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Negative Attitudes

(73 Posts)
mollie Thu 19-Nov-15 13:47:00

How do you cope with people who only see the negative in any situation? Or find fault in everything you do or say? Or find it easier to criticise than to offer praise? If it were a friend, neighbour or casual acquaintance it would be easy to say 'avoid or restrict contact' but what do you do if it's a close family member? Like your 80 year old mother who lives mostly alone and five minutes drive away and expects to have your full attention all the time but is very hard to be with?

Luckygirl Thu 19-Nov-15 14:35:59

Sounds truly grim mollie - and I have no idea how you might cope with this, except to restrict contact as far as you can. She will have a grumble about that; but it sounds as though she is making a good job of doing that already! Good luck.

Luckygirl Thu 19-Nov-15 14:37:43

Thinking about it, my Mum was a bit like that. If she met someone new she would often say "Actually, he was quite nice", as if her expectation was that he would not come up to scratch. It did annoy me!

grannyactivist Thu 19-Nov-15 14:40:06

Mollie - try to let it wash over you? And give yourself brownie points for your patience. flowers

mollie Thu 19-Nov-15 14:54:31

I'm nearly 60 and she still presses all the buttons. I truly wish it would wash over me but I'm too thin-skinned for my own good sad

Luckygirl Thu 19-Nov-15 15:05:19

Mollie - my Mum pressed all the buttons till the day she died. We had a very fraught relationship and the only thing that kept me going was that I was not alone!

felice Thu 19-Nov-15 15:17:07

After moving as far away from my Mother in Scotland as I could, I eventually moved abroad and still live abroad.
She resorted to writing vitriolic letters once a week, we could tell by how hard she had pressed on the envelope when writing my address what I was supposed to have done, or not done that week.
Can laugh about it now but she made the life of my children and I a misery for many years.
She even admits openly to breaking up my 2nd marraige just to spite me.
I go through the motions long-distance but thats it.

mollie Thu 19-Nov-15 15:35:50

In a way I'm very sorry that it's not just me. 25 years ago I moved to a different city and within a year she'd followed me. I'd love to move away but my OH says I'd be running away from the problem, not dealing with it. Easy for him to say! She can be lovely but her nasty side is hard to overlook. It's always evident this time of year and Christmas is a nightmare. Ho hum!

Luckygirl Thu 19-Nov-15 15:37:57

Oh Christmas with a difficult relative - you poor thing; I really do feel for you. Just resign yourself to the fact that there will be nothing you can do that is right!

Granny23 Thu 19-Nov-15 15:44:35

I had a MIL like that and eventually realised that she would moan and find fault whether we had moved heaven and earth (and neglected my own parents) to please her or not. Thereafter, I made up my mind to do enough for her to make ME feel comfortable with my conscience and was ever willing to let her blame me for the lack of attention she perceived from her DGDs and Son. Never a single word of praise or thanks passed her lips. At her funeral, her home help told me that MIL raged against me every day and added that I must have the patience of a saint to have kept helping and being kind to her all these years.

I am no way saintly, I did what I did to shield my DD's and DH from her negativity and suppressed rage and to ensure that I felt I had not failed in my duty. As MIL's doctor said at one point 'at least she's not a blood relative'. It must be much harder when it is your own Mum. flowers

loopylou Thu 19-Nov-15 15:57:05

For as long as I can remember I've never done anything right in my mother's eyes, not bad going for nearly 62 years, and it ain't gong to change now hmm
I've done my best but it's never going to be good enough so probably about time I stopped trying?

It hurts, I know.

mollie Thu 19-Nov-15 16:15:06

I'm not tough enough to spend my whole life smiling and swallowing everything. I'm not tough enough to keep doing what makes her happy at my own expense. But any tips on growing a tougher skin would be very welcome.

Luckygirl Thu 19-Nov-15 16:33:27

I was never tough enough either so I feel for you. I found it very hard indeed, as she was genuinely trying to reach out to me (and to all the rest of the family) I think but she just seemed to say the wrong thing all the time.

I remember my sister writing to me when she was diagnosed with cancer and saying how bad she felt about "pushing Mum away" all the time (as she knew she was worried for her) but that she always said the wrong thing and my sister simply did not feel strong enough at that time to deal with it.

It was a sad situation and I think about it often since she has died and wonder what I could have dine differently, but my reactions to her were so visceral and barely within my control. Too much had flowed under the bridge.

PRINTMISS Thu 19-Nov-15 16:37:14

I was like you loopylou, it did not matter what I (we) did, it would never please, and of course in the end we knew that, so did not bother, which was wrong really. It is a shame, because I think the trouble was she always wanted the best, and as I once said to her that if she expected too much she would always be disappointed.

rosesarered Thu 19-Nov-15 16:43:49

I had a lovely Mother, who sadly died when I Was in my 20's, so I do feel for those of you that had either awful or very difficult Mothers, very depressing for you.
I think that I would let a lot of what she says just wash over you, and keep the visit fairly short.

merlotgran Thu 19-Nov-15 17:00:16

You have to grow another skin. I spent years jumping through hoops thanks to my mother's negative approach to life.

Since his stroke DH can be a grumpy old git rather negative person and I sometimes have to dig deep into my positive reserves to jolt him out of it but I'm buggered if I'm going to be dragged down.

You don't have to keep smiling and swallowing everything, mollie.

phoenix Thu 19-Nov-15 17:41:00

I'm afraid that my mother too (although we haven't spoken for years, but that's another story) was incredibly negative.

When I used to stay with her after my step father died, I would find my fists clenching every evening while watching TV. Every programme seemed to be greeted by "Oh, I can't stand her" or "He really gets on my nerves" etc etc. In the end I did actually say to her "Do you realise every comment you've made this evening has been either a criticism or a complaint?"

Mind you, I do remember a lovely moment when we were in M&S, she was in a wheelchair having just had a hip replacement and she threw one strop too many. My step fathers eyes met mine across the wheelchair and without a word we both went off to the cafe and abandoned her! grin

(I'll never get to heaven, will I? blush )

suzied Thu 19-Nov-15 17:51:34

My MiL is hyper critical, rude to all and sundry and attention seeking. She recently told my youngest DD ( her GD) that my eldest DS ( DDs half brother) "didn' t count" as a brother. She also told me she didn't count my 2 eldest from first marriage as "proper children". She wonders why I don't engage her in conversation! I know she slags me off behind my back( and occasionally in front!) I cope with this by minimising contact, only having her in my house on unavoidable occasions, and sending my poor DH out to take her shopping/ to lunch etc. I don't know how I would cope if she were my mother though!

mollie Thu 19-Nov-15 18:01:20

The worst thing about this is that one of my widowed SILs is just like my mum so I can totally understand why her own children (also grown up with families of their own) have such problems with her. They get my sympathy and understanding. On the other hand, I really like her (she can't get to me as we aren't emotionally connected) and we have a laugh when we meet and at times I can really feel for her too when she wails about how awful they are to her etc. and want to tell her kids to be kinder! I really am walking a tightrope aren't I!

I wonder what my son and DIL will/do say about me? Families are tough aren't they...

Indinana Thu 19-Nov-15 18:23:38

It is so infinitely sad that a woman can hold a tiny baby and love it with all her heart, and then grow spiteful and vindictive towards the same baby when it grows up. I find it so hard to understand, and I feel so very sorry for all of you who've had this sort of relationship with your mothers. It bewilders me, such a waste of what should be real love between two human beings.
I had a close relationship with my mother. Oh she could be difficult, but was never directly negative or critical of me. Quite the opposite - she was always full of praise for my smallest achievements. She did have a nasty habit of trying to play my siblings and me off against each other - and even did this with her grandchildren too - but we were wise to her and we would report to each other what she'd said so she didn't get away with it!
My MiL was such a gentle soul, went out of her way not to offend or upset. She used to tell me I was the daughter she never had. (She did, in fact, have a daughter, who died of pneumonia at two and a half sad). She was lovely and I often feel sad that maybe I didn't appreciate her as much as I should have done.

Antjexix Thu 19-Nov-15 18:33:33

Had my mum over for over two weeks in may. Even though she lives on her own, carers go in twice weekly to help with shower, she ceased to be able to do anything for herself while staying with me. Sitting in her chair she would call me and said she needed the toilet. When asked how she copes at home by herself,her reply was "Well i have to don't I. Every meal I cooked was "different" and gave her the runs. Took her for a pub lunch,she ordered water,then complained it was cold ect. I breathed a sigh of relief when she went back to Germany. I feel for my poor sister who tends to her every whim. She also talks without thinking,telling us she only had kids so they could look after her when she's old,that's what we are here for. When I told her my beloved cat had died of suspected lung cancer she said"Hope you haven't caught it". [angr]

Antjexix Thu 19-Nov-15 18:34:46


Stansgran Thu 19-Nov-15 19:41:53

I think it's because as children they were first in our hearts and lives and then suddenly the mum is superseded by the husband and children. But they the mums feel they should still be first to their children. The lack of a wedding ritual, forsaking all others, these days stops being a strong reminder that parents move into the outer circle. I remember a friend's mother at 80+ saying that she should be looked after by her daughter regardless of her SIL who found her very very irritating. I honestly think that the SIL was the difficult one. Still is.

mumofmadboys Fri 20-Nov-15 00:01:04

Mollie you say your Mum can be lovely. Could you say what a nice time you have had when she is nice and try and reinforce 'good behaviour' like you do with children.

KatyK Fri 20-Nov-15 10:09:03

I totally agree with you Stansgran I sometimes think my daughter thinks I am 'difficult' but it's only because I feel I have lost her.