I want a better relationship with my mother

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My life was so enjoyable years ago. I was a straight A student, I made friends with anyone, and I was the most favored throughout the family. Years later it is the exact opposite. My grades aren’t straight A’s but it is nothing lower than a B and I have a tutor that is helping me. I can never shut my mouth and I always talk back to my parents. I don’t understand why I do this because I live in a beautiful home and I get anything I want.

I always feel ignored and I feel like my mom favors my siblings rather than myself. I take no interest in doing activities anymore except for track and band and it may be because I am not well at most things except for skiing and running but that is very expensive to do all the time. I’m a great runner if I push myself but other than that I fail at other things.I’m so sick at looking at other people’s lives and not understanding why I can’t have a life that they do.

I have a horrible relationship with my mother, I have VERY low self esteem ( I have dealt with anorexia) and everything else is just falling apart. All day I focus on what I eat because I get so worried for ending up being fat. I have all the signs of depression and bipolar disorder. I’m not sure if this has to do with anything but sometimes when I lay down for a while and when I go to get up I fall and everything goes black for a few seconds and everything is dizzy. I’m tired almost everyday but I get at least 7 hours of sleep. I’m always concerned about my looks and I ocasionally check myself in the bathroom throughout the day.

Anyways, I have dealt with many things such as physical and mental abuse from my mom. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get called selfish,lazy,unappreciative,horrible,terrible,and self-centered. I try to call out to her, discuss our problems, and she tells me that if I say one more thing about her she will leave. I don’t know if I act this way from my past. On certain accounts, I have told my mother I wanted to kill myself and she just mainly laughed at me and said there is something mentally wrong with you and then I said well if there is then it wouldn’t be my fault and I need help.I don’t know I always tell my mother that I appreciate what she does for me and she says things like yeah yeah.

My mom talks about me to other adults, making me sound like a horrible child and all the other words that I have mentioned already. She expects me to do every chore there is in the house if I do a chore. For example, my siblings and I washed all of the dishes and did other things and my mom comes home and says, “Why didn’t you wash the dishes in the other kitchen?” and that made us all disappointed because when we try to do something for her she points out what we didn’t do or what we did wrong. I’m just so sick of dealing with all of this and I don’t know why I do things that I do.

I’m starting to go to church more often and I pray everynight for me and my mom to have a better relationship but nothing works and if it does it only lasts a few days then it’s a full circle again. I feel very bad for my mother because she lived a HORRIBLE life as a kid. Her mother physically abused her, she was raped, she was always made fun of, and her dad didn’t want anything to do with her and now she is dealing with a a lot of pain . she lays in bed and cries and throws up. And here I am, while my mother is giving me this wonderful life that she never had, I have to act like a spoiled brat and be hurtful. I really need some help. I don’t want this to continue. When she is gone one day I do not want to look back and regret what I have done. I want to have a good relationship with her until the day she dies. I really hope you can help me and tell me what I need to do. Thank you very much.

A: What a mess of troubles! I’m so, so sorry you are feeling so terrible. I’m impressed that in spite of it all, you are motivated to change things. Good for you.

I suspect that what happened two years ago is that you became an adolescent. School got harder. And you started to develop your own opinions about how life should be. Part of what is going on for you are the physical changes and emotional upheavals that come with the teen years. And part of what is going on for your mom is that you are emerging as a young adult. A lot of parents have trouble with that transition. In your mother’s case, her own upbringing didn’t prepare her to deal with the natural conflicts between mother and daughter in a way that is helpful.

If that were not enough, you are both struggling with physical problems. Your mom must feel crummy most of the time. You have struggled with anorexia. It may well be that the lightheadedness you feel is a result of not eating regularly or not eating enough.

I deleted some of your letter because I wanted to protect you from being recognized by people who know you. If you really want things to be better, I can think of a few things you can do:

First, stop focusing on how wonderful the lives of your friends are in comparison to your own. It may not be true. It does nothing to help you. Instead of focusing on your deficits, work on your considerable gifts. You belong to band and track. You’re a good runner. You have friends. You have a tutor to help you figure out how to do better in school. You have a grandmother you like to see. You do manage to have the relationship you want with your mom for a few days now and then. When you are feeling down, recite the good in your life instead of the bad.

Secondly, start taking better care of yourself. Eat right. Go for a reasonable run several times a week. Continue to turn to prayer. All will give you the strength to deal with the hard stuff.

You are fighting with yourself about how to see your mother. On the one hand, you are grateful that she has given you a life she never had. On the other hand, you are furious with her for the way she sometimes treats you. Both can be true. Appreciate the good times. Forgive her the others. She has had a very hard road of her own.

Finally, talk with your school counselor or minister about how to get some family therapy for you and your mother. A therapist will help you both understand and talk to each other. Your mom needs to learn some new ways to manage a daughter. You need to learn how to respond to your mom in ways that don’t make a bad day worse. If your mom won’t go with you, please consider going for a few sessions by yourself. A counselor will get to know the specifics of your situation and will be able to give you more helpful advice than I can on the basis of only a letter.

One more thing: If you ever think about hurting yourself, please call the Boys and Girls Town Hotline. People are available 24/7 to talk to teens and to give you needed support. Their number is 800-448-3000. You can read up on what they do at their website.

I wish you and your mother well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Dec 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). I want a better relationship with my mother. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/13/i-want-a-better-relationship-with-my-mother/