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AIBU to feel so bad when my mum mildly disapproves of things I do?

(22 Posts)
MonicasCupboard Fri 09-Sep-16 10:17:59

I mean, I know IABU, because I'm in my late 30s, but ugh.

I have just done two things, both perfectly legal and both perfectly harmless.

However, I knew my mum wouldn't approve/would think that they were a bad idea. One in particular will slightly make a weekend we have planned later in the year a little trickier to organise, so does have a minor impact on her.

I rang her last night to tell her about the thing and she didn't say anything directly negative, but I could tell she didn't approve/was annoyed about the impact on the weekend.

This is just one in a series of minor examples. I'm left feeling shitty and down and frustrated that I'm still seeking parental approval. I'd like other people to tell me they feel the same way sometimes!!

She is so lovely in so many ways, supportive, loves her granddaughter. My dad and she have been financially generous to me when I bought my first house. She helped me through a major illness some years ago. I know she loves me. But every so often she seems slightly offended that I made a big decision without consulting her, or demonstrates a disapproval of a life choice I make. She tries to disguise it, but she doesn't always do a good job of it.

While I'm thinking about it, she can be quite like it with my DP too, with even less justification.

I really hate it when it happens. It takes the shine off nice things. Today I feel unsettled, teary and like a failure. I don't imagine she wants me to feel like this, but I do. I don't feel like a proper adult.

Because she's lovely in other ways I don't really want to confront her. Which is cowardly and childish of me.

I don't have a very precise AIBU, I just wanted to talk around it really. I worry I might go that way with my DD too, which I really don't want to do. I don't believe she should have to seek approval from me, but what if I accidentally create that dynamic?

How do I stop caring so much about my mum's approval. I don't have this with my dad.

MonicasCupboard Fri 09-Sep-16 10:36:21

Yikes. I've just had to nip to the loo for a little work cry after posting that. I hadn't really appreciated the impact it was having on me. I totally seek her approval too much. I'm having them over for dinner next week and I'm already fretting about it.

And now I'm talking to myself!!

Lookatyourwatchnow Fri 09-Sep-16 10:39:33

Oh OP, I could have written your exact post!

JudyCoolibar Fri 09-Sep-16 10:43:12

It's really difficult to form any opinion on your post without knowing what sort of decision she is getting involved in. If it's a decision about, say, your child's education or the colour of your curtains, it's nothing to do with her unless you ask for her opinion. If it's a decision to join the EDL, she probably is entitled to give an opinion on that.

If your father doesn't have this effect, can you have a think about why that is? For me, I don't pay much attention to my mother's opinion because I realised fairly early that she has some strange and, in some areas, objectionable views. Can you learn to discount your mother's on the basis that simply by believing that she has a right to interfere in your life she's already demonstrating flawed judgment?

sausagefest Fri 09-Sep-16 10:44:02

So could I.
I think we all probably need to stop seeking approval from parents but it's so ingrained isn't it?

ChipInTheSugar Fri 09-Sep-16 10:47:01

I know how you feel - I'm nearly 50 and there is something I want to do that au would never tell her because I know how disapproving she would be - despite it having ZERO impact on her life whatsoever.
She is proud of my achievements, but I feel constantly judged.

I do try and make sure my own daughters won't grow up feeling the same way. Their lives, their bodies, their choices.

bomfunk Fri 09-Sep-16 10:47:33

Are you me? I could have written this word for word.

MapMyMum Fri 09-Sep-16 10:50:27

Could have written this myself...

MonicasCupboard Fri 09-Sep-16 10:52:56

I knew it probably wasn't helpful to not say what the things were.

One was getting a dog and one was getting a new tattoo (I already have plenty of the latter). I'm a sensible human who has researched both things and I am in a position to well care for a dog (DP works from home, I can take a trained dog to work, my DD is 11 and relatively sensible about animals).

My dad must have opinions about the choices his children make, but he never seems to express them in quite the same way. If he does say anything it's normally based in fact/a genuine concern, and is expressed in a practical way, which I can appreciate and take on board. My mum's responses are more personal and emotional IYSWIM. And she attempts to disguise them so I can't openly discuss them.

Can you learn to discount your mother's on the basis that simply by believing that she has a right to interfere in your life she's already demonstrating flawed judgment?

This is a very sensible argument, but I don't find it so easy to put into practice. My reaction is very visceral.

MonicasCupboard Fri 09-Sep-16 10:57:13

I know how you feel - I'm nearly 50

Oh Chip, really? So it won't wear off?

Gah. I'm going to have to do something about it. I just can't go on like this. I know it makes me so stressed.

Plus I have no self-confidence whatsoever, which I think makes it worse, because I start to think I must be in the wrong.

I thought about therapy but that seems quite indulgent for something like this.

DollyBarton Fri 09-Sep-16 11:02:03

I generally feel like I know better than my mum about everything to do with me so I don't have this problem at all. I wonder if they didn't teach you well enough to think independently or to take responsibility for your own decisions when you were younger and that has led to this feeling. Either way, it's not your fault it's your mums. Either for interfering or for treating you like a child or for not making you feel secure in your own decisions or for mistakenly thinking it's any of her business how you run your life as an adult.

DollyBarton Fri 09-Sep-16 11:03:51

Just remember, and this is very important, there is usually no one right way to do things. And also other people's opinions are just points of discussion, not rules!!!

sausagefest Fri 09-Sep-16 11:05:41

A lot of people's disapproval comes from their wanting you to make the same choices they did in order to validate their life decisions.

It actually is a form of them wanting your approval and indeed their own insecurity.

Squiff85 Fri 09-Sep-16 11:09:27

I could have written this word for word!!

Nanny0gg Fri 09-Sep-16 11:11:59

Why did you have to tell her about the tattoo? Is it where she would see it anyway? You still could have left it till she noticed.

As to the dog - everyone has an opinion on that even if it won't directly impact them.

Does she like dogs? Will she have to look after it for you? Will it stop her visiting?

Googlebabe Fri 09-Sep-16 11:13:25

I think it's normal. She is the mum, you are the child. This dynamic more or less stays with us our whole lives. I've seen it happen to my parents with their parents. It has happened to me with my parents. It is happening to me with my children.
The best thing you can do is work on that guilt of yours which makes you feel obliged. Apart from this, it is normal for a parent to want (what they think) the best for their children, regardless of age. At least you know your mum cares. I am sure there are many adults with feckless parents who would give their right arm for a parental 'interference' of this kind. Of course, it doesn't solve your problem. But you can solve your problem by training yourself to accept that your mother is entitled to have her opinion and you are entitled to act as you wish without feeling guilty.

Titsywoo Fri 09-Sep-16 11:22:58

Oh my god I am exactly the same. DH despairs of me! We already have a dog but DH is nagging me for another and my first thought was "my parents would be really annoyed at me".

It't silly but I suppose I never felt like they were proud of me and they never really said they loved me when I was younger so I think I will forever be looking for their approval.

CigarsofthePharoahs Fri 09-Sep-16 11:58:07

I feel like you do every now and again op, but less and less so as time goes by.
It comes from my Mum turning the moral thumb screws as I was growing up. I had to dress "decently" i.e. in clothes that were at least one size to big as I had a moral duty to the young men around me not to "tempt" them. Yup, that's how she put it.
My behaviour was always analysed and I knew I'd get in trouble if I'd done something that she didn't approve of - but this was often really very minor things. I remember getting totally fed up with idea that me doing something like watching a certain TV program or having an alcoholic drink (I was legal) might have some sort of devastating effect on someone elses morals.
I can remember how odd things felt when I went to university and I could make my own decisions not based on her extremely tight moral code. I wore clothes that fitted me, tops that didn't cover my bum and spent time with all sorts of different people that I know would have had her making cats bum faces.
It's a hard mindset to break. Like your Mum my own has done an awful lot for me and has been supportive and caring in many ways now I am an adult. That makes it harder - if I could step back and say "Well she's just a selfish cow" I could back off and drop contact and not think about it much, but she isn't. She just doesn't get that I see my place in the world very differently to how she does.
Mostly I ignore comments, though I do challenge some. The fact that I take no notice has got through to her so there's a lot less of it now.

I think it's about looking for approval. I didn't have much of that growing up and it's taken me a long time to realise that I don't need her approval. I still sometimes get a little internal pang when I do something I know she would not approve of.

blackbunny Fri 09-Sep-16 12:11:22

My mum, who I loved very much, has been dead 8 years, and I can still feel guilty for spending money on things I know she would disapprove of! It seems we never shake off that feeling of wanting your parents' approval

bluebell21 Fri 09-Sep-16 12:26:37

I feel for you MonicasCupboard. flowers For some reason implied criticism and disapproval from your mum seems to hurt more than if it came from any other person - at least this is how it is for me. Please dont let it get you down. You need to be honest with her - you have nothing to lose and it might be a weight off your shoulders if you do. Maybe the more you say "this hurts me" the less the implied criticism can have the ability to sting you.

VenusRising Fri 09-Sep-16 12:33:45

Thing is you have to have your parents approval when you're a child as it's a survival instinct. As a baby and child you are utterly dependent on your parents for survival, and this behaviour is ingrained. You learn that you must not upset the apple cart or you may die.

The stress you feel can be very easily addressed with therapy and I feel strongly you invest in it. It's not a luxury when you're crying in the loos at work with unhappiness.
It's not childish to want to stand up for yourself, rather it's a sign of an adult that they aren't a pushover, and have self direction self assertion and hold their own power.

You deserve to be free of this anxiety and have a happy life! Cognitive behaviour therapy might help most. It doesn't go into the yadda yadda yadda childhood traumas or whatever, but teaches you how to address those intrusive, outdated and unnecessary thoughts and feelings, and you learn simple techniques to rid yourself of the doubt and guilt.


MonicasCupboard Fri 09-Sep-16 13:03:01

Thanks all, I'm slightly glad, but mostly sorry, that there are other people who feel like me.

CBT was my thought VenusRising, but I'll have to do the sums to see if I can afford it.

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