Ask Laskas: Motherly Misleadings

Jeanne Marie Laskas hands over the reigns to you: Play advice columnist and help mother is wedged between woes over her own mother and her grown up daughter.

Ask Laskas: Motherly Misleadings

I recently caught my 74-year-old mom lying o me about matters that concern my adult daughter. I believe she adds her own twist to the situation to create less concern on my part. It’s as if she thinks that I won’t have the right reaction to the truth. Do I confront my mother or let it go?

—Stuck in the Middle

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48 thoughts on “Ask Laskas: Motherly Misleadings

  1. First, do a gut check. Is there some valid reason your family might not trust your reaction? If so, own up to it and get some help to correct that. Second, talk to both your mom and daughter, either together or separately. Don’t make accusations, but work toward a covenant of total honesty, for your part and theirs. Third, recognize that your daughter is an adult. It is time for her to stand on her own. That will require letting go. She needs to leave the nest, get out from under Momma’s wing and soar, and make mistakes, and learn, and correct them, and try again. Give her the freedom so that no subterfuge is necessary. Be there for support when it is sought, but avoid rescuing her from her own messes. Respect her like an adult, then your relationship can grow.

  2. Mention to your mom that you’d like to hear things straight and that you’ll try to be calm and fair in your reaction. Then let it go, and don’t hold it against her. Love her the way she is and treasure the time you have with her.

  3. Thank your mother for trying to protect you and appreciate that she has a great relationship with your adult daughter.  If your daughter wants you to know about her situation it is her place to involve you, not your mothers.  

  4. Skip your mother. Talk to your daughter. My mother plays this game with my father all the time.   And yes, she adds her own twist. I have no idea what motivates her, but she’s been doing this for years. It usually resulted in my father sending me money (which was nice, but I don’t like to leech). I finally told my father and step mother to just call me and ask me and I will tell them whats going on and whether or not I really need their help.

  5. Sure, confront your mother.  But don’t be surprised if she just gets more ornery and deepens her lies.  There’s an adage about old dogs and new tricks.  Maybe an army boot and a lump of coal for both daughter and mother at Christmas might get your message across.  On the other hand, there’s nothing in your inquiry that dispels you from being a sneaky, conniving, controlling, busy-body troublemaker, so it could be that your mother’s mendacity is just rewards for your butinskiness.  As far as advice goes, I say don’t sweat it.  Sounds like your family is just like everybody else’s.

  6. For some reason my mother also keeps information about my daughter from me.  I’m thinking its their way of bonding and letting my daughter have someone to actually lean on for subjects that they feel uncomfortable or embarrased talking directly to me about.  Personally I think its harmless unless your mom is keeping serious issues or illegal activity from you.  I would discuss it with your mom by just letting her know that your aware of whats happening and to please just let you know if its something you need to get involved with.  Grandparents tend to let more go for grand kids, no matter what age, than they ever thought of letting us get away with, which can maybe sometime blind their own judgement.  Don’t worry, they have your daughter in their best interest, but they feel so much love knowing their grand child is confiding in them.   

  7. Advice to public restroom cell phone conversation in next stall. It was bothersome .should I have said something? my Advice is ,no dont say anything. Just do your business then get the heck out of there. Thanks for listening LL Olsen

  8. You already know that mother spins the truth to push you to a judgement she prefers, there is no need to empower her by confronting her. Your silence may be more powerful than a war of words.

  9. Regarding the woman in the next restroom stall carrying on a conversation: I agree with you that cell phones bring audible conversations into situations where they have no place. I think that anything you might have said directly would elicit some kind of negative response, so I suggest if this happens again let the “facilities” do the talking by repeatedly flushing the commode. Their typically quite loud, and if the person next door did say anything, you could respond with something like, “It just won’t all flush!!”, again, loudly.

  10. This is my response to the woman who’s bent out of shape over someone talking on the cell phone in a public restroom in the stall next to hers:

    Dear Seeking Privacy:

    The one seeking privacy should be the
    woman using the cell phone in her restroom stall. If you don’t know the woman,
    forget it. If she works at your place of employment or attends your church, you
    might say something like, “Heard you talking on your phone in the stall. Doesn’t
    it bother you that someone might be listening in the next stall?” Then let her
    figure it out.

  11. I say let it go. If there are ‘matters’ as you say that are between your daughter (whom you say is an adult) and her grandmother, thats really not your business. If your daughter wanted you to know, she would tell you. Your mother shouldnt lie but if you are asking and putting your mother on the spot, what can she do. Im sure she doesnt want to betray her granddaughter. I say stay out of it

  12. I would certainly at to her about it. But first, a little introspection would be good. Do you tend to overreact? Are you easily frazzled? If so, then your mother may be valid in trying to keep you from getting upset. If you talk to her and she does feel that way, then maybe you could work on that while she works on being more honest.

  13. I think talking to someone about the fact that you can overhear her conversation  would be a waste of your breath.  She must have known and did not care. Your breath would be put to better use by making fake gaseous noises…that might have stopped her, or at least you wouldn’t hear her so well.

  14. you mentioned that your mom adds her own twist to your daughters problems in order to “create less concern for you.” It sounds to me as if she is trying to protect you, as most mothers do for their children. Your mom is aging. I say give her the joy of feeling as if she is doing some good for you and let it go. Life is too short to confront her over something like this, especially when it sounds as if she is only trying to help. 

  15. Confront your mother in a loving way and let her know you can handle the truth. You also need to get close to your daughter so that she can tell you things without you finding out through a third party. Your Mum means well because she’s trying to protect her baby (you!!)

    Good luck

  16. You really need to let this go.  I don’t know how conversations about your daughters affairs start, but if you are questioning your Mother you need to stop. Your daughter is an adult. She shares information with her Grandmother that she’s not prepared to share with you and that is her choice not yours or your Mother’s.  When your daughter is prepared to share facts with you she will.  Until then if you want to preserve your relationship with your Mother it’s probably best if you avoid conversations about your daughter’s affairs.

  17. Let it go. Your mom is 74, your daughter is an adult, and life is too short.

  18. Ask Laskas; Stuck in the Middle
    First thing is this matter about your adult daughter. Key word; ADULT.  Maybe its time to let your daughter live her life and learn from mistakes made. As for Grandma; sounds like she is trying to keep peace in the family. Elderly people begin to look at things in a negative perspective. Sounds like grandma’s glass is half full and not half empty. The best advice for this situation is; LET IT GO.

    John R.

  19. I have no words of wisdom for “Stuck” but I do wonder, where did you come up with that as I just read that exact same thing about 2 weeks ago in  Dear Abby.   I’d appreciate a response.   TY  Bither52@aol.com

  20. how to tell if your daughter is a virgin. if she sleeps curled in the fetal position, but make sure she’s really asleep. shes still a virgin. if shes sleeps spread out all over the bed shes not. 

  21. At 74 your mother may be having some hidden health issues that are causing this behavior, especially if it’s new for her. Low B12, Low iron levels, low blood count, early Dementia are all possibilities. So before you cause a big argument with your mother you should gently suggest she have a complete health check-up without mentioning the problem with your daughter. If that’s not the problem then suggest she involve herself in some activities  and socialization, she may be just lonely. Sharon

  22. I have to admit, I am glad to have a chance to give my own input. I feel like oftentimes Ms. Laskas gives well-intentioned but wrong advice. I almost always have a different opinion to reply to her readers’ questions, so here’s my go: If you believe that your mother is lying to you regarding your own daughter, ask her about it. You are HER daughter, so she feels protective of you but she should realize that your daughter is not her first loyalty. You are all three adult women, so there should not have to be any lying happening if you all care about each other. Understandably, she may be lying to you BECAUSE she cares about you, but just explain to her that no matter what, you want full honesty regarding your children. Be respectful, and try to come at her with love, not accusations. And if all else fails, realize that she’s 74 years old and she wont do this forever… Try to appreciate her intentions rather than her actions and enjoy your family while you’ve got it.

  23. Let it go!  Your mother is still trying to protect you as her child.  Don’t drive a wedge between you two about this matter. Just listen to her. Just be sure your line of communication between you and your daughter are open.  Talk to your daughter about the situation that is happening.  Don’t confront your daughter about something you hear from your mom without discussing it with your daughter first.  If something is going on with your daughter that she wants you to know, she will tell you.  She is an adult and deserves the right to not have to answer to anyone about her choices.  Use this time with your mom to strengthen your relationship because you don’t know how much longer she will be with you.

  24. Let it go!  Your mother is still trying to protect you as her child.  Don’t drive a wedge between you two about this matter. Just listen to her. Just be sure your line of communication between you and your daughter are open.  Talk to your daughter about the situation that is happening.  Don’t confront your daughter about something you hear from your mom without discussing it with your daughter first.  If something is going on with your daughter that she wants you to know, she will tell you.  She is an adult and deserves the right to not have to answer to anyone about her choices.  Use this time with your mom to strengthen your relationship because you don’t know how much longer she will be with you.

  25. As a 74 year old great grandmother, caught in a lie, it probably is a common occurrence and not likely to change.  My granddaughter and her mother have enough disagreements and to include a tale from me would not be beneficial; so “let it go.”

  26. As a 74 year old great grandmother, caught in a lie, it probably is a common occurrence and not likely to change.  My granddaughter and her mother have enough disagreements and to include a tale from me would not be beneficial; so “let it go.”

  27. First…She’s 74 years old!  My Mother is 68 and does the same thing.  I don’t care if she’s doing it to be helpful, or if she doesn’t remember the details, I certainly wouldn’t call Her a liar.
    Second…If She does think  “It’s as if she thinks that I won’t have the right reaction to the truth.”  I’d bet She’s right…who knows you better than your Mother.
    Third…Your not “stuck” in the middle, you choose to put yourself in the middle.
    Lastly..You can’t descibe your situation in three sentences.  I would suggest some therapy…something has been going on with your feelings for your Mother, I’d bet long before your Daughter became an Adult.  I also think you’ve already decided whether or not you will confront your Mother….you just want affirmation so you can confront her.  If you don’t get the affirmation from Laskas, I think your gonna keep asking until you get the answer you want.
    Your 40/50ish…time to grow up. 

  28. How old is your adult daughter? If she’s 18 and living in your house, she should abide by your rules. If she’s out on her on, it’s time for you to MYOB and grandma should butt out, too.

  29. Regardless of her age (not sure why that was necessary to point out), it definitely needs to be addressed. Going behind one’s back, yet to share parts of the situation that are not totally accurate, is just plain wrong. Especially when involving a mother, daughter, and grandmother. This is a recipe for disaster amongst the three of you! Although, I do not feel your mother is the only person to address your concerns in this matter. You should speak to your daughter as well. You may need to be prepared to not hear as much from your mother in the future. May be her reaction to the confrontation. Best of luck, and remember….after all it is family.

  30. Are the lies making your daughter sound better or worse?  If they are tending to make your daughter look bad, your mother might be starting into dementia.  Her brain may be mis-interpetting what your daughter tells her and your mother thinks she is telling you the truth.  Also, some people with dementia require that they be the center of attention so if you are paying too much attention to your daughter, your mother may be trying to cover up any problems so you can concentrate on your mother more.  I have 2 older sisters who are showing these types of behavior and one has been diagnosed with early dementia.  Get your mother to a doctor, preferably a neurologist.   Katt, WI

  31. Dear Stuck,

    Lying, in almost every situation, is unacceptable. First, it damages your trust. Second, it probably also indicates a lack of trust on your mother’s part. That said, your mother is probably just trying to help – at least her intentions are good. 
    So have a heart to heart with mom. Let her know that you appreciate that she’s looking out for you, but that lying is not an appropriate means to do so. Work out a communication plan – say, she prefaces some difficult news with “I need you to try to stay calm while I tell you about this.” You might also mention that it might create a barrier between you and your daughter when your mother tries to hide things from you. Be honest, and be open to hearing what she has to say as well. Direct, but loving, communication is key. 

  32. Is your mother having memory problems?  As seniors age, they forget details and will fill in any missing story gaps based on their own life experiences.  Your mother may believe what she is telling you is the truth.  You could try gently saying, “Hmmm, I don’t remember it that way, I thought ______ was there.”   Arguing with her, will only makeboth of your lives more difficult.  If, with patience, you remind her of what really happened, she will likely respond in a positive way and you will see that her intentions were not to decieve you.

  33. First, it depends on the nature of the lie.  If it involves the law, drug/substance abuse, or something equally serious, you should know .  But, if your daughter is an adult and not physically or mentally impaired, and the lie involves nothing illegal or dangerous, whatever is shared between your daughter and her grandmother are really none of your business.  If you are aware of a specific problem that could be detrimental to your daughter’s health, you should respectfully ask your mother why she felt the need to mislead you.  If any of my children had a tendancy to blow things out of proportion, I might also be less than entirely truthful with them regarding my adult grandchild’s business if that child’s parent were only going to escalate something minor into something major.    

  34. The first thing I noticed was that you said “adult daughter”. She’s an adult so whatever decisions she’s making are hers to make. I don’t think you should confront your mother; she probably also feels caught in the middle of her daughter and granddaughter, and is trying to be there for both.

  35. It’s wonderful that your adult daughter and you mother are close. If your daughter confided in your mother and didn’t want you to know, then your mother did the right thing in not telling you. It’s your relationship with your daughter that needs work. The daughter, grandmother relationship is fine.

  36. Stress to your mother that any conversations she has with your daughter should be confidential….just between the two of them.  Otherwise she may lose the confidence her granddaughter has in her.  Randie07 said it well.

  37. You are an adult.  Your daughter  is a adult.  Your mother is an adult.  You need to back off and let them be friends without interfering.   I am in a similar situation.  My adult granddaughter has messed up her life, but she has a right to be my friend, confide in me and ask my advice.   She doesnt confide in her mother because her mother over-reacts and starts treating her like a child, yelling and screaming at her, and threatening her with homelessness for her and her children.    Unless there are drugs involved, and children threatened by her behavior, you should not be correcting your daughter or insisting that you know everything about your adult daughter.

  38. You are an adult.  Your daughter  is a adult.  Your mother is an adult.  You need to back off and let them be friends without interfering.   I am in a similar situation.  My adult granddaughter has messed up her life, but she has a right to be my friend, confide in me and ask my advice.   She doesnt confide in her mother because her mother over-reacts and starts treating her like a child, yelling and screaming at her, and threatening her with homelessness for her and her children.    Unless there are drugs involved, and children threatened by her behavior, you should not be correcting your daughter or insisting that you know everything about your adult daughter.

  39. From my own experience with my grandchild, leave your mother alone about it.  Sometimes children will tell a grandparent things they won’t share with a parent.  Your mother is trying to keep that communication door open with the grandchild and may also be trying to help you perceive things in a less harsh way. I’m sure your mother would tell you if she thought there was something you needed to address directly.  Trust her wisdom and be grateful for her role in your child’s life.  Some children don’t have anyone to turn to without fear of reprisals.  Your mother may be the only person your child feels safe confiding in — and that could be critical at some point.  Thank your mother for being a trusted friend to your daughter and don’t press her about what she knows.  If she knows anything that she feels is truly alarming, she will let you know.

  40. Remember that no matter how old, a mother’s instinct is to protect her child.  Calling your mother a liar (in so many words) just adds fuel to the fire and will not generate a solution! I would suggest sitting down with your mother over a good cup of coffee or tea and beginning the conversation with something like, “I really appreciate your trying to protect me about……., but I really need to know the truth so I can help her….etc.”  Your mother may be relieved to know she doesn’t really NEED to protect you, or for that matter, her granddaughter!

  41. If that happened to me, here’s what I think I would say to my mom:

    Mom,You have trained me well, and because of that, I can handle what you can handle. It appears that you have been trying to protect me from the truth, and I appreciate your concern for me, but I have a request to make.  I feel that I need something different from you, more than I need protection.  For me, it is more important that I am able to trust you and you are able to trust me.  Could we, please, just share our concern for my daughter? 

  42. I definitely think you should talk to your mother about the situation, but not in a confrontational way. You may ask her why she feels it is necessary to lie to you or try to “spare” you from the truth. 
    But be willing to really “hear” what she has to say. Maybe you are notorious for overreacting to situations. I had that problem too. And when I took the time to really listen without reacting negatively, my grown children started trusting me more and now they feel free to talk to me about everything. Your daughter is an adult. She will make mistakes and maybe some bad choices. Allow her to fall, just be there to help her climb back up.

  43. I definitely think you should talk to your mother about the situation, but not in a confrontational way. You may ask her why she feels it is necessary to lie to you or try to “spare” you from the truth. 
    But be willing to really “hear” what she has to say. Maybe you are notorious for overreacting to situations. I had that problem too. And when I took the time to really listen without reacting negatively, my grown children started trusting me more and now they feel free to talk to me about everything. Your daughter is an adult. She will make mistakes and maybe some bad choices. Allow her to fall, just be there to help her climb back up.

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