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helicopter parenting to withdrawn

megss
Community Member

Hi,

My mum and I don't have the best relationship, but it has gotten worse as I have gotten older and realised what is okay and what isn't. Long story short, parents had a messy divorce when I was young and have been going week on and week off. This could have affected our relationship, I'm not sure.

Pretty much my mum is either very very involved and when I say that I can do something by myself, or tell her that I can manage (which I do very politely), she gets almost offended and steps back too far, for example, won't drive me to where I need to go or won't cook dinner for me suddenly without telling me, almost to prove that I need her, and I do but just not as much as she wants to be. She controls all aspects of my life and uses them to blackmail me. She checks my location on Life360 religiously and gets notifications whenever I move. She reads all my messages, goes through all my bags, reads my journals (which I have now stopped writing) and even my school books. She went as far as to check my pencil case.

I have no privacy at home. She walks into the bathroom when I am in the shower and gets mad when I ask her to leave. She says that as long as I live with her, I have no privacy. She checks on me every 10 minutes and will make excuses to do so. I have no room to move and I need more room, she is too controlling.

She also controls what food I eat, which is fair enough for a parent, but I am not allowed to go and get food from the cupboard because she takes stocktakes of the food.

She uses the fact that I have ADHD to say that she needs to be more involved, but it is really for herself, and I know that I can manage to put my clothes away without her watching me.

I know that she is manipulative, she once took all of my T-shirts out of my draw and asked my sister to hide my volleyball gear so I couldn't train. She needs to know everything as well. I now just lie to her and don't tell her anything, and she wonders why!

I get so frustrated at her because she won't let me live, but when she steps back it's too far. I keep asking her to let me do things and I'll ask for her help if I need it, but there is no in-between.

I feel like I have no connection with her, and I don't want one. Half of the time she is overly affectionate, and the other half of the time she is emotionally neglectful and I am confused. I don't like affection from her because it ranges too much, I am confused.

I understand she is trying to parent but it is too much. Any suggestions?

9 Replies 9

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi megss

My goodness, you definitely are facing some challenges when it comes to your mum.

Sounds like she's parenting through fear perhaps, to some degree. What I mean by this is that she possibly fears what could go wrong if she doesn't put a whole stack of rules and boundaries in place. Whether she was parented this way herself and it's learned behaviour or whether there's something else going on is the question.

You mention the possibility of the divorce impacting her behaviour. Being a mum myself, I know that when some spanner gets thrown into the works (of life), there can be a need to manage just about everything, in order to create a new plan when it comes to life regaining some kind of flow. Perhaps your mum never addressed the challenge of toning down the management side of things.

I believe it's important to dis-appoint our self from certain roles parents appoint us in life. How our parents deal with that dis-appointment can be an issue. We're delicate creatures at times, us mums. Dis-appointing gently can be the way to go. 'Mum, just step back and watch how well I manage this situation myself' can be a good 'go to' phrase. There might still be a little of the helicopter aspect involved here but soon enough a parent learns to trust in their child's ability. You definitely gotta teach these parents a thing or 2 as they're growing up πŸ™‚

Sometimes, threatening a parent in a productive way can also work: 'Mum, do you want to learn to step back and trust in me or do you want me to cut you out of my life to a large extent, setting my own boundaries? What kind of relationship do you want to have with me?'

Her attitude regarding suddenly cutting you off in the way of support might be more about her than you. Whether she 'shuts down' because she doesn't want to feel certain emotions like those that come with 'I'm a horrible mum' or 'No one cares about me' is possible. Such emotions can come with an inability to face dis-appointment constructively.

It's not just parents who raise kids, kids raise parents too. Some parents can be tough to raise, no doubt about it. They can be pretty irrational creatures at times πŸ™‚

megss
Community Member

Thank you so much for your reply, I really appreciate it and I think I understand where she is coming from a little bit better. I have however tried so many different things, like I went and lived with my dad for a little bit longer so we could have a break, but she ignored me the whole time I was there and was very cold towards me. She always makes me feel like I am in the wrong, and it is only recently that it may not be the case.

I love my mum and I want a good relationship with her, but it is only detrimental. I am 17 and I'm scared that I won't have a relationship with her at all when I'm an adult.

I will definitely take a step back and look at what I am doing, but she is so immature and childish and throws tantrums which include throwing things, leaving, and the silent treatment. Oh and also she has recently been cancelling my driving tests when she is mad.

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi megss

Wondering if your dad is a more reasonable and supportive person. I believe it's important to have a parent we can rely on and mature with as we become an adult.

πŸ™‚

megss
Community Member

Hi,

He is very emotionless and does not react well. I find it hard to develop a connection with him because he is very shut off.

I am lucky that I am surrounded by a lot of supportive girls in volleyball who are quite a bit older than me so I have support there, it just sucks that it doesn't come from home. πŸ™‚

Guest_9043
Community Member
Hi Meggs,

You are very in tune to your feelings and knowing what is going on around you and within you. ALL your feelings and thoughts are completely valid.

I agree with what therising has said there, I just want to add another perspective. The behaviour your mum is displaying is not a common set of behaviours for a mother. Yes, sometimes we have to teach our parents things as they too are growing up still at times and parents aren't perfect. In saying that I feel your mother is taking things too far from what you have shared. You are entitled to privacy. You are entitled to not have your diary read. You are entitled to not have your school bag and pencil cases gone through. I would understand if you had done something to break your mother's trust and she was worried about you, however you do not strike me as a troublesome child. Quite the opposite in fact.

The issues you have spoken about are very important. I'm glad that the girls you play volley ball with are supportive of you. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. I'm wondering is there a guidance counsellor at school you can speak with or another adult you feel safe with and you feel you can trust. Also there is an organisation called headspace for I think 16-25 year Olds. They may be very helpful to you and for you. You can google headspace and see where the nearest location is in your state and the town you live close to. You can talk to them all about your concerns. Your privacy will be respect as well as your confidentiality. It will help with some extra support around this time. Have a think about it and see how you feel. It is completely up to you. Thanks for reaching out here and do send an update of how you are going. Sending peace and good vibes.

megss
Community Member

Hi 2quik,

Thank you so much for your reply, it was very helpful. There is a guidance counsellor at my school who I went and saw a few times but I found a sticky note on the bench with her email address on it, meaning that I believe that my mum has spoken to her which is not out of character for her. Needless to say, I have not been back. I will go and check out headspace once everything settles down.

Thank you so much again for replying. I hope that you are well and everything is good at your end πŸ™‚

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi megss

Sorry to hear your dad's a challenge too. It's great when we finally find a tribe we vibe with, such as with you and the girls on the volleyball team. In my opinion, doesn't matter who it is that raises us in positive ways, what matters is the fact that they remind us of how amazing we are and how valid our challenges are. It's definitely tough at the moment when we're a little cut off from our tribe. I hope you're still in contact somehow with some of these people.

One of my tribe members who raises me and who I deeply respect is my 17yo old daughter. She is an amazing person who has a natural ability when it comes to understanding people. She faces challenges herself, regarding her father who frustrates her greatly and does not respect her unless she conforms to the rules of being a child. With me being a stay at home mum to her and her 14yo brother for a number of years, we have had the benefit of growing up together (a benefit their father did not have as he was out working). I watch my kids grow into young adults and therefor respect them as young adults who face the frustrations of growing out of being a child. By the way, very important we all keep aspects of the child within us as we age. The challenge is not to lose this.

My daughter is rather critical of her school counselors, while still appreciating they have a duty of care. Having faced a crisis of conscience not long ago when it came to distancing herself from a friend who had done something regarded as socially immoral and illegal, she sought help. The counselor was more focused on pressuring her to reveal details of this action than she was in guiding my daughter to confront this friend. My daughter ended up speaking to me about what was definitely an overwhelming challenge. All turned out well in the end, largely due to the mature open minded and deeply thoughtful nature of my daughter. She spoke with this friend and at the same time overcame a challenge she regards as difficult for her - confrontation.

megss, never lose sight of the fact that you are an amazing person dealing with an amazingly difficult situation. It is definitely hard to continue trying to raise our self when we face those who we feel are bringing us down or keeping us down. It is a powerful person who continues to find ways to rise above and beyond the challenges they face. You are that powerful person, something you can always be proud of.

Feel free to come here anytime you need a bit of a rise.

πŸ™‚

Guest_9043
Community Member

Hi Meggs,

I understand. I interpret what you have said as I no longer trust the school guidance counsellor to keep what I talk about with her confidential. I also know how important it is to feel that the person you go to for help and talk to needs to keep your confidentiality. It over time builds trust between people. When that feels like it has been violated and you wished for it not be discussed outside of seeing your school guidance counselor with anyone at all. All options should have been discussed with you first. I am unsure whether or not your mother has been in touch with the school guidance counselor or vice versa, however I feel that if trust has been lost with this guidance counselor, Headspace may be more beneficial to you at this very difficult time in your life. You do deserve support, someone you can talk to and trust.

You can google Headpsace. They have places all around Australia. FYI so you can make a more informed decision for yourself this is their duty of care.

In certain circumstances, if your communication with us raises safety concerns we will try to contact you to check that you and/or others are safe. If necessary, we may need to pass on your contact information (if you have supplied it) to authorities who can help protect you and/or others, such as a crisis service or the police. Where possible we will work with you openly, letting you know if our concerns reach the point where we need to involve other services.

We are obliged to try to protect you and/or others if the information you submit tells us that:
you are being seriously hurt by someone else
you are thinking of seriously harming yourself
someone else is being, is likely to be, seriously hurt by you or another person

You can get help in person at a headspace centre located near you or via our online support service at eheadspace.

When I was your age 23 years ago now I was in a really bad place in my life with no one to lean on. If I had known these services and also beyond blue existed I certainly would have reached out myself. Thank you for reaching out here, we care and please stay in touch with how you are getting on.

2quik

Juliet_84
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi megss,

I had an almost parallel experience with my mother growing up. Your mother is exhibiting quite controlling and manipulative behaviour. Like your mother, mine was very over involved and frequently overstepped basic boundaries. If I let her know this, she would get annoyed and completely withdraw all support, which is designed to get you to cave and be under her control again. I also developed an autoimmune condition when I was a teen and she used that as a way to control me, every decision she made was β€œfor my own good” so I couldn’t question it. When I was at uni it got worse as I was financially dependent on my parents for support but she wielded that over my head constantly. I nearly didn’t get my degree because she used to cause these massive arguments the morning of my most important exams, or the night before. But I eventually woke up to what she was doing and realized that she was threatened that I would get my degree and leave. I think a lot of it is driven by a fear of abandonment, which is ridiculous as you are their child but I think some mothers get so used to controlling everything about their child they can’t handle the loss of control. If it’s any consolation, my relationship improved tremendously after I moved out of home. I see her frequently and that need for control has been broken.