wwyd? (NC with parents)(49 Posts)
I have posted about the situation with my parents before. The back story may or may not be relevant, but it is too much to go into here, though I will if I need to.
Over the summer things deteriorated badly when I basically stood up to them and changed some arrangements concerning the DCs, which culminated in a ceasing of all contact in August. This was my mums choice at the time, but I was prepared for it and I decided to step away and let the situation calm a bit, and also, not back down, which is what I have always done in the past.
So Sept and Oct passed, and we were having a Halloween party. I invited my parents and some other members of the family. The other members came, but my parents didn't acknowledge any of my contact attempts. They wouldn't answer the phone and didn't reply to several texts. The party came and went and they didn't come.
I should add at this point that the DCs (DD1 in particular) are missing them terribly.
So DD2's birthday is this weekend, and today a card has dropped through the door. I haven't opened it but I know its my mums writing.
I am incensed tbh. I grew up with this shit, literally. Cards and presents dropping through from relatives and grandparents that I longed to see but couldn't. I really don't want my DCs going through the same. DD2 is too young to know (3) but DD1 absolutely will care if the same happens at her birthday, and tbh it will do more harm than good.
Not only that, but how dare she? How fucking dare she? She can't have it both ways. SHE chose to stop contact, she chose to not come to the party, she is the one doing this, and then she sends a fucking card like it is ME keeping her away. She HATED it every time it happened when I was a child, and my feelings were never even NOTICED because all we heard about was how angry and hurt it made her. So why is she doing the same to me and my DCs now?
So WWYD? Respond? Ignore? Give the card to DD2 and have DD1 ask why they are sending cards but didn't come to the party? Don't give DD2 the card? I just don't know.
Do I reach out again and invite them round for dinner?
I am stumped. I just haven't a clue where to go from here.
Sounds to me like she is wanting an apology but is happy enough to still do things for het grandchild.
Were they helping you out a lot and wanting to change days they looked after your kids or something?
Well you are right that she wants an apology but I have nothing to apologise for. They weren't helping in any way. I have been out on my own since 17.
They wanted DD1 (not DD2) for sleepovers, but for various reasons I had to stop that happening. She is toxic and it was having a huge effect on both DDs. There is blatant favouritism at play, which there also is between me and my sibling. I called her out on that, and I explained an arrangement that would suit us. She then flipped because she was losing control. She is toxic.
So sorry that yr dealing with this sh1t. I had similar with my mum & her partner.
Last year they didnt turn up to my wedding so that was the straw that broke the camels back. She knew how much it meant to me and we had a long honest convo before the wedding (most of it with my in tears) but no, she still didnt come.
I binned the card/cheque she sent via my sister at the wedding and have returned christmas cards/presents for my son with the clear instruction that she is to send no more.
I will be honest and say that i have and still do struggle with the fact that my mum can be like this with her own blood but she is what she is and brings nothing to my life (never did bring alot) so i would advise sending back the card with a letter explaining yr feelings in no uncertain terms. You dont want her messing with the emotions of yr children like she did with you. I wish you all the best xx
If they are not able to be pleasant to you, they are not suitable people to have contact with your children.
Kids see everything and sly attempts to circumvent you could affect the way your kids think it is acceptable for other people to behave towards them, as they get older.
I'd bin the card, personally.
If her toxicity is affecting the DCs then continue with NC - simple as that. Although you say the DCs are missing her? However if it were me then the toxicity and blatant favouritism, not to mention the obviously painful issues from your own childhood, would be enough for me to protect the DCs here. It seems as if they are to young to know why they are being affected, and are still missing her - which is a shame - but I think you need to think about the long term here.
I would continue NC and stop trying to contact her. I would also return the card, without a note.
My take on it is this:
Don't invite them round for dinner. They couldn't be arsed to come to a family Halloween party so this wouldn't be any different.
Send the card back in a slightly larger envelope with a note attached saying that you remember when this type of situation happened when you were a kid and you also remember how she said she hated it every time it did happen so you're putting a stop to it.
If she wants to wish your daughter a happy birthday or dare I say it a happy Christmas (when the time comes to it), that she must knock on the door and do it face to face but first arrange to do it through you.
They didn't reply to text messages, phone calls or the invite to the Halloween party so now you're calling the shots and this is how you plan on doing it.
If they want to visit, they contact you beforehand.
This passive agressive stuff will no longer be tolerated and you will not relive situations that were unpleasant and unkind in the past. The future for your children will be different and you're going to make it different.
slice have you opened the card? How toxic is it?
This is terribly difficult for your older daughter. How old is she? If your daughter is missing her badly, I think perhaps you have to to tackle this in two ways. Both unfortunately difficult and rather harsh, but this is very hurtful for your daughter and it might be better to remove GM completely from the situation and ensure no further contact. Pull-push, pull-push, favouritism and toxic control freakery from GM is going to be very destructive. Especially since GM is likely to 'massage' how she talks about events and your daughter might want to believe her, because she loves and misses her.
Firstly, to gently explain to your daughter that her GM was starting to do some bad things and you asked her to stop. She then got very angry and stopped talking to you all. That this isn't what you want, but that it's her choice and you can't change it.
Because of this, it's better for all of you to accept her decision. You yourself love her very much and will always be there for her.
She will grieve and ask about her, but you can tell her more of the truth when she is older. Sadly, people brought up by loving, non-toxic parents are often undefended against the distortions, manipulations and lies of control freaks.
Then don't give her the letter she sent for your daughter, but write her one yourself and send it recorded that you want her to cease all contact. All further contact will be referred to the police as unwanted Harassment. Quote the law and make it very clear that you want a total break for your family for her and that you will go to the police.
You have the power to do this. It's a hard and final decision to make, and a very difficult one; but if it's the best thing for your daughter, then perhaps that's the best.
Also, over the years quietly ask your daughter 'why do you think this person said this?" or "how do you think Susan felt when Bill said that to her?". HOpefully it will slowly give her the tools to work out why people say what they say, and to see what's sometimes going on under the surface when people have an agenda.
If there's a softer way of going about this, then that would be good. Just can't think of one myself and I think your mother is really being unpleasant here.
I'd bin it (certainly wouldn't return it - it would only inflame things further).
My stance on this is, if they don't want to have contact with you, then they don't get to bypass you to get to your kids.
Going forward, what do you want to happen? do you want to remain NC? Do you want to see them? Are they basically waiting for you to back down?
I have spoken to DH and he says we shouldn't give the card to DD2. After that, he is as stumped as I am.
DD1 is almost 7. She is being referred for assessment as we suspect she may have Asperger's. She has shut down over this, and won't talk about it, which is why I feel this card will do more harm than good. But she always had a great relationship with them and I know there is now a huge gap in her life where they used to be.
Aside from the favouritism, they are rarely toxic towards the DCs. But it was starting to creep in in very very small and subtle ways and she was coming between me and DD1, that and the fact DD1 wasn't coping with the change in routines while at their house are the main reasons why I changed the arrangement we had. She rejected the new arrangement that I proposed. Cutting her nose off to spite her face is how I would describe it.
I haven't opened the card, but I don't think it would be bad really. Probably says the usual to/from.
Going forward, what do you want to happen? do you want to remain NC? Do you want to see them? Are they basically waiting for you to back down?
I want to rebuild this, now that I feel stronger and more able to set boundaries and stick to them. But that is the exact reason that this has happened. She has lost the final shred of control she had of me. I have been in counselling since April. I am stronger than ever.
I don't think it will happen though. She will never be happy if I don't back down.
I have considered that in the long run NC is for the best. The older DD1 gets the less control my mum would have over her and my biggest fear was that she would turn on her the way she turned on me. I had hoped that by setting boundaries and being a step ahead of her I could maintain the relationships while protecting the DCs.
Burn or shred the card, or put in the recycling at work. She is hoovering.
I agree with Meer's advice about how to approach with your older DD.
I explained to DD1 that GM and me had had a row, and we were both party to blame and both upset with each other.
Then when the party came up, DD1 asked repeatedly who I was inviting, but wouldn't come out and say "are you inviting GM" so I told her I would invite GM but that she might still be upset with me and might not come. When she didn't come I said it was a shame and that I had hoped she would.
I try to bring them up with DD1 and tell her she is allowed to be sad or angry and miss them, but she shuts down and changes the subject.
My DSs used to be close to my parents when they were little, but since my dd was born four years ago, they have been increasingly toxic towards us. Always ignored her on birthdays, Christmas, but wanting to give the boys presents.
This is what I did: last year, my father emailed me to ask what the boys would want for birthdays and Christmas and asked if he should just email my eldest direct.
I said very clearly, you are not to approach my children without going through me and you are not to send gifts to the boys if you are going to ignore my daughter. So they sent nothing.
When my eldest realised he had not got anything for his birthday from them, he asked me why. I explained that his grandparents had not sent anything for his sister and so I had told them to send presents for all the children or not at all. He gave me a sad smile, but was in agreement with me and completely understood. He did not want to get a present if his sister wasn't getting one.
Do you think your DD1 would understand this too? My. DS is 10, so possibly a bit older? But I do think children are able to grasp this sort of thing.
I agree with your husband and other posters that you shouldn't give your DD the card - it would just be too emotionally confusing for her.
However, it sounds like you want to have face-to-face contact between your DC and parents, rather than NC or distance contact, as you didn't enjoy your own distant contact with relatives, growing up. Is that right?
If so, ask yourself: is it likely? What would need to happen, for contact between your DC and parents to resume? What would that contact look like? What would be the ground rules and limits? Again: is that outcome likely?
It may be that what you want is possible. Or it may be that what you want is not possible, which mean that you should then choose the next least bad option (probably NC?).
I am just very wary of saying anything to cloud the DCs opinion of them. I was poisoned against everyone at a young age, and was used as my mums sounding board for issues that shouldn't have been discussed with a child.
It has made me not want to in any way do the same to my DCs. Even if I am only saying the truth.
Shred the card, do not let your child see it.
Why did you invite your parents at all to your Halloween party given their past behaviours?. Was it due to your FOG (Fear, obligation, guilt) again?.
Your parents actually did your family unit a huge favour by not attending.
Ignore your mother's attempts at hoovering; this is done to attempt to draw you back into their own web of dysfunction. Shred the card and do not respond to it; a response/contact from you is what they want and that is their reward.
This type of scenario is precisely why I always advise adult children of toxic parents not to facilitate any sort of relationship between their parents and their grandchildren. The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different — instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to. Meer's suggestions as to how to deal with dd1 now are good ones.
These people were not good parents to you and have been toxic to your grandchildren as well. They should not see them (i.e. your children) or your under any circumstances.
You are right Rice but I want face to face contact with us all, because if they cannot have a relationship with me they won't be having one with DCs. But you are correct about my motivations.
I think that currently it isn't likely. But when my dad sees me out and about in the car he still waves, so I think there is something salvageable, if my mum could get over herself.
DH is not keen for me to reach out again, as he says I have already done enough over the halloween party. I agree, but I also think that I need to just be adult about it while my mum is acting like a toddler, and rise above it.
"I am just very wary of saying anything to cloud the DCs opinion of them. I was poisoned against everyone at a young age, and was used as my mums sounding board for issues that shouldn't have been discussed with a child.
It has made me not want to in any way do the same to my DCs. Even if I am only saying the truth".
Your children need to know the truth re their grandparents nature. Its not up to them to take the lead here; you are the parent and they need to follow your lead on this.
This except may also prove helpful to you:-
"You are the parent. You get to make these decisions without apology or excessive justification. You can assure your child that you are making a wise and loving decision for them as well as yourself. I am not going to script what you should say because you are the only one who knows your children, but you must convey that this isn't up for negotiation. This is not a decision that the child gets to make. Yes, children usually love their grandparents. Children are often quite indiscriminate in their love which is why they need parents to guide them. Not every person is safe to have around and this is a good time to teach that important life lesson. The more matter-of-fact you are, the more matter-of-fact your children will be. When we act hysterical, they will usually reflect our hysteria. If you act anxious, they will act anxious. If you appear unsure, they will push. Model the reaction and attitude you want your children to adopt.
If you have another set of grandparents in the picture then focus on them. It is rare that both sets of grandparents are nasty. Emphasize to your children how much we enjoy being around grandma and grandpa so-and-so (the decent and loving grandparents). Cultivate your children's relationship with the decent, loving grandparents. Teach your children to be grateful for the decent, loving grandparents. Gratitude is a highly effective antidote to loss. Focus them on what they have, not what they don't have. Model that attitude of gratitude.
You will find that the children will eventually stop mentioning the loss of the narcissist grandparent if you are not bringing it up. If you are talking about your parent in the hearing of your children then you are inviting them to keep talking about it, too. I can not over-emphasize the need for your explanation to a younger child to be calm, pragmatic, measured and short. Long explanations make you look defensive which will tend to peak the interest of the child and prompt him to push the issue. You can gauge what is appropriate information depending on the age of the child. If the child is older and has experienced or witnessed the grandparent's nastiness in action then you can say more.
Young children are not known for their long attention spans. This works in your favour. With younger children you have the advantage of distraction. It is easy enough to get the child's mind off onto another track. Every parent has done the distraction routine at one time or another. "Mommy, I want to see NastyGram today!" "Honey, we aren't going to see NastyGram today because we get to go to the park and eat ice cream." (Make up fun time on the spot if necessary for this distraction.) "Yay!!" sez the kid and off we go. Subject changed, kid distracted. In time, NastyGram will fade from memory. Any bonding that may have occurred will dissipate in the process of time.
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. Kidlet 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. It will happen more quickly if you follow the above advice.
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".
You will not poison your DD by telling her age appropriate stuff (which is clearly what did not happen to you as a child). Its self preservation and protecting her from malign influences.
Thanks atilla. Yes, I think I have been able to present a calm, pragmatic and confident face to the DDs. The struggle is mine and it is very much internal.
I will respond in greater detail in a bit...have to do the school run.
You can assure your child that you are making a wise and loving decision for them as well as yourself.
I think I have been using my mistrust of my mums motives as some kind of reflection on me as a person. I hope that makes sense. Your post highlighted it. I didn't trust that my mum was making a loving decision, because it was quite clear, and still is, that she only ever acts in her own interests. My children do not have the same experience of their mother (me) therefore they won't see it the same way I did. I hadn't looked at this situation in that way (though I think my counsellor has been suggesting this for months...the penny is dropping ) so thank you. That has been helpful.
The DD's have different fathers, and luckily both sets of the "other" GPs are lovely and very present in their lives. It is sad that the one set of GPs that unites them is the set that is absent.
I hate that this has the potential to hang a cloud over every birthday, and probably every Christmas too.
There is also the fact that we are TTC DC3. When I am pregnant, do I tell them? Do I not?
Do not tell them about any future pregnancy and do not let your parents have any more contact with any of your children.
Their other grandparents are nice, concentrate your efforts on them.
I understand what you are saying Attila, I just don't know how to reconcile this within myself. How to finally accept, deep down, that there is no future left in it.
I already have no contact with my paternal GPs. My maternal GPs are dead. I have sporadic contact with one aunt out of 5 aunts and uncles. I was born into a huge family, and now I am left with nothing to show for it, and the most hurtful thing of all is that they are all as toxic as each other and are under the impression that I am the one who is at fault.
I know I am not. I have explored that with the counsellor. But when so many people have an issue with you, you begin to look at yourself and blame yourself and believe that the problem lies with you. I have spent my life being pulled every which way, but nothing I did or didn't do was ever good enough, and as if that hadn't damaged me, now I have been shunned again. This time by my parents.
Day to day I can deal with it. But I can't face the cards dropping through the door on every happy occasion.
Its not you, its them.
You have to grieve for the relationship you should have had with your parents rather than the one you got. There is really no future left in any relationship with your parents. They are not going to play nice or be nice.
Ignore the cards and shred them, these will not have any power if you do that.
Many people who side with toxic people are flying monkeys and are acting in their own self interest rather than yours. They have their own reasons for wanting you to still play your role in the overall dysfunction and have been manipulated further to believe in the lies peddled by the toxic people.
If all your family of origin are toxic then it is really best to keep the hell away from all of them. It will do you no good at all to be at all dragged back in. You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, I argue that family are no different.
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