Author Topic: Coping With Rude Family Members  (Read 9833 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

AlterEgo

  • Guest
Coping With Rude Family Members
« on: April 07, 2011, 11:28:47 PM »
(Before I start, I want to let everyone know that this isn't my first post--I got a new account name in order to remain anonymous and avoid any possible hurt feelings.)

First things first: My mother is rude and toxic in a number of ways, but not to the point that I feel a cut direct is in order. She is a part of my life, and, to be honest, her life is fairly pitiable, even if she is the one who caused/causes her own problems.

Several times, I've been on the verge of starting threads to ask for advice on certain things my mother does. However, I realized each time that, because of myriad aspects of her personality, there's really no polite way "out" of her rudeness. So now I'm asking: What coping techniques do you guys have to stay polite and cheerful around a rude person you can't avoid? (Just so you know, my mother calls me almost daily, and gets very upset if there are more than a couple of days between phone calls. Again for various reasons, I can't just let her stay upset, because it would, in her case, just be a cut direct.)

MsMarjorie

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1459
  • The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 11:38:53 PM »
Firstly (((hugs))) this sounds like an extremely painful situation for you.

One technique I have heard of is to pretend that your mum is not your mum (you know, privately to yourself only), she is a family friend or aquaintance that you help out.  This is meant to de-personalize the situation for you and give you some "space".

JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6025
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 12:49:17 AM »
My mother did get on my last nerve quite a bit. And of course any attempt to have an adult conversation or suggest that my feelings might be hurt by something she did would results in HER feeling very attacked, threatened, and piling on the guilt. "After all I've done for you, how could you say that to me?"
Keeping contact infrequent and on my terms helped a lot. Yes, she complained about me not talking to her every day. When she complained on the phone, I would just hold the receiver away from my ear until she ran down, they I would say something nice like "So good to hear your voice. gotta go!"

Danika

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1917
  • I'm not speeding. I'm qualifying.
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 01:35:00 AM »
Oh, I could write a novel. Where to start...

The bottom line is that my mother is not as pathetic and broken as she likes to come across when she's trying to induce guilt. I used to fall for her shenanigans. Through years of shenanigans, I've learned that she's actually very Machiavellian and manipulative. And selfish, inconsiderate, controlling and more words that go there.

She is narcissistic and sees me as a mini version of herself. I'm not seen as an entity or separate person. Therefore, I should live my life the way she sees fit. It doesn't matter how many degrees I have or that I'm far more successful in all aspects of my life than she ever was. She is still sure that her opinions are the only ones that count and that I don't get to call any shots.

Two things helped me see what my mother was really like before I could deal with her effectively and not be miserable all the time. One was that I dated a very controlling and emotionally abusive man. My mother and he could not stand each other! And that was when I discovered that it was because she was exactly like him! I was a pawn in their struggle. The second thing was after I dumped that guy and got engaged to my wonderful DH. My mother refused to acknowledge that we were getting married because she wanted me to marry another very wealthy friend of mine so that my mother could enjoy the wealth and prestige.

Through my engagement to my husband, I saw how evil my mother and father were to both of us. I was used to being treated like dirt. I refused to allow it to happen to my husband (then fiance, of course). I had an online friend going through similar shenanigans with her own family. She recommended that I read a book called "Toxic Parents" and then another called "Emotional Blackmail." The second book really opened my eyes. Both are great books, but I used to be someone who always fell for guilt-trips. I was always the good girl doing wonderful things that I *should* do for other family members and never doing anything that would make me happy.

When I really took an honest look at all of the things my parents did not do for me, all the things that my friends' parents did for them, and then I looked at all of the things I did for my parents, that no one was expected to do for any other family members, I had a more objective view of the situation. Until then, I'd always believed my parents who told me I was ungrateful and that I was an awful person. I would bend over backwards to please them and nothing was good enough.

I stopped calling my mother just because she expected me to. I let most of her calls go to voice mail. And I just didn't call her back until it pleased me. I was living on my own. My car was mine. I paid for it and had the title. There was nothing my mother could do to me. She wasn't going to ground me or send me to my room. She had NO control over my life. There were even times my parents would show up unannounced on my doorstep thinking that they could force their way in, because I wasn't answering the phone. I could tell through the window that it was them, and I just didn't open the door. I didn't engage.

That's the biggest thing. Do not engage the crazy. All of your answers need to be short. I would write (like I am doing here) tons of well thought out and logical discussion points. And my mother would reply with illogic and craziness. I finally learned that all my email replies needed to be limited to 2 sentences. Return phone calls were few and far between. As soon as she started raising her voice and lecturing me, I would interrupt and say "I'm getting off the phone now. Bye. Click." It helped that my grandmother (father's mother) is very similar to my mother and also tried the same shenanigans on me. I got a lot of practice keeping a calm and firm voice and telling them goodbye while they were busy lecturing me on what an awful person I was. I got a lot of practice at hanging up. And then the phone would ring immediately. And I would ignore it.

My mother eventually got less and less info about my life. I had to establish and enforce firm boundaries. She does not have a key to my house. No garage door code for her. I have a peephole in the front door. For the longest time, she never had my cell phone number.

Now that we've had kids, my parents are motivated to behave better because they know they won't see us or the grandkids if they don't behave. That is good for my kids, but it kind of saddens me because it is proof that they know they are crazy and they are perfectly capable of controlling themselves. I tend to only meet them in public places or with my husband around. They mind more of their manners when there are witnesses. And when my mother starts getting more and more controlling, she gets cut off. I don't tell her off. I just don't return phone calls and all communication is via email. That way, I don't have to answer all her obtrusive interrogations. I answer only the questions I'm interested in answering.

Finally, my mother likes to beat a subject to death until she gets her way. I remember once in college, she was upset about something I was going to do (nothing big, I'm sure, but like I said, she was controlling). I counted 29 times that she said "don't do it" and gave me a long lecture about it. I said "You've told me this twenty-nine times. Why do you think if you say it a 30th time, you're going to change my mind?" And she went on about how she was trying to talk sense into me, bla bla bla. So now, she says something once, I reply with my answer (which I don't even need to do because it's my life) and if she says it again I play deaf. I don't make eye contact. I don't listen. I just walk away.

I've also had to learn to anticipate the craziness. For example, I would visit my parents and park on their driveway. Normal, right? But when my mother was inevitably extremely rude (as opposed to the numerous slightly rude remarks that I would just ignore), I would walk out to leave. My mother would stand behind my car so that I couldn't leave. I learned to parallel park in front of their house instead of on the driveway so that I could pull out if I wanted to. My mother would freak out "Why aren't you parking on our driveway!!!" like I was crazy not to do that and as if it's a huge transgression to park on the street. I learned to have cash on me if we went to a cafe. That way, if we'd ordered and she got rude, I could put the money down on the table that I owed and just walk away.

Good luck!

AlterEgo

  • Guest
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 02:14:00 AM »

When I really took an honest look at all of the things my parents did not do for me, all the things that my friends' parents did for them, and then I looked at all of the things I did for my parents, that no one was expected to do for any other family members, I had a more objective view of the situation. Until then, I'd always believed my parents who told me I was ungrateful and that I was an awful person. I would bend over backwards to please them and nothing was good enough.


A similar realization is actually what's motivating me to try to learn to deal with the crazy. I lived with my parents for 22 years, mostly because my mom was very, very controlling. For example, she wouldn't let me get my driver's license, which meant that I couldn't have a job, which meant that I couldn't afford to get my driver's license, etc. It is only now, after having been married and out of the house for a few years, that I'm starting to realize how abnormal and screwed up my childhood was. I'd just assumed that everyone's family was the way mine was, you know? It's only after seeing that other people are able to have relationships with their parents based on mutual respect, that made me realize such a relationship with my own was impossible, and that I just needed to learn how to deal with the crazy.

It does help that I now refuse to sleep over in their house anymore, and always stay in a hotel. I have a brother still living at home who is an alcoholic and a drug abuser, and who has dangerous anger problems. My mother still acts as if I'm overreacting, though, and will throw in little remarks about how "she doesn't think it's necessary, but she guesses she understands. *sigh*" She'll also sometimes ask why I don't just stay at their house, and then get mad when I say it's because of my brother. She tells me that I'm just giving him what he wants when I react, and that he wouldn't actually kill me like he's threatened (and attempted) to do when in his rages.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 02:26:26 AM by AlterEgo »

Danika

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1917
  • I'm not speeding. I'm qualifying.
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 02:35:13 AM »
AlterEgo, do you find that you have anger issues, too, like your brother? And what does your DH have to say about your family?

I had always had a lot of sadness and frustration because of my family. Now that I've finally stopped giving into the crazy and have learned to just live my life, I've been immensely happier. My DH's family is dysfunctional in its own way, so he just lets me handle mine the way I want to and I let him handle his. I don't think I would have been happy married to man who came from a healthy family because he wouldn't have been able to understand what I've been through.

AlterEgo

  • Guest
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 02:56:22 AM »
AlterEgo, do you find that you have anger issues, too, like your brother? And what does your DH have to say about your family?

I had always had a lot of sadness and frustration because of my family. Now that I've finally stopped giving into the crazy and have learned to just live my life, I've been immensely happier. My DH's family is dysfunctional in its own way, so he just lets me handle mine the way I want to and I let him handle his. I don't think I would have been happy married to man who came from a healthy family because he wouldn't have been able to understand what I've been through.

No, I don't--I'm not sure anyone else in the family does (though I don't know any of my extended family very well).

My DH handles my family pretty well, though he really hates to be around them, and has only minimal discourse with my brother. One of the rude things my mother does is bring up very controversial topics, and then not. let. it. go until she's absolutely convinced that you agree with her 100%, and that's difficult for him to handle, since he usually has very different opinions from hers. For example, she's a fan of a political party known for its extreme conservatism, and a visit with her will go like this:

Mom (out of the blue): So, what do you think about [hot-topic political question of the moment]?
Me (knowing I don't agree with her): Oh, I'm not sure. Beandip, beandip, beandip.
Mom: What do you mean you're not sure? How can you not be sure? You don't think [opposition argument] is the stupidest thing you've ever heard?
Me: I don't know. Beandip, beandip, beandip.
Mom: What do you mean you don't know? What's not stupid about it?
Me: I'm not sure. Beandip, beandip, beandip.
Mom: (Relates extremely biased, and often factually incorrect, state of affairs) So now, don't you think [opposition] is the stupidest thing in the world?

And so on, ad nauseum, until she's either beaten you into saying that, of course, she's absolutely correct, or that she's gotten mad at you for being so rude as to not engage in the conversation. (In case you're wondering, there's no such thing as polite debate with her. If you so much as hint that there might be another opinion on a matter, she starts hounding you and pointing out all the ways you're entirely wrong, and will not ever give it up, ever.)

It looks as if everyone who's had a similar situation has just had to cut contact down to a minimum, which does make me a bit sad. She wasn't and isn't the best mother, but she did want to be. She was one of those people that came from a bad family, and wanted to make the perfect family of her own. Unfortunately, she ended up with a daughter who disappointed her most of her life, a drug addict son who regularly goes into violent rages and doesn't treat her with even basic human decency, and a husband she hates who never helps her through difficult situations. Yes, a lot of it is her own fault, but she always thought she was doing the right thing.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 03:03:45 AM by AlterEgo »

Danika

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1917
  • I'm not speeding. I'm qualifying.
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 03:49:28 AM »
Your mom sounds like my FIL with the political stuff. I don't know what weird radio stations my FIL gets his info from, but his basic premises are totally false. If the facts were right, I might agree with him, but he'll start his "logical" preaching with a false bit of information and then he'll get really worked up. At least, he doesn't ask me or my DH what we think. He just gives a monologue. I've learned to just tell myself to just sit there silently because I've also tried discussing or refuting his "facts" and it rarely works.

At least, it does sound like your mother and mine had good intentions. I've never doubted that my mother loved me. I have another friend whose mother beat him and told him all the time that he was a mistake and she wished he had never been born. I try to remind myself that my mother means well. It's very hard, but it's helpful to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. And to step back and see the situation from a distance. As is natural, I always valued my parents' opinions. Now, I see that they are just two random people on the planet Earth and their opinions are no more valuable than two random people. I could go to the grocery store and get random opinions from strangers and they might be wiser and more insightful. So I try not to measure myself by my parents' comments.

It is sad to have to keep the contact to a minimum. I've had dozens of friends ask me why I didn't just cut my parents off completely and stop talking to them. I do think that might have been easier sometimes. But I've never wanted to be the one who put the final nail into the coffin of our relationship. I didn't want to give up and blame myself for being the one who ended it. So, it's a struggle. For now, it works for me. If the relationship were to take a turn for the worse again (like it did during my engagement) I might cut them off.

It's very difficult to see the good things in my parents and say "I want to be like them in these ways: A, B, C but definitely not do D, E and F."

AlterEgo

  • Guest
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2011, 09:20:52 AM »
Thank you for your replies! It's nice to know there's someone out there going through the same thing. If you wouldn't mind, I'd love to continue this conversation in a PM, so as to keep this thread more general, and not just a list of ways I feel my mother has wronged me.

So, any more advice on ways to deal with a close family member who is rude all the time?

jibby

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2522
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 09:32:46 AM »
{{{AlterEgo}}}  I hope I'm not overstepping, but please know that although it's frequently endorsed, it's okay that you aren't giving your mom the cut direct.  DH decided, with my support, to give the cut direct to most of his immediate family and it is very, very hard.  I never blame anyone for not wanting to resort to it.

I have several extended family members who are embarassingly rude, uncouth and "victims" of their own poor choices and reckless behavior.  It's maddening.  The way I cope is through pity. For me, being grateful that I had more opportunity and, well, more effective parents,  growing up removes the anger and softens my emotions a bit.  They don't know how to change or learn and I'm not aware of any way to get through to them.  It takes a lot less effort to stay miserable and stuck, and blame others for (general) your problems, kwim?


Mel the Redcap

  • Scheming Foreign Hussy!
  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 842
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2011, 09:34:10 AM »
... She was one of those people that came from a bad family, and wanted to make the perfect family of her own. Unfortunately, she ended up with a daughter who disappointed her most of her life, ...

I'm just going to respond to this bit, and say something that I think you need to hear, OP. I apologise in advance if this stings a bit, but I promise you I don't mean to offend.

This is not your problem.

You do not need to feel guilt for disappointing your mother. It sounds as if she had impossible expectations, and even if you had managed to meet her standards it's entirely likely she would have moved the goalposts on you. (Oh, well, sure you managed that, but if you were really a good/dutiful/smart/loving daughter you would have done this and that as well, without having to be told...)

You do not owe your mother anything extra for having been a 'disappointment'. This includes visiting when you don't want to, doing things for her, agreeing with her to stay clear of arguments, anything. She is entitled to what she earns with her own behaviour - if she acts worthy of respect she's entitled to respect, if she provides a welcoming environment for visits she's entitled to get visits as your schedule and desires allow, and so on. And you do not owe her pity for sadnesses and trouble she brings on herself.

Bearing that in mind...

...is minimising contact with her to amounts and situations that don't upset and/or embarrass you such a bad idea? Would you give her as much leeway as you're trying to if she was an acquaintance? A coworker? Would you make friends with someone who was exactly like her in very way, just not related to you? Would it really be so bad to just "let her stay upset" because you drew some boundaries?

*hugs*

I guess what I'm saying is, put up with her if you want to. Look for coping strategies that don't upset her if you want to. Don't think you have to because she's your mother.
"Set aphasia to stun!"

AlterEgo

  • Guest
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 10:17:15 AM »
Thank you again for the replies! I really do appreciate you guys taking the time to help me out in what is obviously a personal situation.

Jibby, it's good to hear from others who have had an experience with the cut direct, and who know it's not an easy choice. I admire your husband for being able to take such a step, and imagine that, no matter how difficult it was, his life is a lot freer now because of it.

And Mel, you're exactly right, and I don't think I've ever had anybody actually tell me so clearly that my mother's issues aren't my problem. Most people I know in real life tend to have the bias of parent=person you owe a whole lot. (Though no one but DH knows the extent of my issues with my mom, only that she drives me insane.) It's refreshing to hear that that's not always the case, and that sometimes it is okay to move a relationship with your parents to your own terms, instead of keeping it on theirs.

That said, I think, from here on out, I'm going to take everyone's advice to heart, and stop allowing my mom to dictate the terms of the relationship. I don't think I'm ready to entirely minimize contact yet, but I am going to stop walking on eggshells around her. If she is rude, the conversation will end. If she gets upset that I've ended the conversation, she will stay upset. That in itself will help to limit contact, I think.

Lisbeth

  • I am a rock, I am an island
  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 29353
  • a/k/a KeenReader
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 10:34:03 AM »
I love my mother although she can be very manipulative and annoying.

I found that the best ways to deal with her are to keep her at arm's length, not engage her (she's crazy), and keep her out of the loop with my  lief.  If she makes obnoxious remarks, I ignore them and bean-dip.

It's not easy for me to do, but at least I don't give her ammunition to use against me.
I'm away from sanity right now...please leave a message after the beep.
NYC

araigne

  • Guest
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2011, 11:16:19 AM »
Your mom sounds like my FIL with the political stuff. I've learned to just tell myself to just sit there silently because I've also tried discussing or refuting his "facts" and it rarely works.


Ditto with my mother-in-law! I think I've finally impressed upon my husband the importance of keeping one's mouth shut and beandipping when necessary! Family visits are a lot more peaceful now. Well, that also may have something to do with us moving 500 miles away last year, and only visiting a couple of times a year!

Pamplemousse

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 112
Re: Coping With Rude Family Members
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2011, 11:31:03 AM »
AlterEgo, would it help to think of it not as the Cut Direct, but merely a Time Out?  This is what I do for myself when my own parent gets to be too much; I put them in Time Out, for as long as I need, and until I feel ready to deal with them again.

This way I still maintain contact, but I am in control of the situation.  Also, I restrict any conversation to the weather, food, movies and television.  I speak to them mostly through email, as that way I can reply when I want to, and I can take time to think about what I want to say.

If they get out of hand, or too much for me to deal with, well they have just Earned Some Time, and I will get back to them when I am ready to cope with it.