Difficult Relationship with My Mother

Updated on June 09, 2018
D.L. asks from San Francisco, CA
25 answers

I am 31 wks pregnant and also have a 7 yo. My husband and I are both working full time jobs, but I will be in maternity leave soon. Because of our working hours I had to ask my mother to go and pick up my son from school in the after-noon (around 4 pm). I get home around 6.30 pm so this means she has to stay with him for 2 h more or less. My mother has always been short of temper, very stubborn and nowadays her behaviour and her complaints are becoming really hurtful. She complains about the fact that she has to take my son from school every day. She has only 3 months until retirement, is in her early 60s, pretty much healthy and lives alone since I moved in with my dh 10 years ago. She makes such a dramatic scene each time I came home from work. She starts attacking me, telling me that I have a lousy job, that they don't pay me enough, that I am not taking care of my son and am a bad mother, all of this in front of my son. It becomes a permanent struggle. She also isn't happy about the baby on the way...she keeps telling me she won't take another child from daycare. I told her on many occasions that if she wants to help I will be very happy, but if not, I will have to look for an alternative solution. But she keeps complaining about me and putting a lot of stress on me now. She says I won't manage financially with 2 kids, that I cannot aford a nanny, that I won't make it without her help, but in the meantime tells me she doesn't want to help. I really cannot understand and I feel hurt and dissapointed about her attitude. I am pregnant and could use a kind word from her. Every time we meet I hear: "I don't want to help with the new baby, I don't like babies", "I won't take your son from school and I don't see how you are going to manage". She knows I had preeclampsia with first pregnancy and that I might develop it again now, but she keep this hurtful attitude. When I try to tell her my point of view she starts yelling and calling me names: lazy, ungrateful...It's basically her talk, tak all the time, because as she says she is the mother and I have to "shut up" and listen to her. I so dissapointed about all of this, any advice, please?

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Featured Answers

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Hire someone else, problem solved. If you want the free help it comes with a side of guilt apparently so find someone else to do it.

5 moms found this helpful

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

D.

Welcome to mamapedia.

Sorry - you asked her to help. She said yes. You are both complicit in this situation. You need to care for YOUR children. It's not her job. Just because she's a grandparent, does NOT mean it's her duty or obligation.

YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND need to come up with a plan to care for your children.

If she is going to continue her verbal tirades? Ask someone else to do it. You might have to pay someone else to do it. Then tell your mom "Thank you for helping out when we needed it. You no longer have to pick Tommy up from day care."

Then you need to start removing her from your life. She's angry. At you? I don't know. Maybe she was going to be "something" and she got pregnant with you at a time when women had to stay home in order to have children. I don't know. It doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is your mom is toxic to you and your family. She says demeaning things about you in front of your child. that's NOT good.

Stop trying to tell her your point of view. Thank her for picking your son up. And leave it at that.

Get another person to pick up your son. Whether you have to pay them or not. Stop the insanity.

17 moms found this helpful
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M.6.

answers from New York on

Why do so many adult children expect their mothers to step in and pick up the slack - especially in the daycare arena? Your mother is months away from retirement, has paid her dues raising kids already, but not only are you expecting her to fill in the gaps where you and your husband are lacking, you decided it was a great idea to have ANOTHER baby and also expect her to pick up your slack on that one, too.

If I was your mother, I'd be resentful and pissed off as well. Find a baby sitter on your own AND PAY FOR IT. You've been taking advantage of this poor woman for years, I am assuming not paying her a dime (which is why she probably believes you can't afford daycare on your own). Let her be a gramma and stop treating her like unpaid hired help.

Oh, this sounds EXACTLY like a post from about a month ago . . .

14 moms found this helpful

T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Maybe I am reading things differently but it sounds to my like you expect her help with a big smile on her face happy to step in and help you whenever needed. You need to work on communication and mutual respect of each other.

You do not "have" to ask/tell her to help . You chose to ask/tell her what to do. This is your family and you should be making proper arrangements for your children, not feeling like your mom owes you. She owes you nothing..

We have always lived a plane ticket away from family and when we needed help, we utilized the help from a babysitter or nanny service. I would never expect my mom to step in every time I needed help. I am a big girl with a family and it is my job to figure out what is best for my family.

I believe you expect to much from your mother . She is nearing retirement which does NOT mean she should be at your beck and call. She raised her family and is done. You are raising your family now so you and hubby need to figure out the best way for YOU to help your family and stop feeling like mom "owes" you her time.

She has every right to be as involved as much as she wants with her grandchildren to foster those relationships but she does not "owe you. You are expecting her for FREE childcare and transportation up to 3 hours a day. That is not fair to her.

If my daughter acted like she was entitled to call me every time she needed a sitter or something, I would be resentful as well.

Try to be respectful of her, she raised a family, she is reaching retirement which should be something she looks forward to and not being turned into free childcare. She paid her dues, allow her to have a relationship with no strings with her grandchildren. It is OK is she chooses not to raise children again.

13 moms found this helpful
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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Why do you continue with this arrangement? She doesn't want to care for your children. Hire childcare. Problem solved.

13 moms found this helpful

D.D.

answers from Boston on

To be clear, you didn't have to ask her to pick up your son. You decided to ask her because its free help. The cost of this free help is that nobody is happy.

She's a grandma who doesn't want to pick up her grandson every single day after school. You need to put him in an after school program and stop making her watch him. If she isn't at your house every single day she won't be there to say mean things.

I work full time and watch my two youngest granddaughters 20-25 hrs a week. My choice to do so and I enjoy it. The other grandma? Doesn't babysit at all and sees them twice a month for a couple hours. If she was in my position she'd be miserable. Miserable like your mom is.

12 moms found this helpful
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C.C.

answers from New York on

"I told her on many occasions that if she wants to help I will be very happy, but if not, I will have to look for an alternative solution."

I can just imagine someone saying that in a very "I'm right, you're wrong" way, while secretly hoping your mom will shut up.

STOP. Find your "alternative solution" NOW and USE IT.

12 moms found this helpful
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S.B.

answers from Houston on

You can stop this quickly. Hire someone to pick up your 7 year old. Tell mom thank you so much for her help and how much you appreciate it. Tell her that she is right and that its time for her to enjoy being the grandmom and retirement. Tell her that its time to enjoy her freedom.

If she asks what arrangements you have made say "Mom, don't worry, we have this covered. We love you and thank you for your help".

You want to feel disappointed? That is on you. She has told you time and again she doesn't want to do this anymore. You are the one who isn't listening. You can tell her your point of view all you want. She doesn't care what your point of view is. She has raised kids and now she is done.

You are the Mom now. Put your big girl pants on and you and your husband figure this out.

FYI- We never lived near family. I went to college after my youngest started school and my husband traveled all the time. I can't tell you how many times I had to take my kids to school with me. You do what you have to do to make it work. Its just that simple.

12 moms found this helpful

D.B.

answers from Boston on

It’s awful when family members disappoint us. You’re kind of stuck with them, but you don’t want to be.

So let’s list your mother’s qualifications:
Short-tempered
High drama
Bitter
Highly critical of her employer (you)
Stubborn
Hates her job
Critical of things that have nothing to do with childcare (your salary)
Dismissive of children and uninterested in their emotional wellbeing
Emotionally abusive to you (failure, bad mother), and in front of a child.
Name-caller
More interested in being right than in working out any disagreements

Now, write a job description for a child care provider. Which of those adjectives would be on your list? Zero.

So, why is she in charge of child care? You have to love your son enough to stop this, and you have to stop trying to change your mother. She has shown you who she is, and it’s time for you to believe her.

Stop trying to change her. Stop trying to get her to be the mother you want her to be. And certainly stop trying to get her to be the grandmother you want her to be. You’re an adult and you can manage her rants and not take them personally. But your son cannot.

I’m sorry you had preeclampsia. I hope you don’t get it again. But none of that has anything to do with your mother – she didn’t cause it and it she won’t be responsible if it if happens again.

So hire a sitter. Call a local college and find someone majoring in early childhood ed or just someone who is compassionate and fun and with a driver’s license. Call Care.com. Ask neighbors about a responsible teen with a license, or call the guidance office (quickly, before school is done for the year). Can’t afford it? Barter for other services, like babysitting on Saturday nights or yard work by your husband. Sell some stuff you own but don’t use. Take in a student boarder in exchange for child care. Anything.

Don’t engage in drama with your mother. Tell her, “Mom, I have listened to you carefully, and I agree, you are right. This is not a job for you. It’s up to me and hubby to handle this. Starting Monday, we are doing it. Thank you for all you have done but we are done imposing on you. Your job is done.” If she asks what you are doing or who’s handling it, say, “Don’t give it another thought. Take care of yourself and your own job and your own life.” If she persists, just say the same thing again, “We’re all set, thanks. We listened to you, and you’re right.” Don’t go on and on about how she’s hurtful or disappointing, about how you had preeclampsia, etc. and don't discuss your salary ever again or anything else related to parenting. If you have to disarm her, say, “Mom, you raised me, and you did a good job. I can handle this.” If she asks what will happen when the baby comes, say, “Don’t give it another thought. I’ve got this.”

You just don’t have to go to every fight you’re invited to. She’s not a good mom to you. She’s not a good grandma to your son. Stop pretending that there’s something magical about “Grandma” that makes her a good choice for childrearing.

11 moms found this helpful

E.J.

answers from Chicago on

Childcare is an issue that you and your husband have to solve, not your mother. It’s nice that she helps out, but these are your children, not hers.

I find it pretty selfish that you EXPECT her to help out because you and your husband cannot come up with a better plan. I would be resentful towards you also. She is not retiring so that she can take care of your new baby and 7 year old. Let her just be a grandmother and not a forced caregiver.

You and your husband need to have a discussion regarding jobs, careers, cost of living and childcare. Figure out what works for your family. You are not entitled to childcare from family members.

Don’t let your sense of entitlement ruin your children’s relationship with their grandmother.

11 moms found this helpful
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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

Your mom says the same things over and over, so take her seriously when she says she doesn't want to continue to be your childcare person, regardless of the comments about your personal abilities. You can't change the way she feels or thinks, but you are entirely in control of what you do and react.

Find that alternate solution for the care of your child/ren right away. It won't solve the full scope of issues, but will take away an apparent cause of your mother's resentment as well as remove the daily opportunity to gripe at you. She may find other things to complain about but you can handle those issues if/when they come.

11 moms found this helpful
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N.K.

answers from Miami on

"She knows I had preeclampsia with first pregnancy and that I might develop it again now,"

And you knew she had a short temper, is difficult, yet you not only forced her into watching one child, but knowing her attitude on the whole thing, you decided to go ahead and get pregnant again and (I assume) hope to force that child on her too. If you cannot afford childcare for your first child (and had preeclampsia issues), you really should not have had a second child, neither of those things are her fault. She obviously isn't interested in providing free babysitting, so relieve her of her duty and pony up for an aftercare or a nanny. As to being upset that your son is hearing her groaning, again, this is on YOU, for forcing her into this, even when she showed displeasure, you still forced her into it, and when she berated you in front of your child, you did nothing to put an end to this arrangement. At that point, I would have ended the arrangement so my son and I can have some peace.

If you don't want the bitching to continue and your son exposed to this, again, it's a no-brainer that you need to find suitable arrangements. You BOTH have fault in this. You ignored her pleas of wanting to be left alone to enjoy her upcoming retirement for the sake of your own convenience in not spending on care. Maybe she agreed only because she thought this would be a temporary thing and it has gone longer than she cares at this point. I don't know how long she has been taking care of your child so I cannot say why she is now getting fed up. You don't seem to pick up on social cues, and she has been quite blunt though. What is it going to take before you say, "Thanks for helping me out up to this point, but little Johnny will be going to aftercare from now on"? She is done raising kids and has basically told you so with her words and actions.

When she started showing attitude, you should have nipped this in the bud. No one likes being forced or guilted into doing something they don't want to do, and some people enjoy their quiet and independence, especially older folks who may be tired and no longer have the energy or desire to raise kids all over again. Everyone has their limit and she has reached hers, so respect the boundary. Thank her, you saved money while it lasted, call the school or local parks and inquire about childcare and costs. Do this before the resentment keeps growing and you end up hating each other and cutting off all contact.

11 moms found this helpful
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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Listen to what she is telling you again and again - she doesn't want to do this. It's time to hire help, and give her freedom back to her and give peace of mind to yourself. Give her what she wants - find your alternative solution, put it in place, and then tell her "Mom, thanks for all your help. Starting Monday, I have other arrangements for Joey after school so you don't have to do this anymore."

If she protests, keep repeating yourself "Mom, I appreciated your help, but we have other plans now." Don't get into a conversation about how much it costs or anything like that. Just say thanks and move on. She might become less abusive once she doesn't feel like you are taking advantage of her. If so, you can invite her to dinner in a week or so. If she keeps saying terrible things, then limit your and your kids' time with her.

10 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

A lot of people don't have family near them to help with anything.
What they do is they arrange for after school care and then pick their kids up from there.
Our son had an after school taekwondo place that picked him up from school.
They did homework, had taekwondo class and then could play some video games until parents could pick them up.
Simply make other arrangements for your son, get some daycare in place for the baby when you go back to work after your maternity leave is up.
Thank your mom for the help she's provided till now then tell her you are all set and you don't need her help anymore.

She raised her kids and she's done.
What ever she does with her retirement is her business - and how ever you provide care for your kids is your business.
Everybody stay out of everyone else s business.

You need to start managing your relationship with your mother.
Take some time off from talking to her and then meet her for coffee sometime.
She probably won't start yelling at you in a public place - and if she does then she only makes a fool of herself - and then you just walk away.

10 moms found this helpful
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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Why do you have her doing this? Get a sitter. Get after school care. Get daycare help. Don't ask your Mom. Just find other help. She doesn't want to. She feels she is being taken advantage of. Just let her be grandma on her own terms. It's not how you want her to act, but this how it is.

10 moms found this helpful
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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

D.,

I have sat on your question all day and mulled it over and thought about it and every time I just kept getting mad. Mad at you. Yes. You read that right. YOU.

You FEEL your mom is supposed to take care of her grandson, WHY?
You HAD preeclampsia so you MIGHT get it now? Um. No. It doesn't work like that.
YOU know your mom has a short temper, yet you still asked her to do something for you. WHY?

While you asked and your mom agreed? You are BOTH in need of communication skills.
You are putting your son in an untenable situation of defending YOU against his grandmother. That is SOOOO unacceptable.

Where is your husband in all of this? Why can't HE pick up HIS SON from school?
WHY do you feel entitled to free services from your mother?
Your mom wants you to take care of your son. I see her point. I know nothing of your financial situation nor of your parenting abilities. However, I do see that you expect your mom to care for your children (this how I read it) at no cost to you. Like because she's the grandmother she's SUPPOSED to just jump in and do it. No. It doesn't work that way.

You and your husband need to get your act together. If you cannot afford a sitter NOW? How can you afford one after the baby is born? Newborn care, up to 2 years, is EXPENSIVE! Like $700 a WEEK for day day care. That's a mortgage payment a month!!! If you are expecting your mom to do it after the baby comes because she's "months away from retirement"??? You've got another thing coming. I would be LIVID if my children expected me to care for their children without any compensation.

You and your husband MUST sit down and look at your lives realistically. If you can't afford to pay a babysitter but can't live on one income alone? you need to re-evaluate your lives, jobs and future. You're having another baby. Babies are NOT cheap. If you still plan on working after the baby is born? You need to find a babysitter, nanny, caregiver NOW. Do NOT EVER expect your mom to do it because she's retiring and their grandmother.

You need to tell your mom to stop bad-mouthing you in front of your son.
You need to tell your mom thank you for picking Johnny up from school, you really appreciate, but you've found someone else now and all is well.
You need to stop expecting your mom to do for you. You're a grown adult now. You need to take care of your family yourself. My husband was deployed MANY TIMES over our 25 years and there were times we lived in places where FAMILY wasn't around. Yes, other military members but NOT family. And the other military members didn't watch my kids for "free". We traded days and times and sometimes paid.

I realize you are pregnant and emotional. I know you will read this as my being mean. Please take a step back and READ my response from someone else's point of view and LEARN from it. Listen to the other ladies who have responded here and really take their words to heart.

10 moms found this helpful

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Your mother doesn't want to help you will your children, and although it would be nice if she did, it isn't her responsibility.
I suggest you look for another mom to pick up your son each day, and of course pay her for her time.

10 moms found this helpful
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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

It’s like this: she raised her kids and she doesn’t want to raise yours. Get a nanny or hire someone to get your son from school and keep him for the 2 hours. It’s not your mother’s job.
If you do the math, you may discover that you’ll make out better if you stay home for a few years. Whatever - just figure out a way to get your mother off the hook.

9 moms found this helpful
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M.G.

answers from Portland on

She clearly does not want to help.

I'm sorry.

She is telling you this, and is upset she has been put in this position. She obviously feels she has to help you - and must feel trapped I suppose. She clearly does not want to help out with your baby either.

Some grandmothers do not want to.

It's unfortunate that she can not find a better way to communicate this to you.

When you made the original arrangements, this should have been discussed. Were you in a situation where you could make alternate arrangements? Can you afford alternate care?

I would find alternate arrangements pronto. This isn't a healthy environment for your son, nor will it be for your baby, and it's not good for you (nor your mom). It just isn't working out.

I think a little distance would be a good thing. Sometimes seeing a family member daily is too much. Some relationships cannot handle this kind of interaction. Limited contact is better.

I don't know what your relationship was like before this arrangement. Boundaries are a good thing and respect. Maybe you never had that with your mother. You don't have to take her insulting you, especially not in front of your child. I would just shut that down right away and say "Not now" and talk to her - say "I will not have you insult me in front of my son.

But you need to find new childcare. In the long run, you will all be happier. This comes up here from time to time, you're not the first mom where this hasn't worked out. It doesn't for all families. Sorry :( work on just having her be a grandmother in a way that works for her and you. Boundaries though - a must.

9 moms found this helpful

T.D.

answers from New York on

honestly i would hire a sitter to help out with the pickup and 2 hours. or see if a classmates mom is available to take your son home with her and watch him till you can pick him up from her house. you would need to pay the mom if you go that route.
once you replace your mom you can only talk to her when you feel the need. but she sounds like she does not want to be a part of your family and does not need to be around your child if she is going to say toxic things about you in front of him.
when baby comes things will change. maybe after maternity leave you could ask your employer for a change in hours or even some work at home time?

7 moms found this helpful

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

arrange for after school care for your son. it's very common among working parents. if your school can't keep him that long, ask them for referrals.
khairete
S.

4 moms found this helpful

C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I would stop using mom for any child care from now on. Use an after school program or hire someone to watch him. You can check on care.com or start asking around to find a nice part time babysitter who can pick him up. Sometimes moms or high school students or college students or someone going to grad school will watch 1 or 2 other kids part time for a little extra cash. Start asking your friends and neighbors. You will be so much happier. You won't have to hear any of your mom's drama.

4 moms found this helpful
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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

Ask your mom to lunch, just the two of you. Let her know it's a thank you for all that she has done for you. Let her know that you appreciate her very much!

Tell her that you would like her to take some time to think about what she would like. If she wants a complete break from watching your kids, let her know that that is ok. Maybe it's what she needs for awhile. If that's the case, let her know that if she ever changes her mind, you will absolutely work something out.

If she decides that she would like to watch them 1 or 2 days a week, let her know that you are grateful for that and will make that happen.

You can find daycare for your baby and afterschool care for your son. If your mom wants 1 or 2 days, you can look for a nanny to work a few days a week. Begin exploring options today!

Also, consider the possibility of being a SAHM for a couple of years. Or see if there is a way for you to begin working part time (not an option in many jobs, but definitely worth looking into). Both of those options do mean less income for your family, but they would also reduce the childcare expenses. It's definitely worth considering both of these options along with childcare possibilities.

3 moms found this helpful
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L.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

oh, you have a mother who can help? lucky you. and your son is 7? so you avoided 7 years of paying for daycare? count your blessings! put him in afterschool care. at 7 it is pretty cheap. some centers pick up the kids from school. in los angeles i would pay about $150 a week for this. or pay the school to put him in on site daycare. i guarantee there is a waiting list. your mom is mean and doesnt want to help with the baby? dont let her. your baby will end up dead from neglect. you cannot afford infant care. in your area it is 3,000 a month for full time care. get a loan, use your credit cards, or quit. your babies are counting on you.

1 mom found this helpful
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A.F.

answers from McAllen on

She is a narcissist. Nothing will change. Dump her and m