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Struggling with my mother(24 Posts)
This is my first post here and am looking for some advice on dealing with my mum.
We've always had a bit of a strained relationship ever since I was a teenager but I feel it's getting worse.
She gets annoyed at the simplest things and constantly feels the need to comment on my life choices. One example of this was her moaning to my sister that my DP and I decided to get a cleaner. Comments were made like "why can't she clean her own house / why is she so lazy" etc etc. This is happening more and more and I feel like I can't be myself or discuss what is going on in my life in case I get comments as I feel if I don't live my life exactly as she does then something has to be said.
I have recently become a mum myself and this has made some things come up to the surface from my childhood that are bothering me. I have always felt like I was in the way and just tolerated as a child and I think this is the cause of me being quite a shy and quiet person and I have struggled to make friends in adult life. One of the things that is really troubling me is a memory I have of me sitting on my mums stairs crying because mum told me I was going to stay with some foster parents as I had been naughty. I remember having a bag packed even down to the toys. I assume it was an empty threat but this has haunted me for years and I am struggling to get past it.
Memories like this and current issues are making it very hard for me to have a relationship with my mum.
I don't know where I am going with this really, just wondering if there is anyone out there who has dealt with something similar.
I hear you. Nothing like having your own baby to help you realise how horrible your parents are.
My arm chair guess is she see you as an extension of her. You are her, not your own person plus some jealousy.
Have a look at the stately homes thread. It will give you some resources to look at to give you an idea of family dynamics.
Also, tell you sister not to pass on what she says unless it is positive.
I sympathize, as kids we naturally love our parents no matter what and it's so hard if we grow up and realize they're, well, not very nice people.
Boundaries and concentrating on what's best for you is the way to go.
I sometimes used to frame it as, "what would be expected if I was a son rather than a daughter?", as blokes are a lot less keen on keeping family relationships going no matter what, and often quite happy to go, "Well I only see Mum twice a year because she just picks arguments and she's not going to change".
It's just a different perspective that can be useful to have... I'm not saying "be a man" (perish the thought!), just to look at things from various viewpoints when you're deciding what to do. Obvs don't be horrid but don't feel you "ought" to put up with stuff either.
Comment were made to who OP? Sounds like there's some triangulation going on here which rings 'dysfunctional family dynamic' alarm bells.
She sounds cruel OP. Are there roles allocated? Golden child or favourite, scapegoat or blacksheep?
Comments will be made to my brother and sister and even myself sometimes. We have a family WhatsApp group and a very recent example was just the other day. We have put the house on the market now the government had allowed estate agents to reopen and after I had said we have had a few viewings she asked how they manage that with social distancing to which I explained. She then came back with some sarcastic comment about how she still wouldn't let them in the house and that we are putting our child at risk. I felt she led me into a trap by asking as she already knew she wanted to make the comment. A week earlier she was happy to come inside the house and use our bathroom (even though she works at a doctors surgery so is more likely to have the virus that any one else).
There are so many examples of her selfish behaviour that I have just forgotten over the years. When I broke up with my ex she was annoyed as she had made an effort with my MIL at the time and that was a waste of time for her.
I spoke to my partner about all of this last night for the first time and it has made me feel better. His advise was I need to be confident in my life choices (I told her we didn't get the cleaner even though she has been coming for the last 2 years). And just generally stick up for myself a bit more. And that I should be proud of the life I have built and not hide it away because it's not the life that she thinks I ought to have.
I am not sure if there are roles allocated, I was the worst as a teenager (quite rebellious) but the youngest was quite a difficult child. I think the roles quite often change depending who has done or said something to annoy her. She will then put one of the others as the favourite. We often get the line "I did so much for you as children" but does that give you the right to now behave like a complete arse now they are grown up?
As hard as it is to accept OP, you don't need her approval for things you do. My mum can be a bit like this sometimes (don't mean cruel, just a bit disapproving sonetimes), more so with my sister who won't say anything to defend herself. Me on the other hand realised years ago l am an adult and just because she doesn't always agree with me, doesn't mean she is right and l am wrong. You are a mum yourself now and your little family will be how you want - if you want a cleaner, have one, it is nothing to do with her.
I could have written this post myself. Even down to feeling like an irritant as a child. My brother and sister were the preferred children. I was the youngest of three children in three years so feel like my mother ran out of steam when it came to me.
Ironically my siblings are the ones that have taken the wrong path and I have done everything the "right" way. I have worked since I was 16, got married and had two children. She was critical of my choice of husband, disapproves of how I raised my children and generally comments negatively about absolutely everything.
When I was a teen if I said I wanted to go to uni, she would say something along the lines of oh no that's for posh people. You need to get a job in a shop.
When I had my second child, she said right that's it no more children now because she thought I wasn't coping as a mother because I was tired or happened to mention once that it was tough having two kids under 2. She didn't offer any help.
It has got to the stage where I tell her absolutely nothing about my life and conversations are kept to the weather and what the neighbours are up to !
I feel like therapy would really help you OP. I started counselling about two years ago and this has helped me immensely. I still have massive anxiety issues but it has helped me come to terms with our lack of relationship.
My dm used to take every variance from her parenting as a criticism.
When my sis gave her children wholemeal bread, dm moaned about it for weeks as “affectation”. When dB sent his son to private pre-prep, dm complained for years about her dil’s spendthrift ways, things like dance classes and new bikes were ridiculous indulgences. Everything we did was wrong and she’d try to make us take her side.
I think it was a mix of defending her own parenting & jealousy that we have achieved a lot of things she didn’t ( through more opportunity)
It was irritating but we learned not to rise. In the end, it didn’t matter what she thought, we make and enjoy our own decisions.
* One example of this was her moaning to my sister that my DP and I decided to get a cleaner. Comments were made like "why can't she clean her own house / why is she so lazy" etc etc.*
You and your partner are adults, with your own income, making decisions which work for your household. It's nobody else's business at all what you do about managing your home.
* (*I told her we didn't get the cleaner even though she has been coming for the last 2 years) I just wouldn't share anything about my life, or as little as I could get away with. Grey Rock is your friend OP. There's an explanation of it here though I'm sure there others.
* "I did so much for you as children"* so doing what she's supposed to do as a responsible parent then?
* One of the things that is really troubling me is a memory I have of me sitting on my mums stairs crying because mum told me I was going to stay with some foster parents as I had been naughty. I remember having a bag packed even down to the toys.*
That was cruel and has obviously affected you all these years. Can you EVER see yourself doing this to your own child?
Memories like this and current issues are making it very hard for me to have a relationship with my mum.
Sadly not everyone goes on to have a loving and supportive parent. There's a certain amount of control here I think and also jealousy that you are doing so well in your own life perhaps? I may be projecting, but some parents find it hard to see their offspring become (more) successful in their own lives. 🌹
Why is she still in your life to this degree op? This person has brought you nothing but pain. Please seek some counselling and support. It sounds like your mother was extremely abusive and emotionally negligent.
Read this book, it really helped me:
You have a lot of work to do to create a distance from your mother and your siblings, it is a long journey but worth it to reclaim your self esteem and quality of life.
A low contact relationship is the way forward.
I agree with you not sharing with her anymore. Grey rock her.
From now on, everything is ticking along. All good, been busy, nothing to report.
Only tell her things once they are done and can’t be undone and then ignore.
Deflect everything with a question about her. What did you think about ....? Have you seen...?
How are you and your siblings? Is your relationship ok that they would understand and support you not sharing as much? Could you talk to them knowing they wouldn’t tell her?
What positives does she bring to your life? Any? She believes she still has some influence over you but you are an adult. Like your Dp says be confident in your choices.
When my Dad tried to put me down, again, publically in front of some relatives of my SIL, I did say "well it is a good job I don't look for your approval anymore" he then decided to follow that with well your sister was always more intelligent than you, I just agreed, she is actually. Although we both have degrees in the same subject so I am not quite sure how thick he thinks I am.
But I see him about twice or three times a year always at a relative's house. I text him on Fathers' Day, he doesn't even get a call. I remember being in a card shop looking for one that literally says I acknowledge you are my Father, not the greatest, not the best, just a nod that you fathered me I wasn't the only one, several of us were doing that. If I don't do it he would complain to my sister and it isn't fair on her.
So work out what she brings to your life, and slowly back off telling her anything of importance.
Oh and i agree that you should be confident in your choices.
But you don’t have to keep walking up to someone, who you know will hit you, (because they always have and are very happy doing it) expecting them to suddenly not hit you.
Your mother is just plain mean. Also, if your siblings are telling you she's said unkind things about you, they're mean too!
Your dp sounds lovely, and he's giving you good advice. Makenthe choices you want to make for yourself, not for others, and own those choices. If you want to have a cleaner, then that's your choice! You're providing employment for someone else, which is a good thing.
It might be useful to have a few counselling sessions to talk about past issues with family. I did a while ago and it really helped me to get past feeling rubbish about my upbringing.
You're doing a good job, keep it up x
You have my sympathies, my mother was a total bitch until she got Alzheimer's.
An ongoing theme with me, 'I couldn't live behind a high wall and not be able to see people' the house is built in the kitchen gardens of a long gone Manor House.
My brother in law got, 'how can you believe in nothing' he didn't believe in god.
For years and years
Thank you everyone for your comments and support! I'm sorry to hear that so many of you have similar issues. I am surprised as I always thought it was just me as I look at friends who all have loving relationships with their mum.
The grey rock method looks really interesting and something I am going to try and adopt.
I have been thinking about cutting contact but I feel bad not to let her have contact with her grandchild. On the other hand I don't want my children involved in family drama and want them to grow up happy and secure and not think that sort of behaviour is the norm. She isn't heavily involved which is probably a blessing and we are lucky that my partners mother is very involved and helps us out no end.
My siblings are supportive as they too have experienced similar challenges. I would say they pander to her more than I do and they probably do meddle a bit so I think it is also wise that I ask them not to pass on negative feedback that they hear from mum.
With regards to counselling how did you go about arranging this? Through GP or privately. I think that would certainly help, I have had CBT in the past and talking really helps me.
I feel like I've already had some counselling from all your posts so thank you again. What a fantastic community Mumsnet is!
re your comment:-
"I have been thinking about cutting contact but I feel bad not to let her have contact with her grandchild. On the other hand I don't want my children involved in family drama and want them to grow up happy and secure and not think that sort of behaviour is the norm".
Your second sentence here should be your mantra. I daresay as well your mother feels no guilt or remorse whatsoever for how you have been treated to date by her and she really deserves no consideration here. Your child will be harmed in not too dissimilar ways as to how you've been harmed yourself if you allow her access to your child, your most precious resource. Do not do that to yourself or to your child. Not all relatives are nice and safe and some of them like your mother here are actively abusive. If the other set of grandparents are nice then concentrate your efforts further on them. Your children as well as you need radiators, not drains, in their lives. Your mother has not changed fundamentally since your own childhood. This type of toxic dysfunction too can go down the generations; do not let another generation become affected by their grandmother's toxic behaviours.
Deal with your own FOG (you seem mired in this) through counselling. You will need to find a therapist who has NO familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment. GP waiting lists are very long and you could well need more than say six sessions. I would look at BACPs website and interview such people carefully and at length before choosing. These people are like shoes, you need to find someone who fits in with your approach.
"My siblings are supportive as they too have experienced similar challenges. I would say they pander to her more than I do and they probably do meddle a bit so I think it is also wise that I ask them not to pass on negative feedback that they hear from mum".
Maintain firm and consistently applied boundaries with your siblings, they may not be all trustworthy here nor infact worthy of your trust.
Some of them perhaps act as the "flying monkeys"; these are easily manipulated sent in by people like your mother to do their bidding and or dirty work for them.
You can try grey rocking your mother but this technique may not fully be successful; it can in itself be quite exhausting. You may ultimately need to be in no contact with her.
Another vote here for grey rock.
Also another vote for you to look at some of the "Stately Homes" threads.
Sadly, some parents are not good parents (or good people) and are best avoided.
P. S. I love how your mum assumes that the cleaning is your job and not your DP's job. Apparently you're being lazy, but he isn't, because he is a man?
P. P. S. Georgielovespie your dad made an utter arse of himself in front of your SIL's family
Meerkat, I absolutely love that we need "radiators not drains". And I know you are right, I need to protect my child and any future children. I want to do whatever possible to ensure they do not grow up with the same anxiety and low self esteem as me.
I will have a look at that website for some counselling as I think it would really help getting everything off my chest. It's already helped coming on here and also talking about it with my partner.
I can't thank everyone enough for their help and for sharing there experiences with me
Read “toxic parents” by Susan Forward. Lots of good stuff on there. If you can’t cope with your mum why would your kids be able to put up with this crap? You’ve had decades of experience and they don’t have those defences.
OP, that's tough. It's very hard to accept that this person who should love and and defend you and whose genes you share is so horrible.
My father was a total arse but it took me years to accept quite how horrible and unreasonable he was. I gradually distanced myself from him to the point that I barely saw him (once every few years) and only rarely spoke on the phone. My life was 10x better for it. Just put as much space as you can between yourself and your mother.
I took the decision a long time ago to just tell my mum everything is fine and dandy. I tell her nothing about my life at all.
She's 90 now so don't feel like I can cut her out of my life.
However this hasn't made me particularly happy. I still pine after a loving mother.
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