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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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im not sure where to start! I have a problem with my parents who seem

Customer Question

im not sure where to start! I have a problem with my parents who seem to make everything about them. They do not get on with my wife and no my wife doesnt like them. i feel like im caught in the middle
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

 

It is very difficult when you are trying to cope with parents who want to do things their way. It can cause stress and other symptoms.

 

One of the issues here is that you are trying to be a peacemaker. With the situation as it is, you have an impossible job. Your parents are never going to be happy because they do not have your full support and attention. And your wife will always be unhappy because she does not have your full support and attention. And if your parents feel everything is about them, they may be self centered or narcissistic, which is not easily resolved without insight on their part and therapy. Your wife may not want to deal with it because she dislikes your parents behavior. You are being pulled in two directions.

 

When you married your wife, you became one with her and left your parents behind. They may not like that idea, but that is what marriage is about. Your wife and any children you have are to come first in your life and your parents and siblings are second. This may be why your wife is angry and does not get along with your parents. She feels she is always battling them over you, when she deserves your full attention.

 

It is very reasonable for you to let your parents know that this is your wife and children are your focus now and while they are to be part of your life, they are not the focus anymore. Set boundaries for your parents. This means if you invite them over and they begin to create problems, you can tell them to leave. Do this gently and with kindness but be firm. Tell them you expect them to be at least kind to your wife and if they are disrespectful you will not tolerate it. And if your wife cannot deal them, she should at least allow you to see them and give you time with them, as long as she and your family are taken care of first.

 

By setting boundaries, your parents will either need to respect you and your family or do without a relationship with you. I imagine that if they care about you, they will learn to deal with the boundaries and may even back off and start treating you and your wife with respect, which you both deserve.

 

I hope this has helped you,

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate

 

Thank you for your answer, i guess i knew the answer to my question already! It shows you seem to know what you are talking about. I wonder if i could go into more detail and maybe give you a run down or history of problem. I know you cant take sides and you are only hearing things from my side but any advice would be great. I really feel bad about the whole thing and im not sure my parents will ever understand. They feel i need to give them answers all of the time, why i dont help them with things etc.. Maybe i could write you a detailed letter and you could respond. Im sorry about the urgency and thank you for your quick responce but i feel im getting very depressed and it will hurt my wife and i's relationship

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

If you feel it would affect the answer I gave, that is fine. I'll help in anyway I can.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I think it will, even if it just helps me that might be good. Please let me know how much this will be as the question maybe quite lengthy!

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Ok, that sounds fine.

 

If you want, you can accept the original answer then accept as often as you want to as we work on this. Many people choose to work with certain experts and reimburse either every answer or every other answer. Or they accept once and provide a bonus at the end to cover the answers. It's up to you.

 

I'll keep an eye out for your post,

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I suppose it all started when my wife and I first got together. It was quite a rocky start, she wasn't as in to me as I was with her and she was just coming out of a relationship. We had a few issues as she did some things that annoyed me, nothing drastically serious and after a while of seeing each other it was fine. The problem was I used to tell my parent everything, I hated doing it but felt like the dragged it out of me and I probably didn't paint a very good picture of her.

At this point I should probably tell you that she is South African. After dating for a while she went on holiday with my Dad, my Sister and me. I came to learn that my Dad was annoyed as he felt she had said things that implied that we were going to move to South Africa. According to my wife this wasn't the case, but my Dad though she was being disrespectful towards him. Whilst on the slopes, I was working in the chalet, there was an argument on the slopes and Michelle came back in tears. She had taken something the wrong way, something that was said in guest was taken seriously. Anyway my Dad made no attempt to rectify just carried on, everything seemed to be fine after some discussions in which my sister got involved and then a few things were brought up and I was un happy about how Michelle was being spoken to. I didn't say anything at the time but blew up in the morning which resulted in my Dad telling us to go our way and they would go theirs. This hurt me and really hurt Michelle. She does have family here and this one of the first tastes of mine. We didn't speak for the rest of the holiday. Michelle agreed to let it go and my Dad wouldn't not speak to me unless I approached him. I did and visit them for ‘clear the air talks' I tried my best to mediate and he was adamant that if I didn't agree with him then there was big problem. I agreed with both and it was left. Michelle is still hurt by what happened but has left it alone.

Then came the engagement. We had been seeing each other for a year and half. I didn't tell anyone that I was going to propose. I took Michelle to New York and proposed. On the night we were both very excited and although it was the early hours of the morning in both UK and SA, decided that we would text our parents so they could wake up with the good news. When we woke up we were showered with text from her parents and sister and go a text from my parent saying ‘congratulations' I was so hurt and didn't want to talk to them. My phone wasn't working so it was a text from Michelle phone and I used it to call my sister. My parents had obviously discussed this with her and they were annoyed that I hadn't phoned. I then tried to call but no answer. I felt like it spoiled the occasion a little and michelle could see I was clearly upset and it hurt her too.

When we arrived in the uk we were only in London for a couple of days and went to SA to pick up the ring, whilst there we looked at venues and dates etc. My parent where in the USA .

When we got back and they got back we visited my parents who had along with my sister got a cake and balloons etc which was very nice. They brought it up how they felt and even though we hadn't booked anywhere were upset that we hadn't consulted them about the venue and dates. We explain that that was only the dates we were thinking and if they had any objections. We said that over easter was the best time as that was when most people are off. The do shift work and so that didn't apply to them and so wasn't necessarily the best time for them. We couldn't contact them as they too were out of the country. I just felt like they were taking the situation away from us and making it about themselves again ( both the engagement and the wedding plans) They were arguing why we should get married so soon etc. Again Michelle let it blow over and I tried to keep the peace but it was causing problem for michelle and i. An email was sent to Michelle from my Mum saying how she felt and that before we were really close and that we should have told them. I got the opinion that the email was quite rude but was sure that wasn't how it was meant and told that to michelle. She sent a very nice reply saying that wasn't her intentions, that we are so happy they can come on those dates etc and that she can go dress shopping with my mum. They were really unhappy with the response. I went for clear the air talks again and explained the email and that it contained nothing bad and I was sticking by Michelle and enough was enough. Skiing was again brought up and they were really disappointed that Michelle had not asked my sister to be a brides made. My sister is always brought up and many things are always about her (I think because she is single 28 and spend a lot of time with my parents)

So now everything is apparently fine again and i asked them if they could contribute to the wedding. I informed them how much it was and left it up to them to decide the amount. They gave me a figure well below the 50% I was, expecting saying that because the wedding was in SA they weren't paying for people they didn't know. They would however help me with the honeymoon. I thought this was fair enough as they also they had the expense of flying to SA. When we next went down to visit everything seemed fine but they were annoyed that Michelle had not thanked them for the money. They hadn't actually given it to us yet (not that they wouldn't) but they thought she should have said thank you. My view was that they gave me the money and a thank you from me should be enough from both of us. When I told Michelle she send an email thanking them. It again felt like they were making things about themselves.

If we fast forward a few months to the wedding they were annoyed that I wasn't taking the time for them etc, they understood that I had things to do. It feels like they say good things with bad so that they can say they said good things. The wedding went fine and the build up was fine, although they did things to annoy me I didn't want it to ruin anything. For the trip they had always been talking about my sister, and they tend to do this a lot, is she going to be ok, and making sure that she is fine etc. My Dad then on the wedding day asked me if I could please spend more time with my sister. I nearly lost it and it nearly ruined the day. Thankfully we have such good friend and I really get on with her family. I just feel like they would never be as rude to me as my parents are to Michelle. When I bring this up they tell me not to compare.

We have been married for nearly 2 years and in that time we have been away a lot and seeing my parents hasn't been at the top of the list. I have my own business to. My parent take offence to this and say that we are looking down on them and don't make any effort, yet every time we see them its when we go and visit them (2hr drive). When they moved it was during the week and I was working so couldn't help. They took great offence and my Dad it not happy. The live in the countryside and when they purchased a shed I agreed to help. We picked it up and dropped it off, but then I had to go. Again this was a big problem. My Dad has never asked if I want to do anything and I have told him this many times, through clear the air talk etc. I just feel they don't make the effort and that doesn't make me want to. Michelle wants to have a relationship with her mother in law but doesn't seem to happen. My mum has never emailed or called to go for coffee. It is blamed on her job etc (she is a stewardess but only works 3 weeks a month). Whenever we meet them now they always constantly talk about my sister, we went on holiday with them (again us making the effort) and they mentioned her name 42 times in a day and a half, we counted because we thought is was getting ridiculous.

I finally put my foot down and they came and saw us. This was a few days ago, we had been to Thailand for Michelles 30th bday over xmas and new year (im sure they were not happy but we wanted to go) When they can they spent the first 45 mins talking about my sister and didn't even mention the holiday. We had some exciting news, Michelle is pregnant, as we just found out and it is early we decided only to tell the parents. She phone her and we told my parent when they were up. Michelle didn't want to tell them but I insisted. They were very happy and it was nice to see. However and again I feel they are making it about them, my Mum emailed Michelle in the morning to tell her she was very excited and it was great news, could she tell her the due date because they want to go on holiday in Sept and she need to get her holiday form in by the 25th. Michelle sent an nice email back explaining the dates.

I got a phone call from my Mum again speaking about the holiday. I took offence as it sounded like the holiday was more important and that they were worried about that. They took offence to that and said I was in the wrong and they only wanted to have a discussion, I said there should be no discussion, we have told them the dates, the baby could arrive whenever and if they don't want to risk not being there then they have to take their holiday another time. They couldn't see that it was an insult.

My Dad phoned me angry at me and I was angry back, he agreed that maybe they should take there holiday another time but maybe why he got so angry was because of things that had happened in the past. He said that I looked down on them and that I just want to be with my rich south African friends. This hurt a lot because is not the case, I feel like my Dad has been waiting to say something like that and they love to argue and make things about themselves. I really feel my Dad is jealous as I do have a good life with an amazing wife, great friends, my own successful business and now I'm having a baby. I'm fed up with them taking the happiness away and me trying to be the good guy with them because I don't want to walk away. This annoys Michelle so doesn't help.

I don't know what to do, I'm sorry I went on for so long but I hope you can help me.

Nick

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Nick,

 

Thank you for sharing this with me. It certainly sounds like you are dealing with a lot of problems with your parents and sister.

 

I agree with you, your parents and sister are thinking of themselves only. To your sister's credit, she has learned this behavior from your parents. Though she is responsible for how she acts now as an adult, she has bought into the "think of ourselves first" mentality.

 

In every instance in your life, your parents have put themselves first. The skiing incident was the first sign of a problem with them in your relationship with Michelle. While Michelle did contribute some to the problem, she did not mean to and did apologize, which should have been accepted. Your father is the elder here and should have forgiven Michelle for whatever he felt she did to him. Your father also shut you out to force you to come to him and try to make amends. This is manipulative behavior that he uses to get his way.

 

With your engagement and marriage, your parents purposely withheld any excitement or happiness from you because again, they wanted to control and manipulate the situation. By only saying congratulations, they fulfill their obligation to respond but they also send the message that they disapprove, possibly still based on the skiing incident or just implying they disapprove of Michelle in general. They also do not want you to leave the "family group" which would give them less control over you.

 

Throughout your engagement, your parents refused to develop a relationship with Michelle even though she has offered and allow you both to enjoy your engagement. Instead, they continued to try to focus on themselves and manipulate the situation for their own benefit.

 

Bringing your sister up all the time is a way for them to try to make it seem they prefer her over you, by saying she is cooperating with them and therefore is right and better than you are. She is their example of how they believe their children should act towards them, and your sister is so eager for the approval she has bought into the behavior, copying them as they wish her to.

 

Going to see them to clear the air is exactly what they want you to do. That is the way they can tell that you have reached the breaking point and need to reconcile with them. They know they can push you and you will still come back to them. It is a way to manipulate you into doing what they want.

 

Their approval and disapproval of your activities and your life is way too intrusive. You are an adult, married and with a child on the way. Your parents should not be this involved in your life. They should be part of your life, but not the deciding factor in the decisions you make. If they want to be there for the birth of your child, for instance, then letting them know the possible due date and letting them decide what to do is the best way to handle them. If they become angry and try to tell you they won't be there, let it go.

The same applies for your trip or any other thing you and Michelle want to do with your lives. You do not need to inform them of anything you do. If they say they want you to attend some event and you are away, then you are away. Say you wish you could be there but it's not possible. End of story. If they choose to make a big deal, tell them you are sorry they feel that way but it's their choice. Then do not contact them or make a fuss over it. As long as you keep responding to their drama, they will keep doing it.

 

Your relationship with your parents needs some emotional distance. They are too close to you and too much in your life. They use manipulation, guilt and anger to control you. Michelle has been more than kind to them even when they have not been to her. In order to be respected, they need to earn the kind of respect they are asking for. Make them earn it. Set boundaries and keep them at a distance. If they truly want to be part of your family, they will change to accommodate you. If not, then they are just looking to cause you problems by being narcissistic and controlling. They may force you into distancing them even further, but in order to have peace in your family, it may be needed. You also do not want your child exposed to their behavior. Many people with narcissism do not have an issue with dragging children into their games and manipulations. So starting to set limits now with your parents will help you protect your child in the long run.

 

Let me know if I can help any further,

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much, that was a great answer and all of your points make sense.

 

I made sure on this occasion that i didnt bow to what they wanted to do. They contacted me after yesterdays argument. I informed them that i wasnt prepared to discuss anything and bring things of the past up. All that matters to me at the moment is Michelle and our baby. They feel like they are not in our lives and want to be but i said relationships change and they need to deal with that. I informed them that everytime there is something major in my life they try and make it about them or there is an argument. Enough is enough and i wont let it happen anymore. The decisions now rest with them as to being invoved.

 

You are so write and it is nice to hear as i felt i was maybe being wrong and should be working toward keeping my parents happy. You have made me feel alot better and that keeping my parents at arms length (and protecting my wife and baby) is not wrong. We will eventually live in South Africa i think so as horrible as it sounds maybe thats the distance we need.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Nick,

 

That is wonderful! I am glad you were able to tell them how you felt and that you are now placing some distance between your family and your parents. Hopefully, your parents will take what you said, gain some insight from it and try to improve how they treat you and Michelle.

 

I was very happy to help you. My best to you and Michelle and congratulations on the new baby. He/she will be a blessed child to have you both as parents.

 

I'm here anytime you need to talk,

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Kate

 

I have another question for you. Michelle is hurt at the way we have been treated and really doesnt like my parents, she didnt want to tell them but agreed to as she had told her twin sister and her parents. Now we have the problem of telling my sister. My parent obviously want us to tell her, as they made clear when we told them. i though this was wrong as it wasnt for them to tell us when to tell her. A point i made to them in private.

 

I want to tell my sister but Michelle doesnt want me to tell her. Her reasoning is that she is only 5 weeks and doesnt want to tell her until we have an 8 week scan. My parents think that because she told her sister i should tell mine. I do want to tell her but Michelle thinks its only because my parents want her to know.

 

I have said to her that is not the case but she is adamant that she doesnt want her to know.

 

When i spoke to my mum yesterday she said that they will go on holiday another time than Sept (due month) but we need to tell my sister because she is coming with them and they need to tell her why they are moving the holiday from Sept to July. Again i feel this is making it about them and not on our terms.

 

Im in two minds.

 

Thanks again

Nick

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi Nick, it's good to hear from you.

 

Michelle's wishes about the baby are to take precedent before your parent's wishes. Your parents may say what they want to happen here, but they are not the baby's parents and therefore their opinion is only that, an opinion. They do not get equal say in what goes on between you and Michelle.

 

It is understandable that your parents want to explain to your sister about the baby. But Michelle feels she has valid reasons for wanting to hold off with the information. Michelle may feel closer to her own sister and want her support right now, so she feels ok telling her before she tells your sister. Also, your sister has not been kind to Michelle in the past and Michelle may not want to involve her yet for that reason.

 

The most important thing here is that you and Michelle make this decision together, without the involvement of your parents. Michelle does not need the added pressure of your parents having a say so in the decision. She needs your support. So talk with her, tell her what you want to do and reassure her that you want the two of you to make the decision together, and your parents are not included in that decision.

 

In the future, you and Michelle may want to consider not telling your family about any news until all of your family can be included together in the news. That way, you can avoid the pressure of your parents wanting to tell your sister.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Kate

 

If we try an organise that all of us are together if that doesnt happen for a while they will argue that we should have told them earlier. botXXXXX XXXXXne is we cant win! haha

 

Anyway

 

I wanted to email my parents today to say that we will let them know when we have told my sister.

 

I dont feel i need to explain to them when that is or why we havent told her yet. We are going to tell her after 8 weeks which is on her bday. Its only 3 weeks. i feel like explain that is justifing things and enabling them.

 

My mum also told me she want to tell her friend at work, i told her i would rather she didnt and that we want to wait until the 12 weeks is over. She said that is a long time but suppose she will have to wait. I really dont understand why they cant just wait and not mention or talk like this.

 

Going off a little bit. Michelle feels like they havent asked how she is etc and yet the asked about their holiday. her hormons dont help as they blow things up! Do i tell them about the issues i have or just leave it. if i bring it up its going to be a big argumment.

 

Thanks Kate, so good to have someone to talk to!

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome, Nick! I'm happy to be here for you.

 

You should not have to offer your parents more than a short explanation of your intentions with your sister. All you need to tell them is that you and Michelle have made a decision and your decision is to wait to tell her. They do not require a reason or further explanation. If they try to get one out of you, keep repeating what you already said. Ignore any dramatic reaction they give you or snide comments. What you are doing here is setting boundaries with them. They will not like it, but if a line is not drawn, they will keep invading your boundaries.

 

It seems that telling your parents any news like this only causes them to find ways to make your life difficult. Apparently they do not respect the fact that this is your news and not theirs to tell the world about. What they are doing is crossing boundaries with you. They are not treating you or Michelle with the respect you deserve and allowing you to have control over your own life.

 

I would not share any more about Michelle or the pregnancy with your parents. Tell them only what they need to know, that Michelle and the baby are doing fine and that is it. The more you tell them, the more they will see a reason to try to use the information to cross boundaries and make your life more difficult.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

you are spot on and deep down i know that. I think that they expect the same from us as Michelle gives to her family and be equal. But Michelle is close to her sister and obviously gets on with her parents so will share with them. I dont share with my parents and maybe they see that as wrong and that ive changed and they prob blame Michelle for that. Am i right in thinking that the man will always tend to be closer to his wife side of the family when they get married.

 

One of the big issue when we got together was that because she is South Afican that we will moved to South Afica. They said that because we met in the UK she sould accept that and that is where we should like. I told them that i will do what is best and if that means moving to SA then so be it. I'm dreeding telling them that that is the case even though they know that could be a possibility. However in a weird way what you have said has made me a bit stronger to not be so effected by what my parents say and that it is completely valid to put Michelle first.

 

I find that if there is a situation like you say, they want to know everything and will turn it to be about them. I dont think me telling them that will change things, i know myself and maybe im not strong enough to stand up for myself and tell them how it is. They will get upset of make points that i cant defend. I will back down and they have got their way. i try my best not to analize every situation and talk it to death, which is what they do.

 

 

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

They may expect that you treat them the same as Michelle treats her parents and sister, but do they treat you the same as Michelle's family treats her and you? Michelle may feel more comfortable with her family because they may respect her boundaries. It is not a matter of who you are closer to, it's a matter of who treats you with respect. If your parents treated you well and respected your boundaries, I have no doubt you and Michelle would be just as close to them as you are with her family. But every time you try to relate to your parents in a normal way, they play games, say hurtful things and try to control you and Michelle. And you cannot have a healthy relationship with someone who does that.

 

If you and Michelle decide to move to South Africa, then it is your decision. Your parents are allowed to feel sad about it and say they don't want you to go, but saying that you met in the UK so Michelle just has to adapt to the UK as her home is only making them seem even more self centered. That statement is all about them and does not take into account that you and Michelle are married and each of you comes first to each other. Any decision you make is up to you, not them. They lost their say so in your life when you became an adult.

 

You were used to being raised by your parents and having to share everything with them. You understand their way and that is what you knew. So the urge to tell them everything and take in their opinion is strong. But you are a healthy person emotionally and you are growing. You have been able to see that what your parents do is harmful, selfish and hurtful. Just the fact that you have so much insight means that you are strong and desire to be different.

 

Learning personal boundaries, which is something they never taught you or showed you, is the best way to keep your parents where they belong- out of your personal business.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So this is not something that i need to convey to them. Tell them that i think they are self centered, and tell them that they try and revert every situation ot themselves etc or will they see this as an attack.

 

Will it get me anywhere or just serve to break down the relationship completly.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

No, I wouldn't bother telling them they are self centered or that they are reverting every situation to themselves. They will only take it as you having a problem, not them. They may even try to shut you out completely.

 

So far they do not have insight into their behavior and no desire to change. For one, they have never experienced any consequences to how they act. Your sister has gone right along with them and they still feel free to cross boundaries into your life. But as you begin to set boundaries with them, they will protest and try to cause you more problems. As a result, they may step up the intrusive behavior or try other tactics like talking behind your back or ganging up on you. They may even start on Michelle. This will show you that they are not ready to change or hear anything you have to say.

 

If you ever notice that they are interested in changing, you can try telling them how you feel. You may know they are changing by how they treat you. They may begin to respect your boundaries, treat you better and try to get along with Michelle. They may even apologize for how they have acted. But until they can do these things, they will not be interested in how you feel about anything they are doing.


Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My Dad fell out with his side of the family ( 2 sisters ) when we were younger. They havent spoken for 15 years or so and have only just got back in touch. It was my dads sister who got in touch.

 

I dont know much about the situation but from what i gather they exculded my dad in alot of things and didnt invite him to family events etc.

 

I would be really interested to find out the story from their point of view and if it is similar to the problems i have had. Me not wanting to include him is remarkably simular. It like he is not happy unless there is confruntation.

 

I have one aunt in mind that i would like to talk to and think she would keep things confidential. I would like to go with Michelle.

 

Would you see this as a bad thing to do.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It would not be a bad thing to do, as long as you take your time and feel out the situation first. If your aunt has contact with your father now, she potentially can communicate your feelings to him if you are not careful. So take your time to talk with her first and get an idea of how she feels about your father and her fall out with him. Then if you feel it's safe, go ahead and talk with her.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate hope you are well

I have another issue, i have feeling you maybe helping me for a while!!

It is my Mums 60th and my sister wanted to buy a joint present with Michelle and i. It is £300 and i think that it is a bit expensive. My sister wants to put in £150 and us £150, i didn't think this was fair and £100 each is fairer. However i think £100 each is a bit excessive. I do well and have my own business so i feel really tight and stingy.The other problem is i know Michelle will think this is way too much and its ridiculous. She is not used to giving expensive bday and xmas presents and i suppose my side of the family is. I text my sister to say that i though £100 a person is a lot and that we should find something nice and then see what it costs.

If needs be and she wants to spend the money then she can and we can get her something different.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi Nick, I am well, thank you for asking.

 

I would enjoy talking with you for as long as you need to! Anytime you have a question, I'm here.

 

If you and Michelle agree on that the cost of the gift is too excessive, then you can let your sister know you are willing to compromise. Thank her for suggesting the gift but tell her that you would like to buy something a bit more reasonable in price. If your sister disagrees, then you may want to suggest that you each buy your own gifts.

 

You are not being tight or stingy by not giving in to your sister's suggestion. There is a reason someone is successful at business and that is because they are careful with money, among other things. And your opinion about this gift is just as valid as your sister's. The cost of the gift does not imply your mother's importance to you or Michelle. It is the thought that you pick something that both of you feel your mother would like and you spend the time with her on her birthday that counts.

 

If you still feel bad about not buying the expensive gift, you can always do something for your mother in addition to your gift that means a lot to her but doesn't cost much or anything at all. The gesture itself would mean you care and that is what you are trying to convey with your mother on her birthday.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I told her and she is happy that we buy separate gifts if we want.

The way things are at the moment spending time with my mum is not something we need right now. I cant see my mum because of the way my Dad is, he hasnt contacted me since we had the argument, and i dont want to be the one contacting him again.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Then it's probably best that you just send your gift along with birthday wishes and let it go at that. You can say I'm sorry we can't be there and wish her a happy birthday. If the tensions are high between you, then it is not worth the trouble of causing a confrontation on your mother's birthday. It is best to allow things to cool down first.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I think she would prefer if we came down for her birthday. It wont just be us so there will be no confrontations.

Before when it was discussed she wanted us to spend the night but i dont think we will do that anymore.

When i have some more time id like to speak some more about my Dad and how you think i should address that situation
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

If she wants you there and you are comfortable with going, then that is fine to do. But setting limits like you are doing is important. Telling her that you won't be spending the night is a good limit to set. It tells her that you will give a little by showing up to the party but you won't give in all the way because you will not be spending the night. It shows that you cannot be manipulated or forced to do something you are not willing to do.

 

Anytime you are ready to talk about your Dad I'm here.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Wow, cant you tell her!! im not sure i want to. She will be disappointed and then i will feel bad. She will want a reason. then what do i say!

I suppose i have to man up!
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I understand your feelings about not wanting to tell her. She is going to want her way if her past behavior is any indication. But just because she wants a reason does not mean you have to give one. You can always say we can't make it and keep repeating it if she pushes you for a reason. Telling her anything else gives in to what she wants and gives her something to use against you to start pushing you more. She can try to make you feel bad but that is just her way to keep you under her control. You don't have to listen to it because in reality, all she has is her words to control you. She has no other power unless you allow her to.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
wow your good!

My reason is that Michelle is pregnant so we dont want to stay the night, but i feel im trying to justify again. You are spot on and that is exactly what has happened in the past. Especially if we make up a reason not to do something. So the reality is if we dont want to do something then we dont have to? is that not being hurtful and not taking people into consideration and being selfish.

Im concerned that those are the things that will be said or thought. They already think we look down on them and think that we are better than them. My Dad has already said that. I told him that i think he has been waiting to say something like that. He said i just made a big mistake and shouldnt have said that!

I just feel he has been waiting to say that, he see's we have this great life and rather than be part of it he things we look down on them because we dont include them or make any effort. But we visit them alot more than they do with us. They have visited us about 3 times in 5 years. Anyway maybe this is a rant for another day.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, Nick! That was nice to hear.

 

Yes I agree. You do not need to justify your reasons even if you do have a very valid one. It is just fine to tell your mother that you cannot stay the night. You might want to put the emphasis on the fact that you are showing up for the get together instead of defending yourself about staying the night. That may get your mother to back down faster because it makes her look ungrateful that you are coming to the party.

 

No, you do not have to do anything you don't want to do. You are an adult but your parents continue to treat you as a child. They try to manipulate you and guilt you into doing what they want. But saying no helps set those boundaries and teaches them that you are an adult now.

 

Telling you that you look down on them and think you are better than they are is your parents way of controlling you. If someone tells you that you seem snobby, you are going to be concerned. Then you are going to change your behavior because you feel guilty so you seem like you are more compliant. And that is what they are looking for, you being compliant and feeling guilty. It's a game and they are good at it.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
i think that again is a very good point.

My sister text me this morning to ask if we were going to do a late xmas meet up. I said Jan and its nearly over and she hasnt heard anything? I told her that i thought she didnt want to do Jan because it was so soon after she had last gone down, as its her bday on Feb maybe we can do something then.

She said before that it needs to be in Jan because she is busy in Feb. She said that Mum and Dad were hoping to see you because we didnt make it down for xmas. I said the came here last weekend. What does she want to do for her bday. She said she didnt realise that was instead of going to see them. Am i free in the first weekend in Feb.

I said that it wasnt something i need to make clear and the important thing was that we are seeing each other. that is why i wanted to arrange to meet her. i said i will let her know about Feb.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like you told her exactly what you could do and the limits for your being able to be at your parents. That helps set boundaries to what you are willing to do.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My sister replied today: "It is important 2 make that clear so i no wot Im doing. We had a conversation b4 u went away that we were going down 2 mum and dads in Jan. I havnt heard anything since. When i spoke 2 mum the other day, she said she thought u guys were still coming. I wasn't invited 2 ur meal so presumed that wasn't our xmas get 2gether. I feel like ur being funny with me and i dont no why."

I replied saying i wasnt being funny and nothing was def arranged, i thought she didnt want to go down in Jan because she had just spent a week there. I also told my mum to invite her for dinner but she was sick. but come if you feel better.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like your sister is acting out what your parents taught her. Her text sounds like she is saying that she needs to be informed of all get togethers, whether they involve her or not. This is a conversation she needs to be having with your parents. What you do with your parents does not need to involve her either.

 

She probably says you are being funny with her because she is not used to you being firm with her and drawing boundaries. Boundaries are unknown in your family because of how your parents act towards you and your sister. They never respected your personal feelings and your rights as a person. When you start drawing those lines, your sister and parents are going to react with saying something is wrong with you. That shows their lack of insight into the problem. Blaming is common when someone tries to do a healthy behavior within an unhealthy environment.

 

Keep doing what you are already doing by setting the boundaries with your sister and parents. If you want, cut yourself out as middle man and direct your sister to call your parents about this matter. They are the ones who will be hosting any get togethers so it is up to them to decide anyway. Your sister may not like it, but it is the only way to keep you from being drawn into this issue.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I think that she was to be involved because we were all supposed to meet. I always fell scared of my sister and feel like I need to justify and answer to her. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe its because I back down so that she gets her way. She wont stop arguing until you agree, I then don't remember ever detail and dismiss the situation and so now I'm in the wrong.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Your sister was well trained by your parents. She follows the same behavioral pattern as they do because she does not have the insight to see it any differently. So you may need to respond in the same way as you do with your parents.

 

Feeling scared of your sister probably has to do with the how confrontive she is with you and with the techniques she uses to make you feel bad about yourself if you do not comply with what she says. She is an emotional abuser and learned the ways to make you feel guilty, ashamed and to question yourself.

 

The way to get her to stop arguing is to stop participating. Some of the best ways to do that is stop reacting to her anger and stop responding to what she says. Her goal is to win and to do that, she needs to get you emotionally upset and reacting to her. In order to not get drawn in, you have to emotionally remove yourself from anything she says. For example, if she says you didn't tell me about your visit home, you can respond with sorry to hear you are upset about that. If she says what is wrong with you, say nothing. Do not add to the conversation at all and just respond in a logical and forthright manner. If you do not get upset, she has no control. Do not accept blame for anything. If you question yourself, she will take advantage of it.

 

If you feel upset or insecure about any conversation you have with her, wait until you end the conversation then check in with Michelle about what happened. She will provide you with balance and support you. You are also welcome to contact me and we can walk through what happened. This takes some time to get used to doing, but in order to cope with your family removing yourself emotionally is the only way, short of not having contact at all.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm trying to do that at the moment and concentrate on what makes me happy. I'm concerned that my parents will see me as always doing that and this is just an excuse to move further away from them.

Also I'm thinking of the possibility that I am wrong and I do over look them.

I will let you know the issues with my dad tomorrow, but he still hasn't spoken to me since we had the argument on Monday. He is stuborn and obviously thinks I'm completely wrong, but I'm not trying to make things good again. Does that make me stubborn? Also if we go down there a I still havent spoken to him, I know he is going to be off but that's his problem.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Taking blame for their behavior is what they want you to do. That is how they continue to control you. You are not overlooking them. If anything, you are more involved than most adult children are.

 

You are not stubborn, you are just trying to set boundaries. Your father is "punishing" you by not talking to you so you will feel bad and give in. There is nothing wrong with standing your ground. The only people that is wrong with is your parents and sister.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate

It's really annoying me and I can't stop thinking that when we told my parents Michelle was pregnant they told us to make sure we told my sister. And again 20 mins later they were outside and I went down, they congratulated me again and then said make sure that you tell your sister soon. I got angry and told them its our decision and not up to them to tell me when to tell her.

I know we have covered this but it makes me so mad. Also they think that because Michelles twin sister know that my sister should know too. My worry is that they have already told her. She will be annoyed that we didn't tell her before.

My mum emailed me to say that they won't say anything to her but it's difficult not to slip out. I said she will have to. E careful and not have a conversation about babies.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I can understand your anger about it. Your parents and your sister are a sort of dysfunctional group. If you had told your sister and not your parents, it would have been the same thing.

 

It is difficult to deal with family that treats you that way, especially when you are the only one that sees it. At this point, you have learned that if you have important news, especially of a personal nature, it is better to withhold it than tell them. It's all about how much you can trust them.

 

Kate

 

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Kate. Are your sessions all for just answer or do you do phone or Skype session or face to face?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry but Just Answer doesn't offer Skype, phone or face to face at this time. Maybe in the future!

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Kate

 

I got an email this morning from my Mum saying that she hopes michelle is feeling ok and not getting any morning sickness. She said that she didnt get morning sickness and never felt better than when she was pregnant.

 

She said that they have booked their holiday in June, as they want my sister to come can we tell her the good news so she can book too.

 

Im not sure how to respond.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You cannot control what your mother does. But you can let her know that you are unhappy with her decision to tell your sister against your wishes. That may warn her that you will not be sharing with her again if she cannot abide by your wishes to keep this to herself.

 

Thank you in advance for accepting my last several answers.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She hasnt said anything to my Sister yet, she wants us to tell her so they can tell her that they are going in June now rather than in Sept like originally planned.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I would love to continue to work with you. If you could reimburse me for my time and expertise on the last 5 answers I have provided for you, I would appreciate it.

 

If you are having trouble with getting your accepts to go through, please contact the moderator. Sometimes there is a technical glitch and they can address that for you.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Apologies Kate, i didnt realise i had to accept every answer.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You don't have to accept every answer and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. Some people choose to accept each time and some accept every other answer. It all depends on the person and what they can afford.

 

Is it ok to keep working together? If you need to make other arrangements, I understand.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
no id like to, you make alot of sense. i will accept the answers
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Thank you very much.

 

You said that your mother wants you to tell your sister about the baby so she can book her holiday and have your sister come along. How do you and Michelle feel about that? Do you want to tell her? If not, then let your mother know that you are not telling your sister until you and Michelle are ready. Let her know that she will need to work around your wishes. It may be that your mother wants to manipulate you into telling your sister, so she puts you in a corner so you have no choice. For to refuse, you would be "ruining" her plans for the holiday. It makes you out to be the bad guy and she looks like the victim in the situation.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I replied to say that, as i said we will tell her when we've told Anja.

I had a big argument with Michelle last night, she didn't like the email that my mum sent saying that why is she telling me that she didn't have any morning sickness and she is talking about herself again. She thinks she is pushing the issue of my sister again and michelle is really unhappy and it led to an argument last night.

This is the email i wanted to send. I haven't sent it and Michelle doesn't think i should:

I need to write this email to let you know how i feel and how i and Michelle want things to progress

I am not saying these things to be nasty or horrible in anyway, i just want you to take them on board and hopefully it can change things for the better.

I really do not want a reply to this email or to discuss the situation further i just wanted to put the point across and hope you can act on it.

I feel like yet again an important event in mine and Michelles life has been made stressful, and it cant keep happening. The reason that we informed you so early into Michelle's pregnancy is because we wanted your love and support. The reason we have decided not to tell anyone else including Anja is because we want to wait until the 12 weeks has passed. We have made that decision and is not something we need to justify and i hope you can respect that.

Decisions surround your holiday and telling Anja because she needs to know about the holiday is not of concern for us at the moment and as i have said we are just concerned with getting to the 12 weeks.

It is very nice that you and Dad were so excited with the news and it was great for us to see you so excited but every correspondence seems to have an agenda, either the holiday or informing Anja. Im not saying this to be horrible, it maybe that you don't realise but that is how it comes across.

Im not saying any of this to stop your involvement (quite the opposite) otherwise we wouldn't have told you, i just want you to be excited by that and only that, asking how Michelle is and that being the only agenda, or better still contacting her yourself. She could really do with some support and interest because its only you and her parents and sister that know at the moment. Obviously they are the main lines of support for her.

I will let you decide how to best deal with things.

We will see you on the 19th Feb for Jessicas party, we will not be telling the family yet so would appreciate if nothing is said. Of course we will be seeing you again for your b-day. Please let us know the times, we are not going to stay over but will of course be there for the party.

I hope you take this email in the right way and we can use it as a platform to move forward rather than analyize it.

Love
Nick
x

Again this is not a personal attack this is just to let you know how i feel.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi Nick,

 

I am sorry to hear about the argument between you and Michelle. It sounds like part of that is just the tension of the situation and the hurtful things your parents have been saying to both of you and to Michelle. I do agree with Michelle, your mother's hint that Michelle having morning sickness is not very supportive and is, in a backhanded way, mean. This is by no means your fault, but it sounds like Michelle is feeling very hurt by what your mother said, and with good reason.

 

I think your email to your parents is well thought out and makes your points without being confrontive or emotional. You covey very well your expectations and your wishes to set boundaries and remain on good terms. Although I think it's ok to send, Michelle's wishes must come before what I think. The two of you need to decide what is best for the both of you. Have you both talked about what your concerns are with sending or not sending the email? What does Michelle feel would happen if the email is sent? She may fear that the retaliation is not worth it or she may feel vulnerable due to the stress she is going through right now. It might be worth hashing this out first between you and seeing what each of you feel is the advantages and disadvantages first before making a decision.

 

Saying what you feel to your parents is important. However, you may want to prepare yourself for their response, whatever it may be. Because you are dealing with people who in all likelihood have personality disorders, they are probably not going to react well to your email. That does not mean you should not send it. But keep in mind that by sending, you are doing this for yourself and Michelle and probably not for a change in your parents behavior. But sitting back and accepting your parents behavior creates frustration, anger, a feeling of helplessness and other similar emotions. It can become so bothersome that it affects your daily life. By saying something, it helps you feel like you are doing something to protect yourself and Michelle and it gives you more of an equal footing with your parents.

 

People with personality disorders are notoriously resistant to change. They lack insight and feel that everyone else is to blame before they consider they might be the cause of the difficulties going on around them. They are master manipulators and can twist the most logical argument into something frustrating and pointless. Here is a link to describe how to deal personality disorders:

 

http://www.ehow.com/how_2113015_deal-narcissist-life.html

 

This is not an easy situation to cope with. Many people struggle to handle family members with personality disorders. The main thing to remember is to take care of yourself and Michelle. And if you both decide it's a good idea to send the email, then just keep in mind that the response may not be what you are looking for. But you and Michelle may feel better, which is what counts.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate

Thank you for your answer. Michelle didn't want to send the email. I respected that and didnt sent it. May do more harm than good.

My Mum emailed her. Michelle put her foot down a bit in the ned so hopefully that will be the ned of it and my mum got the point. What do you think? It reads from back to front, please read the bottom email first ( Jessica is my cousin)

Hi Again,
I am of sick so that is why I am at home. I didn't mean to tell you what to do I am just scared.
Love Ingela x


Hi Ingela

I meant in the UK as you have sent it so late. Thought you might be in USA again.

It is easy not to slip up as you need to avoid any conversation regarding children. Surely you can tell anja that your leave was rejected in september and therefore has to go in June.
We told my parents and you in confidence and I will be extremely disappointed if this comes out in any way. This is our big event in our lives that we want to share when we are ready and on our terms.
Sure you and Jon will understand, and so does my parents and Bianca.

Good luck with your tummy. Hope to see you at Jessica's.

Xx


Hi Michelle,

In London? I am at home just not been sleeping very well partly because of my tummy. I am seeing my doc
on Friday.

If I am back at work by the time of Jessica's lunch I will be working so I can't see you then. It is always hard
as I only get one weekend of a month.

It most be very hard not to tell your friends suck exciting news. I told Nick that I saw a really nice rocking horse in the auction in Heathfield. I think I am getting a bit carried away. I am also scared that I will slip up with Anja. Ofcourse I wouldn't tell her but all it takes is one wrong word. Especially as we have now booked our hols for June and she is coming.

Look after yourself!

Love Ingela x

Hi Ingela,

Thanks for your email. I am very well. I'm still exercising a lot and even managed to run 8km over the weekend.

We are so busy and it looks like Anja as well. We will see you at Jessica's birthday on the 19th.
Sorry to hear about your tummy!Strange that it's been going on so long. Hopefully you will return back to normal soon and you can feel better. At least you get some time off work!

I have decided not to look in the shops until I am 3 months. There are so many cute things and it's easy to get ahead of yourself but we are feeling very strongly about it as well as not discussing it with anyone until 3months. It is extremely hard as I see my friends almost every day and have a lot of events on where I can't drink. I am trying to avoid these events as much as possible! We went out on saturday and I drank cranberry juice the whole night and no one even noticed! By the time we left at around 00h30 I couldn't keep my eyes open! I looked like such a nerd. All our friends partied until 03:00.
The doctor in south africa advised me that 3months is fine due to the high risk of miscarriage and just I can't deal with extra stress of anyone knowing and discussing it the whole time.

Hope you are well. Are u in london?you sent the email very late.

See you soon
Xxx


Hi Michelle,

I am glad to hear from Nick that you are feeling well and don't have any morning sicknes
.
It is a shame that everybody are so busy on the first weekend in Feb. We have to get together
an other time. Maybe my next part-time. At least we meet up with you on the Saturday.
Thank you for a nice evening and a lovely meal.

I have gone sick from work my tummy is playing up. Have tried to keep going but I just can't
do it any more, They have given me a new medicine to take for 2 weeks hopefully that will work.

I can't wait til this baby is born. We went to an auction and they had a lovely old rocking house.
Do you think I am getter a bit ahead of myself? Nick says yes but that I can buy as much as I like
after the baby is born. I am sure he is not thinking of old things from an auction though.

Love to you and the baby Ingela x






Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like your mother and Michelle were being quite friendly to each other and were doing their best to remain civil yet clear where they both stood on the issue of the baby. It's obvious that your mother is excited and wants to start buying things and telling everyone. There is a subtle hint that she might slip and tell your sister. It's hard to tell if she is just talking about her fears or she is making excuses ahead of time if she does tell your sister (even though her last email does say she is just nervous). Given her past history with how she has treated you both, it could be either.

 

Michelle is being very firm on her feelings about not telling anyone else. Her example of not telling her friends and the trouble she is going through to keep the baby a secret for now is a very direct message to your mother about how the difficulty of keeping the secret is affecting all of you. And Michelle also makes it clear it is very important to her and I cannot see how your mother would miss the message.

 

Your mother may also be using this to play on both of your fears. If your mother cared enough about putting yours and Michelle's feelings ahead of her own, she would not even need to bring up her fears of slipping and telling someone. She would get the message from both of you that it is a secret and she would drop it until you gave the go ahead to talk about it.

 

At this point, it's probably best that you and Michelle try ignore the topic all together. Your mother certainly has to have gotten the message by now about how you both feel and discussing it with her any further only leads her to keep teasing you both with the threat of telling your sister or someone else. She may be getting some satisfaction out of bringing it up and trying to get you upset. So dropping the topic, even if she brings it up, may bring you both some peace until you are ready to share your good news.

 

Kate

 

 

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I wanted to talk to you about my Dad

My Dad was a good dad when I was younger, he would go to football matches that I was playing in, and any sport I was involved in

He would even come when I was older which wasn't ideal but still.

Without going into it too much, there were problems in my parent's relationship, they argued a lot. (Now when they bicker amongst themselves they say it's not arguing but I think it is, Michelle also and she is not used to it.) When I was younger living at home the used to argue quite a lot and my mum used to drink, she wasn't an alcoholic but used to drink and I hated it. My Dad didn't like it and he's still blaming her now for things she used to do. Anyway that is their relationship and nothing to do with me.

I didn't have an especially unhappy or traumatic childhood, but I suppose I don't really have anything to compare it too. I got on with my Dad and we shared, if I had problems I could go to him.

I suppose things started to change when I moved out. I would still talk to my parents and I would go and visit them but I was told that I didn't visit enough. I think the still expected me to participate in family things and friend etc. for example, we had some family friends visiting that we hadn't seen for a while, something came up and I had an opportunity to go abroad which I wanted to do. My parents weren't pleased that I was cancelling as they said I should put this first.

After I moved out my parents had come to visit me and I felt that it works both ways and they weren't making any effort either. I can't bring these things up because it turns into a big discussion which normally results in me backing down or giving in to make them happy. An example is when my Mums best friend was dying of breast cancer, they live in Devon and wanted to hold a small party as she knew she was going to die soon and wanted to see people one last time. I was dating Michelle at the time and things were quite serious. My mum didn't want her to go, which annoyed me but rather than cause a prop I made an excuse to Michelle and did what my mum wanted. I think I should have put my foot down as she was invited.

You then know the following stories surrounding the ski trip, our engagement, etc. This is when the relationship with my Dad really broke down. He sees me with a good life great wife and successful. He thinks I look down and don't want to involve them. Maybe he has a point; the way they are makes me a bit like that. I know it's difficult for you to tell from writing and you only get my point of view but, I'm struggling to like them! What do you think?

Going back, when my parents moved I didn't help them because I was at work. My Dad is really annoyed and still brings it up because he thinks that I don't care and should have taken the time off, because I have my own business I can do that. Michelle didn't want me to help them and she def didn't want to help, which is why I suppose I chose not too. She didn't see why I had to take the whole day to help when my Mum was working too. If they really wanted me to help they could have arranged on a weekend.

Another incident that is brought up, my Dad bought a shed for the garden, it's a big shed he bought on ebay. He had to go and dismantle it and it had to be done on tueday. I agreed and said it should be fine. I did say by the time he rented a van he might aswell pay to have it transported, but he wanted to do it himself. Anyway, I helped him and we made a few trip and got it back, I had a meeting so I had to go plus I didn't want to stay to late. I was getting pressure from Michelle not to stay too late either I think because of everything she doesn't like me helping them out. She doesn't see them making any effort with us.

So now this gets brought up again, that I had to rush off and I couldn't stay and help and that they don't ask a lot etc etc.

I had an argument with my Dad 2-3 weeks ago about and he said his reaction was probably because of everything that happened in the past about not helping with the move and not helping prop with the shed etc. I said that he makes absolutely not effort with me and it a two way street. He said that I look down on them and am only interested in my rich South African friends. I told him that he's been dying to say that, which I feel he has, as we have good friends that we share with and they see we are close to them. He said I just made a mistake and shouldn't have said that. I said conversation is over. I've not spoke to him since and I'm not running after him again!

What do you think? I know your just hearing it from my side but im not sure how to react and im not sure how or if I can sort everything. One thing im sure of is if I turn round and say im not prepared to discuss the past, ive moved on and so should you. If you want to be involved in our lives then you can but you need to act more like a father, move on stop trying to create issues and making things about yourself and make an effort.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi, it's good to hear from you again!

 

I wanted to respond now to get your question off the queue. I need to go to an appointment this morning then I will be back to answer your question in full.

 

Kate

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like your parents want you to put them first in your life. They see you as their son and therefore part of the family unit, just as you were before you left home. They do not include Michele because she is probably seen as an intruder and not part of the family. They are also jealous of your life, your business and your friends. They seem to feel all of these things interfere with you being a part of the family, which in their eyes needs to come first.

 

When you left home, you stopped thinking of the family as your primary focus but your parents did not. When children leave home, they begin to explore who they are and seek out those things that they feel fit with the future they want. School, jobs, friends and relationships are all important. As you develop these basics in your life, your family is there to be supportive and as a place you can go back to for sanctuary. But the whole idea is for you to keep moving forward with your life with your family's support.

 

But what happens with your parents is that they want to remain under their control and part of the family first before anything else. And when you do not do what they expect, they become upset and start attacking your choices to try to make you feel bad and get you back under their control. And as you said, sometimes it worked. But lately, it has not because you are resisting the attempts at control and seeing through the criticism your father is imposing on you.

 

Your father sounds supportive, but only when he wants to be. He acts out his role from his point of view. It is not acting in a way that you need but acting in a way that he feels is what is needed. And when you do not agree to do what he wants, he sees you in violation of his point of view, which of course should be yours as well.

 

It is ok that you do not want to be near them. A relationship with them involves giving up yourself, your rights and your life to fit in to what they feel your role is within the family. They have made a point to reject Michele which is enough grounds to not deal with them anymore. Michele's reaction when you do have to deal with them is appropriate. She sees what they are doing to you and what they have done to her and she backs off from contact to protect herself and you.

 

You may want to try limited contact and on your terms. Your parents may not be happy about that, but if they want contact, they will need to agree to it. It is ok to provide some concessions, but only if you are comfortable with them. For example, if your father wants help with his shed then let him know what works for you. Tell him you can only help on a Saturday and only during hours that you pick with Michele. If he argues or tries to criticize you, then tell him you cannot help. By setting these boundaries, you can protect yourself and Michele and get your parents to understand that they cannot rule your life, no matter how much they wish to.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate

i Have been reading up on narcissism to see if it can offer any solutions. Reading information im not sure they are narcissists. yes they want to involve themselves in everything and they often turn things round to see how it effects them but is that enough? they dont ignore us or put us down. they just want to be involved in our life. my sister told me yesterday to let down my defences they just want to support, but maybe thats because im changing. i dont know what to think. i know michelle hates my parents so anything that happens now cant be right. anything they do i not right. how do i resolve this. Pushing them away or distancing ourselves is going to make things worse for our relationship with my parents. They will see it as not caring or making an effort. as an example i spoke to my mum to ask her what she is doing for her bday and is she having it on the 4th or 5th march. Michelle has been invited to her friends baby shower so i wanted to find out. my mum said she thought we were coming for the whole weekend and that sun was her actual bday and she didnt know yet as she is not feeling well. i said can she tell us so we cn make plans. She phoned back to agree Sat and then michelle could go on Sun but i felt like she wanted us to put her first and go for the weekend. Should we have done that, had it been up to me i would have gone for the weekend but michelle wont want to and she is more concerned about going to the baby shower. is this wrong?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi Nick,

 

When you are looking at a diagnosis, the criteria is that the person fits some of the criteria and not necessarily all of it. For example, when looking at diagnosing someone with narcissism, you need to see if the person fits at least 5 out of 9 of the criteria.

 

Your parents can also have some of the traits of narcissism and not meet the criteria enough to be diagnosed with it. Or one of your parents meet the criteria and the other does not. But they can still have traits, enough to make it difficult to deal with them.

 

You have described your parents behavior to me several times and told me about the things they say to you. And I think your assessment is accurate. You feel they are putting themselves first. Your gut seems to tell you that they may care but they care about themselves before anyone else. You would not be feeling as you do without reason.

 

And you have Michelle's reaction to your parents to go by as well. How they have treated her has caused her to pull back from them in order to not get hurt again. She would not be doing that for no reason.

 

In dealing with your parents, it's a good idea to think about what you and Michelle want to do first. If Michelle needs to attend an event, then decide when it's most convenient for her to go then let your mother know what you can do in terms of visiting her. Since she had not let you know of her plans earlier, you need to arrange the plans you do know about and then fit your mother in as you can.

 

In any case, you are married with a baby on the way. Your family comes first, then your family of origin comes second. That is the best way to look at it when dealing with any conflicts.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the reply.

I hear what you're saying Im ust worried that it's all coming from my point of view. Maybe I'm not telling it correctly.

I'm going to continue to do whatever Michelle wants or needs and see how that works. I'm sure my parents do not like the fact that we are not going there for the weekend etc and are probably going to think badly of me as I don't consider them.

The problem is I know they want us to come for the weekend even in the future and I don't want to make excuses. They think we should put aside a free weekend. Do they have a point?

What I do about my dad, he hasn't spoken to me, he left me a vm but doesn't know if I got it. That's another thing, when they phone me I often don't pick up because I'm busy or don't want to. This is a problem they mention and that they tried to phone and I didn't call back.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome, anytime.

 

There is nothing wrong with your point of view. When you come from a dysfunctional family, it is often hard to trust your own views, thoughts and feelings because you were raised in an atmosphere where expression of your views, thoughts and feelings were either not welcome or treated in a dysfunctional way. In your case, your parents put their needs first and ruled the family. You were used to how it worked. But now it's different for you. You have insight and can see the dysfunction. Having a emotionally healthy point of view in a dysfunctional family can feel like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. You want to get a normal response but you can't because your parents are not seeing this in a normal way. They keep responding in a dysfunctional way, making you feel you are doing something wrong. Plus they use blame to make you feel it's your fault. Each time you assert your needs or Michelle's, your parents tell you that it's wrong, in so many words and in their actions. They keep insinuating that you are not cooperating and push a "what's wrong with you" attitude. That is the nature of personality disorders. It's everyone else's fault and there is no insight to see it otherwise.

 

Think about this- what would happen if you gave in to everything your parents asked you to do? What would your life be like? Would you and Michelle be happier? If your answer is no, then look at why. That will help you see their behavior more clearly.

 

If your parents were normal in their behavior, they would respect your need to put Michelle first. They would invite you to gatherings but if you could not make it, they would understand. They would say things like "can we help?" or "what time can you make it so we can work around it?" They would try to include Michelle. The would not blame you for being busy but try to support you and allow for your time constraints. That is normal behavior.

 

You are probably making excuses to not deal with them because it so stressful to do so. Each contact is about what they need and blaming you in indirect ways for your reactions. You realize that so you avoid dealing with them so you don't have to feel bad.

 

Do you want to put aside a weekend to be with them? It might be helpful to make a list of the good and bad of a weekend with them. Also, see if Michelle wants to do that (I imagine not but give her a chance to have input). If you feel you do not want to see them, make a compromise. See them for dinner or spend one day with them, without spending the night. Don't let them make you feel guilty. This is about setting boundaries. You have the right to say you are too busy. You also have the right to restrict their access to you if you feel they are too overbearing and invasive in their behavior.

 

Do you feel responding to your father would help you or hurt you? If he has reached out, you can attempt to talk with him. But set limits on his behavior. If he starts to seem abusive cut the conversation off in a gentle yet firm way. He may get angry, but that is because you shut off his chance to hurt you and not because you are doing something wrong.

 

What your parents feel about you is irrelevant. I know it's hard to think that way. But when dealing with manipulative or dysfunctional parents, they are not going to love you the way you need them to. They are focused on themselves. So it's up to you to set those boundaries and protect yourself from their behavior. Along with that comes how they react. And it's usually some way to make you feel guilty, blamed and ex communicated from the family so they can control your behavior. This is not about who you are or who Michelle is. It's about them. You will not be able to please them unless you do exactly what they want. And even then, they will find ways to hurt you. Thinking of your relationship with them this way hurts and you may mourn what you can't have, but it's something that all children from dysfunctional families have to deal with in order to cope with their families. Protecting your self, your marriage and your family is more important than what your parents feel, and that is how to try to think of it so it's easier to deal with.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Kate, that is really helpful.

I just want to know also what to say if were invited to things that we dont want to attend. If we say we can't make we come up with an excuse or if we say that Michelle is doing something or I'm playing golf then it's looked on that I should cancel that to do what they want as that is more important. They don't say it but I know they are thinking it. They have said that we rush of when we go to visit. We also don't see them a lot as it is.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome!

 

It sounds like your parents are seeing your needs and your behavior as having to do with them. They do not see your activities as about your needs or Michelle's needs. So to them, your needs are trivial. Your parents see themselves as coming first in their lives and everyone else's. So to them when you hurry through the visit with them, it's an insult. They feel you need to pay them the attention they feel they are due. And you avoid them for this very reason. To you, their behavior may feel draining and hurtful, because your needs are not met at all and when you do try to meet them, you are made to feel self centered and guilty. So to avoid their behavior and the guilt they try to make you feel, you stay away as much as possible. You are reacting normally in a dysfunctional situation.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate

I was wondering what you though about the specific scenario's I said before?

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You can tell them that you are busy and can't attend. They do not need to know why. If they ask, you can tell them that you are busy. If they pry more, then ask why it is so important that they know. It may not give them what they want and they may get angry, but prying into your business so they can be satisfied with your answer is invasive and uncalled for. Setting your boundaries now will help you in the future because they will understand that you will not tolerate their need to know and be satisfied with your answers.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Kate

 

Most of the timewhen my parents call, usually my mum, i miss the call. Either because i dont want to speak to them or because im at work and im busy. If i dont return the call or return a text or email they point it out when i next speak to them that they tried to phone yesterday or 'did i get their email'.

 

The reason im saying this is because Michelle had a mis-carrage a the weekend. We thought it was going to be the case a week ago as the scan didnt look good. We told my parents as we were due to go there last weekend. On Friday Michelle was having problems and mis carrage some time over the weekend. She was in alot of pain and had to be in hospital over the weekend. My parents phoned and text alot and i told them that we needed space and that we know we can rely on them if we need anything. They sent a card and have text michelle and emailed to see if we want to go and visit or they can come up and see us. Its the last thing that Michelle wants at the moment.

 

My parents phoned the day before yesterday and i said we just need time and updated them on the situation. They didnt phone yesterday but they emailed Michelle. They have just phoned again. Im at work and didnt want to pick up, i dont want to discuss anything or feel the need to update them. I feel bad and nervous for not answering as i know that if i dont get back to them then they are going to tell me 'i tried t call you yesterday' expecting a reason why i didnt pick up. What do i say?? They make a comment all the time about how they can never get hold of me or i dont pick up.

 

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Nick,

 

I am so sorry that you and Michelle lost your baby. Hearing that breaks my heart. I know the two of you were so excited. If Michelle is aware of our conversations, please pass along my condolences.

 

It is amazing that your parents cannot respect your and Michelle's need for space at this difficult time. They are only concerned for themselves and pushing the agenda they have, instead of respecting the two of you and giving you the space you requested. To pester you both with phone calls and emails only adds to your stress. It seems that even during this difficult time, they are still putting their own needs above your needs.

 

Then to add to their invasive behavior, they don't allow you to set boundaries by not answering the phone. By constantly asking you if you got their messages or by always telling you they called, they are pushing into your space and causing you distress.

 

You have been nice enough to ask them to back off and they are not respecting your request. So you may have to set stronger boundaries with them. They probably will not like it and may protest. but if you want to have space from them, it's important that you give them the message that they need to back off.

 

You can do this one of two ways (or both if you feel it's needed). Either send an email to both of your parents or contact them by phone saying that you and Michelle are not taking any phone calls, emails or other communication for the next several days (or however long you wish it to be). Tell them you will contact them when you and Michelle are ready. Be clear that you will not be returning any messages nor will you be answering the phone. If they protest, repeat what you said. Then cut off contact. By doing this, you send a clear message and set a strong boundary. Hopefully, they will back off and allow you and Michelle to have the time you need.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Kate

 

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX a tough time, just trying to support Michelle, she is being strong.

 

Michelle is aware that i have spoken to you but doesnt know that i have spoken to you recently. This is because she understood why i needed to speak to you but was a bit upset that i couldnt speak to her about it,as her thoughtswere the same as yours and that is what she had been telling me. I feel im now going behind her back but this helps me to deal properly and know how to act towards my parents. It can only be good for our relationship.

 

I am going to email my mum, as i know it is her who calls. My Dad is too stuborn and i really dont want to speak to him now in any case. I dont know how to tell them in person without sounding rude. So i think an email is best. She will probably think that is rude too so im no overly bother because i cant win.

 

I was going to say:

 

Thank you for your call, sorry i missed it. We are both fine but really need some time to deal with the situation and try to move on.

 

I will be in touch when were ready.

 

Thank you for your card and support.

 

Nick x

 

What do you think? I didnt want to say that we are not taking calls or emails because we are and they might know that.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

That sounds good, Nick. You may just want to leave out the "sorry I missed it" part. Although saying that normally to anyone else is being polite and thoughtful, to your parents it will translate as you are at fault for not picking up their call. Besides, that it's a good email. Now, hopefully, they will give you both some space.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK thanks Kate

 

I can see there view being that we can talk to other people but not them. We will see.

 

Dont you think that my dad not getting in contact with me is really bad. it shouldnt matter what has happened before he should at least email to see how i am or offer his support. My mum may take things to far but at least she is trying to support in her own way.

 

He did sign the card but that doesnt mean anything to me.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome.

 

It is sad that your father is putting his feelings about your relationship issues ahead of your needs. He seems to feel it's more important to hold a grudge than to reach out over the loss of his grandchild. I'm sorry you have to deal with his lack of support at such a bad time.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What do i do, im seeing them the weekend after next
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It depends on how you feel about it. It is perfectly understandable, given the circumstances, that you cancel, if you wish to. If not, then go. Just be prepared to deal with invasive behavior. If you prepare yourself emotionally and practice your responses to your family's comments and questions, you should be ok.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate. Come up with something else today as was wondering if I dealt with it correctly. My dad is really ignoring me at the moment and not bringing anything up so I'm just leaving it and not dealing with it. I'm just friendly without being over friendly.

Anyway, as I told you before it was my mums 60th, Michelle and I went down there on the sat. Had a meal and gave her a nice bangle for her birthday. Everything seemed to go well. That was on the sat. Her actually bday was on the sun. Then last sun was mothers day. We were away on a ski trip. So I sent flowers and a card as we couldn't be there. I also text on the day to say that we had sent flowers and happy mothers day.

Today I received a text message from my sister saying: hi, just wanted to tell you that mum is really upset that you didn't call her on mothers day, especially because you didn't speak to her on her bday either. Please don't tell her I said something its just she,s really upset and I wanted to say something to you.

I replied: well that is ridiculous. We were down for her birthday and sent her flowers on others day. I travelled from 8 till 6 on mthers day, notvthat I need to justify. Hope you are well.

I'm just wondering if that was ok to say,vor going to spark arguments. I'm just fed up of things being brought up or there always being a problem. If I was a cra sone I would have bought a present, gone down there, text on her birthday or sent flowers on mothers day.

Also if my sister didn't want me to say anything why is she texting me.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like your mother is trying to make you feel guilty for not making her the center of attention. And your sister has become part of the dysfunction in the family and now has the job of spokesperson for your mother. Your mother is perfectly capable of letting you know she is upset, but she makes her feelings known to your sister, who in turn takes it on herself to make sure you are informed so you feel adequately guilty.

 

What they are doing is part of the dysfunction of the family. You see it because you are healthy emotionally. They do not have any insight so they keep attempting to manipulate you and get you to do what they want you to, which is make them the center of your life.

 

It is hard to balance a relationship with them when they will not let you be your own person. They are always going to try to make what they feel the priority in the family. Your sister has gone along with this and is now enmeshed in the situation, so she is going to be of no help to you. Your only hope with her is that she might gain insight on her own and see what your parents are doing.

 

The best way to deal with what your mother is doing is to ignore it. Let her be the one who brings it up to you. If you acknowledge what your sister said to you then you are rewarding what your mother is doing. If your mother does approach you and let you know she felt hurt, then tell her you did what you could but do not accept blame. You can say something along the lines of "I'm sorry you feel I did not do enough for you." and then let it go. The point is to let her take responsibility for her own feelings and not let her dump them on you.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate, I am abroad again, in south Africa. I can't accept at the moment for some reason, will try again tomorrow on wi-fi. I also wanted to know if the text I replied to my sister was ok or not? Did I do the wrong thing. Also can I just tell my sister that it has nothing to do with her.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It's odd that the system won't let you accept. We have many clients from South Africa and it's usually no issue. You may want to contact the moderators and let them know you are having a problem. They can process an accept for you if you cannot do it yourself.

 

What you told your sister is fine. In the future, you may just let her know that if your mother has something to say she can call herself.

 

Kate

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Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Just to let you know, I am going to report your problem to customer service so they can help you accept your answer. They need to know if there are problems with the system so they can address them.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate

Another issue, not problem but it's good to talk.

I flew to south Africa last week, my mother got me a standby ticket. I got on the plane and I told her that I would text when I arrive. It took time to get the car drive to my inlaws etc, I didn't text. My mum text Michelle who was still in the uk to ask if I had arrived because I hadn't text yet.

Then after a few days she emailed to ask if everything was ok and say helllo to the inlaws etc. I didn't relply as we were busy and I felt I was on holiday and didn't need to check in with my parents. Michelle was now in south Africa and my mum text her to ask how everything was and that she had emailed me a couple of times and I hadn't replied.

Michelle text to say we are having a great time and both fine.

My mum emailed me again today to ask and wanted to know if there was a rpeason I hadn't emailed. I'm travelling to Dubai today for business so I just replied saying why would there be a reason, I got her emails we have been busy and having a greattime hope all is well.

What d you think, should I have text or emailed.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It sounds like your mother is more involved than she needs to be with your situation. You are an adult and do not need checked up on all the time. If she does have business with you, such as something you need to know about family or a certain situation that is an emergency, then it is perfectly fine for her to contact you while you are away. But otherwise, it is reasonable for her to make sure you got there safely then leave you alone the rest of the trip.

 

Next time you need to travel, you may want to leave her out of it as much as you can. Buy your own ticket, let her know when you will be gone, and tell her you only intend on contacting her when you arrive and that is all. If she tries to contact you for a non emergency situation, then either ignore it or say I'm fine and that is all. If she tries to contact Michelle to do the same thing, ask Michelle to respond in the same way. That way, you can set boundaries with your mother. Otherwise, she will still try to control your situation each time you leave.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I didn't text her straight away when I arrived so I think that was the problem. After she had text Michelle who was still in the uk, I text her to say I had arrived. I think in future I shouldn't tell her that I will text and then she doesn't expect anything? Is it normal to text your mother to let her know I have arrived? I'm a 30 year old man?

I received a reply to my email saying that it was only polite that I reply to her.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It is not typical to involve your mother in your travel plans, but since she was already involved because she got you a stand by ticket, then it would be hard to shut her out after that. You may want to keep her completely out of your plans next time. Make your own arrangements so she is not involved at all. That way, you can keep it all to yourself and if she tries to butt in, you can ignore her.

 

Kate

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Kate, I accepted your answer, just let me know if you have received the payment or I can do it again.

I didn't involve my mother in any of my plans, I was on a standby ticket as she works for ba and I therefore get it alot cheaper so she had to book for me. I was just wondering how I should respond when she e ailed saying it would have been polite to reply to her emails.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome! I did not receive the accept. You may want to check with the moderators or customer service to try again.

 

Thanks,

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
hi Kate, there was a problem with my paypal which is why i couldnt accept.

I didn't involve my mother in any of my plans, I was on a standby ticket as she works for ba and I therefore get it alot cheaper so she had to book for me. I was just wondering how I should respond when she e ailed saying it would have been polite to reply to her emails.

I phoned my parents house today and my mum is away and my dad answered. We had a brief conversation and its his birthday next weekend. i asked what he was doing and he said he hadnt arranged anything but my sister was coming for the weekend. I said i would arrange with her and see. He didnt say anything or ask how south africa was etc. he is obviously still angry but thats up to him.

i am angry about things, especially as he hasn't said anything about the miscarriage or ask me how i feel. Im over it to be honest and just let him act how he wants.We have decided to move to South Africa next year, how do you think i should tell them, im sure that whichever way i tell them it wont be the right way.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Oh, thanks for the clarification. I did not know your mother works the airlines.

 

In that case, it is a bit harder to keep your activities away from her if you need to fly. But there still needs to be some level of boundaries between you both. Even through she is aware that you are going away, a simple email saying you are fine is plenty. There is no need to contact you further from there. If she does, you can let her know that you will speak to her when you get home and let Michelle know to do the same.

 

I imagine, just as you said, that your parent's will not like your move to South Africa. It is going to give them less control over you. Moving will create a natural boundary and that will make getting to you and violating your privacy much harder. Unfortunately, they do not appear to be there for you but instead for themselves. That will make it hard to tell them.

 

You may just want to be blunt with them. As I recall, you mentioned that you have brought moving up before so they may not be surprised by your announcement. But either way, you can say to them that you and Michelle are leaving on such and such date and plan on saying goodbye before that. Keep it simple and unemotional as you can. If they become hostile or upset, say I'm sorry you feel that way and leave. You want to set a boundary with them that says "this is my life and my decision". They may try to convince you otherwise, but as long as you set the boundary, there is nothing they can do.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I hear what you are saying but if i tell my mum i will speak to her when im back she will expect contact when im home and i keep feeling i should let them know when im back.

Also what do you think about what i said about my Dad?

Just telling them and leaving seems a bit cold, but i do think your right. Things have certainly got a lot better from my point of view as i seems to have the tools emotionally to cope and not feel so guilty about my parents feelings. I think my parents prob think things are worse but now i dont care so much about what they think, they need to be there for me or not
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

That is understandable. You are always fine setting the boundaries with your mother wherever you feel most comfortable. If you feel that no contact is needed at all when you go away, then that is fine. She really does not need to know anything. Michelle will contact her if something is wrong or there is something she needs to know. You can always let your mother know that and then tell her you are not going to be responding to emails. You may also want to set a limit on her contacting Michelle. Make it clear that only emergency situations need contact (hopefully, she will not abuse that and deem everything an emergency, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it).

 

It sounds like your father can hold a grudge. What seems most important to your parents is how they feel about everything and not how anyone else feels. And if your father feels hurt, he is going to carry it as far as he can, or until you give in and give him what he wants. But keeping your distance like you did was great. It is telling him that he will not get his way, which breaks the behavioral pattern of him being slighted (real or imaginary) and "punishing" you for it by giving you the cold shoulder. It's like training a puppy (I don't mean to compare your father to a puppy, but just for the example). You have to show it was is acceptable and what is not. "Training" your father involves not rewarding his cold behavior towards you by giving in and paying attention to it.

 

It may seem cold to tell them about your move in a factual way, but you do not have to leave afterwards unless they give you problems about it. If they react well or try to, stay and talk about it. Reward their reaction if it is good by giving more. You only have to set a boundary if they try to be invasive or controlling.

 

This will get easier with time and practice. It is hard to grow up with this kind of behavior and know when they are crossing boundaries or not. But you seem to have the hang of it so you should be fine.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Kate

Do i tell my mother that when im away she should email me, unless its urgent? I think she may have got the message without me needing to say anything. I dont feel like should say anything or justify. i sure next time she wont be funny if i dont reply, and if she does thet is her problem and not mine. Im sorry if that is harsh im just fed up with everything and now its finally turning round i dont think they like it.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome!

 

I would tell her only if she contacts you again while you are away. But if you feel she already got the message, then it would be overkill to repeat it, making you look bad.

 

I do not think you are acting harshly. It may seem so because you are so used to having them invade your lift that setting boundaries may seem cruel. But in a healthy family, these issues would not occur. Your parents would "parent" themselves and not need to constantly control you. They would respect your privacy and the fact that once you got married, Michelle is first in your life. There would not be the assumption that you spend all that time with them. Instead, they would ask you and if you were busy, they would respect it.

 

So all you are doing is trying to bring the situation to a healthy point where everyone can react in normal ways instead of invading privacy, crossing boundaries and holding grudges. There is nothing wrong with being the healthy one in the family; you may just feel like you don't fit in, which is good at this point!

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


It has been a while, hope you are well.


 


I just wanted to ask your opinion about a problem I'm having at the moment. Since the issue i had with my parents after the miscarriage and had an argument with my Dad, i haven't really spoken to him. I speak to my mum and we do see them but he is always off when we see them. He may argue that i too am ignoring him and not making effort to speak to him, but im fed up with doing that. He is acting how he did when he argued with his sisters and didn't talk to them for 10 years. Its just stressing me out and i don't know what to do. I dont want to hold it against my mum but im not interesting in seeing them.


 


Its been about 7 months and i haven't really spoken to him.


 


The reason for my question is, Michelle is pregnant again and this time the 8 week scan has showed everything as normal. We are so happy and im pleased we dont have to go through he miscarriage problems again. we still are not out of the woods until 12 weeks but things look alot more positive. Michelle has told her twin sister, her parents and her close friend. She doesnt want to tell my parents until 12 weeks. i understand her reasoning but i just dont feel right about not telling my parents as she has told hers. She feels they ruined things last time and doesnt want it to happen again. I do agree and i suppose deep down she is right and the thing im worried about is the issue if they know we have told other people a long time before we told them.


 


What do you think? If my Dad acts like he normally does when we eventually do tell them and doesnt feel like he can put things behind him, i dont think i"ll be able to deal with that. Iwont speak to him again. how he reacts also makes me nervous.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Hello Nick,

Congratulations on the good news!

I would be more than happy to continue working with you on any new questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to rate my answers for each new/different question you ask. Thanks!

Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have rated your question


 


Thanks Kate

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, I never received it. You may want to talk with the moderator to see what is going on or you can let me know what you intended to rate and I can send it to them.

Thanks,

Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


I rated as many as i could, some answers wanted me to pay, which i think i already have.


 


Nick

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
The issue here is how your father is handling his relationships. He seems fine until someone upsets him then he reacts by cutting them off and essentially giving them a permanent "cold shoulder". By doing this, he creates conflict, one that can only be resolved by coming to him and doing something to get back into his good graces. In other words, the relationship is one sided, to his benefit. And it leaves everything in his control.

Because of the boundaries he sets in your relationship with him, the relationship has become unhealthy. You have to work around him each time you want contact with your parents (even just your mother) and it creates conflict for you in having any type of relationship with either parent. It also forces you to either come to him and have a relationship on his terms, or cut the relationship off completely, something he may be counting on you not doing so he can continue to control the relationship.

Since Michelle is your wife and your parent's caused issues before with the last pregnancy, it is probably best to go with her wishes. Your wife needs to come first in the situation and your parents have shown that they have difficulty with this in the past. You also may want to take some time to decide if you want to continue having a relationship with your father on his terms. Seeing a counselor to talk it through would help you come to a conclusion.

My best to you and Michelle,

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Kate

Hope you are well!

I'm asking you a few questions and its quite long. Sorry for that and will can pay for multiple questions.

Thank you for your last answer, maybe I should think about seeing someone. I'm struggling to see myself as an adult when it comes to my parents. I can't stick up for myself because they want a justification on every little point.

I wanted to opinion and advise. For xmas we are going to family friends. My mum is Swedish and celebrates Xmas on Xmas eve. They wanted us to come down. Stay with them and then go to the family friends party on Xmas day. I told them that Michelle is working and because she is pregnant we are not going to come down and we will see them on Xmas day at our family friends. We have now arranged to see some friends in the evening of Xmas eve and I'm worried they will find out and think we should have gone to them instead. They would have expected us to put them first.

They have also arranged a family day on the 29th dec. this is Michelle's bday so naturally I said we couldn't make it. Michele since then said that we can go down there. My parents presumed we were staying the night and suggested that as we were not seeing them on Xmas eve we could give presents then.

I said we were not staying the night because Michelle is pregnant and we don't want to stay the night. It seems they are not happy with this and although they haven't said anything it feels like they expect us to be thinking of them. She told Michelle that she can just do her bday on the 30th.?

I have been texting my sister today about Xmas present and she said it was a shame we were not coming on the 24th or the 29th. Why is she even bringing it up?

Whilst texting my sister I asked what type of perfume my mum wanted to Xmas. She said that my dad has already bought and that I should have asked him. I said before buying he could have also asked me, which I thought was quite reasonable. She though I was being funny and that I had and issue with my dad.

I don't know if I'm being completely unreasonable.

I need to tell you about something else. On the 29th of nov we had arranged to go to my parents. We were having a scan to determine the sex of the baby on the 30th. We the. Told my parents the scan had to be moved to the 29th and because it was in the middle of the day we weren't going to come down. We had the scan in the morning and told them the news that it was a boy. They were excited, and then said that how come we had the scan so early and they thought it was later etc etc. I was annoyed and said that wasn't the point and why were we discussing it. She asked to speak to Michelle and I passed the phone over. My mum congratulated her and then said we had lied about the time of the scan and we said it was in the afternoon. Seb said it half joking but still. Michelle said that I had already explained. The conversation carried on a bit. Michelle was in tears when she got off the phone saying they always find something to make it about them, why can't they just be happy and leave it at that.

Really sorry with all the questions will pay extra and a bonus.

Thank you in advance.

Nick
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Hi Nick,

It sounds like your parents are too involved with your life. When you are married, your parents need to take second position to your wife and children. And it does not sound like your parents are doing that. They seem to keep insisting on being considered first. For example, they want you to see them rather than spend time celebrating Michelle's birthday which basically says they feel they are more important than Michelle and what she wishes to do on her birthday. What should happened instead is that they ask you what your plans are for her birthday then they work around what you have planned.

What you can do is start setting limits. If they get upset, then that is their choice. You need to put your wife first, especially with a child on the way. So if your parents want you to come over for Christmas Eve, you can say we can't make it and stick to that. If they ask why, say you have your own plans. Then don't say what they are. If they persist, tell them that you don't feel they need to know and that you will see them on whatever date you can make it. If you have to, hang up. They may become upset, but if you don't set limits, they will keep butting into your life.

It sounds like your sister is agreeing with your parents because she has been trained by your parents to agree with them. She may not be able to go against them because of the guilt they put on her, so she goes along with them. It may be the only way she feels she can get approval from them.

Your parents and sister may not be able to accept your boundaries because they want what they want and are putting themselves first. It could be that they have personality issues or they are just self centered. Putting boundaries on them is going to make them upset because they are not getting what they want. But unless you do tell them no, they will continue as they have been, insisting that they get their own way.

Kate

 

 

Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then SUBMIT, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Thank you!

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have rated as excellent, how do I pay for the answer?

I have been setting boundaries for my parents. My mum spoke to me today and wanted to know the reason why we were not staying. I said we had made a decision and that she should be pleased that we are coming down on Michelle's bday and not questioning why we are not staying. They should respect our decisions.

I'm not sure if it registered but I think it did.

I'm really worried that if they find out we have had a party on Xmas eve that they think we should have gone there instead. I'm worried at how I will deal with it.

Having said that I'm worried about being worried!! If that makes sense. I should just be able to say that we made the decision and that's it. It wasn't to be hurtful otherwise we wouldn't have come for Xmas. But again I'm justifying myself.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Nick,

 

The rating did not go through. Please confirm what you would like to rate and I will send it through to the moderators so they can put the rating through for you.

 

Thanks,

Kate

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That should have gone through now.

Just to add to the previous, when my mum called wanting to know the reason, what I said above is what I told her and then changed the subject.

Thanks for your help!

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Nick,

It can be difficult to go against your parents because you naturally want them to accept and love you. But when they make their acceptance and love based on you going along with what they want all the time, then there is no way to get what you need unless you give in every time. The most difficult choice is to say no to their conditions, but in order to gain your own self respect you may have to. Otherwise, they will keep pressuring you to do what they want you to do in order to be accepted.

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Kate!


 


If they question why we had people over on xmas eve (Swedish xmas) rather than go down to them, am i justified in saying that "we are adults and don't need to justify or give them a reason. We made a decision and as parents who are supposed to love us they should respect that."


 


We have already said that Michelle is working and we are not going there after. Its too much to drive 2 hours there in the evening and then 2 hours back.


 


I dont know if they will ask or if they will react but history suggests thats what they will be thinking or say to us.


 


I think it comes down to learning to deal with them.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.

Nick,

Yes, that is a good thing to say to your parents. They need to understand that you are an adult with his own life now. You have your wife and (soon) new baby to care for and they will need to take a step back. Telling them that you want that respect is not easy, but they need to know that boundary is there. They will probably fight it and that won't be pleasant. But keep to it and you will eventually get them to see that you deserve to be your own person.

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


Hope you had a good christmas!


 


Im really trying to but the boundaries in place between us and my parents so they can learn but your right that I feel like im coming up against resistance.


 


It feels wrong and like im doing something wrong. It stresses me out, I get anxious and can describe the feeling but its like anxiety in my stomach.


 


Mt parents had organised a family and friends party a while ago and we were told about it. Also told that we didn’t need to come but they wanted of course to tell us. I told them it was Michelles bday and we wouldn’t be going. They didn’t realise it was her bday, they thought it was on the 30th. Michelle said she didn’t mind and we would come on the 29th in the afternoon after she had seen her sister in the morning. Maybe there was a break in communication but we were under the impression it was an afternoon event.


 


My mum told us we could stay the night. I told her a couple of weeks ago that we wouldn’t be staying the night. She phoned me last week to ask why we were not staying the night and was there a reason why. I told her that we had made the decision and we were not staying. She kept asking and pushing for a reason. I said that she should be happy that we are coming down, especially on Michelles bday and not angry that we are not staying.


 


Fast forward to last night…


 


Michelle emailed my mum to ask if we could bring anything and what time they expected us. She replied saying that everyone is getting there at 7 but we could come earlier if we wanted.


 


Michelle was annoyed because we didn’t know it was and evening event, and the purpose of going was to see my family and family friends. We were not going to now drive 2 hrs there stay for 2 hours and drive back.


 


We could go early but that we would mean spending time with my parents and Michelle didn’t want to do that on her bday.


 


I feel caught in the middle again, but I phoned my mum this morning to say I wasn’t aware it was so late and we wont be joining because its too far to drive for a few hours. She said we could come before but I said its michelles bday and we were coming to see everyone, had I of know it was so late then I would have agreed to go in the first place.


 


She didn’t say anything but I could tell she was upset. Am I wrong or reading to much into it. I think we should go for the day and see people in the evening but its not what Michelle wants. I think she should make the effort.


 


Thanks Kate!


 


Im sure your help as always will make me feel better

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick,

It is difficult to be caught in the middle in such a situation. Your mother wants one thing and Michelle (and you) another. It may help to keep in mind though that Michelle is the priority in your life. Your mother, though important, is now second.

It sounds like your mother was maybe trying to manipulate you and Michelle to be at her home more than you planned on being there. You mentioned that you told her the hours you wanted to be there, yet she kept asking for more. If that is a problem, you may want to try this- the next time she calls to invite you and Michelle to something, get all the details then offer to email her later of your decision. Then talk with Michelle about when you want to go and how long or even if you want to go at all, then email your mother your answer. By emailing her, you are very clear about the details of your stay and there is a record of it. You can refer back to it when there is an argument or when things become unclear. Keep to the details of the email and do not change them, no matter what your mother says.

If your mother calls you after you have emailed her, repeat the details of the email to her again and let her know that is what you have decided. If she persists anyway, decide if the visit is worth the trouble and at what point you would cancel. Let your mother know that you have made your decision but if she continues to try to change your mind, you will not be coming after all.

Unfortunately, you may need to go against your fear and anxiety over setting boundaries with your parents in order to get them to back off. They are used to having control over you and are going to become upset when they cannot control you. And they have based their love and approval of you on that control. The anxiety you feel is because you fear losing that love and approval. But unless you are willing to be loved based on your parents control, you may have to let your relationship with Michelle be enough, for now. Your parents will probably come back around once they see you deserve the same respect they want from you.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Kate


I suppose it trying to gain the skills (if thats the right word) to dealing with my parents.


 


Im worried that they are expecting one thing and now we are not going. They feel like we dont make effort with them. And i can see there point that we should be making the effort. Am i completely wrong? Should i be telling Michelle that we should go?


 


We have only seen them one, on xmas day?


 


I know michelle will think differently so i dont know what to do.


 


Also Michelle mentioned to my sister that we had a late party on xmas eve. I told her not too but she did anyway. We left at 9pm from our family friends on xmas day. When i spoke to my mum she made a comment that they stayed later than us on xmas day but not as late as you had your party on xmas eve. This felt like she was saying that because we stayed late on xmas eve with friends, we should have done the same on xmas day with them.


 


It feels like Michelle knew it would cause problems and thats why she said something.


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You may want to decide how often you feel is enough in seeing your parents. Talk to Michelle about it and determine what works for both of you. Then use that as a rough estimate. Most people see their parents a few times a year, unless they live within minutes of each other and get along well. But even then, you have to decide what works for you. If your parents are hurtful or manipulative, you may want to see them less so you can have boundaries with them. And if something like Michelle's birthday comes up, then that takes priority. It is what you and Michelle want that matters here. Not what your parents want. You don't have to see them every holiday, every birthday and for every party. They may want that, but their needs are not as important as yours and Michelle's needs.

Your parents are going to try to make you feel bad for not doing what they want you to do. And having to hide how long you are at other parties and whose parties you attend is a sign that your parents have too much say so in what you do in your life. It is none of your parents business who you and Michelle see and when and telling them that is ok. It may have been fine for them to know when you were a child and still living with them, but as an adult you make your own choices. Michelle may be reacting to your parents actions and telling them about your plans because of how she feels about their control. It may help to think of it this way- your parents need to be in the background of your life, not in front or in charge.

Kate





Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Happy New Year!


 


I just wanted to ask you something. I spoke to my mum last week, my Dad doesn't call me anymore as he is obviously still stubborn and wants a relationship on his terms. He expects me to come to him and im not going to do that. I have a great life and if he doesn't want to be part of it then thats his problem. I wont run to him, i know he thinks he is in the right, as do i, but im not giving in to what he wants. Maybe that is wrong and maybe i am being as stubborn as he is?


 


My question really was, i feel like i should call my parents as i haven't spoken in a week. i feel like they expect me to call but that makes me not want to. i might also be completely wrong and they don't think anything of it?


 


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick, Happy New Year to you as well!

If you feel that calling your parents is more of an expectation than something you want to do, then you probably should not call. Wait until you feel like you want to call even if that is next week. It may be hard to tell yet because they have tried to have power over you and control you all these years, so you may have to think it through to determine if making that call is a desire of yours or if it is to appease them. What you want to do is to do this on your own terms and not their terms.

It can help decide why you want to call. Is it just to make them happy? Or are you truly curious about how they are doing? It is not bad if you are not. Many adult children do not contact their parents often and their relationship is just fine. You could also email your mom and ask how they are. Tell her you are busy but wanted to check in. It is still contact but it is doing it your way, not their way. Any different twist you can put on the action that is your own takes the power from them and gives it to you.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Kate!


 


I suppose it is just trying to live my life on my terms and doing whats best for me and Michelle and our baby (in 4 months!).


 


Whenever i face something im always looking to see how they will view it or react rather than thinking for myself.


 


I really want to have the strength to tell them, especially my father that the way he is acting is not acceptable and i don't want anymore contact with them until he changes how he treats me. I think that will mean i will need to justify myself and we will have a big conversation about all the incidents over the years and i cant see that being a positive outcome.


 


I think that leaving things as they are and working on myself to try and deal with them is a better scenario.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
It can be very hard to break away from a pattern you are used to, but you are taking the right steps. The most important one is just seeing the situation for what it is. As long as you have insight into it, then you will be able to emotionally separate yourself from your parents and live the life you want.

Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Hope you are well!


 


Everything has been quite good for the last few months, it helped being away etc. Rather than inflence how my parents and sister are i am trying to adjust the way i react to them. Just some more advice.


 


The baby is due in a few weeks so it will be interesting how thats going to go so im sure ill have lots more questions for you!!


It is my Dad's b-day in a few days and we have got him a joint present (my sister, michelle and I). My sister just text to ask if we could meet to give her the present as i am having it delivered to me. She then added unless i had any plans so see dad myself. I dont know whether i am reading to much into this and if its me, but i get the feeling she believes i should see him on his b-day. i irgnored and replied that i could see her on thursday. im not sure if this is the best way to handle, or address her question of whether i had plans to see him. i could make an excuse that i want to be near michelle incase see goes into labour (which is the case) but i dont want to justify. Even if Michelle wasnt pregnant i wouldnt make plans to see him.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick!

I agree with you that you do not want to end up justifying why you are choosing not to see your father on his birthday. That is your decision and is not something you need to explain, especially given your sister's past history of showing her displeasure at your choices. At this point, doing what you did by telling her you would meet her and give her the gift to give to your father is just fine. Any issue about seeing your father on his birthday is XXXXX you and your father. It is not your sister's job to make sure you do what your parents expect of you, even though she has taken on that role in the past.

It's good you are moving away from trying to change how your sister and parent's act to doing what you feel you need to do for you and Michelle (and the soon to be born baby!). It is important to set those boundaries so you do not get drawn into the dysfunctional relationships in the family. It is not easy to do what you are doing, but in the long run, it is so much healthier for you and your family.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Hope you are well!


 


I am really trying to stop thinking about how things effect my parents and try not to worry about what they think, but its really difficult. I cant help thinking about what they are thinking. I want to tell them all the things that im upset about. I just dont want them to turn it around and then say all the things that upsets them.


 


For example, even if my Dad is annoyed at me, i dont feel that justifies him not contacting me when Michelle had a mis-carrage. I know we told them not to contact us and we said that we knew they were there if we needed, but even after i would have expected some contact for my dad.


 


I just feel things will get worse when our baby arrives. I feel like they wont be a help but will make effort to see us because they want to see the baby.


 


For example, they haven't contact Michelle to offer any support which i think is wrong. My mum has told me that if we need anything then we can contact them and ask. I feel like i am a family with Michelle and she should accept Michelle as a daughter and go to her and ask her, not come to me.


 


Its the same when we arrange anything, they don't speak to Michelle they ask me. Michelle told them that they should arrange the admin things with her, but my mum said she didnt want to because then she would never speak to me. Michelle said to me after, then she can speak to you about other things.


 


Im just getting frustrated and feeling really bad trying to keep everyone happy. i dont know what to do.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello Nick! It's good to talk with you again.

There are two things going on here. One, you are expecting normal behavior out of your parents when that is not possible at this point. They are going to choose to act the way they feel they want to act regardless of what you want or need. And unless they see something wrong with the way they treat you and Michelle, this is not going to change. It is very understandable why you would want your parents to treat you and Michelle in a normal way. You see things as they should be- a give and take relationship. And there should not be games being played of "if you don't want me to talk to you, then I won't contact you at all". Your parents should be the example and guide for you, but that is not what they are doing. Instead, they are acting out the way they learned from their past and treating you in a dysfunctional way.

To change that, you need to begin expecting less from them. It is frustrating to consider that, I know, because it means they will not fulfill your needs as their child. It would be wonderful to have parents that were there when you needed them and didn't bring all these emotional issues with them. But as this point because of how they are, they leave you little choice but to expect them to continue as they already are with you and Michelle or to feel constantly frustrated with how they act.

Secondly, you are not going to be able to keep everyone happy. That is not your job and it is an impossible job anyway. It is also a difficult role to give up, but in order to deal with the stress you are under with the situation, it helps to let go and let everyone sort out what they need to. Your only job is to protect Michelle and your baby when it arrives. That does not necessarily mean you need to try to control your parents behavior, but it does mean that you need to be sure they are not hurting Michelle or the baby. For example, that may mean telling your mother that when she needs to arrange something, XXXXX XXXXXdles those things for the both of you. Then hang up. Or if your parents want to see the baby, be there and be sure there is no game playing. In other words, setting boundaries with your parents. But as for expecting them to act in a normal way, try to let that go. They probably will not change no matter what, as much as that would be ideal.

Kate

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Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Did you need any further help, Nick?

Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


Hope you had a good bank holiday.


 


Thank you for your answer. Michelle has told me that she is the wife and is a lot better at handeling the admin in our relationship. So she expects my mum to come to her and not going running to me everytime there is an issue or something need to be arranged. I dont think my parents will want to do that as they dont see us as equal and dont see us as a family. That is just my opinion and i also think that they come and visit to see me and will come to see there grandchild (when he's born) and not visit us as a family. it like they cant accept that, im sure they would be just as happy if they saw me on my own!!


 


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick,

You are very welcome! I'm happy to help.

I agree with you that your parents are very unlikely to go to Michelle regarding the administrative issues and they prefer to see only you (and eventually you and the baby) without Michelle. That type of behavior is not uncommon with parents who act out in the way you describe your parents doing. However, the key here is not what they are willing or even want to do, because they will push their own agenda no matter what, but instead what you and Michelle want to do. It is your family and your parents no longer control you or what you do with your family. They can act any way they wish. It is how you choose to act in response that matters. For example, they can try to see only you and the baby, but if you don't allow that and include Michelle as well (or even only Michelle and the baby without you), then that is you expressing what you want in spite of what their agenda is. So it puts the issue back into their laps. Are they willing to stick to what they want so much that they will miss a chance to see the baby or are they willing to bend a little and include Michelle? Making your wishes known and not backing down allows you to set a new boundary, one that addresses your needs and your family's needs rather than bending to what your parents want all the time. That way, they also learn they cannot try to control you and your family through their manipulative behavior. And if they miss opportunities to be with you and your family, that is the price they pay for acting as they choose to. There needs to be some consequences to how they act. They may never see it or understand or even change, but your life will improve because you will live it how you want to rather than dancing to their tune all the time.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Thank you for your reply.


 


I'm really trying to get things sorted mentally before the baby arrives and to put Michelle wishes first.


 


She has not received any correspondence from my parents during the pregnancy, they have come to visit a couple of times but they have not called or emailed her to see how she is. They have asked me and told me to say hi but they haven't gone or contacted her.she is upset about it and now doesn't want them to come to the hospital.she said they can wait to see the baby when we are back home.


 


I don't want to tell my parents that and don't know what to do.


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick,

It's understandable that you don't want to tell your parents about Michelle's wishes, but they are treating her poorly especially at this vulnerable time for her. And she deserves more than they are giving her. They are also making it clear that they prefer talking to you over her which probably makes her feel like she does not matter. Basically, they are being emotionally hurtful/abusive to her. And it sounds like she has decided to set a boundary with them which is certainly her right. She does not want to feel used and only worth something for the child she has.

It is up to you which side you take, but understanding how Michelle feels is vital to your marriage. And backing up her choice to non verbally tell your parents their treatment of her is not ok might be a good idea. Telling them face to face is even better, that way they are clear. But following Michelle's wishes is the next best way.

Kate



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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Thanks! always rate you as excellent!


 


It makes me nervous to confront my parents face to face as I think this will end up in an argument and with them throwing things back about the things they feel we have done wrong. I don't know why I am scared to do this?? if Michelle does something I don't like then I tell her, but for some reason I cant with my parents. This obviously upsets Michelle. I have thought about writing a letter to my parents or emailing them to explain everything, what they do wrong and how we can go forward. I just don't want to say 'its my way or the highway' but maybe I do?


 


I'm 31 years old and I'm worrying about this, life shouldn't be like that.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
I agree, this is not something you should be dealing with. Your parents should be acting better than they are now by putting you and your family first. It makes sense that you don't want to confront your parents. They connect their acceptance of you to their approval of what you say and do. In other words, if you do not conform to what they want, they withdrawal their love and approval. That is conditional love and many adult children learn quickly to comply and cooperate in order to still be allowed access to their parents affection and not be alienated.

Simply let them know that Michelle is hurt by their treatment (which most likely they will not understand but there is not much you can do about that) and needs to have them come by when she feels ready. But keep in mind, no matter how you go about this your parents are going to react to not having things their way. Try to separate yourself from needing their approval at the cost of what you and Michelle want. It hurts to have parents that do these types of things, but if you don't live your life the way you want, you will always be dancing to their tune. That may cost you their affection and love, but the cost to comply all the time with them is high and that includes letting Michelle get hurt each and every time by them. This is their choice to act this way. Try letting them be responsible for that and focus on your own family to get what you need.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks so much Kate


 


I guess to simplify no matter what I do it probably wont be right, so I should do what is right for me and hope they accept that. if they don't that is their problem. that way I remain in control.


 


I just feel I need to justify my actions all the time, maybe that's not their fault but something I feel I need to do. for example If I tell the to come when the baby is back from the hospital I feel I need to give them a reason why.


 


or I feel like telling them that my father not contacting me when Michelle had a miss carriage as well as not contacting me throughout the pregnancy is not acceptable.


 


Their answer will be that I haven't involved them or contacted him.


 


I just feel lost. I feel like writing to them with those reasons but I know it will end in a tit for tat argument and that's not what I want.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You are right, Nick, it would end up an argument no matter what you do because they do not see beyond their own issues and are not willing to compromise. They have an agenda and that seems to be to keep you under control by withholding their approval of you unless you accept how they want to treat you and Michelle. Their love of you is conditional. That is not how it is supposed to be and that is probably why you keep trying with them. You want them to love you no matter what you feel and to give you what you need. There is nothing wrong with that. You deserve to have unconditional love from them. But at this point, they are not willing to give it.

Writing them or telling them face to face what you want is never going to be easy as long as they insist on their own way with everything. Nothing you say or do will be acceptable to them unless it complies with what they want. And they want to be able to treat you any way they wish without considering your feelings. In order to avoid having to comply with everything you will need to make your own boundaries with them. And that means telling them what you want. Justifying why is not needed. Your fear is that you are displeasing them and they will withdrawal from you, which would hurt. They are counting on that.

In order to break their control, you might need to make that choice to tell them what is going to happen and let them decide how they will respond. If that means withdrawing from your life, then that will hurt you but they will lose out as well. They will not be part of your lives or your child's life. And they need to decide if it is worth getting their way to lose that privilege. It is not something they can get back. Keeping that in mind might help you decide how to approach this issue with them. They need to accept responsibility for how they act. You cannot alter your behavior so they get what they want all the time. That only makes you sacrifice so they are happy while you are miserable. Someone has to break this dynamic and make things healthier. By setting boundaries you are doing that. If they choose to react in a dysfunctional way, then that is their choice. But they lose out as well if they do.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


Im ready to take a stand and be stronger. It sounds very week as i'm a grown man but I get nervous and get this feeling in my stomach!


 


I spoke with my mum today and she wanted to text Michelle to say that she can give birth now because she was off for the next two weeks. Obviously this was a joke, but she wasn't sure if michelle would find it funny. I said that doesn't matter, but she doesn't need to make a joke, just phone or text her to find out how she is!


 


She did text michelle and said: Hi Michelle, I spoke to Nick today and he said you are well. I am off for the next two weeks so you can have the baby now.


 


Michelle doesn't want to reply, not out of spite but because my mum didn't ask her how she was, or good luck with everything etc.


 


I told Michelle she should do what she feels is right and if she doesn't want to reply then she shouldn't.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick,

It was nice of your mom to try to joke with you both and to make the effort to contact Michelle. On the other hand, I can see Michelle's point. Michelle may feel that your mom is always focused on herself, including when she jokes around. When someone is concerned with others and shows it, a joke like that is taXXXXX XXXXXghtly because the person's general nature is known to be thoughtful and kind. But when someone is self centered and often thinks of their own wants and needs first, or tries to push their own agenda on others such as your parents do, a joke like that would not be taken as amusing but instead just more of the same.

Michelle seems to be looking for your mom (and/or your father) to show some type of interest in her well being. And since she did not, Michelle probably feels she doesn't want contact until she sees that concern and selfless behavior. And it may be that Michelle has been hurt by how your parents treated her so she is holding back from them to protect herself.

It's good that you are willing to talk to your parents about their behavior. It's understandable that it makes you nervous. Parents hold a lot of power to most adult children because they are the original source of our self esteem. And if they are judgmental, they can make us feel bad about ourselves very easily. It may help to try to see who you are separate from them. Ask Michelle for emotional support with this. She can help by talking to you about how great you are as a person no matter what your parents say or do. And try to focus on other sources of self esteem such as your job, marriage (and soon to be family) and your friends. Also, try to consider how you want to show your child how to handle your parents. If you set a relationship now where you can easily defend yourself and your family, your child will learn that it is ok to protect yourself against others who are self centered and sometimes mean to you.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Kate.

She is, her parents are not here and she would like to have a family that show an interest. I think my parents cant see that they are doing anything wrong but everything they do goes through me.

I told you yesterday about the text message that my mum sent to Michelle. Michelle did not want to reply. My Mum called me today to say that Michelle had not replied and asked if she was annoyed about the text she sent. I told her that it was nothing to do with me and if she had any concerns then she could contact Michelle.

She then asked again about the birth and what we were doing and if they are going to come to the hospital. I pointed out that we had already discussed this. I will let them know when Michelle is in labour so they are aware and after that it is up to Michelle. We have no idea how long the labour will be and how long she will be in hospital. After I have told them when she is in labour I will contact them again when I can.

Is this acceptable? I Am following Michelles wishes. She might not be up to seeing people. or she might be fine. My mum said it is different because they are the grandparents, and so without actually saying it, she meant that they should be treated differently and therefore no matter what, should come to the hospital and see him. I don't think it will be an issue if no one comes to the hospital but I can see that we have her sister visit and a few close friends and not my parents, it will cause massive problems.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Nick,

You are absolutely doing the right thing by putting Michelle's needs first. Your parents have shown you time and again that their only concern is for themselves. So to subject Michelle to that behavior against her will at this very vulnerable time for her would do much more damage to her than it would to your parents if they are told to stay away.

You were right in setting the boundaries you did with your mother. She needs to stop communicating about Michelle through you. While some of that is normal within families with in laws, she is aware that Michelle is unhappy with her doing it all the time yet she ignores that for her own desire to contact you instead. That is a very direct way of saying "I don't care what Michelle needs or wants, my needs are more important". So by setting boundaries like you did with your mom, you are basically telling her that you intend on backing Michelle and that her behavior is not ok.

It is very acceptable for you to tell your mother that you will let her know when Michelle is ready to see her and your father during and/or after the birth, even if Michelle has her sister there or any other relatives. It may cause friction if your parents find out, but you can explain that you did not want Michelle to get upset and after how they have treated her, you wanted to be sure she was ready before she saw them. They may not like to hear that, but they are choosing to act the way they are with Michelle so they do need to accept that she is not comfortable with them right now. If they want to make amends and start being there for Michelle, that might change things. You might want to mention that as an option. There is always room to make amends. But if they are not willing to do that, then it is up to you and Michelle to decide what you both are comfortable with in terms of contact with your parents.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Kate

My mother is not aware that Michelle wants her to contact her instead of me. Does this make a difference?

I know if i explain that and try and explain why michelle and i are upset, then they will use it as an opportunity to tell us what we do wrong. For example if i say that she doesnt contact michelle, then she will say Michelle doesnt contact me?

IF we say they dont make an effort then they will say that we dont either. If i say that we dont see it like that then they will say they dont either.

It feel like im saying these are terms, if you dont like it bye.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Nick,

I was not aware that your mother did not know about Michelle's wish to have her talk to her directly. Sorry about that. I misunderstood. I thought that when you told your parents to contact Michelle for any event planning, etc that they were to talk to her about any type of plans including with the baby's birth.

Yes, it does matter if your mom doesn't know to contact Michelle, but only slightly. If your parents both go through you for everything, that definitely sends a message to Michelle that she is not as important as you are. They are telling her that even though you have left your family of origin with them and made a new one with Michelle, she still is not accepted as equal to you. In other words, instead of accepting Michelle as part of the family, they are basically telling her that your original family with them still takes priority over your new family with her. It's a hurtful message to send to her.

And to not contact her about how she feels directly regarding any arrangement is also sending the same message.

It is up to your parents to take the reins here and show Michelle she is accepted in your family. Your mother may try to put that burden on Michelle, but that is not Michelle's job to do. It is your parent's responsibility to step up and be sure all is well between you both. If your mother tries to turn that into a back and forth over who does what, that is turning this into a childish game, not what you need right now. It is also a way to try to control you both and make you do what they want you to do. If your mother does respond in that manner when you express your needs, then you may just want to tell her "I'm sorry you see it that way" and back off for a while. Avoid getting into any back and forth with her. It won't help and it is unlikely to change how they do things with you and Michelle.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Michelle gave birth to Christian a few days ago!


 


We have been in hospital for a while because Michelle lost alot of blood and had problems with her legs.


 


My parents are annoyed at me!


 


I'll try and keep it short. Michelle gave birth at 11 am on Friday, she had problems and we had to stay where we were for several hours and didn't get moved to a ward because that needed to monitor her.


 


I text my parent's to let them know and that I will call them to let them know they can visit. We were busy with everything that was happening and I text them to say that we were not seeing visitors that day as Michelle wasn't up to our and was under observation. Which was the truth. We saw no one not even her twin sister. I rang my sister later that evening to explain and tools her to speak to my parents as I couldn't at the moment. I did text them I just couldn't speak to them. I again text them the next morning to say that Michelle was still under observation but hopefully they could visit between 4 and 7. I will ring later.


 


I got text message asking for updates but the want any. I phoned them at 4 pm. They were angry that I hadn't let them come the day he was born and said I should of let them come and I could have brought him out in the corridor. I said I wasn't prepared to do that and they should respect my decision. My mum said she wasn't there to see Michelle she was there to see thebaby. I thought that was rude and the phone was passesd to my sister. We had a long chat and she respected my decision but didn't agree.


 


We left it and they come for 10 minutes and saw him.paid no interest in Michelle really or how she was.


 


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Nick,

Congratulations to you and Michelle! I hope Michelle is feeling better very soon.

It sounds like you did more than anyone could have to keep your family informed about what was going on at the hospital. There was little more that you could have done. What is surprising however, is how focused your parents are on what they want out of the whole situation instead of what you needed at the time. Here you are trying to be there for Michelle and the baby, juggling all the information and trying to keep everyone informed and your parents first response was that they are angry that you could not bring the baby out for them to see at the hospital.

Your parents reaction seems to enforce the fact that to them, unless everything revolves around their needs no matter the situation (including your first child being born), then they are angry and disappointed. What they should be doing instead is being there for you no matter what you need. They also should be understanding that at the time of the baby's birth, you were overwhelmed and concerned about Michelle. But instead they turn the situation around and make it about them.

At this point, it is up to you as to how much contact you have with them. If you feel their reaction was hurtful and you don't want to deal with any more of what they have to say, then let them know you will call them when you are good and ready to deal with their behavior. You can also ask a good friend or another family member to call them for you, one that understands the situation with them. That way you don't have to deal with them at all.

And keep in mind, you are the parent here. How much your child has contact with your parents and is exposed to their behavior is completely up to you. It is also fine to explain to your child when he is older that your parents do not behave in a healthy way and explain how. That way, if you do choose to have your child see your parents he can understand that what they do is not a good example of how he should act.

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Today has been a nightmare so far. There was confusion around them visiting today. This has been sorted and they are on their way.please reply quickly if you can. Michelle sister is bringing us food. I didn't realise they were eating here I thought they were just dropping it off. I told my parent s that they were just dropping and not to bring food so now when they get here and we are eating I think it's going to be a big problem!


 


I can't deal with this. They will say I should have told them and now what are they going to do? etc


 


 


Please help fast

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
The key here Nick is to not worry about your parents reaction. I know that does not sound easy, but tell yourself that how they feel about what others are doing is not your responsibility. You are trying too hard to please them. This time in your life is not about them but about you and Michelle. If it helps, leave the family to deal with whatever and focus on Michelle and the baby. And if your parents say anything to you about how upset they are, use the statement we talked about before, "I'm sorry you feel that way". Then walk away. If they persist, then tell them this day is not about them and you are there for Michelle and the baby. Try to ignore them as much as possible. Or have another family member run interference for you. But keep in mind, you do not have to please them. They have trained you to react this way and the only way to deal with it is untrain yourself. You can start by focusing on Michelle and the baby. This is the only time you will have this experience with your son. Try to ignore your parents and focus on him. He is what matters here.

Let me know how it goes!

Kate
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Kate and thank you for the quick reply.


 


They didn't say anything about the food not sure if they thought anything but I don't really care.


 


I'm just so stressed with the situation. And they think they are not doing anything wrong and that I am putting my foot down and pushing them away.


 


I told them today that if they want to see Christian (baby) then they have to show that they care about her and have a relationship with her. I told them that she runs the diary for my family and when they want to see Christian or is then it goes through her. I will tell you the story of why this came about tomorrow. It may be a long question so if you spend more time let me know.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You're welcome!

That is fine. If you want to talk more about this, let me know. I should be on tomorrow.

I'm glad they did not make a big deal out of the food. Hopefully, once they see the baby, they will calm down a bit and focus on him.

Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


 


Tomorrow turned into a few weeks. If running a business wasnt busy enough, having a newborn takes up all of your time!


 


I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things and to get your opinion. I really dont mind if you critise me or tell me im wrong im just grateful for the feedback.


 


On the day that my parent and sister came to visit, (my last questions) i had text my mum asking her that if she wanted to come could she please ask Michelle as it was nice if she was inckuded and that we dont always need to go through me. I didnt want michelle to feel excluded especially at this time. i wanted to give to a transcript of the conversation and wanted your honest opinion.


 


So order is my message then my mums:


 


- think nice sleeps may be behind us for a while! Much was great last night and managed to get a good few hours.let Michelle know if you want to see him or come up in sure she will appreciate the support. X


 


- Hi We like to support you Can we come later today? X


 


- Speak to Michelle she will like it coming from you straight to her


 


- just got your text. I didnt ask michelle because i didnt want her to feel obliged, not sure whats wrong with making plans with you, especially as she is so unwell. Also i text her twice and she hasnt replied. Shall we come? X


 


- Please don't feel like that.you don't need to make plans with me. I prefer you to make plans with her, even if she doesn't reply straight away it let's her know you are thinking about her and are there I'd she needs. She needs the support, even if it's some food or putting on a load of washing or changing the baby whilst she sleeps. I know you will do all of those things. But going straight to her and not through me builds a good relationship with her you and Christian. She wants you to see the baby as much as you want but if she can't reply or do it then it means it's not the right time. She will get back to you, it's about knowing she has that support from you and not via me. Especially as her mum is not here


 


- Thats really nice to know. I didnt realise she wanted that and i will be there whenever she needs me. Now i know i will speak to her about whatever i can do. For now shall we come at 6 and bring dinner? I will text michelle now x


 


= Today is not necessary we are going to get organised and catch up on some much needed sleep, but thank you x


 


- Not sure why you didnt say that in the first place? Today was also about us meeting christian properly as we havnt spent time with him, like you said to bond, and i am working now for 7 days. That is why i called to explain and talk which you dont seem to want to do x


 


- Because I didn't know and I wanted you to ask those things to Michelle. She has no idea I'm texting you and I don't want her to know. She can't always answer straight away. Why don't you call her, I didn't get your call? Not just about christian but supporting her too. That will go a long way and you having a great relationship with Christian


 


 


From those messages i then got a message from my sister! She at their house.


 


It read:


 


Mum just showed me your texts. Sorry, but craziness is going on... all in text messages?? I asked u if we could come and you said 'no idea' when you clearly knew it was 'no', why didn't you just say that in the first place?? Mum did what you wanted and replied with a lovely text and then you responded 'not necessary' for us to come. That's mind games and control and makes me angry, especially because we havn't even met christian properly yet. And when all mum has done is do whatever you both want, waiting patiently each day to hear from you and desperate to meet her grandson... It's obviously not that you want to sleep because Bianca is coming over... Call me if you want to talk otherwise let me know when YOU are ready for me to meet my nephew properly.


 


 


I then called sorted things out and they visited


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick!

I understand about how busy you are. Newborns do sort of take over your life, don't they?! But in a good way :)

I read the conversation you had with your mother. It seemed there was a lot of unclear boundaries for both of you. I understand what you are saying to your mother and in her way, what she is trying to get from you. You want her to establish a relationship with Michelle while she wants to talk through you. So the both of you are trying to work around the other.

What might help is to talk to Michelle and get her idea of how she wants to deal with this situation. She is probably overwhelmed right now, but just getting her input is going to help include her. Two ways to handle this are, one, you have your mother contact Michelle for any arrangements to see the baby. And if Michelle doesn't answer right away, then your mother will just need to understand and wait until Michelle has time. And she may also need to make plans more in advance than just "I would like to come over today". With a baby, that is too soon. Michelle needs time and more notice.

Another option is to have your mother contact you but do not respond to any requests she has to visit or any other contact until you talk to Michelle first. So for example, the next time your mother wants to come over, tell her that you will talk to Michelle and get back to her by the evening or the next day. That way, you include Michelle and take out the chance your mother will use Michelle's busy schedule and non replies as a way to contact you and put you in the middle.

You may also want to stop responding to your sister when she texts you or calls about your parents. Your parents consistently telling her everything you do with them is creating a dysfunctional triangle where you not only have to deal with them but with your sister as well. That puts a lot of pressure on you and it is unfair. Your sister does not need to be involved.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I think that is the key thing, i want her to include Michelle and not go to me all the time. But by going to Michelle sometimes she doesnt answer to reply and then my mum contacts me. So now she says that she is making the efoort but not getting anything back. I told her that it shouldnt be about getting things back as Michelle is busy and its nothing personal she will get back when she can. For example Michelle phoned her back the other day and we arranged to go and visit them. We told them that we would come for fathers day but we just wanted to pop in and not arranged anything special as he is 3 weeks old and we dont know what time we will stay till. We didnt want to commit to dinner at 6 for example and then arrive at 1 and want to go at 5. Does that make us bad people?? My mum expected us to put them first sometimes and arrange to stay for dinner. She said we could sleep and rest there and feed Christian there so didnt need to go home. I had already said that and Michelle confirmed when she spoke on the phone.


 


They seemed ok with everything and we went down there. We were there for a few hours and did have something to eat whilst we were there. Michelle didnt like it because my mum was all over the baby which was to be expected but when we said we were going to feed him she would hold him and say "you dont need a feed now do you, your quite happy' i said i was going to change him and my mum said :you dont need changing do you" (in a cute voice to him) When we were eating dinner he started getting agitated because he was hungry, Michelle was eating and my mum said she would hold him so Michelle could finish her food. Michelle said dont worry she will feed him as he is hungry. My mum got up and said dont worry i will get him. Michelle said no i will because he needs a feed. My mum said its ok i dont mind and Michelle said you cant take him i need to feed him so he needs to be with me. My mum took him anyway, picked him up and said, ' its ok i;ll hold you mummy just wants to finish her food"


 


Michelle left it finished her dinner and fed him.


 


Im annoyed that i didnt say anything but i dont know if i would have been wrong??


 


There is more but i can continue in the next post

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
No, you and Michelle are right in what you are doing. Your mother is expecting you to conform to what she wants and is not letting you both, as the parents, decide what is best for your child. The fact that she is blatantly going against Michelle's desire to feed her own child is a sign that your mother is even willing to usurp Michelle's authority as a parent for her own desires, which is not a good sign. Michelle is the mother and therefore should have authority over what she does with her own child.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling your mother that you cannot make a dinner date or that you can only stay for a short time if you do stop by. This is about you and your family, not your mother and what she wants. Yet she is still putting herself first even over your needs and Michelle's needs. And she will continue to do that for as long as she can, given her behavior.

It is ok for you and Michelle to decide together what you want and to stick to it. So if you both decide that you can only visit your mother for an hour, then let your mother know you can only stay for that amount of time. If she gets upset, then you can either tell her that you are staying an hour and that is it or you will not come over at all. By setting these very clear boundaries, you can begin to establish that you will not give in to what your mother wants no matter what she says. So if she wants to see you, it will need to be on your terms.

You may also want to consider overriding her desire to overstep her role as grandmother. If she is taking over your son's care even over Michelle's protests now, it might end up turning into controlling your son when he is old enough to talk and listen to her. It is not uncommon for controlling grandparents to try to manipulate grandchildren even against their parents and even undermining the role and authority of the parents. So stopping that behavior now with firm control and telling your mother that if she acts that way you are leaving immediately might be a good way to end the issue before she can manipulate your child when he is older.

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Hi Kate


 


Thank you. That is what I thought and i'm annoyed at myself for not saying something at the time and sticking up for myself and saying what I think is right.


 


So the next issue was yesterday!


 


When we had gone to my parents my mum informed us that she was getting all of the family together on 21st July and asked if we could make it. Michelle told her that she thought she had a baby shower on that day and wasn't sure if we could make it. She will email and let her know once we have checked our diary.


 


When we got home Michelle emailed my mum to say that she had a baby shower on the sat not the sunday but we also had good friends visiting from South Africa so we might not be able to come. She will let her know nearer the time.


 


My mum called me yesterday to say that she was upset that we weren't coming to the family get together on the 21st. I told her that we hadn't said no we just need to confirm that our friends are coming as we may be going away with them.


 


My mum wasn't happy with this as she said that it would be nice if we put them first sometimes and that we should cancel the baby shower if it was on that day or tell our friends that we cant see them because we have a family get together.


 


I told her im sorry she feels like that ( got that from you!) and essentially it is not up to her to make our decisions.


 


She then went on to say she has tried to phone michelle and she has not answered etc. She brought up a few other incidents like Christmas where we didn't stay the night. I told her that was because michelle was pregnant and we didn't want to stay. Also we don't need to justify why we are not coming or not staying. She wasn't happy with this and said that she is my mother and I shouldn't say that to her, and its not very nice. Essentially tell her why we cant make it. I said im not going to do that because she will judge us and that is not her decision.


 


So on to today. Michelle sent my mum and email last night saying that if she had an issue with her previous email about not coming to the family event then she should speak to her, and not speak to her via me. My mum phoned michelle this morning and michelle didn't pick up. She has asked me to phone but I don't want to.


 


 


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You're welcome!

It sounds like your mother is continuing to put herself and her needs first in your life. She mentioned the family gathering after you had already made plans for the baby shower and possibly hosting friends from out of town. The plans that are made first take precedence over plans made afterwards. So it is right that you attend the baby shower and have your friends over if they are coming to stay. The fact that your mother feels it is ok to inconvenience all those people just so you can attend her gathering sounds self serving on her part. She is not the only person who wants to spend time with you. And there is nothing wrong with putting the baby shower and your friends first. You are allowed to do what you enjoy and are not obligated to put your mother first in your life. She is no longer the center of your family and has not been since you left home and married Michelle. You and your family are more important.

Trying to make you feel like you cannot stand up for yourself seems like another tactic she tries in order to get you to comply with what she wants. Telling you that you shouldn't talk to her that way is basically saying you are not to stand up for yourself. You were not being disrespectful. If anything, she is being disrespectful of your time and Michelle's time.

Your mother does not need to be put first, your family (you, Michelle and the baby) does. And it sounds like your mother is refusing to do that. She wants you to spend a lot of time with her and doesn't seem to respect that you have become an adult and have a family of your own. Most children who leave home do not see their parents that often nor are their parents that involved in their lives. If they are, it is more as a helpful parent there to address any needs rather than as someone who demands your time.

It is good to continue to set boundaries with your mother. However, she is going to be unhappy with any boundaries you set. This is going against the control and the self interest she wants. Being the emotionally healthy person in a dysfunctional family is very difficult. You are faced with the backlash and "punishment" you get when you try to set those boundaries. But the more you can set them, the easier it will get in time. And you will already have them in place by the time your son is old enough to know what is going on.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks Kate


 


My mum thinks that I should put them first and not the friends as we had not made def plans. She said it feels like we are holding out, so if we don't work out seeing our friends then we can go to them. Rather than committing to them straight away.


 


Also I don't know what to do about phoning my mum. Michelle asked that my mum contacts her and not me and then my mum did and phoned Michelle. Now Michelle wants me to phone my mum but I don't want to.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You don't have to phone your mother. It is ok to let it go until Michelle has time or your mother calls back or you can just email her. Just let Michelle know that it causes a lot of trouble with your mother when you do talk to her and you are trying to pull back from the problems she creates and set new boundaries. Also, you do not have to talk to your mother each and every time she calls. You can email her in response and/or wait a few hours before you call her back. The more you respond immediately to her calls, the more control she has over you and Michelle.

Also, confirm with Michelle what her boundaries are in terms of contacting your mother or her contacting either of you. If you both can be clear on what you want, then it will get easier when your mother does try to contact either of you.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

This just gets worse!


 


My mum wants me or michelle to phone rather than text or email as they can be read wrong.


 


She just emailed Michelle to say that they have moved the family event to 11th August because i said that we can make it in August.


 


I at no point said i could make that date! i would never have confirmed that i could make that date without checking with Michelle. We have also no even said we cant make the 21st July just that we would let them know.


 


I just sent an email saying exactly that.


 


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
It looks like that by changing the date of your family gathering, your mother might be trying to find a way to force you to comply with what she wants. Telling you that you cannot email her sounds like it is a way to control you. Trying to control how you communicate so she can have an immediate response rather than her having to wait in between emails for an answer.

It is perfectly fine if you decide to email her anyway and ignore her demands. At this point, she is asking a lot of you. Email instead of phoning, come to the family gathering and comply with her demands anytime she wants to be first in your life. That, along with not letting you decide for yourself what works and what does not, is overwhelming.

If you and Michelle decide that you do not want to comply with the request to attend the family gathering, it is ok to say no. Tell your mother that you are overwhelmed right now and need time with your family, or whatever you feel. And if she gets upset, just repeat yourself then hang up. You cannot sacrifice your own happiness and freedom to do what you want for what your mother wants all the time. She is no longer the center of your family and the sooner she realizes that, the easier this should become.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Kate


Hope you are well and enjoying the sunshine!


 


Last question I explained about the family gathering, which was changed because we couldn't make it. As I explained that wasn't the case and we were not consulted on the changing of the date to the 11th August. I think my mum arranges the date for the 11th and expects us to put them first and attend.


 


As I said to them last time I will let them know.


 


We are free on that weekend and we can attend but Michelle doesn't want to.


 


The reason is, I was away this weekend ( Thurs - Sun ) and she received no offers of help or effort from my parents. She therefore doesn't feel like going there to satisfy them. This puts me in an awkward situation as I would like to go and don't know what to say to my parents. I do understand where she is coming from put also she wouldn't want there help if they had have offered. Also my mum may have been at work. They have also told us that they are there and only have to ask if we need their help.


 


Im not sure what to do.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nick,

This sounds like a difficult situation for you to be in. Both your parents and Michelle are asking things of you that are hard to resolve without making someone unhappy.

Your parents expectations of you are high. To change the date just so you can make it is a way to try to force you to come to the family gathering regardless of your feelings about it. To deal with that, you can tell your parents that you appreciate them changing the date for you and Michelle but that you prefer they do not do that anymore. Tell them to plan the gatherings as they wish to and you will let them know if you can make it. If they insist on changing the date as a way to manipulate you into coming to the event, then you may want to consider not going. Going only rewards them for the manipulation which means they will continue to do it in the future.

It sounds like Michelle has expectations of your parents helping her when at the same time she does not want their help. It sounds like she was looking for them to offer help but expecting them to accept the rejection of their offer. That is two different messages she is sending to your parents. Help me but I don't want that help because I am upset at you. So it may help to encourage her to decide if she does want their involvement and if so, to what extent. She needs to be more clear on what she wants in a relationship with your parents so it is less confusing when a situation like this past weekend occurs.

If you still would like to go to the family event, talk to Michelle about how to handle the family event. Ask her what she wants, besides both of you not going. Let her know that you desire to go but want to be sure she is ok with it. Make it a point to tell her that you do not want to hurt her, but that you need to make a decision that will not upset everyone.

Although Michelle's feelings about your parents is understandable, she is not allowing your feelings about the situation to be part of how you both resolve what is going on. Michelle might be taking what your parents do as very personal and she could be reacting as she is because she is hurt by their actions. It may be helpful for both of you to consider talking to a therapist together to find a middle ground that you are both happy with and for Michelle to deal with her feelings about your family. If this is allowed to go on as it is, you could be trying to balance Michelle and your family for a long time. So resolving it now can help.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi


Hope you are well.


My mum called me today and wanted to meet up. She thinks there are things we need to talk about. She wanted to meet at my sisters. I said that if it was just me then why does my sister have to be there? And also that if there are issues then I want Michelle there too.


She didn’t have a problem with this. We then started to discuss a few issues that I had with my Father. I told her that having a conversation about things that went on in the past is probably not going to work. We will not agree on things and that I am sure they think they are right as do we. I said that every time there is an event in our lives they make a way to be about them and make an issue. This has been from the moment we told them we are engaged through to having Christian. She said that we need to talk about these things and that we all need to change. I didn’t except that and said that and talking will just end in a disagreement as we won’t agree as I can’t accept that is how things should have been handled.


I then said that the way my dad has acted over the past 18 month is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable that when my wife has a miscarriage he didn’t call me, or during her pregnancy he didn’t call or email to see how she or I was, if I was looking forward to being a dad. He hasn’t even called since the birth to ask me if I’m enjoying being a dad.


We saw all the family at the weekend, we didn’t speak, he shook my hand when we met and when we left my uncle helped carrying the car seat to the car etc.


I left it as, if they have an issue then we can sit down as adults (the four of us and discuss it) my sister does not need to mediate.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
Hi Nick, I am well, thank you!

I agree with you that your mom did not need to meet with you at your sister's home. That implies that she feels your sister is on her side of things and it sets you up to feel defensive because of it. It would have been better to meet in a neutral location, one that has nothing to do with either of you. When you meet somewhere neutral, it lets both of you be on equal footing.

However, it does sound like your mother is trying to repair the relationships in the family. She is making an effort, which means she may have some insight into how much her behavior and your father's behavior has hurt you and Michelle. So in that way, it was very positive that she tried to reconcile. But it may have gone better if she had included your father in the meeting. He is a huge part of why there is a family rift. By being there, your father could have shown that he is willing to overlook whatever happened between the two of you and make a new start of it. But by not showing up, he was basically saying he is not willing to compromise, at least not yet.

You were right to tell your mother that talking about the past will not resolve things. And letting her know you have a lot of hurt when it comes to how your father has treated you around the miscarriage and birth of your child was good as well. Your father will probably hear what you said from your mother and may be willing to approach you if he knows what the issue is.

It might help if you can meet with your family again but this time, see if your father is willing to be involved. Or you can meet with him on your own. Either way, trying to mend the situation can help, if your father is willing to admit that he did not approach this situation in the most healthy way. If he can give a little, try to do the same on your part. Admit that you might have dealt with it better and allow your father to save face somewhat. It may not be true that you did anything wrong, but it helps to mend the relationship if you allow for some leeway.

This is also a good time to set new boundaries. If you can work through the issues with your parents and they are willing to talk about what has happened, try setting new boundaries with them. Let them know you care about them, but you are an adult now and need to be treated as such. Then lay out what you feel that treatment should be. That can help prevent a family rift from happening again, especially since your parents will now understand how to act with you and Michelle.

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi Kate


 


Thank you for your answer.


 


That is what I was thinking so its good to hear. The conversation was over the phone so there was no involvement from my dad.


 


I'm going to email them to tell them if they want to meet then we ( 4 of us ) can sit down somewhere neutral and discuss, which I hope they would accept as it shows they want to talk.


 


We can talk about the past and it might not be a bad thing to let them know how much they hurt us. I just feel like they wont change and we will be in the same situation again because they will not accept the boundaries we set.


 


I am willing to try though, as is Michelle. But I really hope they respect us enough to accept the new boundaries and how we want to be treated.


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
I agree, Nick. I hope they are willing to be more open with you and Michelle this time. It is a good sign your mom reached out, so building on that is a good way to start mending the relationships. And your idea is good as well. All four of you meeting somewhere neutral is going to help. I know that in this situation you did nothing wrong, but sometimes it helps to be open to their willingness to make amends and to admit that you were not as agreeable as you could have been. That does not mean you have to allow them to run over you, but a little bit helps. When you deal with people who like to have their way, sometimes a small show of "giving in" helps the situation and allows them to see that what they are doing is harmful to your relationship.

Let me know how it goes!

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Unfortunately from experience with my parents if you give them a finger they take the whole arm so i'm a little reluctant to give in a little otherwise they take it as everything is our fault.


I'm just going to have to be very strong about how I handle the situation. I just cant see things changing. I can see us having a meeting and them thinking that everything is fine and then going back to how it was. I hope im wrong. They will never not want to have that involvement in my life. They will go back to phoning all the time and expecting us to be involved and share everything with them. Then becoming rude when we don't. I have an issue with their mentality and that just doesn't change overnight.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
I understand how you feel. And you could be very right. They may stay exactly the way they have been and you would just be back to square one. But at this point, it is worth a try to see how it goes. And if they do go back to the same behavior, you will not be surprised. It would be wonderful if they would change but expecting them not to is ok too. You may just have to keep the same boundaries or even decide to back off a lot more in order to have peace. Being prepared for either scenario is a good thing.

Kate

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