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My mother is controlling my whole life and I can't get her to stop!!!

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Question - (2 October 2006) 30 Answers - (Newest, 24 January 2014)
A female United States, anonymous writes:

Hello, I am in my mid-20’s and my mother does everything she can to rule over my life. I am married, own a house, about to go to school for my master degree, and I have a steady job (for now).

Whenever I share anything personal with my mother, she tries to only bring up the negative. For example, I told her that in a few years my husband and I will probably try for a baby (a drastic change from me never wanting one) and have been setting aside money for when the time comes. Instead of being happy (she’s always wanted grandkids) she says “Oh, you mean the baby you never wanted??” and changed subjects.

I said that I have a steady job for now, and that’s because I am trying to change career paths. I’m well aware of what that will include because I have been researching it for quite a while. I told myself I would never tell her anything personal again. Then I let her know of my plans and she keeps telling me that the money is no good (it pays more than I make now and is in a more fulfilling field than I am in now.) But honestly the money is not an issue and I would even take a cut in pay (which I actually was planning for). I told her that and she just about exploded (my mother is very materialistic and her world revolves around money).

I’ve talked to my grandmother about my moms behavior – I figured that if anyone knew my mom it would be her. Well, she said that my mother has never appreciated her and never knew when to step back. (This has resulted in my grandmother not speaking to my mom for years at a time on several occasions.) She said that it must be horrible to have someone like that as a mother. She said that my aunt was a much better mother. She said that she felt sorry for me having to have a mother who was never positive or appreciative of me. So, I didn’t really get any advice, but I was glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one thinking she was like this (my mother is totally different when anyone else is around, she wants everyone to think she’s “classy” and "professional").

I have also been to 5 psychologists starting from when I was 17. All of them said that my mother is damaging to me. When my mother would ask about my sessions, I would tell her what they said – but in a gentle way – in hopes that we could be better friends, instead of *just* having her as my mother. She said that I was her daughter and that she didn’t want to be friends and said things like “who do you think you’re talking to?!” I wasn't trying to be a jerk, I just wanted to have a better relationship with my mother! And every time she found out the doctors told me it was 'her fault' (essentially) she would stop paying for me to go. Now that I am older, I could pay for myself but I already know what the problem is (my mom), but I just don’t know what to do. I thought it would end once I moved out. Now she comes over to help during the day (like if someone working on the house is coming over and I have to still be at work). When I walk in my door, I find that she has rearranged the furniture in my house when I tell her not to. I get in arguments with her about it and she said she did it anyway because *she* thought it would look better!! It’s driving me crazy!!!

Should I just stop telling her personal things? What should I do? Can someone please help me? I'm dreading telling her when I actually get another job. And she's going to know because we both work at the same company right now - even in the same building. Ugh.

(Sorry it’s so long, but I had a lot on my mind and there has been a history of her being like this my whole life. Could be longer, but I thought I’d spare you guys the rest.)

View related questions: at work, grandmother, money, moved out

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A female reader, dolly1209 United Kingdom +, writes (24 January 2014):

OMG!!! Im shocked, I cannot beleive that there are other people actually going through what I am experiencing with my mum & always have all my life!! I no this sounds crazy, and you think im totally bonkers, but I actualy feel happy that you are going through what I am, and I dont mean that in a bad way or being selfish, I just thought I was the only one going through this situation of having a controlling mother. I am 37 years old and all my life my mum has been over protective, I thought maybe she was this way because she had three boys and that I was born nine years later & maybe because I was the little girl she always wished for from the beginning. NO!!! that was not the case because she is still trying to control my life now. I mean Dont get me wrong, I love my mum, she would give me her last penny & always been there for me & my brothers. The main issue is that she is very judgemental, & negative about everything I did or do. She ruined my relationships because to her they were not good enough for me and if I was happy she would make it her intentions to ruin it. She has said some very hurtfull things to me, making me feel guilty & she would always say that I am the most horriblest daughter in the family, even thou I have done everything for her and never let her down. Maybe I felt this way because I was to scared to say no & that because she was so stricked bringing me up. She never has or still aint got anything nice to say about me. She is always putting me down in front of people & embarressing me. She would either comment on my appearance, my hair, she would always stare at me and say my skin looked horrible, she was always calling me ugly, but yet she would compliment others and praise them in fron of me. This hurt so bad, it made feel like she was ashamed of me. she has given me a bad complex & completeley stripped my confidence. I have always tried my best and have been a well behaved child, I have always respected her and done everything she has asked of me. If it didnt go her way and she thought I wasnt abiding by her rules, she would then say to me and tell me I was evil and nasty & that I was horrible & the worst daugheter in the family. She makes me feel guilty about everthing and feel like a total failure in everything I do even thou I got good grades in school even thou i got good grades in school and a Dimploma in buisness & finance.following this I have always been employed and worked hard. But no this is still not good enough for her, she still makes me feel bad about everything and has completeley stripped my confidence. I couldnt take anymore so I moved out and got my own house when I was 20. I thought this would all stop, but no it didnt and she is still trying to control my life and now my 9 year old daughters. If my daughter behaves in the way she shouldnt be and I try to chestise her, she always interferes. No matter what I do or say to my little girl, she always does the opposite, if my daughter asked for something whilst shopping & I said no, my mum would buy it her. She tries to tell me how to dress my daughter and what she should wear, if I dont she then comments using horrible words to me, this makes me so mad and makes me take my anger out on my nine year old daughter (not physically). Then afterwards I am filled with so much guilt and when I am sat alone Im crying because i feel like I am doing to my daugther what my mum has done to me. I dont want to be that controlling manipulating person my mum has been to me. It has got to the case now where I feel like I am having a nervous breakdown, I am now under a phycologist so hopefully she can help because I just dont no what to do anymore and I dont want my daughter having a life like mine!!

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A female reader, cateyesoctober5 United States +, writes (23 February 2013):

I know exactly how you feel! my mom has been the same way ever since I turned 13 and I am now 27. she always had to have her finger in every aspect of my life, when my brother moved out to join the military I was about 14 years old and thats when things took a turn. She couldn't control my brother leaving so she started controlling me.

She would only let me buy school clothes that she approve of. She took some of my music cds and threw them away bc she didn;t like them, stuff like that. High school was hell, we always were fighting about eveything, and she made me fell bad about me different thoughts on life aside from hers.

I moved out for college and it got a little better sicne I didn't live at home. But that was only temporary.

Since I have gotten married it has gotten worse. She is a control freak and controls my dad and tries to still control me. They both tried to confince me that my husband was not good enought for me and made me feel guilty about my career change, its like they tried to brain wash me! I almost felt like I needed to change my life and maybe that my relationship was not good. It was a freakin LIE!

I started going to a counsellor and know i know that my mom is the problem not me! she will never change! I had to change and I am never letting her control my life again in any way! I have decided to stop telling her things bc she always sees the negative and make me feel bad about it.

Don't let you mom make u feel bad, its TOTALLY HER FAULT, not yours! My advise, stop worring about what she thinks bc she is NEVER going to change and most likely things she dosn't need to. I know my mom things its not her, that its everyone else. Move on and be happy! forget her opinion. (hope this helps)

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A female reader, clara2011 United Kingdom +, writes (5 June 2011):

Bordercolliebabe, I read your e-mail and thought there is someone else who is going through a similiar situation to mine. Please move out. You don't need to listen to nonsence at your age. Even if you can rent a room that will be fine. Start by getting your indenpendance back. I am 33 yrs and living with my controlling mother. I do not have a job. But where there is a will there is a way. When you move out, find any job to support yourself. Don't wait until the perfect job comes along and you can rent a flat again. I have been waiting for 2 years to get a full-time permanent. I have had enough of my mother's bullying ways. Moving out will give you and me an incentive to get on with life. Not by living with ours mothers, when we have no responsibilities. I was so sorry to hear about your early childhood. All the more reason to break the pattern. Find new friends you can get emotional support from. Then later if you want you can find yourself a partner. Then you will have a supply of love and support and will not have to keep going back to your mother and family. They are using this against you and ill treating you because they know that you have got no one else. Just like me. I have no job, friends or partner. My mother is using this as an excuse to ill treat me. At only 35 years, you are still young, and it is not too late to have a good life. You need to take action now - move out. Please reply to my e-mail and let me know how you are. Regards, Clara2011

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A female reader, bordercolliebabe United Kingdom +, writes (10 March 2011):

bordercolliebabe agony auntHi

Im new here and i have read all what you people being saying about your mother.

At the moment im 35, never been married or have kids.Just had some control freaks as boyfriend who just want to use and abuse me!

Im very happy being on my own with my border collie dog who means the world to me!

Since i was a child i was psyically, mentally & sexually abused by my mother and her father i was 7 at the time and my older brother died and that did affect me really bad as we were close.

At moment unfortuntaly i gone back living with my mother after leaving my parents for so long when i was 34 had no job, no confidence and pretty mental so many problems i had its just, all my family including my older sister is in her 50's and im the baby of the family all want to control me especially my mother!

Would you believe it all my life my mother and sister has always controlled me with money and runned me down how the heck can you escape from it!

I did have my first experience in being independant last may 2010 up till january this yr due to my father who died new yrs eve, not that we were close its just a shame i didnt know him in the way others knew him not how my mother described him.

You see if i say something nice or whatever good about my father my mother got jealous and the same other way round with my mother and i were close but being back here after being on my own for 9 months i can now see why my father was the way he was, it wasnt him all along it was my mother, shes always controlled me and right now 10/03/2011 i just dont know what to do.

I surpose you all say get a job and get out yes but i rather get a place first then get out oh then again my mother come after me controll me with money oh i elp you to pay for rent, f*** sake shes had her life when the heck can i have mine, wish she leave me alone let me get on with my life i hate her for what she really done to me also having me late in life at 44 years old my father 48 when i was born and brothers and sisters were all in their late teens.

I feel so dam awkward for being in this situation at my age again, i know im sad going back to my mums letting her and my older sister win but at the time had damp conditions in the house i rented plus the shock of my father dieing.

I just hope the councilors can help me get out via socal housing as i really cant aford my own place privatly renting again especially i never had a job and i dont really want to have to claim carers allowance to stay here and look after to her!!!!

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A female reader, RoisinDubh Ireland +, writes (1 December 2010):

Narcisstic Personality Disorder: Look it up. You've all been brought up by a mental problem. Me too. You'll never please her. Get out now, get help in sifting out what's normal and what's not and build your own lives. Be happy...

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (16 October 2010):

So I'm not the only one, huh? Glad I found this site.

My mom is similar, materialistic, and when I try something new, she pulls out every negative. What are the costs? Who will be there? Do you have your phone? I feel like a child in a prison in his own home.

I'll be honest, I would stop telling her these things. And if you don't want her there, I would tell her. If she doesn't get the hint, I would get a restraining order filed. I'm not above doing that to a blood family member if they are giving me a hard time.

If something needs to stop, then it needs to stop. No ifs ands or buts. I'm 21 years old and she always uses it against me for some odd reason like I don't know what I'm doing.

Then when she sees I'm angry at her, she plays the innocent mother card, and goes about ways to make me see she's nice. Usually they work, and it's getting to be a nuisance...

Is there anything I can do to stop this insanity before I'm driven to that point?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 October 2010):

I am glad I stumbled onto this very relevant discussion. My mother is driving me crazy! I'm going again to my psychologist soon. I know he will say there is nothing I can do with her, but move out. I've been working on it. Part of the problem is becoming, my low self-esteem from living with her all these years is making it harder and harder for me to find work. And with every job loss, there's the I Told You so! The job is never good enough for me. I am working too hard. I should stay home and not work so hard. This has started because she knows my plan is to get a steady source of income, a good job or jobs lined up, so I can afford to move out. So, she's sabotagging every step. She wants to control me & she can do that best when I live with her & even better if I don't work. I am 48 years old, never married, no kids, my 2 boyfriends that weren't good enough died, and that's my fault, she thinks, too. My latest boyfriend gave up the fight for me and let her have me. I am fighting to get him back, but I have to get away from her first. I never really realized til lots of therapy & a fresh, rational normal person showed me the light. She is so controlling, she starts from minute one of my day waking up. Comments about my hair needing to be combed, my outfit not looking right, she watches as I open the fridge & suggests different foods I could eat. She reminds me not to forget my phone, reminds me to pack a lunch for the work day (while I am fixing the sandwich). She watches as I leave the garage & warns of traffic & be careful, etc. When I'm gone, she gets into my drawers, looks thru my bags, pulls stuff out & brings it downstairs to the kitchen table to talk to me about when i get home. ... more later...

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (6 October 2010):

I know how you feel.

My mum hates me.

She ABSOLUTELY HATES me! I can't really help it if I'm not top in my school.

I'm 17, and I get a lot of crap from her and i have to just take it all, because.. Well, because she's my mother. I wouldn't be here without her. But, sometimes I was never born. Thing is.. As far as I can tell, they don't change their ways. They'll always be a bitch no matter how hard you try.

So, i suppose if you're going to tell her something important to you, Don't.

Unless it's absolutely necessary. And If you do, make it short and quick. Don't let her make comments and tell her you don't care what she thinks. Hopefully that'll hold her off.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 October 2010):

I am going through the exact same thing right now and I don't know what to do anymore! I moved out when I was 20 for school but I'm taking some time off so I moved back home. I just turned 22. I've got a full time job and I want to live my life and figure things out myself.

My mom..is negative. She over scrutinizes everything-even what I eat. Nothing I do is ever good enough. I've never touched drugs, never been arrested, and got good grades. I don't sleep around and definitely not a party girl. You'd think she'll be proud of me but criticizes me instead. When I try to explain myself honestly and calmly, she gets offended and thinks that I am saying she's a bad mother. She opens my mail and hides them from me and threatens to stop helping me while I go to school. Last year, I worked till 3-4am waitressing while managing to be a full time student. She literally told me she needs to control me because I don't know any better.

I could move out but I don't want to move-out out of spite. But I honestly don't know if I can take it anymore. I told her how I felt and nothing seems to get through to her.

Maybe moving out is the only answer.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (25 September 2010):

Most of you people are justifying your bad mothers so you would not have to separate from them. You believe that if you take control of your life that you are bad people. It is all supported by belief that by abandoning a bad relationship is some form of treason. That's what your controlling mothers told you all your life and that is what you firmly believe. They told you that so that they can continue to control you and you believe that - to your own peril. I want to say something loud and clear: YES, YOUR (CONTROLLING) MOTHER IS (!) THAT BAD. Until you fully recognize that fact, you will never take the strings in your own hands, you will always be puppets in their hands. It is not only your external mother that is controlling you, it is your internalized mother ("voice in your head", you yourself!) that prevents you from becoming rounded and emotionally separate (and free!) individuals. It will be your ability to fight the overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame that will decide if you will resist your controlling and manipulative mothers, and see them for what they are - deeply unhappy and ruined individuals. You are responsible for (only) your life and happiness (as is everybody).

- "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who believe they are free" - J.W. Goethe

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (25 September 2010):

Your mother has you wrapped around her little finger. But she can't do anything that you don't (subconsciously) let her. You say you won't tell her anything personal again---and then you go tell her your plans. You should stop (if you can, it's hard; believe me i know) expecting your mother to change and accept the fact that she will never change. This sound a lot easier than it is. It is my experience that only way that is going to help you become an emotionally independent individual is to separate yourself from her, first physically and later emotionally. It sound cruel but you essentially have a choice - it's either you or her. Any attempt to achieve this will be met with furious resistance - both from her but also (even stronger!) from yourself (your subconscious; bad internalized object). If you are to succeed you will have to overcome huge amount of guilt ("I'm a bad person to try to separate myself from my Mother"). This guilt will try to drag you back into the bad relationship. You must be relentless and merciless. Remember - it's you or her! It's not easy but it can be done. I got these from my 10 year experience in psychotherapy. A lot of times it felt like dieing inside, but the feeling of liberation, of being free from torment, of being truly happy was worth it. Always keep your goal in sight: I deserve to be free and happy. Just because I was born in bad relationship does not mean that I have to put up with it for the rest of my life. From what I understand you already are independent from her in every way---except the most important one - emotional. Good luck in your struggle, I hope you succeed. And if i could do it I believe you can also!

P.S. For the love of god, do not ask your grandmother for help. Not only she can't help you, being her mother she is probably caused her to be controlling and bad mother to you. Remember - unless we put forth a lot of effort we are doomed to replicate our primary relationship. If our primary relationship was bad all of our important relationships will be bad (unsatisfying). If you had a bad mother you will be a bad mother, no matter how well your intentions are, that's simply how humans work (unless you work on yourself). It's your life, it's worth fighting for.

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A female reader, perola United Kingdom +, writes (18 September 2010):

would like to tell u my story ! I am 53 and my mother 86 , I have a daughter of 26 still living with us (don t mind that ) But my mother i cannot stand her sarcastic words ! I have a boyfriend (65) and we get along fine , but we argue a lot anly because of my mothers atitude and demands ! Me i cannit take it any more as she CONTROLLS my daughter's (26) life § Mother winges all the time and does not like this that and the other ! Always medeling with every thing !

My daughter and me CANNOT take it any more !!!!! We don't want to hurt her to bruttaly but she must get out of my house hold ! NOW ! got a sister older than me but she does not want to understand how we feel and what what we live every day !!She has her little life but does not care if we have one !!!!I talked to her several times but she says 'u have lived with mother soo long U cannot make her live by her self now " !!!! Life changes and I have got a chance to be happy with my (65)boy friend !what cann i do ??? please every body give me advice please

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A female reader, violetbear United Kingdom +, writes (2 September 2009):

I can't believe how many people have pretty much the same issues with their Mothers. It honestly seemed like I was the only one with a controlling, spiteful Mother.

I'm 20 years old and she has been controlling and manipulative towards me for as long as I can remember.

I've been with my boyfriend for over 2 years and she is always nasty about him, making little comments about his weight (he's not obese, just well built with broad shoulders, he's so lovely, cuddly and gorgeous to me) she'll say things like "well, i can tell he likes his food." "he's not exactly wasting away" and she has actually called him fat on occasions. She says things that she knows will upset me because she's picking at someone I love.

She is very money-obsessed. She tries to control my finances. She has stolen my card in the past and my cheque book to stop me applying for a college course. She always thinks that whenever I go out somewhere (no matter where it is) I'm going to lose my debit card/cash. As soon as I come through the door it's "Have you still got your money?" Don't even get me started on if she sees that I've bought something. It will be "OH WHAT CRAP HAVE YOU BOUGHT THIS TIME?" Everything I do is wrong in her eyes.

She calls me stupid whenever she can and is always trying to bring me down. Her attitude is so negative. She has been the cause of most of my stress and unhappiness throughout my life.

She doesn't just do this to me. She does it to my whole family. My dad, my brothers (although she's not as bad with my brothers, even though they are younger than me!)

I've really had just about enough of this but I know it's not going to end anytime soon. She's never going to change. Whenever I try talking to her it just expands into a big argument.

I'm currently in the process of trying to move out but I have a feeling that will not be the end of my problems with her.

Unfortunately I don't think there is anything to do to solve the problem of overly controlling Mothers. They are always going to be like that because it's all they know. The best option is to try and distance yourself as much as possible, sometimes this can improve the relationship, or so I've heard.

Don't tell her anything going on in your personal life that you know she will try to pick at. That's what I have learnt. Although sometimes she manages to find out anyway. It's like living with a demon...

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 February 2009):

It is ironic becuase my situation is very similar...I recently had a falling out with my mom...without getting into to much detail about that, I will shed some light on your situation...your mother is not going to change...all you can do is be the best possible person that you can be...plan your future and do what you feel in your heart will make you happy...I am sorry to say that maybe you need to cut your mother out of your life...that is what I have to do..I could only take so much..I too am seeing a councelor because of it..

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A female reader, skatergrl76 Canada +, writes (6 January 2009):

hello everyone.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate reading these responses. It makes me feel a lot less lost. I love my mother and she means so much to me, but she is the source of most of the unhappiness in my life. She is the most critical person I have ever met...nothing is ever good enough for her...i just can't seem to please her. She is an extremely superficial person and reminds me all the time how 'bad' I look because my body is not to her standards. I recently started dating someone who she believes is not attractive enough for me. She told me that if I am with him, it will cause my dad to have a heart attack and it will be my fault. It probably sounds like she is some kind of monster from hearing that she has said something like that, but she's not....She really isn't a horrible woman, she just likes to have control of everything, and uses guilt a lot of the time to get it. its quite sad really....if she just laid off, I would actually be a lot happier and we'd have such a better relationship, but....I just don't think she is capable of changing. I have forced myself to not talk to her as much as I'd like to and to limit contact, but its the only way i know how to deal with it. Sad really :(

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 December 2008):

Hi:

I to have the same problem. I'm 33 years old and my mother still tries to tell me how to cook, clean, raise my daughter, treat my husband, and etc. Nothing I do ever seems good enough and she will always find fault with something. Once my husband and I decided to have a baby I became a stay-at-home mom for the last seven years. My mom likes it that way and would prefer that I don't work until our daughter is 18. She constantly tells me works sucks, people suck, and etc. It makes uncomfortable and insecure. I can't even dust my house right in her eyes. She will come and in and find dust on a dresser and complain I need to be a better wife and housekeeper. It is so annoying!!! From my past experience the best thing you can do for yourself, is to QUIT looking for her approval. Do what you need to do for yourself. It seems like I would try to always do what my mother would want in order to just have an excuse or someone to blame if I made the wrong decision. You control your own destiny!!!! So go get what you want in life!

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A female reader, mdmama United States +, writes (5 September 2008):

OMG are you sure we don't have the same mother??? LOL mine is the exact same way and has been controlling and negative to me even more since my son was born. I have finally let it all out to her just recently and I hope that it gets through to her because I just don't want to be around her anymore. Everytime I see her she has some hurtful comment to make to me.

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A female reader, slave2mom United States +, writes (4 September 2008):

I understand completely. I have a mom just like yours. I am 53 yrs old and she still drives me insane. You are better off not telling her anything unless it is necessary. I did not even tell my mom I was getting married the 2nd time until it was over! I never lived with my mom after the age of 7 and now she lives 5 mins from me (started this week) and I see troubled times coming. On her 2nd day here, I had to tell her I was not listening to all the negative comments and complaints to her new home I worked to get her.

So, my advice is to tell her nothing and stay away as much as possible, visit holidays and send cards. Worked for me for 46 yrs. Who knows what I will do now????

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A female reader, annieoaks United Kingdom +, writes (27 July 2008):

I was looking for advice as my sister has now turned into my mother and she is now treating her children like my mother treated me. I am very close to her children and I can see she is now turning them into frightened, suppressed, lacking in confidence, little girls. I feel so sorry for them and I am at a loss to know what to do.

But in answer to your problem, my mum has now passed away but she tried to control and dominate me all through my life. I think this did have some effect on my confidence. As a teenager she would never tell me I looked nice but always had something negative to say. She was extremely negative and it drove me mad sometimes. The only advice I can give you is to learn not to tell her anything which you know, will meet with her disapproval. It is very sad that you have to be this way but I found it helped my own sanity. Mothers do not change and I have spoken to so many people whose mothers have been very similar, especially to daughters. Try not to let it get to you and if you can try and make fun of her being so negative and controlling.

Learn from it and try not to become like your mother with your own children. Anyway good luck.

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A female reader, coldheartedb United Kingdom +, writes (19 June 2008):

This woman is not showing you any respect. I suggest you change your lock and not give her a key. She doesn't deserve to have free access to your home even under the guise of helping you out. She will probably not change no matter what you tell her. She is too wrapped up in her own importance. Stop telling her your business. I wouldn't bother telling her you got another job either.She doesn't deserve any respect from you and you are a grown self sufficent woman. There is no reason in this world why you have to put up with her garbage. We can't stop the manipulation but we can change the ways in which it affects us.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (26 May 2008):

Sorry to have to tell you, but your mother will probably never change. My mother is almost 86 and practically bedridden. I'm 67 and Mother is still treating me as if I were a child.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (15 April 2008):

Me, too. I moved 2500 miles away. Didn't help. Didn't let her have my cell phone number. Wrote angry things regarding her behavior to her via email. Didn't help. It is very difficult to give up on the dream of having an intimate emotional relationship with your mother, but that is what you need to do if you want this to stop--you need to stop needing her. Behave as if she were dead. She isn't going to change. She has made that clear. So, if you want the situation to change, you must change. Stop trying. Remove yourself. change the lock. Don't invite her to your home. If you are in her presence and she confronts you, just laugh and say, "you ask the funniest questions." If she is in your company and badgers you, go into another room. If she follows you and continues, get in the car and leave for at least a few hours, if not altogether. Do this whenever she starts, and I mean immediately, not after she has gotten to you. Any response, even an angry or negative one, is behavioral reinforcement for her harshness. Don't give her the acknowledgment of her power over you that she desires. You are dealing with an emotional vampire, not a nurturing mother, and you cannot remake her in the image you would like her to be in. You can, however, do your behaviorist best to extinguish her undesirable behavior by absenting yourself when she goes there. You should not explain yourself whatsoever. Just get the keys and go. She knows what she is doing, but she will not admit it, and she absolutely will not talk with you about it. The fact that she upsets you satisfies her. It is perverted, and you must not let her drag you into her weirdness any more if you want it to stop.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 January 2008):

Darnit, if I didn't think you were talking about me and MY mother. I had to ask myself, "did I write that article and not realize I'd written it." The only thing is that I am 37 years old, no children, never been married (but that will change soon). I couldn't even begin to tell you the h*^ my mother has taken me through. It subsided a long while until she realized how serious my boyfriend and I have gotten. Now she's waging war and pulling out ALL of her arsenal. She's extremely negative, domineering, nasty attitude, condescending, very critical, sees the glass as empty (not even half empty)......please stop me. She hates my boyfriend (because he's getting all of my attention now and the attention is being taken away from her). Everything she thinks I should do in life is for HER good and not mine. Everything is really about her. She utterly depresses me and makes me miserable. She lies and tries to manipulate me. You got me on the part about our moms portraying that they are classy and professional. Oh, I forgot to mention that she is VERY judgmental and thinks more of herself than she ought to and everyone else is just marginal. NO MAN (or God), not even Jesus (seriously) would be good enough for her daughter. She's incapable of thinking rationally. She's just CRAZY. I don't know what else to do. We've gone to counseling over Thanksgiving holiday, but to little avail because she won't ever change. She's still trying to manipulate and control me. She made me soooo mad the other day to the point where I wanted to call her (and dad) and tell them to just take me out of the will and leave me the h%$ alone. She thinks she's acting in my best interest, but has no clue to the damage she is doing to me and our relationship. She's bamboozled my dad and now he's brainwashed. I can't talk to him and trust him like I used to. She's a bad mama-jama. She was shocked and dismayed when the counselor told her our family was dysfunctional. She never would have thought in a billion years our family was dysfunctional. She would think we were perfect, but only with a few bumps and bruises here and there. But no, she's "classy" and "professional" remember. I wish I had answers and solutions for you, but I haven't even been able to find any for myself. It's just a sad and unfortunate situation. Standing up to her is useless because that just fuels her fire even more. I don't want to live like that.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (2 November 2007):

I am currently in the same situation - I'm 31 years old, married, with 3 children, and almost nothing I say or do or have is ever good enough for my mom, who critisizes almost everything, from the kind of whisk I have in the kitchen to my house, where I live, the perch in the bird's cage, etc, etc. She has said very hurtful things about my life, my husband, my children, myself, has embarassed me in front of family, and is now saying things to my children that sometimes hurts them. The best way I have found to deal with this, is to limit our phone calls (we live in different countries, and I used to call her several times a week - now I call her maybe once a week), limit our contact (I will not spend Christmas with her, which is so hard sometimes), and limit the amount of information I give her about myself or my life. It had gotten to where I started to wonder if she was really my mother, because I didn't think my real mother would treat me like that. I love my mom with all my heart, and I was trying so hard to please her, but I can't seem to please her, no matter what I do. The best thing I can suggest is love your mom, pray for the situation and create some distance for your own health. You can't change your mom, but with God's help you can respond differently in yourself so that you don't end up feeling hurt all the time.

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A female reader, pica +, writes (2 October 2006):

To be honest she sounds like a woman with a lot of problems and you sound pretty together. The mother bond is much lauded but my own mum has always said that her mother - my gran - never loved her, and the stories she tells from childhood pretty much back this up. My gran was also a deeply unhappy person - I can remember her. It sounds like you want to give it one last try, making it obvious that that is what you are doing. But if it fails, change those locks and move on. It's sad but she does sound beyond help. Be strong and get on with your own life - you've tried your best. Good luck.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (2 October 2006):

I know that some people can be completely oblivious to their own bad behaviors and the impact of it, on others. I do know that deep within you, you love this woman who is not appreciating the goodness, the heartfelt appreciation and love you bring into her life. The reason I think you should have one last chat with her, is because of your feelings in all this. Don't confront, just talk to her firmly and calmly...without criticism-without blame and with compassion/empathy for her. If you were to behave like her, she is not motivated to change, dear. She will just become angrier and that will make it far worse. Do not not fear your Mother's response and reactions to your chat with her...if she responds badly, this is her problem, not yours. But talking to her, might be the most respectful thing, you can do for her and it allows you to stand up for yourself, without getting angry. The key is not to behave badly. If you do, you will just feel more intense guilt. Just give her a chance to understand and do something different about her behaviour. If that does not work, then letting it go and detaching to a certain degree will keep you emotionally balanced and strong. You don't have to ignore her. Just visit less often and don't tell her anything personal and accept you may never have a 'close' relationship with your Mother. I also recommend you seek some pastoral, spiritual help from a family minister. I found this a great deal of comfort when I went through the same thing with my Mother. Good Luck, dear. Be strong and let go of the guilt. You have nothing to feel guilt over. Remember that.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (2 October 2006):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Irish, you said "There is no reason whatsoever for you to simply put up with her foolishness because she gave birth to you." That's the part that really struck me. She seems to think the complete opposite and even tries to throw it in my face.

I do think you're right - I do think that I should give it one more try. But right now I'm so tired of feeling rejected with whatever I tell her. The last time I thought I connected with her, she told me she would treat me more like a friend. Then when I needed her to be there for me, she said that she wouldn't be since I was only a friend to her and not a daughter. She totally turned everything around and that hurt even worse (and there's no way she would treat any of her friends like that!) It's just like you said - I'm a very forgiving person when it comes to her and she knows that I'll still be here if she keeps dishing it out.

I do need to stand up for myself better with my mother - thank you for saying that. It's what I needed to hear when all I feel is guilt for doing so. Thank you.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (2 October 2006):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks for your advice, Camille. You're so right about the friends stuff. I hadn't thought of it like that before. And I hadn't thought about how she's going to be with her grandchild, either (omg!). I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there, though...

I have actually tried writing her letters, but she doesn't finish reading them and says that I'm "attacking" her, even though I'm not (I'm one of the most patient, easy going people that I know). I have tried talking with her about our relationship, but she ends up either screaming at me and/or mocking me by repeating what I say in a "baby" voice. I feel like I can't have a meaningful, adult conversation with this woman. It's like I'm living in some kind of crazy world!

I think your last paragraph is right on. I think that's what needs to be done. I really need to learn how to stand up to her and keep in mind that I'm not doing anything wrong by living my life. Somehow she always makes me feel guilty for not doing things her way. It's a pattern - I tell her something, she pretty much tells me I'm an idiot, then I give her reasons why I do the things I do, she goes crazy, and I end up ignoring her, then I call to apologize for being upset at her, and she makes me feel guilty. I can't let her keep doing this to me. I shouldn't even have to give her reasons why I'm doing anything in my life, really.

Anyway, I want to thank you very much for listening and giving me your advice. It really means a lot and has been helpful!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (2 October 2006):

Your mother is a very smart person in spite of her emotional problems, dear. She knows how to manipulate you and possibly others in her family, to stay in control. She also knows she could never pull this kind of behavior with other people, in her life. They simply would never tolerate it. But she's figured out a damaging technique that works in her favor. Your therapists are right, she has problems, and this misbehavior you've been drawn into, will only becomes worse. I think you need to become the mature person in all this and simply withdraw and detach. But before you turn a blind eye for the sake of your own emotional health...I think as the more mature person, you owe it to yourself to give this one final 'kick at the can' and tell her, what her actions are doing to you and what the consequences will be. This can be done firmly and calmly. The only way to confront a controlling drama queen is with more drama which means---standing up for yourself. Do it for her, do it for you and for your future grandchildren. There is no reason whatsoever for you to simply put up with her fooloshness because she gave birth to you. I have always believed that this world would be such a different place, if people just learned to stand up for themselves.

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A female reader, camille United Kingdom +, writes (2 October 2006):

camille agony auntI am sorry for your situation I really am. I am also sorry to say that you cannot change your mother. There's a saying, you can't choose your family. Perhaps going to that point you made about wanting to be friends...would you pick your mother as a friend? I suspect not therefore just better to accept this relationship for what it is.

If you haven't ever seriously spoken to her and told her how you feel, I think it's time to tell her. Either write her a letter then she can't jump in and cut you off, or be brave and stand up to her. You are her daughter yes, but you're a human, an individual. You have needs and she's not meeting them in any way. You have a right to your own thoughts, plans and life. She cannot tell you what to do and if she's not supportive, tell her you'd rather she didn't know and that you don't feel you should be sharing any information with her. For the sake of her potential grandchild, she'd better sort her act out or can you imagine what she's going to be like telling you how to dress the baby, feed the baby, bring up the baby? You won't be able to do anything right in her eyes (by the sounds of it) and so you need to tackle the issue head on. Many mothers are controlling and they sometimes continue totreat you like a child all your life as you'll always be her child, but you do not and should not have to put up with this.

If you don't make any headway, I suggest that you take any house keys off her, ask someone else to mind the house and refrain from telling her anything. You don't need this negativity in your life. It's sucking the good out of everything and that's draining you. You already have issue with your mother and you are perpetuating those by not breaking free of her. Good luck, I really hope you can talk to her. No matter what she says, stand by your beliefs, you haven't done anything wrong.

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