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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?

bobbydog24 Mon 23-Nov-15 13:57:37

My mother was a nightmare. She gave my dad a dogs life but when he died she spoke about him as though they had been soulmates. I can't ever remember my mum giving me a hug and she criticised every male I ever went out with. She lived on her own with my sister and I doing her cleaning/washing etc but it was never to her standards. She lived until she was 93, with last 4 years suffering with dementia and final 9 months in a lovely care home which she found everything wrong with. I visited her at home and in the home out of duty not because I liked her company. I hugged my children within an inch of their lives and still do, I didnt ever want them to feel unloved. Trouble is I have been left with a feeling of guilt that I felt the way I did about my mum.

Luckygirl Mon 23-Nov-15 14:03:02

Ditch the guilt! I remember saying something similar to an acquaintance after my Mum died and she were a child then; you are not responsible for your mother's lack of warmth and what it did to you; you cannot pretend that all was rosy when it was not - what is there to feel guilty about? She had a good point.

Chichachongawonga Mon 23-Nov-15 14:24:09

I have spent all my life trying to gain my mother's love or even respect but nothing I have ever done has been good enough. If you do reach something she just raises the barrier and I am always the disappointment. I have tried on numerous occassions to discuss it with her and she says "it is not so". But I am afraid it is and has never improved with the years, I just feel so sad and I am determined I will NEVER be the mother she is.

Sourcerer48 Mon 23-Nov-15 15:13:09

Gosh Mollie I feel for you. I too had an awful relationship with my mother and was never able to address our issues before she died, something I still feel bad about. She too knew all the buttons to press and I became very reactive as a result.
Have you ever actually spoken to your mum about these feelings?
Confrontation is hard, but if you were to sit down and start off with a positive such as 'You are my mother and I love you, but there are things I need to tell you...' Just an idea.
You could of course always record one of her rants and play it back to her!!
Perhaps she is lonely and afraid and covers her feelings by being negative and nasty.
No matter what the outcome, dont live with the regret I did at not sharing your feelings with her.
Best of luck

Luckygirl Mon 23-Nov-15 15:17:24

My Mum would not have been able to "share the feelings" as it simply was not in her repertoire. We are all shaped by our childhood relationships, but we can choose not to let it shape our adult lives in a negative way.

It is interesting that so many people on here, who are presumably in their 60s, are still in thrall to their mothers and their childhood relationships with her. That is not a criticism - I have been there and done all that too.

mollie Mon 23-Nov-15 15:27:16

Yes Sourcer48, I've tried discussing how I feel but its never helped, she doesn't see anything wrong in her behaviour. On the other hand, I can see, as I've got older, that she is her worst when she's anxious and afraid and under any sort of stress. I take all this into account along with her own history and her current age and the knowledge she won't be here forever. I smile and swallow things thrown (metaphorically) at me but sometimes its darned hard and I would so like her to make an effort to be civil sometimes. As a child I only had to give her a look she didnt like to receive a slap across the face. It never did her any harm, you see, so why was it wrong of her to slap me? I expect most of us had the same punishment back in the old days.

I don't feel I'm very unusual in having a dodgy relationship with a parent. Many others have posted their own stories but if I could find a little trick that would help let her future moods wash over me then she and I would both be happy.wink

David1968 Mon 23-Nov-15 15:38:04

Mollie, you are certainly not alone, and I do sympathise. My elder sister, A, takes the brunt of things with our demanding (91 year old) mother, as she (A) lives much nearer than anyone else. A (in her late 60s, and herself a grandmother) had some counselling sessions, which she found to be helpful, and now has various "coping strategies", including limiting the time spent with our mother to no more than three hours at any one time. A feels that the counselling was money well spent. Worth considering?

nantassles Mon 23-Nov-15 16:55:47

You do like I did last week - if it is the phone you tell them "I don't have time for this to be honest" and put the phone down. If you are with them, walk away from them. This was my sister - and in future I will ensure I am always in a situation where I can walk away from her - literally walk away. Or I will put the phone down again. I have taken this for 50 odd years and have had enough.

marionk Mon 23-Nov-15 17:41:25

My mother even blamed me for the fact that I was an only child, apparently I was such a difficult painful birth that she never wanted to go through it again, this all told to me from when I was very young which put me in great fear of having children of my own. I could do very little right, she had little time for my son, but loved my daughter. Weirdly when she was in the later stages of dementia she became very loving towards me, always kissing and stroking me. I absolutely hated it because it felt like a lie

annifrance Tue 24-Nov-15 11:11:10

My parents were also undemonstrative, and as I heard my friends parents call them 'darling' I assumed I was unloved. my father was a horrible man and I could never come up to scratch. My mother was lovely but under my father's thumb and had never really grown up. it wasn't until I met my first husband's parents, at the age of 19, that I found out what it was like to be part of a loving family. I was the daughter they never had and I remained very close to them until the day they died, despite divorcing their son! In fact we went on an Esther Rantzen programme about mothers-in-law as I said I would be the perfect mother-in-law as I had the perfect role model. I hope my daughter-in-law, with whom I have a very good relationship, feels that I am.

The lessons learned from both sets of parents I hope have guided me whilst bringing up my children and looking after my grandchildren. I never criticise and only say anything, unless I feel it really necessary and then only as a suggestion. My MIL once said 'I knew you'd find out that was a mistake, but you had to find it out for yourself' - such a wise lady and in complete contrast to my parents who would be quick to always find fault and tell me I was making a mistake. I hugged my children to death, and still do and same with the grandchildren. I hope that despite the fact I live 1000 miles away in a different country that we have still manage to create a happy, close family.

Luckygirl Tue 24-Nov-15 11:38:48

I was definitely not a wanted child - my Mum regaled me with the story of how gin and a hot bath failed shift me! I was determined to be!

yattypung Wed 25-Nov-15 02:33:12

I have the opposite situation.....we are in our 70's now but for the past 3 years my eldest DD has just completely ignored me and my husband. We used to be such a close family, all coming to my house for Sunday lunch and going on holidays together, but she suddenly decided that she didn't want to have a relationship with me and hubby, her younger sister and nephew, or her brother. She has always been a very negative and critical person, never having a good word to say about anyone, but we just used to ignore her snidy comments. The rest of the family have tried to patch things up with her, visiting her and asking her and her family to come for meals etc. but to no avail. I read somewhere to avoid people that make you sad, so now I have given up....but I do still love her and wish things could go back to how they were.

jacq10 Wed 25-Nov-15 09:32:31

The saying "the good ones die young" may be true Roses are Red. I too lost my Mum in my twenties and had a great relationship with her but one of her sisters was as described by some above and her 84 year old daughter still resents they way she interfered and caused trouble.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 25-Nov-15 09:51:57

Good advice there from David1968. I hope Mollie sees it.

mollie Wed 25-Nov-15 13:37:14

It is and I have, thanks.

Granarchist Wed 25-Nov-15 14:02:17

My sister in law had a wonderful way of coping with our mil when she was being a nightmare with her negativity and constant criticism. She said that after 3 negative remarks she would drive mil back to her home. And she did!! It worked brilliantly and she only had to do it the once! I would never have been brave enough but she said that if mil was going to behave like a child she would treat her like one.

mollie Wed 25-Nov-15 15:48:16

Oh I wish I was as brave as that! Lol!

elena Wed 25-Nov-15 17:02:57

What stops you being 'brave', though,Mollie?

What can your mother do to you? Nothing, surely. Is it you are scared of your own feelings of guilt?

You can start to control these feelings. Trying to have a polite and cordial relationship and being thwarted by a rude, critical and negative old lady should not lead to guilt - you are not asking for much.

mollie Wed 25-Nov-15 17:25:03

Elena, the difficulty isn't guilt but knowing the problem isn't simple or one sided. I'm not all angel and she's not 100% witch and we've got a long and complicated history that can't be forgotten so easily. The problem is that I take all this into account when she has one of her tantrums and try to be understanding. I wish I had the hide of a rhino because then I'd say all the things that I'm bottling up and I wouldn't give a damn. But I'm nicer than that and she probably doesn't know how much she hurts me. She had no love as a child and hasn't had much since so the least I can do while she's still around is to let her think she has a bit of affection from her only daughter. Just sometimes I need to let off steam hence this thread. It was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, a bit of venting, but its gone on far longer than I expected. Clearly I'm not alone...confused

kittylester Wed 25-Nov-15 17:30:09

My trials with my Mum are well documented on here so I won't go over them again except to say that when I went to see her recently and told her that DH and I were celebrating our 45th anniversary she said 'Well, he's done very well to put up with you for so long!' That sums her up!

As she has dementia and is now in a home I feel that I am in control and, although I try to go every week, if she is too bad I walk away. The guilt still lingers though because I think the staff are judging me for not staying or visiting more. Needless to say, she is terribly gracious to them. sad

I am determined not to be like her and, so far, I think I have succeeded!

Granarchist Wed 25-Nov-15 18:07:12

I am so saddened by these stories of appalling treatment by mothers. I think it is a lot easier to cope with nightmare mils because after all they are not family. I would like to say my own mother was fantastic. Having lost her own mother at the age of 14 she had no experience of mothering at all. Just before she died she asked me "have I been a good mother?" I was so glad to be able to say quite truthfully that no-one could have been better and a wonderful grandmother too. Sad tho that she had to ask and that I was not intelligent enough to say it unprompted. So all of you with lovely mothers - time for a hug.

elena Thu 26-Nov-15 10:03:57

mollie, still sounds like feelings of guilt to me, though....guilt you are not perfect (who is?).

I don't think there is any reason why you should try to be 'understanding' when your mother has a tantrum, just because on occasions you have not been an angel.

She sounds awful. It's sad that there are reasons for her rudeness and unplesantness, but she's a grown up, and so are you smile

TriciaF Thu 26-Nov-15 10:14:31

Sorry to hear of those of you who have problems with your mothers and MiLs. My Mum was very broadminded, and although we clashed sometimes got on quite well.
I think it's partly to do with becoming frustrated and fed up with ourselves as we age, aches and pains, can't cope with things that were so easy before. Sorry to say I'm getting to be like that, tend to see the problems before they occur, I have to keep trying to correct my negative attitudes.
We all need something to look forward to.