Do Selfish people change?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-04-2010
Do Selfish people change?
Tue, 09-06-2011 - 11:07pm


At the beginning of this year my MIL tells us that its a big birthday and she would like to take us all on a holiday. Of course no one in the family can commit to the week she wants to go so we ditch her idea.

For the record, she never ever does anything for us, never cooks for us ( her son, me and my


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2011
Wed, 09-07-2011 - 4:25am

I don't think she sounds selfish, so much as majorly playing favorites between her children.

Avatar for lizmvr
Community Leader
Registered: 06-06-2001
Wed, 09-07-2011 - 4:32pm

I have to agree with the other responder that based on your post regarding her lack of wanting to visit a resort with you and your family for the last week of your three week vacation, she doesn't really sound selfish.

"Of course no one in the family can commit to the week she wants to go so we ditch her idea."

Maybe she's hurt that you all ditched her idea.


Clinical Research Associate


Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Wed, 09-07-2011 - 7:45pm
I'm sure there are other things that your MIL has done to upset you in the past but like the other posters, not joining you on a trip doesn't seem really bad. It's been years since my Mom cooked for us and I run around like an chicken with my head cut off doing stuff for her. She is totally self centred but she wasn't as bad when she was younger. This selfishness has increased as she aged & I have noticed it with others as they become focused on themselves & their aging. My Mom has traveled a lot in her life but she won't take a trip like you proposed on her own. Traveling alone is frighting esp again as you age. Also, if she has had little to do with your kids then how would she interact for a full week. My Mom tells everyone how much her grandkids adore her. Truthfully, she frustrates them and 90% of what they do for her is to give me a break. They would never want to spend a wk of vacation time with her.

How was your MIL's big birthday celebrated since you were all too busy to go on the trip she wanted? Did something special happen or did it just pass by? Again she might be upset that her plans fell through. Sounds like she did want to include you in that birthday celebration and that she wanted to pay for it. That doesn't sound so terrible of her.

I don't understand how grandparents or parents can ignore their children or grandkids. It's sad & I'm sorry for your kids & DH.

Can you not suggest to your husband that he offer to pick up the mail from your MIL so that you don't have to deal with her?

Good luck, Dee
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Thu, 09-08-2011 - 10:46am

Forgive my jumping into the discussion without a proper introduction to the board - I was a regular here years ago, but I wandered away. I hope y'all don't mind my dropping back in without knocking, like waking up to find that college kid you haven't seen in months is downstairs doing laundry.

Anyway my dear sultanofswing, I think that most times, when a parent shows this sort of favoritism to one grown child and their offspring over another child, it's because the parent perceives one of those children to need more help in life than the other --- or it's because one of those children has lived closer and kept Mom in their life, by design or by accident, more than the other more independent child. Could these be the case?

I also think it's a difficult transition for most adult children -(1)


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Thu, 09-08-2011 - 12:04pm
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!!


Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 09-08-2011 - 3:10pm

In answer to your first question, selfish people CAN change but it probably doesn't happen very often. They would need to feel that the change will benefit them more than the old behavior. That's pretty much true of most people and most situations though, you don't change your eating or exercise habits unless you're convinced that the change will result in some improvement that you'll like more than eating cookies...just to say that its not just for "selfish people".

As for your MIL and the proposed vacation, I'm with the others that her declining the invitation doesn't necessarily sound selfish. My first thought is that a cruise and a resort are pretty different and not necessarily interchangable. My dh might do a resort vacation but you won't get him on a cruise ship. So someone could enjoy one but not the other. And as someone else mentioned, the logistics of MIL traveling alone to the resort may be intimidating to her. I see how you feel that you've made a generous offer but if its not something that she would enjoy then it will be hard for her to appreciate it beyond the gesture. It reminds me (on a different scale) of gifts that I have received from my SIL over the years, things that I would never use. I tried to appreciate that she thought of me but OTOH I couldn't help thinking that she didn't really consider my preferences or style etc. when choosing these gifts.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Thu, 09-08-2011 - 4:18pm
Great post.

(hope you and yours are doing well!)


Avatar for cfk_3
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-1999
Thu, 09-08-2011 - 5:13pm
Fist of all, I think everyone is capable of change, but they have to want it and it takes a lot of hard work & dedication. Have you thought about talking to her about these issues? She may have no idea how you are perceiving her actions. I wouldn't take her passing on the resort, personally. People are so in their own heads these days, it seems. There are probably a myriad of reasons why this location doesn't suit her and I'm sure it has nothing to do with you or your children. You know, you could have taken the opportunity when she declined to say something along the lines of: "Well, that's a shame because I thought it would be a great opportunity for you to spend some QT with insert kids names here." I don't know if I would call it selfishness, but I know I don't always get peoples true intent. I read in a book recently where, in some Asian cultures, it's considered rude to come right out and say something. They have to work around the point of the conversation, only hinting at what it is they are trying to convey. I am blunt so if someone isn't blunt with me, I don't always get it. Am I making sense or just rambling? I also find it odd that she doesn't invite you guys over, ever. Not even on holidays? I am not making excuses for her, but is she not a very maternal person? I know women who are missing this instinct. Could you write her a very carefully worded letter expressing how you feel? Making sure, of course, that it comes across very lovingly and not accusatory?
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Sun, 09-11-2011 - 3:46pm

Hi, no offence but I think you´re not seeing things objectively. I don´t know the whole story but from what is said here....

She previously invited you to a cruise and you ditcher her. I assume that if you have that right, she does have that right as well. Not sure what reasons she gave you for not going, as you had your reasons for not accepting her invitation. We can´t force situations among people and relatives.

About being more close to one son or another, mothers are not perfect, and can feel more comfortable with some kids than with others.

You´re not a small kid that needs someone to cook for you or needs to be resentful of what others get from her and not you. That only makes your life miserable.

It´s up to you what you make of your life and your relationship with her.

Sorry, but things here sound for me

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004
Sun, 09-11-2011 - 4:57pm
I have trouble seeing her saying "no" to the vacation as being selfish, too. Though I do think it was nice of you to offer. As my kids grew up, they were always #2 to my husband's brother's kids. When they were grown, they had little to do with her and THEN she whined that she suddenly wanted them in her life. Too bad. So sad...too late!

We may wish we had parents who treated everybody equally, but in reality, it doesn't always work out that way. Yes, selfish people can change, but only if they want to.

If you don't want to be there when she comes to drop off her mail, you don't have to answer the door. You can say you didn't hear the doorbell if she complains. If you do invite her in, then it's up to you to be as polite a hostess to her as you would to any other drop-in visitor. If you'd make coffee for your next door neighbor, then make her coffee. Nobody is pushing you to make coffee. But, frankly, a little coffee and a few minute's chat isn't costing you all that much.

As for your nearly-grown children. They're going to make their own decisions about their grandma relationship now they're grown and grandma will reap what she has sown with them.