A Toxic Mother-in-law

 

I am finding it very hard to cope with my new husband’s mother.   It was obvious from the start that she wasn’t going to welcome me into the family but I have a good relationship with my own mother so it didn’t bother me too much.  What I find awful is how critical she is of him and never seems to be happy with anything he says or does. She also makes endless demands on his time and asks him to come round and fix things at the drop of a hat. I realise that she a widow and needs help, and at one level I feel proud that my husband  cares for his mother. 

But dealing with her is like talking to a brick wall. Instead of him popping round at the weekend to carry out a few tasks, she expects him to come almost daily. Last week she called at 11 pm one night to say that a light bulb had gone out in a cupboard and she wanted it fixed.  

He told her he’d come round after work the following day as it obviously wasn’t urgent, but she started shouting and insulting him. I told him I thought she was being totally unreasonable.  He agreed. But he seems unable to stand up to her and always seems to put her needs first.  We have talked about setting some boundaries as I worry about how this will work when we start our own family but so far nothing has changed. Do you have any advice?

It must be very hard for you to see your husband being mistreated by his mother, especially as you have a loving relationship with yours. Reading the myhorridparent.com  website might help you understand his difficulties, particularly those that are complicated and painful.  Perhaps you could gently help him learn how to step back. Try too not to let him to feel torn between you and his mother.  He needs to be confident in your trust and support.

  Keep talking about his plight so he knows you love him and are concerned and if he confides in you about some of his experiences, be understanding rather than judgemental.    One idea might be for you both to plan a weekend visit to his mother that is both social and gives him an opportunity to carry out some household tasks. If he has you by his side he may feel more able to be firm with his mother and  cut down on these daily visits.   It will take time but it will be worth it.

 

Keep talking about his plight so he knows you love him and are concerned and if he confides in you about some of his experiences, be understanding rather than judgemental.   

One idea might be for you both to plan a weekend visit to his mother that is both social and gives him an opportunity to carry out some household tasks. If he has you by his side he may feel more able to be firm with his mother and  cut down on these daily visits.   It will take time but it will be worth it.

Competitive Mothers

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My mother always wants to be closely involved with what I do and the decisions I make, but I know it is more about her than it is about me. She’s fiercely competitive too, not least because of issues in her own family that has made her feel she’s never achieved her potential.

When I was a child she took every board or card game we played very seriously and never let me win.  She also insisted we ran countless races in the park.  Sometimes the total would be 25 wins to her and 0 to me.  Instead of encouraging me, she then smirked with pleasure.  One of the few things we have in common is watching Bake Off on the television.  I bake every week too and I used to at her request send her photos of what I’d made.  No longer because it spurred her to make something more elaborate and send me a picture in return.

My husband, who I love, was the first man to propose to me and ever since we got engaged she’s reminded me several times that she had lots of proposals and I know she is trying to denigrate me because I only had one. . If my husband and I go on a holiday she goes somewhere she claims is smarter and she will stay longer.  I’ve noticed too that she is now copying my hairstyle, boasting that hers looks more stylish because she has thicker hair.

I don’t mind or even care what she wants to do, but her relentless competitiveness is undermining and I wish she would just leave me alone to live my life as I want to.

 

A good way to deal with her competitiveness is to remove yourself from the game so she can’t compete with you.  You can also try to keep the conversation more general rather than let it revolve around what you do.  When she does make an unkind comparison, perhaps about your holiday say: “Your holiday sounds fun and we are absolutely delighted with ours.” Then change the subject.

You could also accept that she won’t change and instead be happy with the choices you and your husband make. Be delighted that you met your husband easily without having to go through lots of broken relationships.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Only Child and a Horrid Parent

An only child holds all the hopes and dreams of a horrid parent and their one chance for vicarious fulfillment second time around.  There is no sibling to help relieve the pressure.  

The nasty parent might insist you follow a career they hankered for but never achieved,  regardless of whether you have the talent or interest to pursue it.   They might nag you to be slim when they themselves are overweight,  marry someone rich when they are financially struggling and anything else from doing well in exams to keeping the family name going.  Being permanently under the watchful penetrating eye of  horrid parent is very stressful. 

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We suggest that you try not to get involved in such arguments however annoying it is.   Instead  listen quietly, nod wisely or say something neutral like:  ‘Yes, I understand how you feel.  I’ll seriously think about it.’  It’s a  good way to mark time until you can leave home. Meanwhile keep reassuring yourself that like your parent you have just one life, and you have the right to choose  how to live it. Once you are independent you can follow your own path.  This doesn’t mean the criticisms and insults will cease, just that the parent’s  power over you will diminish.    

A single child can only share their thoughts about their difficult parent outside the immediate family. 

Keeping your feelings to yourself, either because of loyalty to the family or because it is difficult to trust anyone with such a sensitive subject, can make you feel lonely. CLICK ISOLATION. A positive aspect is that you learn to rely on yourself from an earlier age than most, learn to make your own decisions work through problems.  Spending a lot of time at home on your own will also help you learn to entertain yourself. 

An only child is likely to be responsible for their parents as they grow older, make major decisions about their welfare and deal with the practicalities.  This can be especially difficult as the nasty parent is ungrateful and rude.

We suggest you think about this demanding and tricky issue from time to time so you develop a general idea of how to cope and the responsibility involved.  Managing the situation in a  humane way could help you avoid a guilty conscience once they have died.  Doing the right thing also means you are less likely to pass on their bad behaviour to the next generation. But there are limits. Do what you feel is necessary, but don’t let your obligations intrude too much into your own life.  If looking out for them is a problem, it can help to think of them as a cantankerous old person you have chosen to visit rather than a parent.  The advantage of not having any siblings is that although you get to do all the work, you don’t have anyone arguing about your view. 

If as a child you associated mainly with adults be prepared for it to take practice to interact with your own age group.  It can also be difficult to relate to small children until you have your own.

We suggest you try to get involved with group activities, anything from sport, charity work, following a hobby.  It gives you something in common to talk about.  It is also a good learning space to watch how others interact and learn from that. 

Your home environment is one where your horrid parent’s view is the only one possible on world issues, personal matters and behaviour. 

 It's possible that outside your home you might need to learn how to negotiate disagreements without resorting to being unpleasant:  that there is more than one way to solve a problem and that other people’s viewpoints are as valid as your own. Listen to what others have to say, then present your view calmly.  Don’t copy your horrid parent and verbally destroy the person you are talking to because you disagree with them.   

Disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean your can’t have a relationship with them.  Don’t cut off friends automatically after an argument.  Every worthwhile relationship has its ups and down.  Write a list of the good things about any friendship before ending it.  Try to be a peacemaker outside of the home even if this isn’t possible with your parent. 

Learning how to argue with confidence while respecting another’s view is  more rewarding than an uncontrolled, irrational outburst and far less draining.    

 

 

Apprehension

I feel I’ve spent my life walking on egg shells. When I was at school  I would drag out my journey home for as long as possible because I didn’t know what my mother’s mood was going to be or how she would react to anything  I said.  Sometimes she wouldn't even register that I had arrived, which was fine, but more often than not she'd criticise me for something trivial. 

In some form or other that feeling of dread has stayed with me even though I am now middle aged and have a family of my own. Like most of us I believe it is important to respect peoples’ views and I know that many people find it hard  to be tactful in social situations when they feel passionately about whatever is being discussed. For example you would not rave about Brexit when you know your hosts who have invited you to dinner are Remainers.  But then you usually know were they stand in advance.  In contrast mother’s views are so unpredictable that the feeling of apprehension can be overwhelming.

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I should be old enough by now to be able to manage but because she shouted at me so much when I was a child I have a horror of arguments.  Luckily my husband is very even tempered, but on the rare occasions he is annoyed by something I've done, I fear he could abandon me at any moment.

I don’t want to walk away and have nothing to do with my mother, not least because that is the sort of thing she does and I do my best not to follow her example. I just need to learn how to conquer my anxiety.

That feeling of dread is a form of anxiety and a natural reaction to anticipating a fearful situation, especially when you don’t know how your parent will react.  Prepare yourself in advance. Take a look at the coping page. We suggest for example:

Keep your breathing slow and steady. Think of a distraction like a calming image. Write down your experience. Remind yourself that this is not your fault. Try to have someone with you.

 

Inconsistency

How do you deal with an inconsistent mother?  It’s been a problem all my life and the cause of many arguments.  

It’s meant I have never known where I am with her while I was growing up, and to my surprise it hasn’t changed. 

Last year she praised me to the roof when I took time off work and sat with her for two days when she had flu and a very high temperature.  I mopped her brow, helped her take sips of water and made her some of her favourite chicken soup to eat. Two weeks later she told me I was the most ungrateful daughter in the world because I wouldn’t take more time off to come to her coffee morning with friends.  ‘And to think of all that I’ve done for you,’ she said.

My husband has been at the sharp end of several of her proclamations too.  Sometimes she cosies up to him in a very unpleasant flirty way, I suspect because he is very handsome.  Other times she will say loudly ‘it’s such a shame your husband can’t afford to take you on a decent holiday.  When Daddy was alive he enjoyed making me happy.’  Actually my dad was terrified of her when she was in a spiteful inconsistent mood because he couldn’t cope. 

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She behaves in the same way over tiny inconsequential things too. For example one day she’ll makes no comment about me walking about her house in shoes.  The next she screams at me for not taking my shoes off, dirtying her carpet and making even more work for her.   Sometimes I anxious and guilty that I just can’t get it right.

She can be like this with other people too. Recently she spoke enthusiastically about going to a family wedding, then decided she couldn't stand the bride and cancelled. 

So far I don’t have children to worry about but I want to try and sort out this problem in my head before we start our own family.  Anyone got any helpful ideas on how to cope?

 

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Coping With Winter

Grey skies and long dark nights can make life difficult and even more so for  those who have a problem or a horrid parent.  It’s particularly easy to feel glum at the end of the festive season. 

Here are some suggestions to help you look after yourself.

Don’t keep blaming yourself for things you can’t control.  

Tell yourself repeatedly that  how your parents behave is not your fault.  The more you say it the more likely you are to believe it.

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Every day find a reason to be pleased with yourself and quietly think or write down why.  It will help keep negative thoughts at bay.

Try to be more open about your problems.  On www.myhorridparent.com  we have tried to banish the stigma of admitting you have a tough time with a parent and even dislike them.  If , for example, having a horrid parent is getting you down, look through our website  for suggestions on how to cope..  Do join our forum and Facebook page.   You will find lots of other people of all ages who have  similar problems. 

Exercising outside every day every day even if it is a walk round the block. will help.

Stretching exercises can help  relieve tension but make sure your body is warmed up first.  You can find lots of ways to stretch on the web.  Try them out, gently at first,  then pick a few that suit you best and add them to your daily routine.

If the weather is ghastly and you don’t want to go out  put on some music and dance to it.  Or if you have access to stairs walk up and down them several times. 

Breathing exercises are useful when you feel low. Take deep breaths from your stomach counting slowly to four as you breath in and push your stomach out, and four as you breathe out and tighten your stomach.   Do this at least six times.  

Phone a friend and try to meet up for a chat or a walk.  Even the busiest people have some time to spare.  Just make sure you don’t get upset if you are turned down.  They genuinely might have something else to do.

Keep warm.  Several thin layers will be warmer than one thick one. 

Have a long warm shower or soak in your bath. 

Look out for bulbs forcing their way through the earth and remember from Thursday 21 December the days get slightly lighter and spring is on the way.   

The Christmas Visit

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If you are spending Christmas with a horrid parent make sure you take on board before you go that it will be difficult and there is likely to be a flare-up.  Sometimes the flare-ups will be caused by tiny details that most people would gloss over.

Here are some suggestions on how to cope. 

Based on your previous experience of the likely trigger points for your horrid parent, work through your strategy on the best way to deal with them in advance.  See our Coping page on the website  www.myhorridparent.com.

Talk about the visit with your partner and tell him or her you will need their  support and that if things get too bad you would appreciate them intervening on your behalf.  Tell them too that you might need them to be patient on the way home as you offload your grievances and disappointment on how it all went wrong.   

Don’t drink too much.  It can loosen your tongue  and  your inhibitions and make you much more prone to get into an argument.  If you don’t think you can drink in moderation, keep to soft drinks.  It makes sense to stay in control.

Avoid playing competitive games. Either don't join in or choose to take with you something  that is gentle and  difficult to fight over. 

If you are making a contribution to any of the meals, accept that your horrid parent might criticise it.  Try not to take it personally and instead tell yourself that it is the best you can and actually rather delicious.   You could even offer to take leftovers home.  The reaction might be interesting.   

Plan that your visit is as brief as possible using work, visits to other relatives, kids activities, other holiday treats or anything you can think of so you don’t have too stay too long.  If you can, just stay for the Christmas meal and leave soon afterwards.

If you have far to travel think of staying nearby rather than at the parental home.

If you do have to stay overnight  try to get out at some point You could go for a walk , visit the local pub (see above re drink)  or go sales shopping.  

If the atmosphere really deteriorates have a reason ready why you must leave.   

 

Christmas without Dad.

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I was so sad when Dad and Mum split up  two years ago.    I was heartbroken.  I got on with him so much better than with Mum who was always criticising me.  He used to call me his “little darling” even when I was fully grown.

So I really missed him when he didn’t make contact for a month.  He then confessed that he had met someone else and had moved in with her and her two children. Both girls.

I was quite shocked and rather jealous.  I kept ringing him asking when he was free but he kept  putting me off.   Eventually we met up in a café and he brought his girlfriend along.  She seemed okay but  kept pawing Dad and didn’t ask anything about me.  She obviously wasn’t interested.  Nor did she  seem to understand that I wanted to talk to Dad on my own. 

Last Christmas I asked if I could spend time with him perhaps go on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve.  He put me off again and just sent me a voucher for Christmas which is the sort of thing you send to someone you don’t know.  Now this Christmas is nearly with us I’ve still not heard if I can go and see him. 

I feel heartbroken and totally abandoned and don’t know what to do.  Mum is still recovering from the split  and won’t talk about it.   We will probably go to my grandmother’s which will be pretty gloomy. 

 

It’s not easy to accept that your Dad is not around at Christmas time. You have clearly done your best to maintain your relationship with him but it doesn’t seem to have worked.   Perhaps he has been too preoccupied with his new relationship to think of your feelings. Maybe with the passage of time he might be more open to making contact this year. 

It is also possible that his girlfriend feels uncomfortable about the relationship you and he had and he feels awkward talking to you on the phone when she is around.  Try contacting him by email and keep  the conversation light and friendly. It  might lead to him agreeing to meet up again, perhaps on neutral ground, like a cafe.

If your mother feels less resentful and puts your needs first, could she broach the subject for you with your dad?   Even though Christmas at your grandmother's  sounds dull, she will probably be delighted to see you and it's probably better than just spending it with your mother.  Over the Christmas period try to see friends  as much as possible to reduce the  chance of too much tension.  Or try taking lots of long walks. 

Presents

Some people love buying Christmas presents for their family, but it’s  unlikely to be much fun if you have a horrid parent.  

Here are some hints from myhorridparent.com website that could  make your life a little easier.

Remember your horrid parent might openly criticise your choice of present and perhaps even make a sarcastic remark like “that would have been lovely if I didn’t have six already”.    They may tell you openly that their favourite member of the family bought them something much more useful/attractive. Don’t let it upset you.  Instead prepare yourself in advance for their behaviour and how you can deal with their rudeness.  See the Coping page on our website. 

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If you have lots of relatives organise a Secret Santa.  Find out who would like to take part and agree on a price limit.  Write the names of everyone participating into a hat and then each person takes a name and buys that  person a gift.  The good thing is that the Secret Santa giver is anonymous. It will of course only work if all the family can meet up in advance. 

If that wouldn’t work for your extended family try to get your siblings on board so you can buy a combined present.  Or agree on a set sum that  none of you will exceed. The Queen likes to keep spending very low for her family and encourages everyone to choose something that is fun and amusing.   The Duchess of Cambridge gave her some home-made chutney one year. 

We don’t recommend you make anything yourself as it will increase your risk of being hurt if your horrid parent chooses to be critical.  

Donate the money you would spend on a present for your difficult parent to a good cause for example their favourite charity.  Or make a monthly payment towards the care of a wild animal or a child from a poverty-stricken country. 

Don’t waste your time trying to find clothing that might suit your horrid parent.  It’s far too risky.  Don’t buy a book unless it is one they have mentioned they want to read.    

In fact it’s a good idea to ask your difficult parent what they would like.  They may hate surprises and prefer to control what they are given. 

Overall try not to get too emotionally involved in what you buy.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and is most unlikely to change their attitude to you. 

Divorce

My parents’ relationship has broken down and it’s hard for me to know what to do.  I’m seventeen so still at home while my brother is away at uni.  My father  has always been a controlling bully and over the years I have learnt to cope by keeping my head down and trying to please him. Our father has now made it clear he will leave us  and divorce Mum, but gets furious if any of us ask dare him why. I can understand that he and Mum  are unhappy together, that’s been going on for ages.   But instead of just leaving, he’s stayed put,  sleeps in the spare room and is full of rage all the time.  He is also incredibly hostile towards my mother and keeps on telling me what an awful person she is.  It’s obvious he wants me to turn against her.   I think she is a caring mother and I find it so painful to listen to his his vile comments.  They barely talk to each other now, except to have loud slanging matches.  I try to stay out of the house as much as possible but still feel caught in the middle.  I worry where we will live and what will happen to me.  I have tried to raise the subject with Mum but she seems  too brow-beaten to help me. I feel completely overwhelmed by the situation and don’t know what to do.

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Being in the middle of divorcing parents is extremely hard and significantly worse is you have a horrid parent. Especially when one parent says cruel and unkind things about the other and you have no support and understanding.  So it’s not surprising that your feelings are raw and overwhelming.  It might help to find a sympathetic adult to help.   Perhaps you could talk to one of your teachers and ask them or your GP to recommend a counselor. If you feel desperate you could contact Childline as they will listen and support you.

Do remember that you have had the courage to recognise and manage your father’s difficult behaviou.  At the moment that you are in the middle of turmoil but it won’t go on for ever.  Your parents will sort out their marriage and you will have a future.  You will soon be eighteen and able to make life decisions that suit you.

 

My friend is like my horrid parent

Recently an old school friend has come back into my life. She has heard that there is a room coming vacant in the house I share and has asked if she can move in. The problem is that since we’ve met up again, she reminds me of my mother.  She is a difficult mother and taken advantage of every opportunity to undermine me. If I challenge her she will always make the situation my fault.  She claims suggestions are helpful but I know from experience they are criticisms and put-downs. I have learnt  over the years to distance myself, keep her at arms length and try to make our conversations uncontroversial. 

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So when this friend first came round to my home, and started moving the cushions around in the sitting room and told me to change the ‘dreadful’ curtains that I chose and like, it suddenly struck me she had very similar characteristics to my mother.  Unfortunately she has assumed that my house mate, who she hasn’t even met yet, and I will automatically agree to her moving in, but I am very anxious about it.  I fear that if she moves in she will take control and decide how the place is run. But if I turn down her request, that will be the end of our friendship.  I am someone who finds it hard to say ‘no’ but having left home some years ago I treasure my freedom and don’t want to take a backwards step and let someone make me feel uncomfortable or even control me. 

It often happens that the experience of a horrid parent makes you recognise the signs when other difficult people appear in your life. This includes friends and colleagues. Well done for finding a  way to manage your mother by keeping her at arms length and we would recommend you do the same with your friend.  You may lose her friendship but if she is as toxic as you describe you are better off without her.  Instead try to make new, true friends who make you feel at ease and good about yourself.  

 

Choosing Your Life's Partner

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I’ve been with my girlfriend for the last nine months.  She now wants to move in with me but I keep making excuses.   She’s fine, in fact she’s better than fine, but I am secretly terrified that she will turn into my mother.

My mother was definitely a horrid parent.  Forever putting me down, losing her temper over the least thing, constantly critical and lots more that I read on the my horrid parent website. 

I’ve worked really hard to build up my confidence, be positive and enjoy my life.  I’ve got a great career, lots of friends and when I go to their homes I see how family life can work very well.

BUT  it’s a big step for me to live with someone and risk it all going wrong.

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While we don’t know your girlfriend or you we gently recommend asking yourself the following questions. 

Does she know and understand what a difficult childhood you had?

Is she sympathetic?

Does she respond to your mother, we assume they have met, in a way that makes you feel supported?

Is she happy to talk through your issues with your mother?

Does she compliment you on the things you do and say?

Does she criticise you?

Has she seen the real you, anxiety and all?

If you want children do you think she would make a loving mother?

We believe that any child who has had a difficult parent needs a caring partner who will make them feel good about themselves.  It can make a world of difference to your life going forwards. 

If on the other hand if her behaviour reminds you of your mother steer clear and don’t get too involved. 

Breaking Free From Your Horrid Parent

Help!  I can’t stand it any more.  I just want to break all contact with my mother. The trouble is I’ve said it so many times, and on each occasion, when I cool down I start to feel so guilty that I back off and just can’t do it.

But I can’t be her doormat any more, be blamed for everything and let her now abuse my children or rather one of them whom she seems to have something against.

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If I talk to friends some say ‘just end it,’ but that is much easier said than done.   Others say  ‘surely it can’t be that bad.  She’s getting on a bit now.  Can’t you be a bit more patient?’  I want to shout ‘NO’ I can’t be more patient.  I’ve had more than enough abuse for several life times.  Instead I just nod my head.  They mean well but  they just don’t understand. 

This is a very common problem for offspring of a horrid parent.  

There are three ways to  withdraw yourself from your mother's life   You can cut her off in one firm action .  You can slowly and quietly reduce contact.  Or you can try to manage her from a distance.   This means not living close, not being available at all times and,  if, for example, she starts yelling down the phone, tell her politely that you have to go now and turn off your mobile. 

 It’s a matter of personal choice as to which path you follow. 

Whatever you decide to do be strong about it.  Don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.  Don'e  even listen to yourself on a bad day when you feel wracked with guilt. 

If you do feel guilty think about your own family and especially the child your mother doesn’t like and ask yourself where your allegiance should be.  Tell yourself that it is vitally important to protect your own children from experiencing what you endured.  Then think how guilty you will feel if you keep putting your child in a position where your mother can hurt her. 

Remind yourself that you are still a good enough daughter despite not being in close contact with your mother.   

If you do choose to make a firm break, wait for several months before reassessing your situation.   Hopefully by then you will have a more objective view.  If you still feel you can’t abandon her altogether try to be less emotional.  Perhaps tell yourself she is an elderly neighbour  you need to care for now and then.  You can then set the agenda rather than dance to her tune.

What Does A Horrid Parent Not Teach You?

How to control your temper.  

 

"I was brought up in an environment where my father had regular outbursts of rage. They could be triggered over the smallest thing, like me accidentally dropping some food on the floor, or someone overtaking him in a smarter car. 

Instead of discussions there were screaming matches.  I felt attacked and could never get a word in edgeways.  The trouble is since my twenties I also tend to yell when something or someone upsets me.  One minute I am calm and the next full of rage.  I find it very difficult to cope with and afterwards I often feel wretched.  One trigger is when I  jump to a negative conclusion about someone's behaviour and accuse them in my head of deliberately doing something against me.  Often I  find out later they haven't done any such thing.     

I also find it very hard to tell people they've upset me.  Instead my impulse is to walk away and never see then again, which, once I’ve calmed down, seems ridiculous even to me.    Can you help?

Most horrid parents can’t handle their emotions and instead have irrational, sudden bursts of temper.  Unfortunately their offspring often follow this bad example, because they haven’t learnt by example how to manage their feelings.  

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It is  normal to feel angry sometimes, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you.  It’s important to feel in control of yourself when you talk to friends, partners, children, other drivers, and in the work place. Even toddlers need to learn that a temper tantrum is not going to let them have their own way.

A horrid parent can also find it so difficult to talk about any  strong emotion they are feeling, that they’d rather cut the person they are cross with out of their life rather than try to sort out rationally what is wrong.   Any attempt to explain themselves is likely to result in them blaming someone else - they themselves are never wrong.  Nor is their rage likely to be stopped by a logical or reasoned discussion.  If an offspring tries to express their view, the parent will probably sneer at them, lie or twist their words.  We wouldn’t advise discussing emotions with your horrid parent, but do ask advise from someone who is close to you.

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Counting slowly to ten or twenty before you show your anger might help put off your rage and when the intensity lessens remind yourself that your assumptions could be wrong.  Then, once you are calmer ask the person you are cross with straightforward questions to find out what they really meant or did, which might give a different perspective on what has infuriated you. Then, if you need to, make sure you have calmed down then put your view across in a controlled way.   

It's also worth trying to understand  the real source of your anger.  Ask yourself if it is all to do with your horrid parent and if there are particular situations or people who make you furious because they remind you of your horrid parent.  Work out too if losing your temper is more likely if you are tired, hungry or in a bad mood.  Think about keeping a diary to see if there are any patterns.  It might help you be aware when you can be particularly thin skinned and prepare yourself in advance. 

See the Coping page on the website for some useful suggestions. 

Jealousy

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I know from experience that jealousy is a green-eyed monster and the number one monster is my mother.

 

Throughout my life she has urged me to do my best and make her proud.  She wanted me to look smart, marry well and be generous towards my three children.  Then WHAM! A short while later she tries to demean me, ridicule how I spend my hard earned salary,  criticise what I have bought my children and how I’ve lavished care on my husband and home.

It’s taken me years to work it out but the pattern is she wants me to have things, then gets jealous and resentful and wants me somehow to put them all back.

I have been plagued by stories that when she was a young girl she didn’t have the toys I had as a child.  That her opportunities for a career were limited because ‘in my day women stayed at home to look after the children.’  She says she could have made more of her life if only she had married a man who, like my husband, helped out at home.  ‘Your father never washed up or changed a nappy and wanted his meal on the table the minute he arrived from work so I was tied to the kitchen for life.’

I feel for her at one level because she has a good brain and it must have been frustrating and hard but it’s certainly not my fault.  In fact it’s got nothing to do with me at all.

Sadly the jealousy is all pervading.   She’s become so bitter and mean and I now believe she doesn’t want me to be happy.  It’s very upsetting and her spiteful comments have also upset my children. 

Jealousy is a corrosive emotion that eats away at an individual’s sense of self.  In theory your mother should be delighted that you have done so well, but in practice her own lack of confidence and opportunities brings out the worst in her.

Perhaps she also feels threatened that her relationship with you comes very low in your priorities. But if she goes on and on about the lack of toys in her childhood decades ago and is spiteful about what you have achieved, change the subject or, if it is getting you down, reduce the number of times you see or speak to her.   No one sails through Life and you have obviously worked hard both personally and professionally and deserve your happiness.   Don’t let her take it away.