Toxic Mom coming for a visit. Help!

posted 3 years ago in Emotional
  • poll: Should I have a preemptive Come to Jesus meeting with her?
    yes, lay down the law! : (2 votes)
    20 %
    yes, and get your husband in on it : (2 votes)
    20 %
    No, not worth the trouble either way : (5 votes)
    50 %
    Other (explain) : (1 votes)
    10 %
  • Post # 2
    3452 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    I wouldn’t. It sounds like it would just put her in defensive mode and start things off on the wrong foot. I would try to deal with things as they happen and be firm and direct. If things get really bad then you should have the talk. Good Luck… I hope it goes well!

    Post # 3
    49 posts

    I think you shouldn’t talk to her before she even does anything, because that could provoke her. But the instant you realize she is being rude, call her out on it. Like if she insults your husband or is rude or whatever you can say: hey mom, what you did just now was really rude, and this is our home. It may not seem rude to you but it is to us. And you are a guest. We are happy to have you here but you can’t behave like this.

    Basically wait till she does anything and then have the talk. 

    Post # 4
    5503 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2014

    Overjoyed:  You mention that she’s a ‘(clinical) narcissist’; has she been diagnosed/do you suspect she has NPD? I ask because IMO that makes a difference. If we’re talking someone who is simply a bit rude, overbearing and socially inept, then yes, I would see no issue with talking to her beforehand in a calm, gentle and polite, yet firm, way, about what behaviour is and isn’t OK (eg.  ‘mum I know you sometimes like to put DH down; please can you not do that when you come visit, we find it disrespectful and hurtful’). With someone with NPD, it is much more complicated and you need to tread carefully. In mine and my husband’s case (we strongly believe his mother has NPD and we have gone very limited contact with her), we have opted do not to tell her our ‘boundaries’ and we only deal with issues as and when they occur. So, we would never say to her in advance ‘by the way, when we see you X Y and Z are off limits’, because she will only use that to cause drama. What we do do is decide between us what our boundaries/limits are (one example is we refuse to meet here anywhere that isn’t ‘neutral’; there are also certain topics of conversation eg why we went NC and then LC, something she’s desperate for us to ‘discuss’, read, ‘badger us into apologising when we did nothing wrong’) and then enforce them. So, if she tries to bring up something we don’t want to discuss, we say ‘we don’t wish to discuss that’ and change the subject; we will not be drawn into it no matter how hard she tries. I would be inclined to use a similar tactic with your mother: if she makes an inappropriate comment simply say ‘I/we find that inappropriate so please don’t say that again’. Don’t be drawn into an argument, and be careful how you phrase things: use we/us/I, don’t make it about her ie don’t say ‘that comment was inappropriate’ but ‘we found it inappropriate’; she can argue with the former, not with the latter. 

    If she does have NPD or narcissistic traits it might be worth reading up on it if you haven’t already; I’ve found a website called Out of the Fog really helpful (they also have a support forum) in learning more about it, and also reading other people’s experiences which have helped me get a handle on it and how to deal with it. 

    Post # 6
    1832 posts
    Buzzing bee

    I agree with barbie86 and would be careful what you say before she comes to visit. As you said yourself it could create come kind of self-fullfilling prophecy and cause her think “well if that’s what you think I’ll be like, that’s what I’ll be like”. Agree to some boundaries between you and your husband then bring them up with your mother as they come to be. And like barbie86 said, tread carefully and and speak in terms of I/we me/us instead of ‘you’.

    Post # 7
    3799 posts
    Honey bee

    I’d book and pay for a beautiful room, in a local Bed & Breakfast, for her. You can make the excuse that since you and your husband work so much, it will be easier on all of you. Or commence to painting the entire inside of your home – she won’t want to be around the smells and mess. 

    Post # 8
    1268 posts
    Bumble bee

    Overjoyed:  IF you decide to talk to her before, do not have your husband in any confrontation.  It is not likely to end well.  

    Post # 10
    2340 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: August 1987

    Just limit the time.  Four days maximum.

    Post # 11
    5503 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2014

    Overjoyed:  I figured that was the case but thought I’d check. If so, definitely do not attempt to speak to her beforehand. Narcissists LOVE causing drama and upset, so if you attempt to speak to her not only will it cause drama at the time, but you can bet she will make sure she goes out of her way to ‘test’ you and your boundaries, and do the exact things you asked her not to. Narcissists never see that they’re in the wrong, and can’t be reasoned with; so it’s useless trying. That’s why we make very simple, clear ‘I/we/us’ statements and don’t attempt to enter into discussions with her.

    Re involving your husband, the way we’ve handled it is that it is my OH who deals with her primarily; we communicate with her strictly through text only, and on the rare occasion she texts me, any answer always comes from him, never from me. This is because a lot of our issues with her were due to her jealousy over our relationship and marriage, and her attempts to split us up/drive us apart. In the aftermath, when we’d finally had enough (and before we knew about NPD otherwise we’d have handled things very differently) and went no contact, I was then made to look like the evil narc, and she turned messages I’d sent againt me, twisted my words, etc; she is no longer afforded that opportunity as I have zero written contact with her: my only contact with her is in person, with my husband present.

    However, what we do do, is present a ‘united front’. So, if she says something designed to me offensive to me, my OH will never say ‘Please don’t say that, that’s offensive to barbie’, or, worse, ignore it/leave me to say something; what he will say is ‘we found that comment offensive’, or, ‘we don’t wish to discuss this matter’. The reason we do this is to demonstrate to her that we are a couple, and that we make joint decisions, and that she cannot drive us apart/play us off against each other. So far, it has worked fairly well, as it gives her little opportunity to make digs.

    So I’d say it’s important to present a united front in matters that concern the two of you, or your relationship. But your husband definitely does not need to communicate with her directly, and anything like this should ALWAYS come from you. In my case, my MIL would LOVE me to say something, as she would perceive it as an excuse to become hysterical (‘How can you let her talk to your MOTHER like that!’ etc); and frankly, she is not going to be given that opportunity.

    Post # 12
    5503 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2014

    Overjoyed:  Also, to address the issue of where she stays: one very valuable lesson I learnt in all of this is that is is extremely important to set boundaries, and boundaries which YOU are comfortable and happy with. It is also important to understand that we can only control our own words, actions and reactions, and that we cannot control those of others.

    So, if you and your husband are OK with her staying with you (and, as he works from home, this absolutely should be mutual), and for you that is your genuinely preferred course of action, fine. But I wouldn’t do it just to save ‘drama’, because all that is doing is allowing her to dictate to you what you can and can’t do, and what boundaries you can and can’t have. She can get as angry as she wants; that is her choice, and indeed, her right. But it is YOUR choice, and YOUR right, to say ‘we don’t want you to stay with us’, and, if she becomes unreasonable, to say ‘we find your reaction unreasonable. The matter is not up for discussion, we hope you will still come visit us and stay in the B&B we booked for you, but we understand if you choose not to’ (also, NEVER give a narc a reason or justification for why you are making the choices you are: ‘we don’t want to’ is reason enough, no need to go into any moe detail).

    I know this is easier said than done. My MIL is LIVID that we will not visit her in her home, and that we will only meet her on neutral ground, and this is a boundary that she is constantly trying to push. However, we don’t feel comfortable meeting her in her home or ours, and so no matter how much she pushes, our answer will remain the same: ‘We would prefer not to’. End of discussion. She has raged, she has walked out of a restaurant pretending she was goingt o the toilet, etc etc; the answer remains the same. She is entitled to get angry; we are entitled to hold firm and to make the choices that are right for us.

    In short: make sure that you do things because they are right for you and your husband, and remember that whatever you do, there is no ‘winning’ with a narc, and there is no way of avoiding all drama. So, while you might well avoid her more intense wrath, or her ‘tears’, by having her stay with you, having her stay with you will likely still have a very negative impact eg making you feel uncomfortable in your own home, causing difficulties for your husband, etc. Just make sure you are doing what is genuinely right for you long-term (which for us was setting and sticking to very strict boundaries), and not what’s necessarily easiest in the short term.

    Finally, our philosophy is that the ‘worst’ that will happen with NMIL is she will fly into a rage with us and cut contact; which would be fantastic from our point of view. I don’t know what your relationship is like with your mother and whether you still care for her and aren’t quite at the stage where you’d be OK with total NC, but that’s something to consider, too; if she did stop talking to you because of some percieved insult, would that be the worst thing?

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