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Topic : 08/30 Possessive People

Number of Replies: 426
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Created on : Thursday, April 27, 2006, 07:11:52 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
(Original Air Date: 05/03/06) Claudia describes her mother, Bernice, as an "emotional, psychological vampire, sucking the life blood" out of her. She feels smothered by her mother's controlling, possessive behavior toward her and her two children, and finds herself snapping at her husband and taking it out on her kids. When Claudia and her husband, Thomas, built their new home, Bernice built a house right next door, so she could drop in at any time -- an opportunity she has taken full advantage of. Claudia says Bernice makes her feel like a terrible mother because she won't stop questioning her decisions and undermining her. If the situation doesn't change, Claudia and Thomas say they will move their family to Ireland. Bernice says her grandchildren are her life and if she loses them, she will die. What is behind Bernice's possessiveness? Is this just grandmotherly love, or is she crossing the line? Share your thoughts, join the discussion.

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May 3, 2006, 10:14 am CDT


Quote From: supergirl

 I was thinking exactly the same thing as soon as Bernice spoke and revealed her accent. I was one of those people that was laughing because she sounds just like my mother. Bernice does not understand what Dr. Phil is saying because she doesn't "get it". I can't speak for other countries but my mother who is Hungarian is just as pushy and controlling as Bernice. There is a unwritten rule that you must always respect your mother and listen to her because she always knows better.  Privacy is nothing more than an abstract concept.
I read your quote, and I just had to reply. My mother-in-law is Hungarian, and she is destroying my marriage.  Bernice and she could be twins.  You can tell her something until she is blue in the face, and she will still not hear you.  Anything she doesn't understand (which is a lot) she calls a lie, and the person saying it, a liar.  She has emotionally blackmailed her 2 sons for thier entire lives, and also uses the "it will just kill me if you ........................" you fill in the blanks.  She even got my husband to put her on the deed to our house because he borrowed money from her, and now that the money is paid back, she won't take her name off the deed.  It is her way of still having a "hold" on him. She is soooo  much like Bernice that it was just amazing.

 What you said about it being part of thier ethnic upbringing is very curious to me.  My MIL  said several times "well, in Hungary, we do it this way"  several times. She's stuck in 1950's Hungary after living in the USA for 50 years. I haven't spoken to her in almost 5 years now because she called me on the phone and threatened me, and I've refused to have anything to do with her since. My husband hasn't spoken to her for about a year and a half because of the thing with the house. It's too bad, but she just won't listen.....she feels she has the right to own half our home because she loaned my H money,even though it's been paid back, and because she had to bring up her 2 sons on her own after her husband left her because he just couldn't take it anymore.

My husband won't bring her to court about the house because he says "It would kill her".  Sound familiar???? I am ready to get a divorce as she has driven a real wedge between us, and that's what she's wanted to do. He's the product of his upbringing, and can be verbally and emotionally abusive also.  As far as I'm concerned, my MIL is abusive as well, and so is Bernice. I have had all my right taken away from me by this woman, and her son who I thought really loved me. It is now apparent to me that his fear of her is greater than his love for me.  If I had allowed it, she would have been just like Bernice, in our faces all the time. She lives 200 miles away and doesn't drive, thank goodness.

Since you seem to have such a grasp of this, I would really like to connect and talk about it a little via email. My email is listed in my profile here, just click on my username.
May 3, 2006, 10:17 am CDT

I agree

Quote From: buickfan

 I have no idea how old Claudia & Bernice are but I need to make 1 thing perfectly clear.  It seems as though Claudia has done some research on controlling and abusive, yes abusive people.  There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with a parent wanting to protect their offspring from harm even when they become adults, however, as someone who was and still continues to be emotionally abused as an adult, I firmly believe that Bernice needs to get herself into a top-quality abuser program that will hold her feet to the fire to change.  I would like to also warn Claudia that if her mother is controlling and micro-managing those darling children's lives directly, then she needs to prepare for the future, when they become adults themselves.  If Bernice does not clean up her act while those children are still young she might just be faced with a situation in which her grandchildren not only wind up with chips on their shoulders but also spend countless hours reading books on abusive people and looking at abuse sites on the computer because they will be desperate to find out what Grandma's real motives are for her behavior.  Also, be prepare for a dramatic change in their behavior once they do find out because they may just take on the same attiude that I have adopted, argumentative and unwilling to take Bernice's advice ON ANYTHING because they will have her behavior was not to keep them safe or to look out for their welfare but, rather to satisfy her own sick right to control everything.
I agree with you, this is a type of abuse. She needs professional help, some friends, and to make a life of her own and stop guilt tripping her daughter and son in law. 
May 3, 2006, 10:59 am CDT

Agree w/jmew414

Well, I wasn't going to comment because I don't have kids, but I can totally relate to your post.  There are 5 of us kids & my mom is very negative - i felt guilt from years gone by and talked w/her 2/3 times a day for years - but the negativity really got to me so i tried to talk w/her about it, but she doesn't get it, so i spent 6 months not speaking to her & it really seems to have changed things.  I knew she wasn't going to change and I knew I had to change something or i would go crazy.  she tried to call and call and force me to p/u the phone, good grief!  Instead of getting it, now she is talking to the other siblings like she used to me - so i'm glad i did what i did for my own peace of mind. i feel much better & try to stick w/good, positive people who support me. it's too bad, but i was tired of the same thing over and over. that is crazy-making stuff!  
May 3, 2006, 11:21 am CDT

What about the xanax

Dr. Phill,   

I watched your show today about the over possessive mother/ grandmother. I thought it was interesting that the mother stated, "I eat xanax like they are candy because she (grandma) has made my nerves so bad". Later on in the show, the grandmother shared her concern that the mother may leave the children at the store. It appeared that everyone in the audience reacted as thought she was delusional with her concerns. Actually, I believe my take on the dynamics became different as the show progressed. Lets look at this possibility;  Could it be possible that while dad is at work, mother is staying loaded on xanax and grandmother is taking care of her responsibilities? Once mother decides to wake back up she has to put on this show for the dad because he is asking why she is doing the things she is doing. Of course the grandmother is extremely co-dependent and has learned to filter out the constant change in desired boundaries that the mother tries to set in all her states of mind. I do know that if she is going to the store loaded up on xanax, that it is very possible that she may leave her kids there.  I also noticed A very interesting behavior during the closing of the show. The daughter looked over to the grandmother and it appeared that she told her to start clapping, because that is what she did. Now, if the grandmother is so disrespectful of the daughter and her wishes, why would she start clapping when it was apparent that her emotions was not that of gratitude? Could it be possible that the mother has scapegoated the grandmother. If the grandmother was out of the picture, then she would not need the xanax, correct?   


May 3, 2006, 12:14 pm CDT

05/03 Possessive People


        Claudia: I laughed as I watch the show your mom is so similar as mine was, yep was , she died last year, that is why I could laugh, I am free, free of the fighting, free of the energy being drained at keeping her at arm length. I was so relieved, there is so much peace in my life now. Many years ago I was to the point of getting these rage episodes in which I just had to have her death, there was no other way I could imagine she would leave me alone. Of course I went on some guilt trips when she developed cancer but I was there to help , I never abandoned her but couldn't be emotional involved. i felt betrayed cause since my first child was borned I noticed she was being competitive with me, for theattention of the kid, but I thought "I wont get in her game , I am glad he has a grandma and how nice to have so many people loving him and he is gonna love us all" i made a mistake, i opened the door and she had no respect whatsoever,later on life she said that she had to compenssate the love my kids were missing from me. My kids laugh at that now they tell me they feel so loved by me and my husband but it was as if my mother had these fantasies that she had to save our kids from us. When we felt it was too much we tried placing boundaries and we did which caused her to act more desperately, I went to therapy but she and my Dad never agreed to go, the Dr told I was ok that I was on the ship and my parents were drowning and all I could do was to throw a lifesaver but never ever think of getting in the water with them. It is a frustrating story cause I dont find sense to it. i see my kids as so capable I dont have a doubt they will grow to be great parents and my gratest proud will be that, having raised good adults.  it seems my mother didnt like how I turned out to be so she wanted to do it all over again with my kids. She spoiled them so much, specially the oldest one. She had always candy in her bag so as soon the kids spot her they all ran to her, she will get them anything, the world of toys, the world of food, name it...when Mom passed away this kids who she wanted to win their hearts no matter what didn't even drop a tear, my oldest son now 18 told me to pardon him but he didnt really felt sad...I dont know if I can win his heart,  dont know if he will cry me or at least be melancolic when I die but by now I've recieved the most beautiful letters on mothers day, he tells me he loves me and tells me I am doing a good mom never got such a letter like that from me.  

so, Claudia what would I do different, I wouldnt fight so much not because I'll give in, no I would just seldom talk to her about desicions taken, do not disclose everything going in your life keep a lot of info private we as daugthers tend to tell too much, change that lock there is no need for her to have the key.  By the look at her eyes I can tell you she wont change, if it is intolerable go ahead and move, you dont need her to be happy,  dont tell her where you are moving  keep her posted you are ok but dont tell her where you are till she has built a life of her own . Good luck, You and your husband seem such wonderful people , it is great to find peace  it dosent have to be till your mom dies, you have not an ounce of responsibility on putting an entertaing act for your mother, your family is not a circus, not an occupational therapy, your responsability is to form a happy family, provide peace for your husband and your kids. Luv and best wishes.  

May 3, 2006, 12:56 pm CDT

Claudia is OKAY!

I want Claudia to know that I am so impressed with her.  Of course, she might not be doing every thing in life perfectly - who does????  She seems to have such a good and stable life with her husband - and they seem to be in this "together" which is more than we as a society can say about many, many couples who are not encountering these types of problems.  She has a "common sense" head on her shoulders which will take her far and guide her to success.  It is difficult to not want your mother's approval, to think your mother might be unhappy or disappointed, or to think that you are your mother's life-line, but as adults you begin to realize it is NOT your responsibility to make her happy.  As the saying goes "with age, comes wisdom (at least some!).  My comment to my two daughters when they ask me for input or advice is "Do you my 25-year old answer or my 50-year old answer? - because they are not the same and often have nothing in common!"  If she separates herself from her mother and stands up for herself - and really sticks to it - a few times it will give her the strength and backbone to do it again and again and again, until it becomes second nature and her mother will realize her place.  Good luck to all of them - but especially to Claudia and Thomas and their children - what a wonderful family to see.  All families would be lucky to have them as "family."
May 3, 2006, 1:03 pm CDT

motherinlaw from the bowls of he!!

Quote From: idunowhy

He is about the same age as your brother. His sister has taken care of him his whole life. They finaly last year figured out he had Asperges. He could tell you quote for quote the whole civial war. I'm sad to say that my daughter will be put in your same spot. My son has Autism/Aspergers.   


Stay strong, God bless people like you.  

BOY watching the hsow today brought up too many memories!!  Even tho i am divorced from her now lol she still effects my life! she was  and is the monsterinlaw everyone dreads. In my home daily degrading me and my husbands response was WELL THATS MAMA YOU KNOW HOW SHE IS !!!!!  i hear that in my nighmares now . i feel for anyone that is  in that sistuation . GOD Bless ya i had to get out
May 3, 2006, 1:06 pm CDT

I know how this is going to sound, but...

First of all, I totally understand why Bernice is making her daughter crazy, and I completely agree that Bernice needs to back off.  


That being said, I still think Bernice would, overall, be a blessing in any mother's life.  


My mother passed away in 2001.  Now I have a three-year-old son.  My husband's parents are wonderful, but they live halfway across the country.  


We have a very happy life, but as I watched Bernice on the floor playing with her grandchildren, I couldn't help but feel wistful.  


My husband works long hours, and I'm with my son 24-7; I'm happier than I've ever been in my life, but I'm also exhausted.  


No babysitter will ever love a child as much as his grandma.  What a blessing to have a grandmother who loves her grandchildren that much.    


Don't get me wrong, because I know Bernice definitely needs to give her daughter some space.  


I know I'm just looking at this thing at a completely different angle.  My mom wasn't nearly as opinionated as Bernice, but she had her moments.  And, I'd give my right arm to listen to one of her ten-minute answering machine messages again.  



May 3, 2006, 1:08 pm CDT

I felt sad for that woman...

 I thought Dr. Phil's advice to the young mother and wife was right on! I hope she heeds the advice and takes control over the situation. It maybe the hardest thing she'll ever have to do. On the other hand, I felt really sad for the possessive mom. I wanted Dr. Phil to offer her counselling...the woman has issues. I know Dr. Phil acknowledged that fact...but I wanted him to go even further, and offer the woman help.
May 3, 2006, 1:10 pm CDT



 I have one of those Grandma's, she's been doing this for 23 years, I've fought, I've yelled, I've told her to leave & she comes back & says I don't bother anyone, I'm only here to help! I go out & come home to find things in different places, few times I've had to call her in the evenings to find out what she's done with things. My kids will leave for school & she's here by 10Am, won't go home till 5 pm. I've had my friends over for lunch & Mom is in the middle of the conversation, needless to say, my friends don't come over much anymore..I hate to say it, but this Grandma is almost as bad as my mother. She;'s not going to stop, Dr. Phil Grandma is  more then you can handle, you will not win this one, there's no helping here. My advice to the daughter is to move & not tell Mom where she's moving to. 

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