Elderly mother jealous of grandchild's friends.

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My mother has always had a close relationship with our youngest son who is about to turn 21. He is extremely attentive and devoted to her even though he is a full time college student living half way across the company. She constantly lays guilt trips on him complaining that he no longer has time for her. To make matters worse, she is extremely jealous of his best friend, a girl so close to him that my husband and I call her our "pretend daughter". My family lives close to my parents while my only sibling lives on the other side of the country. My parents are in their early 70's and in fairly good health but my mother seems to sometimes use her bad back as an excuse for not wanting to do things or I feel, for attention. Back is totally fine when she wants to do something, sudden "attacks" when she doesn't want to do things.
Things came to a boil recently when my son invited his friend to spend one night at my parents' shore house. My mother went ballistic claiming she was not asked beforehand (which is true, but my son has had her stay there many times in years past and I had spoken to my father about it and he said no problem). To clarify, this friendship is not a sexual thing, my son is gay. Anyway, when they arrived my mother was flat out rude complaining that she really did not want his friend to stay, while the poor girl was right in the next room. This progressed into a downright temper tantrum with my mother crying, calling me up on the phone swearing (which is totally out of character) and leaving everyone in tears. This girl regards my parents as her second grandparents. The girl's family has hosted my parents many times. The girl has come on multiple vacations with my family and we have known her for over 8 years.
I feel all of this stems from my mother's jealousy of my son having his own life and spending time with friends instead of her. He is a wonderful, respectful child and her actions and guilt hurt him deeply. Another of his friends was present when this all happened, so he was also extremely embarrassed by his grandmother's childish behavior. The friend did end up spending the night, my son took everyone out to dinner and they had a wonderful time but I find this behavior horribly rude, petty and far from being a gracious host. How can I help my mother realize she is driving him away, he has a right to his own life and that she needs to stop making him feel guilty and stressed out? She feels there is nothing wrong with the way she acted and my sister (who lives far away) is backing her up.
My mother was also drinking "some wine for her back" at the time and I plan to address the alcohol issue with her, but she has acted similarly when sober so I can't truly attribute the behavior to that.


Is your mother's behavior, including the temper tantrum and irrational jealousy, new? I think that medical causes should always be suspected in cases of sudden personality and behavior changes. What does your dad think of all this carrying on? Does he see the changes? Would he be willing to try to get to the bottom of this with her doctor? Is your dad concerned about her drinking?

I think the approach I would take with your son and "daughter" is that there is something wrong with Grandma. You are not sure what it is, and you hope that working with Grandpa you can help solve the problems she is having. But that in any case it is NOT THEIR FAULT, no matter how much poor Grandma may try to make them feel guilty. You are proud of their patience. Meanwhile, I would suggest that they pull back just a bit, perhaps eliminate any overnights, and give her space to heal.

As for the sister who lives far away, and who only gets a first-hand view from one side, I would dismiss her opinion out of hand. It is just so much easier to assume Mother must be right than to recognize that something might be wrong. Try not to drag Sis into this or discuss these kinds of issues with her, except in the context of expressing concern about some changes you've noticed in Mother lately.

As for Mother, how can you make her realize she is driving your son away, he has a right to his own life and that she needs to stop making him feel guilty and stressed out? Well, frankly, I don't think you can. If her behavior is triggered by medical problems, getting that addressed is what will help. If her behavior is totally under her control then she will just have to accept the consequences. If she asks why your son is not coming around so often, you can offer a gentle explanation, but I wouldn't expect a dramatic change on her part.

I have had to learn the hard way that I can't "fix" other people's relationships. You can't protect your son from seeing his grandmother at her childish worst. You can offer possible explanations and you can assure him over and over that her behavior is not his fault. But you can't turn it into the loving stress-free relationship you wish it were.

I wish you success in trying to help your mother if she has undiagnosed medical problems. I hope your father will be cooperative.
dorey, next time have your son ask his grandma/grandpa for permission. She might have overreacted, but he still shouldn't assume it was okay.
Doreyme: I think Jeannegibbs is right on the mark. Sounds like your mom is acting completely out of character. That could be early signs of dementia and hopefully you can follow the suggestions that Jeanne offered.

I also agree with Nancy that maybe your mom could be consulted as well in the future. Nevertheless, if your mom is dealing with dementia, it may not make a difference.

I'm assuming that your mom does know that your son is gay and the relationship with his dear friend is platonic. My heart goes out to you. Please stay in touch.
You haven't mentioned what kind of relationship she has with any other grandchildren but, naturally if this son has always been extremely attentive, devoted, spending the most time with her, etc. then it seems inevitable that she would resent any "interlopers" taking HER time with him away from her.
Sounds like there is a sense of entitlement here......
My mother (87) is jealous even of her own friends!! She would complain to me non-stop if her best friend was going out, or going away, with another friend -- it was so childish and immature that it disgusted me. She was only happy when this other friend died!!
It seems that the older they get, the more protective of those closest to them they become. She obviously feels that she "owns" the attention of your son, and anyone else he associates with is taking him away from her and she is lashing out at that.
Perhaps he can take her out for a nice meal in a neutral location and explain to her that now he is an adult and is himself entitled to associate with anyone whom he chooses. If this girl friend has been close to the family as you have said, and has been involved in family gatherings before, then there is no reasonable answer to why your mother is acting this way, unless she has always been like that ( you say no). Her medications definitely need reviewing.
Has she previously exhibited any characteristics of narcissism?
I can feel for you as I have had similar situations probably not quite to the degree as you had. I have 2 college age girls who were always so so close to my mother more so when they were younger... now that my mother lives with me and my girls are out and pursuing their own lives, I feel that my mother resents it and takes it as a personal affront rather than understanding that they need to be allowed to live... they are the closest and most attentive grandchildren yet the expectations of them are so much higher than the other grandchildren .... I find myself constantly protecting them ... when my Mom questions where they are and what they are doing, I find myself continually making excuses for them and I dont want to be doing that...
Nor should you, teebee......it's her problem if she can't accept that they are grown young women now and she has already had their full time and attention all their childhood.......these seniors seem to be so damn selfish! (sorry)
I also find that they play favorites with the grandchildren - this is what seems to be the case in your situation - and there are always one or two who bear the brunt of these elderly's demands (I know because my two daughters are constantly being harangued by my mother for a ride here, go to the bank for me, etc., etc., etc.)
You want to hear selfish? not to mention rude? My mother's bathing lady (HER bathing lady) just came in and asked me how my broken leg was......in the midst of telling her, my mother pipes up from her bedroom with "I'M the patient here!!" Sick or what!! I am tired of her selfish attitude, her sense of entitlement and the whole picture of how she behaves........
Why don't you counsel your daughters to sit down with their grandmother and in a cheery way have them explain that they are now grown (looking through a photo album from when they were young til now might help) and how they not only have their own lives, they are ENTITLED to, and that doesn't mean that they love their grandparent any less.......honestly what babies they turn into!! So immature, possessive, and childish!!
Just ridiculous.......not to mention that they think they can get away with this behaviour........!
Your Mother may need to be cared for in a Nursing Facility ..that way SHE IS
around ppl her own age.
then everyone can Visit when they want to..
She also can have Wine there..It is alllowed and they Monitor it.
I am in the same boat and have been for years. My 93 year old Mother refuses to leave the house except if she HAS to for delayed (by her) doctor appointments. She will complain she needs a haircut, clothes, etc. She blames me for not taking her anywhere and tells relatives I refuse to take her anywhere. I offer over and over to let me know where and when she wants to go shoppingnand she says "you would never take me before, why now?" And of course she does not go. If I go anywhere with my spouse or daughter, etc. She gets downright mad. She accuses me of going out all hours of the day and night which of course I do not. I have had her live in the attached granny flat since 2000 and she has had this attitude for years. She does not want me to have a life - justs wants me to sit home like she does. My spouse is upset but understands. She will not allow anyone to come in to help her - she said she will not open the door and she would slam it in their face. One time she told me to take a motorcycle ride with my spouse. I did, was gone a few hours and when I got back she was very rude and slammed the door on me. I am so tired of this. I have no life of my own and I will certainly be relieve when this is all over even though sad. She refuses assisted living also. She tries to pull the "I am scared to stay alone because someone will find out I am hear and break in and try to rob me or rape me. She sees these things in the newspaper but not anywhere near where we live. I have been retired for 6 years, my spouse for two. Might I mention my mother still does her own housework, laundry etc. Started sleeping quite a bit as she gets so tired. I help her with her finances, pay her bills, etc. She has been declining but at a slow rate. I can't just out her in a home. She would throw a fit and said she would refuse to eat and I know they would have me remove her. She hears knocking in her head which the neurologist said is due to her hearing and only happens when she doses off. She refuses to believe him andninsists someone is knocking at her door to drive her crazy. We have even walked around the house looking for footprints in the snow and of course there were none.
Teebee, if you don't want to be continually making excuses for them, then don't. Lord knows there are many things in this life that we have to do whether we want to or not, but I don't see this as one of them!

What you say to Mother about your daughters doesn't need to be driven by what Mother wants to hear or even about what your daughters would like You can decide to say whatever makes YOU feel best. If making excuses is the quickest way to difuse the situation and that makes you most comfortable, fine. If bragging about their independence pleases you, do that.

This is your house. They are your daughters. Please say whatever you want to about them.
Mother needs to be in a Nursing facility so that she has ppl her age there..so you dont have to deal with her knocking etc..or all the other things that she has to be in that environment as they have alot of ppl that are on Shifts 24/7.

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