My mother is obsessed with making up for being a “bad” mother. She paid very little attention to us as children. We essentially raised ourselves. Now she smothers us, calling several times a day, coming to visit 3-4 time per year (she lives in another state), and staying 10 days at a time. All of our interactions involve her trying to teach us the basics, as if we are still 5 year-olds, and demanding honor and respect simply for being the mother. Conversations a nearly impossible because she is always right about everything and we should simply accept and honor her wisdom, as the elder. I have tried to gently (and not so gently) remind her that we are now adults and do not need this type of guidance any longer, but she insists that it is a mothers job to teach her children all through life. She respects NO boundaries!I could write for days on that subject alone. She continually says things like the mother is the most important person in one’s life, etc…etc… I know her issues stem from having been sent away for her safety during a war, in her very young years, and then being reunited with her family several years later (resulting in two separation/abandonment scenarios). She also married and left her family behind to come to the US from her homeland when she was 26. This left her with no family support, except for her in-laws, which she claims treated her poorly. Lastly she is uneducated and lacked any motivation to change that. I pity her for all her hardships, but I hate her for what she’s become as a result. My brothers are strong enough to ignore her demands for attention, leaving me to console her and defend them. I am at the point where I just want one of us to die, so I do not have to deal with her any more. Sad, huh?
It really isn’t so sad — as much as it is unfortunate. What I mean by that is that your brothers have exactly the right approach. If you don’t set the boundaries — your mother can’t and won’t. By allowing her to stay too long — and talk too much, you were giving her permission to stay exactly the way she is.
It is better to feel a little bit guilty and not so resentful. The resentment you feel towards her is so great that you’re waiting for one of you to die. Learn to say no to your mother. Just because she wants to do things her way doesn’t mean that way is okay. Instead of picking up the phone and talking to her so many times a day cut back. You’re not going to heal your mothers abandonment issues. She needs to do that with a therapist-not by demanding you lose yourself to make her happy. You are abandoning yourself in the effort to not abandon your mother.
It is new behavior for you, but I’d rather see you feel guilty for saying no — than wishing one of you were dead. You may want to have some individual therapy along the way to get support for doing this. The find help tab at the top of the page can help you find someone in your area.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Hate My Mom Who Won’t Back Off. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/06/11/hate-my-mom-who-wont-back-off/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 11 Jun 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.