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I hate that I don't get along with my mother

Community Member

I am desperate for an insight that can relieve the immense guilt and sadness I feel over this situation. I am sorry about the length of this post, I feel like a lot of these small details are important to the whole picture.

I am my parents' only child and moved abroad about 10 years ago (I am in my 30s). My mother had an extremely traumatic pregnancy and birth, and suffered from very severe postpartum depression while I was growing up. Without meaning to sound harsh - there is no nice way to say it - she has always had a victim complex. When her mother got sick she moved in with her to care for her, and then spent years resenting her mother for it. She stayed with my dad (who is a supportive, caring partner) after falling out of love with him and then years later said she felt 'forced to stay'. That's just how she is. I have always been the opposite (which is far from perfect, but the point is it's very different from her).

My mother cannot handle difficult conversations. Any criticism to her feels forceful and abusive, and results in her crumbling, crying, making a list of reasons why the critic is an abuser and remaining quietly resentful for years. I have seen her do this to her own siblings, to my father, and to others. Which is why I have never been able to just be honest with her about how I feel without creating a HUGE situation.

The problem is since I hit puberty, she has made me "feel small". As a teenager I just wasn't very wild - I wasn't all that interested in boys, I didn't care for partying. I loved studying and reading. Throughout my very insecure teens she literally forced me to go to parties, and implied that there was something "wrong" with me mentally. Now as an adult she thinks my husband is a loser (he has anxiety from damage after a brain tumour), she constantly passive aggressively implies my life is unimpressive... I am happy, damnit. I love my life. I love my husband so much. My dad is very proud of me and my life. I have wonderful friends. I have travelled all over the world. And still every time I call her, all she asks about is the things she disapproves of. I avoid calling her now.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I tell her how she makes me feel, the situation WILL spin off into years of passive aggressive resentment from her (which, yes, is worse than what we have now)... but I don't want to avoid my mother for the rest of our lives and then regret that we didn't get along when she is no longer here.

2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi DaylightAmy

Sharing a relationship with someone we have difficulty relating to is definitely tough. When mindsets are extremely different it's even tougher.

To simplify a seriously challenging situation (as much as possible), you could try setting a clear objective for yourself and manage the conversation so as to meet the objective. If the objective is HAVE A CASUAL AND PLEASANT CHAT WITH MY MUM OVER THE PHONE, the management plan may look something like this:

  • State the goal 'Hi Mum. Thought I'd call to share a bit a inspiration'. This way, you could refer back to your opening comment, 'This doesn't sound inspiring' (reminding her of why you're calling)
  • There is to be no criticism of your husband. If there is, you're more than entitled to say 'Mum, he's a no go zone in conversation if you're going to speak about him like that'
  • You may set a time limit for yourself of 10 minutes if you think this may work okay. If your mum loves gardening or has a hobby she enjoys, this may take up much of that 10 minutes

While most casual phone conversations aren't typically meant to involve this much work, at the end of the day we basically manage both our self and those around us in general. Some people require a little more management than others, for various reasons (mental health ones included).

It can be hard to visualise those around us as partly being comprised of 'beliefs and chemistry' but when we have conflicting beliefs and conflicting chemistry it can become a little more obvious. When someone has a negative set of belief systems running through their brain for one reason or another and/or they don't have enough of the chemistry that gives us that natural high in life (that natural chemistry comprised of dopamine and serotonin to name a couple), our own open mindedness and energetic nature may conflict. We can end up sharing a relationship of overall conflict, which is definitely challenging to say the least. It is completely understandable how such conflict can lead you to feel sad.

Again, there's nothing wrong with stating your objective. Saying to your mum that your objective in the relationship is to share joy and inspiration, may prompt her to begin managing your interactions more consciously.

All the best

Community Champion
Community Champion


I too welcome you to the forum.

he rising has given you helpful suggestions.

I want to suggest something you may have tried.

I have found sending and email provides a chance to communicate with out being interrupted.

had a loved one who was critical of me but by writing emails if elt I had more control of the conversation. I could ignore the criticism and concentrate on what the rising calls the joy and inspiration.

Of course there maybe time when calling is ok like for birthdays etc.

Thanks for sharing your story and there will many who can relate to you.