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Mom/Grandma issue, no one to talk to, looking for feedback


anonforthis
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Agreed, it is about the OP not feeling free to decide for herself whether she would like the dresses or not.

I agree completely. I'm just saying that she can't blame Grandma for manipulating her if she keeps letting her get away with it.

 

I know it won't be easy for the OP, but she needs to find a way to stand up to her mother. Otherwise, her mother won't even be aware that the OP is upset or angry, and she will certainly never change her behavior if she doesn't know it's a problem. She might not change anyway, but at this point, the OP isn't even telling her there's an issue.

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I agree completely. I'm just saying that she can't blame Grandma for manipulating her if she keeps letting her get away with it.

 

I know it won't be easy for the OP, but she needs to find a way to stand up to her mother. Otherwise, her mother won't even be aware that the OP is upset or angry, and she will certainly never change her behavior if she doesn't know it's a problem. She might not change anyway, but at this point, the OP isn't even telling her there's an issue.

 

 

The problem is that the OP has a lifetime of deferring to her mom's wishes.  To the degree that the OP doesn't even know what her own wishes are.  OP that is a good place to start.   Do you really want the dresses?

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It really doesn't matter whether she has NPD. Right now, it appears that your mom has way too much control/influence in your life. You need to be able to make decisions for your family without worrying about whether these decisions are going to upset your mother.

 

There are ways you can set boundaries without cutting her off or being unkind. For example, if you don't want her to make dresses for your girls, tell her thanks for the offer, but you are going to have a new tradition of taking the girls shopping for their dresses. This is not being unkind - this is you making decisions for your family - which is your right to do as their mother.

 

Now if you had a "normal" mother, this decision would a non-issue. However, I don't think you have a "normal" mother and this simple decision will be a major deal. She will get very upset. She will probably call you ungrateful. She may even have your dad call you on her behalf to tell you how upset you have made her. She will probably bash you to other family members for being so ungrateful. She may even shed some tears. Here's what you need to remember: you are not responsible for her happiness and you are not being mean or ungrateful by making your own decisions for your family.

 

Good luck.

 

:iagree:

 

And one more thing... if your dds want the dresses, don't refuse them simply because you want to take a stand against your mother. I'm sure your mother loves your dds and making those dresses will cost her considerable time, money, and effort.

 

I guess what I'm suggesting is that maybe you shouldn't read too much into this one incident, because she may honestly have kind intentions here.

 

It sounds like you'll have plenty more opportunities to stand up to your mother, when she is being overtly manipulative and it doesn't put your dds in the middle of the situation. If you can keep your dds out of your issues with your mother, it will be much easier for them.

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The problem is that the OP has a lifetime of deferring to her mom's wishes. To the degree that the OP doesn't even know what her own wishes are. OP that is a good place to start. Do you really want the dresses?

I know it won't be easy for her, but complaining about her without taking any action isn't solving anything. She is a victim because she is allowing herself to be a victim, and if she has psychological scars from years of being manipulated, she really needs to seek professional help so she can learn the skills she needs to stand up to her mother.

 

I do feel sorry for her. It's terrible to feel helpless. :(

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I know it won't be easy for her, but complaining about her without taking any action isn't solving anything. She is a victim because she is allowing herself to be a victim, and if she has psychological scars from years of being manipulated, she really needs to seek professional help so she can learn the skills she needs to stand up to her mother.

 

I do feel sorry for her. It's terrible to feel helpless. :(

 

 

I think posting her question was action.  Sometimes the relationship is so dysfunctional you need help walking through the maze. She got some great ideas on just this thread.  And she also said she is going to seek counseling.

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This didn't sound harsh - I appreciate this feedback. Several people I trust have disagreed with the NPD diagnosis (these are people who know her and are MDs) because she lacks some key characteristics.

 

I don't know where the lines are. Example: We recently got a dog, which I had every intention of living outside. Grandma hates inside dogs and says she has an allergy, but I'm not sure that's true. She comes over frequently. Dog really wants to be inside, and it seems to work well for our family. I don't know how to handle this. On the one hand, if she has an allergy, it seems wrong to place her comfort below the dogs.  On the other, I'm not sure if it's a real thing or a "that's not the right way to do things" (i.e. having a dog inside) thing. I don't know how to navigate this because I recognize there's some level of not-rightness in our relationship, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to cut her off, be unkind, ignore her emotional needs entirely....

 

(Underline added)   You are placing what she wants over what your family wants.  Considering your relationship, if ever there is a question of who should have priority, your mother or your immediate family, the answer isn't your mother.  

 

Side benefit of the dog inside is that it could be a convenient way to establish a boundary of her staying out of your house.  

 

Also, remember that you aren't responsible for her emotional needs.  

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OP, I'm wondering what your dh thinks of the situation. You said you have no one to talk to, but it would seem that your dh would be in the perfect position to sympathize with you and help you come up with a plan for dealing with your mother.

 

I think if you know he has your back and will defend you from your mother's attempts to manipulate you, that should help a lot. You need a real life person on your side to help you through this.

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I think Grandma handled it as well as she could (kids not interested  or sleeping or whatever)-- she texted you and let you know that she wasn't able to get done what she needed.  She's not their mom, so making them 'comply' is not going to be as easy as what you might be able to do; especially if they aren't willing and you're not around.

 

Honestly-- I think explaining to your daughter that it's rude to ignore Grandma and her choosing to call and apologize is all you could have done in the situation.  I don't think there was anything else you needed to do. 

Edited by lauranc
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(Underline added)   You are placing what she wants over what your family wants.  Considering your relationship, if ever there is a question of who should have priority, your mother or your immediate family, the answer isn't your mother.  

 

Side benefit of the dog inside is that it could be a convenient way to establish a boundary of her staying out of your house.  

 

Also, remember that you aren't responsible for her emotional needs.  

 

I'm finding this conversation very interesting.  In this case, I'd just keep the dog out of the way when Grandma comes over. I don't see it as placing what she wants over what your family wants--- I guess I see it as just being a good host??

 

I'm starting to think that maybe I bend over backwards way too much for my own mom!    Hmmmm...

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This didn't sound harsh - I appreciate this feedback. Several people I trust have disagreed with the NPD diagnosis (these are people who know her and are MDs) because she lacks some key characteristics.

 

I don't know where the lines are. Example: We recently got a dog, which I had every intention of living outside. Grandma hates inside dogs and says she has an allergy, but I'm not sure that's true. She comes over frequently. Dog really wants to be inside, and it seems to work well for our family. I don't know how to handle this. On the one hand, if she has an allergy, it seems wrong to place her comfort below the dogs.  On the other, I'm not sure if it's a real thing or a "that's not the right way to do things" (i.e. having a dog inside) thing. I don't know how to navigate this because I recognize there's some level of not-rightness in our relationship, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to cut her off, be unkind, ignore her emotional needs entirely....

 

It's your home, not hers. It is the people who live in the home's comfort level that matters. I'd have seven dogs and hope they kept her away!  :lol:

 

I wouldn't doubt the NPD diagnosis. Maybe BPD. Threatening to move if you move--what the heck? That's nuts. Don't doubt the people who are telling you she's nuts. DH and his brother have cut off their BPD mother and whatever father. We live in the same general area. We haven't had any issues with them. DH's brother was less...decisive and they kept driving by and stalking him. He finally threatened a restraining order. 

 

I also wouldn't punish for something reported to me by the grandmother because you know she was telling it in order to make a scene. I would set a boundary that she needs to come over only when you are home. Waking up a 3 year old is nuts. Who knows what she actually said to the 8 year old or how she asked. I have one who disappears into books and can't hear. I was the same way pre-kids. Did the child say, okay, let me get to the end of the chapter please? Or some other reasonable request? (I don't teach immediate, absolute obedience here.) I have one introvert who takes a bit to warm up to people, even grandparents. If my mom had swept in the house, issuing commands and he was deep in a book, she would've been met with confusion. Was she hesitant because she wasn't sure about the measuring process? Didn't really want to be touched right that minute? Needed to pee first and grandmother had a duck because she wasn't appropriately grateful? So many alternate explanations that aren't out and out rudeness. 

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I have stood up to her many times. I have done things that have made her very unhappy. My strength in those circumstances have come from protecting other people who were unable to protect themselves. Calling me weak is very painful. I don't think a weak person could have survived my childhood and ended up in functional adulthood.  As one wise older friend put it, I am the liver of my family. I absorb all of the toxicity so that it doesn't cause cancer. I can see that this one snippet makes no sense to someone from the outside, but that comment actually made me cry, which is quite impressive as I really don't ever cry.

 

Telling her how I feel isn't a good choice. It's not possible to have a normal relationship where you can be emotionally vulnerable. I really don't know how to explain it, so obviously this wasn't the best idea.

 

It did crystalize that I'm not doing a good job of working through this on my own, that it can and will affect my kids, so I do need to look for additional help. 

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OP, I'm wondering what your dh thinks of the situation. You said you have no one to talk to, but it would seem that your dh would be in the perfect position to sympathize with you and help you come up with a plan for dealing with your mother.

 

I think if you know he has your back and will defend you from your mother's attempts to manipulate you, that should help a lot. You need a real life person on your side to help you through this.

 

DH thinks I need to set more boundaries, that she's not normal. He has a normal, healthy family, so it's very hard for him to sympathize, much like it's hard for several of you to sympathize. 

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I'm finding this conversation very interesting.  In this case, I'd just keep the dog out of the way when Grandma comes over. I don't see it as placing what she wants over what your family wants--- I guess I see it as just being a good host??

 

I'm starting to think that maybe I bend over backwards way too much for my own mom!    Hmmmm...

 

Would you do that even if she had a true allergy?  Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week.  Would you have an inside dog then?  Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

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OP, I'm wondering what your dh thinks of the situation. You said you have no one to talk to, but it would seem that your dh would be in the perfect position to sympathize with you and help you come up with a plan for dealing with your mother.

 

I think if you know he has your back and will defend you from your mother's attempts to manipulate you, that should help a lot. You need a real life person on your side to help you through this.

 

 

I agree.  My dh is so helpful with me when I need to say no to my mom.  He is kind and helps keep me on track.

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I'm finding this conversation very interesting.  In this case, I'd just keep the dog out of the way when Grandma comes over. I don't see it as placing what she wants over what your family wants--- I guess I see it as just being a good host??

 

I'm starting to think that maybe I bend over backwards way too much for my own mom!    Hmmmm...

 

 

I do a lot to be a good daughter/host to my parents too.  The issue is when a person becomes fearful/anxious/paralyzed when they are unable to or just don't want to accomadate a mom. (or anyone, but moms seem to be the one that is most often the problem.)

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Would you do that even if she had a true allergy?  Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week.  Would you have an inside dog then?  Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

 

 

Surely you know if she really is allergic to dogs or if this is just what she says to make sure you don't let a dog live inside. 

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Would you do that even if she had a true allergy?  Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week.  Would you have an inside dog then?  Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

 

Hmm.. that's a good question.  My mom is over at our house at least once a week, and if she had a true allergy to pets I'd probably vacuum before she came over, kennel the dog (or put outside), and hope she's been keeping up with her allergy meds!

 

We have pets, so this is how I handle it when someone I know is coming over who has an allergy.  I wouldn't make the dog live outside full time though.

 

But (and maybe I need to look into this more! (-: ) my first instinct when I read your question was: hmmm.. I'd probably get a dog that was hypo-allergenic.  Not sure what that says about me and my mom--- but.....     I don't mean to make light of what you're saying.  I'm truly starting to wonder if I go way out of my way to please my mom!  Hadn't really considered it that closely before.

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I would absolutely allow my dog to live inside even if I had a parent who was allergic to them. Dh is very allergic to cats. He has been to the ER when exposed to inside cats. Does that mean that my adult children are not allowed to have inside cats? Of course not!

 

If they do, we meet at the restaurant or they visit here instead of our going there.

 

We would never see that as our children being inconsiderate or bad hosts. And do you know why? Because we understand that they are separate people who get to make adult decisions for themselves.

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Never wake a sleeping baby, lol. I would have been upset that she interrupted 3yo's nap.

 

Secondly, I really like that the relationship between my kids and my parents is a little bit spoiling. I like that my parents don't take on a major enforcer role with my kids. I can imagine that had my Mom asked that of my kids and didn't get a response it wouldn't have been a big deal and we would have accomplished measuring together some other time.

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Would you do that even if she had a true allergy?  Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week.  Would you have an inside dog then?  Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

 

I would never have an "outside" dog. We live in the suburbs and don't have sheep or livestock to herd. :)

 

My parents live in town. My dad isn't a pet guy. He doesn't understand why anyone would have inside pets. We have dogs and cats. One dog adores him, which is pretty hilarious. He's nice to them and pets them when he's here. Then leaves and happily returns to his pet-free home. If he had an anaphylactic allergy, I probably would think twice about indoor pets. You doubt that she actually has an allergy. You know that more than likely, it's a means of controlling the behavior of others.  

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I would never have an "outside" dog. We live in the suburbs and don't have sheep or livestock to herd. :)

 

My parents live in town. My dad isn't a pet guy. He doesn't understand why anyone would have inside pets. We have dogs and cats. One dog adores him, which is pretty hilarious. He's nice to them and pets them when he's here. Then leaves and happily returns to his pet-free home. If he had an anaphylactic allergy, I probably would think twice about indoor pets. You doubt that she actually has an allergy. You know that more than likely, it's a means of controlling the behavior of others.  

 

 

This is how my mom is with my dog...well, was,my dog died.  Mom would tolerate a sniff but obviously she wasn't keen on the dog. She never however, tried to control whether I had a dog or kept it in the house.

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Would you do that even if she had a true allergy? Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week. Would you have an inside dog then? Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

Yes, I would. My mom doesn't guilt me, manipulate me, or otherwise inappropriately insert herself into my and my family's lives. When she visits (and she'll usually stay for a couple weeks), she integrates herself into our lives.

 

If your mother has a true allergy to dog dander, putting it outside, crating it, vacuuming, etc wouldn't matter. She absolutely couldn't be at your house. The fact that she has been in your house and the dog has been inside means her allergy isn't so bad that a trip to the ER isn't necessary.

 

I do hope you are successful in finding a good counselor. Hopefully, you can find one with experience treating the victims of NPD. It's not that people don't sympathize; it's more than likely that they completely understand because of their own experiences and are trying to help you see that the way your mother has treated you, continues to treat you, and will start to treat your precious kids (if she hasn't started in already) is wrong. Full stop.

 

To extend your friend's analogy a bit, if you as the liver don't find a healthy way to detox, the organism (i.e., you and your immediate family - which doesn't include your mother) will suffer even more.

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If/when I tell her that the dog will live inside, her response will be "so I guess I'm not welcome here any longer?" 

 

 

Don't tell her.  I mean don't keep it a secret, but really why would it even be a point of disclosure?  If she finds out and says, 'so I guess I am not welcome here any longer?' ....ignore the emotional blackmail attempt.  Say cheerily, 'of course you are!  We will put the dog in her crate in the kids bedroom (if you can easily do that ) when you visit.'   

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This didn't sound harsh - I appreciate this feedback. Several people I trust have disagreed with the NPD diagnosis (these are people who know her and are MDs) because she lacks some key characteristics.

 

I don't know where the lines are. Example: We recently got a dog, which I had every intention of living outside. Grandma hates inside dogs and says she has an allergy, but I'm not sure that's true. She comes over frequently. Dog really wants to be inside, and it seems to work well for our family. I don't know how to handle this. On the one hand, if she has an allergy, it seems wrong to place her comfort below the dogs.  On the other, I'm not sure if it's a real thing or a "that's not the right way to do things" (i.e. having a dog inside) thing. I don't know how to navigate this because I recognize there's some level of not-rightness in our relationship, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to cut her off, be unkind, ignore her emotional needs entirely....

  

 

It sounds like there are five people (at least, assuming you don't also have sons unaffected by the dress situation) who live in your home full-time. Unless you live in a comfortable-year-round climate, any dog will have to come indoors during extreme weather. The people who actually live in the house take absolute priority. If we had a dog and forced it to live outside because of somebody's 2hr weekly visits, the kids would be beyond angry, and rightfully so.

 

Unless a frequent visitors allergy situation is such that they will go into immediate anaphylactic shock upon entering your home, then indoor dog wins. If they are so life-threateningly allergic then you probably shouldn't have a dog at all aside from a therapy or service dog, then person with allergies needs to make the accommodations and not see you in your home nor the person with the service animal. I highly doubt that is the situation for the grandmother.

 

 

I agree completely. I'm just saying that she can't blame Grandma for manipulating her if she keeps letting her get away with it.

I know it won't be easy for the OP, but she needs to find a way to stand up to her mother. Otherwise, her mother won't even be aware that the OP is upset or angry, and she will certainly never change her behavior if she doesn't know it's a problem. She might not change anyway, but at this point, the OP isn't even telling her there's an issue.

  

 

Unfortunately, it's doubtful that she'd change even if she was aware of the problem, or would even believe it's a problem.

 

 

 

Would you do that even if she had a true allergy?  Let's say your mom had a true allergy to dogs and was over at your house at least once a week.  Would you have an inside dog then?  Of course you would put it outside when she's there, but would you have a dog inside the house all the time if it meant she might not be able to come over?

I would have the dog. If I were getting a new dog, I might consider breeds less likely to trigger or aggravate allergies if they suited our needs. But no, I absolutely would not refuse to allow a dog indoors regardless of the relationship- most beloved wonderful grandmother or manipulative one. The people who live in the house take priority.

 

I think it just sounds so wrong to not allow something like a pet for someone who spends less than 1% of their week in my home.

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Don't tell her.  I mean don't keep it a secret, but really why would it even be a point of disclosure?  If she finds out and says, 'so I guess I am not welcome here any longer?' ....ignore the emotional blackmail attempt.  Say cheerily, 'of course you are!  We will put the dog in her crate in the kids bedroom (if you can easily do that ) when you visit.'   

 

She asks every time I speak to her the status of the dog (indoor vs. outdoor).

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It is very important to practice your answers to her ongoing questions.  I imagine if you said what I suggested above she will have something else to say.  Keep playing it out until you find the point where you can repeat a phrase, 'oh I am sorry you feel that way mom.'  Or even just no response. 

 

One of two things will happen.  Your mom will learn she can't have her way all of the time.  Or she will rage back and make your life miserable....if the first happens, great!  Your relationship with your mom is improved and you are helping your kids have good boundaries.  If the second happens you know for sure it is her not you!  And that is the point some people decide on no contact. 

Edited by Scarlett
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If/when I tell her that the dog will live inside, her response will be "so I guess I'm not welcome here any longer?" 

 

And the answer is:  "You are welcome to come.  I would appreciate a head's up though so that we can be sure to be home.  And so that we can put the dog outside for awhile."  If she continues to wail about it then I'd just shrug cheerfully and say "you're choice.  Perhaps we can meet at a park (or wherever) some time."  This is a variation on what a PP said about acting as if she's not being manipulative while not letting her play the martyr. 

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She asks every time I speak to her the status of the dog (indoor vs. outdoor).

 

If the dog is indoor, then just say so.  Or you can say "You've asked this before.  The answer has not changed."  And then 'pass the beandip', which means change the subject instead of allowing yourself to continue to be manipulated or browbeaten. 

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If/when I tell her that the dog will live inside, her response will be "so I guess I'm not welcome here any longer?"

 

So? She owns her responses/reactions. Your only responsibility is owning your behaviors and reactions. Your responses in this thread really say to me that you're afraid to live your own life. This is what is so unhealthy and *will* truly adversely affect your kids' lives as they grow up. Truly, the best thing you can do for your kids is recognize that this isn't about dresses or dogs or any other particular issue your mother may bring up. It's about living a healthy life and modeling how to place and enforce healthy boundaries with unhealthy people.

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If/when I tell her that the dog will live inside, her response will be "so I guess I'm not welcome here any longer?"

 

:grouphug: I think you already know there is no "right" answer to that. She is using faulty logic. If you try to convince her that she's welcome, she won't believe you. Don't try to persuade her. Stick to facts. NEVER apologize (don't start sentences with "I'm sorry but") Just repeat over and over that she is just as welcome as ever and the family decided that the family pet was going to live indoors, then change the subject. Get out a puzzle, brew some coffee, show her a slideshow of pictures. A long conversation will only give her hope that she can change your mind.

 

If she truly wil not set foot in your home because of a dog, then enjoy nice restaurant and ice cream parlor visits. Her choice.

 

My girls know I dislike dogs very much, especially dogs that look like wolves/huskies, and slobbery bulldogs. Those are two of DDs favorites. I told her that I would never let a dog stop me from visiting her future home. I just request that she train them well so that they would obey commands from me like Stop or Down. DH is pretty severely allergic to cats. We limit time spent at homes with cats, and he takes allergy medicine before/during a visit. It's fine.

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I read through some of the responses, but I guess I just don't see that this was nearly as bad as some people are making out. Like, I get that it's part of a history of issues and that it pressed her buttons, big time. But if you took all of that out, then grandma showed up, didn't know how to deal with the situation, tried a few things that failed, left mildly annoyed with consequences that the OP could easily foresee but the grandma probably couldn't be expected to, and then the OP did a good job of managing her own kids in regards to grandma's behavior. Really, without the backstory, it's a run of the mill misunderstanding. Of course we as parents are firm and good at getting our kids back on track but also of course, grandmas usually aren't good at figuring out how to get a kid back on track or off a device or whatever. 

 

I don't see how this translates to grandma having too much control over the OP's life and family. Seems like the OP drew some good boundaries. And really... this has sadly been happening with my mother and my kids. She's mostly fine, but sometimes she does absurd things that really get my goat. When the kids were little, they were totally oblivious. Now, they see it and we've had to have some hard conversations. Like, yes, grandma was being passive aggressive, that's what this looks like, etc. But I'm okay with having those conversations and letting them figure it out themselves. I mean, it's not like she's abusive or nasty or even like that all the time, so I feel like it's just part of helping my kids grow up and negotiate their own relationships with her.

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I have big dogs. One lives outside and one lives inside. I usually crate them both when company comes over for a few hours. I don't mind doing that at all. Overnight guests are going to have to adapt, or they need to stay someplace else. Crating the dog is not going to help if your mother is truly allergic to it. I just don't see how her preferences trump the preferences of the people who actually live in your house.

 

One thing that helped me quit giving in to my mother was the realization that the more she got away with, the more she pushed the limits. In my head, I'd think, this is not a big enough deal to cross her. I should give in to keep the peace, but the peace was impossible to keep because she would just demand something even more ridiculous the next time. She was never going to be happy no matter how much I gave in. Why should she get to spill her unhappiness all over me and my husband and children.

 

I feel like you are not sure where the boundaries should be in your relationship. When I was in that situation, it helped me to remember that my mother already got to make the decisions for her own life.

 

She decided who to marry, where to go to school, how many children to have, what to name them, what pets to have, where to live....

 

It isn't appropriate for her to have a say in any of those decisions for her adult children.

 

You absolutely have the right to pick the Easter outfits for your kids that work for your family. You absolutely have the right to choose the dog living arrangements that work best for your family. This isn't rude. This isn't disrespectful, or inconsiderate no matter what she says. It is just truth.

 

I feel like you are justifiably wanting to avoid WWIII with her. But if you leave the dog outside, and if you do everything that she wants you to do about the Easter dresses, will she be happy, or will she just come up with new inappropriate demands?

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I have big dogs. One lives outside and one lives inside. I usually crate them both when company comes over for a few hours. I don't mind doing that at all. Overnight guests are going to have to adapt, or they need to stay someplace else. Crating the dog is not going to help if your mother is truly allergic to it. I just don't see how her preferences trump the preferences of the people who actually live in your house.

 

One thing that helped me quit giving in to my mother was the realization that the more she got away with, the more she pushed the limits. In my head, I'd think, this is not a big enough deal to cross her. I should give in to keep the peace, but the peace was impossible to keep because she would just demand something even more ridiculous the next time. She was never going to be happy no matter how much I gave in. Why should she get to spill her unhappiness all over me and my husband and children.

 

I feel like you are not sure where the boundaries should be in your relationship. When I was in that situation, it helped me to remember that my mother already got to make the decisions for her own life.

 

She decided who to marry, where to go to school, how many children to have, what to name them, what pets to have, where to live....

 

It isn't appropriate for her to have a say in any of those decisions for her adult children.

 

You absolutely have the right to pick the Easter outfits for your kids that work for your family. You absolutely have the right to choose the dog living arrangements that work best for your family. This isn't rude. This isn't disrespectful, or inconsiderate no matter what she says. It is just truth.

 

I feel like you are justifiably wanting to avoid WWIII with her. But if you leave the dog outside, and if you do everything that she wants you to do about the Easter dresses, will she be happy, or will she just come up with new inappropriate demands?

 

 

So well said.

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I just want to chime in that therapy need not be expensive. Many companies offer 3 free visits a year with a licensed counselor, which may be enough to practice drawing boundaries with her.  Another option is checking out the denominational churches in your area's websites to see which pastors also have counseling credentials.  It is pretty common in, say, large Methodist churches for a pastor to have both a theology degree and a counseling graduate degree.  They will give free therapy designed to help you get through stuff, and it's educated so you don't have to worry about religious abuse or manipulation compounding the trouble with your mother the same way you would in a less educated pastor.

 

The only thing I may have done differently is explain to the kids that we can't control other people and how they react to things, and sometimes even people we love don't act the way we want them to.

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I have stood up to her many times. I have done things that have made her very unhappy. My strength in those circumstances have come from protecting other people who were unable to protect themselves. Calling me weak is very painful. I don't think a weak person could have survived my childhood and ended up in functional adulthood.  As one wise older friend put it, I am the liver of my family. I absorb all of the toxicity so that it doesn't cause cancer. I can see that this one snippet makes no sense to someone from the outside, but that comment actually made me cry, which is quite impressive as I really don't ever cry.

 

Telling her how I feel isn't a good choice. It's not possible to have a normal relationship where you can be emotionally vulnerable. I really don't know how to explain it, so obviously this wasn't the best idea.

 

It did crystalize that I'm not doing a good job of working through this on my own, that it can and will affect my kids, so I do need to look for additional help. 

:grouphug:

 

I get it. I have a similar Mom. I don't know what her real diagnosis is but the issues sound very similar. 

 

I think the thing that is hard for people with normal families to understand is the impact that a small thing can have. In a normal family, a grandma would come over to measure kids....kids refuse and maybe are a little bratty...grandma gets frustrated and leaves and lets daughter know...then daughter has kids apologize to grandma. Grandma forgives them because kids make mistakes and it's ok. Dresses get made or not. Family is ok. Or maybe Grandma is still a little miffed but realizes that these things happen and they all move on. 

 

In a dysfunctional family....the great dress incident becomes the catalyst for a huge blow-up. Grandma claims no-one appreciates her. She becomes sad or angry or depressed. She enlists other family members to call bad daughter and tell her why she is ungrateful and has ungrateful kids and has done a hateful thing. Daughter knows she is being manipulated but is left feeling guilty and sad. Maybe dressed get made eventually after Grandma "graciously" forgives kids for huge mistake. But when dresses are worn comments are made like "I'm glad to see you actually like the dress I made for you." or "Isn't that dress nicer than another game on your Kindle" or whatever. Dress incident is brought up over and over again in the future, most likely subtly and if daughter tries to directly discuss it grandma denies that she is referring to it and acts offended that it's even being talked about. 

 

It's easy to tell someone not let yourself be manipulated or to not be weak or to set boundaries but it's really hard in real life. Especially when you've grown up with this kind of relationship. I find myself always second-guessing my reactions to my Mom..."Is this normal? Am I just over-reacting? Was this just a normal mother-daughter issue?" And most of the time if I was to just tell someone the straight facts, it does sound very normal. But there is always some kind of layer underneath. Just the fact that every interaction is one that leaves you wondering if everything is ok is enough to show that it's not a normal relationship. 

 

All that to say that you aren't weak. It is really hard. I have gotten better and better at setting boundaries and dealing with the consequences. My dh is helpful. Even more helpful are a few friends who get it and who I can talk to. It helps just to be able to tell a story and they say "is that normal?" 

Edited by Alice
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Hugs anonforthis. Yep, I know well the anxiety you describe. I completely understand the second guessing, not knowing your own mind and no idea about boundaries stuff. Your 'I'm the liver' comment nearly made me cry. You know what? You don'thave to drink the poison. You cannot share the poison with your kids. It won't heal her, there will always be more, all it's doing is keeping you sick.

 

Listen to your husband on this! (Let me guess, she doesn't really like him? Jealous of his parents?)

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I have stood up to her many times. I have done things that have made her very unhappy. My strength in those circumstances have come from protecting other people who were unable to protect themselves. Calling me weak is very painful. I don't think a weak person could have survived my childhood and ended up in functional adulthood.  As one wise older friend put it, I am the liver of my family. I absorb all of the toxicity so that it doesn't cause cancer. I can see that this one snippet makes no sense to someone from the outside, but that comment actually made me cry, which is quite impressive as I really don't ever cry.

 

Telling her how I feel isn't a good choice. It's not possible to have a normal relationship where you can be emotionally vulnerable. I really don't know how to explain it, so obviously this wasn't the best idea.

 

It did crystalize that I'm not doing a good job of working through this on my own, that it can and will affect my kids, so I do need to look for additional help. 

 

 

Awww.  I missed this earlier that you cried when you read a comment about you being weak.  I find that when I react that strongly to something said on a message board that they have hit a nerve and even if they aren't 'right' (I don't think you are weak) it is a source of pain for you and needs attention.

 

My XH could never stand up to his mom.....seeing how she treated our son really got his attention though. 

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I have stood up to her many times. I have done things that have made her very unhappy. My strength in those circumstances have come from protecting other people who were unable to protect themselves. Calling me weak is very painful. I don't think a weak person could have survived my childhood and ended up in functional adulthood.  As one wise older friend put it, I am the liver of my family. I absorb all of the toxicity so that it doesn't cause cancer. I can see that this one snippet makes no sense to someone from the outside, but that comment actually made me cry, which is quite impressive as I really don't ever cry.

 

Telling her how I feel isn't a good choice. It's not possible to have a normal relationship where you can be emotionally vulnerable. I really don't know how to explain it, so obviously this wasn't the best idea.

 

It did crystalize that I'm not doing a good job of working through this on my own, that it can and will affect my kids, so I do need to look for additional help.

 

  

 

I'm sorry if I made you cry. :( But from what you have posted, you are weak when it comes to consistently standing up to your mother. It doesn't mean you are a bad person or that you aren't doing your best; it just means that you need some help so you can get stronger.

 

DH thinks I need to set more boundaries, that she's not normal. He has a normal, healthy family, so it's very hard for him to sympathize, much like it's hard for several of you to sympathize.

 

See, now you are talking like a victim. Everyone here has sympathized with you. Your dh is right. You need to set more boundaries and you need to actively and consistently enforce those boundaries. It's not your fault that you mom isn't "normal," but making excuses for why you can't stand up to her isn't going to solve anything.

 

 

  

If/when I tell her that the dog will live inside, her response will be "so I guess I'm not welcome here any longer?"

 

And how do you respond?

 

  

She asks every time I speak to her the status of the dog (indoor vs. outdoor).

If that's the case, it's pretty clear you haven't been firm enough in your responses to her. You can't be wishy-washy and once you've told her the dog lives indoors, that's final. If she asks again, politely tell her that you've already answered the question. If she says she's not welcome in your home any more, tell her she's being silly, but if she's really worried about allergies, you'll bring the kids to visit her. Otherwise, of course she's welcome if she changes her mind about visiting.

 

You say you don't know if she's allergic to dogs, yet you also say she's constantly meddling in your life, so how could you possibly not have known that she was allergic? I feel like you know she's not allergic but you're making excuses for her. Haven't you ever asked her, "Since when have you ever been allergic to dogs?"

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This didn't sound harsh - I appreciate this feedback. Several people I trust have disagreed with the NPD diagnosis (these are people who know her and are MDs) because she lacks some key characteristics.

 

Do remember that covert narcissism isn't in the DSM, so officially it doesn't exist, even though it does.

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It is very important to practice your answers to her ongoing questions. I imagine if you said what I suggested above she will have something else to say. Keep playing it out until you find the point where you can repeat a phrase, 'oh I am sorry you feel that way mom.' Or even just no response.

 

One of two things will happen. Your mom will learn she can't have her way all of the time. Or she will rage back and make your life miserable....if the first happens, great! Your relationship with your mom is improved and you are helping your kids have good boundaries. If the second happens you know for sure it is her not you! And that is the point some people decide on no contact.

 

I think it's a great idea to practice the answers over and over until they become second nature. Write them down and put them by the phone if you need a reminder. But be consistent and as others have already said, don't apologize.

 

The hardest part will be not feeling sorry for your mother when she acts hurt and upset. She will be hurt and upset, but you can't control that. If you are fed up with her manipulation and her attempts to control your life, you need to prioritize your own feelings and emotions, and do whatever you have to do to take charge of your own life and to refuse to be manipulated.

 

No one is saying it will be easy.

 

Ultimately though, you only have two options -- you either stand up to her or you keep buckling under to her demands. We can all sit here and give you advice but you are the one who has to make the choice of what you're going to do, and then stand by that choice.

 

 

(Edited for my usual typos)

Edited by Catwoman
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I think it's a great idea to practice the answers over and over until they become second nature. Write them down and put them by the phone if you need a reminder. But be consistent and as others have already said, don't apologize.

 

The hardest part will be not feeling sorry for your mother when she acts hurt and upset. She will be hurt and upset, but you can't control that. If you are fed up with her manipulation and her attempts to control your life, you need to prioritize your own feelings and emotions, and do whatever you have to do to take charge of your own life and to refuse to be manipulated.

 

No one is saying it will be easy.

 

Ultimately though, you only have two options -- you either stand up to her or you keep buckling under to her demands. We can all sit here and give you advice but you are the one who has to make the choice of what you're going to do, and then stand by that choice.

 

 

(Edited for my usual typos)

 

 

Yes, don't apologize.  I just realized in my response that Cat quoated above I suggested saying 'oh I am sorry you feel that way.'   Scratch that.  See I am terrible at this! 

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Yes, don't apologize. I just realized in my response that Cat quoated above I suggested saying 'oh I am sorry you feel that way.' Scratch that. See I am terrible at this!

Me, too! It only dawned on me when I read another post that said not to apologize and it made so much sense, because if she apologizes, it sounds like she's feeling guilty, and that gives her mother an opening to continue the conversation.

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It's actually not ok. And I don't know how else to explain it except that it's not. 

 

Hugs, hugs, hugs.

 

Except...that it is.

 

It may not be okay with HER.

But that's kind of the point. Her hissy fit over any boundaries set by you is (probably unconsciously for her, to be generous) intended to make you believe that it's not all right to set boundaries.

 

You say no thank you to whatever. She has a fit, whatever that looks like for her. You learn, especially as a person who wants to please her, that if you say no, she will make you miserable. So she learns a fit will get her what she wants, you learn to stop saying no. Now, her *potential* fit over a boundary is enough to make you stop setting it.

 

If you don't really want the dresses (or whatever other boundary you might want/need to set), you are well within your right to say no thank you. She is well within her right to throw as obnoxious a tantrum as she chooses. You are free to respond to that in whatever way you think best...but in that response you are not obligated to soothe, please, or "fix" things to make her feel better. She's a grown woman. Not your job. And I say that with loads of compassion and kindness because I know how hard it is. I do understand.

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