The Hated - Or Hatred - Silent Treatment

My mom hates - and I mean HATES - my dad. I don't know why, or when it really started. I asked my aunt, and she couldn't guess any better than to say it'd been building for a long time. Small things, nothing horrible. They've been separated now for a long time, I don't remember exactly when they started living separately. First my dad moved into the cottage connected to our house, then he moved in with his dad, later taking care of him as dementia set in. Anyway, that's the environment my younger brother and I have been in for our entire lives, though I don't remember most of it, possibly as a self-defense mechanism.

Anything related to my dad puts my mom in a bad mood. Only unkind things are said about him. The only thing she wants from him is money. If she's in the mood, she won't hesitate to remind us what she's spent on our things. Or if we want something that she doesn't care for, she says to make our dad pay for it (even though he doesn't live with us and has been taking care of his sick father). She hates that he gives us THINGS as gifts instead of cash or at least gift cards. Anything to do with computers or technology she hates - because that's how my dad has always made his living. (Though of course, when it's convenient for her, she likes it, but you have to almost twist her arm to get her to admit it.) So in our house, we don't mention our dad, or his side of the family... not that we talk anyway... For a long while, it was "Go ask your dad about the PG&E bill," etc. Then - so my brother and I were less in the middle - leaving notes on his desk for him to see on the rare occasion he comes by to pick up me or my brother to spend the day with us. And she drills us beforehand, so she can not be at the house or wherever we're going that day, or at the very least hide in her bedroom. And I say "rare occasion" because growing up where "dad = bad," and being a young teenage girl who wants to please her mother, I didn't see or talk to my dad much.

Just so you don't think this is an isolated incident... My mom is the middle of three sisters. The eldest lives a ways away, but the younger is close. And they used to be close friends - movies several times a month, talking on the phone all the time. When my aunt went through a tough time, my mom sent her cards and gave gifts; drove her places when she didn't have her license. But when my aunt tearfully told my mom how she felt one day, how she'd had her feelings hurt... they stopped talking. The closeness I'd admired in them (a closeness my brother and I never cultivated, because in our house no one talks) is gone. Oh, and let's not forget that my mom's two sisters had a falling out and weren't speaking for some time before this... though recently that rift is mending a little.

My dad tried to fix things. I have a few memories of that - a forced kiss on the cheek before leaving for work. Taking care of her when she was sick with a stomach flu... But, in the end, no.

All of this has existed all of my life, but I'd never sought an online forum before despite growing up on a computer (thanks to my dad). I am now because two days ago was my (paternal) grandfather's funeral, my last living grandparent. The week before, my dad sent me a text that they were taking him off life support. After some internal debate, I told my dad I would come visit. My dad thinks it was to see my grandfather, but really it was to be with my dad. He didn't have anybody else to support him, where he should have had a wife. (He does have a brother 12 years older, but they're not close.) So I've probably seen more of my dad in the past week than I have in the past year, maybe two. You can imagine how that might affect my home environment. My mom is not a bad person, she originally hugged me and tried to comfort me when I told her about my grandpa. But yesterday she accused me of having her buy my funeral clothes under the guise of interview clothes (I'm job-hunting). And she got angry that I didn't tell her my aunts - both her sisters - attended the funeral. She saw it as "taking sides," a betrayal.

And she hasn't talked to me since.
StuckSilent StuckSilent
2 Responses Jan 14, 2013

Im sorry you have to put up with all this from your mom. I can relate to you, and I know how much it sucks. Its like one parent tries to get you on their "side" and put down the other parent. Something I've learned later on in life is that there really are two sides to every story, and realized that both of my parents tried to act like "victims" in their dysfunctional relationship and constantly blame/put down the other, just to make themselves look better amongst other family members. I eventually had to tell both of my parents that I did not want to hear them talk about the other one anymore- while it has decreased significantly, they still do it every now and then. Distance (like another city or state) from both parents has helped too.

Your mother should not act that way. If she has a problem with your father, she should not force it on you too. He is your father and you should keep in touch regardless of what your mother thinks of him. Try to make her understand that this is not some war and and that her behavior is plain stupid.

I wish I could. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to try (like my aunt). But she is very hard to talk to. Very stubborn and controlling. And I take after my dad - quiet and submissive. If she doesn't like you or what you're saying, she'll ignore you, talk over you, or leave the room. And I do love my mom. At the moment it's a balancing act, trying to keep both happy, yet separate.

I had a similar situation where I felt all through school I had nowhere to vent. Single parent family. It was too much. I don't see my family anymore, I never felt close to anyone.

If not about respect then what is a relationship? I'm reading-off some similarities in the way my mother treated me like a child through my adulthood. I think you have to get this to stop. It's so very difficult living like you're trapped, and that's what I remember my time at home as.. my mother had no idea the effect she had on me. I don't hate her for it, but it's something I don't even want to be reminded about.

I'd made a lot of progress with how she would boss me around (tried to get me to make some tea for her in my own flat, with my older brother not saying anything because she has this aura of a short fuse and so on) when I just outright said no to her. She didn't know what to do. And I have some of the same habits, I realize, of not planning ahead for situtations where I might be in control or it might be unpredictable. Of not asking questions; of leaving everything to bottle up instead of confronting/raging/etc. Family life for me was like treading on eggshells, tense, limited space.

So what I'm trying to warn against is that this can have such a negative effect. I still struggle to manage my own residency at 23, or keep a clean organized room, I have issues with trust because over my mom's overprotectiveness which left me sheltered and socially, sexually repressed. This stuff can be extremely harmful and it's downright unfair for someone to keep doing it to you, even out of ignorance. If that person has their own problems, they should seek help rather than offload so as to create problems for others. It's okay to not be okay, and there's no shame in asking for help with mental health problems, it's important to realize..