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Difficult conversation with my mum?

(14 Posts)
Mermaid101 Thu 19-Mar-15 14:43:57

I'd like to ask advice about having a difficult conversation with my mum. I'm not a grandmother, but she is, so hopefully this is ok to ask here?

She is just over 70 and divorced. Over the last few years, she seems to have fallen out with lots of different people: extended family, neighbours and friends. Reading between the lines of her conversations with me I think some of her remaining friends are are starting to "distance" themselves from her.

I can see why this might be happening. She has never been a particularly easy person to be around, but my feeling is she is becoming increasingly "difficult ".

She used to tell me that if I noticed this (and/or she was becoming like her own mother was), I should tell her.

This will not be an easy conversation to have, but I feel it might be best, not only for her, but for me and my family. I am finding her stressful to be around and I don't always look forward to her visits.

Has anyone been in a similar situation, or have any advice for me?

soontobe Thu 19-Mar-15 14:52:09

Is she recently divorced?
Is she lonely do you think? Or unhappy?

Mermaid101 Thu 19-Mar-15 15:00:39

She got divorced about ten years ago. My father is now dead.
I think she is very unhappy. She certainly looks and seems it a lot of the time. She has a quite a few difficult things to deal with: her mother died a few years ago after a period of ill health, one of her siblings died very suddenly (although she was estranged from them) and a few fallings out with friends.

On the other hand, she is fit and active, has plenty of money has myself and my sibling and our families close by.

She has always been quite prickly and negative, so it's not a huge, unusual change in her personality, it just seems to be getting worse.

janerowena Thu 19-Mar-15 15:12:01

They say it's usually men, don't they. That men get crotchety and irritable and women get more forgetful. I have watched my sweet-natured FiL get like that gradually, as did his father. He asked me to tell him, if he was becoming an old misery like his father, but I can't face it either. Now I worry about what DBH will be like.

I thought this of my own grandmother. At the time I put it down to ill-health and disappointment that she hadn't managed to do and see all the things she had hoped to, as she constantly mentioned all the things she would never do. Because of that, I try not to think that way. I don't want to die embittered.

HildaW Thu 19-Mar-15 15:54:16

So difficult. I think I'd steer clear of actually having a 'talk' with her. Try a more gentle approach perhaps. A trip out for a walk or a coffee and then just see where the conversation goes. A few open ended questions such as 'What have you been doing lately? or 'how do you feel about Poldark remake' or other relative tv programme. It dawned on me too late, that I had shown little interest in my Mum's life (blamed children, divorce job etc etc). My sister told me much later how unhappy she was and I'm sorry I did not just sit and listen. Perhaps go shopping with her or just go for a drive.

Try not to pin her down to much, just open up the lines of communication and ask her about her life, don't try to tell her things - just listen. All the best.

soontobe Thu 19-Mar-15 16:08:29

My first instinct is to tell her. As she said that she wanted you too.
And if I didnt tell her, I might regret it.
I am of the opinion that tetchy people like to be told things straight.
But I dont have much experience of all of this, so I might be wrong?

Mishap Thu 19-Mar-15 16:14:00

Maybe just find an opportunity to ask her if she is feeling happy with her life as it is, and see what she says. If she asks why then you could say that you were aware that she had fallen out with a few people and you wondered if anything was wrong.

Good luck - you are a very kind daughter to be concerned for her.

soontobe Thu 19-Mar-15 16:16:36

Yes, what Mishap says.
I would do it with your sibling present.

Iam64 Thu 19-Mar-15 18:11:06

HildaW makes good suggestions I feel. Rather than a sit down discussion, go for a walk or a cup of tea somewhere neutral. See how you mum is generally and I expect the opportunity will arise to explore the issues that worry you.

One thing, not based on scientific research or evidence, just on my own experiences. I believe people often get more like themselves as they age. My mum became increasingly determined to avoid the less positive things in life. Dad became even less emotionally available than his usual position. On reflection, I can understand how this happens. Older age is full of losses and I suspect most of us rely increasingly on coping mechanisms we may not even be aware of.

Has your mum a history of depression and if so, would it be possible for you to talk about this with her. The loss of a divorced partner can be a final straw for some people, all those unresolved issues. Best wishes, you sound a very caring, sensitive daughter

rockgran Thu 19-Mar-15 18:31:07

My ex MIL was like this. Very difficult to be around and got worse. In the end she fell out with everyone. I think people just stop trying to cover up their personalities as they age and their unpleasant facets become more apparent.
Your mum does sound lonely and I think probably just needs to be allowed to moan to someone (without being advised or helped). I used to think my MIL's hobby was having a good moan and am determined not to fall into that rut.
Perhaps you could let her rant on a bit then mention, with a little laugh, that she's beginning to sound just like her mum.
Good luck!

Mermaid101 Thu 19-Mar-15 20:04:35

Thanks so much for these. I think I am keen to say something to her. I'm quite worried that if she doesn't become a bit more self-aware, she will end up very lonely. It must be very upsetting for her to have people turn down her invitations and sort of disappear from her life. A couple of friends have quite directly ceased contact with her, and have told her they don't want to see her any more.

I was going to discuss this with my sister present as well, but we thought it might make it a bit of a big deal, sort of like an intervention or something. It's very unusual for us all to be together. My sister and I both work full time in quite high pressure, demanding jobs so it can be hard to co-ordinate. There would probably be various children around as well. I would, however, prefer to have her supports/witness to this.

I think I might try to do the more softly, softly approach and try to steer the conversation round to one of her fall outs and then bring up that she might be coming just a little difficult and "less sociable".

I feel I need to sort of set my stall out a bit as well. My husband and I are finding her more and more draining to be around. She has started to talk about moving closer to us, but I really wouldn't want to be in such close proximity to her while she is like this.

It's a really difficult and personal thing to ask, but has anyone been on the receiving end of a conversation like this? What was it like?
I realise people may not want to discuss such things, so hopefully I'm not being too insensitive to ask.

absent Fri 20-Mar-15 05:15:50

I think people say all sorts of things they mean at the time but perhaps don't actually want to happen later. I also think that we tend to become more of what we already are as we get older. I should leave well alone.

rosesarered Fri 20-Mar-15 23:10:06

I would have a talk with her about it. otherwise things will go on getting worse.A frank discussion now may make her realise how difficult she is being and that it is stopping her from having friends and enjoying life.She won't like it, none of us would, but it may make her think at least.Remind her that she once told you she would prefer you to be honest with her. good luck.

jenn Sat 21-Mar-15 00:27:39

Your mum sounds just like my sister and I find it impossible to get through to her. She has always had a quick temper and as the younger sister I rarely stood up to her, so even though I,m 64 I can't tell her how difficult she is being as she would not listen.
She is so upset that her son in India doesn't call her but she has spent years telling him how dreadful his wife is and how he has wasted his life. Of course he doesn't call. Does she see the connection? NO
.This is being repeated with her grandson. He's 23 and travelling after a stint in the army( no responsibilities and friends around the world) .She is so disappointed that he hasn't a full time job and mortgage and she lets him know at every opportunity telling him he is too thick to go to college.Will he ring her??Would you?
Good luck with your mum but if she is like my sister she will not admit that her behaviour is upsetting others which in turn upsets her.