Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Sister minding mother prevent fall out

(13 Posts)
pumpkinpumkin Sun 18-Dec-16 14:08:19

My mother has a personality disorder. She's been unstable for forever with peaks and troughs in her behaviour but now but my father being given a terminal diagnosis which has thrown her over the edge.

She has made a bad situation 100% times worse with her behaviour. Some examples are having blazing rows bedside with my fathers family over visiting him. He needs to be helped to eat so they come in to do that. She doesnt visit at mealtimes claims she's not well in the mornings and afternoons so can't make it down until later in the day therefore missing mealtimes. So them being there is practical help.

She drives but refuses to drive herself down to the hospital. She wants my siblings and I to be a taxi service for her. We work and have small children and the times she picks to visit are peak commuting times so are heavy traffic. The giving of lifts involves taking time off work or getting a babysitter for children.

She won't stay in her house alone. Insists on someone staying over every night but then gives out about that person saying they are messy/loud/drink too much tea. They usually end in a fight before the person leaves.

All information about my father has to come through her and she withholds it from us and my fathers family to play games.

Here's the thing my youngest sister has immense guilt and anxiety over the situation. She feels obliged to drop everything to provide her with lifts to the hospital at moments notice and to essential give up her own life to go stay with her. My sister was kicked out of the house by my mother 4 months ago after a lot of fighting between them. Now my sister is annoyed with us other siblings that she has to 'mind' our mother and feels we aren't doing our fair share.

For me she's made the choice to do that we never asked her to. I do what I can do - I've two small children that need minding. I visit my father most evenings when they are asleep and make sure to be there for every important meeting (if I'm told about them) I would really like to prevent a total falling out situation with her.

pumpkinpumkin Tue 20-Dec-16 01:04:25


TENSHI Tue 20-Dec-16 03:40:37

This is a totally no win situation and will end in a falling out.

Well done for visiting every evening!

Don't raise your voice with anyone, don't be drawn into arguments, (keep breathing and grit your teeth!)

Your sister will vent her frustrations at you and expect that. Your dm sounds mentally ill and therefore unable to help herself which is what your sister recognises.

The only way you can keep sane yourself in such a toxic environment is to stay neutral and whatever you do, do not wreck your own employment/family life over it.

Be sympathetic to your sister but just say you are going to lose your job if you take any more time off so stay sympathetic but take a back seat too.

Getting more embroiled is not going to help anyway so you are going to need a thicker skin and deep breathe through it as it is a no win situation I'm afraid.

Dozer Tue 20-Dec-16 03:48:40

Sorry about your father, and the family difficulties.

Sadly one of the issues with "difficult" parenting is that it causes problems between siblings.

Wonder why your DSIS is doing these things. Has your father perhaps "enabled" your mum over the years?

you're clear on your own boundaries with respect to your mum, and dad, and can try to remain calm and assertive in your communication with your DSIS and others, but obviously can't control what they will do, and sadly this could continue for a long time, eg when your mum is alone.

Dozer Tue 20-Dec-16 03:49:03

So perhaps seek support for yourself.

Aussiebean Tue 20-Dec-16 06:53:24

Maybe also give her 'permission' to not see your mum or help her as much.

I am not sure permission is the right word but you can confirm to her that it is ok for her to not help. There is probably a lot of guilt there and helping her see there is no judgment, and in fact, a lot of support for her to put her boundaries up might help.

Lordamighty Tue 20-Dec-16 08:40:44

My DM was exactly the same when my DF became terminally ill, I always believed it was attention seeking. A dr warned me not to try & do too much & to accept as much help as possible but my sibling & I did fall out over it.

Is your DM on any medication, I think my DM should have been prescribed ADs to help her cope. It would certainly have helped me cope with her behaviour.

SeaEagleFeather Tue 20-Dec-16 20:53:21

My sister was kicked out of the house by my mother 4 months ago after a lot of fighting between them.

Your sister is probably feeling very guilty and lost because in a way, she's lost her mother. Parents with personality disorders are, at best, not easy - and that's when they're trying to control their illness - and at worst, nightmares of guilt inducing, insecurity inducing, self-esteem-destroying horrors.

Your sister may be feeling terrible and taking far too much on her shoulders in an attempt to be a good daughter .. of course, she never will be, because your mother sounds like she will suck her dry and still not give her unconditional love and approval.

I think that here, you need to be aware of what your sister is going through (try Mothers Who Can't Love by Susan Forward or something around the subject of being brought up by a parent with Borderline Personality / Emotionally Unstable Disorder).

You need to preserve yourself first.

I'll repeat that - you need to preserve yourself first.

Then, where you can, for your sister's sake it would be good to help her out where you think it is reasonable and you are able to.

Keep talking to her. Keep showing her that you understand, but hold your ground that you do not think it is necessary or right to give up everything for your mother. It's important to keep saying that because your youngest sister needs to hear a voice of balance here. Acting to help your mother when you can given your young-children-commitments shows her that you're trying to help. Telling her No sometimes, and saying that she too should keep something of her own life going, is also very vital.

I feel sorry for your sister; it's horrendous when you feel that you have to be there for your parent no matter what (seen it at close quarters). But it's healthier and better for your own sanity, and definitely for your children, to not be sucked in yourself.

Can you ask the nurses to contact you direct about your father's condition? If your mother isn't too socially manipulative, they might well have seen that somethign is wrong. Your need to be informed is as valid as hers here.

SeaEagleFeather Tue 20-Dec-16 20:58:56

Again - keep your eye on your father here. It's the end of his life and he, really, is more the focus than your mother. It's a damage- limitation exercise with your sister, because she's going through some intense emotional need at the moment since she has had damaging mothering.

Crumbs1 Tue 20-Dec-16 21:03:46

You owe your parents nothing. They chose to have you.
Family tensions and guilt grow if not nipped in bud.
Do not give in to mothers emotional blackmail. Let her drive herself or use public transport. You are both supporting her expectations by giving in to her demands.

Sounds like she is not living with father? She has no responsibility therefore to help him eat. Get community nurses to arrange carers to visit and provide mealtime care. Even if she is with him and I,have misinterpreted get carers so you can both be daughters not carers and pressure is reduced.

Don't stay overnight. She'll manage. Do a family planning meeting to agree strategy which you all stick with.

pumpkinpumkin Tue 20-Dec-16 21:53:38

Thanks for the replies they are so insightful and helpful. My DSIS and I have always been on the same page about our mother. Doing our best to not enable her behavior, that's why the 360 turnabout by my youngest DSIS has caught me off guard.

We're discussed strategies for how to deal with my mother and tag teamed on who is "on call" for the day/week to allow the others get a mental break from it too.

In my head and as callous as it sounds is that where do you draw the line in supporting her? Give up work and your own happiness to move back in with her? Even then she wouldn't be happy. We all eventually end up alone and it's terrible it's much too soon for her and us but this is life.

I myself try to safe guard my own mental health from it all. Screen calls, make plans that involve her but if she doesn't come/ tries to bring her own agenda I just call time to the event or go minus her. I don't stay overnight with her. I really can't with two small children. Try not to rise to the bait when she starts. But I worry so much about her regardless and more about my siblings.

SeaEagleFeather Tue 20-Dec-16 22:21:24

Head and heart can diverge. You can genuinely think something in your head, but at the heart level, and the level of needing true acceptance from your mother, heart-needs can suddenly take over. Especially if you've had arguments and just moved out. The arguments are you trying to assert your own self and what you want; the guilt when someone like your mother is manipulating you can be overwhelming.

No, absolutely do not give up work.

if your children (strongly) ask you to stay home - stay home. THEY matter more than your parents. Nurturing goes down the generations. It goes up, too, but only when the parent is not an all consuming force of nature. You have to build up barriers against tsunami parents. I'm serious there. People who haven't been through it really can't understand because they have no frame of reference.

When you have a deeply damaged and consuming person like your mother nothing you do will be enough - ever. They will consume anyone around them and your children need you more than they do. Your children need a healthy parenting to grow up to be good, balanced adults. You can't starve them to feed someone who will take everythign you have to give and then want more.

Yes, screening calls is good. Making plans that involve her but that you don't bend entirely to suit her is good. It sounds like you're doing everything 'right' in a situation where there -are- no real solutions.

Keep communicating a lot with your siblings, and include what you can do and what you can't in that, also what you think actions are reasonable to accomodate your mother and what aren't. that's quite important so that there is some touchstone of sanity.

You talk a lot more about your mother here than your father .. .who's the one who is terminally ill. Don't loose sight of him in all this. You've got an incredibly difficult balancing act to do, but he's top of the list here after your children.

this will sound odd, but if you can - don't take your mother too seriously. Her extreme highs and extreme lows and also extreme manipulation will happen over and over and over again. In a way, the best way to survive is to take none of it too seriously. You don't speak of any meaningful person relationship with her in your posts, more that she is a problem to be managed and her fallout to be managed, and that's the best way.

pumpkinpumkin Wed 28-Dec-16 21:16:51

So Christmas has been and gone. We were hoping my father would get out for a few hours but that didn't happen due to complications. She was fine in Christmas Day as I hosted not for her but for my sisters. There were a few dramatic breakdowns which I felt were for effect rather than emotion.

They were all over again on Boxing Day which ended in a fight between her and one of my sister. Really annoyed me as it was all in front of my DS who was upset by it as he was having a great day playing with his toys and them sad just solidified my reasons for spending minimal time in her company as there is invariably a fight and she doesnt care who is around to witness it including small children.

The latest battle is over her dog, whom I love, she won't let the dog be by herself in the house so is looking for people to mind her while she's in the hospital. As I'm at home with the children I've been designated to be that person. Which only adds extra work to my day. She barks all day long, waking the kids from naps and they are just so excited by her that they are grabbing so I'm afraid she'll snap at them. Plus it means I can't take my kids to play at indoor places or just even go to the shops I feel it's a further way to try control me. As she will always pick the most suitable times to drop the dog off and asks me to drop her home. Which means I've to go to her house and am sucked in to hear all her troubles again.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: