Coming to a decision- temporary estrangement with family

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by NC Momma, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. NC Momma

    NC Momma New Member

    Hello there! I have been lurking for a few weeks and due to events these past few days, well I need to post for some advice. I have three daughters. They are ages 24, 21, and 7. I have one grandchild, who is the daughter of the 24 year old. I also have an elderly, disabled mother.

    The problem is my older daughters and my mother. My older daughter is a nurse and married to a staff sgt in the Air Force. In August, we went for the second time 2600 miles to visit them. While there, we took them on a round trip all expense paid trip to a national park (my idea as I wanted a family vacation we could all have good memories from) and boy, did I not fail! The morning after we got back, my son in law very agressively threw us out of their home and then had us escorted off of the military base. Why? Well, the original reason I was given was because my daughter and I had an argument about the way the babies were being fed- we did have a discussion but not an argument. I had to ask her after three days of constant junk food, cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, etc to please help me with the eating habits of her overweight youngest sister and stop with buying it all and introducing it constantly. So, that was the reason. I didn't even know we had an argument and he threw us out and she backed him up. My heart was shattered. When he finally called to apologize just last week (she still hasn't apologized although she swears she did), he told me the reason that it happened was that everyone's nerves were on edge from the traveling. Well, our nerves weren't on edge to the point of fighting and we traveled comfortably on an rv where my husband did all the driving and they did nothing but ride. So anyway, they are now home. They got here today and I suppose my daughter text me that they were here to just rub it in my face because the only time she will agree to see me is... the family Christmas dinners! I guess the only times she can come see me is to get presents.

    This is the bulk of the recent things that have happened. To make a long story short, she and I have just butted heads constantly since she's been about 15 years old. The only time she's nice to me really or has any time for me is if she needs something or I am already giving her something. For a long time, I blamed it on her husband but I am not really sure it is him. For example, today, when she text me that she is here, I invited her over. Her response? She's too tired to come cause they have been on the road for three days. Understandable except that she's staying a mile away from me and... she also didn't invite me over there. I told her I just wanted to see her and the baby briefly, just for a minute and no... she wouldn't budge. She wants me to give her "my schedule" so that she can figure out a time to fit me in. She suggested tomorrow and I agreed but then had to tell her that a close friend's kids would be here as I am babysitting them. This close friend isn't very many years older than her and my daughter is highly jealous of her to the point of even writing her messages on facebook several times telling her to stay out of her mother's life. So since those kids are going to be here, she won't come.

    My 7 year old loves her baby niece so much. The first year of my grandchild's life, they lived locally and we all became very attached to her as I babysitted her constantly. I was needed then as I was the only person who would babysit whenever and I was the only one she didn't have to pay. But now, she won't let me keep the baby and she also doesn't seem to have time to come and see me. She doesn't realize that this causes her little sister so much pain and all she does is cry and beg for her niece. I can't take it. I can't take seeing my baby hurt that much and not be able to do anything about it.

    That is only a very little bit of it and I haven't even started on the 21 year old who is homosexual and recently announced on facebook that she's considering a sex change. That one is in and out of my house constantly as she can't keep a job or a significant other it seems. She's a whole different story.

    And my mother? My mother is a very passive woman. She is still very depressed over my father's death 8 years ago. The problem with her? She tells me one thing and tells my daughter's another. It seems that she tells whoever she is talking to at the moment what they want to hear and then tells the next person what it is they want to hear and so on. All she seems to worry about is pleasing the person she is around that instant.

    I have had it. I have dreaded Christmas for weeks. Today, it was just too much with my daughter. I made reservations for me and hubby and my youngest at a local kids attraction that has indoor pools and constant fun for kids for the 23rd through the 26th. I can't take Christmas this year. At this point, the hurt is running so deep that I think it would be better not to see them at all than to just see them for two hours so they can eat and get things from me and then take off. I feel disrespected and very, very small. To say I feel unimportant is an understatement.

    Am I making the right decision?
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  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Nobody can really tell you. Only you can decide.

    I would not accept second class treatment from my child. Not anymore. I would rather be alone with my significant other and he feels the same.

    The thing you will have to accept is this: with respect to your daughter and her child, she is able to call the shots. She can set the times, where or when. She may perceive your decision as an escalation. You must be ready that she will withdraw your grandchild even more if that is how she decides to respond.

    But the thing is this: What can you really do except take care of yourself and your husband and younger child?

    No matter how much money you are willing to spend, it will never be enough, if money and stuff are the ties that bind.

    If it was me I would rather have my dignity and peace and enjoy my holiday. And let her be.

    In the 7 months I have been posting on this board there have been so many mothers expressing exactly this kind of pain. Daughters using access to the grandchildren as a way to fight. It happened to my Mother too. It was devastating. She finally accepted that my sister had the control. She learned to defer to my sister as much as her dignity allowed, but no further. It seems that is the only way.

    Keep posting. I am glad you found us. I am sorry you are in this situation. Nothing is fair about it. You will learn to take care of yourself.

  3. NC Momma

    NC Momma New Member

    Hey there COPA,
    Thanks for responding. You know, I am the first to admit that I wasn't a perfect mom to them. I was a single mom and for four years of their elementary/junior high years, I had to work two jobs. I wasn't there enough. My parents babysat them, and it sometimes felt as if they were raising them. I hated it. So, yes, I made mistakes. I wasn't perfect. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why she does this. It almost seems as if they dislike me. And I don't know why. I also get the gut feeling they are both very jealous of their younger sister. As an older mother, I am well, a much better mother. I have more patience and more time. I have apologized to them for this several times though I really didn't think they needed an apology, I did it anyway Those two older girls have taken total control of the relationship and I feel as if I am left just groveling to them for the least bit of attention. I don't know where things have gone so wrong.

    As for the baby, you are correct. She has 100 percent control. I told her today that the baby doesn't know us and I think that is sad. They were so close to my own parents- I don't understand where she feels a grandmother is so unimportant. They live 2600 miles away in the military so its not like the chance to visit with my granddaughter is a regular chance. It comes only twice a year. Today, I asked her if the baby could spend the night. I told her that they were also welcome to come sleep over. She said no, that she wanted the baby with her. I said ok, well you and your hubby can also come. She just said no. They are not spending the night. They have never stayed here with me when they came home. Not once. They usually stay with my mother. This time they are with his grandmother. They are here for 13 days. We are leaving the second week they are here ourselves- we made plans not knowing they were coming. She actually just told me yesterday that they were on their way so I had no idea.

    Yes, it sucks. I hate that my grandchild is not in my life and that she's being taught that a grandma is so unimportant. It really makes me wonder what my daughter is thinking for she will be the grandma one day...

    I hope you are having a great night and are looking forward to the upcoming holiday. It's great to meet you! :)
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. I hope things change. One thing I learned from my own critical mother was never to tell my adult kids anything about how they, in my opinion, should raise their kids. I dont agree with all they do,like I dont like dsycare for infants and one of my grands was put in it, but I never said a word. My grands are for me to enjoy, but for their parents to raise. That is how I see it. I am also quick to tell them hoe proud I am of their parenting. This is especially comforting to my daughter whose mother in law is forever trying to tell them what they are doing wrong. She lives close to them, but is now not allowed to visit unless her son is home to keep her in line.

    I am not at all criticizing you. Just saying that I assume we didnt like our parents making negstive comments about our parenting, even if they meant well, and our grown kids dont usually like it either. I never give advice unless asked and then I am careful to stay positive. Perhaps telling them how to feed their child, even in a friendly way, was hurtful to one or both of them.

    We cant change others one bit, but we can change how we interact with them. We can only control ourselves. That we can do.

    My advice, and it may not be useful to you, is to lay back and wait. You cant make them let you see your grandchild but if you dont push in my opinion they may relax. But be careful abou.t being pushy. Not saying you are pushy. I dont know you. But if you are, your grown kids may avoid you.

    It is nice you were close to your grandparents. I was very close to mine. But that doesnt mean the same dynamic will play out with your grown kids. It is up to them. can choose to have a great life withvloved ones and friends who want your kindness in their lives. Thats what I have decided to do and its relaxing and serene.

    I am so sorry for your hurting heart and hope things improve for you. I hope I did not seem harsh and if you disagree with me you can just choose to disregard. All of us are just human, walking our own life journey.
  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi NC, welcome to the forum, so sorry for your need to be here. It is a tough time of year for many of us, it seems. Hugs for you and your hurting Momma and Grandma heart.
    NC, there is no such thing as a perfect Mom! We all had to make sacrifices, in order to raise our children. Some of them get it, others do not. Two of mine are off on their own, they will try to tell me their choices are my fault, but my other three assure me, I am a good Mom. We try our best, each with different circumstances.
    Your priority is your young daughter, she is a minor, the others are adults. Your girl, also takes precedence over your grandchild. It took me along time to get this, we tried to help the grands, to the detriment of our young son. I know how it feels to have taken care of a grandchild, then have them placed back with parents. My daughter uses them as pawns with us. It is hard. So, for me, enough "playing the game." Though I really miss my grands, and do worry for them, I have absolutely no control over what their parents decide. Lots of prayers help. Keeping a journal of thoughts and notes helps. If and when I see my grands again, I can share this with them.
    Then do not grovel. Don't feed the beast! There is no reason in the world why a parent of an adult child needs to do this.
    I agree with SWOT, lay back. Time heals all wounds.......Perhaps the time will come, when your daughters will come to you. As SWOT says, the more you push, the more they step back. If you step back, they may be more inclined to step forward?
    I do not think our 20 somethings really think about that future, it is too far off for them....I did not think about life in my 50's at 20, although now that I am 56, I wish I did. I know how it feels to have grands withheld, it hurts. The reality is, the parents will do as they choose. So, the only thing we can do as distant grandparents is send birthday cards and little notes, take very good care of ourselves, so if and when things cool down in the future, we are healthy and in a good frame of mind to be there for them.
    I think this is an awesome idea. Focusing on your smaller family unit, and having fun. Are you ready to do this wholeheartedly? I ask this, because it will not make sense, if you end up with regrets about it, during and after.
    Ohhhh, I have been there, done, that. NC, my son virtually grew up watching this, not good. I am fortunate that he is a level headed kid, and very respectful. He pointed out to me, 'why do we continue to try to help my sisters, when they have no respect?"
    Stepping back, and looking at your relationship with your adult children, is important. Especially, for your young child, because she is watching and learning from your responses. I know she loves her niece, and you can help her with that, too.
    Learning to break free of relationship patterns is hard. I am not saying break free of the relationship, but, there are patterns that develop along the way. Taking a long hard look at our reactions, their actions, is helpful. The only thing we have control of, is ourselves. This way, we look inward, and see if there are changes we need to make. If you are dissatisfied with the dynamics of the relationship with your older daughters, the only control you have, is, what you do about it.
    It is a very emotional time, when drama is high. It is always a good idea, to slow way down and take some time to really think on things. Posting helps too, I see that you have posted in FOO- that is awesome. It helps me to post too, I am reviewing things in my life and mind as I post.
    Thank you for being here and sharing, NC.

    This is entirely up to you, girl. If you are asking the question, you may have some doubts. Think it through. On the one hand, it would be good to get away, on the other hand, if it is going to cause you grief and regret.........

    Things will be okay NC. You are not alone with this. Young adults are so different, family relationships are different.
    That Norman Rockwell painting of the perfect holiday dinner has changed in these times.
    It is what we make of it, that counts. Focus on that precious girl of yours, she is your main priority. You have done your raising of your adult children, the best you can. That is what I tell mine,
    "I did the best I could, I made mistakes, I apologize for the mistakes I made, but there is no re-do button. The life you choose now, is your own. Concentrate on doing your best job, with your children. God bless you!"

    You are not alone, dear.
    Stay with us and keep sharing, it really, really helps.
    So sorry for your aching heart.

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  6. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome NC,
    I'm sorry for the heartache you are experiencing.

    What a very loving thing you did to offer a family vacation. Your heart was in the right place.

    When I had my son, my mother taught me that it was up to me how I was going to raise him, feed him, clothe him, etc...
    She said if I asked for advice she would give it but only if I asked. I respected her for that especially when my mother in-law would tell me what I should and shouldn't do (and it's her step grandson).

    I now have three beautiful grands that I adore. I do not agree with quite a few things their mom does (my ex-daughter in law, but we are still very close) My grands eat a lot of junky type food that I would never buy but that's me. She is a good mother and that is where I leave it. I'm sure she will make mistakes just as I did, but they are her mistakes to make and learn from. I think because I keep my opinions to myself she is more apt to ask for my advice.

    This is a tough one for sure. Bottom line, what your adult daughter chooses to allow her children to eat is her business and what you allow your youngest daughter to eat is yours. For the most part I probably would have just let it go since you were all on vacation and reminded the youngest daughter that once we get home we are going back to our normal healthy eating habits.

    The only thing I can suggest is to step back and give everyone some breathing room and it sounds like you are doing just that by getting away for those few days.
  7. Acacia

    Acacia New Member

    I feel disrespected and very, very small. To say I feel unimportant is an understatement.
    Am I making the right decision?

    Whatever you do is okay, but what I hear is that you don't want to keep being treated this way. The hard fact is that unhealthy and unkind family members are guaranteed to be angry if you set healthy boundaries and take care of yourself. The truth is that until you give yourself the love and care you deserve, they will continue to act as they have. It was scary for me to set boundaries. I felt selfish, and guilty, and like a bad mom, but I am learning, and even though I sometimes feel bad in the moment, that ultimately I am doing the right thing, and I am sending the message that I matter. I try to remember to say what I mean, but to not say it mean.
    Sending good energy your way.

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  8. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Very, very good point Acacia. Yes, we do matter. I think that in raising our kids, we learned to sacrifice our time and energy for them. So, as we continued that practice through the tough teen years, and for some of us, on into when our kids became adults, they expected the same thing.

    We have value and we do matter. It is not selfish, or self centered, to properly care for ourselves, to set boundaries, to expect respect.

  9. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    We can expect respect its no problem but it does not mean we will get it. We can not control other people and there are some really stubborn people that hate being told what to do and I mean hate with the actual meaning of that thing for them advice and or telling what to do is the same thing I have my share of such people and the best thing to do is first you can decide is it worth having a relation with them knowing their flaws.
    If you decide its worth it well you have to work avoid certain things like do not go against their opinion or try to give advice especially that implies that their doing something bad. Pretty much like you mother OP.
    This what I do with my fair share of people who are like that of course the good things in the relationship are worth the bad things. Its better to have a conflict free relationship then one full of conflict.
    My opinion here.
  10. JMom

    JMom Member

    NC, welcome and I feel your pain in your post. I hope you made it through the holidays o.k.

    In my opinion, the decision you made to keep your pre-arranged plans with your husband and daughter was a good thing. I agree with the others, that your daughters are grown, so focusing on your youngest is most important.

    It might feel good to free yourself from their control. Enjoy yourself, it's one Christmas :0). ♡, JM
  11. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    HI NC Momma.

    Only you know what the right decision is. It sounds to me like your youngest would be hurt more by an estrangement, even a temporary one, than by just taking a step back emotionally. It sounds to me like everyone feels like their boundaries and their roles are not being respected.

    It was such a nice thing for you to do, NC Momma, taking everyone to a national park in the RV to build some memories. I hope you all had a wonderful time, though I'm sure that with everyone in close proximity it was probably difficult not to get under each other's skin a bit. And I agree with Tanya and SWOT; although you have the responsibility for the health of your youngest, your daughter has the responsibility for the health of her own children, and I think her interpreting your request as criticism in an already tense situation blew everything out of proportion. I am glad your son-in-law called to apologize. The whole scenario sounds so horribly disappointing.

    If it were me, I would try to do something a little less dramatic than a separation. But it is not me, so you must do whatever you feel is best for you and your family.