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My mother and her politics(28 Posts)
My mother would like to come and stay with me for a few days at the end of the summer, and I've realised that all I've done in my head since we agreed on dates is to run through imaginary conversations with her about Brexit and racism and reading the Express.
That's not normal, is it? I can't do it for two more months, the poison is polluting my brain!
I don't have a good relationship with her: she abandoned her children and went off to do not much at all, really, but presumably with as little interference as possible. She isn't a narcissist or an abuser, there's nothing much to her really. She wants an easy life and by and large she's got it. She lives quite rurally, socialises only with family (her family, not mine) and doesn't have a lot to think about. I know this because she will talk at me almost without stopping for as long as I'll let her. I haven't seen her for a number of years because I stopped making myself available - but then she never asked, until now.
The huge sticking point for me is (apart from the abandonment and the lack of engagement) is that she is politically very stupid, very narrow, and very right-wing. She voted quite passionately for Brexit and since none of it bar the rising food prices is going to affect her, she's golden. She reads the Express so is a thick racist, and the idea of having her in my house now is distasteful.
(If you are reading this and are right-wing, I just want to clarify that I don't think those things about all of you, and I also think the left wing at the moment is lamentable so don't bother, thanks. But my mum is all those things.)
I don't really have any mental health problems bar a bit of depression after a big life event some years ago, all sorted. I'm robust. So this constant stream of bad thoughts is really telling me something and I don't know how to react. Can I really just say 'Sorry, this isn't going to work for me because you're an awful person'? Do I grin and bear it and do mindfulness exercises galore until she's on the train home?
Can you find away for her to stay close by but not with you? Or can you make it really short? I think several days together when you haven't seen each other in years sounds really intense!
My stepdad is somewhat like this. He's actually a really kind person and very generous (he's also very rich), but he's hardcore right wing, not in a particularly racist way, but more economically though doesn't have a problem with the racist stuff either as long as it means he's voting for lower taxes, if that makes sense. He and my mum live in the U.S. and he voted for Trump. My mum is not that right wing, but she's pretty inert when it comes to politics and doesn't care that much and is happy to appease him because she loves him and they have a good, comfortable life together. But though I do genuinely like him as a person (apart from his close mindedness and racism by proxy, that is), when he starts on politics, which I feel very strongly about (and I'm very progressive), I want to crawl out of my skin.
When they both come to visit, they don't stay with us. They stay in a holiday cottage nearby so we all get a bit of a break from each other. I try to steer to neutral topics and distract when he goes on about immigration or something. And then just grin and bare it a bit. It's hard though because sometimes I just want to choke him.
Can you just tell her that you don't mind her coming but you don't agree with her on many thing so as soon as the topic switches to politics or religion that you will be asking her to leave?
Not easy I know but you've nothing to lose.
You don't see her anyway.
I will do that hellsbellsmelons but I need to stop what's going round in my head too!
mindutopia I can't imagine how you cope with Trump voters. "By proxy" is as bad in my book. Gone are the days of 'Oh well she is very nice and just a little bit racist but you'd never know' - for me, anyway! You have my sympathy.
My mum wouldn't stay in an airbnb although I may cheer myself up by looking for one for her anyway.
I'll take your Daily Express reading mum and raise you a S*n reading Mum & Dad.
Seriously you have my sympathies, maybe some pre planned activities outside of your home would help distract her form trying to engage in a full on UKIP monologue? If she does look like she is about to embark on a rant I would just tell her that you don't share her political views at all in any way so you will not engage in a conversation that will almost certainly end in disagreement as that would spoil her visit. Then change the subject.
Write it all down. That's the only way I can stop those kind of brain-worms.
I have this same problem with my family - my mother, sister and brother-in-law are racist, bigoted, rabid Brexiteers and conspiracy theorists to boot.
I went through years of letting their views get to me, rowing with them every time we met up, and generally letting the poison rot my brain.
I cope much better now by sticking to safe subjects of discussion, and not seeing them all that much. However, when I do have to spend extended lengths of time in their company, I find mindfulness helpful, as well as reminding myself that I am not responsible for their behaviour, and that what difference would it make even if I could change their minds? In the grand scheme of things, nothing they do will make a blind bit of difference to what happens to this country, so there's no point worrying about it. Let them be who they want to be, and let it go.
It's only a few days, you'll cope. You just need to accept that you'll never change her mind, and get her out of yours.
Yes! That's right! Anything I do to influence that one person isn't going to make any difference now to the outcome!
That is astonishingly helpful.
I'm going to email her in advance to ask that we don't talk politics or newspapers (incl Trump, because how dare she be anti-Trump but pro-shitting on her own country?).
And if she doesn't like that then she can choose not to come, but she needs to know that she has to be very careful.
You can say no, it's not you that invited her after all!
Yep, talk about gardening, cooking or DIY, I usually find those to be safe.
You’re lucky - mine are pro-Trump as well!
I find it sad that left wing people are so intolerant of other people’s views. Why get yourself worked up about what she thinks?
My family blames everything on Muslims (using very offensive racial slurs to describe them), and takes every opportunity to bring up their “views”. It is disgusting, and I have to bite my tongue very hard not to rise to their bait.
This is not about right or left wing - I have many friends who are politically on the right and we have perfectly civilised debates and discussions. Also, I have little time for Corbynites and other extremists on the left.
This is about mindless, disgusting bigotry and being forced to listen to it because Family.
What would you call a woman who abandoned her children if not both abusive and selfish?. I realise she is your mother but she certainly is not motherly is she?.
You would not have put up with an ounce of this from a friend, your mother is no different. She probably as well wants to come and stay with you because she has no friends (understandably) and no-one else would want to be bothered with her. Your boundaries re her are very messed up and by having her stay with you, you are still a willing audience.
You do not mention your dad in all this, is he still present in your life?.
You have a choice here; you can still say no. What is the worst she can do other than strop?. She still won't get into your home. Sadly I do not think you are perhaps as robust re her because you seem still mired in your own FOG (fear, obligation and guilt). No amount of mindfulness exercises will start to address that properly.
re your comment:-
"I haven't seen her for a number of years because I stopped making myself available - but then she never asked, until now".
And why now as well?. That is a question you should be asking your own self here. What is in this for her?.
Its not your fault your mother is like this, you did not make her that way. Her own parents here did that.
It's like a mirror.... You're talking about my dad
Atilla, I know those are your stock responses, and I know they are valid for some, but it's not a script that really works. Of course there are a million details I haven't been able to fit into a post on MN, there's a thirty-five-year history that isn't black and white. I'm not going to go into each point, suffice to say that I think she's a sorry and hopeless case, and not a calculating abuser.
If you do decide to host her then before she arrives make up a list of topics that she riles you on...and if she starts talking about one of those topics on the list, just say to her mum lets not talk about it, and then change the subject...and then if she keeps talking about it just don't reply...you can't have disagreements or arguments if you don't reply as it takes two to argue or disagree, so if you don't reply then she's essentially spouting hot air to herself...
Also the thing to remember is everyone is allowed their own opinions about things, we may not agree with everyones views about things and they may not agree with our views on things and that is ok, but it is best to try and be civil regardless of differing opinions and not let it become my way or no way
Ask yourself this; why is she coming to visit you?. It is your prerogative to think she is both a sad and hopeless case but if that is so, it is not your job as her daughter to rescue and or save her from the poor life choices she herself made. It is not your fault she is the ways she is.
I do know she is a product of her own parents. She's also not the full shilling. You have to believe me when I say I've approached her behaviour from the point of view that she's a manipulative narcissist but it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. And she's in no way bright enough for that. I do however think she's very odd and very selfish.
She's an absolute fantasist, a teenage dreamer trapped in the body of a sixty-something year old. She has always been like this and in days gone by people would have said she was a bit simple. Not learning-challenged, not dyslexic, not ADD, not autistic, but just hard of thinking.
To challenge her wouldn't be bringing a narcissist or an abuser bang to rights, it would be met with an absolute lack of comprehension. I've seen it, it's bizarre (I have challenged her before). She is not all there. I know, Attilla, you might want me to reframe this as the behaviour of a manipulative person but please trust me, it's not that she's not capable of manipulation, it's that she genuinely is deficient mentally.
So why now? I can't answer that except, why not? There's nothing going on, she doesn't need us, clearly. I did wonder if I'd eventually get accused of withholding access to her grandchild (who is supremely uninterested in her) but she didn't even hint at that. I find her very very weird as a parent but there it is.
And the right wing nonsense (for the way she does it is nonsensical, a whole other thread really) is because she's married to a man who is like that. She tends to believe anything she's exposed to enough. If I challenge her politics, she turns on a dime and agrees with me. She's really not a full person.
(I now feel a bit bad because I've never written down before the extent to which I think she's deficient, and perhaps her awfulness really isn't her fault. Still, racism is racism, no excuses.)
Yes, this is the thing. My family does have abusers in it (and I have to work very hard to control my own learned behaviours when it comes to flying off the handle, which is my family MO), but my mum is not manipulative. My sister is, but that's another story.
Yes. I've been around abusive people, narcissists - one of my friends is married to one, I've had friendships too which ended when it became clear why was going on.
I would love there to be something concrete to base an estrangement on. I really dislike the woman, I don't respect her or her opinions at all, and crucially life goes on very nicely when she doesn't visit. I have a list of grievances but they're mostly just 'this was fucking strange' rather than 'she's clearly evil'.
If she switches to your point of view quickly, could you get all the politics and irksome topics discussed in the first two hours of the visit thus clearing the decks for the rest of the time?
Why does this visit have to happen at all?
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