Every time my grandmother talks to me (everyday since I live in their house for almost a year now) she brings up a sensitive topic. This situation has been going on for about 4 months now and I can’t stand it any longer and I know if I have to deal with this much more I will explode and I don’t want that to happen.

Topic:

The topic is about the fact that I will get money from an estate that is currently getting sold. The reason this topic is sensitive to me is because I worked together with my stepmother to renovate the house and my grandmother hates her to death. She uses every chance to talk bad about her and in general spreads negativity whenever she can. E.g. "Why do you even try, she won’t give you your money anyway" or "You still help her? You are wasting your time!"

My Actions:

I tell her every time that it’s worth putting work into renovating an old house and I will get my money because my stepmother is not as evil as my grandmother thinks she is. Every time I try to tell her, she says I am such a naive fool. Still, she won't stop. It's not like she has Alzheimer’s or anything similar, but it seems she just loves to bring it up all the time. It has come to a point where I simply don't talk to her anymore until she bursts into my apartment/my room and I have to.

Question:

What can I say to her that stops her from bringing up this sensitive topic to me every time she talks to me although I tell her not to, because it worsens my mood?

  • the house is sold now, im surely getting it, she still doesn't believe me – hopsinat Aug 21 at 16:20
up vote 13 down vote accepted

This is your grandmother. And she obviously cares for your future because blood is thicker than water. But it seems apparent that she is harbouring resentment towards your Stepmother, because of something in the past.

The last thing to do is antagonise your grandmother. Instead you have to try and soothe her feelings so that she stops offending you with repetitive comments casting doubt upon your future fortune with your stepmother. You can explain that nothing is certain in life, nobody knows what will happen but you decided that it would be good to be a part of the renovation with no expectations. You could ask her to respect your decision and allow you to make your own mistakes, allow you to grow up yourself. Also you could ask her if she could think about reconciliation with your stepmother by asking for her suggestions on how that may be achieved, and how you could mediate in this. It is her problem, and she is making it your problem. You have to show her that her words will not change the relationship that you have with your stepmother. Try these things, then when she talks about again just walk away straight away and close the door behind you for a while without anger or any words at all. Keep on doing this until she knows that it is pointless making her repetitive provocation, and starts to think about what it would be like to lose you.

First, if you didn't try that already, try explaining to her that she hurt your feelings when she says what she says. Tell her that you would like her to trust your judgment or stop bringing that up. Be calm but firm.

If you already did this multiple time and it doesn't work, try adding emotions to your speach. When she bring the topic up, get mad at her, show your feelings. You don't have to get too mad but enought that she will understand that you are not okay with her saying what she says. Repeated this as many time as necessary. She might get the point eventually.

To summarize : if the calm and reasonable approach doesn't work, show your feelings.

My mom used to make fun and insult my dad, her ex-husband. What worked for me in theses situations was honesty & calm, and this:

You have to explain super calmly that you need to be listened "now I will say something really important for me, so don't interrupt me"

Then find the good argument for the situation. Why do you think she can't talk bad about your stepmother or your project: because that woman is part of your family and you think family is the most important, or you think that's natural to help people, or something else.

Then you explain her that if she can't understand this and calm down when you two talk about that, this will install a taboo between you two, because you can't stand this anymore.

You can also write her a letter/email.

I’m sorry for your situation. It must be really stressful especially that you live with her.

I understand the urge to change her behavior, but what feels like resentment that your grandmother holds for your step mother is most likely not to change any time soon. As a result it might be really difficult for her to not remind you of what she saw and what she worried about your step mom.

Instead of changing her, your goal could be reducing conflicts with her when the topic comes up, which helps relieve your stress.

There are some deescalation skills you could try. For example, state what you observed to your grandmother:

You seem to be very angry at her(stepmom)

Or

You seem to be really bothered by what she did

Or

I’m sorry you are in pain because of this

And wait for her to respond. Repeat what you observed this time again.

I’ve seen this type of response works better in confrontational conversations than fighting back with your own arguments.

It acknowledges how they other person might be feeling, which normally would help clam them down.

It also provides a “mirror” for them to see their own emotions and how they are in play in a heated conversation.

More importantly, it keeps you outside of the focus of the arguments.

Lastly, I’d like to point out a broader concern. You mentioned she would burst into your room. Does she in general respect your boundaries, physically or emotionally? How did she normally respond to your previous attempts to assert your needs?

If change doesn’t look promising, you might have to consider limiting interactions with her or even moving out.

Hope it helps.

  • regarding boundaries, she doesn't, instead she is still treating me like 4 although im 21. I want to move in 1 year, till then i have to deal with it :) ty – hopsinat Aug 21 at 14:04

If you are truly getting your due soon, deal with her only a bit longer, then buy her a nice gift with some of the proceeds. The card should read something like:

Grandma,

As you know, I came into some money on a real estate venture and wanted to spread the love. I hope you enjoy this gift.

Love, hopsinat

The principle here is a very old one that first may upset her, but will eventually shame her because of the way she treated you (and your stepmother). If she's an honorable person, she'll apologize. In the least, she'll stop talking about your stepmother. Some have called this "kill them with kindness", while other interpretations expand it to "love your enemy" and "turning enemies to friends". History and ancient wisdom books are filled with instances of this.

If she continues to be nasty, get away from her. Move out and away from that toxic environment as fast as you can. Don't bide your time, as toxic persons such as this can ruin you faster than you think.

  • 1
    that's interesting, i love reading answers because you people suggest i would never ever think of :D – hopsinat Aug 22 at 5:38

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