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Question
Posted by: Broken Hearted Mom | 2011/05/01

Nasty daughter

I am a widow and have a grown up married family.My daughter is recently divorced and re-married. She is so nasty to me. She runs hot and cold. One minute she is all over me, the next, she is vicious, just plain nasty. She is mentally abusing me,and playing with my mind.. It as if she is punishing me for something she alleges took place in her childhood where she says she was pushed into the background while her siblings were favoured. This is completely untrue and in fact she was doted on and she was given the opportunity to do ballet and gymnastics that cost us a great deal of money and her siblings did not have any special treatment. My head tells me to tell her to leave me alone or start respecting me and yet my heart is broken the way she treats me. Her new husband is equally nasty and disrespectful.I think they both have a serious personality/mental defect. What should I do ??

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

When someone suddenly starts acting really ugly over something they allege happened in their childhood, I suspect two quite possible causes. One is that they have seen a quack or insufficiently / badly trained and highly naive "therapist" of some sort, someone with a bee in their bonnet, who specialises (though they wouldn't admit it) in persuading people that they don't have the problems they actually do have, but that they have the problem the counsellor wants and expects them to have, and which just happens to need exactly the sort of therapy that counsellor provides.

It's the Procrustean Bed of psychotherapy. If I remember rightly, back in the legends, Procrustes was an inn-keeper who had only one oddly sized bed. But when a traveller stayed the night, he either stretched them on the rack to they'd be long enough to fit the bed, or lopped off some of their limbs if they were already too tall.

Sometimes a similar effect is caused by uncritically reading some of the guff psycho-babbly books which make a lot of money by selling similar ideas in print. They can be comforting, because they generally absolve you of all possible responsibility for whatever you may have caused to go wrong in your life, and blames it all on other people, usually parents.

That your heart hurts at her cruelty is understandable, but what your head has suggested is the best policy.

Explain to her calmly and clearly that her recollection of whatver she thinks happened in her childhood is highly inaccurate, and her comments are cruel and unaceptable. That until she can work this through (with a different therapist if she happens to be seeing one) you don't wish to see or hear from her, as this currently brings nothing but hurt.

But that as soon as she can take personal responsibility for her life, and can spend agreeable and pleasant time with you, she will always be welcome to return.

I also wonder what part her new husband plays in her nasty change of attitude.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Faye | 2011/05/02

I wish my mother were alive. When parents are no longer, we as the kids realise what pillars of support they were. Once those pillars are gone we feel lost and kind of shaky for many years. I envy people whose mothers are still alive, but resent those who treat them badly especailly if the parent has loved unconditionally.

Reply to Faye
Posted by: Broken hearted mom | 2011/05/02

Thanks CS. I think I will follow the route of having a good talk to her and tell her exactly how I feel and for my own sanity, stay away until she comes to her senses. I am not sure about the husbands part in all of this, but I believe that she as my daughter should not allow him to disrespect me and she should take him to task and tell him to mind his own business. I dont really know him that well and when they were courting, he was Mr Pleasant and Agreeable personified, but.... a Jeckle and Hyde in fact/

Reply to Broken hearted mom
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/05/02

When someone suddenly starts acting really ugly over something they allege happened in their childhood, I suspect two quite possible causes. One is that they have seen a quack or insufficiently / badly trained and highly naive "therapist" of some sort, someone with a bee in their bonnet, who specialises (though they wouldn't admit it) in persuading people that they don't have the problems they actually do have, but that they have the problem the counsellor wants and expects them to have, and which just happens to need exactly the sort of therapy that counsellor provides.

It's the Procrustean Bed of psychotherapy. If I remember rightly, back in the legends, Procrustes was an inn-keeper who had only one oddly sized bed. But when a traveller stayed the night, he either stretched them on the rack to they'd be long enough to fit the bed, or lopped off some of their limbs if they were already too tall.

Sometimes a similar effect is caused by uncritically reading some of the guff psycho-babbly books which make a lot of money by selling similar ideas in print. They can be comforting, because they generally absolve you of all possible responsibility for whatever you may have caused to go wrong in your life, and blames it all on other people, usually parents.

That your heart hurts at her cruelty is understandable, but what your head has suggested is the best policy.

Explain to her calmly and clearly that her recollection of whatver she thinks happened in her childhood is highly inaccurate, and her comments are cruel and unaceptable. That until she can work this through (with a different therapist if she happens to be seeing one) you don't wish to see or hear from her, as this currently brings nothing but hurt.

But that as soon as she can take personal responsibility for her life, and can spend agreeable and pleasant time with you, she will always be welcome to return.

I also wonder what part her new husband plays in her nasty change of attitude.

Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Karmen | 2011/05/01

I''m glad I could help. Some people are just odd like that- when life isn''t as peachy as they thought it would be and they can''t cope, they tend to blame others. If the poor kids are suffering, they are going to turn around and say the exact same things to her, if not worse. Maybe then she will realize the error of her ways. I can understand how hard this must be on you- I went through a very difficult time when I was quite rebellious and although I was never nasty to my parents and I never blamed them really (although strong words were exchanged), it deeply hurt my parents and to this day I regret what I did. I do hope your daughter comes around. :-)

Reply to Karmen
Posted by: Broken Hearted Mom | 2011/05/01

Thank you Karmen, that is very insightful. Yes she does have children as does her new husband. All the kids suffer under their shouting and bad moods. As I was saying I think they have some serious chemical imbalance or mental problems. I really do not understand either of them.

Reply to Broken Hearted Mom
Posted by: Karmen | 2011/05/01

It is sad that some people can hold onto grudges the way your daughter is. I am a middle child and I can tell you that I genuinely was treated differently to my sisters, yet I could NEVER treat my parents they way your daughter is treating you. Your daughter may be bitter because of her own problems (ie her divorce) and she is looking to justify her attitude and feelings by blaming it on her childhood. Now this may sound strange, but perhaps she was given too many opportunities and it is warping her judgment. Again, perhaps because she was given so many opportunities it gave her an unrealistic view on what life is about, and because she had a good childhood she expected the rest of her life to be good, and divorce and you being widowed does not fall into that description. Her nasty, disrespectful husband is not helping- perhaps he does not know better and only hears what your daughter has told him? Either way, they are both poison to you (sorry if that is harsh) and you need to distance yourself. If your daughter is childish enough to hold onto her childhood that is her problem and not yours. You don''t mention if she has children? One thing I believe is that one cannot judge a mother if she herself is not a mother.

Reply to Karmen

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