Little trust in family..

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-04-2010
Little trust in family..
12
Tue, 05-07-2013 - 10:00pm

Can anyone out there advise on what they would do in this situation? My mother recently relocated back to the city where her kids live. She was living in a different town and decided after about 10 years that she wanted to be closer to her kids. We would see her through the year, mainly at holiday times or occasionally she would come and stay with my family. Now that she is back permanently, she would like her children to be close and she tends to want to tell me things about whats going on with my siblings at all times. Like she will start the conversation with " did you know that so and so is going to this place" or " your sister is having a hard time, why dont you phone her" or " your brothers son is doing this or that". Now, I am not the sort of person that needs to know the daily details of my siblings as I have my own kids and my own friends and I work and have in-laws and basically my own life. So when I tell my mother things about my life, I feel that she is taking this opportunity to tell my siblings about me and the things that I am doing with my husband and kids. I feel that its not really any business of my siblings to know what I am doing second hand through my mother as if they really wanted to know anything about me, they would phone and ask directly or email me or suggest that we get together occasionally. This never happens. Its only through my mothers talking about us that we know about each other. 

This causes all sorts of problems as some of my family have financial constraints and may take it that we dont have any. ( due to my mother telling people what I am doing with my kids and life).I feel that my family judge me and are not very warm or friendly towards me so i dont really want to add fuel to the fire by letting them know too much about my life. I try and keep things friendly when we see them, I am happy by nature, but I find its easier not to talk too much and just see how they are going. My mother says that I dont talk to my family, but when I do, they gossip about me. So its easier to say nothing and just stay away from them, really only attending things when I have to. I've always been independant and always felt I couldn't rely on them, and I'm not about to start now. My husband and I are independant of people, rather going without things than to ask for help. 

The problem that I have is that now my mother has moved back to our city, she wants me to communicate more and is quite annoying as the types of conversations she wants to have centre about who is doing what and where everyone is at the moment, and the types of things I am focused on are my childrens lives and the work I do and my daily existance bringing up my kids and supporting my husband. I suppose I just dont want my mother or my siblings in my life all that much and as a result, I have little connection with them. I find it difficult to talk to them. I also find that when I do talk to them, I end up spending my time counselling them about what to do with situations, and listening to them. This is why they are annoyed and say I dont talk to them, because I dont tell them very many things about what is really going on in my life. 

What should I do about my mother and her banal conversations and the fact that I dont trust her ? 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Sat, 05-25-2013 - 10:50pm
Also be sure not to pass this things to the next generation, because I have caught myself nearly doing the same. Sometimes we criticize our parents but we end doing the same things they did.Be aware. Dinamics get very tuck in families and end doing the same.Be careful!
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Sat, 05-25-2013 - 10:40pm

I feel that you have just discribed my own mom and family. My mom´s conversations are always about what is going on in her kids life. ¿Are in intouch with ______? What do you know about____________? Did you know that_____is__________?. Not getting to know what is going on in her kids lives, drive her crazy. I GUESSS THIS A LACK OF BOUNDARIES AND  CONTROL ISSUES.

My siblings conversations are about what another sibling did or not do and what they said about you. I hate gossip. Breaking that vicIous dysfunctional circle has cost me a lot of effort.

I seldon talk with them. I always shut my mouth if I listen something about about anyone, and I don´t want to give them any information about my life. I know it is hard. I would love to have a conversation with them that is not centered in problems and family affairs. I guess there are a lot of things to talk about (news, world wide events, books etc)

But dinamics get very stuck in families.

I guess you can´t change your mom and you can´t change them.

I would try to teach your mom of what kid of relationship and conversatios you want to have with her. (IF THAT IS POSSIBLE)

Talk with her about news, world wide events and change her the conversation if she wants to take out information you don´t want to give her, or if she wants to hand you information you don´t want to give her.

Not sure if that will work, but that is the only advice I can give you besides my empathy.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 05-15-2013 - 12:09pm

 I believe you can still be close to your family without bragging.  My dh has two sisters who have money and a lifestyle we nor the other 2 sisters have, but they are still close to the family.  They don't brag or talk about their many trips or good jobs, but they do ask how WE are or talk about general things and the rest of us appreciate that.  I know it IS hard when one sibling has a lifestyle the others don't, but you can still talk about their lives instead and at least seem interested.  I've found it best sometimes to just let others talk without talking so much about myself.  I had money and a lifestyle in my first marriage and yes...my family didn't hold it against me and my dear sister is as poor as a church mouse.  NEVER did she hold it against me any more than I hold it against my DSILs.  If your siblings are jealous, then just don't share that much about your own life and keep the conversation about them. They'll feel closer to you for it. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 05-13-2013 - 4:46pm

I also think part of the problem is that you have expectations that your siblings should act in a certain way & when they don't, you're disappointed in them--better not to have expectations.  I don't have siblings myself (only brother died) but as I said my ex has 4 siblings (one of them lives out of state so I wouldn't expect to hear anything from her but the other 3 live in state).  Now I don't talk to them that much, although I'm still friendly with them even after the divorce.  I have to say that my kids are doing much better than the kids of the other sibs who have kids (one couple has no kids, not by choice).  I doubt my ex called his sibs to tell them that our son just made National Honor Society this year and is doing really well.  I wouldn't expect much of anything from them.  If someone has a big achievement, like high school graduation, they will come to the party & bring a gift but only one sister ever remembers to send birthday cards--that is odd to me, but they never sent their own brothers & sisters birthday cards.  They don't want to exchange birthday presents either.  I guess when you have a lot of people in the family it could get expensive, so I could see only getting the kids presents, or at least getting the kids presents before they turned 18 or soemthing like that.  the point is that my family is very different--everyone acknowledges birthdays & other special events & would make a big deal about every achievement.  If I thought that everybody should act like my own family, it would upset me that these people, who are my kids' only uncles & aunts, don't really act that supportive of them.  

So if you feel put upon that you are the only one who is inviting people over and the others don't invite you to your house, I think the solution would be for you to invite them less often.  You already know that they aren't going to invite you back, so limit inviting them to occasions where you would really like seeing them and want them over for that reason and you don't expect them to invite you back.  Frankly since you don't seem to like them that much and you say they are talking about you and not that nice, I don't understand why you would still want to invite them over.  You just have to let what your mother says go in one ear & out the other.  You don't have to agree with her & you don't have to waste time arguing with her either.  You could just say you don't want to talk about your family with her.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-04-2010
Fri, 05-10-2013 - 8:56pm

Paradigm Shifter - I dont think your condescending or chiding at all. I think you have really spent time thinking about this and what family means to you and recognising the negative influences that you simply dont care to be involved in.I am not sure what "dx'd histrionic " is but I can imagine its a lot more than just a drama queen. 

I also find that spending time worrying about what people think of me is really upsetting and unhealthy. The problem is I feel a sense of guilt because I have always been the one in the family to invite the others over for meals, special occasions, religious festivals and on the odd occasion we get invited back, but its a lot more me inviting than them. And after years and years of doing this, to try and make some type of extended family life for my children, ( ie aunts and uncles and cousins for them) my mother arrives back to town to tell me that I dont try hard enough with my siblings and that I dont talk to them and that I dont share information with any of them. They are the ones who NEVER invite us for cousins birthdays, never phone my children to praise them for the prizes they win, never congratulate them on the achievements etc etc. They are quick to find fault with me and exclude me and make fun of me but they are slow to recognise that I do things for them and when I do things, like invite them for meals or suggest picnics or happy arrangements, some of them dont talk to me whilst there.  

Its insulting. I know they have problems in their life and are dealing with health issues, but am I to be held accountable or repsonsible for it? 

I liked what you said here  -- "I'm doing things to improve myself.  I am human and make mistakes, and I accept that I am perfectly flawed like everyone else.  So before someone can point the finger at me, they'd best be sure to be perfect themselves. I strive to be better every day.  That's my truth. I don't have the time or patience to critique their lives"   

I hope you stick to that Par/Sh.. we all deserve better. 

I stopped my mother in her tracks yesterday when I invited her to join us for lunch tomorrow. She started telling me what she is doing today with the others and I said - its OK - I am not asking what else you are doing, I just need to know if your coming for lunch. I dont want to know what they are doing as I know they are doing something without me and my family and thats PERFECTLY FINE. In fact Im glad she has something to do, and that I dont HAVE TO BE THERE TOO. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Fri, 05-10-2013 - 6:43pm

BTW, SultanofSwing, I hope my comments have not come across as chiding or condescending.  The truth is that I've had the very conversation with myself many times with the help of friends that know my family and in the end I find myself to be so blasé about the whole thing now.  I just don't care enough to conjure up a defense to their crap.  I like the place I'm in.  I'm doing things to improve myself.  I am human and make mistakes, and I accept that I am perfectly flawed like everyone else.  So before someone can point the finger at me, they'd best be sure to be perfect themselves. I strive to be better every day.  That's my truth. I don't have the time or patience to critique their lives.  I'm too busy living my own.  I am so grateful I got out of that hamster wheel of backbiting with family.  It's exhausting to involve oneself in and a waste of precious time and energy to worry about.  I feel so free of that crap that I just want to pay it forward.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Fri, 05-10-2013 - 6:33pm

I also come from a family that I've had to distance myself from.  Mine is a highly disfunctional one, with one sibling displaying psychopathic tendencies and the other a dx'd histrionic.  When my mother was alive, she too would not keep secrets.  Although I was younger, I cut them all off because trust and confidentiality was and continues to be a big thing to me.  To have some of my personal issues that I emphatically asked to keep confidential by my mother shared, I learned that I could not trust and, like you, I am extremely private with my family of origin and don't have anything much to do with them (although mine is due to toxicity, I had to do it in order to save my own sanity).

I don't think that you can change your mother.  What can change is the information you share with your mother, or accept that somethings that she does share, whether she embellishes or not, are simply out of your control.  There is a lot to be said about letting go of trying to control that information.  I'm willing to bet that it isn't as bad as you imagine (what she says, or spins, to your siblings) but because you are aware of the nature of your family, you might have become hyper sensitive to anything that is shared without your control.  So you can either control what you say to your mother and let go what you think she may be spinning on top of the truth, all the while letting go of caring what your siblings may think; or you can severely limit your mother's involvement in your life so that anything she does say to your siblings is either all spin or complaints that you've distanced yourself.  In the end, you're still going to be talked about, so there's no way of stopping that. 

Personally, I think the former option is probably much healthier for you as the skill of letting go and not caring about what others think or say about you can be transferred to all relationships in your life.  It is less stressful to let go and only be responsible for your truth and your happiness than it is to try to control and cultivate the perceptions of you by others.  The best saying that I found changed my outlook on this was "what other people think about you is none of your business".  Seriously, it is a waste to care what others think about you.  You can go about life making yourself happy and loving those dear to you, or you can go about life pleasing everyone else but in the process make yourself miserable.

So what is it exactly that bothers you about being talked about by people you already know are jealous and like to gossip and libel their sibling?  You already know they are like this, and probably are amongst themselves and others, so why take it personally?  What does their opinion of you mean to you?  Why give these people that you've already limited involvement in your life any weight in your life?  In the end, why care about their opinion?  They aren't involved in the day-to-day machinations of your life, so what do they know?  If they have an opinion, why is their's important and yet those in your day-to-day life less so?  Doesn't it make sense to shrug it off and say "whatever" because those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-04-2010
Thu, 05-09-2013 - 9:22pm

Owaitress - I have spoken to my DM about her need to tell me what s going on with Siblings and gossip. She is like a telegraph pole and the minute she hears something, she is on the phone telling someone about it. 

I dont know if she puts a spin on it, but its not necessary to tell me things. I can hear about my own siblings by speaking to them directly. I know some of you are amazed that I dont share, but I think its crude to brag about what you have going on when others are not doing these sort of things. And anyway, my siblings are a jealous bunch, so its better to keep quiet about achievements, holidays and special things because quite honestly, they would rather that I was in a horrible situation than a good one. Yes, it would be great to have siblings and a mother who I felt were actually proud of me and my kids, but its the opposite, its the tall poppy syndrome. So now you understand why I dont want to share with them. If you have any good ideas about how to deal with them when I do see them, that would be great. Thanks 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Thu, 05-09-2013 - 1:31pm

  I really have nothing to add as I just agree with the other posters...that if you maybe were closer to your siblings and shared of yourself with them, then your mother wouldn't have to be the communicator.  I would LOVE to be in your shoes and live around family (I have none here), so to hear someone complain about having family around...well, I just don't quite understand.  I envy those people who live around family because I never will. Is there a reason you don't want to be close to your family?  I've always told my 4 DDs that relationships go two ways and it sounds like if you're not sharing with them, then how can they feel close to you?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 05-08-2013 - 4:53pm

"I suppose I just dont want my mother or my siblings in my life all that much and as a result, I have little connection with them."

This is key to the problem. The way your mother is behaving is pretty common; she is the conduit for the family info. Lots of people ARE interested in what the rest of the family is doing, even if they don't talk to each other very much, so having somebody that talks to all of them and disseminates info is actually appreciated. They don't consider the conversations to be banal. Like another poster said, you may not be able to tell your mother everything because she may not have a good sense of what should not be shared. 

Its another issue if you don't trust your mother, if you think she changes what your told her or spins it in such a way to get your siblings upset.

You said that you feel like your siblings judge you and gossip about you. Do you know for certain that this is the case, and how do you know that? Is it possible that you are judging them harshly? Do you call gossip what others might just call discussing? As for you "end up spending my time counselling them about what to do with situations, and listening to them.", well, listening is what you do with others when you're not doing the talking. You don't have to counsel or offer advice or suggestions; in fact sometimes what people really want is for someone to listen.

It seems like limiting the conversations with your mother to the bare minimum is the only way to keep her from having too much info. You are entitled to your privacy but you cannot control what she chooses to tell the others. If she presses for more details or complains you'll have to be strong. If she or your siblings think you're being weird or too secretive or something...well they may already think that and since you don't care what they think it doesn't really matter.

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