Manipulative Grandmother


My mother and I have never gotten along. She wont take no for an answer and will throw a giant childish temper tantrum. She once threw a glass of water at me across the dining room table, she will run into her bathroom and slam the door and scream at the top of her lungs and beat the wall with her fists. She once called the police and implied my dad had hit her so they cuffed him in his own house (she is the only one I've ever seen hit). She'd talk bad about my dad behind his back and often implied my dad was having an affair to turn my sister and I against him. The most difficult thing about her is she has left the Catholic church to join an evangelical church that tells her she should cut off contact with anyone that is toxic. She uses this to make herself out to be the martyr, and to cast her judgement on everyone. She trash talks the Catholic church any chance she gets even though I respect her faith. She has an insatiable need to badmouth my relatives or friends to me. She says my grandma was evil because of a fight they had and that the stroke my grandmother had is God punishing her, but I've always been suspicious because my dad's 5 brothers and sisters were on my grandmas side in the fight.

My husband and I had a big falling out with her and my father recently. I returned home from a recent military deployment, and my first phone call with my mother she begins to tell me about a fight she is having with my cousin. She blew up that I wouldn't hold a grudge against my cousin over it. My dad then call me and he cussed me out and called me a family traitor.

Then, I had a complicated pregnancy. I had in-utero surgery to save my son after doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy. I went into premature labor, and my mother flew up against our wishes. We were under a lot of stress with the complications and asked her to come up after the baby was born. She arrived in town at midnight, and my husband had to go get her and leave me crying alone in labor for hours. My mother would later complain about how all the daughters in the baby shows on TV were happy to see their moms, how she just wanted to see her grandson be born (at what cost to his well being given the situation?), and how unfair it was that that's not how things worked for her. I ended up having a C-section in the morning because the baby went into distress after I didn't sleep all night. I was shaking uncontrollably from the stress, when I heard my baby cry for the first time I couldn't stop sobbing I was so relieved he was alive, and Dr.s were concerned I was going into shock as my blood pressure crashed. My baby was taken to the NICU where he would spend the next two months. My mom stayed in town for 3 weeks and refused to respect anything we asked of her. The NICU nurses threatened to kick her out twice for failure to follow rules, which she told me were stupid. She even cut off my husband while he was talking to the surgeon and told the surgeon that she didn't need to operate on our son.

My son was born with a severe condition that gives him a 50% chance of making his 2nd birthday. We almost lost him to meningitis in the NICU, and now he is on dialysis as his kidneys have failed. My mom commented to my husband that 'Thank God what's wrong with him is on the inside and not the outside so people won't judge him'. She is incredibly shallow...she wouldn't let me go to my high school prom with an African American boy I was friends with, and never saw my friends for their hearts and minds. Growing up, she spent tons of money buying my sister and I everything, and she is doing it with my son now. Anytime my mom and dad are mad at me they bring this up to hold it over my head and call me an ingrate. I have stopped letting them help us in anyway, because it is always conditional. My mom never let me pursue my dreams in life (I had to play the sports and musical instruments she wanted, I went to the college she wanted, and I joined the branch of military service she'd settle for without cutting me off like she threatened).

When my son came home from the NICU we sent out a mass e-mail to inform the friends and family on my son's health, thank them for their prayers, and ask them to keep it up. My mom was furious we had sent an e-mail to the family. I found out later, this was because she had sent her own update e-mail to the family saying the baby was just premature, doing great and was home. She hadn't sent this e-mail to my husband or I, we got a copy from a confused family member. She insisted the Doctors were exaggerating, and my dad sent me a 10 page e-mail full of lies and accusatons, a list of all supposed wrongs we have done them, and said they were tired of us being dramatic. My mom sent us an e-mail full of bible verses trying to prove that the devil was using us to tear her down because she loved God so much, and that God had given our son his health problems to wake us up to him. This led to a huge fight, and my mom and dad held a grudge for over a month. I lost half my milk supply, and we had to turn to a donor milk bank to feed my son which cost us over $20,000.

My mom finally started calling again acting like nothing was wrong, and I forgave her. She was on her best behavior for months until recently. She hung up on me on my son's first birthday because I got frustrated that she called first thing in the morning and again several hours later (we've told her not to do this since he's on dialysis and sleeping) She is also talking bad about people again, and when I tell her to drop it she won't.

I know God says to forgive 7 x 7 times, and to honor our father and mother. God has done so much for my family. I feel like if I avoid her I am holding a grudge just like she does on everyone else. So, what would you do??


What I'm doing right now. Praying for all of you.

Pray for those who persecute you.
- Jesus of Nazareth


She sounds like she might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder - NPD, among others. There is a recent thread no more than 5 pages back that you can find where other forum members detail their experiences with this disorder.


Forgive: sure, but that doesn't mean you have to put up with being treated like this. I strongly suggest talking to someone (priest, counselor) about setting terms for any future interactions. Your mother has a gift for making you feel terrible about yourself and your family, maybe you can find ways to set boundaries so she can't do that so easily. Be assured God loves you and is not the vindictive jerk your parents think He is.


[quote="Francis7, post:1, topic:233672"]
So, what would you do??


I would either go into the witness protection program or bar these hateful, mentally ill people from ever contacting me again.

What are you waiting for?


Francis7:Pray and then pray some more.


God bless you and thank you for taking the time to come here and share your story. Prayers for your sweet little boy! Praise God that he has such a wonderful mommy! I will keep him in my prayers for good health.

You mentioned forgiving your mother, that is wonderful! But you do not have to have a relationship with her, that is not your obligation.

Hypothetically: think of a woman who has been raped and assaulted by a stranger who then is sent to prison. Later on the woman decides that she “forgives” the man who assaulted her…this is wonderful but it doesn’t mean she is going to start having lunch dates with the man! Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. You can forgive someone, in fact Jesus Christ calls us to to that…but you are not bound to have an ongoing relationship with anyone, especially someone who is abusive.

Also you are right that yes, we are to honor our mother and father but be careful that you are really honoring her. Honoring her might actually mean putting distance in the relationship. We are not honoring someone when we are honoring them in their sinfullness. When your mother is sinning and you allow it to continue you are not honoring her. Staying away from her means she will not be acting sinfully towards you and she might even examine her conscience (perhaps) because of your actions. This would be TRUELY honoring her from a spiritual perspective.

Your priority is your son and your husband but you already know that. Already your health has suffered and so (potentially) has your son’s as your mother calls without regard to his dialysis. Please tell your mother that you love her but need to put some distance between you. She will have a fit and cry and whine and go crazy, you know this but freedom awaits you!

Send her birthday cards and holiday cards and leave it at that. This will be very difficult for you to do. Resist the urge to call her or return her calls.

Try and give yourself and your marriage a break from all of this. I don’t know for sure but I have a good guess that your husband is also burned out about hearing about all of this drama. He needs a break too, he probably gets an earful everytime you have anything to do with your family…he needs and deserves a loving wife that isn’t strung out because of stress from her mother.

Please know I am speaking from experience, this is hard but can be done and it sounds like it is critical that you do something to protect your family.

Enjoy your time with your husband and son, Jesus loves you so much!! Embrace the freedom that you deserve! Pray for your mother.

Hope this helps a little, please kiss your sweet baby for me and take care as best as you can.


honor your father and mother does not mean you have to allow them in your life and your child’s life if their personality or actions are a threat. She sounds seriously disturbed and I hope someone in the family is able to influence her to get some help. meanwhile there is no reason, while you are coping with your number one challenge and priority, your child’s needs, to allow her into your life with the damage she is doing. Your husband should be your ally in this.


Awwww like you dont have enough stress!!!!!!! Like everyone said forgivness does not mean you continue to put yourself in harmful situations.


I couldn’t say it any better than Monicad or puzzleannie.

Just wanted to let you know my prayers are with you and your precious baby boy. It is good to hear that he has made it to his first birthday - may he have many more :slight_smile: You sound like a good, obedient child who now has her own family to love and worry about. Don’t let your toxic family ruin it for you! It sounds like you have been trying to make some healthy boundaries, and your mom has just stomped all over them. Sorry for your troubles :-/ My husbands family is pretty toxic, but not nearly this bad. It is tough for him, you must be really exhausted with it.
God Bless and much love,

*Edited to get his birthday right; at first, I thought it said second.


This is a person who should never, EVER be trusted around your son. She shows reckless disregard for rules, which means she can never be trusted to keep his safety in mind. She violates boundaries even when they are reasonable and set by institutions (the NICU rules violations).

She is at least narcissistic and perhaps sociopathic. She is sowing chaos, disruption, and stress within your entire family.

You give honor to people who deserve honor - I think God did not mean that commandment to say we have to take abuse from a parent who in no way gives us love or respect. You can forgive her, but yet take care of yourself and not allow her to ruin your lives and that of your son.

There is a very good book called "Boundaries," by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I recommend it to anyone who has a person like this in his or her life. They should write one called "Boundaries for Families of Narcissists." You need the strongest boundaries of all, like a 4-ft. thick wall.

If you could move away from the area where your mother lives, it would be healthier for your husband, you and your son. I know it would be hard. If she really deserved your love, and if she would really return any of that love, things would be very different. She will not help you raise your son, she will continue to cause chaos and pain. You need support, not sabotage.

If you cannot move, then you will have to set those boundaries and keep them strong, or your life will be one long horror show. No matter what you do or don't do, she will keep being herself, just as you've described. You do not have the mother you deserve. You never will. But you can BE the mother your child deserves, and that you as a child deserved. You lost out in the initial mothering contest, but you get another chance. Don't let her ruin that for you and for your son.


You have received some great suggestions from others. I second the suggestion for reading Boundaries by Townsend. I recently had to go no-contact/time off with my toxic parents, and it is liberating, but difficult.

A word of advice - if you choose to set a strong boundary, you may wish to do it in writing and insist communication from your mother to be in writing as well, maybe for a set period of time. The reason I say this is because she may be the type of person to twist your words if you speak to her.

I had to do all my communication with my father, stepmother and mother in writing for this reason. My mother (abuser) went quietly away, which is still very eerie. My father and stepmother have spread lies about me (I'm mentally ill, I'm doing this for money, I am cruel and like hurting them for my own pleasure, and more delights). They denied having phone conversations with me that contradicted their lies and then they fabricated other things. So be cautious with verbal conversations. They can and will be used against you.

If you have everything in writing, you can then show the letters/emails to any family members you may wish to keep a relationship with.

From your original post, it didn't sound like you were ready to cut all contact, but even a strong boundary may send people like this into a rage and they decide to teach you a lesson by slandering you to others or causing some drama.

I am praying for you and your family. Best of luck!


Don’t put up with this behavior. The best possible thing you can do is to either cut off contact or have extremely limited contact.
I made the decision to cut off contact with my narcissistic mother about 8 months ago. I still get flamed for it by several relatives (people who live in other states and don’t have to associate with her). The word “forgiveness” is used like a club by these well-meaning but clueless people.
I have decided to surround myself with loving, supportive people rather than run myself ragged trying to please my mother.
Please see this website It may help you a great deal. I know it has helped me.
God bless you.


I’m glad your son seems to be doing ok! that’s a lot of trauma for a little one!

all I can say is that these are all wonderful responses.

have you considered changing your phone number, or at the very least getting call id? then you can just turn the ringer off and not have to talk to her.


It is so painfull to have to cut off family members.

But you have to be a “tiger mom” FOR Your child. Get mad! You have to stand up and defend your baby. He is sick and NEEDS prayers. How DARE she go behind YOUR back and tell people he’s fine???

Your mom has trained you to be meek. Be strong, be encouraged, be bold.

  1. get caller ID and don’t answer the phone
  2. block their email
  3. send a 1 page letter, well thought out, that she is not to visit or make any contact with your child until you say she may. That your child is VERY sick, and until she stops living in her dilusion you will protect him, first. Let her know that you will not be answering phone or emails until YOU feel that you can adequatly protect yourself from her verbal abuse and your child from any negative cosequences of that.


Doesn’t sound like she has narcissistic personality disorder but borderline personality disorder maybe even a touch of histrionic. She sounds mentally ill. Stay away! You can forgive people and not have to be around them. Cut ties to save you and your child and your marriage stress.


Thanks everyone for the fantastic advice. Hearing all of your reactions to her behavior helps put things into perspective for me, and I don’t feel so bad for not wanting to be around her. Some of the responses given about ‘honoring your mother’ by helping her do right etc, will be very helpful if my father tries to use that commandment to guilt trip me. Pointing out the difference between forgiving and reconciling with someone, wow I never thought of it that way and remembering that will help me do this. I never thought it would come to avoiding her, but now I have a baby that I feel fiercely defensive of…its incredible, I would have let her mistreat me the rest of my life but I have no problem standing my ground now that I have him. I just know that guilt would have hung over my head always, but I think I can have peace thanks to everyone’s insight. I’ll look into that book about Boundaries.


Dear Francis7,

God bless you and thank you again for coming here.

It is good you are going to try a new path...remember this won't be easy for you, there may be moments where you are weak and that others try and make you feel guilty it will be hard.

Remember too that Satan is real. Satan wants you to feel bad about yourself and wants you to feel guilty and inadequate. Satan wants you to feel like an awful daughter and wife and mother. Don't let him win.

Keep Jesus close, keep him in prayer close to you. He loves you so much and you have a lot to handle, with his help you can do it!

Glad to hear you are seeking the freedom that you deserve! Praise God!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit