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Helping DM come to terms with no contact

(145 Posts)
GinThief Wed 09-Dec-15 00:04:09

I am hoping you might be able to help me with coping strategies / ideas for my mum.

My sister cut ties with my parents a few years ago. Its now been a year since she went completely no contact.

I see sister once a year due to distance but keep in contact when we can. We've never been close and I am happy with this setup. We both have busy lives.

My mum just cannot accept her daughter's decison, now very depressed & whenever we talk it's "why" "what did I do" etc. I've had the same conversation with my mum at least once a week. It's now making me resent phoning her/putting of calling as it's the same questions everytime.

She's had counselling which didn't really help as all she came away from it was she needed to accept situation which she has said she can't / won't.

I've been sending her magazines, thinking of you cards, taking her out for lunch etc to cheer her up. Deep down I know she doesn't want to see me she wants to see my sister. I can't make that happen so are there any coping tips from other parents who are now no contact with their children? how do I make my mum see there is a whole life out there for her away from her adult children with our own lives?

ThisIsStillFolkGirl Wed 09-Dec-15 07:14:46

You can't. Does this type of self indulgence whave anything to do with why your sister is nc with her?

She knows there's a whole life out there, she's not stupid. She's enjoying you running around and fussing over her, buying her cards and treating her like a victim.

VulcanWoman Wed 09-Dec-15 07:20:30

Yes, I agree, you could do with stepping back too. She does sound selfish. It's not your job or responsibility to sort you mums life out, she's a grown adult. Best wishes.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 09-Dec-15 08:04:30

Do you yourself know why your sister (to whom you are not close yourself) made the no contact decision?. Is she also older or younger than you?.

I think your mother knows exactly why your sister is estranged from her but does not want to admit any part or responsibility for this happening. Perhaps your parents still think of her as being "difficult", "too sensitive" etc.

In your particular circumstance I can only advise you as the other respondents have done i.e. step right back.

robinofsherwood Wed 09-Dec-15 09:12:12

Not every parent who's child is nc is toxic and that's part of the pain and humiliation. Ten years ago, my SIL had a row with her 16 year old daughter and threw her out. My MIL stepped in helping her granddaughter find somewhere to live, giving her support etc. SIL gave MIL a choice - cut granddaughter off or she'd go nc. Obviously, MIL refused to abandon granddaughter. When GD and her mum reconciled, it was conditional on GD going nc with MIL, which she did for 5 years.

DH is also now nc with his sister because she kept trying to use him to hurt MIL.

My MIL was devastated and ended up in counselling. It's not self indulgence. When one of the people you love most in the world decides their life is better without you in it of course it hurts.

OP the things that have helped my MIL are: understanding why. That's a huge part of the issue. What's wrong with her that her own daughter doesn't want her. That's also why she was needier for a while - her fundamental relationship had been broken, she was testing the others to see if it snapped.

Finding a place in the community that's hers as she is now. My mum was talking recently about how she defines herself now she doesn't have a go to - she's not a 'x job', she's not a parent of at home children. MIL volunteers.

Essentially, I'd treat it like any other reason for grief / depression. After years, you maywell need to set boundaries about how often you talk about it.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 09-Dec-15 09:40:08

I think so much is dependent on the reason, but I imagine it is similar to a bereavement except that there is always hope of a return which must make it extremely hard to move on from. I think maybe you need to stop doing the "thinking of you" tactics which are allowing her to wallow (for want of a better word) and doing other things together, maybe some sort of activity or hobby?

GinThief Wed 09-Dec-15 11:34:46

Thank you for replies, I do indeed need to take a step back. The problem is my mum calls me at least a few times a week. If I don't answer the phone I then get text messages asking where I am. I work from home so she knows where I will be. Frustratingly saying I am working doesn't stop her phoning.

I try steering the phone calls to any other topic but she always brings it back to my sister. e.g. this mornings phone call - talking about my Christmas shopping trip yesterday how nice it was etc, that led to when she was out Christmas shopping on her own she saw mums/daughters shopping together, cue how much she misses my sister. I think you are right, it is almost as if she is grieving a lost child.

My mum is not toxic but has traditional/older type views, very hard work, quite negative, high expectations and compares her life to everyone else. I think my sister (who is younger than me) needed to step away from it all. Not 100% sure, it's general chat when we meet up. I went to uni, moved away and now only see parents a few times a year. Younger sister stayed at home for longer so had a few extra years living with parents. I do know there were lots of arguments/disagreements which alienated sister from parents.

Sadly I agree with my sisters point of view to most things and do stick up for her when mum is talking to me. I try and stay neutral where possible but sometimes feel I have to give me own view which happens to match my sisters. I have struggled with speaking up as I don't like to rock the boat just want a quiet life but do feel as an adult I am allowed to disagree with my mum's views on matters.

How do I set boundaries without upsetting her? I want to step back as it's now taking over my own life. I live along way from my parents so phone calls are main point of contact.

M48294Y Wed 09-Dec-15 11:44:47

This is such a sad situation!

Whatever the reason for your sister deciding to cut your mother out of her life, it is obviously a major thing for a parent to have to endure. Worse than divorce or bereavement, surely?

I can quite understand why and how you are losing patience with your Mum. I truly think the only way to deal with this is to speak to her honestly about how alienating her behaviour is becoming to you. You don't have to help her cope, you need to draw a line under her expectations that you are there to help her cope, or to mediate with your sister.

There is an unhealthy amount of "not speaking" going on in your family. Shirking the issues for an easy life just isn't working, so be brave and tell your Mum exactly the issue (such as expecting you to talk when you are working) and tell her you will stop answering her calls if she can't ever speak to you without going over the problem with your sister.

She needs private counselling or therapy to help her to come to terms with the loss of this most important relationship.

M48294Y Wed 09-Dec-15 11:45:36

It is grieving for a loss, definitely.

ILiveAtTheBeach Wed 09-Dec-15 12:16:57

I think you are barking up the wrong tree. Instead of helping your Mum come to terms with this, you need to give your Sister a bloody shake! She is being exceptionally cruel. Does she realise how bad your Mum has taken it? Maybe she doesn't? You have to tell her and ask her to reconcile. She doesn't have to see her all the time. Just a minimum amount on contact that would take no real effort on her part, but would help your Mum to start living again. Your Mum won't be here forever. You may only have a few years left. Honestly, some people can be sooo cruel, I could cry.

VulcanWoman Wed 09-Dec-15 13:52:26

ILive Are you in the same position.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 09-Dec-15 14:07:19

From the way you have described your mum it does sound as though your sister's treatment of her is disproportionately harsh. Does your sister have any idea of the devastation her actions have caused? Is there really no scope for a bit of reconciliation?

VulcanWoman Wed 09-Dec-15 14:12:28

What other reason would a child distance themselves from their parent apart from they're being a pain in the butt. confused

MarianneSolong Wed 09-Dec-15 14:21:57

As someone who has very little contact with her mother, I'd question whether the poster's sister is cruel.

Both my brothers can cope with my mother. I can't. This is partly because she backed up my Dad who was physically abusive.

However, because my mother is 'traditional' 'old-fashioned' etc, she just blames me for the physical abuse. I provoked this through not doing as I was told. So I deserved to get repeatedly hit across the head as a teenager.

My mother is absolutely clear in her own mind that she and my father did their best and tried to be good parents. So there is no room for dialogue.
For dialogue there has to be the possibility of mutual understanding. I have tried in the past, and the understanding isn't there. It's too late now.

I've just pretty much withdrawn from contact - though am polite in a sort of reserved way on occasions when it is necessary to meet.

MsMims Wed 09-Dec-15 14:26:05

I agree with whoknows your mum must be experiencing a feeling of bereavement, but one that is so hard to move on from as she will probably always hope for a reconciliation. I actually think in some ways it must be harder than an actual bereavement. With that in mind, I think it's quite normal for her to still be so affected a year on.

Is she retired? Making a support network for herself with other people through a hobby/ volunteering role would allow her to offload to someone else, rather than always you. It would also fill her time more, hopefully leaving her with less time to dwell.

R.e. your boundaries, all you could really do is set times for her to call and ignore her inbetween but that seems cruel. I do feel sorry for her - it sounds like the situation is making her quite unwell.

Dollius01 Wed 09-Dec-15 14:28:53

Nobody has the right to coerce anyone else into a relationship they do not want to have, so please do not "give your sister a shake". People don't just cut contact with their parents willy nilly. If you can't cope with your mothers behaviour, perhaps you should get some distance of your own.

MyFavouriteClintonisGeorge Wed 09-Dec-15 14:34:55

A year isn't that long, really. I am not surprised your mother is still affected by it, although the going over and over it in the same way is a worrying sign that she is not gaining any understanding or acceptance.

How you deal with it is, I suppose, to set and enforce healthy boundaries to protect yourself. E.g., the phone calls. Ask her to phone during specific periods. Ignore the phone if she rings at other times. This will feel awful, but ultimately be worth it. You will probably feel a lot better about talking to your mother when you aren't being taken away from work and feeling intruded upon.

However, I think it is a bit hard to expect her not to talk about it. It is such a massive thing, she is bound to refer to it regularly. I suppose the key is actually to stop feeling as though you have to respond, or advise. Let her speak. You can just change the subject, or say 'I know you find it hard' and move on. The only time you probably need to say more is if asked a direct question about it. Then I suppose you can simply tell your mother you don't feel you can really say anything more or different from what you've said before or even that you don't want to be piggy in the middle and would rather not get into it.

amarmai Wed 09-Dec-15 14:44:32

since xmas is known for being a harder time for those of us who have to live with difficult realties, i hope you do not choose to do the same as your sister ,op. And no vw, i am not in this sit before you nastily ask. A death you have to accept - no returning from that. Op i think you need to be more frank with your mother re what is better for you and also if you know why your sister made the decision to pretend your mother is dead, you shd tell her.

Deathclawswouldrunfrommykids Wed 09-Dec-15 14:48:28

It's not fair for posters to say that your DSis is being cruel. It may seem that way from the outside, but you never know exactly what happens behind closed doors - even between your own family.

OP, you have an insight as you lived with them all before uni and I don't get the impression that you disagree with your DSis. I'm guessing here, but think that it's possible that (probably during an argument) your DM said something along the lines of "if that's the way you feel I don't understand why we even talk" & your DSis jumped on the chance to avoid the constant criticism.

But then, maybe I'm projecting because that's exactly what I did!

Preminstreltension Wed 09-Dec-15 14:56:32

What other reason would a child distance themselves from their parent apart from they're being a pain in the butt

Maybe the child is a pain in the butt? Presumably toxic parents started out as toxic people who were toxic as children. I'm not saying that's the situation here but it's odd to start from the point of view that the parent is naturally always the difficult one.

And of course it's not "self indulgent" to grieve for this as someone has said upthread. I'd be absolutely devastated. It would destroy me. That's not a comment on who is right and wrong in this situation. It's just an observation - some posters on here may have rightly gone NC with their toxic parent(s) but that doesn't mean every other NC person has got right on their side. In a way it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong anyway - it is just all sad even if sometimes it's for the best.

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 15:04:16

Constantly amazed how it's always the parent's fault and the child is blameless. Life is very rarely black and white.

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 15:05:49

Absolutely! Self indulgent and selfish for grieving the loss of a child? Wow.

VulcanWoman Wed 09-Dec-15 15:11:13

If the child's a pain in the butt, who's to blame, I know if my son was a pain now or in the future, I'd feel it was something lacking in myself or that I'd done or not done, whatever the case may be. Who else is to blame, I've brought him up.
I'm not talking about general day to day stuff or mental health issues.

VulcanWoman Wed 09-Dec-15 15:13:59

Bert yes but the parent needs to be the bigger person in situations, they're the parent after all.

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 15:19:22

So if your child refuses to see you any more, you are not allowed to be sad, or to grieve. You just have to accept that it's your fault, either because your're horrid and deserve it, or your child is horrid, and that's your fault too because you brought said child up and they wouldn't horrid if you'd done it properly.

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