I'm not sure this is the right board, my DM is in her 70s. It's not an AIBU so much as techniques/support I need!
I live a few hours away from DM so don't see her much. But when I do I find her very argumentative if that's the right word.
Eg if we're talking about car seats for my DC she'll say they never had car seats in her day and everyone was fine. But I know if I had said car seats are a waste of money, why do we even bother she'd be outraged we wouldn't get one.
Eg I gave my DC plain yogurt mixed with fruit but some spoonfuls were just yogurt, some had more fruit. She made a face and said that yogurt was awful stuff, how could baby even eat it.
Eg we were talking about baby names, not my DC , just general conversation. Say the name "Doris" came up. I said Doris is not very popular these days for babies. She said well she knows three old ladies called Doris.
I say I'm going to buy X for myself. She says well why would you not buy Y?
I know these examples sound petty but it's most of the time . And it's her tone is challenging. Then I feel if I reply "yes but your 3 Doris examples are not newborn babies, they're 80 years old" or "well DC seems to be eating this yogurt just fine" or "I'm buying X because I prefer it to Y" then I sound like I'm the one being argumentative. And it also leaves scope for another comment from DM like "well she might be eating that yogurt but I'm sure she'd prefer a strawberry one, the poor child"
So I sit like a plank and say very little which is awkward and unfortunate.
If she has visitors (eg neighbours) she then complains about them afterwards and rolls her eyes at them saying AB or C.
My siblings seem to manage but they can be argumentative themselves. I'm not sure what I'm asking - maybe techniques to handle this that would allow me not to sit like a statue? And to want to spend time there?
At the moment my DM does not need care but would like company but as time goes by I'm sure she'll need more.
Argumentative mother - find it awkward to be around her
BlueberryBuffin · 18/02/2023 11:11
Seaweed42 · 18/02/2023 16:36
Just one theory....
Could it make sense that she is very needy for your attention when you are in the room with her?
Whatever is taking your attention gets in the way of your attention being focused solely on her. And that annoys her.
Therefore, rather than get angry with you for turning your attention away from her, she gets angry with the thing/topic/opinion that you are currently holding.
Therefore any you say you like, she is jealous of that and needs to insult that?
So if you say 'oh I see this lovely cream kettle here on the Argos website!'
She says 'what do you want cream for? Cream is a stupid colour for a kettle!'
Cuddlycheetah · 18/02/2023 16:54
Mine is the same. I've become very vague and say "oh" and "mmmmm maybe" a lot and she hates it. She really does bait me (and DC) for any type of argument / disagreement.
She doesn't do it with my siblings or nephews. Just me. I grew up trying to keep her happy but not anymore
canfor · 18/02/2023 17:21
I've had this from someone close to me. Found that just vaguely agreeing with them or just observing and not being confrontational back was a good way to go. It feels like they really want to wind you up and keep the conversation heated, but saying 'mmm you might be right there' or 'I never thought of it like that' or 'how interesting' or 'what a good idea' is the most amazing petty revenge. She might up her game and find more outrageous things to say, practice your tinkly laugh but never disagree. You might enjoy it as a bit of a game....
Mardyface · 18/02/2023 17:35
Have you tried digging down into what she's saying? Like if she says 'why would a baby eat yoghurt' say conversationally 'oh why do you say that?' and then if she says 'it tastes horrible' you could be like 'ooh in what way?' etc. I'm not saying it would stop her being argumentative bit it might make things more interesting/less annoying for you.
freckles20 · 18/02/2023 18:09
This all feels very familiar to me OP and I know how wearing and frustrating it can become. It also prevents any kind of pleasant dialogue and risks an argument which in my case makes a few hours with my mum exhausting and quite an ordeal.
I've found the responses on this thread very illuminating. I hadn't considered it very deeply before- I guess I've seen it as what happens when my mum wants to make conversation and be listened to, but is in a pessimistic and negative frame of mind so has no intention of being nice.
CurlyhairedAssassin · 18/02/2023 18:19
Broken record technique that someone mentioned above can be useful.
In your case, OP, I think I might try "Mum, I find you're making a lot of negative comments these days, are you OK?" She might not even realise she's doing it.
BorryMum · 18/02/2023 21:16
My mum has always been very negative. If you say anything she will find a down side to it. Not quite as argumentative but still draining. I got really down about it and avoided her for a while, then one day she did it again and I said 'you really are quite a negative person aren't you?' Seemed innocuous but it took a lot of courage for me to say. She actually agreed with me! Said 'yes I guess I am'. I think she was quite surprised by it and it stopped her in her tracks. Maybe a bit of home truth might help? If not go back to mmm, ok, right and at least you tried!
NattyNamechanger · 18/02/2023 21:28
Has she always been like this?
There are a few theories as to why people behave like this.
Toxic family dynamics where you are the scapegoat, therefore " wrong" in every way , hence the criticism and undermining.
Poor Theory of Mind -she cannot understand or assimilate that other people are separate to her with their own thoughts, needs and feelings.
High tolerance of conflict which can be part of the spectrum of NPD -literally the self esteem and ego is so fragile that anything other than agreement/ her way is seen as an attack.
The solution is to stop discussing things with her as she is unlikely to change.
Present things as a done deal.
Reply with neutral statements which extinguishes the conflict.
Sympathy, I've been there and it's very wearing.
Charliescat · 18/02/2023 21:33
Going through this at the moment with my dad and it’s unbearable even topics of conversation I think are safe such as sport there’s always an angle for him to start on me . Doesn’t help I am the only person he sees for any length of time as my sibling manages to escape coming to visit as he’s always conveniently busy .
TaraRhu · 18/02/2023 22:23
My mum is like this. She picks fights as sport. They are a bit more mean spirited than the ones you say. For example she'll say ' I don't see the point in an I pad' .I say 'they are quite useful on holiday. We take one to watch movies on' she says 'when I was young I'd spend the time actually talking to my husband'. Btw I do talk to my husband but if we are in a hotel with kids who are asleep at 8.30, we may watch a movie.
She's rude actually. My sisters and I have come to the conclusion she just gets off on conflict and arguments. She also does it when she's annoyed at us for something totally unrelated (an usually unknown).
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