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Controlling mother - or am I selfish?!?! I want to move away...

(26 Posts)
Roonerspism Sun 07-Feb-16 15:12:08

My mother is a highly intelligent, frustrated, self absorbed woman who I suspect recognises these traits in herself.

She is on her own - divorced - and I think her life depends far too much on her children and their interests rather than cultivating her own interests.

My siblings and I all live relatively close by - within 10 miles. We aren't extremely close but we all get along well enough but we recognise - and laugh about - our mother's ways.

I'm desperate to move away a little with my family. Out of the city and to a town. I'm not a city person and I think a smaller town would benefit everyone. This is about 20 miles away with good bus links.

My mother drives but not confidently so it would be a 2 bus journey of up to 1.5 hours or a 20 minute car, then 10 minute trains and small taxi ride. Or a 40 minute trip for us driving. My partner and I both drive.

My mum is devastated we are even considering it. I am apparently selfish and naive and immature and a million other things. Stupid unlike my siblings. Selfish to take my children out a city.

I'm so resentful of this reaction. I feel we would see her as much (once a week). She knows neither my partner or I is happy in the city. There are places we could move to a little nearer eg suburbs but it's not what we want.

Half of me thinks - it's not bloody Australia, get a bloody grip. And a part of me can understand why she wants her family near.

Has anyone been through this?

I generally get on ok with her but I'm rather patient. I find she can be very hard work. Our upbringing was fairly awful - cold and detached and she is very ambitious and we had a lot to live up to (which we clearly haven't!) but she has mellowed a lot as she has aged - so I have forgiven much - but I feel incredibly controlled.

Any advice? Do I sound ridiculous?

kaitlinktm Sun 07-Feb-16 15:16:28

So she wants you to stay in a city where both you and your partner (and your children) are not happy in order to make a weekly journey to see her more convenient. I think you know who is really being selfish here and it isn't you.

pocketsaviour Sun 07-Feb-16 15:16:36

Why would you sound ridiculous? You're making a decision for the good of your family - that's you, your DH and your DC. Your mother doesn't get a vote.

She's welcome to an opinion. She just can't expect you to give a shiny shit about it.

I have forgiven much
Has she ever apologised for the neglect she subjected you and your siblings to as a child?

TalkingintheDark Sun 07-Feb-16 15:20:05

You sound like you desperately need to get away from her so you can breathe freely.

You are right, she is selfish and controlling (and a bully) and I suspect your life will be much easier when you move. Your responsibility is to yourself, your DH and your Dc, not to her; you are not her parent.

If she loved you, she would want you do do what's best for you. But she doesn't, from the sound of it, so you have to love yourself that bit more and absolutely put yourself and your family first.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 07-Feb-16 15:24:22

20 miles sounds like a reasonable distance away. Not too far and not too close to be in each other's pockets.

Still, you're family unit of your own now, and need to do what's best for you, your OH and children. Take no notice of her. Although a once a week visit sounds pretty excessive when you have your own lives to lead. I loved my Mum to bits but didn't live locally and didn't see her more than four or five times year. Phones work quite well wherever you live!

Roonerspism Sun 07-Feb-16 15:27:08

I do so desperately want to escape..... My mum loves it where we are as she feels she can pop in and keep an eye on us.

She is incredibly manipulative. "My friends are dropping like flies. It won't be long till your biggest concern will be planning my funeral".

She occasionally does school pick up for me if something crops up. I have been in told in no uncertain terms a move would stop any assistance - which is fair enough logistically. My willingness for this to be so is a symptom of my naivity, apparently.

I feel my head is a mess. One of my siblings - far worse affected than me - has had counselling to pick through it all.

I wonder if I need the same!

"Of course I can't stop you moving away. You would go with my blessing. But what grandmother wouldn't be devastated. It would never be the same". This followed by weeks of tears, snipped comments, and conversations about how my husband has turned me against my family. SIGH

AlwaysHopeful1 Sun 07-Feb-16 15:44:33

It sounds like you have to move away from her for your own health. It's all about her isn't it? What will she do, how will she manage. And what about what you think is best for your own family. No she sounds very suffocating and selfish.

If she was that good a parent, why would all your siblings moved far away? I think you need to move away, sounds like it will make all the difference For you.

TalkingintheDark Sun 07-Feb-16 15:51:56

So what's stopping you trusting your own judgement rather than hers?

Parents are our first authority figures and it can be very hard to shed that sense that they are ultimately right, deep down.

But there are some very flawed and selfish people in the world and unfortunately a lot of those flawed and selfish people become parents.

Becoming parents doesn't change them, doesn't make them better people, but it does make them de facto authority figures over their children, with a great deal of power.

Sounds like you're still under your mother's sway - no reasonable person would see any wrong in you moving away (especially such a short distance) but you can't help being taken in by her, to some degree.

Yes, counselling might help you with this.

mrsfuzzy Sun 07-Feb-16 15:52:23

sorry mum, i've have life i'm moving, so pick the bones out of that ! op yanbu.

mrsmeerkat Sun 07-Feb-16 15:55:31

Please move away .. I think you may have been to kind for too long

I speak from experience

mintoil Sun 07-Feb-16 17:00:50

Bloody hell - move away as soon as you can. I imagine your siblings will be jealous!!!

Aussiebean Sun 07-Feb-16 19:44:47

On another note. Why can't you be selfish?

Your family are unhappy! The answer is known, simple to do and within your means.

Go ahead and be selfish for your family.

If she pulls the funeral card, just say ' don't worry, I will start saving the petrol money'

RandomMess Sun 07-Feb-16 19:52:07

OMW - quick run for the hills, get your house on rightmove and go!!!

Start reading around and realise you are in the FOG - fear obligation guilt...

Everytime she snipes I would answer taking the piss out of her!

Roonerspism Sun 07-Feb-16 20:08:10

Gosh - thanks for your responses.... Hugely appreciated.

I now feel guilty in case I have been unfair to my mum in any way. What the fuck is wrong with me.

talking you absolutely have nailed it with the bit about me trusting my judgement. I used to be far better at trusting my judgment and I'm cross at myself. And I love my mother, however flawed she is.

"FOG"?! I need to do some reading!

It's not so much a lack of love but a complete inability to see that other people like to live their lives differently. So apparently any child who grows up in anything other than a cosmopolitan city is stifled for life (so I am condemning my children), that I am incredibly hurtful for even thinking about seeing her and my siblings less which would inevitably happen.

Writing this down makes me see how ridiculous it is.

But she is early 70s and wants everyone on her doorstep.

Has anyone read books on this stuff?!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 07-Feb-16 20:25:51


Yes I think you should move, you need to put physical distance between you as well now. Emotional distance needs to be further worked on as well; she has you well in the FOG.

It is not your fault your mother is like this, you did not make her that way.
I was not altogether surprised to see that your mother is divorced, women like she cannot do relationships and the men in their lives either leave or are kicked out.

I would suggest you read "If you had controlling parents" written by Dr Dan Neuharth and "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina Brown.

You may also want to post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread.

Roonerspism Sun 07-Feb-16 20:39:37

Thanks for the recommendations. I will check them out.

I had a look at the (brilliantly named) Stately Homes thread but felt like I didn't perhaps belong because it was just shit parenting but not a lack of love if that makes any sense. I am probably missing the point.

My dad left, yes. Although he is no picnic either. He is disinterested in my own family to the point he makes every excuse not to visit. He has met my children only a handful of times. We got on very well as I grew up and seems unable to handle that I have a family of my own.

I'm sorry for anyone else with similar experiences. flowers

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 07-Feb-16 20:56:58

I think you'll find that you and your children will thrive the further away from her yoy move and the less frequently you see her.

Australia might not be so bad an idea actually.

No, you are not being selfish. You have been far too accommodating for far too long.

Feel free to focus on putting yourself and your family first. I don't think you could be selfish if you tried - that's been beaten out of you through FOG.

As for books, there are plenty of good recommendations at the start of the Stately Homes thread.

Bupbupbup Sun 07-Feb-16 22:15:30

I moved to Aus and my parents, though heartbroken, told me to please not make their feelings a factor in my decision, they wanted me to put my own family first....just to show you the other side, I'm sorry your mom calls you stupid and selfish to get her own way

pocketsaviour Sun 07-Feb-16 22:26:12

I had a look at the (brilliantly named) Stately Homes thread but felt like I didn't perhaps belong because it was just shit parenting but not a lack of love if that makes any sense

I used to feel the same way. It took me a long time - til my DS showed me, really - that controlling someone is not the same thing as loving them.

TalkingintheDark Sun 07-Feb-16 22:44:58

It's your mother you need to be cross with, not yourself...

And no, you haven't misrepresented her.

Have you tried talking about this in depth to the sibling who has had counselling? As opposed to the usual laughing about her "ways"?

There's an opportunity here for you to have a closer relationship with that sibling, I'm sure, if that's something you want.

RarelyInfallible Sun 07-Feb-16 23:18:27

You're not the one at fault here OP. Have a read of Toxic Parents by Susan Forward.

Roonerspism Mon 08-Feb-16 09:52:36

My mum has had her moments of being great. When one of my children was born with some health problems, I really struggled. She wasn't great at hands on stuff but was there for me to talk to etc.

This definitely causes conflict in me as I feel she has, at times, been there for me. I was very much ignored growing up which wasn't awful whereas my younger sibling was the focus of her frustrated energies, to disastrous effect.

I feel she isn't bad/evil but a product of very odd parenting herself (she had an awful relationship with her own mother - they barely spoke for years).

So part of me feels sorry for her as I think she has done her best. And another feels cross that someone so intelligent has so little emotional awareness. If I even suggest gently that she is responsible slightly for my sibling's issues, it is met with utter contempt. She is completely unable to contemplate fault in parenting - I think she is scared to. But all three of her kids have anxiety/depression to some level and find her very difficult.

I am, however, very close to my younger sibling and have huge respect for how she has overcome her issues. Her counsellor has worked wonders but she only tells me little bits.

i am terrified of parenting my own children like my mother has us. I am self aware though which I think is my saving grace.

I will read the Susan Forward book.

Thanks everyone - I really appreciate your input. Objectivity is so very hard to find in these situations.

TalkingintheDark Mon 08-Feb-16 10:26:14

Nearly all emotionally abusive/neglectful parents are nice some of the time and show some signs of good parenting. That's what makes it such a head fuck, and so hard to break free from.

But I think the fact you say "I am terrified of parenting my own children like my mother has us" says it all, really.

Try talking to your sister more about this. You might be surprised how much she'd welcome you as an ally - she probably hasn't said too much in case you start defending your mother.

TalkingintheDark Mon 08-Feb-16 10:29:44

You're so right about objectivity being so hard to find in this! That's one of the really big challenges of actually growing up, I think - really, emotionally, growing up - and I think it's a hurdle many people fall at.

Its a really positive thing that you're starting to tackle it, and your own DC can only benefit from it.

rumbleinthrjungle Mon 08-Feb-16 11:34:39

It sounds like she has more emotional awareness than perhaps she would like you to think, OP. She's using tears and guilt inducing language quite deliberately to try and upset and pressure you into doing what she wants (and its working!), which says she knows how to control and use her emotions and amplify the useful ones, and she definitely has the empathy to anticipate how what she says will make you feel, that's why she's behaving like this!

When you say to yourself she has trouble with emotional awareness you're essentially letting her off any responsibility for what she does to you. It's saying it's not her fault, you just have to be the grown up in the relationship, understand it's too hard for her and accept it, she can't help it. Yes, she can. If she can turn it on to make you do what she wants she is equally capable of turning it off and controlling it if she wants to. She is choosing not to. You being happy comes second to her being happy.

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