What is it that could be done to get my extended and immediate family together again?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 19, 2016
Just being me asked...

My sister cooked the Thanksgiving dinner this year and nobody showed up too eat, but myself, my sister and her youngest daughter, her fiance. My own very mother didn't even show up, in fact, we assume that she went gambling or over to her sister's house where the whole Family use to eat. After my grandmother passed away, the extended family would eat together. Afterwards grandmoms death, I recall attending one dinner and that was Thanksgiving 2006. My family is alive and breathing well, but don't function together at all!!!!! I don't understand why and this situation has bothered my sister and I for quite sometime. If my mother goes over to her sister's to eat dinner, maybe a cousin would ask her "why didn't you and your kids or your sister come to the dinner? Your mom was there", when in all reality, we wouldn't know about the dinner at all cause mom wouldn't tell us anything about family palnned gatherings. It just hurt my feelings that momma didn't come to, her own daughter's hardworking in the kitchen all night eat.

To make matters worst, before my sister started cooking she asked momma what did she want specially made and momma stated some green beans, but didn't show. Momma acts a little strange at times, but I won't get into details about that, but sometimes I do think that she doesn't really care for us, her children nor the grands because she acts like when we are present she has anxiety for some reason and I think that she just don't want us around. Ask momma for money and she will give it to the end. Ask her to keep her own grandchild or go out on trips together (never has happened in life and we are in our late 30's) and she will not go, at least with her children or grands, but will go gambling with her friends or just by herself.

One other thing that I hate is my moms deameanor from time to time. When she is in the wrong she will try to find some excuse or sometimes she will try to make me sad if her day is going wrong and now that I have gotten older, I realize these thingsd about her and can easily ignore her when she does it and I can walk away without having to swallow a big lump in my throat. What is it that could be done to get my extended/ mediate family together again?

Expert Answers

Linda Adler is the director of Pathfinders Medical in Palo Alto, California. She has dedicated her professional life to helping patients and their families find optimal ways to deal with medical challenges. She has worked in all facets of the medical establishment, including primary care, research, and policy settings at UCSF, Stanford, and Kaiser Permanente. Her current focus at Pathfinders includes crisis management, mediation, and advocacy.

Dear Just Being Me,

I'm so sorry your holiday didn't turn out as you had hoped for. Unfortunately, holidays tend bring out the hard feelings that many families ignore the rest of the year. The key to getting your family back together on future holidays is to work on the issues throughout the year, so that things don't get worse just when you most want them to go well.

You mention that things were better before you lost your grandmother; what changed after your grandmother's death? Did she do a better job of organizing meals, or perhaps she was better at communicating with your mom? Or maybe she was more of a matriarch, who held the family together? Whatever she did, is there a way you could take over that role to bring your family together as she did?

I'd like to understand your comment about how your "mother can act strange sometimes". I'm wondering if your mom is dealing with an undiagnosed illness that is contributing to the problem, whether it be mental or physical? When was the last time she had a health evaluation? If she hasn't seen a medical professional recently, she needs to! If cost is an issue, please look into your local resources for a community clinic and get her an appointment.

I have the impression that your family isn't communicating openly about these issues. When was the last time you and your sister sat down with your mother to discuss your concerns? Have you spoken to her about her gambling, about her unwillingness to show up at family events, her erratic behavior? I suspect that nothing will improve until you speak up, not only about your concerns, but about how her behavior is bothering you. How will your mom know how sad you are if you don't tell her?

As is so often the case when problems like these arise, the only way they'll get better is for you to take action. I'm so glad you expressed your feelings here, as this is a good first step. Now, you have to think about what you have to do to improve the situation. Make yourself a list of ideas, then put a date on each item and stick to that timeline. First on your list should probably be talking to your family about how to plan together, and second might be finding a time for you all to talk with your mom about why you're concerned and upset. You really can make this situation better, but only if you're willing to invest the time and energy it will take to making things better. Much good luck to you!

Community Answers

Just being me answered...

Well; first and for most, I'd like to say thanks for answering my question. Yes, I have talked to my sibbling about this matter at hand, but the upset feeling(s) that I usually have seems not to subside much, if any. I do love my mom, but she makes us think differently for instance, my sister has two children which are 15 yrs old and 4 yrs old and the moral of that statement is because she works fulltime with every other weekend off. Well, the weekends off are the weekends that our mother works, but moms weekends off are the weekends that my sister has to work. Well, my momma works on everyweekend now and I don't understand why when she knows that my sister needs her (my mom) to watch the children on those weekend that she has to work.

Momma once told me that she plan out hated me and this is when I was in my early teens maybe 15 or 16. She stated "I hate you", "I hate you and (her husband)", "I hate to come home and see ya'll". At the time, she was upset with me for some odd teen reason, but that wasn't enough for her to say that to me so, I hear it over and over and over again. When she told me that, it hurt me so bad that I just started crying and tried to hug her cause then I knew that it was something deeper going on besides me being chestized about something I did. I really felt a sadddd emotion.

To make a long story short, I am older now and have coped with many people and their personalities including family, but most of all I have learn to contribute to my own well being because if no one else cares about me, at least I know I do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dog's best friend answered...

((((((Justbeingme)))))) Sorry your mother has been so difficult to get along with for what sounds like most of your life. Have you considered that she might have a personality disorder? She sounds, to me, like she might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you google things like "mean mother" or "my mother hates me" or "mother/daughter problems" you'll find many sites with information you might find very useful.

Have you ever looked at the site called "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers"? You'll find tons of excellent information on not-so-loving mothers and how they mistreat their daughters and other people, plus a super forum you can get on to share your life story and get much needed support.

Just remembered another great site on narcissistic parents. It's called "Narcissists Suck". Don't let the name turn you off. :) I almost didn't even go to the site...very glad I checked it out. Excellent writer, Anna Valerious, plus an astounding number of useful and fascinating comments on many of her posts (sometimes 100 comments!)

Please keep on taking care of yourself. Wishing you all the best. :D