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  1. #1
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    Default Advice needed regarding parent belittling other parent

    Not sure whether I should “meddle” in this situation which is why after a lot of tossing and turning I’ve decided to put it on the forum for input.

    It's about the dynamic I'm witnessing between my parents which has been going on for some time now.


    My dad is a quiet man. My mother is gregarious. Both are retired. An educated woman, my mother has an active social circle and regularly sees her friends etc. My dad does not have an active social circle although he has a few mates down at the local pub where he drinks. And he enjoys a drink. As a factory worker for most of his life, he's worked hard and is a genius around the house with his hands.


    My mother is many good things but she is also, how can I put this, a nag.

    I say this word very carefully and with much consideration but I can find no other word that suits what she does. If I could give you a few examples to illustrate what I’m trying to get across.

    Dad will sit down and have ONE beer and she’ll go on and on and on about it for ages. I mean days later.

    Dad will ask her if she would like a glass of wine as he’d be going out to get a six pack, she’ll say no then two hours later she’ll say she wants a glass of wine and will tell Dad to go and get it.

    Dad had a tooth out recently. There was an infection in the bone and it was very painful for him. Mum said more than once “oh you’d think no one else had a tooth out…” and said this on the phone to a friend. He doesn’t complain but I could see he was hurting and so arranged with his dentist to prescribe him Panadeine Forte and he really appreciated it. Mum then said, “don’t know why you bothered with getting him that…beer’s his Panadiene Forte”. As this was in front of other people, I told her that her comment was not appropriate and to pull her head in. Oh didn't I wear it.

    Mum miscalculated a bill, thinking she'd paid it. Dad picked it up and posed what I thought was a fair query. She went ballistic saying he was wrong and how would he know, he could barely read (which is not true) and how dare we question her (because the entire world was against her now). I calmly picked up the bill and pointed out that it did not appear to have been paid and when I called to check found that it had not and discreetly fixed it.

    Mum doesn’t drive so when Dad is doing something I will offer to drive her where she needs to go and she’ll say “Oh your father has nothing better to do..he can do it..” The day after he had his tooth pulled he looked like death so I insisted on taking her out and although he said nothing, he slept in which to me meant that he needed the rest.

    I've heard her on the phone on a few occasions to my sister or hers basically bagging him out. I remember as a child her doing this to me and I recall telling her, at 9 years old, that it wasn't my place to know those things about my dad. She called me Daddy's Little Stooge.


    I’m looking at what I’ve just written and I feel I’ve betrayed her by writing this and that it sounds really bad. Mum was isolated when we were kids, had no one to talk to, a lot of things were going on that I didn't understand. I want to add that my mum is not an evil person. You can sit down and have a coffee with her. She is very generous but she is very judgemental and thinks that what she says about Dad is okay either because it’s her marriage and don’t you dare interfere or that's it's a laugh and I don't have a sense of humour.



    I’ve now pulled her up on a few occasions as it’s gotten to the point where what she has said to or about Dad has really ****ed me off or it's alarmed me. To my surprise she’s either denied saying what I’ve heard or has thrown what I can only call a tantrum which, of course, upsets the atmosphere in the house.



    I’m spending Christmas on my own this year because if the spotlight isn’t on her then it’s not worth having a spotlight. Even tonight when I was over there she admonished Dad for helping the kids open their presents. "Taking over again" she said. At which he stopped and you could just see the defeat on his face. It really hit me. And without thinking I realised I was thinking to myself, you b*tch. You rude, arrogant b*tch. And I could feel the anger well up inside me. She places a lot of expectations on Dad and I can see it’s getting to him. Once fiercely protective of his wife, he no longer says anything when I tell Mum to pull her head in. Others have noticed that Dad seems to have “lost the light in him” (gosh, I’m tearing up a bit here - oops!) and I am really worried that he’s being nagged to death.

    Even the dog senses something isn't right and she's very protective of him.



    I’m not trying to make my Dad out to be perfect and I don't want to interfere where I shouldn't. After all, while an adult, I am the child. But for a while now my mother’s behaviour is concerning me to the point where I am really starting to resent her. I don’t know who she’s becoming but whatever it is I don’t like it. And that hurts me too.

    Ultimately, I feel I should do something but am not sure how to go about it.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to how I could go about addressing this or if they've been through something similar and could fill me in on what they did I'd be grateful.

    Apologies for rambling.

  2. #2
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    My battery is almost dead, so I will have to come back to this a bit later. I'll quickly point you in the direction of a website that I have found very useful and informative, and I suspect you may too. http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com

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  4. #3
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    That website is awesome and well worth a look. Sounds like your dad needs alot of support and you're giving him some of that which will help

    ETA: can you maybe make some time to take your dad out or have him over just to relax and hang out with the kids? The bit about the presents makes me think he'd appreciate that and a break from his wife may also help him get some of that light back. I find it very interesting that the dog is protecting him too clearly she senses your mum isn't to be trusted near your dad and I'd be a bit concerned about how he is treated when others arent around to see it..

    Also any possibility he could join his stooge daughter for Christmas? Happy relaxed small family day maybe say you'd just like some help with the kids or they were asking specifically?
    Last edited by peekaboomummy; 22-12-2011 at 01:08.

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    Some of what you have said Sounds pretty bad - involving you when you were a child Sucks. However you can't know a marriage unless you are in it. You have no idea what could have gone on all these years to lead to this. As a social, well educated
    Woman I wonder if your mum resents being married to someone who works in a factory and drinks a lot? Not meaning to sound mean but i just mean there are lots of potential
    Reasons for her unhappiness and
    Bitterness, which aren't really your business. If you don't like her don't spend time with her, and tell her you won't Listen to her criticizing your dad. Other than that I would
    Say stay out of it. Jmo.

  6. #5
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    It sounds as though, for whatever reason, your mum has a lot of anger towards your Dad. Unfortunately, in very long relationships this can happen, where years of bickering, resentments, or larger issues can end up being expressed this way.

    She seems to be very sensitive regarding alcohol, has your dad had an alcohol problem in the past, or could he have one now? Or perhaps her Mum or Dad were alcoholics?

    It must be very difficult to watch, and I can't imagine either of them must enjoy this relationship dynamic deep down, but ultimately they are the only ones who can correct it.

    ETA - I suppose you could sit them both down one day, and just lay it all out on the table, say exactly what you have been witnessing, how awful you feel about it, and what is the story?? I guess this could end horribly with you being estranged from your mum perhaps, but it could also possibly open communication up for stuff to be let out, aired, and perhaps resolved?

    It would be a scary thing to initiate, especially as you couldn't really predict the results, but might be worth a go... My 1/2 sis and bro have recently done this with their father, and they were very surprised at the positive things which came out of it, after years of conflict.

    All the best, real tricky situation...
    Last edited by MilkingMaid; 22-12-2011 at 05:53.

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  8. #6
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    Sparklydreamer is offline I might lack sleep, but I can dream...
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    What you have described sounds just like my DH's mum and dad. DH's psychologist suspects Dh's mum is narcissistic.

    DH was also told waaaay too much as a child and is quite resentful towards his mother. She also belittles him (DH) the same way, even in front of friends. Its quite nasty and confronting.

    Like that 'daddy's little stooge' comment. That's just nasty and so wrong to say to a child.

    I recommend borrowing 'toxic parents' out of the library. It helped DH a lot.

    Its not meddling - her behaviour is affecting you too.

    its really horrible being caught in the middle like that.
    Last edited by Sparklydreamer; 22-12-2011 at 10:12.

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  10. #7
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    No real great words of wisdom I'm afraid! What a horrible situation to find yourself in. I do agree that you need to tread carefully. There may very well be things at play here that you don't know about. Something that your dad has done recently or in the past that has caused this. Or there may be that he has done nothing to deserve this and it is indeed all your mother's problem. All I would ask is that you think carefully about what you might not know.

    Have you had a quiet talk to your dad? That might be a good first step? It sounds like he's the calmer of the two! Ask him what's up, if he's ok. Tell him what you've noticed. If he tells you to stay out of it, then there will be no great harm done and this avoids the potential nightmare of confronting your mother. Because frankly, if he asks you to stay out of it, then you have to respect that and do exactly as he asks.

    At that point, have a read of that website. It's a beauty and very helpful for dealing with narcissism. It might be on you then to cut back on the time you spend with your mum.

    One other thing. DON'T FEEL BAD FOR POSTING ON HERE! You're cut up inside watching what you see as the disintergration of your parents marriage. There is no crime in that! Not only that, you care enough to come on here and ask for help and support. None of this is your fault and you need to not feel bad or guilty or whatever for reaching out.

    That's what this place is for!

    Good luck. And try and have a good Christmas without letting this get to you!


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    I don't have any advice, but wanted to say that apart from your Dad being a factory worker and having the odd beer, you could have been talking about my parents.

    For all intents and purposes they hate each other. Mum belittles him constantly, nags and nags and nags, puts him down, walks all over him and Dad just takes it. It's been this way for a LONG time, but has really gotten worse in the last 15-20 years (or maybe I just noticed more as I got older). It's gotten to the point I have lost respect for Dad as well as he just doesn't stand up for himself at all. On one hand I do get that 20 years of that can whip the fight out of you, but he has spoken to us kids several times over the years and we have all said to leave her, that she is a nasty cow and he should just pack up and go and he won't. So my respect for him has diminished because he won't do anything to help himself.

    The other difference is that you seem to have a reasonable relationship with your Mum. I don't. She has no interest in my life and while that hurts because it means she has no interest in my DS and DD on the way, it does make life more peaceful.

    So yeah, no advice from me, but know you are not alone! Off to read that website now. Might help me understand as lately I've been wanting to write her a VERY LONG letter with all my grievances which I know won't help a thing. I've done the whole write a letter and burn it thing and that only worked for a while. I'm jealous of people with good Mum's. I really wish I had one.

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    Thank you everyone for responding.

    @Bell - thank you for the site. I found it interesting reading. While I must be fair and say that some of the characteristics did not resonate with me, there were about three or four that very much did. The huge ones for me were the triangular communication, the tantrums and the display of private information as concern as well as that air of self importance and that "I can't do anything right" martydom theme. And she lies. Lies her backside blind. While the site was very helpful, I did sense a lot of finger pointing by the author as well as the underwritten implication that the person was wholly and totally responsible for their behaviour in that they know what they are doing. The author describes her mother and enabling father as being quite vicious. My mother isn't what I would call vicious (although she can be vindictive) and I'm not confident she is always aware of what she is doing (or is that me wanting to make an excuse so as not to think the worst?) Given the extreme nature of diagnosis for narcissism that I have read, I'm not sure I would classify my mum as being a narcissist. However, I believe there is something there.

    @ Peekaboomummy, my partner is going to take my dad fishing on Boxing Day. He has everything organised and he is just going to go over there and get him. If he announces it, Mum will invent something that she has to do so I think a "surprise attack" is warranted

    @ Twotrunks, I mentioned the education aspect to paint a portrait of where my parents were at. My dad is actually a very intelligent man who did not have the educational opportunities as a child that my mother or I did. It's actually an odd thing for me to remember but he tutored me in math during year 10 and as a result I topped the class. He also taught me to read. I am acutely aware of the importance of not interfering in a marriage but my mother makes her displays public and in doing so this involves me. Do I stand by and let her get away with this or let her know that her behaviour is not appropriate? It's a hard one and one that I've been ignoring for too long.

    @AM - Mum grew up in an alcoholic household in that her dad would drink at the pub most days after work and come home drunk. There was no violence (he was a non violent, quiet man, a lovely singer) but her mother took out her frustrations on the kids of which there were six in the family. My grandmother was a very insular, physically violent, fiesty woman who expected you to ask how high when she said jump IYKWIM. My father has had an alcohol issue in the past which he privately attributes to the stress of being away from his family and Mum's ways. He quit completely for 18 years and as of 2008 now drinks a few beers every few nights or so. He doesn't buy cartons. He purchases six packs. Mum will root around the house looking for what she thinks are hidden stashes but all his beer is always in the fridge. She'll ask me to check with her but I have never entertained that. Yes, their dynamic is very difficult to endure and I am thinking of writing a letter as talking to her about it would be disastrous. Too confrontational for her.

    @ Sparkly, I will seek out that book. Thank you for suggesting it.

    @ Glutton, I have actually had a chat with Dad who says that he thinks Mum is 'not all there' and feels it's due to depression. In times past, Dad used to defend Mum when I challenged her on her behaviour but no longer does this. I have often deferred to Dad when Mum has claimed he's said X when I know he's said Y. Privately, I feel the depression is a well worn excuse she uses as a crutch as it's something I've been hearing for years. She's not on anti-depressants, doesn't get counselling etc. I've asked Dad if he feels depression is an issue with him and he has said no, but has said that anxiety is and this has manifested in his body as a stomach issue which he is addressing via his GP. I spoke with him today and I have told him that I am going to have a think about what I'm going to say to Mum but that I am going to address it both as a daughter and an onlooker. And I will do this when he goes fishing. So he knows something has to be done. I guess he doesn't want to be the one to do it as he has to live with her. I'm ropable regarding my siblings as they think it's all in my head and, in a sense, are enabling my Mum. Oh and I no longer feel bad for posting in here anymore either. It's really helped me put my thoughts in order and my partner is also indebted to the good advice of this thread (he was drying my tears last night).

    @ Californication - try not to take it out on your dad. I, too, have often been mystified by the defences put up for my Mum but it's not place to question his motives just as I would not expect him to question my motives re my partner. Yes, I have often been disgusted at the treatment she dishes out to him but I've let her know in a quiet way that don't support her behaviour. True, I have a tenable r'ship with my mother but not a close one. She is much closer to my siblings than she is to me by a long shot. She has little interest in my life but dotes on the kids. Oddly enough, I'm the only child who actually brings the kids around. My other siblings don't. She is very dismissive of me in general and does the ol' your-childrens'-souls-are-in-mortal-danger-because-you-haven't had-them-christened-spiel. Oh and she hates Nick Xenophon because he attacked the church in parliament *lol*

    I just wish my Mum was normal.

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    Hi, sounds similar to my folks in bits and I get the feeling that my mum is slowly losing her mind. While she is very very intelligent, creative, keeps a perfect house and garden I do think that a few recent family issues have taken their toll. Its damn sad for a child to watch but I'm sure much harder for a lifelong partner to bare. If your dad thinks it is taking place for your mum then I wouldnt dismiss it. Go easy on her though as if it is some dementia or the likes slowly setting in under the facade of her well educated, lady about town exterior would be a.scared little girl wondering what the heck is happening to her.

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