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How Can I Enjoy My Mum’s Visits?

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From Queensland: I’ve been having trouble with my mother. I find her disrespectful in my home. Anytime I attempt to clean or manage my children she interjects. If I try to explain why I do it this way she becomes offended and indicates that my way is wrong and that I am foolish for doing it so.

I moved far away so that these negative interactions are limited but of course she wants to visit the grandkids. I’m exhausted from biting my tongue to keep the peace but also becoming increasingly anxious as the house becomes trashed and the kids are going feral. I have been hiding in my room to avoid confrontation. This has led her to accuse me of being ungrateful and rather then discuss further with me she has stormed off to sulk in her room.

I feel i’m too old for this drama and it upsets the kids. Things I tell her I need become such a drama. For example trying to get the kids ready for school in the morning. If I tell my son to get his shoes on, she tells me there’s plenty of time not to fuss. If I try to brush my toddlers hair that becomes the moments she needs to potty train her and whisks her away. I ask my son how he’s feeling, she talks over him to tell me the answer. If I put away the breakfast things she snaps at me for being a ‘clean freak’. She needs to make her breakfast in the spot I’m making the lunches at the same time even though I have 5mins to get everyone (except her) out the door. The list goes on.

I can’t talk to her about it as she becomes so defensive and sulks, she has even packed her bags and left in the past when I’ve tried to discuss our problem.

How can I enjoy my mum’s visits?

How Can I Enjoy My Mum’s Visits?

Answered by on -


What a sad situation. She wants desperately to be a part of your family’s life, but her approach to it is putting distance between you. I understand completely why you want to avoid a confrontation, but that doesn’t seem to be helping, does it? Your mom probably thinks she is only being helpful. She doesn’t seem to understand that it is your right to run your house and to care for your kids as you see fit.

The only thing I can think of is to involve a mediator, i.e., a third party who can keep things civil while you try to work things out. If you have a relative who is practical and good at problem-solving, you might ask that person to help you manage a discussion with mom. If you don’t have such a person in your life, do consider asking a family therapist to help you by facilitating such a talk.

If your mother won’t agree to that, all you can do is keep her visits short — preferably at her house. That way, you can gather up the kids and leave if she becomes insufferable. There is no point to fighting with her since she seems impervious to your objections. Simply calmly state that since she won’t respect your limits, you must leave — but that you can all try again some time soon. Drawing boundaries calmly and clearly is generally more effective than debating or arguing. If she sulks, she sulks.

You needn’t feel guilty for lovingly drawing some boundaries around her behavior when she is with you and your children. Chances are that once she sees that you will either leave or ask her to go when she crosses those boundaries, she’ll modify her behavior. She does seem to want to have a relationship. Apparently she doesn’t know what to do if she isn’t the boss.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Can I Enjoy My Mum’s Visits?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Can I Enjoy My Mum’s Visits?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 17 Jun 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.