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Bit of a WWYD: tell elderly mum how I really felt about my father, or leave it?

(33 Posts)
tigerdriverII Fri 21-Apr-17 11:28:54

I've been spending a bit of time recently having (so far very successful) counselling about various things, including stuff to do with my childhood and the way I interact with people now.

My father died about 8 years ago and his death devastated my mum, now in her late 80s. Despite the fact he was difficult for most of their married life, and was pretty emotionally abusive, with a drink problem to boot, she adored him and continues to do so.

When I visit her and on daily phone calls she speaks fondly of him and makes a big deal about how much he loved me, how proud he was etc. All bullshit as far as I'm concerned: he was creepy, moody and aggressive and I hated him.

My dilemma: having been away for a couple of weeks and not having the daily conversation, I've ruminated on whether to explain how I feel and felt. On the one hand, I'm protecting her from hearing bad things about her DH: on the other, I'm lying at least by omission every time we speak and it's really bugging me.

So: tell or not? WWYD?

Just leave her with her idealised vision of him. What would be achieved by you telling her how you feel apart from it upsetting her and maybe creating a rift between the two of you. You know what he was like, just let her stay in her bubble of how she remembers him, although I'm sure deep down she knows exactly what he was, she is probably in some wierd way trying to protect your memories of him too.

LilacPoint Fri 21-Apr-17 11:49:12

I went through this with my own DP. I found that talking about unhappiness and ill treatment only distressed the person. They can no longer do anything about it, will be confused and find it difficult to accept blame, understandably to some extent I think, because of how things were done in their generation.

You aren't lying in any sense that I can see. What's important now is your relationship with DM going forward. What I would do, and did, was keep my conflicted feelings for the counselling sessions.

Cricrichan Fri 21-Apr-17 11:51:34

There would be no point in telling her now. It'll only hurt her.

OnTheRise Fri 21-Apr-17 11:52:18

She might be trying to reassure you that he loved and cared for you, because in her heart she knows he was crap. It might help if you did talk about him with her.

tigerdriverII Fri 21-Apr-17 11:55:02

Thanks both for your comments. I can see that speaking up would be distressing for her - that's my dilemma!

I feel that I am lying because she asks me "you know how much your dad loved you, don't you", things like that, and I have to give an evasive answer, change the subject or nod feebly - a lie.

HecateAntaia Fri 21-Apr-17 12:02:03

sounds to me like it is possible she knows how awful he was to you and feels guilty for failing to protect you and needs you to agree that he was a good father in order that she doesnt feel guilty.

its really up to you whether you want to pretend to buy into her fiction so she can feel better or whether you want to bring it out into the open so you do.

or maybe you could give her her fiction and talk through the truth with others? thats also an option.

tbh, i would probably go with the truth. no mum actually he wasnt a good dad to me and i dont feel he loved me.

but it comes down to personal choice. whatever you choose it has to be what hurts you the least.

ohgoshIdontknow Fri 21-Apr-17 12:05:05

Don't tell her. It's not fair.

MrsJayy Fri 21-Apr-17 12:13:09

Do you think your mum let you down your dad sounds quite abusive but mum didn't see it that has to really hurt saying that I would just leave it reply yeah mum and move on, It is hard seeing the other side of abusive fathers

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Fri 21-Apr-17 12:21:36

I think she must know full well he wasn't a good dad, you agreeing he loved you let's her off the hook BUT I don't see what good upsetting her now would do she's in her 80's and looking for peace. Be the bigger personflowers

tigerdriverII Fri 21-Apr-17 12:23:18

ohgoshidontknow : I do feel like that, I can see that she can't do anything about it now. I wish she'd shut up about him though.

MrsJayy : yes, I think she failed to protect me. That does hurt - she chose a quiet life over sticking up for her child.

I probably won't say anything and will instead talk about it at my next counselling session.

tigerdriverII Fri 21-Apr-17 12:26:04

See, I don't think being old is a get out of jail free card. Really I should have spoken up before: it feels too late now, but I feel that something's unresolved. Ah, well - not much I can do.

Didiusfalco Fri 21-Apr-17 12:27:07

I can see why people are saying it will do no good, but I think you should say something to stop the conversation. You've clearly been left with some issues from his treatment, she didn't protect you - I don't think being older gives her a pass.

Didiusfalco Fri 21-Apr-17 12:27:44

X-post - yes I agree with you!

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Fri 21-Apr-17 12:27:48

You could try the broken record technique, "we have our own memories of Dad, let's not dwell on the past" repeat it every time she mentions him.

EverythingEverywhere1234 Fri 21-Apr-17 12:33:07

I understand it must be tough but there's nothing to be gained by speaking to your elderly mother about it. You'll just upset her and nothing can truly be resolved now he's dead anyway. You can't change the past.

Joysmum Fri 21-Apr-17 12:35:09

I agree with others, painting a rose tinted picture of him justifies her own reasons for staying with him and not protecting you.

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Fri 21-Apr-17 12:38:36

She's looking for reassurance from you that you and her are ok. If you do want to bring it up, maybe a light statement like "Mum, Dad wasn't perfect, you knew this but we are ok now, lets not mention this again" type thing? What reaction do you want do you think? If it's an apology, it might not come. I can see why you're finding this hard.

AnyFucker Fri 21-Apr-17 12:42:20

I did.

But my father is still alive and mum was in her sixties at the time

She asked me why I had such a "long face" at a recent special occasion where I had been forced to spend time in his company

It all came out (40 odd years of it) and I am glad.

MrsJayy Fri 21-Apr-17 12:44:52

I think probably talking to your councillor is best, marraiges like your parents were complicated i do think a lot of this stuff was brushed off and that isn't fair on the children that suffered. I grew up in an abusive household drink violence verbal abuse but mum brushed it all away it isn't great the rose tinted specs is it

tigerdriverII Fri 21-Apr-17 12:47:42

Hmmm. I suppose I'd really like her to acknowledge what a pig he was, to her as well, although of course their marriage was and is none of my business. That won't ever happen and when I did ask her about an unsavoury episode she definitely knew all about she dismissed it with a tinkly laugh and uncharacteristic memory loss.

I guess I just need to work out a way to process my feelings - if she were dead I'd have to do so without her.

AnyFucker Fri 21-Apr-17 12:48:48

You won't get what you need from her

EverythingEverywhere1234 Fri 21-Apr-17 12:51:02

I agree with AF. I can't see how this will help you. I also agree with Lois, she knows she let you down, even if she didn't mean to, and she just wants to make sure you're okay with her.

handslikecowstits Fri 21-Apr-17 12:57:08

I wouldn't be pussyfooting around with this by letting her talk about his feelings for you. Neither however, would I be rude and go off on a rant IYKWIM.

I say this: we obviously have very different memories of him, mum. Let's not talk about it.

handslikecowstits Fri 21-Apr-17 12:57:36

I'd say this.

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