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Parents lying - who to believe

39 replies

Diorama1 · 11/10/2022 11:54

My parents are both mid 70s, without writing an essay into their awful relationship, suffice it to say they have been miserably married for 50 years and should have gotten divorced long ago.
Things are deteriorating as they get older. To cut a very long story short, my dad made my mam miserable for years and now that they are older and he is less able, she is making his life miserable.
He was diagnosed with two cancers two years ago and has just finished treatment (all clear on both cancers). Mam had no interest in him during all of this, she acted like he was making it up, she had zero sympathy or care for him. My sister and I dealt with 90% of it, my mam with 10% very reluctantly and complaining loudly.
My dad was difficult through it, he continued smoking and drinking heavily and generally not looking after himself.

They are both very difficult as their resentment for each other overshadows everything. The latest issue which I am really struggling with is them lying to me about each other.
For example last night dad phoned me and told me he had a fall, he was very vague in the detail, he started to claim he blacked out/collapsed when I pressed him for detail he said he was sitting on the kitchen floor and doesn't remember it happening. He said my mam walked past him while he was on the floor and she ignored him, he commented to her that she wouldnt even help him up. He said dont tell her as she will only get angry with me (he constantly tells me stories like this but begs me not to say anything).

Anyway I rang her and asked her if dad had a fall, she said no he was fine, she said she never saw him on the floor and that he was drinking away in the kitchen as usual and she was staying out of his way.

This is happening all the time, he rings me with tales of how abusive she is being to him but begs me to say nothing for fear of backlash. If I question her she completely denies it, acts all offended and tells me how bad he is.

They are both miserable and lonely and look to my sister and I for support, both claim to be the abused one. They can be very good to us, we called over for 1.5 hrs last Sunday and mam made food and dad gave us gifts and it was a lovely visit but I am constantly getting drawn into this sh*t.

I am lucky I have my sis and she is as despairing over this as I am, both are in the wrong and both in the right at different times. It is wearing us down.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Dacquoise · 11/10/2022 17:31

2bazookas · 11/10/2022 13:19

You are not their therapist, mediator or marriage counsellor.

You could just tell both parents " I'm sick of being pig in the middle. I'm not going to listen to either of you lying for sympathy, moaning about the other and expecting me to take sides. Every time you do this I shall just put the phone down."

Very old friends of ours (long bad marriage, both at fault) had a daughter who became a professional psychologist, and that was the ultimatum she delivered to them. They continued to hurt each other , but Daughter was no longer their stretcher bearer or emotional paramedic.

This is excellent advice.

My toxic parents played the 'feel sorry for me' game my whole childhood and well into adulthood. My mother got the upper hand when they divorced but I now look back and see them both as abusive, neglectful parents locked in mutual battle. My brother and his wife are carbon copies too. Their misery was shared with anyone who would listen.

There is no cure for this game other than to rise above and disengage if you want to continue a relationship with them.


Quveas · 11/10/2022 17:40

Diorama1 · 11/10/2022 16:42

Thanks for the responses and some very good advice.

I dont want to blame one over the other as honestly they are both as bad as each in ways. My mam feels we owe her for sticking with him for our sakes and completely ignores the toxicity we had to endure.
Dad had a very tough upbringing (abandoned by his parents) and that definitely effected him, he found it very hard to show emotion.
Dad was fairly useless to us growing up but mam is a very hard person to live with.
They are financially secure enough that they could separate but they wont.
@Harpydragon I am sorry you are dealing with this too.

@Meddling - both myself and sister have often said no one will get any peace until one of them dies. A terrible part of me wanted him to die from cancer so all of this would stop and that's an awful thing to say. When I hear one of them has died I think all I will feel is relief.

I wouldn't bet on it. My mum was amazing but "traditional". She died first. My dad got worse and in the end I went NC. And my brothers excuse for my dad (violent and abusive, father died when he was 4) was that he had no role model so "did his best". No he didn't! "My poor upbringing made me do it" is a rubbish excuse for bad behaviour. Don't get suckered into it. Or you will end up blaming yourself. You won't feel relief. You will feel that you invited it and will be guilty. This is not your problem, and got are still making it yours. You may be an adult, but you are the child here. They have made this, and it isn't your fault.


Diorama1 · 17/10/2022 13:32

Thanks for all the replies. Just by way of update my dad called me yesterday giving out. He was complaining that mam wouldn't make him roast potatoes for dinner, only mash. I told him he is an adult and perfectly capable of making his own dinner.
He then said he had told my mam that her sister looked very well the other day (she is almost 80yr and her and mam were going out). My mam replied "well why wouldn't she, she is a widow" Dad was very upset about the comment.

Mam went to my sister's house and started asking my sister how much did she think her (mam and dad's)house was worth. Sister asked if she was thinking of selling and mam replied that she thought she would be on her own by now, that she thought dad's cancer would have gone differently (as in her would have died) and she would be in a position to sell the house. Sister said the whole tone of the conversation was very much of disappointment that he is still alive.

The result was both myself and sister were in terrible form yesterday, sis ended up arguing with her children as she was upset and angry.
We decided this morning that it has to stop and are going to tell them to stop involving us in their sh*t or we wont speak to them anymore. We get they are both lonely and miserable but totally unfair to drag us down. They dont seem to notice or care that their offloading on us has such a negative effect on us. I honestly dread seeing them or speaking to them as I come away feeling so low.
Fingers crossed we will get through to them.

OP posts:

itwasntmetho · 17/10/2022 13:50

It sounds like your Mum is making plans to actively turn it around, that's good.
Your Dad should stop grassing her up for not making him his exact preference of dinner though, I'm glad you told him about himself. I wouldn't be making his mash!


forrestgreen · 17/10/2022 14:48

I think it's called dropping the rope.
You won't stop them ringing you but your answers don't give them the attention/sympathy that they're looking for.

So always the same answer 'that's sounds upsetting/oh no/etc


Diorama1 · 18/10/2022 11:16

itwasntmetho · 17/10/2022 13:50

It sounds like your Mum is making plans to actively turn it around, that's good.
Your Dad should stop grassing her up for not making him his exact preference of dinner though, I'm glad you told him about himself. I wouldn't be making his mash!

No unfortunately she isnt, this is all part of the emotional blackmail. She has been threatening to leave him for as long as I can remember. She does this for sympathy from us. I even went to the solicitors with her about 8 years ago as I thought she was serious, all it did was upset me and she had no intention of leaving. She constantly tells us stories about him too, they are both as bad as each other. They both go on about how lonely and miserable they are and about how they have no one else to talk to but us.

OP posts:

PurplePinecone · 18/10/2022 11:21

Maybe you should suggest they divorce? Sell up and get a one bed flat each? Then maybe they will be happier


Crazycrazylady · 18/10/2022 11:37

Sounds very like my in laws
I always thought my Fil was horrible to my mil as in demeaning and cruel but for years it seemed to be water off a ducks back as she took it as a slag in good humour even though it wouldn't sound good that way to me . For some reason about five years ago she suddenly decided that she hated him too.: now they are miserable together , he's in poor health and jealous of her and she's totally resentful of having to mind him. They ring dh and sil and complain endlessly about how terrible the other one is and I honestly believe that my mil wishes him dead or at least in a home. I'm a step removed but it really upsets my sil in particular who takes the brunt of it:
My fil in particular who has dementia is getting particularly vicious and has alienated almost everyone so I think she feels she needs to be on his side. Awful all around. He couldn't cope with out her now and she's trapped looking after him while he abuses her . Awful around. To live in a small house with someone you detest is truly horrible. They're both late 80/s now and dh hopes his father will die soon .


Theroad · 18/10/2022 11:42

My mam replied "well why wouldn't she, she is a widow" Dad was very upset about the comment.

Ouch! 🤣 sorry OP I shouldn't laugh but you have to be Irish - are you? This scenario is quite familiar to me. You could be describing my grandparents marriage. They put my poor mum and her siblings through similar hell.


Theroad · 18/10/2022 11:51

I would also say, you may think you'll be relieved when one of them dies (this narrative was common in my family with my grandparents and is very natural when someone is putting you through huge rollercoasters of stress over an extended period as you just want it to stop) but it actually brought all the stress, hurt and trauma bubbling up to the surface for my mum. She suffered really badly when they died.

I would try to accept they are what they are and are unlikely to change so you need to try to stop letting them depend on you so much. Don't engage in their petty dramas. Who cares who's lying? Your dad drinks a lot so he can't be trusted to have a handle on the truth and your mum couldn't care less what happens to your dad so you can't exactly take her at her word either. I just try to detach a bit and maybe seek out some counselling for yourself. They've put you through the ringer. Mind yourself.


mumonthehill · 18/10/2022 11:53

During one of my mums rants about my dad on the phone she accused me of not listening and reading the paper, I did not like to tell her that most times she rang I was reading something. What I want to say to both of them is you made your bed now you have to lie in it. Sounds cruel but honestly after so many years that is how I feel. I now stay very neutral, lots of umm, oh dear etc and let them get on with it. I cannot solve it, they do not want to solve it, they just want to create misery.


Hollywolly1 · 18/10/2022 12:19

I think in a warped kind of a way both your parents are actually enjoying each other


polkadotpixie · 18/10/2022 12:24

Apart from the cancer, you could be talking about my parents!

They have been together over 40 years and are addicted to making each other miserable. He's a drunk, she hates him and they are both vile to each other and moan relentlessly to my DSis & I about each other. I tend to side with DM and my sister with DF so it does create divisions

I just wish they'd get divorced and be done with it but I suspect they'll continue until 1 of them dies 😩


Brefugee · 18/10/2022 12:51

that sounds like a difficult situation - honestly, though, do you think they are going to change?
your mum has built up 50 years of resentment and is getting her own back - can you hand on heart really blame her?
Has anyone said this to them? He made her miserable for 50 years, she's going to get a maximum of 20 back?
Can they separate? Maybe go into different care homes?

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