Criticised in Advance

I waited  until I was four months pregnant before telling my mother I was going to have a baby.  I am a late mother as I didn’t find the right man until my late thirties and then I had various fertility issues.  My husband and I are thrilled and you  might think my mother would be too as, if all goes well, the baby will be her first grandchild.

But no.  She has behaved as she has always done by immediately finding a way of criticising me about something that hasn’t yet happened.  She said she pitied the baby having me for a mother as he/she would have a problem getting fed because I didn’t like getting out of bed in the morning. She added for good measure that she never saw me as a mother as I was part of the ‘me’ generation who only thought about myself.

I was so shocked and couldn’t stand up for myself.  I am very emotional about the whole experience and I spent the rest of the day in tears.

My husband did what he could to reassure me and suggested I stay away from her for the rest of the pregnancy and not risk her being nasty again.

Frankly I don’t know what to think. 

Our comments:

It’s a shame your hopes that being  pregnant would help your relationship with your mother  have been dashed. And the way she has responded shows she is unlikely to change her behaviour. So you need to think about how you are going to manage this and protect yourself and your family.

Your husband suggests you stay away until after the baby is born.  Or you could try reducing the number of your visits and calls. 

 

 

    It’s an awful experience to be criticised for something you haven’t done and have no intention of doing.  But a horrid parent often anticipates behaviour they think their child might do, even when they are adult, without the slightest indication they will.  Instead they see it as an opportunity to undermine their child with a list of what they must not do.    Pregnancy is a particularly emotional time so be kind to yourself and try to build up your self-confidence.  Keep telling yourself that her criticism is totally different from a parent who would offer helpful advice and guidance. And try to stay wary.  Don't expect her nastiness to stop and remember it is not your fault that your mother is so critical.   

 

It’s an awful experience to be criticised for something you haven’t done and have no intention of doing.  But a horrid parent often anticipates behaviour they think their child might do, even when they are adult, without the slightest indication they will.  Instead they see it as an opportunity to undermine their child with a list of what they must not do.  

Pregnancy is a particularly emotional time so be kind to yourself and try to build up your self-confidence.  Keep telling yourself that her criticism is totally different from a parent who would offer helpful advice and guidance. And try to stay wary.  Don't expect her nastiness to stop and remember it is not your fault that your mother is so critical.

 

When Your Horrid Parent Needs You

My father has been a spendthrift all his life, but when it comes to me he behaves like a miser.  

He left my mother when I was two and my brother four and rarely paid maintenance.  He saw us occasionally when he didn’t have anything else to do but never managed more than a card for our birthdays.  Nor did he give either of us a present when we got married, saying that he was ‘absolutely broke.’  Instead he relies on a practiced wink and a certain charm to win everyone round. 

For the last thirty years he’s lived abroad and been looked after by one young woman after another, but he’s getting on, has various health issues and none of them are now prepared to look after him for nothing. 

As a result he’s decided to return to the UK and has asked my brother and I to pay his fare, find him accommodation, fill it with furniture, get him a TV, computer and car and provide a weekly sum for ‘extras.’  I mentioned his pension but he dismissed that as being pennies. 

He, just like I’ve read about Meghan Markle’s father Thomas, believes we should keep him in the luxury he’d like to get used to.  What’s more he wants to live very close to me so he can come over most days explaining it would also be ‘easier’ for me to get his shopping and cook his meals. 

My brother and I are both work for charities so neither of us are rich.  I’ve told him I am prepared to help him a little.   I have also insisted on various boundaries including that he can only come over once a week.  He was shocked.  I know I am right but I feel both guilty and resentful. 

Please help. 

OUR COMMENTS:

Your father seems to wants to put himself at the centre of your life when he has never made you the centre of his.  This is a difficult situation to manage.  Adults choose whether or not to have children and children are not obliged to have any financial responsibility for them in return.  The more so when the parent has not provided for their child or managed their  own money sensibly.

 

    In other words the relationship between parent and child is not a reciprocal one.  Parents should do their best for their children without expecting anything more than gratitude in return. In fact most reasonable parents prefer their children to focus on providing for their own offspring rather than them.   You are obviously aware that your father is trying to take advantage of you and the boundaries you have set up make sense.  Managing your feelings of both guilt and resentment may seem hard at the moment, but if you give in to his demands your guilt will vanish as your resentment increases.  Try to make notes of why you have made your decisions about him and what you are prepared to do, for example phone or visit him on a regular if infrequent basis.  You could also share ideas on how to manage him with your brother. 

 

In other words the relationship between parent and child is not a reciprocal one.  Parents should do their best for their children without expecting anything more than gratitude in return. In fact most reasonable parents prefer their children to focus on providing for their own offspring rather than them. 

You are obviously aware that your father is trying to take advantage of you and the boundaries you have set up make sense.  Managing your feelings of both guilt and resentment may seem hard at the moment, but if you give in to his demands your guilt will vanish as your resentment increases.

Try to make notes of why you have made your decisions about him and what you are prepared to do, for example phone or visit him on a regular if infrequent basis.  You could also share ideas on how to manage him with your brother. 

In Need of Care?

My very difficult mother is going to be 80 in a couple of months.  Overall she’s in reasonably good health but I’ve noticed she is getting rather forgetful.  Her fridge invariably contains out-of-date foods and recently she’s fallen over a few times.  

Luckily she hasn’t hurt herself badly but I feel it’s time to plan for her future care.  My two siblings live abroad and want very little contact with her.    She’s never cared for us as I believe a mother should but now she needs more help she is trying to be nice to me.  I know it’s an act not least because she can’t keep the façade up throughout a single visit.  She believes I should  make her my number one priority and become her carer which I am determined not to do.  I dislike her as much as my siblings do but I have more of a guilty conscience.  I live more than two hours drive away and have my own life.   Nor do I think it’s right for a woman who was horrid to all her children then expect them to come running when she’s needy. 

I’ve tried to discuss her future care several times, but she brushes it aside saying she is fine.  I’ve also spoken to her GP who said we both know what she is like, in other words she’s very determined and unlikely to change, which wasn’t very helpful.   Sheltered accommodation would be enough for now and I’ve offered to drive her round a few places but she won’t consider it.   Her behaviour is so unreasonable that I too am tempted to walk away. 

This is a very difficult situation for you to navigate.  Dealing with an ageing parent is hard enough even when they are much loved and much trickier if they are horrid.

Ultimately unless a person lacks capacity only they can make final decisions about their care, but can take advice from whoever they choose.  You are aware of her needs and have been looking at options.  She is aware she should get help but thinks that you should be he one providing it.  Until she understands that you won’t take on a caring role, she is unlikely to agree to any other options.  So this is your place to start.

We suggest that you first think through your own motivations so you can offer her options that are in her best interests and not influenced by any residue feelings you may have to get your own back for her general unkindness in the past.  It sounds as if so far you have managed, despite her behaviour, to be a dutiful enough daughter.  Do try to continue to be so. 

Then tell her as clearly as possible what you can and cannot do. If she doesn’t listen, you could get some brochures or visit some places and  put the options put in a letter adding that you are willing to action any of them when she is ready. Sometimes it takes an accident like a fall or illness for an older person to face their reality and start to accept professional help.

Most older people have a wide range of concerns about their diminishing faculties and may feel anxious, confused, angry and resentful about their future. You mother’s behaviour may well get worse but try not to take this personally.   Try instead to imagine her as a frail neighbour who needs some support.  This might help you distance yourself from her general unkindness.  Do think about offloading some of your frustrations to a friend and even your siblings and don’t feel guilty. You have shown your mother compassion and that you are also trying to help her as much as she will let you.

 

 

 

 

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Estrangement

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Meghan Markle’s father Thomas, 73, is begging for his daughter to get in touch saying that he could die soon.

 

He claims that he has been shunned by the Palace since he sold staged pictures of himself to the paparazzi in the run up to the royal wedding.  He told a newspaper that he wants to put their differences behind them and is worried about her.  ‘I think she is terrified,’ he said.  ‘I see it in her eyes, I see it in her face and I see it in her smile….I know her smile..this is a pained smile…I think she’s under too much pressure.’  He has also publicly revealed what Prince Harry said to him in a private conversation.  

Meghan has been very close to her father and very much wanted him to walk her down the aisle.  Now he claims he has only heard from her just after the wedding and says significantly:  ‘I am her father and deserve some respect.’

Estrangement is a controversial issue and there were over 8,000 comments on line during just one day.  Here is a small selection.   

 ‘I don’t know why he keeps blabbing to the media if he wants to rebuild his connection with Meghan, but I feel sorry for him. Meghan should do the right thing and contact her father.  She is behaving appallingly to her dad who gave her everything and helped get her where she is today.’

‘This is the man who sacrificed to pay for his daughter's private education.  He played a huge role in making her what she is today, a refined, well educated woman. He may be a socially awkward hermit but he still deserves some respect from his daughter and son-in-law.’ 

 

‘He needs to shut up.  He is nothing but an embarrassment to himself, his daughter and the Royal Family and he just doesn't "get it" the more he blabs to the press the less likely she will contact him.’

‘There is a strong stigma around parental estrangement but if a child has made that decision they have already been pushed to their limit. They have been forced to draw boundaries with a toxic parent who has failed to provide emotional, psychological and/or physical care. A child should not have to get anyone else's approval to set the boundaries they need to thrive, be emotionally healthy and live their life.’

 

Please let us know your views on Facebook or on our Forum reached via www.myhorridparent.com

A people pleaser

On the whole I think I have done rather well getting over my manipulative and permanently critical mother.

I have a good marriage, two special teenagers and friends who care about me.  I’ve made a career in marketing and am currently working for a small company where I enjoy being one of the team. 

But, and it’s quite a big but there are still things left over from my childhood that I can’t quite master.   For example I sometimes wake up at night really anxious that  problems my close friends have might somehow be my fault and feel guilty that I can’t make whatever it is better for them.  It’s even worse if my husband has a bad day or week at work.  He’s quite a high powered lawyer and of course some cases are particularly difficult.  Nor can he win them all.  When he’s down I actually feel a pain in my chest that this too might be my fault.   

Overall I try my best to please everyone, which at times is exhausting.  For example one of my teenagers is vegan, the other loves fish, while my husband is a solid meat and two veg man.  Sometimes I make three different dinners to keep them all happy.  My husband often tells me I am too easy on  our son and daughter,  but I am just the same with him because I go along with plans I am not very keen on.  

One reason is because I hate arguments.  There were so many when I lived with my parents.  I remember trembling with both fear and anger not least because I wasn’t allowed to express myself. 

I am able to say what I think at work, because I am confident in my skills and also keep part of me back.  It’s different with my family.  They mean so much to me that I try never to reveal that I have been hurt or annoyed them.  I  dare not risk rejection.   

I’d be grateful for any tips. 

Our view:

You have coped very well to have both a career and a family and  interesting that you have freed yourself to speak out at work. Perhaps you can think about how and why you have been able to do this. If you fear rejection at home that’s where you should start.

 

 

   You have created a close and loving family so it is unlikely that they will turn on you just because you stand up for yourself.  It is important to be genuine in a family and this means revealing your thoughts and feelings. Unlike your past experiences at home with your parents you may well find that your own family will not be angry or feel threatened if you stand your ground. Your anxiety about doing so stems from your parents,  It is understandable but also irrational.  It may be a good time to challenge some of  your fears and feelings of responsibility.  Take it slowly and try to tackle one thing at a time.

  You have created a close and loving family so it is unlikely that they will turn on you just because you stand up for yourself.  It is important to be genuine in a family and this means revealing your thoughts and feelings. Unlike your past experiences at home with your parents you may well find that your own family will not be angry or feel threatened if you stand your ground. Your anxiety about doing so stems from your parents,  It is understandable but also irrational.  It may be a good time to challenge some of  your fears and feelings of responsibility.  Take it slowly and try to tackle one thing at a time.

An Arrogant Mother

My mother is an incredible snob and the most arrogant person I know.  Despite not being  particularly well off  she thinks of herself as the ‘lady of the manor,’  and better than anyone we  know.  She has also been hugely critical of every friend of mine she’s met.

 

I remember a boyfriend I had when I was nineteen who was clever and funny but not particularly good looking.   My mother totally rubbished him telling me he had horrible thin lips which meant he was both ugly and nasty.   She falls out with her friends too for the most superficial reasons: like shopping at the ‘wrong’ supermarket, buying the occasional outfit from a charity shop and liking baked beans on toast.  

 

As for me, I am constantly bombarded with nonsense about what the right way to behave and that the reason I am still single in my thirties is because I don’t wear nail varnish on my fingernails.  ‘Men don’t like women who are unkempt’ she told me. 

I have no idea what makes her like this. Sometimes when I see her strut about like a male peacock, I have to stop myself from laughing.  It’s all so terribly phony.  Do you think it’s a front because she is so insecure inside?

 

 Our comment  It sounds like you understand your mother and recognise that her pretentiousness conceals deep feelings of insecurity. It is possible that she is so ashamed of who she really is that she goes to great lengths to hide it.  Considering herself to be above others may be one way she gains some confidence. Finding her behaviour amusing is one way to help yourself cope with her as there is nothing you can do to change her.  Nonetheless be aware of her attempts to belittle and criticise you and stay true to your own desire to be authentic.    

Our comment

It sounds like you understand your mother and recognise that her pretentiousness conceals deep feelings of insecurity. It is possible that she is so ashamed of who she really is that she goes to great lengths to hide it.  Considering herself to be above others may be one way she gains some confidence. Finding her behaviour amusing is one way to help yourself cope with her as there is nothing you can do to change her.  Nonetheless be aware of her attempts to belittle and criticise you and stay true to your own desire to be authentic. 

 

Fathers' Day June 17

My father never accepted that any of his three children were ever in pain or that they’d been genuinely hurt. If any of us fell over he’d  ignore any bleeding and call us names like ‘silly softy’.  I remember once occasion when he told me my grazed, bleeding knee didn’t hurt and that I needed to grow up.  I was seven at the time.    

Once my ten-year old brother Tom fell off a climbing frame in the local park and landed awkwardly on his arm.   Dad shouted at him for always spoiling our outings.  When we got home Dad refused to let our mother ‘fuss’ over him and she didn’t dare disobey.  But once he  had left to work, Mum took Tom  to hospital and an x-ray showed he’d broken his arm.

Now we are all grown up we keep our distance .  He however tells us firmly we have to spoil him on Father’s Day. What should we do? 

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We suggest that as you are already keeping your distance you can do the same for Father’s Day. You are adults now and are entitled to decide how each of you wants to mark this day. If you feel that he does not deserve to be spoiled then don’t spoil him. You can acknowledge the day with a card that has a simple message of Happy Father’s Day. If you choose to send a gift again it can be a small token that he would like. You do not have to visit unless you choose to. If you visit and he is rude or unpleasant then you could make an excuse and leave sooner.

 

 

Can You Help Us?

 OUR POST this week is to ask you to help us help you better.   We would like to know when you realised that your mother or father was ‘horrid.’  Was it, for  example,  a light bulb moment and if so how old were you at the time?   Or did it dawn on you slowly?   Was it seeing a warm, loving relationship between a friend and their parent that made you realise yours was very different?   Or was it through therapy?  We would also like to know what was the unkindest thing your horrid parent said or did.  Might it have been, for example, their endless criticism, that gradually wore you down and left a painful legacy.  Did they put their own needs before yours which  left you feeling unwanted and unloved?

OUR POST this week is to ask you to help us help you better.   We would like to know when you realised that your mother or father was ‘horrid.’  Was it, for  example,  a light bulb moment and if so how old were you at the time?   Or did it dawn on you slowly?   Was it seeing a warm, loving relationship between a friend and their parent that made you realise yours was very different?   Or was it through therapy?

We would also like to know what was the unkindest thing your horrid parent said or did.  Might it have been, for example, their endless criticism, that gradually wore you down and left a painful legacy.  Did they put their own needs before yours which  left you feeling unwanted and unloved?

 

 

 Our website  www.myhorridparent.com  makes it clear that we do not include in our Horrid Parent list, parents who are strict as this type of parent can be well meaning and want their child to grow up with strong values.  We also don’t include parents who physically or sexually abuse their child.  This is a situation for the police.   Children understandably accept their mother and father because that is all they know.  They also need to rely on them for the necessities of life.    Teenagers and adults, however,  see their parents for who they are, even if they feel unable to share their thoughts with friends because if you don’t have a horrid parent yourself it’s not easy to understand what your friend is going through.   Please use the website on our forum, email us directly  al@myhorridparent.com  or use Facebook for your comments.   Feel free to be anonymous but we would like an idea of your age.  We are focusing on the wide-range of  behaviour and actions of a  horrid  mother or father.  Thank you. 

Our website www.myhorridparent.com makes it clear that we do not include in our Horrid Parent list, parents who are strict as this type of parent can be well meaning and want their child to grow up with strong values.  We also don’t include parents who physically or sexually abuse their child.  This is a situation for the police. 

Children understandably accept their mother and father because that is all they know.  They also need to rely on them for the necessities of life.    Teenagers and adults, however,  see their parents for who they are, even if they feel unable to share their thoughts with friends because if you don’t have a horrid parent yourself it’s not easy to understand what your friend is going through. 

Please use the website on our forum, email us directly al@myhorridparent.com or use Facebook for your comments.   Feel free to be anonymous but we would like an idea of your age.  We are focusing on the wide-range of  behaviour and actions of a  horrid  mother or father.  Thank you. 

Calling You Names

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For the first three decade of my life it really bothered me that my mother obviously enjoyed calling me spiteful names.  It used to get me down and make me feel really bad about myself.  I still hate it but the pain no longer lasts so long.

I was quite a bright kid and loved reading.  You’d think she’d be pleased but instead she called me ‘a geek’ and ‘weirdo’ and ‘swot.’  It took away all the pride of being top of the class.

It didn’t stop there.  If my room was untidy she’d call me ‘a pig.’  Often in front of visitors and my friends.  When I told her it was a horrible thing to do and really upset me, she’d give a phony laugh and accuse me of not having a sense of humour.   Telling her I didn’t laugh because it wasn’t funny had no effect.

By the time I left home to go to university I had a really low opinion of myself and the things that I was good at counted for nothing. 

Over the years I’ve come to realise that the name calling had very little to do with me and lots to do with her.  She is a bully and it has been her way of feeling good about herself.  It is shocking that she uses me like a punch bag to make herself feel better rather than try to deal with it herself.   

Eight years ago I told her that the name calling had to stop or I wouldn’t come and see her.  They haven’t so I just pop by around Christmas for a very short while. 

I feel guilty but it’s worked for me because I am happier, much more confident and won’t take any rudeness from anyone. 

 

Our comments:

Using derogatory words to put your child down is cruel and demeaning.  The person doing the name calling often pretends if is a joke or teasing, but you are right to describe is as bullying.   It is also very difficult to dismiss them and they can define us.

Well done for learning how to feel happy, take pride in yourself and refuse to tolerate her rudeness and name-calling.    We would, however recommend that you try not to feel guilty as it is certainly not your fault.