FAMILY: Caught between my mom and my teen
Article #: 256177
My elderly mother lives with us. She has 9 grandchildren, including my daughter Shelley. She admits that she treats and feels differently toward the other grandkids, especially Vanessa who is admittedly her favorite for many reasons. She is very negative toward my daughter and constantly berates her, especially in front of the other kids. Just today she took a pair of shoes she promised my daughter and gave them to Vanessa, hurting my daughter very badly. Shelley has told me that she does not want my mother to live with us any longer but my mother's health is bad and she needs to live with someone. My other sister does not want mom to live with her and her two daughters, for fear mom will do the same to her children. The stress of our fighting is straining relations between me and my sister and is killing me.
It hurts so bad to see my daughter mistreated and I have started calling my mom on her unfair treatment of Shelley. I have Shelley seeing a therapist now who thinks that my mom needs to be removed from the home before driving Shelley to hurt herself. Social services could be brought in if I cannot get my mother to back off and stop hurting my daughter. It has become so much more than just a disagreement over my parenting and has moved us both into a very hostile place. My mother and I keep my sister's children at our home and my sister is considering removing us as caregivers because of the issues mom and I are facing with each other. I am at my wit's end and stay so stressed all the time. I need to find a way to deal with my mom and to help her realize that she is causing Shelley harm with her attitude and criticism. What do I do to help my daughter and still uphold my obligation to my aging mother? My daughter wants my mom to go away and live somewhere else... what do I do?
My goodness, I don't know whether I feel worse for you or for Shelley. What a terrible situation for you to be in, and you're so obviously trying so hard to do your best for everybody.
But, you know the old saying that "you can't please all of the people all of the time." In my opinion - and bear in mind this IS only my opinion - your first obligation is to your own daughter. With Shelley needing therapy and the pending threat of Social Services, I believe it may be time to find other accommodation for your mom.
She may admit she treats her grandchildren differently (and frankly I find that very hard to understand) but she's seemingly oblivious to the harm she's doing to your child. It seems to me that you have tried hard to fulfill your obligation to her and that does you credit, but it just isn't working. You're stressed, Shelley is very unhappy and I don't see how your mom can be happy with this situation either.
I don't know why you care for your sister's children (perhaps you need the income) but you say your mom has nine grandchildren so I assume you have other siblings. Could you have a family meeting to discuss the fact that this situation with your mother just isn't working and you ALL need to find an alternative? Do you have a husband or partner to stand with you on this?
So often it is one child (usually a daughter) who becomes the sole caregiver for an aging parent. It is seldom easy, but given the hostile place you're in now, and the fact you've called her on her treatment of Shelley without results, indicates to me that it can't go on this way.
Your mental health is beginning to suffer, Shelley's already has. Please consider taking care of yourself and your daughter first. I truly hope you can work this out to everyone's satisfaction, and I wish you the very best. Please write again if you need more help - we're always here for you!