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Question
Posted by: Elizabeth | 2011-06-16

bitchy daughter

My husband and I are retired living in a small country town. He is 80 years old and suffers from vascular dementia and congestive heart failure. We have 3 sons and a daughter. The only one living fairly close to us is our daughter. She is separated from her husband. She comes down to visit us (with her 2 children who are university students) about once every two months. I am finding her visits increasingly upsetting as she is so critical of me. These are minor criticisms like the way I pronounce a word or the fact that my microwave is not as clean as it should be, the way my furniture is arranged, the fact that I have too many plants on my veranda. I always serve them lunch and this is always a problem as she does not eat meat, says she has a gluten intolerance, eats nothing fried or anything with onion ... the list goes on and on. So most times she eats very little of whatever I have prepared. Sometimes she even encourages the children to criticise me but doesn''t usually succeed as they are very fond of my husband and me. I really just don''t get what this is all about. Is there some " be nasty to old mother syndrome"  or something?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I understand, from professional and personal experience, the major effort of caring for a dementing loved one. Its hard, though, to understand why your daughter should be so unpleasantly critical of you, especially about such trivial and unreasonable issues. It's YOUR home - why does she feel its any of her business how you choose to arrange YOUR furniture in YOUR home ? Her food fussiness sounds far more neurotic than based on any true allergies or intolerance.
As Liza says, it sounds very much as though all this arises from her personal unhappiness, and her preference for finding ways to blame anyone else for her being a troubled person, rather than arising from anything wrong on your side. SHE is the problem, and not you.
Outstanding responses from other readers, sadly revealing that such cruel and selfish children are more common that we'd like to think.
It would be fair to calmly point out that she is super-critica, in unreasonable ways, whenever she visits, and ask her if she can help you to understand why this is. And I like Maria's suggestion that you openly but pleasantly invite your grandchildren to visit when it suits them, and not necessarily with their mother.
If she would feel hurt by that, this points all the more stringly to pathology within her. And if they would allow this bitter women to decide ANYTHING they do, such as visit you, that is very sad indeed. She sounds unwholesomely manipulative. Your range of activities and wholesomeness puts her to chame, and maybe she perceives this, and this may lie behind her ugly behaviour

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Our users say:
Posted by: Oldster | 2011-06-18

So sorry to hear about the way your daughter behaves, totally unacceptable. Some time ago there was post on this site by a mother whose daughter was really nasty to her, mean spirited would describe it best.
One of the readers responded by offering some advice. One piece of advice was that the mother should " put her foot down"  Do not allow her to disrespect you and your home. Put a stop to it immediately and best of all, take it from where it comes and not to heart. Do you need someone as nasty as that in your life ? Better she stays away until she learns some respect.
Also. remind her that she too will get old, and when you are no longer there and she is old, she can reflect on her nastiness towards you and that she will NEVER be able to retract those remarks, no matter how sorry she may be for making them in the first place.

Reply to Oldster
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-06-18

I understand, from professional and personal experience, the major effort of caring for a dementing loved one. Its hard, though, to understand why your daughter should be so unpleasantly critical of you, especially about such trivial and unreasonable issues. It's YOUR home - why does she feel its any of her business how you choose to arrange YOUR furniture in YOUR home ? Her food fussiness sounds far more neurotic than based on any true allergies or intolerance.
As Liza says, it sounds very much as though all this arises from her personal unhappiness, and her preference for finding ways to blame anyone else for her being a troubled person, rather than arising from anything wrong on your side. SHE is the problem, and not you.
Outstanding responses from other readers, sadly revealing that such cruel and selfish children are more common that we'd like to think.
It would be fair to calmly point out that she is super-critica, in unreasonable ways, whenever she visits, and ask her if she can help you to understand why this is. And I like Maria's suggestion that you openly but pleasantly invite your grandchildren to visit when it suits them, and not necessarily with their mother.
If she would feel hurt by that, this points all the more stringly to pathology within her. And if they would allow this bitter women to decide ANYTHING they do, such as visit you, that is very sad indeed. She sounds unwholesomely manipulative. Your range of activities and wholesomeness puts her to chame, and maybe she perceives this, and this may lie behind her ugly behaviour

Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Me | 2011-06-17

Kudo''s to you. And hey - you seems like one really supercool granny who even frequents Facebook.

Reply to Me
Posted by: Elizabeth | 2011-06-17

Thanks, guys, you are all very supportive but I feel this is something I must handle on my own. I don''t want to drag other family members into it. Two of the boys are overseas and couldn''t do much. The other one has enough family problems of his own.
Nikky, I am sorry you have such a critical FIL. I know how hurtful it is and it''s often difficult to keep smiling sweetly Once when my daughter was ranting at me because I had tagged a photo of one of my grandchildren on Facebook, I said to her, " Whoa there, just listen to yourself. This is just a photo we are talking about, not some earth shattering event."  The photo was not of one of her children but one of my other grandchildren. I had posted a photo of him as a toddler and she claimed that he " wouldn''t want his mates seeing it."  It really beat me what all her agitation was about.

Reply to Elizabeth
Posted by: Nikky | 2011-06-17

Hi Elizabeth,
If you are writing on this forum, using the internet, I think you are pretty switched on, at your age to be doing this. Other elderly folk sit at the old age homes, staring at the trees! Speak to your other children about your daughter''s behaviour. It seems she is not listening to you for some or other reason, but might listen if it comes from one of her brothers. I do not agree with what she is doing, perhaps she wants some of your belongings, I don''t know. Try not to email your sons as they could pass on the email and this could cause more resentment. Try to phone them.

In my family, my father in law criticizes EVERYTHING I do. If my child has a runny nose, I am a bad mother as the child is sick. He moans of the food I cook and the music I play when he comes around for lunch. I think some people are feeling so bad inside that it makes them feel better if they can take out their frustrations on other people. The do not realize that they are in fact the people in need of help.

Hope you come right!

Reply to Nikky
Posted by: Maria | 2011-06-17

You are a very good person Elizabeth. I really think that you should not worry too much about hurting your daughter''s feelings as she clearly doesn''t worry about hurting yours. Human emotions are complex and it sounds as if your daughter may be manipulating her children in a very unhealthy way. That''s really sad.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Elizabeth | 2011-06-17

Thanks for your response, Maria. My daughter knows that I have had our names down for years at a few retirement places. In fact we could have made the move recently but I don''t think it would be good for my husband to move now. He is contented here in familiar surroundings. I have made it clear to her that should I die before him I have arranged that he be moved to a frail care facility. So I don''t think she has anything to fear that she may have to look after us. I think it would be hurtful for her if I asked the children to come on their own and I don''t think she would allow it. They have previously wanted to come and stay for a few days but she has blocked it. I know this may seem hard to believe but I have sometimes felt that she is jealous of the affection they have for me but they adore her so I don''t think that can be true.

Reply to Elizabeth
Posted by: Maria | 2011-06-17

Wow. I wouldn''t dream of criticising my parents like that. I''m just grateful that they are still happy and despite health problems, able to care for themselves. I wonder if your daughter fears the day that she might have to take care of you and this extremely insensitive behaviour is her way of dealing with that fear? It''s no excuses for her behaviour though. Since her kids are university age they can presumably get around on their own steam, why don''t you invite them to come and visit without their mother?

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Elizabeth | 2011-06-17

Thank you also, Good luckD49LG7. Your sister and my daughter sounds like peas in a pod. Those are some of my daughter''s criticisms that I omitted to mention. According to her I have too much " stuff" . She looks around and asks, " When are you going to get rid of some of this stuff?"  I have wondered if it worries her that she will have the bother of disposing of it when we die. I actually emailed her once after she was so critical of my plants and I said to her, " Please don''t complain about my plants. They are MY plants and MY veranda and I love them and they give me great joy."  Last time she came they were all in full bloom and it would have been a nice opportunity for her to say something good but not a word was said.

Reply to Elizabeth
Posted by: Elizabeth | 2011-06-17

Thank you Liza and Lee. I love you. Good thing I didn''t have mascara on. LOL

Reply to Elizabeth
Posted by: Me | 2011-06-17

I agree with Liz - don''t take it personally. I have a similar situation in that my sister is critical of my father (83) and his belongings. She will critisize that his shirt has a small small mark on it, or that he does not need " all those photos"  in his cabinet, or that " he does not need so many plants on the balcony"  or " he does not need all those stupid books collecting dust"  and the list goes on. She sees it as junk, where as I see it as being the only belongings he has left in the world, and they are just as important to him as my things are to me. Yes, they may not be as nice or as new as her things, but they are still his prize posessions. I also recognise that becaue he is old, he may just not see that little mark on his shirt.

Why don''t you tell her that you find her constant negative remarks hurtful and ask her why she does it? This may open the discussion channels for you to explain the importance of those thing to her?

Good luckD49LG7

Reply to Me
Posted by: Lee | 2011-06-17

You''re looking after your husband, entertaining your daughter and children when they come around, grow plants, sound intelligent and eloquent to me. I am also a daughter of a mother who grows more plants than I could. We dont get along very well either but I realise that she has tried her best. My kids are also crazy about her so I don''t critisize her. I am more educated than her because she put me through school and university. Her microwave is never as clean as I''d like but I havent died eating there. She touches her dog then touches the food. I have an immune system. She cooks food I don''t eat, so what. It is the kindness that counts so I eat it for that day.
What I am trying to say is that the problem is not you. Accept that and keep being the loving gran that you are. You cannot help for your daughter''s actions anymore as she is grown. You can control your reactions. Good going, dear lady. Best.

Reply to Lee
Posted by: Liza | 2011-06-17

She sounds like a very unhappy person. Try not to take it personally. Her criticism is meant to make her feel better about herself and truly not about how many plants you have or what you''ve cooked for lunch.

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza

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