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Shut down threats of estrangement

(199 Posts)
Mebster Fri 28-Jun-19 17:54:16

My daughter and her husband used to threaten estrangement if we offended them in some way. We've written them several notes, in a loving but firm tone, making it clear that we would never consider threatening a family member with this and it's not appropriate. It seems to have finally worked. My sister hasn't heard from her daughter in eight years and her son is constantly threatening. Why has this become so common?

Nonnie Sat 29-Jun-19 16:29:53

Does it have to be the last straw? I'm not so sure. There are people who are determined not to like their child's partner from the beginning. I think that was my mil but eventually I won her round and I am sure she was jealous that I was taking her baby away. There are also insecure people who won't accept their partner's family, not because they did anything wrong but because they feel the need to 'own' their partner. Their are innocent people who get cut out.

Meeyoo Sat 29-Jun-19 17:23:38

she’s told my husband if I don’t go and see her, I’ll be out of her will
the implication being that she's quite happy with a situation where you agree to have a relationship with her in return for a payout on her death, she is literally trying to buy your loyalty

Starlady Sat 29-Jun-19 19:59:22

Nonnie, I agree, there are some people who are out to find fault with/push away their MIL or DIL, etc. from the beginning, and who will look for any little thing as an excuse. But I also believe there are SOME cases where that "little thing" that led to a CO was the proverbial last straw.

Sara65 Sat 29-Jun-19 20:28:03

If definitely can be Starlady, I think if things are pretty poor anyway, it only takes the wrong thing said at the wrong time to cause a total breakdown of the relationship

Hm999 Sat 29-Jun-19 20:50:22

Decades ago different generations lived in the same area, street or even house. I've lived all over, but I have friends locally who've barely moved 10 miles in 60 years. More and more, we live many miles away from family these days.

Namsnanny Sun 30-Jun-19 00:11:47

notanan….please read my second paragraph.

Starlady Sun 30-Jun-19 00:53:28

It seems to me this thread has brought to the fore two opposite aspects of parent/AC relationships. One is that of the AC/CIL letting the parent/PIL/GP know that if they don't do/stop doing this/that they will lose access to the GC. As PPs have said, this may just be to let the GPs know the AC/CIL are at the end of their rope, but to some it comes across as a threat.

The other is that of AC and family just fading away. I think it's called "ghosting.' They just disappear/stop making contact w/o giving the GPs the faintest hint that this might happen.

Sigh... Clearly, neither is ideal for the GP

Namsnanny Sun 30-Jun-19 01:16:09

Well this case it is a threat isn't it?

Summerlove Sun 30-Jun-19 11:05:46

Namsnanny, not a threat, no. A promise that the adult child wont accept poor behaviour from someone.

Sometimes an adult child is just a jerk, but it seems that often their complaints are dismissed as “not real/not relevant/lies”.

So you end up with two stubborn groups of people either unwilling or unable to make a compromise.

Would you want to compromise with someone who you feel treats you poorly? Of course not, that’s why grandparents complain about eggshells and that horrible generation of young people.

Many adult children cannot get their parents to treat them like adults/peers. They are stuck in the role of knowing best.

People of any generation don’t like being told what to do. You see it on both sides all the time.

Meeyoo Sun 30-Jun-19 11:52:50

Many adult children cannot get their parents to treat them like adults/peers
I agree with this, when I look at my parents generation I see that as they get older they feel that their authority increases with seniority, they don't see themselves as having declined as they get older, rather they see themselves as having a attained the status of 'super adults' they expect unconditional loyalty and deference from the generation below.

I appreciate that this is because when they were younger unconditional loyalty to parents was the norm, but back then your parents would most likely die when they are in their 70s.
when I look back it's very clear to me that when my grandmother died my mother was finally released from having to deal with her 'difficultness', she was able to enjoy her 50s and 60s free of all that stress.
Now my mother looks set to live well into her 90s giving me grief whilst I am simultaneously trying to help my adult children.

Nonnie Sun 30-Jun-19 12:00:07

Actually summer I would "want to compromise with someone who you feel treats you poorly", yes compromise is really important. I think there must be people in this situation because they were not prepared to compromise. I think it is a very sad state of affairs when people want things all their own way.

I am wondering if some of the newer posters on here may not be GPs so may have a one-sided view on this. Surely those of us who have been AC and dealt with parent and parents in law and are now GPs would take a more balanced view?

longtimelurker Sun 30-Jun-19 12:47:49

I think that what Meeyoo said has a lot of relevance. Things have changed. People who are grandparents now were taught to be polite and respectful to people who were older than themselves even when that person was unreasonable (and even if that person was 90 and the they were 60). They are then very surprised when their children tell them to mind their own f**ing business if they make a suggestion. It is a big learning curve and the generation born in the late 1940s and early 1950s are caught in the middle of this change. In some ways it is a good thing that young families are freer but more kindness wouldn't go amiss. I think there are a lot of different reasons why estrangement occurs and on forums like this and mumsnet people are very inclined to project their own situations onto other peoples'. The grandparent is by no means always in the wrong but some grandparents do need to look at themselves and change. I think sites like mumsnet are very influential and are a very negative force.

sodapop Sun 30-Jun-19 12:50:16

It is difficult sometimes to see adult children as independent people living their own lives.
By the same token those same adult children are frequently expecting support financially or with child care from their parents. Nothing wrong with that in moderation but reading some posts on GN this is taken to extremes. With independence comes responsibility.

longtimelurker Sun 30-Jun-19 12:50:39

I should add that sometimes the grandparent has done nothing wrong at all and it is the younger person who needs more self awareness.

WadesNan Sun 30-Jun-19 12:54:25

I think this can go both ways - I know someone who fell out with her daughter and has cut off contact not only with the daughter but also the daughter's children. When one of her sons suggested she at least keep in touch with the grandchildren, she cut off contact with him too!

longtimelurker Sun 30-Jun-19 12:57:40

Wow Wades! That will be very shocking to some of the estranged parents on here who want to build bridges but there are difficult people in every generation.

Hithere Sun 30-Jun-19 13:29:31

NC often comes after both offended and offender's parties trying to fix the offending pattern of behaviour, for many many years, talks, compromise, negotiations, etc.
The main conflict is that the offended party defines what the offenses are, which may be disregarded as petty and "this is how life works" by the offenders.

After many iterations (plenty of time years!) of trying to make it work and issues keep coming up, it becomes clear it will never be fixed so NC comes into place.

Sara65 Sun 30-Jun-19 13:29:41

I think if you are prepared to cut off any members of your family completely, they’re was something horribly wrong with the relationship in the first place.

I have nothing to do with my mother, but that certainly wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, and my husband and children still visit.

But I often feel, reading some posts, not necessarily on this thread, that we grannies have forgotten what it’s like to be the daughters in law, I personally don’t have one, but I have been one, and it’s probably one of the trickiest relationships to manoeuvre , and one thing you can be certain of, if it comes down to your precious son having to take sides, you lose!

Hithere Sun 30-Jun-19 13:39:12

Another issue is that the timeline is different, depending on whom you ask.
The offended party would give you a lengthier period of time for the existence of the conflict, while the offender's party would give the answer of "this is a recent event/came out of the blue/we just had the normal family disagreements", etc

Sara65 Sun 30-Jun-19 14:07:46


I think you’re talking about me and my mother!

Spot on

Hithere Sun 30-Jun-19 14:12:30


So sorry to hear that. Nobody wants to belong to that club sad
There are no winners in a NC, just losers, it is very painful for all everybody.

pinkquartz Sun 30-Jun-19 15:11:49

what about the grandchildren?
Does anyone ever ask how they feel going NC?
Seems harsh to me..

Namsnanny Sun 30-Jun-19 15:32:46

Pink often that is the case.
There will be grans who are troublemakers and cheerfully use the gc to further their cause, but they are very few and far between would be my guess.
Most of this going no contact is like using a mallet to crack a nut!
Out of proportion to the normal difficulties all parties have when adjusting to their roles as gps ps inl etc.,
Imv anyway

Starlady Sun 30-Jun-19 15:40:15

Good point about the timeline, Hithere!

About compromise - Part of the problem here, IMO, is that sometimes the AC and CIL already have compromised. Say a DIL doesn't want to see her MIL, at all, but DS does b/c MIL is his mum, etc. They compromise by agreeing that they will see her on holidays and birthdays and have the kids speak to her by phone or videochat once a month.

But MIL, understandably, wants more. What now? Another compromise? MIL may think, "They're so stubborn. They need to compromise w/ me." But DS and DIL have already compromised w/ each other and may not feel they need to do it again w/ a 3rd party (MIL). I'm not saying it always happens that way, but sometimes surely.

Namsnanny Sun 30-Jun-19 15:43:24

Summerlive..definition of threat: if x isn’t done y will be carried out.

Promise: ‘I will be pledging to fulfill my obligation.

Toemahhhtoe v tomaaaata!!