I just came back from teaching someone who, at the end of the sesson shared that her daughter hadn't spoken to her since last Christmas. “Why?” I asked. “Because she and her husband came to visit over last Christmas and I told their dogs to get off my couch. They didn't like that.”
I meet quite a few old people in my work,who have fallen out with their children over all kinds of trivial things. My client who told the dogs to get off her couch is eighty and a new widow. I felt sorry for her. She was so distressed her eyes filled with tears.
I think anybody has a right to tell anyone else’s dogs to get off their couch – and anyone who allows their dogs on other people's couches is in the wrong. The problem here is that she is the MOTHER. Mothers are expected to let their grown up kids do what they like when they come “home”. So she erred fatally by speaking her mind.
She is also the MOTHER-IN-LAW and in effect, criticised her son-in-law by telling the dogs off. They are a childless couple. The dogs are their children.
So, when you are a young mother, or the mother of teenagers, you are able to set your parameters and discipline your offspring when your slob children give no help in the house, or jump up and down on your lounge chairs. You are a central point. But when they grow up, if you retain your right to speak your mind, in your own home – or god help you – in your grown up children's homes, you are instantly punished.
An old parent becomes a toothless, powerless, old person, completely at the mercy of abuse by their own children.
Not speaking to your mother because she told your dogs to get off her couch at Christmas, is called “withholding” - a very potent form of abuse – and one listed in my abuse blogs.
At eighty, old parents become less confident, more timid, more untouched by any human hand, less central, and, like all of us – require loving. The love that is most important to them, is the love of their own children.
I don't know who the silly daughter is – shame on her. If she were mine, I'd give her a good talking to! I wouldn't get cowed so easily. But then, I'm not eighty – yet!