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Relationship with my parents faltering since birth of DS3(71 Posts)
Since having my DS3 my parent’s behaviour has changed or perhaps they have always been this way and I have become less tolerant.
I’d like advice about how to repair our relationship before things breakdown any further.
I have always been very close to both of my parents. My son is their first grandchild and I was excited to tell them they were going to be grandparents. They were shocked (no idea why I was 39 and had been married for 5 years) and throughout my pregnancy they never asked about me or my son.
When DS3 was born they were happy and for a little while things were ok, but as he grew and needed nap and feed times they became difficult to be around. They would ‘accidentally’ wake him up, distract him from eating etc. If I said “he’s getting tired” they would scoff and roll their eyes. In fact they would scoff and roll their eyes at most things I said. To this day they have never told me I am a good mother - perhaps because they don’t think I am. I once got upset and told them about how they made me feel. It didn’t help, my dad shouted at me, said I’m ungrateful and how dare I say they upset me when they paid for my wedding, buy me nice presents and
helped me go to university. They did pay for some of it but I paid for a lot of my wedding and worked 3 jobs during my uni days. I thanked them so much for these things at the time that my dad told me off for thanking them too much. I tried to pay them back for this with a regular monthly payment but they refused. I have since asked them not to buy presents for me or my husband anymore. I can’t risk it being thrown back in my face again as it’s too hurtful. This conversation did stop the eye rolling but nothing else changed.
They are both poor communicators my mum lies a lot ( nothing major, I’m not sure she realises she’s doing it a lot of the time) and shouts or cries to deflect or get her own way and my dad won’t speak at all most of the time. I can’t remember the last time he spoke directly to me. He hasn’t wished me happy birthday for 3 years and neither of them have made any attempt to see me on my birthday for the past 3 years either. This year they came to my house when they knew I would be at work and dropped of an incredibly expensive pair of earrings for me. I now have to go to their house to take them back, which makes me feel very anxious.
They come for Christmas but make no attempt to enjoy themselves. I always cook the food they like, but mum will just pick at it and say she’s not hungry.
Since our relationship has started to breakdown, it’s made me think about the past more and the things my parents have done over the years that have made me feel bad that I’ve perhaps brushed under the carpet. I’m slowly letting go of these things/feelings and want to move on and make our relationship better. I know they won’t instigate this so I need to, but how? It would be easy to walk away but what good would that do. I saw a counsellor but she just kept telling me to tell my mum that I needed a hug from her, which I can’t do yet
In other respects my life is wonderful even in these difficult times, my son is amazing ( as all mums think of their children) my husband is too and is very supportive. I have a nice home and good job.
And yet, this issue with my parents consumes so much of me, of my time, my energy, my thoughts. How do I start carving a path to positive change?
Any advice will be gratefully received
Perhaps you need a different counsellor, one who will not try and push you back into a relationship with your parents, but who will help you come to terms with how things have changed.
It seems a spectacularly weird situation though - your parents stopped speaking to you after their grandson was born? Did something else happen?
Thanks for replying, they didn’t stop speaking to me when he was born. At first they just made things difficult for me, lots of huffing and puffing and eye rolling at everything I did or said. I ignored it for a while (6ish months) then I started commenting every time they did it to try and make them realise what they were doing. I’d just say ‘why does me saying that make you scoff/roll your eyes etc’. It only stopped after the day I got upset.
They did want to babysit my son when I went back to work but they refused to start looking after him before then, they wouldn’t build up to it. They wanted to go from never having been on their own with him to having him 3 days a week. I was also worried because my dad would try and shove food in his mouth and he also kept removing his sun hat when out (my son had no hair for a long time and is very fair skinned). They would try to stop him napping etc. So although I Tried to give them a chance to look after him. In the end it made me too nervous. To this day they have never looked after him and I think it’s because we wont let them babysit him while I work. They also don’t communicate well with him, so I was worried about his safety, nutrition, sleep and development and I just couldn’t do it. I think that’s when they think the problem started but for me it was their behaviour from when he just a few weeks old.
You need a better counsellor. Are you an only child? I think the scales are falling from your eyes and you’re seeing your parents for the kind of people they are, and always have been. That’s a big bucketload of shit to wade through and that’s why you need a better counsellor. Like all, trades and professions, there are good and bad ones, but also some that are just not the right fit for you.
However this turns out, your DH and DS are your family now.
It sounds as if you are starting to see who they really are as people; not just your parents.
From how you describe them; they don't seem to be very loving or open with you; I suspect their own childhoods didn't involve much love or openness either. The good bit is that you are coming to realise that their parenting isn't quite what it should have been; but they've done their best.
It will take time to work through how you are feeling about them and their place in your own family that you have created. There may never be a way to resolve this; they are who they are and you are you. You can still love them and involve them in your life; but try doing so on your terms only.
I also think having a child has made the scales fall away from your eyes a bit and view them quite differently.
Your counsellor sounds lame lm afraid. I’m afraid your parents are the way they are, you can’t change them. But you can change the way you respond to them. They sound contrary and hard work by the way
Good on you for challenging them and their eye rolling. It sounds like they always think they are “right” and “know better”. Your child = your rules. The hat thing sounds bat shit especially if he is very fair
I had a similar realisation when I had my baby. The grandparents I remember (my son is the youngest of many grandchildren) were doting and interested and offered to help with everything, as well as supporting my siblings unreservedly.
But things changed when it came to me. They started talking about my parenting choices with my siblings behind my back, they accused me of ‘making things up’ when I sought out treatment for my baby’s tongue tie, they blew hot and cold over childcare arrangements. They even started comparing my DS with my DN (negatively) which is something they have never done. It was all too much.
Then I realised they have always been like this with me. I have always been treated like a second class citizen compared to my siblings and now it seems they are trying to put my son into that role too.
I don’t really know what to advise. For me standing up for my parenting choices and protecting my DS has worked so far. I have also called their bluff regarding childcare and have made my own arrangements - now all of a sudden they ‘need’ to have him. I have found distance helps as does not sharing much about myself
You could try the same to see if it works.
OP I've had a similar experience with my parents although it was prompted by going through IVF in my case. Having a baby (or trying to) brings a lot to the surface, forces you to think about how you were parented.
I knew my parents weren't the easiest but it took counselling to help me to fully accept they are who they are. Nothing has really changed in our relationship except I don't feel I'm fighting against the tide like I used to. I used to come away from every visit to them feeling tearful and wondering why they couldn't be more loving/demonstrative etc. Now I'm much more zen.
I actually don't think your counsellor's suggestion is that bad, I guess she is trying to force an open dialogue between you and your mum because it sounds like the gently gently approach just won't work. But I can't talk because my counsellor suggested similar and I never did it, I just worried it would open Pandora's box and our relationship would never recover. I've just decided acceptance is good enough for me.
@Passmethefrazzles yes I’m an only child and I guess I’ve always know they are a bit unkind about others and are poor communicators ( the sort of people who aren’t listening to what another person is saying but are thinking about what they are going to say next). I do think they have got worse with age but my husband thinks they’ve always been this way and I used to ‘carry’ them.
I wasn’t seeing the counsellor about my parents, I was having some coaching to improve my work and work/life balance and my coach is also a counsellor so I spoke about my parents in the sessions sometimes as it was often on my mind.
@tickertyboo my dad had a very unhappy childhood, my mum was very much loved and the youngest and favourite child of my grandparents (according to my mum!) I do love then but they make me so unhappy.
@WhatKatyDidNxt I think your right and my dad has done lots of odd things. He will either not want my son to eat or try to practically force feed him, he will blame my son if play goes wrong, say things like ‘no, that’s not how you play with it’ I have to intervene and explain that toys can be played with in many ways and I have given up asking him to use more positive language around my son as it falls on deaf ears.
I really appreciate all your replies, thank you. I think I need to accept that I can’t change them.
It’s my dads birthday in a few days, so I will be taking his presents and cards round. I’m still waiting for him to acknowledge my birthday which was over a month ago....... I also have to return the earrings......... I feel like they buy me expensive things so that I have to accept their behaviour and let them treat me badly or I’m ungrateful. I spoke to my mum about it and she said that she did understand and won’t buy me any more gifts. She didn’t offer to treat me better.
@GrumpyHoonMain thank you for sharing your experience, it’s really helpful. I must admit that lockdown has been helpful as it’s given us more distance. They even see my son more (via twice weekly FaceTime) than they did before (a couple of hours every 2-3 weeks). I also find that I don’t share anything with them. I decided about 18months ago that I would only share what they asked me about or in conversations they instigated. I’m still waiting for them to enquire about anything to do with me and I’m an NHS worker in an acute Trust.
@gracepoolesrum I really want to get to the Zen place of acceptance, I think that may be the only solution. It’s good to know I’m not the only one.
they've been used to having you under their thumb - now your attention is going on your child...and it's reduced their vampiric emotional supply from you......
....so they belittle and demean you to weaken you further emotionally so you go back to kowtowing to them.
The F.O.G (fear, obligation, guilt) is beginning to clear for you and you're starting to see that your parents are actually rather nasty and narcissistic people.
throughout my pregnancy they never asked about me or my son
yet you think it's you who needs to make an effort with the relationship?!!!!
You need counselling and to reduce contact with your parents, lay down boundaries and stick to it.
@monkeymonkey2010 all very good points l think. The world order has changed and they do not like it
yes agree with the above.
limit your interactions with them, and esp do not let yr father spread his negativity onto yr son.
there are some v good videos on you tube about how to survive narcissists, i think dr carter is one, he has a dog called gus, i think.
anyway you have a look. and similar ones, search under difficult parents.
@monkeymonkey2010 wow that was eye-opening! Thank you. I hadn’t looked at things from this perspective before. When I was pregnant I used to say to my husband, maybe today she’ll (my mum) ask how I’m feeling or say I’m glowing (even though I wasn’t!) or ask if he’s kicking/moving etc. But she never did - it used to make me so sad. I asked her why once, but she said that she always asked how I and my son were and that I was lying. She used to do this to me as a child too and it made me think that I did lie and I could never understand why my recollection of events was ‘wrong’ it’s taken me a long time to realise that my mum is a serial liar. I don’t think she does it on purpose most of the time , it’s just like she’s so used to doing it, lying is just part of her and she can’t function without it.
I feel sad that my son may not have a great relationship with them either, my dads negativity and blame mentality and my mums disinterest. I see his little face when he tells her something exciting “I fed the ducks today and they had ducklings” my mums immediate response is “I went to the park today and fed the ducks and geese and swans and they all had babies and .........’ you get the picture. The sad thing is most of the time she is recounting something that happened weeks before. He is going to stop telling her things one day, because no interest is shown.
@alexdgr8 I will have a look thank you. I have wondered about narcissism recently. I wonder if my mum has some mild narcissistic traits.
mild ?? and only your mother ? gaslighting, one-up manship. belittling.
you are so kind; don't end up emotionally killing yourself with kindness.
ie being too kind in your interpretations of them.
concentrate on your own family now. that;s where your heart lies.
those are the ones who do love and appreciate you.
i wish you all the very best. good luck.
see youtubes by dr les carter.
he has a lovey warm voice and manner; it's confidence-boosting.
he is a real mensch !
I was coming on here to say what @monkeymonkey2010 said. They are angry that you have moved the goalposts of your relationship. How dare you think more about your DS than them. I would bet that the closeness you mentioned was actually quite suffocating in reality and they demanded much more from you than a normal parent would expect. It is quite common for narcissistic people to use money and gifts as a form of control. Buying you something expensive, probably something you didn't really actually want, then making you feel guilty if you don't do precisely what they want because you are 'ungrateful'. It is conditional gifting and done for them not you! Find a better counsellor, one who will help you unpick things and definitely read up on FOG (fear, obligation & guilt. Have a pop in on the stately homes thread it may be an eye opener for you.
I really can’t thank you enough for your replies and advice. It’s made me realise for the first time that this isn’t all my fault. I just need to cope with seeing them on a Sunday for my Dad’s birthday. Let’s hope they are pleasant - fingers crossed.
Monkey is absolutely spot on.
Don't be surprised if either or both of your parents "develop" health issues. I've seen it with a couple of friends, that as grandchildren arrive the parents actually sulk because they're no longer the focus of attention. Adult child starts to push back, parent then has any number of vague health problems appear, at some point this will get blamed on the adult child.
I think you need to care less. I wouldn't give back the earrings, it will cause more drama, accept them gracefully.
Take your fathers card, smile say happy birthday, let your gorgeous son be cute.
However stop looking for their acceptance, you are not going to get it. The quicker you accept the status quo the quicker you can deal with.
Talk less to them and see them less. No big drama but don't call them as often.
Sounds like you have a lovely family. Don't let your mum nd day spoil your enjoyment of that.
You don't need them to tell you, you are a wonderful mother. You just need your child to smile up at you.
Your mum is doing oneupmanship on a 3 year old who's been to the park! For god's sake, she sounds ridiculous.
your parents are trying to keep you in the position of a child they dismiss and belittle you they do this because it makes them feel important and Powerful
they sound like a pair of assholes, I would gradually reduce contact, dismiss and minimise things that they say and work towards a grey rock approach
think of them as gurus who have brainwashed you into following their personality cult
You need to be de programmed so that you can escape!
Your son doesn't need a relationship with them and neither do you.
They sound vile.
And get yourself to a proper counsellor.
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