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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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How do you protect your children from toxic grandparents?

Resolved Question:

How do you protect your children from toxic grandparents? There is a much longer story here, but not enough room. My mother is trying to control my children they way she did me and I cannot have them live through what I have gone through.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 7 years ago.
Hi there. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm pleased to try to help you today.

I'm really sorry to hear that you are having these issues with your mother. I'm sure it has been very disturbing for you, and I know it's hard to deal with.

Here's the bot***** *****ne. And I don't intend this to sound condescending in any manner. YOU are an adult now, and you don't need to listen to your mother anymore if she is destructive and abusive. It's that simple. They are YOUR children, not hers. This is YOUR life, not hers. YOU get to make the rules for your life, and if your mother doesn't want to play by those rules, then she doesn't get to be in your life. Your job is to protect your children, not your mother. Your mother needs to grow up (which is unlikely) and so do you (which is much more likely). Set a good example for your children about being responsible for your own life so they will be responsible for theirs. Tell your mother to get it together (i.e. this is how you will and won't interact with my kids, or you won't interact with them at all). Don't be afraid to be the bad guy. That fear is how she manipulates you, so as long as you are afraid of that accusation, she will control you. It doesn't matter what she thinks. Period. If your mother is shallow and abusive enough to cut you out of her will because you refuse to let her control you - then so be it. These are your kids and their mental health is more important than her money. At least I hope it is. Stand up and be a grown-up. You have let your mother abuse you and run your life for long enough.

Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Thank you. Tamara
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Things I left out. I have had an eating disorder since I was 16. My husband and I have done eveything we can to talk to our daughters about the way their grandmother is and how it is controlling and crazy and obsessive. They seem to be lightyears ahead of me in understanding the way she is. I still can't get over how she can't love someone if they weigh too much. My younger daughter, who I mentioned before, has been ill for six years and gained weight due to inactivity and medications. My mother treats her like she is a lepar and tells me that I am a bad mother for letting her get that way.

Intellectually I know that my mother will never change, but something inside me doesn't want to cut them out of out lives. Can you have it both ways? Or am I doing irreparable harm by exposing my daughter to the abuse, even if she has the support of my husband and I?

Expert:  Tamara replied 7 years ago.
Hi again. You're in a tough situation. I'm not surprised you have an eating disorder - your mother certainly set you up for that. And I'm glad to hear that you talk with your daughters about how their grandmother is and that she is not well emotionally. That is one of the best things you can do for them is to acknowledge and support their reality.

I would suggest you stop trying to figure your mother out. It's unlikely you ever will, and even if you did, it won't make a difference. Your mother has some issues and she is emotionally destructive. There's no way to change her - only to avoid dealing with her if you choose to.

I can't tell you what to do. I can only point out the obvious - which is that you are in control of this situation, if you choose to be. You don't have to cut her out of your life if you don't want to. But if you don't want to, then you really need to stop complaining about how she is because it's then your choice that she is there. I can tell you if it were my mother, she wouldn't be seeing my kids until she got her priorities straight. But that call is up to you. Accept it, or cut her off if she doesn't stop. Because you can't change her. The ONLY way she might change is if she knows you mean it about not letting her see the kids if she continues to act this way. Good luck. Tamara
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