Posted by: Anon | 2012/12/06

Parental issues

I have always had a difficult relationship with my parents, partially because I suspect that my mother has a borderline personality disorder and is a narcissist. I cant remember ever really getting on with her, and nor do I remember her ever really caring about me - she was more concerned about what she could brag about than actually learning who I was., moved out of home very young, never saw them for years - usual drama story.
Started to talk to them again - probably due to family type obligation / guilt feelings. I have a son, who I know my parents do care about (would not say love because I doubt they know how to love - and I allowed them to actively be involved in his life - however as one could expect, things blew up again when once again I did not meet up to their expectations, and I cut all contact with them, but allowed my son to talk to them on the phone.
The reason that I do not want my son really to be with them, or see them (he is 7), is because of their attitude.
They will interrogate him as to all details of our private life and then my mother will broadcast it to everyone and anyone.
They will run me down to him, my mom specifically has done this on the phone already.
Because they continually where shouting at me, my son has said he does not want to see them again - because he is scared that they will continue shouting etc.
I do not want to see them again - they destroyed my childhood, and I am not letting them destroy my adulthood

So in saying all of this - I am torn - between the whole this is your family type stuff (they are my son''s only immediate family, there is no other blood relatives), and the fact that I really hate them - the years of abuse that I suffered at the hands of my mother - I cant just forget about. The things that she has said to me, and about me have affected huge portions of my life. So why cant I just get rid of the guilt feeling. Am I wrong should I just let bygones be bygones.
I have no idea how to handle the whole situation anymore -and am finding myself getting more and more upset because I would like to have normal loving parents, instead of what I have.
Any advice would be appreciated

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Our expert says:
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I like Maria's important point about how very un-Disney most families actually are. I like Winnicot's concept of the Goodenough mother - below that level there may be damage, but there's a wide range of personal variations and eccentricities which are good enough for normal development, and mothers who range from the OK to the marvellous.
Its better for individuals, whether adult or child, to have no close family than miserable, carping, and hostile folks who are tolerated merely because they are genetically close family. Its not compulsory to tolerate unpleasant people.
There is no value whatever in "letting bygones be bygones" especially when they are genuinely not "bygone". The popular tosh that implies that victims have some sort of warped duty to forgive perps is dangerous nonsense and should be stamped out. So don't feel guilty.
Maybe think of seeing a counsellor to work through your conflicted feelings about all these issues. Of course you'd like to have normal loving parents, but it sounds as though that boat sailed decades ago and its not possible.
Cutting off an abusive relaionship is a healthy decision.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Jennifer | 2012/12/07


I also have a disfunctional relationship with my family. Primarily with my mother, but my father factors in as well. My mother yelled and cursed a lot. My father hit us with a belt and ignored us. The verbal fights in our house were epic, and sometimes got physicial. Some children grow up to be like their parents. I did, my sister didn''t. My parents divorced when I was 11 and for some strange reason I was not sad about it, but later on as a teenager I became very anger and bitter towards my mother. I left home at a young age, became friends with the wrong crowd, got into some trouble, got involved in an volitile relationship, had 2 children and the verbal abuse continued. I never could understand why I would end up back with my mother because we would fight just like my parents did. We would yell and scream right in front of my kids, and they too became a product of my misery. I live with a lot of guilt now because of that and blamed everyone under the sun except for myself. I should have taken hold of the situation, especially as a parent and said enough is enough. My older children behave just as I did, they have wicked tempers and this breaks my heart.
I agree with the other posts, listen to your instincts and trust yourself to do the right thing when it comes to your family and even yourself. That is the only obligation you have.

Reply to Jennifer
Posted by: Angel | 2012/12/07

Hi anon

I was also going through the same abusive relationship with my sisters and mom and all they cared about was money and my mom would even tell my eldest daughter(7) that my husband is not her real father.But one day i decided to let go of them,its still hard though cos at times i think about how it would have been if i had a lovey family.

I tried my best to make it work and it didnt,if you keep on hloding on to them you will end up hurting yourself more.My mom abused me most of my life,i was raped by my uncle and all she diid was to ask him for money and she bought a kitchen unit with the money,i still cry a lot when i think about it.The best think is for you to focus on bringing up your son in a loving enviroment and make sure that he does not get to mix with such people as that will also destruy his future as uch as it did to you.That''s what im doing now,looking after my two daughters and even though at times they ask about their grandmother and my sisters i just tell them that they are not around so they cant visit cos i do bealive that if i person does not love you why would you expect them to love your kids.All the best dear and hope that you get through this sooner

Reply to Angel
Posted by: Liza | 2012/12/07

Whether she''s your mother or not - it''s an abusive relationship that you''re exposing your son to. You really should cut all contact without the guilt trip because you''re doing what''s in the best interests of your son. The guilt you''re feeling is irrational. By letting bygones be bygones - you''re practically giving her permission to continue being abusive!

Good luck,

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Maria | 2012/12/07

We grow up with this Disney-like idea of the perfect family - mom, dad and kids, all happy and loving for ever and ever. Sadly, few families actually look like that and trying to make your family fit this mould can lead to lots of heartache, as you''ve experienced.

You will have to make peace with the fact that your family is not like this, and that it''s not your fault. For your son''s sake (and our own) you cannot continue to have such a toxic relationship with your mom. Let it go. It''s hard, I know, and perhaps you feel that there is a measure of failure on your part. If you really battle with this, see a counseller to work through those feelings.

Do you have good friends? Model for your child the behaviour that you would expect among family, with your friends instead. These days South African families are often scattered around the globe anyway, and we rely on friends rather than family members for community and support when we need it. There is no need to look for those things in a family that will clearly not provide it.

Reply to Maria

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