How Do I Have a Better Relationship with My Mother?
From the U.S.: I’m the youngest of 3 siblings, medical student, catholic, I don’t have diagnosed personality disorders or a psychiatric diagnosis.
I have always had problem relating with my mother. Don’t get me wrong I love her and she loves me but we have always butted heads. She really cares about my well being, and does everything for me; she’s really selfless. However, I’ve always had the feeling she dislikes me. I feel she dislikes the way I am, to be more precise. My ideals, points of view, my habits, my way of speaking, etc. Whenever I speak with her, I can really see that she gets annoyed with whatever subject we are talking about, and most of the times she makes me know that she’s annoyed and that we shouldn’t talk anymore about the subject in play.
I think I grew to be something that she hoped for me not to be. I don’t consider myself a bad person; sure I do something bad from time to time, but I try to correct my conduct. I try to be a good catholic, but as a man I’m flawed. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m bad, and thus I don’t see the basis for my mother’s aversion towards me.
I feel that the problem exacerbated when I was around 14, and it has evolved ever so slightly worse. We used to fight every day, and I wouldn’t contain myself and tried to deconstruct her arguments to the point she had no more tools to continue the verbal brawl. We don’t insult each other, she doesn’t hit me, just for the record. Most of the times, they were petty fights, and most of the time she was in the wrong, however I do understand she’s my parent and she’s probably tired or stressed out and she’ll fight just to blow off some steam.
It really is a burden for me to fight with her on an every day basis. Whether I’m occupied studying for an exam, or preparing myself for a practical surgical exam, she doesn’t care and lashes out against me, and so do I against her. Nowadays I’m just tired of 8 years of fighting, and I just take it.
I really don’t mind the fighting, and I really don’t mind she doesn’t like me, but how do I keep a better relationship with her?
A: Thank you so much for writing. I applaud you for seeking help with this instead of just giving up on your relationship with your mother.
With only a letter to go on, I can offer only limited ideas. The most important one being this: People can’t fight if the other person doesn’t cooperate. You can’t change your mother’s behavior, but you can change your own. If you stop participating in the fights and instead ask her with genuine compassion what you can do to help, she will have to respond to you differently.
I’m also guessing that you caused each other a lot of hurt during your adolescence. An important step in healing is to acknowledge your part in it (without blaming her) and to share with her that you want to move into a more adult relationship with her.
This will take time and forgiveness and compassion for yourself and for her. If you can’t make progress, then I suggest that the two of you go for a few sessions with a family therapist for some help. The therapist can teach the two of you new ways to interact with each other that are healthier so you can start to enjoy each other.
I hope you will follow through. You are only 20. With some work on the relationship, you and your mother could have decades of a mutually supportive, loving relationship.
I wish you well.
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Have a Better Relationship with My Mother?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/04/12/how-do-i-have-a-better-relationship-with-my-mother/