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Unsupportive parents

(14 Posts)
mcdoodlenoodle Mon 31-Oct-16 19:51:34

I'm a grown woman, married with my own children and my brother is married with children also. Our parents are pretty crap. Always have been.
As kids we would end up in the middle of all their arguments, they had financial difficulties, they slagged each other off to us both, they would get drunk and leave us to cook our own meals, wash our own school uniforms etc etc...
As adults, not much has changed, they seem to dote on their grandchildren, but only when it suits them. If we need their help, they're usually unavailable and then turn up with lavish gifts for the children at times that are convenient for them, they don't usually ask whether or not it's convenient for us, but I do teLl them if it's not now.
However, what I don't get is how supportive they are of everyone else, particularly their own parents (my grand-parents). They will appear to do anything for them, sacrifice their weekends to run errands for them, always there if they need a hand with something. Yet, for my brother and I, they're always unavailable. DH and I have just moved house and couldn't even get my parents to babysit our two young children whilst we packed up the house. Yet they then call me after we've moved and declare they're coming to "help" us by babysitting after we've done everything and don't need the help anymore! Plus, we'd made plans as a family and didn't need a babysitter that day!
Other members of the family often talk to us about how great and helpful my parents are, how they will do anything to help my grandparents, how they each have "a heart of gold." Yet my brother and I have very different experiences and perceptions of them.
I asked my DH yesterday whether or not he thought I had unreasonable expectations of my parents and he said "as parents go, yours are pretty dire."
What is this about? How can my parents be such a good son and daughter but terrible parents? I look at my own children and just don't get it.
How supportive can I expect them to be? And what can I do if they're not? How can I stop my mother from breezing in and out of my life as if I've nothing better to do than sit around waiting for her to be available?

Manumission Mon 31-Oct-16 19:55:33

I think you have to establish your own (firm) boundaries, step back and expect little or nothing.

I'm sorry they're so crap. It's not much fun and the disappointment never really lessens.

Consider getting a course of counselling to work through it all for your own peace of mind


Manumission Mon 31-Oct-16 19:58:36

FWIW I won't let my mother have my address but she's actively abusive as well as unreliable.

When the behaviour began to extend to the grandchildren I drew a line.

The thing is when the behaviour has been the same since your childhood, you have to realise it won't change.

mcdoodlenoodle Mon 31-Oct-16 20:00:11

Also, I once told my grandparents (who are lovely) just how dreadful my parents are in terms of giving my brother and I support. They were in complete disbelief. When I visit my grand-parents and my mother is there, she is like an angel, doesn't stop doing little jobs for them and takes great care of them.
After the birth of my first child, I was struck with PND and needed help with the house. She came to stay with me for a week to help me. She didn't clean the house once, or do my shopping, she cooked me one meal which I had to stay up late for as it wasn't ready until 10pm and she spent a lot of time on the phone during the whole week. She's so much different when caring for her parents.

mcdoodlenoodle Mon 31-Oct-16 20:03:11

Thanks Manumission.
I almost feel it would be a lot easier if she were abusive! But she's speaks so fondly of me to the rest of the family, anyone would think she were a wonderful, doting mother who can't do enough! I can't say anything negative about her as people are in disbelief. It makes me question my own perception of her; it helps that DH sees it too.

QuiltedAloeVera Mon 31-Oct-16 20:09:41

This is completely unqualified speculation, of course, but here goes...

They never grew up. In their heads, they are still little kids desperately trying to please their mummy and daddy. So they run around after your GPs, but didn't see themselves as truly responsible for you and your bro because little kids -what they think they are - aren't in a carer role.

What were your GPs like as parents themselves?

Manumission Mon 31-Oct-16 20:11:52

But the gap between what she says and what she does is quite telling in your case, I think.

Appearances are very important to mine too. It's not uncommon in dysfunctional families and it leaves a gap between the reality and the 'PR' which can mess with your mind.

Don't minimise it. It's good that DH can confirm it to you.

Have you also tried writing it all down? Big things, little things?

mummytime Mon 31-Oct-16 20:13:52

I have a friend whose Mother was extremely abusive as a child. I mean really serious stuff (eg. my friend lived underneath their house for a few days at about 6 as her mother had chucked her out). However although I had known the whole family as a teenager I had no idea, neither did an awful lot of other people who knew them.
They were seen as pillars of the community. I thought they were a bit strict, but nothing more.

I had heard a little of my friends story before, but from her mother's posts on facebook thought they must have "come to terms with the past".
But then I talked to my friend - and no they haven't. Her mother still denies it, but also acts like a loving devoted Mother.

I would wonder a) what your Grandparents are really like and b) what your parents are like if they don't have an audience.
But basically I'd minimise contact and not expect anything.

DeathStare Mon 31-Oct-16 21:02:43

I wonder if they see it as the children's job to run round after the parents and not the other way round?

mcdoodlenoodle Wed 02-Nov-16 13:31:34

I definitely think that there are elements that suggest my father has not grown up and still sees himself as the child, striving to please his mother.
My mum on the other hand, fills me with more cynicism, I can't help but feel there are power play tactics going on here. She appears to enjoy playing the hero for anyone who is watching.
She came to my house last night and from the moment she came in, I just felt 'off'. She spoke about my grandparents for a long while, their illnesses (one of whom is terminally ill) and didn't ask a lot about our lives. She played with my children and practically ignored DH and I for a while. She then confronted me about a disagreement I'd had with another family member and made me feel really small and yuk, ending with "I just want to be here for you and support you" but I don't feel that at all. It makes me prickle when she says it. It always feels like power-play and I haven't a clue why.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 02-Nov-16 13:51:16

They are still seeking their parents approval; that is why they run around after them.

This is at is heart all about power and control.

You need to raise further and reaffirm your own boundaries when it comes to your parents. See the two of them far less for a start and not in your home. I would also consider keeping your children well away from them. They were not good parents to you, they will not be good grandparent role models to your children.

fc301 Wed 02-Nov-16 14:45:31

Sorry OP it's so shit isn't it. They should have your back and they don't.
I think that they 'behave' for their own parents and put on a good show for everyone else but with their own children they can just be themselves - self absorbed dysfunctional arses.
I think it's amazing how much we perceive about other people. I totally get your 'feels off' comments. My DM made a bit of an effort this year but, for me, it's too little too late. I KNOW her and this faux caring attitude reads as false next to all her actual actions.
Def need boundaries. Def expect no support. Don't do guilt over access to your children. Fuck everyone else who thinks they're great. Life is short, make yours a happy one. Thank goodness you gave a DH & DBvto keep you sane. Take care.

saintagur Wed 02-Nov-16 15:08:08

I think that you need to lower your expectations, or you will keep on being disappointed. You both have caring roles, you for your children and they for their parents, so they come when it's convenient to them , but I don't think that's unreasonable. Can you not just arrange things in advance at a time to suit you both, if possible?

They sound well intentioned but busy with other commitments, to be honest, although that doesn't make it any less disappointing for you. Just try to make the best of it and don't expect them to drop everything to babysit, as it's not going to happen. But I don't think that doesn't mean that they don't care.

Manumission Wed 02-Nov-16 17:43:14

There are probably things happening and being said elsewhere that you don't know about, hence the crackle of an agenda in the air.

Try to be realistic about it all.

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