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.
This is a Premium feature
Toxic Family(29 Posts)
So, this is my first post about this issue and may be a long one. I apologise in advance for that. It has recently come to my attention that I have a toxic family. Especially my mother. A minute and a half phone call today shattered my good mood into pieces. My 3 year old has had an upset tummy for a few days showing in his nappies so when I called asking if we would visit tomorrow, she heard him in the bath. When I explained why, I was told he shouldn't be in the bath, he should be outside because it is a nice day and also it will be because I am obviously feeding him s**t food (freezer food-which by the way I was raised on predominantly and my son gets a mix of home cooked meals and freezer food). Something like this happens everytime we speak, I get constant criticism no matter how hard I try. My sons father and I have had a rough time of it, with many issues between ourselves and if I'm honest my family contributed to a lot of our fights too. Whenever we decide to make another go of it, I get a torrent of abuse and criticism even being called a terrible mother putting my son through all this messing around. Granted I don't agree with the way a lot of it has been handled but my son adores having his family together. I am dreading the conversation of letting them know my sons dad and I are speaking again because it won't conform to what they want. They will constantly ask "why are you doing this to us?" and I say its not about you but it never changes anything. My sister also has these tendencies but she will go from being my best friend and we talk about everything including how my parents do the same to her, but then she will turn and attack me or tell my parents what I have said with no warning and it will all blow up. I feel like as much as I love my son and would never wish him away...ever! He has become the worst thing I could have done for mine and my families relationships. They demand about him all the time, when they will see him or what clubs or events he does or what I should be doing with him and if I disagree with any of it they make my life miserable until I give in. They also have this insane obsession with what they can have more than his fathers side of the family. They have commanded every Christmas at their house and my sons birthday is coming up and a family member asked what we would be doing for it with the lockdown and my mum without even asking me said there would be a party at her house. They try and discount my sons dads family constantly and refuse to even listen to any points i make about anything. I am constantly put down by them and I genuinely feel like i cant make a decision without their approval because the backlash will simply not be worth having my own voice. Also, my mother especially is fixated on my sister, anything she does wrong is likely somehow my fault and she will ring her every day to check in and see how she is but will only speak to me to get through to my son. I lost my best friend a couple of weeks ago and not one member of my family has bothered to check in and see how I am coping. I have barely seen or heard from them other than to get constant grief.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? What do I do?
Just as a last note they are not bad parents, they do a lot of wonderful things and financially have always been there, and will always give advice. It just changes every so often to this unbelievably painful experience usually when I choose to do something they don't agree with, such as give my little family another chance or put feelers out for a career they don't agree with or disagree with them on a matter about my son or say anything at all that could be taken negatively about my sister.
Stop telling them your business...
How are visits happening anyway?
Use lockdown to step away from their judgement..
But honestly? A 3 year old has no clue what /who is best for them do they?
Maybe your family have too much info (correct info?) about your relationship to keep quiet.. If you aren't being treated right they are maybe frustrated with you at times.. Not that the level of abuse you describe is ever right...
Manage your own personal relationship.. Tell them nothing. If they ask just say its a private matter..
Spending celebration times away from them is also your right to decide.
They seem way way too invested...
I would reduce contact and don't tell them anything about your life.
Might sound like a bad thing to say @Windyatthebeach but I genuinely believe if I disappeared one day and they got left with my son, that would be their ideal scenario. My sons father and I have been through an absolute rollercoaster and quite a bit of that came from my parents being constantly involved in our life and controlling every bit of it that they could. Though we did have our own issues too. I can't reduce contact @Fosler or keep things from them because then it all gets worse believe it or not. I was never raised to be a disgusting liar or I should never disrespect my parents by hiding things or how dare I use my son as a weapon by only letting them see him for what I deem good behaviour on their part.
Please please go to the stately homes posts on the relationships board to help you unpick this dynamic because it’s clear it’s having such an awful effect on you
But you absolutely can reduce contact.. I am nc with both my dps.
They have no rights to your dc you know..
Do I just post this on there? I will have a look now. Thankyou
Also on a side note, my friends all HATE my family and it has affected every intimate relationship I have ever had
I’ve got a family like this and I recognise a lot of what you write in my own family. I’ve had lots of therapy. This is what I learnt. Your mum/sister are co-dependent (look it up and read up) which is why she has that level of contact with her. You can’t fix that or change it. The only thing you can control is your reaction to it. You would be best to get weekly therapy from an expert in family dynamics/stress management/attachment theory. You can’t navigate this alone. I have minimised my exposure to my family by moving over an hour away. I schedule one weekly phone call. If it starts to get toxic I have a range of excuses ready prepared for ending the conversation. I can also hang up and then text to say “sorry! The WiFi/network went down!” you need to widen your circle beyond your family. Stop relying on them or giving them any information. The way they are is drama led. It gives them an adrenaline rush. You have to cut off the supply. I feel for you because it was only with therapy that I started to fully understand how dysfunctional my family are
Sadly sounds so familiar to me.
I have no answers - the more I tried to get a win-win ie just some balance for their wants and our family needs and DP family needs they escalated till the whole relationship blew up
They just want my DC now and have given up on me except to keep poking and causing trouble
Sorry not to be able to give advice just understanding
Therapy helped me cope too, I wanted a lot of energy on trying to fix the unfixable
My dm also caused trouble with my then dp when we had a baby. She admitted lying years later to keep us split up when likely we could have worked stuff out..
Lean on your friends op.. They have the measure of your toxic family.
Also, why do your friends hate your family? Look at what you wrote? Hate. It’s a strong/dramatic word. It shouldn’t even occur to you to write that word. You really do need a therapist urgently. Normal people/families don’t have that level of contact/knowledge of each other’s goings on to even have an opinion. I’ve had to learn that too. Your friends shouldn’t have any knowledge of who your family even are or where they live etc. That’s how you “non dramatise” it all. You should have friends in your life that are completely separate from your family. I now have friends that don’t even know I have a sister. Cultivate friendships who like you for you and not the drama stories you tell them about your family.
@searchaway I wouldnt even know where to start with finding therapy and my finances also aren't great so paying a lot of money out for an hour session just isn't doable right now. I came on here to find other people who would understand and I feel so grateful right now that I have had instant responses to say I'm not alone (though obviously I wouldn't wish this on anyone else) x
Start by limiting the amount of info you give them eg don’t get sucked into conversation about what your DC is eating “oh honestly mum haven’t you got anything better to worry about ha ha” or say “oh never mind that, tell me about you”. Don’t tell them when they are unwell “all fine here how are you getting on ??” And read Toxic Families. Your family is incredibly enmeshed in your life and it’s clearly causing damage. Start to free yourself! You are a grown adult!
@searchaway my friends are amazing and have stuck with me for many years. One particular friend who has no qualms about saying how much she hates them, I used to live with so she saw first hand what I went through. My parents have also decided at some point that they didn't like her and she was a bad influence (she pointed some things out about our relationship and I dared to confront them) so they have always been off with her and obviously because se=he knows most of the past, she is one of the first people I will call to vent to x my other friends (still years long- Im incredibly lucky) have just picked up on things that have been said or seen me upset and figured it out with a little digging. They don't do this secretly. They are transparent as anything with it
I have a very similar family OP. Combined with two sisters and a brother who have a WhatsApp group seemingly just to slag my choices off. They are great in lots of ways and DS adores them, but I made the decision two years ago after a nasty fight that I would slowly withdraw- and I have. I only tell them the bear minimum info, if they get snarky on phone I abrupty end by saying there’s a delivery etc. No big confrontation but my life has been much better since.
Think on also you aren't being cruel keeping your dc away. Dc do not ime need dgps like the ones your dc has.. In fact as the dm you have a responsibility to keep your dc from any harm. Being around them isn't a good idea. Listen to how they have made you feel... You have no duty /obligation to them to keep up any sort of relationship if you don't want to. Be less available (after lockdown!) keep busy. If they turn up grab a coat and be off out. Enlist a friend to be your back up.. Take any support you can off nice people!!
Only my mum is this way & don’t have children, but I can really relate to your post. It’s so hard when you feel like such a tight knit family a lot of the time, but occasionally you get stung by something. It makes you question if they are that bad, when so much feels like love.
An information diet would be good...it can feel like lying, but you are protecting yourself & family unit.
also I find help in agreeing with them, but doing what you want anyway.
Massively reduce contact.
Do you know what greyrocking is?
Google it, this might be a very helpful solution here.
OP why one earth are you doing this to yourself?
You openly admit that the majority of problems you've had in your marriage are due to your family yet you continue on the roller coaster.
OP you are the one paying the fare and climbing into the seat for the ride. You're a grown woman with your own child. You are the one responsible for who you have in your life - no one else.
You are doing this to yourself and you are dismissing advice from people who've been there and come out the other side.
You need to go low contact and tell your family as little information as possible. You need therapy to help you unpick all this dysfunction. Read Susan Forward's Toxic Parents and start taking responsibility for your own happiness. Take a look at BACP for therapists.
You have been brought up to believe you have no right to boundaries and your family believe they have the right to control you.
Look up boundaries, enmeshment, control.
How your family treats you is abusive, serious so.
Your upbringing, not being allowed to make your own decisions, puts you at risk of making a poor choice of partner.
So its possible your family are not completely wrong about your partner, it being regularly on and off doesn't sound like a healthy relationship.
But being right about your partner doesn't make them right about how they treat you.
If and when you try to enforce boundaries, all hell will break loose and you'll be accused of all sorts. You may weather the storm and get through it, but I suspect no contact would be best for you in the long run.
Please dont continue to let them treat you like this.
Ahh sorry I meant Toxic Parents but wrote Toxic Families. This work by Susan Forward is great, and will help you see what is happening with your family....
@Honeybee85 I've looked into grey rocking, seems like something to try definitely, a safer way to test whether I can pull away without cutting off.
@12345kbm it's been difficult to see the bad fully because I didn't want to and it feels like an impossible situation to constantly be pulled between my new family and my old family. I have had the book recommended and it is in my basket until payday when it will be being immediately purchased.
@HelenUrth the issues with my partner are basically he can act like an absolute man child and rarely reacts in the correct way to something. Very rash decisions so instead of talking about a problem, he will pack his bags and leave then instantly regret it and we work towards a solution. We had had some things come between us that no one could have predicted and I have absolutely made mistakes too but in essence we are a good team and we have come a long way and are still making progress now. A lot of the time to do with my family, he had to bite his tongue a lot while they were going off on me and he found it incredibly hard to do but no one wanted a war zone
@Bekiboom I know how difficult it is. This is your mother after all. Nothing about this is easy, however, at some point in our lives, we have to weigh up whether we want to continue to be abused or if we want a peaceful life away from all the toxic drama. We have no choice as children but as adults we do and, after a while we're simply colluding in it.
This is why therapy is so important because it gives you the safe space and support in order to process all this. It is hard, I'm afraid.
Please login first.