“Reformed ” people

cartoonI have a question I’d like to ask you all. I know you know people like this too so I wanted to know how you handle it or if you just do what I’ve been doing and ignore it.

I’m going to come right out, up front and tell you I’m talking about my mom here. She will never get a computer and if she did, wouldn’t know how to get here so she’ll never see it and BELIEVE ME, nobody is going to tell her.

I’m talking about “reformed” people. People who haven’t lived the Mother Theresa life but now preach to you constantly like they did. Constantly on your back about all the things you do wrong and all the things that are bad for you that you also do.

My mom smoked and drank until 13 years or so ago. I’m also just taking a good guess because we KNOW she was still smoking and still having drinks at night because she’d get telephone-itis and call us and we could hear the ice and we could hear her inhaling. All of our lives we had cigarette smoke blown in our face and all of our lives of seeing her get drunk. She wasn’t abusive in any manner. As a matter of fact, we liked her way more back then. She was funny when she had a few and she’d tell jokes and we honestly had fun with her. Now she acts like she’s lived the life of a Saint. What’s up with people like this?

My mom knew I smoked when I was 14 years old. She told me she’d rather I smoke in front of her and not be sneaking around and burning down the house. She also let us have the occasional drinks at home or while on vacations. It was no big deal. BUT NOW, we can hardly deal with her attitudes anymore. She is constantly telling us everything we do is wrong and is constantly picking us apart with these two issues. Okay, I smoke. My brother smokes and Jason and Eric smoke. We don’t rob banks and we are all, on the whole, good people. Our four kids have all turned out well. None are in jail. All have employment and have three have nice families. One is still single but a contributing part of society. What in the world gives her this right? We should be counting our lucky stars.

I’ve noticed other people who do this. Why? All I want to know is why you just can’t let other people live their own lives? Do any of these people honestly believe that if you nag someone enough, they will do what you want them to do? She also acts like she didn’t smoke OR drink at all for 50 years before deciding how awful it was and all who did it were going straight to hell. I’ve noticed this also with “12 step people” who are now “reformed” and they always feel the need to share their “new found” life with you every time they see you! I’m sorry; I don’t want to hear about it. If you want to not drink or not smoke or not do whatever, well bully for you but leave me alone about it. I know I have faults but I’m not going to change for you. I’m talking about overeating and overspending or ANY habit you may have. This just isn’t about smoking or drinking. Some people find fault with someone no matter what. There is no pleasing them.

One more thing, I know this got too long. My mom told me not to long ago that I “don’t see my own boy’s faults.” Well you know what? YES I DO but they are grown men. They have really nice wives that I love. They have given me 3 beautiful grandchildren and I will NOT tell them what to do. I want them to talk to me and be a part of my life so I keep my fat trap shut unless I’m asked something point blank.

How can “know it all” people not see this? That by constantly nagging someone, it only makes them not want to be around you.

Do you know anyone like this and other than telling them off, how do you deal with it without losing having them in your life?

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22 Responses to “Reformed ” people

  1. MoodSwingMabel says:

    I’m sorry if your mom is making you feel like shiznit. I don’t have anyone in my life right now doing this to me but have in the past – it’s frustrating. As your mom gets older (* I have been thinking about this with my own mom) I wonder how it must feel to be near(er) to death? Scary and you probably want to right all the wrongs. Maybe she’s doing this to you because she feels bad about her drinking and smoking and wants to spare you from having those same feelings one day? She is going about it all wrong, obviously and that’s the part that stinks! You are a grown woman and can do as you please. It’s YOUR life and your right to do it the way you want, to make yourself happy.

    To me, things to worry about being “forgiven” for are the BIG things ….. stealing, lying, cheating, murdering, whatever- but smoking and drinking? No. You got no worries girl.

  2. Laura says:

    My in-laws are like this, but they’re much more insidious. They are very well-off, and use their money to try to get their children (and now their grandchildren) to bend to their wishes. They are masters of passive-aggression. Being who I am – naive and trusting – it’s taken me a LONG time to learn their ‘tells’ and to learn how to put up my shields to protect myself against them. And still, they find ways to ‘get at’ me.

    For a long time, I was comfortable to just let Steve deal with them. They’re his parents, after all, and tradition dictates that we deal with our own parents when a spouse is involved. But I’m growing up (yeah, at 39, I’m still “growing up”), and don’t have the time or the patience to deal with that kind of crap anymore.

    How do I handle it? I avoid them like the plague. When I have to be around them, or talk with them, I’m polite, I’m nice. But I’m also firm. “This is the way we discipline our child”, “That’s not how we do things”, “THIS is what we’re having for dinner, you’re welcome to join us, or you may go elsewhere”, “If you’d like to go to church, this is where it is. I’ll see you when you come out”. That kind of thing.

    At first they were shocked. Horrified at the church thing (that’s a whole other post). They tried to change my mind, tried to make things be the way they wanted them. But on the important things, I stand firm. Fortunately for my sanity, there aren’t many “big” things, but I simply stand and take the crap. Eventually, they get tired of it, or just realize that I’m tuning them out.

    It hasn’t made it *all* better, but it has helped to preserve my sanity. It also hasn’t stopped the sniping little comments, but as long as they’re not in front of my son, I don’t care. Sticks and stones, and all that.

    Sometimes you just have to confront the behavior dead-on and say, “you can say/do that elsewhere, but in my house, it doesn’t happen”. I daresay that person would have no problem saying the same thing to you. And don’t let yourself pull back because you want to be “nice”. Those people are certainly not being “nice” to you, and you have obviously tried being nice for years. Maybe now it’s time for a little “mean”. Because taking care of yourself isn’t “mean”, is it? It’s doing exactly for yourself what she’s doing for herself.

  3. mssc54 says:

    Hi, my name is Michael and I am Reformed (far from perfect).

    In the mid 80s I went to an 32 day (inpatient) treatment facility for drug/alcohol abuse. I can see both sides of this issue.

    I’ll just speak from my experiences. It’s not that I used to be “bad” and now I’m “good” but rather that I’ve experienced so many challenges because of my past life style that I want those whom I care about most to avoid some of the painful consequences I’ve experienced. I think most parents are like that. Even if at times it’s the ole “do as I say and not as I do” thing.

    The challenge for me is watching my family make choices that I KNOW will eventually lead to regret and keeping my trap shut! I used to be terrible at that. Preaching to them.

    What it took for me was Buddy’s death in Afghanistan. I recognised that some of the choices that my widowed daughter were making were…. well, not the choices I would have chosen for her. However, through all the pain and sorrow I recognised that the MOST IMPORTANT issue was for me to have her too WANT me to be around her and little Cooper. So as hard as it still is I just bite my tongue and wait for her to ask me about this or that.

    I think the most important thing a parent can do for their child is too love them in spite of some of their choices. If you don’t have access you will not have influence.

  4. Gary says:

    Thankfully, I don’t have any of these problems and never really have. Maybe I have made good decisions in my life?

    I try as hard as I can to let my children make their own decisions without “stepping in”. Many times I know what is going to happen but let them find out on their own so they learn on their own. Seems to be working rather well. On BIG decisions they always consult their mother and I and when asked, we give our opinion tactfully. 🙂

  5. LVISS says:



  6. Just a Mom says:

    My dad was a big 12 Step reformed alcoholic. His preaching drove me and my older brother crazy as teens and I think it in some ways drove us to our own alcoholic problems. It’s funny that you posted this today because I have 2 years sobriety as of today and I did not do the 12 Step plan! I also quit smoking for my own health. I still hang around people who drink and people who smoke. I’m the one who has the problem not everyone else so I don’t feel the need to preach to people about it. Plus in my experience nagging only makes people want to do it more and more just to piss ya off!

    • Joy says:

      Way to go JAM on two years. I know my brother and I are getting to the point of avoiding our mom and it’s really sad but she just keeps pushing and pushing. I can say for me, that my guilt for when she’s no longer with us, is the only thing that keeps me listening to her and not blowing up. But she’s been terrible of late.

      • mssc54 says:

        If she’s been more difficult than usual as of late maybe she is realizing that her time with you “kids” is drawing to a close and feels a sense of “urgency,” Maybe not.

        • Joy says:

          You know mssc, I wish I could say this was a new thing but she’s always been like this. Did you ever see the movie Sybil? Where the mom called the little girl down the stairs and as she’s handing her a sucker, she trips her? That’s how my mom is. She’ll hug you then slap you. She has a good heart and does many good things but then she’ll turn around and ruin the good she just did.

      • nikki says:

        That is exactly what Jason says….she won’t be with us too much longer so we need to to just deal with it. It’s not easy though!!

  7. nikki says:

    I love her, she’s thee only “Grandma” in MY life and the only Great Grandma in Bailey’s life. However…she makes it so I don’t even want to visit her. This is what she does to me….”Can you come over and hang some pictures up?” I say…of course! I get there and she doesn’t have anything to hang them up with, but she wants to just get my opinion on where they go for now and she’ll pick the nails up some other day. Ok would be all fine and dandy, however this goes on several times. If she just wants company, invite me over for coffee or something. And when I do get there, please I love my family, I do not want to hear you complain about them or put them down. Oh but one in particular is a saint, okay he’s turned his life around and he’s doing great but I don’t need to hear about it ALL the time. What about Toby & Jason who have pretty much always done well. What really gets under my skin is her saying stuff like, “I’m not getting into it BUT…”Umm you just got into it! UGH…love the women but she drives me nuts sometimes.
    Smoking? Lets talk about that, in my eyes when some one has done something and then quits and talks bad about others that still do it, I call them hypocrites. I used to smoke, I used to drink somewhat heavily, I used to do a lot of things. I don’t judge others for still doing it. TO EACH THEIR OWN! People need to learn and practice this philosophy. Who are you to judge me or anyone else on things you have done yourself??? I don’t really know anyone else like her, one friend, but he’s not nearly as bad as she is. I’d love for one day to just say to her…STOP, if you are such a great holier than thou saint….STOP judging!!!! Live and let live…… this got really long. Sorry! I do love her and wish we didn’t feel this way but she leaves us no choice. I know we don’t have TOO much more time with her and I’d love to be able to enjoy it!

    • nikki says:

      OH sorry in my entire comment I never offered a solution because I don’t what to do about it. If we said anything to her I think she’d just get very defensive and not talk to us. 😦 IDK what to do

  8. SKL says:

    I think it’s a historical fact that moms / MILs start to “tell us how they really feel” in their declining years. Don’t take it personally, because I think it’s pretty common!

    But I know exactly what you mean about “reformed people.” When I was about 5, my parents were “born again” and while my mom’s everyday behavior didn’t change much, my dad suddenly made all these rules, like, “fart” and “dumb” were swear words, etc. Still, he was always pretty human and wasn’t one to condemn others’ mistakes in life (still isn’t). But at church, there were always some people like that. This was the 70’s, so maybe it was partly cultural. There was this one guy who would “make the rounds,” come over our house and sit and go on and on and on and on (maybe the drugs killed part of his brain?) about religion and reforming and bla bla bla. We didn’t disrespect him, mostly just felt sorry for him and tried to avoid him! Then another couple, old friends of my parents, got “born again” and started going off on my mom every time she said a swear word. My mom was like, woman, you cheated on your husband with more people than you can count, etc., and now suddenly you’re holier-than-thou? F-you!! LOL! Her husband also decided that his daughter had to wear dresses all the time (etc.), and thought my parents weren’t conservative enough with us girls. Odd though, it was his daughter who lost her virginity at 11 and got pregnant at 16. (That did seem to shut them up for a while.) That couple was one of many who were really never reformed in their hearts.

  9. pammy wammy says:

    Joy I dont know what to say 😦 Thats hard,especially when its your mom.Family you gotta Love.But sometimes we dont agree with them or like how they talk to us.So then you can chose not to be around them as much.Thats something my mom told me once.Life is short and I dont think theres ever an excuse to judge others.I have many faults and done some bad stuff in my life,no one is perfect and no one should ever sit in judgement of you.I believe some people just dont get it 😦

  10. Sue says:

    I’ve been trying to think of something all day and I’ve got nothin’! It’s just the way she is. Something made her bitter a long time ago and this is how she deals with it, that’s what I think. Nikki made a good point – she’s good at saying “It’s none of my business BUT…” she does that to me every time she calls. IDK, unless you point blank tell her and she makes a decision to change there’s not much you can do.

    • mssc54 says:

      Have you ever watched that television show “INTERVENTION”?

      Maybe it would be worth all of you guys getting together for an intervention. Or keep the status quo. Only you guys can decide if it’s worth the effort. It would probably be scary but it could possibly pay huge dividends. Or not.

      And happy birthday… soon!

  11. DM says:

    Joy, I”ve seen this type of relationship between a parent and their child in a friend of ours…the mother is a lot like your mom…All I know is if I were in your shoes, I would be avoiding your mom more than you do. She’s not going to change and I doubt whether any amount of honest conversation would make one bit of difference. It’s wierd when we come to the place where we realise our parents are not perfect. I know that might sound strange to some people, but for the longest time I honestly thought my parents were always right and never did or said things they should apologize for….It is a test, pure and simple…wish I had some suggestions to help fix your frustations…parents really can provoke their children to anger and discouragement….I get the sense you have not treated your kids like your mom has treated you over the years…I’m betting your boys love you even more because of it. and I know deep down you do love your mom, stinker that she is….

    • Joy says:

      I really appreciate your comment DM. You are right on a lot of counts. I think the main reason I was never the way my mom is to my own kids is I have a great dad who is the total opposite of her and he saw to it that we had a kind and loving persona in our lives. My grandma was also a huge factor in that.

      I know you’re right about her. Like Sue said, she is the way she is and she’s not going to change. If we all tried “talking” to her it would be a disaster. She would NOT take it well. I have the hardest time with the calling one of us and talking about all the others. She calls all of us and talks about the others and it hurts us because we love each other. So we just listen and don’t pay any attention to it but at times like this, it just gets hard. We also ALL disagree with her politically so add that to the lectures we all get all the time and we are just worn out.

      Sue used a word that fits her perfectly, Bitter. She’s very bitter. It’s not just the drinking and smoking but it’s TV shows, music, movies, celebrities. Anything we all like, she hates and vice versa. She always wants to argue with all of us and none of us get into it. She’s gotten really bad the last month. I notice this comes on every 3-4 months. She’ll get super bad and then the rest of the times, she’s just her normally bad self.

      I feel tremendous guilt that when she dies, if I haven’t been as good to her and as nice to her that I could have been, I’ll regret it forever. I don’t “see” her nearly as much as I’d like to see a mother. She pushed me away years ago but I do talk to her everyday on the phone for at least 30 minutes. That’s as much as I can take and I would give anything to have a mom like everyone else. I love her a whole bunch but I don’t really like her very much and that really bothers me.

      • SKL says:

        Joy, if it makes you feel any better, I think spending 30 minutes a day talking to your mom is impressive. I probably talk to my mom about an hour a month, and visit her maybe one day out of every 3 months. And we get along great.

        My granny was a very negative person, and toward the end, my mom thought maybe she needed anti-depressants. My mom had started taking them and realized how much difference they could make. Do you think your mom would be open to the thought? My granny wasn’t! But what do you think?

        I don’t think you will ever stop her gossiping, but as far as the politics, maybe you could make a pact that no more than 1 minute of each call (or maybe none at all) could be spent on politics. If you let her know that it really spoils your mood every time, maybe she’ll agree that it’s not worth it. My parents used to disagree so vehemently on religion, that one day they simply decided never to discuss it again, and this bought them years of peace.

        Good luck!

  12. shanef says:

    I know I’m kinda late with this comment but here goes. When we where kids she was fun to be around, I remember staying at her house as she drank and smoked right next to me. But know every single time she calls, do you still drink? I say yes. She responds, my friend Carol almost died from drinking. It’s not only that, she kept buying vhs tapes long after dvd’s came out and I kept telling her there going to be extinct. So for mothers day I think it was mothers day Joy and my dad bought her a dvd player. I hooked it up and was going to show her in “the simplest way I can” how to use it and she immedietly threw a tantrum, I can’t figure it out unhook it and take it back. After a while she did learn how to use it and it was all good. I still remember her smacking Eric in the head at red lobster. She asked him if he still smoked, he replied yes and she smacked him in the head in front of everybody. I don’t have an answer for her, she will always be this way??

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