Thoughts on difficult family situation?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by StephenCampbell, Apr 12, 2016.

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  1. StephenCampbell macrumors 65816

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    #1
    I realize it is kind of awkward to ask this question on a MacRumors forum, but this forum is full of normal people who belong to normal society, and so I feel like I could get some useful reflection on this situation here.

    My wife and I have a 7 month old baby. My wife really hates my mother. My mother does have issues, and many of the tell-tale signs of a narcissist.

    My wife is okay with my mom coming to visit us sometimes, but wants to limit the frequency and duration of the visits, because she hates my mom.

    My mom is really excited about the baby, it's her first grandchild. I want to let her come visit on a fairly regular basis.

    Given how my wife feels about my mom, what is reasonable for me to suggest in terms of how often we should have my mom over for a visit?
     
  2. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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  3. BernyMac macrumors regular

    BernyMac

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    #3
    You have to live with your wife, not your mother. Base your decisions on that. It is difficult to please both warring parties without serious compromises, but in the end YOU and only YOU will have to live with someone...be it your wife or your mother.
     
  4. kch50428 macrumors 6502

    kch50428

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    #4
    Dittos post #2 in the thread... Go with your gut instincts. And beware crowd-sourcing affirmation...you get exactly what you pay for it.
     
  5. Scepticalscribe, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #5
    Is it possible for you both to visit your mother occasionally instead?

    How judgemental and demanding is your mother? Is she likely to want to pass judgement or want to have a say in how the child is being looked after?

    These days, - I remember some of the - that is, your - earlier threads on related topics - is your wife a Stay At Home Mom?

    If so, she may feel trapped, trapped at home, with a small child, without an income or outlet: Therefore, the need to assert her boundaries on this issue may matter more - and may be more pressing - than if she was out at work and had her own income, and an independent life apart from and away from the endless exhaustion, strain and demands of child minding, and child rearing.

    In this instance, you wife may need to feel that she has your support during the difficult early stage of learning to look after a baby. That means validating her concerns, not seeking to circumvent them.

    And that means explaining to your mother that for now, she cannot be anything like as proactive nor play as active a role as she might like.
     
  6. haxrnick macrumors 6502a

    haxrnick

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    #6
    I agree with post #2. Also, babies change everything. So, there is the chance that maybe it could bring your wife and mother closer together. It's something that can't really be explained, but you will see it.
     
  7. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Absolutely be firm but also be kind. The dynamic has now shifted, you both have something your mother really, really needs. Try to use that power wisely and not as a weapon.
     
  8. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #8
    We're not trying to use anything as a weapon. My wife cannot stand my mom, at all, and the baby pushed them much farther apart than they were before, because it brought my mom's problems to the forefront and made my wife feel very threatened.

    As far as we can tell, my mom wishes, on an emotional level, that she were the mom of our baby, or at least that she could function as a third parent in our household. I think her original idea when my wife got pregnant was that she was going to be spending about half her time at our house (spending nights here, etc) after the baby is born.

    My mom has very narcissistic tendencies and uses others, particularly children, to fulfill her emotional needs. My wife has legitimate concerns about the emotional impact that she could have on our daughter, but I feel confident that with as little as she is going to be seeing her, there is nothing to worry about.

    My mom is somebody who, if we left our baby alone with her for an evening, and she was crying, would dry-nurse her herself. She wants to be as close to the baby as possible, she does not have a normal sense of what the grandparent's place is.

    Granted, she is learning her place, we have been very firm, following a lot of difficult and challenging conflicts. And in terms of judgmental comments, etc, she has gotten much better on that account as well. But it's the fact that on some emotional level she wants me to be more loyal to her than to my wife, and that she wishes she could have a mom-like relationship with our baby, that makes my wife have great difficulty feeling comfortable around her.
     
  9. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    #9
    You and your wife might benefit from talking about your problems with a therapist.
     
  10. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Sorry, wasn't inferring that you were... Also I've never known a grandparent who knew their place!

    I know a certain someone with a big sign on their fridge along the lines of "Had I known how wonderful grandchildren are I'd have had them first!"

    Good luck.
     
  11. kch50428 macrumors 6502

    kch50428

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    #11
    You don't need to have people in your life who dissuade you from being loyal to your wife and child and doing what's best for them - wether they are related to you or not. Dittos to post #9...
     
  12. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #12
    Pull a Rodney King and tell your mother and your wife, "Can't we all get along?"



    You need to find out why your wife hates your mother. Picking sides ain't gonna work here. Side with your wife and you're kid will learn the same values when he/she grows up. You'll be one who will have limited access to his grandkids in the future. Siding with your mom...no need to go there. Get them to work out their issues. "Can't well all get along? For the kid?";)

    Rivalry/hatred between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law will only create a toxic environment to raise your kid. It ain't healthy for you either. The stress will have you wondering if your hair will turn all white or all gone by 40.:eek:
     
  13. StephenCampbell, Apr 13, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016

    StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Well, I'm well aware that both my parents are quite different from your average people, and are very difficult to get along with. I don't blame my wife for feeling how she does. I know very well why she does, I explain it in my above post. She would have no problem with grandparents visiting who are nice and respectful and don't come across like they have a secret emotional desire to win over the loyalty of your husband and baby from you.

    We both know other people in the world, several of them. I've observed grandparent-child-grandchild relationships in many different instances. My mom is uniquely self-centered and difficult to be around compared to anyone else I've ever met.

    I'm not "picking sides." I'm with my wife and baby, that's my family, that's where my loyalty is. That's a default. My wife and I have no problems with our marriage at all. Our only point of conflict is regarding my mom. She would rather never see her again; I would rather allow her to visit on a semi-regular basis, and I don't ask that my wife is best friends with her or anything. My wife is okay with my mom coming sometimes, which is why I was wondering what would be reasonable, given the circumstances, in terms of how often to have her visit?
     
  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    As often as your wife is comfortable with.
     
  15. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    #15
    To add to this always make sure you are there when the visits occur and this will help massively. Remember that a new mums protectiveness towards their child can be leathal lol
     
  16. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020

    A.Goldberg

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    #16
    It sounds like your mother is really expecting to be heavily involved in the raising of your child. As others have said, clear and consistent Boundaries are essential.

    You've stated your wives opinion on your mother but not so much of your own. How do you really feel about your mother being around your child? Obviously tough when she's your mother.

    The reality is your mother is part of your family and will feel entitled to seeing the kid. I think again it's best to be clear with your mom what your expectations.

    Don't make her feel like you are conspiring against her. In my experience people with personality disorders do not respond well to decisions they don't feel they are not involved in the decision. They can't stand not having control. Try and have an pre-planned organic conversation, not an intervention.

    Rather than phrasing it "we don't want you too involved- were limiting you to two visits a month" frame it as "we want you involved, so maybe every couple weeks you could stop by". It's not always good to reinforce narcissism but sometimes it can be used to your advantage.

    I'd also reccomend a family therapist, preferably one who understands the complexities associated with personality disorders.

    Best of luck and congrats on being a parent!
     
  17. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Well, personally, given how my mom feels, I want to let her come visit on a regular basis. However, if she expressed no interest in seeing the baby, and said "maybe I'll come by every few months," I would not be saying "mom please come more, I really want you to be involved." I wouldn't care. My desire to have her come regularly now is a response to her feelings and her desire as it is.

    She was coming every two weeks, but it would cause a lot of stress for my wife and I, mainly because I would be upset that they don't get along better. But you have to keep in mind my mom's behavior as well. Last time she was here, my wife was taking the baby to the bedroom for a nap, and my mom got really upset and said that she felt like the baby wanted her to hold her, and that my wife is trying to keep the baby from her. My mom and I went downstairs and argued for over an hour, with her telling me "I know she wanted me to hold her! Your wife is afraid of me having a relationship with her!" etc.

    There was no truth in her perception or accusations at all. My wife lets her play with the baby when she's here, no problem. She was getting tired, so she took her for her nap.

    For further context (this is the event that really amplified my wife's strong dislike of my mom), a few weeks after the baby was born, my mom and older brother were visiting, and we had been very clear with my mom in advance that at this time, with the baby only a few weeks old, we can only accommodate visitors if they are helpful around the house, and don't just sit around expecting to be treated like guests. She said "Of course. Of course!" So then she's here and she sits for an hour and a half just watching the baby sleep, and so I said "mom you've been here for an hour and a half already and you're sitting here doing nothing." She got extremely upset and said that I was the "rudest son ever" and that my "house is cold" and that her feelings matter, and then threatened to leave and leave us with "no grandma." She was very aggressive, verbally violent, talking about how she's used to grandparents being pampered and taken care of when they're visiting, etc.

    My wife was in the other room nursing the baby, seething with rage.

    Later my mom was telling my wife things like "I want to work things out between us, even if you hate me, I want you to tell me. Just be brutally honest! Tell me '**** you!' if that's what you want to tell me." So my wife said "okay, well, how about not saying that you're "here to serve us" (my mom's words before visiting) if you don't mean it."

    My mom then said that her definition of "serve" is different than my wife's, and chalked the entire thing up to a misunderstanding.

    As I said, I completely understand how my wife feels. And we have made progress in getting my mom to behave better, but naturally she is still my wife's least favorite person by a long shot.

    Add to this the fact that I have a problem of being too emotionally influenced by my mom (I will be getting therapy for this), and you can more than understand why my wife is very wary of having her around.
     
  18. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #18
    This, so much this.

    My mom has some similar issues, and used to have quite a bit of power over me. These days she has ZERO influence over my actions and knows to only visit when invited, and she is fine with it. This changed ONLY because I set firm boundaries and stuck to them. At first she reacted poorly to having any boundaries, and when she started to lose it, I cut her off completely for a year. After I let her back in my life, she had no problem staying within her new boundaries.

    I have three sisters, one took a similar path as me when dealing with our mother, and it has worked out well for her too. The two who can't set boundaries are constantly in some sort of argument with her. It'll never end for them.
     
  19. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Very helpful, thank you. Do you have any children? How often does your mom visit you now?
     
  20. \-V-/ Suspended

    \-V-/

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    #20
    If I were you, I'd be setting boundaries with my mother, not my wife. Your mom sounds like a handful.
     
  21. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I have one child and my mother rarely visits, to the point that she is actually welcomed now. My sister, who took a similar path to me, has four children and a similar relationship with our mother. We both live quite peaceful lives and don't let the family drama effect us anymore.

    My other two sisters have scary stories to tell, yet they won't do what they need to do to fix things. Our mother tried to get custody of both my older sister's kids and currently has custody of my youngest sister's kid. I hope your mom doesn't have that kinda potential for crazy as mine does!
     
  22. Zenithal macrumors 603

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    #22
    Kids change things. They ease long held tension. Besides, it's quite normal to have hesitation when it comes to one's inlaws.
     
  23. Benjamin Frost Suspended

    Benjamin Frost

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    #23
    You're the boss. Decide what's right.

    Remember that you break from your mother and cleave to your wife, so I would suggest limiting visits from your mother to about three or four times a year.
     
  24. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Three or four times a year? How long would you imagine these visits being? That seems like hardly anything to me.
     
  25. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020

    A.Goldberg

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    #25
    Wow. It definitely seems to my like your very conflicted on the matter. Clearly you want to appease your wife but understandably want to to keep your mother happy. It's difficult but a therapist might help you filter though everyone else's emotions to find out what it is that you really want. You're validating your wife's emotions, but also looking to please your mom. It sounds like your a natural peace keeper. Sorry you have to be taking on this burden.

    You can't change other people, but you can change yourself and maybe with counseling help your wife be more tolerant of your mother. A good family counselor will not take sides, but advocate everyone's feelings and hopefully create understanding and some harmony of tolerance.

    Coming from your mothers perspective, she's getting older and like many women love to play grandma because it makes them feel young again. Maybe she has some severe aging anxiety she needs to deal with, maybe even a personality disorder or traits of such. But again, only she can change herself and the best you can do is work with her behavior on any given day.

    I think you and your wife should come up with some boundaries you can agree on and present them to your mother very carefully. I think being honest and realistic is important. "Look, it's no secret we don't get along but we want to make this work". It's definitely a tricky situation with no easy answer. Again, a family counselor is probably your best chance at working out the kinks in your relationship.

    I know what it's like to have co-dependent mommy issues. I tend to strongly dislike my mom but yet will do anything to appease her. At the same time I love her but can't stand more than 10 minutes with her without hating her guts. I can best describe the feeling I get when I see her or when she calls/texts as "claustrophobia"- and it only happens with her, regardless of the conversation. I have always felt an disproportionate amount of pressure to succeed, supervision and involvement from her being the youngest of 3. After my brother passed that has only become worse. I like to call her the Jewish mother on steroids and crack with the world's longest umbilical cord. It's taken years to get her to give me inches of space but we're moving in the right direction.

    I'm in my late-mid 20's, self sufficient, reasonably successful, and there is no reason for her to suffocate me other than her own unjustified fears. She's not a bad mother at all, perhaps has been overly demanding and critical but raised me to be a good person and provided everything anyone could ever ask for. Many people aren't so fortunate. To stop the rambling I'll conclude we have a very complicated relationship and I can only cope with her, not change her.
     
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