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Old August 3rd, 2012, 11:39 AM
JRS JRS is offline
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Exclamation Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

Hi All,

This is my first post, so I appreciate any advice you may have. I apologize in advance as this is a LONG, two-part post:

1. My parents, both in their 60s have been controlling me my whole life. I went to undergrad out of state and then worked far away for a few years before returning to a different city within my state with my spouse. I had always thought each step would show them that I can be treated like an adult and had hoped this would gain their respect. I have succeeded on my own since leaving home at 18 (now 32), have multiple degrees, lived and worked abroad, and now have a well-paying job, all while having a strong marriage and young daughter. My life is good, great actually, except for my parents who are overbearing, manipulative, and controlling.

I have never been able to be open with them and, as an only child, always took a backseat having been led around by them. I have recently realized how they were able to manipulate many choices in my life early on. After only seeing them once/year at the most while living far away, they now expect to see us every week. They do not understand that I have a life - friends, my spouse and daughter - and we enjoy doing things on our own.

When I don't see them, or do not do what they want, they (my mother in particular) completely overreact. They shower me with guilt, can be very demeaning, and just act like children. One example - One year, my spouse suggested that we host Thanksgiving. My mother absolutely freaked because she wanted to go to her sister's (the only person in the world she respects). My grandmother did not have anywhere to go that year, and just tagged along with one of her other children who were visiting in-laws. Our intention was to include my grandmother in a family dinner since my grandfather had just passed. My mother burst into tears (over the phone), hung up and apparently left the house crying. In my opinion, THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

Now that I have child of my own, I am having trouble finding the right balance between visitation so they can see their only grandchild, while also keeping them at a good distance. Is there any way to keep them in my life at a respectable distance, or am I just asking for too much?

They are pushing to have alone time with my daughter which I absolutely refuse, leading me to...

2. I am seriously concerned with my mother's relationship with the daughter of a family friend. The girl is 10 years old and she and my mother are VERY close. My parents and the parents of the girl used to be very close friends but that has changed slowly over time. While they are still friendly and still see each other, it seems that the relationship is still there solely because of this girl. My mother has taken her away on vacation, just the two of them, on two separate occasions. The most recent of which was a direct result of feeling sad (and making me feel guilty) that we did not come see her. The very next weekend she surprised the girl by taking her away for a night. My parents visited us again a week or so ago and brought the girl (after I told them not to), and I noticed that at one point, the girl was sitting on my mother's lap with their arms around each other.

For these reasons, and more, I will absolutely not allow her to spend time with my daughter alone. But, more importantly, should I sound any alarms about my concerns regarding my mother's relationship with this girl? I do not have any evidence outside of the fact that my mother's best friend is 10 years old... The girl's mother is a very smart women, yet allows this to go on, partially because I think she feels under the control of my mother as well (she is much younger than my mother)...

For obvious reasons, my parents are causing a rift between me and my spouse. We have a healthy, happy marriage, but I feel like my parents are slowly bringing us down with their negativity and manipulative ways.

Thanks for any advice and sorry again for such a long post....
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Re: Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

Hi and welcome. Is your mother trying to rub your nose in the fact that she has a close relationship with a child who is not her granddaughter? She might be trying to make you feel jealous or left out.

You seem to be quite caught in your mother's net. As you don't have any particular complaints about your father, i guess it is your mother that is the biggest issue. Are you able to confront her about it, and lay some ground rules?

With regards to your second question, if the girl isn't worried, and her parents aren't uncomfortable, i'd not rock the boat about being alarmed. If it was me, i certainly would not let my young girl go away with a family friend like that unless i trusted them implicitly, and probably not even then.
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 05:49 PM
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Re: Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

Hi, thanks for your quick response. I don't think she is trying to make us feel jealous, but instead, using the girl as an outlet since we aren't allowing her to spend that time alone with our daughter.

We have tried a few times to set ground rules, but she does not respect us enough to follow them and just does what she wants. She doesn't listen and ends up taking everything negatively or as a shot against her when we try to set guidelines. She overreacts, starts crying, or just leaves the room/hangs up the phone.

My father just goes along with her. I think he learned a long time ago it's easier to just do what she wants. My spouse and I have a lot of similar hobbies and truly enjoy doing things together. My parents don't have hobbies and don't do much together so my daughter ends up being their hobby. I find it difficult to even just have a conversation with them because the convo is just a means for setting up the next visit.

Regarding the 10yr old and her mother...I feel like my mother is manipulating the girl. It's the mothers responsibility to step in, of course, but my mother is the type that will drop anything to help out (and then use that later to manipulate). I wonder if the mother feels caught...I guess I'm just worried that this could be a negative/abusive relationship for the girl and wonder if others feel the same way, but just don't say anything...
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 06:50 PM
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Re: Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

as sad as I am to say this - your mom's relationship with the 10 yr old isn't your respnsibility (unless you feel there is some type of abuse going on)


- secondly - how is she causing problems between you and your DH? Do what is best for your marriage & DD, not what your guilted into (you're not responsible for you DM's or DF's happiness - but you are responsible for protecting your DD & your marriage)
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Re: Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

That's thing, not sure if there is abuse going on. I would feel horrible if there were and I didn't bring it up...

Spouse and I are often really tense and stressed before seeing my parents and it just causes unnecessary stress and friction.
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 08:43 PM
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Re: Controlling Parents Hurting My Relationship

Welcome, JRS!

I can relate to being stressed and tense before a visit. I used to be physically ill on the way to my IL's house and DH would be furious about every little thing (not at me, just at traffic or the baseball game on the radio or the way the sun was in the sky). It was really awful. Ugh... this?
Quote:
I find it difficult to even just have a conversation with them because the convo is just a means for setting up the next visit.
This was like nails on a chalkboard to me for years and years.

I don't know what eventually changed that I don't dread the visits as much (not to say I don't dread them, but for other reasons...). I wish I had some magic formula to give you. I think what happened was that at some point I realized that she had no power over me. She could guilt trip me to kingdom come and at the end of the day I left mentally intact. I had more control over when and for how long we visited than she did. I guess what I'm saying is that my MIL could lay the guilt on the table, but it was up to me to pick it up or not.

I'm not really addressing your issues with your mom because I think you have a good handle on that. The bigger problem that I see is that you and your DH are on the same page but still experiencing stress and friction over the visits. What helps me with that (because it's still not easy to go see my DH's parents) is to remind myself that he's more miserable than I am because *he* feels responsible for subjecting us to the unpleasantness. In your case, it would have to be your DH figuring that out.

What specific things stress him out about visiting? And how often do you visit?

If your parents are negatively affecting your marriage, there needs to be a lot more space than you have.

I will give you some hope. I don't know precisely what changed or when, but our visits have gotten much better over the years. Once I figured out how to leave the guilt laying on the table, my MIL stopped shoveling so much of it my way.


ETA: I don't know why some people don't understand that pushing for alone time with someone else's kids just sends up red flags and makes Mommy Bears did their heels in more adamantly against it. LOL. My MIL asked for the kids in the summer for years and was told no. Finally she resorted to publicly giving me a "gift" of a week's babysitting so that DH and I could "go away." I think she ended up being embarrassed when all of her friends knew she had given us that gift and also knew that we had never taken her up on it.
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Last edited by KayKay; August 3rd, 2012 at 08:49 PM.
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