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.