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Thread: Regret Complaining about my mother in front of my children

  1. #1

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    Default Regret Complaining about my mother in front of my children

    I just want to share an issue that i have deep regrets about and ongoing challenges. I don't mind feedback as it's not something I've discussed with anyone other than my DH who has similar regrets.

    To keep it short: I have always had a tense relationship with my mother. DH has also found it hard to avoid conflict and tension with her but generally manages to get along with her a little better than I do. As I type my mother is staying with us (she lives interstate). We are also in a BabyMoon phase of our lives (that special time of retreat immediately after the birth of a baby... we've just welcomed our third child). Unfortunately my mother has made this special time one of walking on eggshells and my 11.5yo DD has often found herself in the crossfire

    Ever since my DD was a baby my DH and I have made the humungeous mistake of discussing my mother in negative terms infront of her. We have failed to do the mature thing and keep these talks behind closed doors. Now unfortunately our DD has grown to share our feelings of suspicion and annoyance of my mother's behaviour. This is turning out to be a terrrible situation. Not only have we taught our DD that it's "ok" to disrespect senior members of family/society but we have her pulling us aside every time "Nana" tells her to do something that she doesn't like.... even if it's perfectly reasonable.... but to be honest my mother is rarely reasonable (eg she doesn't think it's appropriate that my DD hold my newborn for very long or unsupervised whereas i know it's perfectly safe).

    I'm feeling now that things are going to get quite bad... my mother has begun to sense my DDs ill feeling toward her. She is now starting to treat my DD with the same degree of animosity that she, up until this visit, saved for me! She told me 11yo DD today that "she couldn't give a stuff!" about her to her face! It just makes me feel sick and i know i'm mostly to blame. Good grief my grandparents would have never spoken to me that way.

    I just don't know what to do... I find myself needing to defend my DD but this makes things worse with my mother (who pulled me aside today to say that she doesn't appreciate being contradicted by me infront of children). I just want everyone to be treated fairly. What do you do when a grandparent treats your children poorly??? My DD isn't cheeky with her... but has begun to ignore her instructions eg "not to kiss her baby brother" (my mother said that when she issued this instruction to my DD she "defiantly" turned her back on her and kissed the baby again).



    To summerise; I expected that I would be able to teach my children to respect their elders but the way it's turned out I've contributed to my DD feeling little respect for her. Personally I believe that it's also my mother's doing but how could i have risen above it better? DH and I have already pledged NOT to discuss my mother in negative terms infront of our younger boys.

  2. #2

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    *hugs* It is so hard having someone else in the house during the babymoon. When everyone is getting used to life changing a bit & just want to enjoy time together. I don't know what to say too much, so I hope I don't offend in anyway...

    First of all, you are such an amazing parent! To be able to separate your feelings towards what your mother is doing & focus on your children is so fantastic! I have a really hard time with that when someone says something that gets me angry or is judgemental towards me.

    I've had similar issues with me not feeling comfortable with comments made by my IL's or by my mother. Matilda is a bit young to really take it all in, but I know she reacts to me feeling anxious or angry. MIL makes comments in front of Matilda about her behaviour and my parenting and DH has had to ask her to stop before. I find as soon as she leaves I want to let it all out & get all my grievences out so I don't carry them around. So I do the same thing you do, and will now think twice about it!

    Maybe you & your DH could sit down with your daughter when your mother leaves & discuss what you were feeling (uncomfortable, etc...) and what responses to feeling that way are acceptable and still respectful of our elders. I'm not entirely sure, but I think your DD sounds pretty cluey & is doing what comes natural and that is to protect her family in everything & find security with the family. So in learning how to deal better next time & have some "plans of escape" in place. So if she feels that your mother is being tough or not nice, she may ask to be excused to do something else & you know that is her letting you know how she feels.... or give her a safe way to air her feelings without being disrespectful. (easier said than done....) Like saying, when Grandma was young, she was taught to do these things by watching others do them, today its different and we want to show everyone respect.

  3. #3

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    Bath from the sounds of it maybe this was inevitable whether you spoke ill of your mother in front of your DD or not. From my point of view any young person wouldn't like being told not to kiss their younger brother and would definately get the feeling that your mum didn't want them to hold the baby for too long or unsupervised. This alone would make any child defiant I think. I know that I was 13 when my youngest brother was born and I would have reacted the same way if anyone had treated me that way with him. So maybe its not all your fault IYKWIM. I know alot of kids these days (regardless of how they're bought up) like to be shown respect from elders as well as vice versa if that makes sense. ie In the past your eldes were always shown respect irrelevant of their actions etc, these days kids won't hesitate to say 'hang on a second that's not right for you to be doing/saying that to me and I don't like it regardless of the fact you're older"...

    hmmmm does that all make sense? It may not even relay back to your situation at all but that's just another take on it. And I haven't given you any advice at all LOL. I hope it all works out for you though!

  4. #4

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    Thanks girls firstly there's no offense at all Christy... I really appreciate the time you both took to to read my post and sanity-check my thoughts. I have to admit to going totally ballistic one evening last week (at least my two older children were in bed, but I was holding my newborn) and screaming out all my frustrations, which unfortunately ended up including my DH as well. My post may seem calm but in reality I am deeply angered by how my mother has sabotaged these precious days. I should be able to focus on my baby but how can when when i have to (for example) rush out the front door in my pyjamas to 'rescue' my toddler who is being carried screaming out the front gate over my mother's shoulder because she's decided he needs to go for a walk with him??? Arggghhhh! Now he is extremely warey of her and doesn't like being left alone with her. Anyhow I don't want to vent here too much... the key issue is that I'm really grieving for the loss of a warm loving relationship between my children and their Nana... it's just not going to happen. When I think back to how much i depended on my grandparents for feeling s of love, accpetance and security (especially when my parent's divorced) it almost makes me cry that my children aren't going to have that. You learn so much from grandparents but unfortunately mine will be learning the wrong things ie that they can be unfairly demanding. I agree Lea, there's nothing wrong at all in a mutual respect situation between children and elders. It was very different 'in my day' LOL but luckily my grandparents never abused their authority like my mother does. My mother and her parents (who are still alive) are not close at all btw. And you're probably right Lea, it might have happened anyhow but unfortunately DD doesn't know how to distinguish good advice from bad when Nana offers it.... sometimes my mother does effectively reinforce my instructions but my DD has a "blanket" response to everything she says now: mistrust and contempt Anyhow, who knows, perhaps my mother will "mellow" in her old age and make it a little easier to foster a more positive relationship between her and my boys.

    Thanks again girls, Christy you are right about my DD being very protective of her brothers and infact any perceived "underdog" or vulnerable person she encounters. I'm going to do my best at turning this situation around and help her to learn from her Nana's behaviour: interestingly: Nana is also the eldest of three with a big gap in between.... perhaps my DD can learn that being bossy can ruin relationships, for example.

    It's been so good to clarify my thoughts in here... hope it's acceptable to add more posts here if i need too!

  5. #5

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    Please do Bath!! This is our safe place to get these things out & be able to voice even irrational thoughts I know I thought long & hard & re-worded my tantrum debriefing a million times before I put it so calmly down LOL...I hope that you can use this to sort through your thoughts anytime and it is a safe place for doing it!

  6. #6

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    Bath, my Dads Dad hates me... Because I resemble his deceased wife, my grandmother!

    He has always ignored me (well since her death almost 14yrs ago)...
    My Mum has spoken poorly of him since & my Dad sticks up for his father, but will put me first as his daughter if there would ever be a confrontation between them over I... But he usually makes remarks to my Mum about my weight (I am a size 12)..
    He adores my kids & smothers them with love but totally ignores me! Thankfully I am an adult & I ignore him back & dont force any conversation with him...

    It is hard to be nice to someone when you see them hurting someone you love... I am guessing this is howyour DD feels, she sees the stress your Mum causes to you etc & she feels the tension...
    If your Mum is disrespectful to your DD no doubt she will reciprocate the feelings!

    I think your doing an awesome job...

    Perhaps not discussing your Mum's bad points may help...

    good Luck!!!

  7. #7

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    Maybe take the opposite approach and sit down with DD and discuss what's happening. Be honest and say what your mother is doing wrong and what your DD is doing. Apologise for saying/venting the wrong things in front of her and maybe ask her to see past some of your mothers 'flaws' as such and make an effort to change for you. Maybe make a point of saying that you don't want to end up having a similar relationship with her as well? It could very well be a lesson in who can be the bigger person IYKWIM.

    I'm not sure - I just remember my mum taking a similar approach with a similar situation with me and it worked well because I felt as though my feelings were being respected. And remembering I don't know your daughter either and I've only been a parent for 6 weeks LOL!!

    Like Tracey said you're doing an awesome job!! I hope you get to enjoy your Niall more as well!

  8. #8

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    I've just re-read this and am going bumpity bump because there are some other BB mums with issues with their own mothers who I hope might see this and learn from my mistakes.

  9. #9

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    Bath- im glad u post this... it reminds me that i must hold my tongue... my situation is similiar...
    My mum talks down about her mother(its all totally understandable, but non the less hard to hear)... my sister bad mouths my mum in front of her children, my step daughters mother bad mouths her husband in front of her.. yet all these people then expect the person they are badmouthing to be respected as family elders/ responsible adults...
    I guess you have learnt from this and hopefully when ur daughter is even older you can teach her on another level your mistake...
    i see this in all levels in my family from all different generations and relationships... it makes family gatherings some times unbearable..
    I have learnt to hold my tongue, be respectful and appreciate everyones life and where they are at
    Thanku so much for bringing this to my attention again, so i am reminded myself...
    It is so hard tho, often these people make it impossible not to vent whenever we feel safe to, big hugs to you lovey... and great that you are aware of it and trying to mend it. Im sure plenty of people dont get what you are trying to instill in ur children.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for bumping this, Bath, I remember reading this a while ago and deciding to learn from you here.

    Sadly I have to take DS with me to my counselling about my mother, just have to hope (a) he sleeps and (b) he doesn't understand - but I have caught myself several times and stopped myself saying things, so thanks for the warning.

  11. #11

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    I know it doesn't help but I was baffled at the fact your mum pulled you up in front of your kids. Thats just as bad IMO. I don't think I'd be happy with another person telling my daughter to do things that don't follow with our family traditions. And I would give Paris the ammo to say "Mum has told me I am allowed to do xyz"

    I hate to say it but your mother sounds very controlling, and perhaps its best to allow your daughter to show strength (politely obviously, but it doesn't sound as though she's being impolite) around people like. There is a difference between respect and submission and I would rather teach my children to respect, but not to be submissive iykwim?

    I don't mean to sound rude or horrible but whilst I agree its not good to put down others in front of your children, I wouldn't be allowing another adult to treat my daughter that way and I would be giving her the tools to deal with that situation in the best way.

    Maybe I'm a bad person I dunno LOL!

    *hugs*
    Cailin

  12. #12

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    Absolutely not, Cailin - I'm going to let DS know he follows MY rules no matter what grandparents or friends say! Sometimes Grandma says daft things but that's OK, she "means well", we just don't have to accept every bit of advice people give. Orders we do, like washing hands before a meal, but advice, like this is a good time to buy a baby an ice cream cone, we don't.

    I guess DS will see me butting heads with my mum inyears to come, but he will NOT see me coming off the phone in floods of tears, nor will he hear me b*tch about my mum. My mum tried to turn me against some of my dad's family she didn't like... now I'm an adult I see how great these women are and ignore my mother even more. I'm not having DS love Grandma so ignore me!

  13. #13

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    The thing is, as a child my DD doesn't really know how to discern when my mother is being "controlling" or issuing a fair request. As we all know it takes a village to raise a child and often she will ignore my request to stop running in the house but if this request was issued by another extended family member she would stop immediately. We all know how "deaf" our children can be to the instructions of a parent. This is where 'firm but fair' guidance is needed from people such as Grandparents. Now because my mother only knows how to be firm, and not fair, I lose that support. Some parents might think that they don't need the support from other people in this way but I persoanlly think it is a good thing. So, my daughter will run in the house past my mother and I can just tell that one day soon (if my mother asks her to stop) my DD will turn to her and say "No, and mum and dad think you are too bossy anyhow! so there!".

  14. #14

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    Bathsheba,
    Gee what an aweful realisation. I feel for you, you must feel terrible. I think your kids will comne to the same conclusion - being wary - of your mother, perhaps you gave your daughter the confidence to act out about it . . . but who know what changes that will in the future, within the relationship you have with your mum. Please remember tho', that you don't miss what you've never had - re: grandparents. My fathers parents were long dead before I came, my maternal grandmother died when I was about 4 and my maternal grandfather lived way out in the country. Although I love him, I certainly never had a close relationship with him. Lots of people DO and they are really really LUCKY. But I still respect my familial history, and I do find myself randomly adopting grandparents for short periods of time at places like the bustop, waiting room, supermarket, walking the dog - any opportunity really. I still have that love to give, and I guess I just spread it around. Please don't turn your good fortune against yourself by turning it into guilt. Ahuh! That is the lesson I need to learn myself - for entirely different reasons.
    Thanks Bathsheba!

  15. #15

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    Ahhh well that falls into the impolite category and thats not ok

    I think the thing is respect should be mutual, your mother should respect how your family works, and your children should respect their parents & grandparents. You know I do very much believe in the village, I've been sprouting it for years, but I think the villagers all need to respect each other not just the "wise" old villagers LOL!

    I think you should definitely pull DD up if she's being disrespectful to your mother in say the scenario you have just described but I also think you should have discussions with her about when some of the things your mother pulls her up on are ok and give her the tools to deal with that so she's not being disrespectful. At 11 I do remember people who tried to be controlling, and I wasn't told by anyone that they were I just knew, and I rebelled at every chance I got. I think Ryn's approach of saying how sometimes Nana does things differently and we still love her etc is probably the best way. If she's seen how you deal with those situations over the years that will be how she deals with them, to undo that you'll need to give her the tools to help her not lose her cool or be impolite or disrespectful. Just my thoughts

    *hugs*
    Cailin

  16. #16
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    Bath this is the perfect time to teach DD some Emotional Intelligence skills! She is old enough to understand that people don't always make reasonable requests, and she is old enough to be taught to look behind the request and see what is really happening. It is easier to explain that though you have complained about your mother's behaviour but you know WHY she behaves that way and explain that to your DD that plain old regret ever doing it.

    Why is you mum controlling? Because she feels out of control inside, because something, sometime, happened which made her feel like she couldn't control things and so she has tried to clamp down on everything, sometimes throwing even reason out the window to do so.

    Your mother asks DD to not run, what does it cost your DD to stop running? Nothing, and then gran will be happy and know DD is a wonderful person and DD will know that really gran feels out of control generally and tries to control others to feel better. By saying "don't run" gran is giving a non-verbal request for help dealing with the specific situation. Ultimately, yes, gran should deal with her issues, but if she can't then others can. Obedience is a good skill but Understanding is a priceless one.

    Bec

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    Oh you're a better person than me Bec! I totally agree with understanding...

    *hugs*
    Cailin

  18. #18
    paradise lost Guest

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    I'm not better Cai - i told you - manipulative! LOL. I just enjoy the peace. Keeping said peace is worthwhile for me, so making sure everyone else is reasonably happy (while still doing the important things i want to do) is nae bother.

    Bx

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