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How Do I Help My Unhappy Mom?

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From a young teen in India: My mother often holds grudges and picks fights with my father and once they start arguing she starts saying how she has been wronged by me and my sister and that we don’t help her around. she is very happy and then suddenly she is angry about something and refuses to eat and cries and picks fights and tries to make us all feel guilty.

She is a housewife and often complains how she could have had a better life if she had a job and we tell her that if she wants she can get one but she doesn’t. She complains about things in way past like 15 to 20 years ago and does not communicate about what she wants.

She complains about a lot of things and we try to give her solutions but she justs complains and refuses to talk silently and try to solve the problem. And then in a few days she cools of and a week later she is again complaining about the same things while refusing to solve it.

This time we were watching a movie about domestic violence and she started crying and telling father how she doesn’t want to live like this and other things but i can assure you my father has never hurt her.She holds her grudges forever.

I just don’t understand her one second we are laughing and having fun and the next second we are being blamed by ma.
We live in a very small home and so i cannot escape from the fighting and it is really starting to exhaust me. We try to get her help or counselling but she accuses us of thinking her to be psycho.

How Do I Help My Unhappy Mom?

Answered by on -

A.

You are right. Your mother is a very unhappy person. It also sounds to me like she is frightened. She is unhappy but she is afraid of finding out why. She casts about for reasons outside of herself (blaming, holding grudges, looking for reasons like not having a job) because she is afraid that something inside is wrong.

Instead of being angry with her and fighting with her, see if you and the rest of the family can have a more compassionate approach. Fighting and trying to solve her “problems” hasn’t worked so far and won’t work no matter how many times you do it.

Instead of urging her to go for counseling, I suggest that your dad be sympathetic with her distress and try to get her to see her physician. There are a number of medical problems that can make people feel depressed. If the physician doesn’t find anything wrong, perhaps she will suggest counseling. Your mom may be more willing to listen to her doctor than to family members.

I understand that the fighting is stressful. Just a reminder: When someone invites you to a fight, you can always decline the invitation. One of my teachers used to say that the best way to avoid a fight is to take the “sail out of someone’s wind”. He used the image of a sailboat to show that if you don’t respond in anger (take your “sail” down), the person’s “wind” of anger doesn’t make the fight go on. So instead of defending or rationalizing, just say something like “I’m sorry you are so upset. What can I do for you?” or “I’ll try to do better”. or “I’ll think about what you said.”  Then smile sympathetically and make an excuse to leave. If she won’t “let you” leave, just repeat your sympathy and then quietly nod and smile. She’ll probably run out of “wind”. People generally don’t keep going with something if it doesn’t pay off.

I hope you and your siblings and your dad can work together to stay out of fights and be more sympathetic. Your mom really does need help, not blame.

I wish you all well.

Dr. Marie

How Do I Help My Unhappy Mom?

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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. (2020). How Do I Help My Unhappy Mom?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/05/21/how-do-i-help-my-unhappy-mom/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 19 May 2020 (Originally: 21 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 19 May 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.