No grandma vs. damaging grandma - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I know that sounds harsh, calling her damaging, but she is. This could be a very long post so I will try to keep it as short as possible...

DH had a wonderful mother, so much so I married him, lol. My mom was never very involved with anyone besides herself. She is very controlling, paranoid, self centered, you get the idea. I didn't know my biological father past the age of 5, mom remarried and my sister and I were adopted, they divorced when I was 17 and getting ready to leave the house anyway. We moved away from all of our extended family when I was very young and have not kept in contact with most of them. My dad is in his 70's and has dmentia, he lives 1000 miles away and calls occassionally but has never seen my three younger kids.

DH's mom was an awesome person and wonderful mom and grandma. She lost her battle with cancer when our older two children were 5 and 7. We now have two more little ones, 3 and 8 months old. After DH's mom passed, he let his sister know how he felt about the way she treated their mom during her illness and they haven't spoken since. DH's father left the family when he was 7 for another woman and has been in and out of the picture since. He lives about an hour away and the kids see him once or twice a year.

My mother lives 800 miles away, where she moved to live near her married boyfriend 14 years ago, they are still seeing each other, and he's still married. She comes, uninvited, here almost every holiday. She has been staying with my sister so it hasn't been as bad but there is still always a lot of drama. Even when she's not here, she calls and causes problems. Our phone broke two weeks ago and I haven't replaced it because it's been so nice!!! It's much easier to "need" to let her go when she calls my cell or office. She came for Easter and though we didn't see her much, it was enough. I think she treat my older two children like dirt. My sister's kids are all under the age of five, they and my younest two get much more attention and gifts from grandma. She makes no attempt to really get to know the kids and is very judgemental. For example, my 12 year old has a thin strip of blue hair under her long layers. It looks adorable if I do say so myself, since I did it. My mother was complimenting her on her hair at brunch when dd showed her the blue. She just sat and starred at her for a second, from smiling to scowling and then looked away. It's not like my mom is conservative, she's not at all, I really think she just enjoys making people feel bad about themselves. Whenever we are out in public she makes nasty remarks about complete strangers and watches out for people to say things about for sport. There is just so much constant drama and hurt feelings, I am really wondering if it is just better to cut her out of our lives. I don't want her messing up my kids. DH and I have a tight relationship with our kids. They really don't have extended family though and I wanted that for my kids since I didn't have it. DH did have that and says I am making it out to be more important than it is.

I'm not elaborating on the things my mother says a lot but a few examples would be constantly telling my sister and I that we've never really been in love and our husbands are not the loves of our lives. DH and I have been together 16 years. She cuts down my kids future career choices, wanting them to choose things that will make money not happy adults. She tells all of us stories about her horrible childhood and uses them as excuses for her bad behavior. I could go on and on but I won't.

WWYD? Talking to her is pointless, we've tried, she's the perptual victim and we are always the bad, ungrateful children. I really feel awful for my two lo's, at least our two oldest have awesome memories to look back on...
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#2 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 02:16 PM
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i can think of a few options.

she sounds very childlike. you could use the kind of discipline on her that i never recommend using on real children. just openly contradict her every time she does or says something like that. "actually mom, i like that blue streak." "do not speak to my children in that way" "you were not invited here. please leave and give me a chance to finish what i had planned for the day. you are welcome to return then" she would probably either blow up and leave (it all being your fault, of course ) or have some kind of ephiney.

you could also just ignore her. it may take longer but she'd likely give up.

confront her with the problem. this involves you keeping your cool. give her a chance to do better. if she does not walk away with a clean conscious.


as she is, she sounds terribly toxic. i would not cut her out completely without making some plans for what will happen at the end of her life though. she sounds really terrible but is she so terrible that you'd want her to die alone with no family? just come up with an idea for how you will likely handle this inevitability.
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#3 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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Ugh, family can be so tough! I would ask how your children feel about her. You might be surprised that they forgive her. My mother in law was a complete freak, IMO but my children have their own opinions about her...It's really hard because you don't want your children to be hurt.

I think there are some people in your life (MY ILs for example, MIL and SIL are just beyond repair, both narcissistic borderline personalities) whom you will never be okay with...and part of being a grown up I think is realizing that. It doesn't mean you don't love them, you just see them for what they are, and give up all hope of them being anything else...it's a tough process, but is very healing once you stop trying...but that in itself is a process, I wasted so much time!
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#4 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 02:48 PM
 
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I know what your are feeling. Two weeks ago DP and I visited my family who lives far away from me. It did NOT go well. I see alot of resentment, jealousy and difficulty in her adjusting to my lifestyle and my DP's pregnancy. I believe she is upset that I have made an successful, independent life for myself which makes her feel inadequate yet should make her proud. I dont get it. I know we just felt like a strangers in her home and I felt like I was a child again being condesended upon. I over heard her say under her breath to my father that she didn't like my attitude and doesnt want to come out to help with the baby or attend baptisim when she is born. Needless to say I was furious by this and do think its better and in my Dp and childs best interest if she isnt in our lives. I am willing to make amends however with her so stubborn and never wrong attitude I know we will not receive an apology from her. Right now I feel that is the only gesture that would even consider or accept from her.

Sorry to go off tangent but I too just needed to speak my mind. It saddens me to think my child wont have a grandmother involved but the cons in this case to me out weight the pros......I do have other people in my life , ie neighbors who have told me that they would be more than happy to step into any role our child might yearn for and that makes me happy.

So yet another turn......How do you deal with mother's day if you and your mother are estranged??? Ignore the day? Still send a card or flowers because after all you arent the negative one?? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!!!

: DD 8/29/08 and twin boys 11/3/09
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#5 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 03:30 PM
 
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How does your DP feel about it? What does he think you should do? My toxic Ils (i thin we all have toxic people somewhere in our lives) are my husband's parents. I can't say that we'll no longer have anything to do with them because he won't go that far. He, rightly, still loves and cares about them. But in my patience and gently pointing out the goals we have for our children he is coming SLOOOOOWLY to realize that we do have to limit our exposure to them and to sometimes counteract the things they say around or to or about our children. If it was me alone I'd be done with them and that's it but I have more to consider than that. Get your DP to sit down with you and write out some pros and cons and options in the situation for what you could do.
In our situation my mom is great and we have a lady from our church who is practically a grandmother to our children. That fullfills the grandma role for our family so it's not terrible that we limit our children's exposure to the "real" grandma.
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#6 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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Having no grandma is better than having a damaging grandma. I say this from experience.
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#7 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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I have a grandma like this. I'm almost 40 still remember all her nasty comments.
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#8 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Having no grandma is better than having a damaging grandma. I say this from experience.

Thank you. I was hoping to hear from someone with experience, either as a parent or a grandchild.

My kids would play hot potato with the phone when she would call. They requested I not give her their cell numbers. I was 17 and 19 when I had the girls (the older two) so in some respects they relate to me as friends as well as mom and daughter and this area is one of those. My oldest dd is pretty good at standing up to everyone without being disrespectful, including my mother. My 12 yo is a different story, aside from the implications of being 22 months younger than a sister with such a strong personality, she has her own medical and emotional issues to deal with and that makes her an easy target. I have disussed cutting off communication in the past and they said they would be in favor of doing so but I don't know if my 12 yo would hold up well to that, she's still not over my mil's death and she's been through years of therapy.

We have discussed the "what about when she's old" situation. She and my sister had a huge blow up at Christmas when my sister tried to talk to her about being a more involved grandparent. She called me crying about how she doesn't know what she's going to do because she thinks we'll be mean to her when she's old and can't care for herself (because we are the evil children of course). I frankly am not that concerned about it. When she was here at Easter she started a fight with me and I told her she needed to find someone else to have chaos and drama with because I'm not going to continue to play these games with her. She called me constantly for days to make sure things were ok between us after that. That's one of the issues, she's a master in manipulation and can make me feel guilty as hell for things I didn't create to begin with. I don't want her doing that with my kids. Trying to talk to her about anything important is useless. It always turns into a poor her scenario and it's just too tiring and frustrating anymore...
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#9 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 08:05 PM
 
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I'm not elaborating on the things my mother says a lot but a few examples would be constantly telling my sister and I that we've never really been in love and our husbands are not the loves of our lives. DH and I have been together 16 years. She cuts down my kids future career choices, wanting them to choose things that will make money not happy adults. She tells all of us stories about her horrible childhood and uses them as excuses for her bad behavior. I could go on and on but I won't.

WWYD? Talking to her is pointless, we've tried, she's the perptual victim and we are always the bad, ungrateful children. I really feel awful for my two lo's, at least our two oldest have awesome memories to look back on...
You've described my mother to a T. She is exactly this way. She gets worse the older she gets. She was a mean mother and uncaring grandmother and is still this way. She won't change. All five of her children are the uncaring, selfish ones of course. She doesn't see that she is wrong all the time. She is very closed off from the world, prefers to be alone, doesn't clean her house, talks only about negative and scary things happening in the world and never asks about our children or wants to know anything "positive" about them. But let one of the teens in the family do something she disapproves of and she suddenly "notices" what they are doing in their life. It ticks me off.

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#10 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 08:06 PM
 
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#11 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 08:10 PM
 
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Ugh, family can be so tough! I would ask how your children feel about her. You might be surprised that they forgive her. My mother in law was a complete freak, IMO but my children have their own opinions about her...It's really hard because you don't want your children to be hurt.

I think there are some people in your life (MY ILs for example, MIL and SIL are just beyond repair, both narcissistic borderline personalities) whom you will never be okay with...and part of being a grown up I think is realizing that. It doesn't mean you don't love them, you just see them for what they are, and give up all hope of them being anything else...it's a tough process, but is very healing once you stop trying...but that in itself is a process, I wasted so much time!
I agree. I think for me it took becoming a parent myself to see exactly how self-centered and horrible my own mother truly was my whole life. It was so unfair the way I was raised and I can never go back and have a different childhood. But I refuse to let her ruin my adult life or my life with my own family. She has already used so much of my time.

Oh and to the PP who said their mother would tell her that her husband isn't the right man for her. My mom is like this. She isn't so much anymore but in a round about way she has said this to all of her daughters. My dad cheated on my mom the whole time they were married and they later divorced and so she thinks ALL men are like him. She never gave another man a chance and looks down on all men because she thinks they are all the same. She puts men down' constantly. She's just...well...psycho.

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#12 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 08:34 PM
 
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Having no grandma is better than having a damaging grandma. I say this from experience.
:
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#13 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 09:03 PM
 
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Oh wow, you just described MY mom, MSUmama.
However, she lives overseas so it is a bit easier for us to live with this. She does come to the States every year though and visits us (and her friends who are in other states) but this year that won't be the case as she has proven really toxic for both me and DH that she won't be getting an invite anymore.
Basically, it boils down to us having rules. Not rules FOR her but rules for how we want our household to run. She fails to see this. She thinks that we make up special rules just for her and fails to realize that these are rules that we (DH and I) live by as well.
I don't trust her with DS because she has proven with my nieces and nephew that she cannot respect their parents rules (she used to give my niece plain white sugar in secret).
Talking to her is pointless too so I just set boundaries. If she decides not to respect them then we don't see her.
No grandma is waaayyyy better than a toxic grandma.

On the flipside, there's my MIL. She's annoying (to me) but she's not toxic. So we keep a relationship with her. It's good for our son because she's a good grandma albeit I don't get her sometimes (and I'm pretty sure she doesn't get me either).

To the one who asked,
Quote:
So yet another turn......How do you deal with mother's day if you and your mother are estranged??? Ignore the day? Still send a card or flowers because after all you arent the negative one?? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!!!
I usually send a card. But boy, is it hard to find a card that's not too mushy and makes my skin crawl. (Sorry, mother issues coming out... )
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#14 of 20 Old 03-27-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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I'd ask your older two what they want to do about being in touch with her and leave it up to them.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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#15 of 20 Old 03-28-2008, 06:19 AM
 
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Sounds like my mom. I would recommend cutting off contact. My life is so much better without my mother's negative energy ever being directed at me.
I would let the older children decide what they want to do with regards to maintaining a relationship with her.
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#16 of 20 Old 03-28-2008, 06:32 AM
 
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I've dealt this way: No contact in-person until I sense that dd is old enough to know how she ought to be treated. After that, I chaperone. At first misbehavior, we leave. Grandma is welcome to write (I will open & read first). I'll say nothing unkind about Grandma.

My grandma is also nuts, and I can see some truth in the horrible things my aunt said about her, but she was an important part of my childhood, and I'm glad she was there. There's no knowing how the the relationship will differ from the mother-child one.

Dd's grandma has declined to write. We're due to visit great-grandma and grandma next month. Great-grandma has advised me I should...I'm not quite sure. Get down and crawl in some manner, I guess (is there an end point? I suspect not). Of course I'm not going to do that; if grandma wants to show, great. If not, OK.
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#17 of 20 Old 03-28-2008, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh wow, you just described MY mom, MSUmama.
However, she lives overseas so it is a bit easier for us to live with this. She does come to the States every year though and visits us (and her friends who are in other states) but this year that won't be the case as she has proven really toxic for both me and DH that she won't be getting an invite anymore.
Basically, it boils down to us having rules. Not rules FOR her but rules for how we want our household to run. She fails to see this. She thinks that we make up special rules just for her and fails to realize that these are rules that we (DH and I) live by as well.
I don't trust her with DS because she has proven with my nieces and nephew that she cannot respect their parents rules (she used to give my niece plain white sugar in secret).
Talking to her is pointless too so I just set boundaries. If she decides not to respect them then we don't see her.
No grandma is waaayyyy better than a toxic grandma.

This too has been an issue for us. At Christmas, my sister and I went shopping alone together and left the lo's with our mother and my two older dd's. At the time, my youngest was 5 months old. My mother MICROWAVED my breastmilk despite the protests of my older children. She also allowed the baby to cry herself to sleep, even though she was holding her, rather than give her over to one of my older girls when they repeatedly asked her to, who could have easily rocked her to sleep since they are mini-mommys to her. She wanted the baby to get used to her is what she told the girls. It's this kind of behavior that makes me believe she just doesn't have any sense of others. It's always about what she wants, believes, and so on, she just doesn't even know how to consider those around her and at 53 years old, I don't think she's going to learn. Leaving her alone with them was a stupid mistake. My older dds take care of their siblings both with and without supervision as well as their younger cousins with no problem, we didn't need my mom there to help, she just happened to be there because she was in for the holidays. It's nice (in a strange way) to know I am not the only one. I feel so guilty for disliking her, she's so childlike in many ways but I can't take this anymore. I'll admit, the girls do get involved in open discussions between my dh and I that involve saying some pretty negative things about my mother. That has been fairly recent though and it honsetly seems to help them since they feel free to vent their own feelings about her too. At the same time, my mother has openly discussed her married bf, intorduced him to my kids during trips there and about a year ago allowed him to come over while my sister was visiting and introduced him to her kids, who thought he was "grandpa". My BIL was FURIOUS and it caused a huge fight. I don't believe is trying to shield kids from the realities in life but I think she is too open in front of them. Yet, she gave me heck a few weeks ago for talking too openly about sex with my 14.5 year old, cause we all know what happens if you are TOO open with teenagers about sex! Ugh, now I am just venting, sorry.

To the one who asked,


I usually send a card. But boy, is it hard to find a card that's not too mushy and makes my skin crawl. (Sorry, mother issues coming out... )
E cards are free, and less mushy than the ones you have to pay for
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#18 of 20 Old 03-28-2008, 03:59 PM
 
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I'm also voting for no grandma rather than a damaging one.

I think that a child needs mentally and emotionally healthy parents way WAY more than she needs a relationship with extended family (grandma). My mother's behavior was so toxic that just being around her would make me depressed (and sometimes even physcally ill, the visceral gut reactions I had to M were so horrible).

I chose my health over my child's relationship to M, who would most likely do the same demeaning, belittling, damaging, toxic stuff to dd that she had done to me.

Ann-Marita. I deleted my usual signature due to, oh, wait, if I say why, that might give too much away. 

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#19 of 20 Old 03-28-2008, 11:34 PM
 
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I have pretty much cut off contact between DS and MIL. I actually allowed DH to invite her to DS b-day party which was to be held in a public place, so if I felt we needed to DS and I could just leave. She refused to come unless I apologized for calling the police to have her removed from my home. Frankly I though she should thank me for not saying yes when the police offered to arrest DH and for not pressing assault charges against her on behalf of DS.

There are simply limits one must set. At some point you need to decide where those limits are, or you may find yourself with flashing police cars outside your house while clutching your crying baby in your PJs.

One of the hardest parts of this is that the rest of DHs doesn't want to take the trouble to visit with out MIL. I'm sure FIL would be delighted to come visit with out MIL (the things they say about each other are not repeatable,) but he is old and frail and has limited access to transportation. I've sugested DH go and get him and bring him for a visit, but I think MIL prevents him from leaving the house.

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#20 of 20 Old 03-29-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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Having no grandma is better than having a damaging grandma. I say this from experience.
: X a million!

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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