope it helps.
I also have things to work out. My mother lives in the top half of the house, grandma downstairs in her own suite. Last week I was at my grandma's, and I had to phone my dad about something. Over the phone he said, "Tell your grandma hello and that I hope she's recovering well." I felt panic rise when I repeated this message to my grandma, like mentioning the word "Dad" in that house would somehow equal wrath and punishment. My grandma just smiled and said something (I can't even remember), she seemed pleased. DUH, he was her son-in-law for 25 years and there were no issues between them, they actually got along... But yeah. I lead a pretty normal, otherwise-healthy life but the family issues clearly continue to affect me.
Join the discussion
Please login first.