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  1. #1
    SpaceGal is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default Toxic parents/grandparents...What do you do? Sorry so long

    My mom and I have a horrible relationship. She raised me out of pure obligation. She claims she had me because people told her that a child would save her marriage, when she was getting a divorce from my dad she considered leaving me behind but in the end took me with her. I grew up fine and to the common stranger she's the oh so saintly single mom...but to people that know, our family life isn't so perfect. Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate her or anything we are just different people. To her I'm a pet, a belonging that she should be able to tell what to do. But I'm not so "obedient", she gets really annoyed with me. She used to blame my best friend in HS for "brainwashing me" into not listening to her and being "rebellious"...she then blamed my husband and now my aunt (her own sister).

    Now knowing all this I try to let it be. She's not the greatest grandma. She hardly visits. She hardly remembers what it was like to be a mom of young children or to be maternal. When she does visit she tries to "buy" our affection, and buy stuff like crazy...but once she's gone she exerts no effort to try to shop for the kids...claims she's too far removed to get them things so just sends money. So I'm like fine whatever floats your boat. When she's here, she tries to discipline my kids as if they were me when I was little...my oldest doesn't take to her and knows he doesn't like her very much. She loves my second because he looks like "our" family and she has yet to see DD. I am pretty upset that she still hasn't seen my daughter. She's practically 7 months old and makes excuses to having not seen her. We don't live close but by no means very far either (5 hours).

    In any case, our relationship is very hard. To her she waits for me to get a divorce and come crawling back to her so she can say see I told you so...in her mind I shouldn't have gotten married I shouldn't have had kids. She didn't like it when I was pregnant with DS#1. When I was pregnant with DS#2 she cursed me and said what if that child turns out like the first...meaning being messed up with a heart condition. When I was pregnant with my third, my DD, she was very phony but claimed to be "so happy for us". Anyways, I try to be civil and just be phony and amuse her and talk. Even though we don't get along I've never told her she wasn't allowed to see my kids but she knows she can't stand being in our house long if you know what I mean. In my mom's mind, she thinks sending a check for the kids is enough, she doesn't feel like she needs to see them...and besides her needs are first and others are after. Now mind you I'm the only child and these are her only grandchildren. I figured maybe she would love to be a grandma and enjoy them but no.

    So flash forward to today, the conversation begins normally until she does her usual condescending tone, "I think you have enough kids you shouldn't have anymore." As if I have 30 and am on welfare and require her help. I won't deny that when she sends the kids money I keep it to buy things they need and what not but WTF, why judge me? So I blew up, I was like do you really have to say that. It's is really not your business how many kids I have...I have 3 but not 30. And she tells me go ahead have 30 for all she cares. Talking to me as if I'm some dumb white trash welfare loser that does nothing but get pregnant. (Not meant to offend in any way to any one but that's her tone to me). Ugh I couldn't take it...every conversation she sneaks in that remark...of course I'm stressed it's hard for me to have a phone conversation...any one with children knows how their kids get ten times crazier and louder when parents are on the phone. So she's like stop yelling at me, and I said I'm sorry but it drives me insane when you say that to me as if I'm so stupid and just sit here waiting to have babies. She says well sorry...I tell her don't say sorry because if you were you'd just stop saying it...saying sorry and not doing anything is useless.

    Then I mention that she hasn't seen the kids in over a year and that if she really cared about them she would have been up by now considering that one is a new baby. She was like well I have to take care of myself and I didn't marry rich etc. I was fuming I told her that it's her loss if she doesn't want to see them and spend time with them. Then she tells me she feels sorry for me to have to take care of three kids by myself (since we don't live near family). I was like don't feel sorry for me, I know what I got myself into and don't worry about me I can take care of myself. She was like I just don't think you know what kind of burden you have. I was like look I know you think I shouldn't have had any kids...and that in the back of your mind I'm the dumb one that has three kids and that the moment my husband leaves me I'm STUCK...just like how you felt when you had me. She got so mad and claimed she never wished me such ill will and hung up. I know very well she's told many people that she's waiting for the day that I have to come crawling back home.

    Anyways, so after that she tells my other aunt how I'm brainwashed by her other sister and that I'm a lost cause and decides that she doesn't want to visit anymore (she was going to come later in September). She also say how I'm worthless and worst than a friend...and a shame of a mother/daughter relationship. Says I'll just send her more money cuz that's all she wants. I think to myself I don't want your money, I just wanted some semblance of a relationship or at least you can have one with my kids, I want you to see your grandchildren. UGH so now I'm angry and annoyed realizing that my mom is just a toxic person. A part me feels horribly guilty that I got into a fight with her and now my kids won't get to see her...but really should they see someone that doesn't really care.

    Anyways after she hung up, I was mad and annoyed...not sure how to proceed after hearing how I worthless and worst than a friend. Like I know I'll just go on living my life with my own family...but I feel tons of guilt if I cut her out of my life.

    What would you or have you done in similar situations??
    Last edited by SpaceGal; 08-29-2009 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Spelling and grammar

  2. #2
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    I am so sorry this is the relationship your mom chooses to have with you. This will sound blunt (and I guess it is) but I would drop her from your life ASAP. She has no right to treat you (or anyone) that way, and you certainly don't deserve to hear those things over and over. It is verbal abuse at it's best, IMO, and you should not sit there and take it. Just because she is your mom does not mean she has the right to abuse you. I dropped my sister last year because she just caused way too much stress in my life, and I was done dealing with her. Life is sooo much better now. Sad, but unfortunately true. It is always sad when a grandparent does not know their grandchildren, but seriously, based on the way she treats you, do you WANT your kids to be around her? They will pick up on her attitude in no time and will probably be very confused. I know the guilt thing, but you have nothing to feel guilty about. Hugs to you, as I know this is difficult, but you and your family deserve better.

  3. #3
    dcmom2b3's Avatar
    dcmom2b3 is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    If you choose to continue to have a relationship with your mom (for whatever reasons), I'd suggest that you (step one) come to peace, in your own mind, with the fact that you're not going to change her. Accordingly, lower your expectations to her level. But, that doesn't mean being a doormat. Conversations like the one you recount in your OP won't happen because at the first hint of BS, you'll move on to step two, which is boundary enforcement/behavior modification.

    Key phrases: "Take care mom, I'm not having this conversation with you." [click] "That was unkind, mom, please call back when you can be civil." [click] "That's not true, mom, and I won't discuss it any further." "I disagree, but we won't ever see eye to eye on this issue, so please don't bring it up again."

    Can you tell I've done this IRL? It can be tiring, and repetitive, but my mother had so lost the plot -- my favorite was her accusing me of not liking her because she is African-American. I'm thinking "um, you're black, Daddy was black, I'm black too . . . I must be missing something here. . . Oh, that's it! You're effin' NUTS!"

    I just refused to further engage in her emotional roller coaster. And I'm happy to say that she has stopped much of the drama queen crap, I suppose because it no longer gives her what she needs.

    And, in hindsight, it was great practice for parenting a toddler/preschooler. Boundaries, consequences. Lather. rinse. repeat.

    Hugs to you from someone who's been there.

    ETA: as for the guilt you think you'd feel for cutting her out: if you clearly define what's acceptable and what's not, and she chooses to indulge in the unacceptable, then there's no reason to feel guilty about limiting/reducing/eliminating contact with her. She's been put on notice, and still chosen to go there? Her choice. No guilt for you.
    Last edited by dcmom2b3; 08-29-2009 at 07:10 PM.
    M-H

    "Mombee" to my Bunny

  4. #4
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    Laurel is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    She sounds like a classic narcissist.

    These pages may be helpful to you:
    http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/six.html
    http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/traits.html
    Laurel

  5. #5
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    Those links are really good. My dad has NPD and this is a good description of it.

    To the OP--my therapist clarified it for me very well. You will never be the daughter she wants you to be (NOTHING will EVER be good enough). BUT you can be the daughter you want to be. So I had to determine what kind of daughter I wanted to be for my dad. I am constantly setting boundaries--mostly through limited contact--and my husband is great as a dark humor comedic foil.

    It really does help to see a therapist. Good luck to you.
    Mom to:
    DS '02
    DD '05
    Simon--the King Charles cutie
    RIP Andy, the furry first child, 1996-2012

    "The task of any religion is not to tell us who we are entitled to hate but to teach us who we are required to love."

  6. #6
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    Sillygirl is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    I would for one stop taking her money, since she uses it as a way to exert pressure on you. She sounds awful. I'm sorry.
    Katie, Mom to two boys
    Retraining my dopamine circuits thanks to David Kessler, MD.
    Jonathan: Halloween 2004
    Alex: A smidge past Groundhog Day 2007

  7. #7
    kijip is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    My mother's mother is very toxic person like that too.

    She does not know where I live, she does not know my phone number (unlisted largely for her) and she would not even know I have 2 sons unless she heard it through my mother.

    Some people are just not worth the energy it takes to have a relationship with them. In theory it sounds nice to say "oh she is family, my kids deserve to have a relationship with their great grandmother" but in truth, they don't have a great grandmother in her, that is not something she deserves. My kids deserve to be insulated from the crap she pulls. Life is way more peaceful for me without her in it.

    Give yourself permission to cut things off if you need to. Even just temporarily.

    Also, I would not take her gifts, money or otherwise.
    Katie, mama to a pair of boys.

  8. #8
    BeccaB. is offline Silver level (200+ posts)
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    If she won't talk with you and try to fix the problem, there's really not much you can do. As someone who had a completely self-centered grandparent, sometimes that contact can be more destructive than helpful to a child. If your kids have other grandparents they may not miss this grandmother and may be better able to form healthy relationships with their other grandparents.

    The one thing I would encourage you to do is to make sure that you do not talk about the problems with your mother in front of your kids. I actually didn't realize what a jerk my grandma was until my mom told me stories about her (my moms) childhood and things my grandma did. I wish I didn't know, because my grandma was actually not that bad as a grandma. If she is not mean to your kids when she sees them maybe it's in their best interest not to let them know what a pooh she really is.
    Rebecca

  9. #9
    Toba is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Posting blind, haven't read all the replies yet ...

    I wish I had the guts to do exactly what I'm going to advise you to do ... cut the crazy out of your life. I have a few toxic family relationships, none so worse than the one with my mother, and I wish that I could just end the whole charade of trying to act like we like each other.

    You sound like you have a great head on your shoulders despite your upbringing ... I wish I could say the same about myself. I had a very emotionally and physically abusive childhood and it has affected my ENTIRE life, despite several stints in therapy. I suffer from panic attacks, social anxiety and plenty of byproducts of those disorders. I just had another big blowup with my parents ... one that I was not even directly involved in, but I *know* that I am the one being blamed, especially by my mother. After this (which I posted about a week ago), I am seriously just trying to will myself to not even make an effort anymore. We have the same issues that you do ... substituting materialistic things instead of precious TIME and EFFORT in her relationship with my child (and mine only lives BLOCKS away from us, yet I could go months and months without seeing her), constantly criticizing choices I've made that were different (and IMO WAY better) than hers, constant zingers that are just meant to hurt me. I've just had enough. It sounds like you have too.

    I think the turning point for me (and I think you I caught a hint of this in your post) is that my son is getting old enough now (5) that he knows what's going on. Even if he doesn't witness the blowups and the ensuing aftermath, he KNOWS, even though we try very hard to shield him from it. I do not want my child to grow up with even a tiny portion of the crazy that I grew up with, and subjected myself to as an adult too.

  10. #10
    SpaceGal is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Thank you everyone. I know she's not sane and I know she's toxic and narcissistic from the sounds of it too. I so badly want to have a middle ground with her but there's seems there will not be one.

    As for my background, it's hard for me to turn my back on her...I'm the only child, we're Asian and sadly just like a post I saw a while back will probably have to take her in when she's not able to care for herself all for family obligation. Yeah it's screwed up I know...ugh. I know my kids don't need her and I don't either. Sadly though my kids don't have a single good set of grandparents. My husband's parents are truly lazy and never care to see, talk or do anything in regards to their own kids. They are so self-absorbed that they seriously don't visit unless you foot the bill for them to come up. They treated my husband like crap, forcing him to fend for himself when he still needed parental care and support. So here I'm left with two sets of horrible grandparents. My husband always always always tells me to forgive my mom because she is my only family...and that I have to. Regardless of how bad she is, considering that he knows she doesn't like him...I give him credit for being so nice about it.

    I do feel like I am at a turning point though. Do I play these dumb games or just cut her out? Seriously, my kids will not benefit from her I know this, heck I don't benefit from her either. There's just soooo much guilt (I know I should feel guilty but I do still)...oddly unlike her I'm not so selfish. Everyday I looked at my new DD and say what is it about you that grandma doesn't care about you...no gesture of care or wanting to meet you...it hurts a lot. I know I have to come to terms with how I want to proceed. I still haven't told DH about this recent blowout. I'm not ready to hear that I should be forgiving...not that he would force it upon me but you know once someone tells you to forgive the weight of guilt depends. I know once I cut her out there will be no contact whatsoever...no phone calls, no emails, not pictures, nothing exchanged at all. I've learned from her interaction from my aunt (her own sister) that if you give her an inch of forgiveness she just comes back in and stomps the crap out of you again leaving you to pick it all up again.

    It does make me feel better that others have come to a happier place by ridding the toxic people in their lives...and it gives me hope that I can do it too.

    Thanks for listening to my gripe...I just hope I have the strength to do the best thing. And if my kids have no grandparents...I guess that's how it will be.

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