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Creating healthy boundaries

(18 Posts)
StuRedman Wed 20-Apr-16 17:40:06

How exactly do I do that? My mother is far too involved in my life and highly critical.

I was in hospital earlier this week and she berated me this morning because DH hadn't been in constant contact with her to let her know the details (she could have phoned him but didn't). She called both the hospital and my dc's school to find out what was going on and was cross with me that neither would give her any details.

Dh had told my sister I was in hospital and she passed it on to my mother. He was barely functioning on an hours sleep and still had to go to work, before coming back and forth to see me, so ringing people wasn't his priority.

I got an earful this morning about how I should be doing more to keep myself out of hospital and how I shouldn't be posting happy updates on FB if I'm actually heading for a crisis hmm.

How do you get the kind of normal relationship where they don't need to know every last detail but can offer support? Is it possible to change the dynamic?

StuRedman Wed 20-Apr-16 18:18:51

Anyone? Feeling quite desperate tbh.

314inTheSky Wed 20-Apr-16 18:26:15

I'm here!!! I have been feeling like this. I am TRYING to change the dynamic between me and my parents. I've been really activelyl working on this since beginning of january. Not sure i've had much success though because when i defend a boundary or reject advice it all seems to blow up and i get cast as ungrateful or bratish or rude.

Lately my m&d have both let themselves in to my house with a key, and my mother came when I had somebody upstairs. She didn't realise though, it just wouldn't occur to her. My Dad let himself and his friend in to my house when I was at work, got some (frankly) SHODDY work done and then when I wasn't astoundingly grateful he pouted and sulked through sunday lunch (he was invited to that). My dad also treats me like an idiot, constantly advising me about things I know more about than him to be honest.

I told my mum I wouldn't send my son to a certain school and she said she'd apply on his behalf confused so she openly admits to my face that she'll put his name down for a school I said I'm not planning on applying to. Wow. And she looks at me like I'm ungrateful and a brat if I tell her 'NO!

314inTheSky Wed 20-Apr-16 18:28:34

Ps, they also start every sentence with what I apparently want to do.


"you don't want to work in the city, you've got two kids". If I say that I haven't ruled it out, it just gets repeated back to me "no, you don't want to do that, it woudln't be worth it''.

Their default assumption is that it is their absolute right to talk me out of anything they don't think I should do.

I'm in my 40s. I think I've only noticed how bad they are recently because I'm older and I see them as being less 'wise' perhaps. Also, I really am standing on my own feet firmly now.

StuRedman Wed 20-Apr-16 18:33:29

Thanks for replying. It's just so frustrating to be treated like a wayward child at my age. The constant criticism about my housekeeping, parenting, life is just so wearing. I love her and we do sometimes have a nice time together but the price I pay for that is being subjected to her thoughts on how my life should be.

StuRedman Wed 20-Apr-16 20:49:37

Needy bump for the evening crowd.

OnTheRise Wed 20-Apr-16 20:50:53

You create a boundary by saying what you find acceptable, and explaining what will happen if things happen in a different way. And then, if the boundary you set is broken, you take the action you said you would.

So, you say, "Please do not criticise my housekeeping again. If you do, I will expect you to leave." And then if and when they do criticise your housekeeping, you hand them their coat and show them the door with as little communication as you can.

It's easier to do this if you're at their house: then you just say, "I told you I didn't want to hear any criticism of my housekeeping, but you carried on, so I'm going to leave now. I hope next time I see you, you can behave more appropriately." AND YOU GO. Without another word.

It can work well. It can cause horrible upsets. But stick to your guns. Be calm, be courteous, and when they behave badly around you, refuse to engage. Leave the house, leave the room, leave the town. has some great advice on how to do this well. It's worth reading.

StuRedman Wed 20-Apr-16 20:53:25

Thank you. I have done that before, just left when she overstepped, and I always feel really guilty and horrible about it. And then nothing really changes anyway. But perhaps I need to do it more consistently.

OnTheRise Thu 21-Apr-16 07:17:40

Consistency is the key. If it happens every now and then, she'll just think you're being unreasonable. If you do it every single time, AND your partner supports you, she'll learn that her behaviour brings no rewards.

If your partner is not supportive in this, then you have a problem with him too, I'm afraid. And that's probably the one you should focus on, if you can.

OnTheRise Thu 21-Apr-16 07:19:52

Sorry, I posted too soon.

Also, you have no need to feel guilty or horrible. All you're doing is protecting yourself from abuse. That's a positive thing to do, not a negative one.

When you leave, try not to engage. So don't talk, don't explain why you're off, don't justify what you're doing: just say, "I'm leaving now," and off you go. Justifying your actions makes it look like you're trying to excuse yourself. Leaving without comment makes you look all strong and super-hero-ish.

FuckThisShitYeah Thu 21-Apr-16 07:54:37

I am having the same problem. There have never really been any boundaries but I have moved closer to them for the first time as an adult and it is awful. They are very critical of my parenting, and think I should do everything exactly the same way as they did it, despite me turning out to be the worst person in the world.

We had the walking into the house thing too. Luckily they never had keys but my dad would just walk in. I could have been doing anything.

Medical stuff. If I go to the doctor somebody always tells them and then they are either demanding to know why I was there or I am treated to silence and odd looks. If I mention any treatment I am having they start telling me what I should be doing to treat the condition.

If I talk to them about anything in my day to day life they start barking advice at me. There is no possiblilty of a normal conversation. My tumble dryer packed up and I just mentioned I was going to get a new one and it turned into a huge lecture from my dad about tumble dryers. I am perfectly capable of choosing one by myself.

I was low contact with them but I am currently trying to go no contact. What is making me feel uncomfortable is that they think I have flounced in high dudgeon, but I haven't really, it's just that I can't take any more.

I've tried to establish boundaries but nothing has worked. When I have tried to discuss this stuff with them they have made me out to be barking mad. They wouldn't dream of treating anyone else like this. I have asked how they thought I managed before I lived close to them and the answer was that they simply can't imagine how I survived. They have said they don't believe I am capable of living independently.

FuckThisShitYeah Thu 21-Apr-16 08:07:52

Sorry, that was all me, me, me. It's just that I don't have any useful advice, but you are not alone in what you are experiencing.

StuRedman Fri 22-Apr-16 08:19:11

FuckThisShit that all sounds very similar to my parents. Thanks for replying. thanks

FelineLou Fri 22-Apr-16 15:12:44

Bolts on the door that they have key to and a coded lock on the other door. If you want them to get in for some reason give the code, change the code after.
Or just change the locks and tell them why.
Then nod and ignore all helpful suggestions. Sulks when they are not informed about your health - just ignore it.
They can only interfere if you let them. If they are too demanding you may have to get angry but in a grown up way stating your objections.

314inTheSky Sun 24-Apr-16 12:37:03

Fuckthisshit, sounds like my situation too! I lived in another country for 14 years. Nothing bad happened to me. I didn't fall ill, get addicted to anything, get in to debt. I was gainfully employed, I had nice friends and I was always employed. I managed my rent, my bills, saved some money, made my own decisions. I didn't lose my keys, my bag, my mind..................

I know my parents know I'm backing away from them and I feel bad because they can't look at their behaviour to me and acknowledge that they interfere, advise me too much, try to persuade me in or out of doing things..... like you if I poinnt out a boundary, there is a lot of righteous indignation. My dad does martyr like you have never seen, puts himself up on the cross. My mother does righteous indignation. they both think I'm a stroppy brat for just pointing out a boundary. ie, you let yourselves in to my house when i was with a man upstairs for goodness sake or if i remind them that i'll decide what school to send my son too, they bombard me with 'facts' that aren't facts but their opinions. I say well, I'll consider all information from the websites and primary sources nearer the time. They don't hear it. I know they have noticed I'm different though. I wonder if it just takes a few years to fix things.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 24-Apr-16 12:49:38


Do not feel bad, your parents certainly do not feel bad for making you feel as you do. FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) are but three of many damaging legacies such people leave their now adult offspring.

re your comment:-
"I wonder if it just takes a few years to fix things"

No, this will never be "fixed" because people like your parents never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions. Their actions are all about power and control; they want absolute. You will never have either a "normal" or emotionally healthy relationship with them. It is not your fault your parents are like this; you did not make them that way (their own families of origin did that damage to them). These people always but always challenge any boundary you care to set and as well need a willing enabler to help them. They want to control you and think of you still as a child who is somehow incapable even though you are now an adult with an ability to make your own free choices.

Reading "If you had controlling parents" by Dr Dan Neuharth may help you as would reading the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages. I would advise Stu to read this as well.

You cannot change them but you can (and have) change how you react to them.

pallasathena Wed 27-Apr-16 12:05:24

Try silence. I find it works beautifully. Next time they launch into the 'You don't want to do that, do this' exposition calmly look them in the eye, fold your arms and maintain total silence. They'll start to bluster, you walk away. Eventually they get a bit nervous about launching stuff at you which is when you can establish those much needed boundaries.
People like that are unhealthily invested in your life for various reasons. The most common one in my experience is that of loneliness and social isolation. Its very sad but no-one has the right to make you unhappy or miserable.

MusicIsMedicine Sun 08-May-16 11:38:19

I've had this too - the blaming everyone else for not "updating" them when they can't just be proper parents that give a shit enough to lift a phone.

It gets made all about them while you lie in hospital with no support. I believe this is done in my case so my toxic parents can justify to themselves and others, their failure to visit and support and actually be parents.

You'll never win with toxic parents, because nothing is ever their fault.

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