Tense relationships

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
you are absolutely right to say that you can't change your nan - it's your mum who has to change.

Your nan wants to be a 'child' again, with your mum being her 'mum' to look after her - yet your nan also simultaneously wants to retain the power of being a 'parent' and 'calling the shots'.

She wants your mum to look after her (ie, as if your nan were a child!), but she wants to boss your mum about as well (ie, as if your nan were the parent 'in charge').

This isn't acceptable.

I'm afraid the blunt truth is that (a) your mum needs to learn to stand up to your nan, her mum and (b) your mum will never 'make her mum happy' because whatever she does for your nan your nan will just invent something else for her to do and for her to be unhappy about.

Your nan is responsible for her own happiness. Your mum was not put into this world to pander to her.

I would say your nan has 'trained' your mum to feel guilty about her, to feel selfish if she does anything for herself.

Read again what you said about the endless phone calls - that there is 'trouble' if your mum dares to be out when her nan yanks at her chains!

Learning how to stand up to bullies (and, I'm afraid, whether she faces this or not, that is what your nan is doing now) is hard.

THE most important thing your mum has to learn is that it DOES NOT MATTER A JOT if her mother is 'displeased' or 'angry' with her.

THAT is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Your nan is controlling your mum by saying 'Don't make me angry with you!' and your mum is cowering in fear, which she is calling guilt. She's saying she feels 'guilty' for neglecting her mother, but in fact she's just scared of her. anger and displeasure.

Look, I'm going to be blunt again, but your nan can, you know, simply 'stuff off'! How dare she be such a bossy bully to your mum? It's none of her damn business if your mum goes out, let alone if she paints her nails!

Your mum is sixty (my age!) - she's not a five year old! She DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WHAT HER MOTHER WANTS.

And as for 'snapping' at her mum - good grief, I'd do a lot more than that!

Don't feel sorry for your nan - if she weren't such a bully, your mum would WANT to do more for her. Your nan has brought this on herself. She only has herself to blame.

Stand up for your mum. Stand up to your nan. Help your mum stand up to her too.

Oh, and TURN OFF THE PHONE. Let ALL your nan's calls go to voicemail. It's just her trying to bully your mum 'remotely'.

Be strong for your mum. She needs your help against her own mother.
Hi Rebecca,

I dealt with a Mum who was very similar in many ways to your Nan in her behaviour. I'm lucky enough to have my husband to support me, but I truly understand what your poor Mum is feeling from the perspective of dealing with your Nan here. I didn't lose my husband, instead it was the death of my older brother which left me floundering, trying to fill the gap he left and making me an easy victim for my Mum and also my two sisters, who forged off and had a lovely time whilst I drowned.

Suddenly everything was my responsibility. Including Mum's happiness. I was under pressure for ten years, trying to "fix things" for her. In the meantime, she was joyfully planning and taking yearly trips overseas to see one of my siblings for six or seven weeks at a time. She couldn't take a letter to the post box, but she could fly to Canada.

I got myself trapped in this situation by NOT standing up and refusing the unreasonable demands, by trying to make things "right", by allowing them all to feel that I was the one responsible for making up for their absences, and by feeling guilt tripped into putting MY life on hold whilst Mum took ten years of it from me.

My only advice is for you to do absolutely everything you can to support your Mum in saying NO.

Nan will, if allowed to, turn into a tyrant. Your Mum will be robbed of time. Your Mum has already suffered a great loss, one that I doubt she's even processed properly yet. I lost my brother ten years ago this month, and it's only now, that Mum has also died, that I'm able to grieve for him.

Your Mum deserves to have a life. Don't let her believe that Nan is allowed to take it from her. Help is available, it will always be available. It just doesn't have to be your Mum (OR YOU!!!!) that gives it.

Please please please don't let your Mum stagger on, in hope it will just change. It won't. I hated my mother for the last 3 years of her life, as her demands got more and more intense and unreasonable. I lost her years before she died, because I didn't set boundaries early enough.
A wise warning from Lo! Please do heed it!

your nan may not 'mean' to be selfish and bullying, but that is the effect on your mum. Like I say, you have a longer perspective on your nan, and her 'reach' does not include you nearly as much as it includes your mum.

So you can be the 'magnet' that pulls your mum free.

Decide between you, you and your mum, what your nan actually 'needs' and how that is to be provided, and then decide what you will do 'voluntarily' in terms of keeping company with your nan, and then say 'No more than that'. And help your mum stick to it.

The constant phone calls are the thing to tackle first. Get your mum set up with voice mail - you could even, you know, maybe have your nan's calls to your mum's phone number instantly diverted to YOUR phone maybe? I'm sure that could be done technically! Then you an listen to them first, and filter them, and relay anything back to your mum that she actually needs to know - which won't be a anything like what your nan things she does!!!!!!!