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How your relationship with your mum affects your relationship with your daughter

(11 Posts)
CambridgeBlue Mon 03-Aug-15 07:27:51

Sorry this is long and waffly but I really need to get my thoughts out of my head to try and sort them out a bit.

My relationship with my DM is quite complicated. She has genuinely tried (and still does) to be a good Mum but she is quite hard work - a combination of circumstances (unhappy childhood, loss of a child, failed marriage, abusive second marriage) have made her quite messed up emotionally - nervous and lacking in confidence but also incredibly self centred and tactless with multiple related health issues.

I know I owe it to her to be there for her as she gets older as she's done her best to be a good parent (although I don't always think she has) so I try my hardest to tick all the good dutiful daughter boxes then just get on with my own life as best I can without letting her negativity affect me although it's always there in the back of my mind and I'm sure has more effect on me than I realise.

My real problem at the moment though is my relationship with DD (13). She is my only child and we have a lovely relationship but as she gets older I find myself more and more scared of messing this up and her feeling about me like I do about my mum. I know my mum thinks she and I have got a wonderful bond and has no idea how I really feel, I couldn't bear if I was going along trying to do my best by DD and thinking things were great between us only to find she thought I was embarrassing or pushy or had let her down in some way. She's like me, too nice to say anything and wouldn't be the sort to rock the boat so I'd probably be totally unaware (although I like to think I am more sensitive than my mum).

It's all so confusing - an added complication is that DD has her first boyfriend and I feel so mixed up about that - delighted that she's happy (he seems nice) but furious at any sign he's not treating her well, so pleased that she confides in me but desperate to know everything that's going on (have such a hard job not reading her texts and listening in on phone calls) so that I can somehow feel in control even though I know that's all wrong - it's not my situation to control, if it even needs it, and I know I will push DD away and ruin our lovely closeness if I interfere. On the other hand she's still only young and I feel a certain amount of parental nosiness is appropriate and sensible - I just don't know what's right any more!

Feeling like this makes me look at it from my mum's POV and I feel sorry for her having watched me with boys who've broken my heart over the years and even now with a DH she doesn't get on brilliantly with. Seeing my DD close with someone else makes me feel so proud and at the same time want to kill him if he hurts her - I know my mum must have felt and still feel the same. I know her pushiness and constant organising are just because she cares and wants to spend time with me and because she loves me it must hurt that we don't see each other as much as she'd like and that she feels my marriage isn't very happy (it's actually OK).

I am so desperate not to repeat the mistakes of the past (although my mum and I are quite different people in some ways) and I feel like it's all spiralling out of control. I don't seem to know how to be normal and maintain a good, healthy relationship with my daughter. I've lost all perspective and feel so confused - I try so hard to be normal and rational and not mess up but at times I feel it all slipping away from me, everything I've worked so hard to make right feels like it's unravelling and I don't know what to do sad.

Really grateful if anyone's read this far and very much in need or some advice and common sense.

MadauntofA Mon 03-Aug-15 07:50:06

Hi, you are describing my relationship with my mum! The difference is my DDs are only 7&10 and I haven't quite got to the point where I feeling out of control yet! I have come to the conclusion that DM won't change and although she is v hard work most of the time she means well.i have always been the peacekeeper in the family (after my dad who was lovely but died 10yrs ago) and it is still difficult to manage DM and DSis who rub each other up the wrong way constantly.
All my parenting has been aimed at doing it differently (though we had a good childhood, just v controlled) and in some aspects I think I'm doing ok. I talk to DDs much more and hope they will come to me with any problem/ good thing to share. It sounds like you have done a fab job so far but you really need to put the brakes on with wanting to control. If you can work out yourself your ground rules for your DD and her relationship then have a good chat with her about seeing that she is entering that time when she probably wants to be more independent etc and that you understand she will want more privacy. That she can come to you with anything and get support. BUT she is only 13 and you expect ....... Without sounding too heavy handed you can say that if she oversteps the mark then you will have to pull the reins in a bit etc. your DD sounds lovely and will probably appreciate an idea of the boundaries and know that you won't overstep the mark. You can maybe tell her what it was like growing up (if she is anything like,my DDs, she will have sussed you relationship with DM and be aware that she is controlling.

MadauntofA Mon 03-Aug-15 07:59:11

I too have a DH who she gets on ok with now but at one point hated (I think because he likes to be in control) so some of his suggestions aren't always helpful!!! I do have a close friend who knows my DM better than anyone, and she is a really good sounding board when I'm not sure what to do - do you have anyone who knows your situation well. Sometimes it is really hard when you are brought up in a certain way - small example but my DDs have recently started getting pocket money for jobs around the house etc and I mentioned to my friend that I had said they couldn't spend the money on more pens as they had tons in the house - she reminded e that it was their money and they could spend it onwhatever they liked. I still get a bit of money from DM for my bday instead of a present and every year it is the same "here's your bday money, you need to get rid of that awful coat/top etc that doesn't suit you and buy a new one - I'll come with you and find one if you like..."

MadauntofA Mon 03-Aug-15 08:03:15

Just reading your post again, you sound v sensitive and like you have managed to figure out your DM fully. If she is like mine, she will be totally unaware of what you think/do to manage your situation. I wouldn't worry that you won't pick up on your DDs feelings towards you, you are probably more intuitive than you think in which case, you are on a much better starting point with the teenage years than your DM was with you. Good luck.

Loulou2kent Mon 03-Aug-15 08:12:52

I think your post will strike a cord with many mums of teenage daughters. My nan was a nightmare mum & my mum vowed never to be like her & still between the ages I was 14-18/19 we weren't as close as she was aiming for us to be. Fast forward a few years later & we're best friends & I love & adore my mum more than anyone. I imagine it's the knowing exactly what it's like to be a teenage girl & just being a good mum means that naturally your going to worry & when your daughters grown up with girls of her own she will also like you, spare a thought for you too!! X x

CambridgeBlue Mon 03-Aug-15 08:14:57

I've got to rush to work now but thanks so much for your posts, I will read them properly and reply later smile.

pocketsaviour Mon 03-Aug-15 15:13:28

OP I also have a mum like this and have recently decided that no, I don't owe her anything. I have broken contact with her now and feel so much more at peace with myself.

My mum was also incredibly invasive and shamelessly read my diaries, letters and school books. Basically if I wanted her to know anything, writing it in my diary with TOP SECRET on the cover was the best way hmm As a result I have very poor boundaries around privacy and snooping, both on my own account and other people's.

I do not excuse my mum for her behaviour - she had a shitty childhood, but instead of keeping me and my sister safe, she prioritised her own need for attention and material goods above our well-being. She is incredibly self-centred (while giving the world the image that she's a selfless martyr) and has no idea really who my sister and I are, as people. She has no interest in my DS at all and frequently made disparaging comments about him.

I also had a shit childhood, what with her standing on one side telling me I wasn't allowed to feel my feelings, that I didn't own my emotions, and on the other side my dad beating us and sexually assaulting me. But I haven't carried on that shitty parenting on to my DS, because why the hell would you??

Sorry, rant over.

You do come across OP as if you believe it's your responsibility to fix other people's problems. Have you heard of co-dependency? It's where you feel someone else's feelings instead of your own. Their problems become your problems. This book might give you some insights:
Co-Dependent No More

I also think this book might help you think more about your own relationship with your mum, and give you further insight into how to stop that pattern repeating with your own daughter:
If You Had Controlling Parents

Good luck OP. Bear in mind that the teens are difficult even when you have the healthiest bond in the world flowers

CambridgeBlue Mon 03-Aug-15 19:50:21

Blimey you lot talk a lot of sense!

Madaunt thank you for being so understanding, what you say is what I know is the right way to deal with things when I've got my rational head on. Unfortunately I don't really have a friend I can speak to about this and DH is not much help, he's not DM's biggest fan (with some justification) so offloading on him just fuels the fire. You are right about DD having some idea how things are too which is frustrating in itself, DM is convinced she and DD have this amazing bond as well but in actual fact, while DD is fond of her she also finds her hard work - the sad thing is, when she stops being so pushy and insensitive we all do get along very well sad.

Loulou my mum had a difficult relationship with her DM too, it just seems to repeat itself through the generations sad.

pocketsaviour I'm sorry you have had to go through all that sad. My mum hasn't been as bad but there have been times that she has definitely put herself before us and I don't think she should have. Her abusive second marriage happened when I was a teenager and I do feel very bitter about what she allowed us to witness although I know it's not as cut and dried as that and abusive relationships are very complex.

What you said about feeling responsible for fixing other people's problems is so true I could hardly believe I was reading it - it's as though you know me! I always had to mediate between my mum and my evil SF - the amount of times I had to sit there as a 14 or 15 year old placating the bastard then live in fear until the next time - and I do still feel like I need to do that. I am really paranoid about there being any problems in my mum's life (and there are many...) and now I realise why - it's because I feel she somehow expects me to sort them out! That's why I jump if the phone rings unexpectedly or she texts out of the blue, even though I have almost trained myself not to, and that's why there's always this feeling of... I don't know, something weighing me down.

I do it with other people as well - friends and family say I'm strong, wise etc etc because they think I know how to listen and give good advice, if only they knew how messed up I sometimes feel! I have heard the term co-dependency but didn't really know what it meant - I will definitely give those books a look.

I feel so sad that for my own sanity I have to keep my mum in a kind of mental box so that she doesn't 'overlap' with my life too much and the thought that DD would ever feel that way about me is awful. I am so determined to stop this cycle repeating itself again and be a strong positive parent and friend to my beautiful DD if I can only work out how to do that.

I had no idea parenting could be this complicated, makes me long for the simpler days of sleepless nights and hideous nappies!

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Mon 03-Aug-15 20:58:47

We try and analyse the relationships we have with our parents and how that has influenced who we are and why we behave / feel / think the way we do.

Then, recognising any 'mistakes' they made, we then try not to repeat them with our own children.

However, we're probably making lots of new 'mistakes' of our own that our children will recognise and try not to repeat with their children. And so it goes on! confused

CambridgeBlue Mon 03-Aug-15 22:24:35

I do think our generation can be guilty on overanalysing! But I don't think it's a bad thing to try and ensure that while you are bound to make some mistakes with your own kids, they aren't the same or as 'big' as those you feel your parents made.

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Mon 03-Aug-15 23:09:12

I totally agree, it's good (essential?) to be aware of how the way we were parented has affected us. I don't want to make the mistakes my parents made!

It was my husband who suggested we're probably making a whole load of new 'mistakes' of our very own. And I thought agh!! Coz he's probably right. Yet we won't see it or know what they are! Our children will work them out though, when they look back.

Suppose all I'm saying is we try our best to be the best but parenting effectively, consistently, positively, supportively - all the things we want to be to ensure our children are loved, happy, well-adjusted, world-ready - is hard. Hopefully each generation gets it just a little bit more right. grin

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