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Negative Attitudes

(74 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?

mollie Fri 20-Nov-15 12:01:59

I don't understand KatyK. Why would you be difficult - wouldn't that encourage her to be distant? Wouldn't you stay clear of anyone who is hard to be with (I'm talking theoretically, I'm sure you aren't in reality?) Why do people act unkindly or even spitefully out of fear? Wouldn't it drive people away for certain?

In my own situation, when we've had good times I've wanted more. I enjoy her company and we've shared trips and lunches etc. I run for the hills when she turns nasty and keep contact on a limited basis. I've heard lots of mums talk about fear of losing their daughters to other relationships (marriages and in-laws and friendship circles that exclude them) but isn't this how it is for most people? Isn't it what the mums did too?

sunseeker Fri 20-Nov-15 12:25:59

I have never had a close relationship with my mother - she always favoured my brother. Nothing I ever did was good enough and she never wasted an opportunity to put me down. As a child I won a class prize, I ran home to show her but she just shrugged, I looked for it next day but she had given it away to the little girl next door! While on my honeymoon she threw away all my childhood dolls. She now lives in Australia, as does my brother, but up until a few years ago I could feel her dislike even at that distance. She would ring me early Sunday mornings (when it is early evening over there) and if I complained she had got me out of bed she would laugh and say as she was up so should I be! First time I visited her after finishing chemotherapy just a month before - her first words were that I had put on weight!

I am visiting again this Christmas for her 90th birthday and know that no matter what gifts I give her she will not appreciate them, will make some disparaging remarks about my appearance or whatever she can pick on. I have never had one word of encouragement from her in my life.

So mollie you are not alone. I have now made a conscious decision not to let her get to me anymore - when she makes a nasty comment I will either ignore it or, if it is particularly nasty make a sarcastic reply.

Stansgran Fri 20-Nov-15 13:55:19

Sun seeker you don't have to go. It might be the last time you see her. Why add any more bad memories. A long journey to be greeted with

mollie Fri 20-Nov-15 15:05:25

It's so common for a son to be favoured over a daughter - in my case too. I was told recently that she 'left me alone' because I was quiet and amused myself and my brother needed her. He didn't but she's never let him go and even now he lives with her and she gets into a rage if he dares to think about girlfriends.

I think we all needs lots of these flowers

soontobe Fri 20-Nov-15 18:31:41

I dont know if any of this is any help.

KatyK Fri 20-Nov-15 19:25:30

mollie well I suppose in a nutshell, what I see as asking if we could maybe spend a bit more time together like we used to (things such as shopping, having a cuppa and a chat together which we no longer do really) she perhaps sees as me being 'needy'. Yes obviously you would steer clear of anyone who is hard to be with, I totally get that. I just sometimes perhaps you need to look at why people act the way they do. It's not always black and white.

mollie Fri 20-Nov-15 19:59:24

This is something my SIL complains about, and while I sympathise her daughter is very busy (aren't they all?) The next generation see busyness as a badge of honour don't they. Some of my mum's gripes are about 'never seeing anyone' but in all honesty that's a gross exaggeration. In reality she has plenty of friends and neighbours in and out but we, the family, are the ones who 'neglect' her. Its a balancing act isn't it.

KatyK Fri 20-Nov-15 20:33:01

Yes mollie it is.

BRedhead59 Sat 21-Nov-15 09:14:21

Agree with much of the above -You're the grown up! Many elderly become children again. Just humour her, smile and love her, you'll miss her when she's gone. Oh and write her life story you'll treasure it and pass it down to your own kids. Every life is fascinating if you listen long enough.

Chicklette Sat 21-Nov-15 09:26:02

I really feel for you Mollie. My Mum could be lovely, and to outsiders she was funny and generous, but she could be really wicked to me. I'm one of four but I got most of her vitriol. I assume just because I was the nearest and the one who did most for her. I wish I had an answer for you
Mumofmadboys has the best advice, but I doubt you'll change her really. I was lucky in that my Mum started a relationship with a man a few years before she died and he seemed to change her for the better. She obviously forgave my husband for a perceived insult after years of being awful to and about him. And when she was dying of cancer it felt as though everything was stripped away and all that was left was love.
Sorry, that's not really any help to you! But there's always hope that things can change. It's hard to grow a tougher skin - I've never managed. But look after yourself and try to focus on the little good bits. X

ajanela Sat 21-Nov-15 09:50:24

Sometimes the problem is that these people didn't hold that baby and look at it and love it. There can be many problems at the beginning that are never resolved or even in their families.

Also if you look at it, this is a type of psychological abuse that the person is getting pleasure from. If it was physical they would be arrested by now.

I know we always talk about low self esteem but they seem to be for ever demanding and critising others to make themselves feel better and haven't the strength inside them to say something nice.

I love the abandoning the wheelchair in m and s. But how lucky she was to have a husband and a second one at that. How do they do it?

As the relationships are so bad already, how about reading them the riot act, as after all things can't get worse.

Family - As the saying goes "Lucky you can choose your friends ......."

missdeke Sat 21-Nov-15 10:10:59

I find these situations immensely sad. Why can't you just say, I'm sorry, you're my mother (and I love you?) but I don't need to put up with the way you treat me, either you talk to me properly about the problem and we try and sort it out or we don't talk at all. Put the ball in her court.

Blondehedgehog Sat 21-Nov-15 10:29:18

So pleased to find this thread. There was nothing I could do that ever pleased my mother. Even as I was growing up. It was not till I was in my late 50's I stood up to her. She did not like it and it did not stop her. She also lost a lot of friends by acting and talking the way she did. As I look back HER mother my grandmother was every bit as bad. I am trying sooooooo hard to break the mould....I am sure my sons will keep me on the right path

mollie Sat 21-Nov-15 10:34:22

Ah missdeke, if only it were that simple. I'm the problem, apparently. And that attitude leaves no room for discussion. And a lifetime of the same has left me without the tools to make a change. I can change and adapt but nothing can persuade her she's anything but perfect. In her defence she's the product of an awful childhood and I try to remember that but none of it is my fault. Family dynamics - a minefield, eh?

Indigoblue Sat 21-Nov-15 10:46:05

My mother's been dead for nearly 20 years, I moaned about her at the time, but I still miss her. She loved me, warts and all.

winifred01 Sat 21-Nov-15 11:36:08

My mother and I did not get on, I seemed to irritate her from as early as I can remember. Eldest of 3 girls, my younger sister also had problems. When we are together you would think my other sister had a different mother! Managed to leave home at 17, cannot forget physical and mental abuse. She has been dead now for 30+ years. Fortunately I had a delightful MIL.

mollie Sat 21-Nov-15 11:37:15

I'm sorry indigoblue. I didn't intend to write a mother-bashing thread but rather wanted to hear how others coped with other people's negativity. I miss my dad lots too despite his faults.

Emelle19 Sat 21-Nov-15 12:19:30

I've had experience of this awful behaviour from DH's Step S. Nothing pleases - no matter what I do or say - I could win the lottery and give her £1m and it still wouldn't please her - she is the same towards DH also.
So I just laugh out loud right in her face. Thankfully, we rarely meet but that would be my advice.
Every time your Mother insults you (which she is doing!) Laugh out loud! And keep laughing out loud each time. If she can be so unfeeling show her you think it's hilarious - do not cower or grovel in the hope you may find a shred of decency in her - there is none there!!
Accept this and move on. You choose your friends, not your family - but in these extreme cases why bother with her just because she is family.
I'd say she doesn't deserve you - and you certainly do not deserve her. Laugh and fight back!!

GrannyMosh Sat 21-Nov-15 16:15:17

Practice makes perfect! Practise saying no in front of a mirror, practise saying to her "Mum, you are setting me a bad example with your behaviour, and if you can't be nice to me, at least be civil or be alone". You will find after several weeks' practice that you are able to think it in her presence, and one day, you will be brave enough to say it. Being assertive doesn't mean you have to be nasty. One thought though...could it be early signs of dementia? I've known some perfectly sweet people turn absolutely vicious in old age. Is it just you she is vile to? x

Nananolife Sat 21-Nov-15 16:43:26

Only the other day I said to my daughter ....'I never thought I'd be the mother of three women' (and granny to 6, but that the lovely part)

Royandsyl Sun 22-Nov-15 14:16:36

It makes me very sad to read all these comments. I had a wonderful mother and we loved each other dearly. The same goes for my age MIL. You too if you are lucky will get old one day. Please try to be more sympathetic towards each other.

Stansgran Sun 22-Nov-15 17:41:37

I too Royandsyl but not everyone is so fortunate. Some people are born without a decent bone in their body. When they die there is relief all round. And it's not life that makes them bitter and twisted.

hallgreenmiss Sun 22-Nov-15 19:40:52

I'm sad to see so many, (mostly daughters), who have a poor relationship with their mum. Mine was a bit fierce when my late brother and I were growing up but we got on well as adults until her death. She was never demanding or critical and was loving to SIL,DIL and GCC. I fear this relationship problem will get worse with the increasing numbers of single mums who will find it difficult to let go and the trend for parents to try to be their offsprings' best mate.

nellenoxin Sun 22-Nov-15 20:07:52

It sounds such a difficult position to be in but as loads of the other say - you're Mum is just used to looking for the negatives unfortunately and what you say or do won't change that - I would suggest just doing your best and with a good heart and you can't do any more than that - Whether she's happy with that or not you ca't influence but you can rest assured that you can't do any more.

Lillie Mon 23-Nov-15 13:48:44

I think we all agree that someone negative, who can't give of him/herself to make others happy, is very difficult to like or even tolerate in our lives.

My lovely, generous and kind mum died a few weeks before our first child was born. My MiL did nothing at the time to help us through this, gave no support while our children were growing up, and 30+ years later still expects to be ferried around and entertained like the queen with no gratitude or kindnesses in return. How much would I give that they could have changed places all that time ago?

Mollie is right that it can be very difficult to cope with someone who is so negative. In our family our strategy is not to think of her as a family member or someone we might care about, and this suits us all including her grandchildren who she has never bothered about anyway.

The sad thing is, that now she is in her 80's she would like us to sort things out for her, and take her to see her GGS+D, but we are having to be very careful about not coming to her rescue every time she needs help. It's a case of what goes round comes round, but I do fear that by doing this we ourselves are turning into slightly negative people!