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(50 Posts)
unicorn Wed 19-Jan-05 21:46:15

I realy want to have a go at dh's parents.

It is his birthday today... they sent him.. a card.
no present( fair enough)- no call to wish him happy birthday etc.
They are his parents.

There is history here.. but nevertherless... I don't think you ever 'clock off' from being a parent.

That, however, seems to be the way dh's parents see it...

So sometimes I just want to ....

LET RIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and tell them how rubbish they are at being parents (and how they should have just gone sraight to owning dogs instead of having kids)

(phew, I nearly did.. but thank G for mn.. feel better now)

wordsmith Wed 19-Jan-05 21:49:50

Sounds like everything he's missing from his parents he's getting from you, Unicorn, so I wouldn't worry too much. We can't choose our parents, we just have to accept them for the way they are....

unicorn Wed 19-Jan-05 21:58:12

but he is SO hurt ..he doesn't show it or say it, but I know.

Only since having kids have I realised the importance of parenting+ parents and I just get so, so annoyed by his very selfish mum and dad.

Do you think that you ever 'clock off' from being a parent?
I don't expect to with my kids.

Just because their ds has married, I don't think they should expect me to 'mother' him/ take over their responsibility etc.

Heathcliffscathy Wed 19-Jan-05 22:10:19's horrible. but at the same time, you and your child/children are his family now. and you are mega supportive. so whilst i'm totally with you on your ...i'm with wordsmith...he is a lucky man...


KathH Thu 20-Jan-05 09:52:27

my dh doesnt speak to his dad. His dad very involved with the church and helps out at weddings, funerals etc. when we got married 6 1/2 yrs ago he said he didnt think he could come as there would probably be a wedding at his church the same day and then he turned up late, we were sat with the registrar waiting for him and then he cleared off straight to church to help out at a wedding. dh had to drive over to the church to collect his sister and her partner as his dad couldnt possibly drop them off at our reception as he might be late for church. felt really sorry for dh as at the reception everyone was asking where his dad had gone. he's seen my kids once since october (youngest is 16 wks and he saw him when he was 3 days old). dh's dad rang my mum last week to say the kids christmas presents were in his airing cupboard! dh is so hurt about his dads lack of interest and to be honest i cant understand it. if dh rings his dad to say he'll come over his dad is always saying oh, you cant come then i've got something on at church.

Cam Thu 20-Jan-05 13:02:20

In some ways I do think that you clock off being a parent when your children are all grown up, married and have kids, etc. I know I have with my eldest dd. I think of her as a separate adult who I don't/can't parent anymore. It doesn't mean I don't care about her, I just don't feel responsible for her anymore. Plus, with my own parents, I accept that they too have a complete and separate life of their own which has nothing to do with me and my mother is often unavailable because of church commitments, for example!

KathH Thu 20-Jan-05 13:12:06

sorry - didnt mean for post to come over like i thought his dad shouldnt have his own life - of course he should its just that the wedding day incident was really hurtful to dh.

Cam Thu 20-Jan-05 13:16:14

Please don't say sorry KathH, I was really just putting my down my experience rather than questioning anyone else's. I think the wedding incident is completely unacceptable on the part of your dh's dad.

lalaa Thu 20-Jan-05 13:20:50

hi unicorn
i have a rubbish dad too, so totally understand your feelings, and they mirror some of my dh's regarding my dad. i agree with you: I don't think a parent should ever 'clock off' and it makes me really angry and sad that my dad has done that, particularly now that I am a mum myself - I can't ever imagine being like that with my dd.

wordsmith, it is true that we can't choose our parents but I feel that we don't have to accept them the way they are if we have to compromise our own feelings to do so. Why should we be unhappy, or have to pretend that we're not upset about something as hurtful as unicorn as described? if they don't know how it affects us, then they haven't even got an opportunity to explain/modify their behaviour..... I don't think keeping my mouth shut when I'm unhappy about something like this is good for me.....

hippi Thu 20-Jan-05 14:11:20

Sometimes I hope my mother would clock of with the parenting thing. When I used to drop dd off at mums before going on Mat leave, she would have a lunch box all packed for me - so she knew i was eating Ok. I'm now a mum myself but doesn't seem to matter to her - i'm the eldest, should see how see babys my brother he's now 21 and mum goes out to get him petrol so she know he won't run out!! However will probably be as bad - she used to tell us we would always be her babies and thats how I feel about my two!

lowcalCOD Thu 20-Jan-05 14:12:00

yes my inlaws are crap at b dats
no history, just idle

Twiglett Thu 20-Jan-05 14:13:39

My parents (and all 3 of my sisters) missed my 30th birthday completely .. no card, nuffink ... I was out of the country to be fair

I figure I'm an adult .. it really doesn't mean so much any more

Tinker Thu 20-Jan-05 14:14:31

Some people just don't see the big deal about birthdays though?

Marina Thu 20-Jan-05 14:16:54

Unicorn, I really feel for you. I live with the survivor of incompetent parenting and I do think it can scar you for life and well into adulthood. I also think it is never too late for a parent to start making an effort/APOLOGISING for how they behaved and sometimes I feel like screaming at my MIL, so blind she is to how dh is struggling at present. And yes, these men are lucky to have us, but we are not their parents and can't fully compensate for the lack of understanding/demonstrated affection etc elsewhere.
Happy birthday to your dh. You're not alone in feeling like this.

MeerkatsUnite Thu 20-Jan-05 14:17:01

Hi Unicorn,

I can empathise here because I have what I can only term "disinterest" from both sides of my family as regards my own family unit now and what is happening to your DH has also happened with me. I thought what your DH's dad did was frankly despicable.

Its got to the point six years on where I feel that I can only be involved with them all up to a point. I honestly feel that they cannot be bothered and are too wrapped up in their own lives so I just get along with mine as I have always done. Of course they can live their own lives but you still need your parents in the background being quietly supportive even though you now have a family of your own. I cannot work out why mis parentes act the way they do because we've always got on and still do. They now have what I would call a "retiree" mentality which has developed over the last decade or so - you know been there, done that, don't want to do that anymore.

TBH the comments like "well they are your parents, you should be nice to them and accept them for who they are" in response to such difficulties all that really gets my goat and are misguided at best. I find that such comments are made in good faith by people who fortunately for them do not encounter such a minefield of disinterest or lack of support on the part of their parents or inlaws.

I wish you well


Marina Thu 20-Jan-05 14:17:48

Fair point Twigs and Tinker, but for some people this kind of thing symbolises a much more profound absence of caring/love/affection, I think.

MeerkatsUnite Thu 20-Jan-05 14:18:07

You might also want to read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward. This covers relationships between parents and their children.

Grommit Thu 20-Jan-05 14:18:41

My in-laws are just the same - some years they send a card and present but more often than not they don't bother. I used to get annoyed but now couldn't care as I have little interest in them. I did however get annoyed when they missed ds's 1st birthday and when I told them I was annoyed they sent him a christmas card (his birthday is Nov) with a note inside saying for his birthday and wrote the wrong date! So then dd got upset as they sent ds a christmas card and not her! I give up! MIL is an old hag anyway

lowcalCOD Thu 20-Jan-05 14:19:39

mil said " do i have to "

and i said " yea you have one son and can you imagine me not being bothered to get ds1 ( whom she adores) one?"

"well no" she said shamfacedly

Cam Thu 20-Jan-05 14:37:56

My parents and my MIL (FIL is dead) always send b/day and Christmas cards etc - it would be seen as very bad manners not to - but birthday presents nowadays tend to be concentrated on their g/children (my parents have 11 plus 2 great g/children and MIL has five plus 1 great g/child). Unless it is a significant birthday (someting ending in 0) then we usually only exchange Christmas presents. I just think as time has gone on and they're all getting ancient (MIL is the same age as the Pope) these things are inevitable and I choose not to take them personally. I have noticed that whenever there are threads like these about parents someone always mentions a book called Toxic Parents. I wonder what it is all about as I would not want to read a book which gives me reasons (excuses?) to find my parents wanting. I just think of my parents and MIL as people who tried to do the job and sometimes were completely crap at it (as am I)but that don't deserve lifelong criticism for it.

Marina Thu 20-Jan-05 14:48:43

Cam, I guess it's because for some people it goes much further than occasional crapness - it's a constant thing. My parents have some bizarre and upsetting takes on parenting that at worst have made me feel very sad, in childhood and as an adult. But I still love them very much because I know that despite all their occasional quirks they love me dearly too.
If the basic "I love you" message fails to get through, then that is very difficult to deal with.

lalaa Thu 20-Jan-05 15:27:39

I really don't think you've got any idea what it is like to come to terms with what it is like to live with a parent who consistently and constantly chooses to prioritise him or herself before you. It is very painful. When it happens again and again and again over a period of 20 years (in my case) and includes half of my childhood, I cannot choose (and don't now see why the hell I should) not to take them personally. Meerkat was only trying to help with the Toxic Parent book suggestion, and I've written it down and will be getting it to try and help me. I'm not looking for reasons or excuses to find my dad wanting - he is wanting and I'm trying to live with it.

MeerkatsUnite Thu 20-Jan-05 15:45:52


I suggested that book and will continue to do so if I read about adults who are trying to deal with their parents hurtful legacy towards them.

Being what is termed a "toxic parent" goes far beyond the occasional lapse in parenting. It is a serious matter not to be taken lightly (not that you did this) and children affected in such a manner in childhood often carry these problems through to adulthood.

All parents fall short from time to time. But Susan Forward pulls no punches when it comes to those whose deficiencies cripple their children emotionally. Her brisk, unreserved guide to overcoming the stultifying agony of parental manipulation--from power trips to guilt trips and all other killers of self worth--will help deal with the pain of childhood and move beyond the frustrating relationship patterns learned at home.

Earlybird Thu 20-Jan-05 16:08:51

I think the point is that toxic parents are far more deeply damaging to their children than the hurt caused by simply being inconsiderate, forgetful or thoughtless.

Like many of you, I have 2 toxic parents. One, a lifelong alcoholic, died 15 years ago of alcohol and smoking related illness. The other parent became an alcoholic about a decade ago, but has stopped drinking for the last 2 years. She is a mum who doesn't call or send birthday cards (to me or dd), doesn't call on Christmas, etc. Clearly if she fails us on the small gestures, you can only imagine how she lets us down on larger emotional issues.

I have put alot of time into considering whether or not I want her in my life as her presence is a constant painful reminder of what an inadequate parent she is. I've spent alot of years in psychotherapy, as I don't want to repeat the patterns in my own life and want to be a completely different type of mum to my dd. I also don't want to be eaten up by anger and sadness.

Unicorn, I know it must hurt you for your husband's sake. But, how lucky he is to have found you, so you can show him what it feels like to be truly loved. He is fortunate to have that in his life - it came late for him, but at least he found it.

Zuberbuehler Thu 20-Jan-05 19:51:00

Can you have part-time toxic parents?
Mine are so crap, I now realise, and since I had my baby I can only surmise that they stopped loving me at some point.
They do however remember birthdays and make the odd effort, when they can be bothered. It's the other stuff that has damaged me. And the on-again, off-again nature of our relationship for the past 20-odd years. You never stop being hurt when a parent can't be arsed to talk to you, no matter how old you are.
So sorry for all of you who have the same or worse in your lives.
On the plus side, we probably all know how to love our kids (even if we get other bits wrong sometimes).

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