Grandma’s behavior is unkind
August 28, 2012 1:14PM
Updated: September 30, 2012 6:02AM
Dear Annie: I am married to a great guy, and we have two wonderful, intelligent teens. But my mother-in-law is causing great stress.
“Mama” was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder 10 years ago and is prescribed a cocktail of drugs to help with a preponderance of violent mood swings, anger, resentment and occasional dissociation. She is a textbook narcissist who can only demand love for herself and is unable to give to others. Her family relationships and many of her friendships have taken a dive. It’s a wonder she can hold down a job.
Her big trigger is perceived rejection. When she was in our home, she expected to be everyone’s entire focus. She demanded the full attention and affection of my husband and deeply resented his relationship with his own children. Invitations to holiday gatherings dwindled over the years. Her grandchildren have grown up without her in their lives, although we have taken care not to poison them against her.
Now, Mama has taken herself off all meds and declared herself cured. She has convinced herself that her diagnosis was wrong, and that her problem all along has been emotional abuse from others, including her children and grandchildren. In short, everyone else is to blame.
The trouble now is that she is blogging on the Internet, publicly criticizing family members, including our teenage kids and their cousins. The adults can dismiss this as the ranting of a mentally ill person, but we’re afraid our kids are going to come across the blog one of these days. Any advice?
but in Sonoma
Dear Sonoma: You have our sympathy dealing with such a difficult situation. You don’t have to poison the children against Grandma to have a heartfelt discussion on mental illness. The kids are old enough to understand that their grandmother is not well, and that her behavior can be unpredictable and sometimes unkind. They may never see her blog, but if they do, you will have done all you can to inoculate them against whatever damaging reaction they may have.
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