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Grandparenting

I'm not the mother he expected, and probaby won't be the grandmother he expcts either

(80 Posts)
mothercat Mon 09-Dec-19 21:29:39

New here and this is my first post after reading through several of the forums. Looking to commiserate.

Son and DIL are expecting first baby, our first grandchild.
Things are getting tense with our son. He's 33 y/o and increasingly over the years he has let me know that I am a disappointment as a mom. As he sees it he is always having to rein me in for something I have done that makes his life miserable. DH thinks it started when he wanted to get a personal loan to cover living expenses while he went to school so he didn't have to work and could concentrate on his studies. We (DH and I) said "no" because he would need us to cosign and we were not in a position to pay back the loan if he couldn't.
I think it goes back further to multiple other incidents where we would need to help him with money, travel, etc. and weren't in a position to do that or felt that he was making bad decisions.
It seems that no matter how I try to help, even when it's something he specifically asked for, it is not good enough. Now with the baby coming I have become so gun shy that I tend to not get involved for fear of once again being harshly criticized and that just reinforces his feelings of me being inappropriate.
Of all 4 of my children he was the golden child, had everything together, looks, ability, drive and I thought I was being supportive, but he doesn't see it that way and now I'm really afraid to say anything about anything. Trying not to comment on anything he and DIL do or say regarding pregnancy, birth, and baby, but that looks like disinterest and lack of support to him.
I feel like I can't win.

Smileless2012 Mon 09-Dec-19 21:41:51

What a shame that your natural excitement and enthusiasm as you look forward to your GC is being curtailed because your son constantly makes you feel nothing you do or say is good enough.

I'm sorry to say mothercat that you probably never will feel you can win, so try not too. Be yourself, enquire after your d.i.l. whenever you can, ask if there's anything they would like you to buy for the baby and ask if there's anything else they may need or want you to do. Don't push it, just ask and if they say there's nothing they need don't ask again; once is enough.

As for your son, well when he becomes a father he'll soon learn it's not that easy and he can only hope his child doesn't take after him, and as s/he grows up makes him feel as a father, the way he makes you feel as a mother.

Your first GC, it's exciting and wonderful news so try to look forward to it.

I wish you wellflowers.

Madgran77 Mon 09-Dec-19 21:47:03

Mothercat That sounds very difficult for you. Have you been able to sit down and really listen to your son whilst he tells you what he feels you did that wasn't good enough or why he has felt he has to rein you in? I know how hard this would be but it just might be a start|?

I think that Smileless suggestions re just ask re the baby is good; ask once and let them respond as they see fit

I really do sympathise, it is so hard, this "eggshell treading"

mothercat Mon 09-Dec-19 21:48:43

I was just looking at the thread about estrangement and the article you linked to. It is sad, but comforting to know I'm not alone.
I just got a followup FB message from him about the baby shower this weekend. It's like the earlier messages he sent upbraiding me never existed.
Thank you for the advice.

mothercat Mon 09-Dec-19 21:55:02

Madgran77, yes I've tried several times but each time it becomes a long list of how I behave and how he feels about it instead. It is very bruising to accept his words and not to defend myself, but offering a defense just looks like I am trying to rationalize my actions and discount his feelings so I avoid that and simply accept what he has to say.
In turn I have done things for him to show my support that I haven't done for the other kids. It makes little to no difference.

MissAdventure Mon 09-Dec-19 21:57:57

He sounds spoilt.
Is he?

GagaJo Mon 09-Dec-19 22:06:21

Mothercat, I know EXACTLY how you feel. You could be describing my daughter. She's spent years telling me how I am a bad mum and LISTING the ways. Now, I am FULLY aware I wasn't the worlds best mum. I was too young, had an alcoholic husband and just wasn't a natural at it. I made mistakes and screwed up. BUT, I was the parent that was always there.

I no longer take her comments lying down. IF she goes off on one (which she is apt to do), I'll remove myself from the situation (similar to you). Like you, ALL the support I've given her, in the past and present, is totally discounted. She's monumentally ungrateful.

However, now she has my beautiful, darling grandson. So to a certain extent, I have to keep her on side. We had a HUGE blow up fairly recently. I wasn't to blame but I apologised. And I'd do it again to be able to spend time with my grandson.

One day, my BDG will be older and won't want as much time with his granny, so I want to make the most of now. It's a tightrope.

Madgran77 Mon 09-Dec-19 22:10:46

Motgercat If you have listened then you have tried. I am so sorry you are in this position flowers

aggie Mon 09-Dec-19 22:10:55

one of my adult children started on me like that I am afraid I just glared at her and told her in loud and forecful tones to adjust her memory and ask her siblings to say their side of it , never heard another word , we are distant and cool now , she had always been difficult and I was fed up with being wrongsided

M0nica Mon 09-Dec-19 22:23:11

mothercat, you have my sympathy. I long ago realised that two people hearing the same words or experiencing the same event can interprete it entirely differently.

You describe him as the 'golden child' and when someone is clever and successful and academic and social success has come easily, it is often a real shock when reality eventually arrives and they suffer some set back. Since life has always been such a smooth ride they expect it as a right and when they do not get it, they look for someone to blame and as his parents, you are first in the firing line. Because you, quite rightly, refused to sign up to a financial obligation you could not afford, you were an easy target and now he automatically blames you when he doesn't get his own way all the time.

I am not sure there is much you can do about it. Just accept that is the way he is, try and step back and do not take his criticisms too personally.

Like others I thnk Smileless has given some very good advice

If you think you could get away with it, try a little banter. If he does something silly,nothing to do with you, like break a plate, immediately apologise for it, and if he says what is to do with you just comment, 'well a mother's place is usually in the wrong'

Only you know whether the above is a good idea or a very bad idea.

You have three other children, who are not as difficult as this child, just accept that that is what he is like, ignore his jibes and follow the very good advice

Hetty58 Mon 09-Dec-19 22:32:09

He sounds a bit like my eldest (of four) who has a great big chip on his shoulder about the lack of help he received growing up. The others don't feel that way. I think he compared himself to schoolmates who were showered with love and cash, cars and holidays etc.

I was coping alone (having been widowed) working hard and often exhausted. There was a warm, happy atmosphere here, good food, days out, nice clothes (even the 'right' trainers) but they didn't get extravagant gifts or many holidays. I couldn't afford them. The house was often full of their friends, though.

To me, having had a privileged yet rotten childhood myself, I thought I'd done well. They seemed happy, had fun, knew they were safe and loved. It seemed that they had everything they needed.

One day, he said he wished he'd been an only child. He makes snide little remarks about things not having been good enough. I've decided he just has a spiteful streak, so now if he makes a negative 'comment' I just reply 'I'm sorry I was such a terrible mother, but then you would say that, being you' - and laugh it off. I'm not upset by it any more!

pinkquartz Mon 09-Dec-19 22:34:36

mothercat

I am sorry that he is like this with you . It sounds very hurtful. It is good you have other children.
How do you get on with his partner?
Can you build a bridge there so you can see your grandchild when it is born without having to negotiate with DS?

I think the first thing is to stop trying to please him. If you stand back for a while and just trust your own instincts of what feels right for you to do, then he may unconsciously change himself......You can't change anyone else but you can change yourself.
If you stop making all the running then he has to make some.

Stop feeling that you have done anything wrong. He is his own person.
I do hope things work out better.

GagaJo Mon 09-Dec-19 22:38:06

Exactly Hetty58. My daughter has unintentionally turned off my guilt switch by banging on so much about it. I used to feel bad. But there is only so much guilt I could feel.

Now, I just think, change the record.

Funny how being such a s**t Mum, I can now be such a good granny. Amazing that. Those skills must be magic granny skills.

M0nica Mon 09-Dec-19 22:40:23

Hetty I think you are very wise. My DD can be more than a little difficult at times and I have just accepted that that is the way she is and, if at times I get blamed for everything, my response is always that 'a mother's place is in the wrong' and I do not take her words too much to heart.

There really is nothing else you can do.

Hetty58 Mon 09-Dec-19 22:46:51

Isn't it strange how writing it down helps us think logically! It just popped into my head that he's a perfectionist - so, of course, nothing is ever good enough!

Evie64 Mon 09-Dec-19 22:47:25

My daughter and I fell out big time when she had my GD. She expected me to give up my career to have my GD so she could continue to work. Needless to say, we sorted things out and have been very close ever since, but it was a difficult time.

BradfordLass72 Tue 10-Dec-19 06:00:02

I feel like I can't win

And there you have it in a nutshell - and why can't you win? Because he is a chronic complainer and is manipulating you to make sure he has the upper hand. He refuses to see his own flaws and dissastisfactions, so has to put it all on your shoulders.
How convenient to blame his poor Mom for all the things he can't handle.

When we love someone dearly, we hate to admit this but it is often the 'entitled' golden child who turns out like this.
They think they can do no wrong.

It is very bruising to accept his words

So stop accepting his words and understand they are lies It's very clear that he has got you under his thumb because he can upset you and make you feel guilty. And he gets the power trip.

Like GagaJo Turn off that guilt switch and start seeing this selfish man for what he is: a shameless, unsympathetic wretch, manipulating a Mom who has loved him and done her very best.
It's NOT your failure -it's HIS.

He'll certainly use your need to see and love the baby, too good a chance to miss, isn't it, for a guy like that? So be aware and armour yourself against it.

If this was my son, I would stop him even talking about my supposed flaws in future and I wonder why your DH hasn't given him the hard word about how disrespectfully he treat you?

If you realise this is all a power trip to make your son feel good by making you feel bad, it'll help you strengthen mentally and be determined not to play this destructive game any longer.

Davidhs Tue 10-Dec-19 09:22:31

Why does your son think he needs help from you he sounds successful and able to cope, he’s a big boy let him get on with his life. I’m thinking that if he treats you that way, what is the relationship with his wife like, probably not the best.

For you, try to maintain a good relationship with DIL don’t comment on how she looks after the baby, if she asks then give a diplomatic reply.

NotANana Tue 10-Dec-19 10:14:09

I feel a little sorry for his other siblings. If he was indeed the "golden child" who could do no wrong, did you privilege him over the others in his youth? Did they receive the financial help and support that he wanted - or have they managed to separate themselves from your parenting and become grown up and "equal" to you?
He doesn't sound as though he has really ever "grown up" and learned how to stand on his own two feet.

None of this is your fault, but I think that you need to take a backward step and stop treating him as the golden one.

jaylucy Tue 10-Dec-19 10:19:20

"Golden child" in whose eyes?
Until you said that he was one of four, I was beginning to think that he was an only child!
Sorry, but I think that the problem is with him, not you. Just because most things came easily to him, he seems to have decided that everything therefore, including his mother must bow down and worship him! Can you imagine how it would have been if you had given him the money that he demanded every time he asked? Your life would have not been your own - he'd have gone through what savings you had by his continual demands , one after another.
The person he needs to "reign in" is himself, not you - how arrogant can he get?
You have done absolutely nothing wrong, your other 3 children must be testament to that and his continual manipulation must be stopped, here and now.
Keep up contact with the DiL - she may well be needing your support in the future. I also suggest that you ask your other children what they think of your parenting skills - you may well find that they are as tired of him as you obviously are.

ReadyMeals Tue 10-Dec-19 10:22:55

Mothercat, I think we must be sharing this son! Mine finally stopped seeing me altogether once I stopped the handouts in his 40s. Until that point he was just about putting up with me.

Nannan2 Tue 10-Dec-19 10:30:42

My youngest child blames everyone else when something goes wrong,not just me,but often it comes around to be my turn at being at fault,nothing is ever his own fault, ( losing homework/coursework/ not getting school/ college work in on time/ losing anything important like a busspass/ keys/ money/etc- or breaking one of his consoles or laptop/ phone etc- and yes, he is the spoilt one a bit,being the 'baby' of the family,at nearly 17- i just hope theres still enough time to change his ways before he becomes an adult,and im not on here years from now asking where i went wrong with him!This has been a wake up call for me.hmm

lovebeigecardigans1955 Tue 10-Dec-19 10:39:48

Ah, the 'golden child' - they always cause problems, don't they? My BIL was this and to honest I think it was a facade as he was a difficult moody character and still is.
Has he ever considered that he may not be the son you expected? It works both ways.

Graygirl Tue 10-Dec-19 10:49:32

Do you get along with dil , send messages to her not him. He wants to be the centre of attention take it away from him . My sister berated me at every turn when we were alone I started bringing her remarks up in front of others to be met with denial from her. Till the day someone overheard her and backed me up

Notthatoldyet9 Tue 10-Dec-19 10:54:28

Is he the son you expectef ?
I know my DD Often pisses me off and i her but we love each other ...but hey! I am her mother so hard luck
We are all individuals so why beat yourself up
Be you 😆