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Relationship faltering since birth of DS3

(85 Posts)
StrawberryShortcake Wed 22-Jul-20 00:05:29

I have already posted this on mumsnet, I’m the Mum and my Mum is the Gran. I got lots of great advice and support on mumsnet but wondered if I might get a different perspective from Grans?

Here goes:

Since having my DS3 my parent’s behaviour has changed or perhaps they have always been this way and I have become less tolerant.

I’d like advice about how to repair our relationship before things breakdown any further.

I have always been very close to both of my parents. My son is their first grandchild and I was excited to tell them they were going to be grandparents. They were shocked (no idea why I was 39 and had been married for 5 years) and throughout my pregnancy they never asked about me or my son.

When DS3 was born they were happy and for a little while things were ok, but as he grew and needed nap and feed times they became difficult to be around. They would ‘accidentally’ wake him up, distract him from eating etc. If I said “he’s getting tired” they would scoff and roll their eyes. In fact they would scoff and roll their eyes at most things I said. To this day they have never told me I am a good mother - perhaps because they don’t think I am. I once got upset and told them about how they made me feel. It didn’t help, my dad shouted at me, said I’m ungrateful and how dare I say they upset me when they paid for my wedding, buy me nice presents and
helped me go to university. They did pay for some of it but I paid for a lot of my wedding and worked 3 jobs during my uni days. I thanked them so much for these things at the time that my dad told me off for thanking them too much. I tried to pay them back for this with a regular monthly payment but they refused. I have since asked them not to buy presents for me or my husband anymore. I can’t risk it being thrown back in my face again as it’s too hurtful. This conversation did stop the eye rolling but nothing else changed.

They are both poor communicators my mum lies a lot ( nothing major, I’m not sure she realises she’s doing it a lot of the time) and shouts or cries to deflect or get her own way and my dad won’t speak at all most of the time. I can’t remember the last time he spoke directly to me. He hasn’t wished me happy birthday for 3 years and neither of them have made any attempt to see me on my birthday for the past 3 years either. This year they came to my house when they knew I would be at work and dropped of an incredibly expensive pair of earrings for me. I now have to go to their house to take them back, which makes me feel very anxious.

They come for Christmas but make no attempt to enjoy themselves. I always cook the food they like, but mum will just pick at it and say she’s not hungry.

Since our relationship has started to breakdown, it’s made me think about the past more and the things my parents have done over the years that have made me feel bad that I’ve perhaps brushed under the carpet. I’m slowly letting go of these things/feelings and want to move on and make our relationship better. I know they won’t instigate this so I need to, but how? It would be easy to walk away but what good would that do. I saw a counsellor but she just kept telling me to tell my mum that I needed a hug from her, which I can’t do yet

In other respects my life is wonderful even in these difficult times, my son is amazing ( as all mums think of their children) my husband is too and is very supportive. I have a nice home and good job.

And yet, this issue with my parents consumes so much of me, of my time, my energy, my thoughts. How do I start carving a path to positive change?

Chewbacca Wed 22-Jul-20 00:13:30

Why do you have to take the "incredibly expensive pair of earrings" back?

GagaJo Wed 22-Jul-20 00:14:08

StrawberryShortcake, I don't have any advice I'm afraid. I have a very fractured relationship with my own mum AND my daughter, although less so with her. The one person I do however have a great relationship with, is my grandson. He can (almost) do no wrong in my eyes.

I don't understand a granny who doesn't love her grandchild.

Do your parents want to see you and spend time with you? And why (not a sarcastic question, honestly) do you want to see them?

Violettham Wed 22-Jul-20 00:27:57

Strawberry shortcake Hello, I am so sorry for you but just wanted to thank you for shining a light on what has been a mystery to me. I am very old but didnt know anything about what is called estrangement hadnt heard the word before.I had a wonderful Mum and Dad and have a lovely family and didnt understand until I found Gransnet. I do so hope that someone on here will be able to help you. Good Luck

MamaBear20 Wed 22-Jul-20 00:50:10

chewbacca she needs to return the earrings because she set a boundary with her parents and told them no more gifts for her or her husband, and they stomped all over that boundary by dropping off the earrings. She set that boundary because passed gifts came with strings attached.

MamaBear20 Wed 22-Jul-20 00:58:37

Strawberry I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It must be so difficult to have parents who are disrespectful of you as a parent. I understand wanting to salvage the relationship as they are your parents. Unfortunately, that’s going to mean setting clear, strict boundaries that they are not going to like, and will likely push back against. They have shown you that’s what they will do with the earrings, and your dad yelling at you when you told him how they had hurt your feelings. I think you should end the visit each time they are disrespectful.

“Baby needs a nap.“ Cue eye roll. “It’s time for you to leave.” Every single time.
Return unwanted earrings and remind them you are not accepting gifts from them as they come with strings attached. Tell them any gifts from them will be thrown away or donated. If they yell, end the visit. Tell them you’ll talk when they’ve regained control of their emotions. Maybe they’ll get their poor behavior under control when they know you won’t be a doormat. Maybe they’ll push back and you’ll see them less.

Summerlove Wed 22-Jul-20 02:31:15

mamabear20 has excellent advice

I’m thinking your therapist could be unintentionally setting you up for failure in asking your mom for affection. I’m all for using your words, but I don’t think you sound ready for the possible rejection

Hithere Wed 22-Jul-20 03:30:55

I would start by grieving the parents that you wish you had, not the ones you have

Re earrings: you don't have to return them in person. Use UPS, mail, FedEx.

Boundaries: set up the rules that are good for you and your core family and consequences when they break them.

I would also stop chasing them.
Do you enjoy xmas with them? If not, don't invite them.
Is the menu based on your parents' taste or what you want to eat?

Bottom line: think what you want your life to be.
If you feel exhausted by your relationship with them, you may need a little break from them to put your thoughts in perspective, get a little distance/separation from this to be able to see a clearer picture and reevaluate from there

StrawberryShortcake Wed 22-Jul-20 07:53:26

Thank you for all your replies it’s really very helpful.

I did it, I took presents and a cake Round for my dads birthday. My dad didn't want to open his presents in front of me and I don't mind that at all but my mum made him so that was a bit awkward, but he seemed genuinely very happy with his gifts. The cake didn't go down that well but I expected that - even though my son made it. I'm sure they'll just put it in the in bin, but my son enjoyed making it so I'm happy we did it. Conversation revolved around them (but it was his birthday) and also about other people. No questions were asked about me or my DS or DH. I actually feel ok, it was polite and I had no expectations. All done until Christmas now!

From a GP perspective, how can I make this situation and our relationship better?

LullyDully Wed 22-Jul-20 08:12:55

I agree with everyone else who has posted. Sadly you may not be able to make things better. You have tried so hard, even seeking professional help. Enjoy your nuclear family and realise that the problems are with your parents. See them only when necessary. You can not change them.

Thank goodness you have a happy family without them. Keep your love for your child and don't make the same mistakes. I trust you have the emotional intelligence to do a wonderful job without negative influences.

Oopsadaisy3 Wed 22-Jul-20 08:23:08

It’s only since my MIL died in May that her ACs have chatted and realised how divisive she (and FIL ) were, pitting them against each other rather than treating them all well.
DH and I realised very early on in our marriage that she was a very selfish person and that it was her way or no way, so we rarely visited.
SIL was totally under her thumb and is now extremely angry, with no where to vent her anger, so we get very long phone calls comparing notes about what really was said to us compared with what was said to her. She also found out what to her was an absolute bombshell and that still goes around and around in her head.
One son was estranged (the in-laws did that, not him) and she was so spiteful about him too.
As I said we rarely saw her, it was her loss that she didn’t see our children, but she didn’t care.
I would tell the OP to cut ties with them before their behaviour affects your children and your own mental health.
Some people weren’t made to be parents.

BlueBelle Wed 22-Jul-20 08:40:30

Relationships are all different and you have to roll with them I picked up on the they never told me I was a good mum
Well I don’t think I ever had any expectations of hearing my parents tell me I was a good mum maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, have I used those words to my own children? I don’t recall doing so, I don’t really understand why you need reinforcement about your abilities you and your husband know if you are or not and that’s all that matters
I think what I m saying is it sounds as to me as if your expectations are over the top
I also don’t understand why you have to take a gift back what a kick in the teeth for them whether it was to your taste, too expensive, or ‘against your rules’ I think it’s really bad taste to give a gift back
I also don’t understand if it GS3 how is it your parents first grandchild ? Probably me being thick
You say you were always incredibly close to your parents and then go on to list all the ‘terrible’ things they ve done over the years including your mum has always been a liar I think your post is full of opposites and to me it feels like you are expecting way too much and perhaps are being a bit precious You say it consumes you, well stop letting it consume you concentrate on the positives in your lives and if they roll their eyes or don’t, so what, if they thank you or praise you enough or not enough, accept that that’s who they are and by the sound of it always have been
You are expecting a perfect relationship and they just rarely are Sorry if you feel I ve been hard but try looking at this less, accept what you have and stop looking for finding fault in your head
they didn’t like the cake did they say so ??? or didn’t they say how ravishingly tasty it was You say in one breathe your mum has always been a poor communicator then expect praise for all you do
They are what they are, you are what you are probably very different so take what they offer (maybe nothing) and enjoy a happy life with your husband and son Stop fretting you will be the one to suffer

Lucca Wed 22-Jul-20 08:43:44

Interesting perspective Bluebelle, I’d like to know what OP thinks about that.

EllanVannin Wed 22-Jul-20 09:00:07

I'd avoid them like the plague.
You've got a good relationship with the main person in your life as well as your own siblings so keep it that way and don't allow this preposterous behaviour become such an issue as to cause any unpleasantness within your own family " bubble ".

I wouldn't give them house-room even though they are your parents, it's going to make you ill and it's not worth it, nor fair on your partner and children. It'll become easier given time.

Toadinthehole Wed 22-Jul-20 09:10:19

Oh StrawberryShortcake, where do I start 🤪. We had problems with parents, mainly husband’s, from the start. Can I just ask.....had this been a forever thing, or could it be colliding with your mum’s menopause for example? I really didn’t know what had hit me when I started mine, and no one ever told me! I’ve said to my husband more recently, could it have been his mum’s menopause all along, and we just didn’t know and couldn’t make allowances. He said “ no”, unless she started it around 40, and it went on until she died at age 85! Possible I suppose, but unlikely. Assuming it’s not this, and they are just difficult.....you have to weigh up the pros and cons of them being in your lives, possibly putting to detriment, your relationship with your husband and children as they get older and start to notice things which mine did. We put up with a rollercoaster of times over 25 years, and eventually shut the door on them when we were 40, 20 years ago. The best thing we ever did. There’s loads of difficult, unpleasant people out there...and unfortunately, some poor people are related to them! Do what your instinct says, put your husband and children first, and leave them to their own devices. You say your life with them is good, and that’s important. From what you say, I’m assuming you’ve tried all the talking. We did...and we were just met with denial. Don’t waste any more time on them, focus on what you have, and maybe things will naturally come back. All the best to you💐

TerriBull Wed 22-Jul-20 09:10:29

I'm also wondering how your child can be DS3 and your parents first grandchild confused

Grammaretto Wed 22-Jul-20 09:19:41

I echo everything that BlueBelle says! down to the GS3 is the first grandchild?.

The arrival of a new baby changes the dynamics and your DP don't know how to behave. They don't know "the rules" any more than you do.

Remember to be kind and and patient with each other and it will turn out alright. They may be quite old for DGP too and set in their ways. My in-laws were in their early 40s when we made them DGP and now in their 90s, are still laying down the law. smile

I wouldn't return a gift though, unless it came with a gift receipt to exchange it at a shop. How rude!

B9exchange Wed 22-Jul-20 09:24:47

If you really do want to improve the relationship, then I would ask them if they would sit down with an intermediary, professional or otherwise, and chat through what the expectations are of each of you. I would have seen the earrings as a peace offering, which was rejected, it won't have helped.

You can use that opportunity to say how you would like support from them in believing in yourself. That you always believed you were close and would like that to continue. Give them the opportunity to come out with any resentments that you were not aware of and could be resolved.

You make it a bit difficult for them, you say they have ignored your birthday for the past three years, and when they do make a real effort and give you a present, you promptly return it. Yes, they were very wrong to complain about all they had done for you, even when upset, but if you can put it behind all of you, you can move on.

If you don't tell them how you would like them to behave, and ask them what you can do for them in return, I fear things will get worse, and I suspect you really would like to mend things?

Smileless2012 Wed 22-Jul-20 09:27:40

I'm sorry that you're having such a difficult time with your parents Strawberryshortcake and that this is casting a black cloud over your life.

You posted "this issue with my parents consumes so much of me, of my time, my energy, my thoughts. How do I start carving a path to positive change". IMO the first thing you need to do is accept that this is how your parents are and there's nothing you can do to change their behaviour. The only thing you can do is change your reaction to it.

You've set boundaries about gifts so need to stick to them. You can say the earrings are lovely but as you've already told them, you don't want them to buy gifts for you and your H you are returning them.

Make other arrangements for Christmas and don't have them over.

If you can lower your expectations, knowing I think that they'll never be reached, you may find their behaviour less hurtful and easier to deal with.

You can begin to pull back from them, seeing them less and communicating less, and even if this doesn't make them take a look at themselves it should make your life less stressful.

I hope you'll be able to find a way to accommodate your parents the way they are while protecting your own well being, without the need for estrangement.

Missfoodlove Wed 22-Jul-20 09:28:02

Hi there,

I have read and re read your post

I think there is something that your parents are hiding from you.

I have a friend that discovered her father was not actually her father.
Suddenly everything fell in to place for her.
I’m not necessarily suggesting this is the case but could there be a skeleton in the cupboard?

Do you have siblings ? If so how do your parents behave with them?

Your counsellor should not have said what she did!

janeainsworth Wed 22-Jul-20 09:31:39

Good analysis Bluebelle.

Strawberry You seem over-focussed on your parents. Your DH and your DC (I too am a bit confused about how many you have) are your family now, they should be your priority and they are the ones who need your emotional energy. You certainly shouldn’t be craving your parents’ approval over everything from whether they think you’re a good mother to whether your dad likes the cake you made him.

You’re the grownup here and believe me it won’t be that many years before there’s role reversal and you’ll be parenting your parents as well as your DC.

H1954 Wed 22-Jul-20 09:35:41

TerriBull

I'm also wondering how your child can be DS3 and your parents first grandchild confused

Yes, I had the same thought actually. There's something not quite right about the OP I suspect.

jaylucy Wed 22-Jul-20 09:48:43

Sorry, but I really wonder why you want to repair your relationship at all ?
They seem to have spent most of your growing up, making you feel grateful for everything that they have done for you over the years. Maybe it was the way that they were brought up and don't know that that's not the right way? Or maybe the "look at all we have done for you" attitude is just genuinely feel- perhaps they sit there at home, on their own and that is all they talk about and think about and also feel that since you had GS, that they are no longer getting the attention that they used to ? This childish behaviour that they are showing every time that they visit makes me wonder if this is the case?
There is no law that says that you either have to like or even spend time and contact with any of your family members. Your priority at this time is yourself, your husband and children. It isn't too much to ask that your parents behave themselves when in your home and at the very least be pleasant when they visit. Later on GS will be asking why their grandparents are unkind to not only you, but probably them as well later.
In the meantime, please try to relax - it sounds as if you are doing an amazing job as a parent despite what your parents may not be saying!

Luckygirl Wed 22-Jul-20 09:51:13

My reaction was similar to Bluebelle's - I could not understand how the OP's DS3 could be her parents' first grandchild.

Nor can I quite get why this imperfect relationship looms so large in her mind. I could not describe my relationship with my parents as being anything but far from ideal; but I certainly did not let it rule my life. I concentrated on my relationship with my OH and my own children, determined that they should have the best childhood I could give them. That took up the bulk of my energy (both physical and emotional) and relating to my parents became secondary .

I think that a bit of perspective is needed here - relationships with our parents change when we become adults, and it is often the case that both sides have some adjusting to do - some achieve that well, others not.

I think you should simply let this stuff wash by you. Who is gaining from you agonising over it? - not you and not them.

Perhaps you could simply try to accept that your relationship with them is far from perfect and take it on the chin - just as we do a rainy day when we had planned to put the washing out. Life and relationships are all far from perfection - an awful lot of potentially happy life can be wasted agonising about this. Acceptance is the key.

TrendyNannie6 Wed 22-Jul-20 09:53:04

I thought DS3 was the actual age , so could still be the only grandson, I totally agree with EllanVannin on this, and think you should focus on your little family, it sounds to me as though you have tried, with your parents,