M.A. asks from Chicago, IL on January 27, 2008
What Is Your Relationship with Your Mother?
Long story short, I have a very messy/non-existent relationship with my mother. I think she has untreated depression(or possibly bi-polar disorder) that she refuses to seek help for. she has alienated everyone from her life and outside of my father(who is miserable) she has no friends or companions. Anyhow, I've worked through a lot of this in therapy and if I had it the way I wanted(and what I feel is psychologicaly healthiest for me), I would just cut most ties with her. However since I have a child, I don't feel right about doing that. I would rather my daughter learn to formulate her own opinion about her grandmother...at least I think that is what I want! I don't know! anyway, it'd be nice to hear from other women with similar issues! Thanks!
So What Happened?™
I have received so much feedback(some private, some public) to this response and I cannot thank all the moms out there who responded enough!! I have absolutely no idea how I will end up handling all this as I still need some time to process. However, the outpouring of support and advice has been amazing and I feel so less alone and more confident in making decisions moving forward. Thank you, Thank you and Thank you. Last night I was hating myself and thinking I was a horrible daugther...now, I feel a little less grim and positive that I can still be a good mother and deal with this!!
N.T. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2008
You never mentioned how old your daughter is. Or if she wants a relationship with your mother.
Dealing with someone that is bi-polar is not easy, worse if they will not allow their loved ones to guide them into getting help for themselves.
There are also many different ways the disease shows itself.
Cutting your mother out of your life and your daughter's life completely may not be the answer for anyone.
An option is that you can carefully explain what your mother is going through to your daughter, what this disease can do to themselves and their family and friends when someone does not get help. Is allowing for very limited and supervised connection with your M. a possibility?
Most of all, with the best intention, go with what works best for you. You can teach your daughter compassion for both you, your mother and strengthen your relationship.
M.E. answers from Indianapolis on February 15, 2008
I wouldn't want to subject my child to anyone with the problems your M. has. Think about how your life has been and the feelings and situations you have had to deal with growing up. Life is tough enough, don't add to the problems.
S. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2008
What does your mother have to offer your daughter. Can she offer her everything a grandma is suppose to? Like memories of making cookies, going shopping, staying at grandmas for the weekend etc.. Or with her condition will she just upset your daughter by upsetting you. It takes alot to me M., just because someone gave birth to you doesn't really mean that she earned the title "M.".
Just something to think about
K.B. answers from Indianapolis on January 28, 2008
Hi M. A ;)
This one is in Fishers but this is where I intend to put my daughter....
I heard its very good.
M.E. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2008
cut her off....simple. It's like an infection. Sometimes if you allow it, it can affect the healthier parts (i.e your child) I have similar relationship or I should say, "had" with my mother. IF your child is interested in knowing her, she can explore that as an adult when she has all the facts. I think you need to do what's right for you first. Having your child exposed to her issues is not a good thing, on any level. Believe me, I'm a teacher, a parent of a 19 month old and a new baby. I write to my M. from time-to-time but that's it. Send pictures, give updates, but do not allow a relationship. there's no point to it. Just my opinion.
M.A. answers from Chicago on January 27, 2008
Unfortunately, my own mother passed away a few years ago, when my daughter was 3 and my son not even 2, but I have/had a similar situation with my MIL, unfortunately. She IS bipolar, and I did not feel guilty limiting her time with my children at all. Some of the things she said or did were very damaging to their self-esteem, and my husband and I had many talks with her about this. As far as I know, however, she is on medication. Things have improved a little bit here, but she moved 5 hours closer to us about the same time my own mother passed away, and expected to see more of our children. I keep close tabs on the situation when we do get together. DO NOT feel guilty about your feelings. Your most important responsibility is to protect your child, emotionally as well as physically. When your child is old enough, you can explain that grandma has an illness that makes her act differently, or that makes it hard for you to get together. Young children (and older ones for that matter) have a difficult time understanding that someone else's behavior is not their fault, especially when that person is supposed to love them. The other thing is, that children sense when things are tense. You can't make a loving family relationship when there is none there, and do you really want this to be a model of a grandparent/grandchild relationship for your child?
BTW, my children seem to love my dad (who lives 6 hours away) more than my in-laws. They instinctively know that grandpa loves them unconditionally, whereas there are strings attached when it comes to "love" from their other grandparents.....
T.P. answers from Chicago on January 28, 2008
I could have written your post word for word!! I am in the EXACT same situation and have been struggling with how to include her in my 4 month old baby's life. I would prefer to have no contact with my mother at this point, but I do not want to be the 'evil daughter who does not let her see her grandson'. So I told her that whenever she wants to see the baby she can give me a call and we can work out a little visit. Other than that I have no other communication with her. I am very nice to her when she calls or comes over, but I make it a point to NEVER discuss anything personal or give her fuel to add to her fire. I do not call her or solicit her attention in any way.
I have found that the only way to maintain my own sanity is to limit the interactions I have with her. Really, at this point it has simply come down to self preservation - I need to protect myself from her manic behavior. Its unfortunate and makes me very sad, but its really the only way to be.
Best of luck and if you need to vent you can write to me!