Relationship with mum(20 Posts)
I’m looking for some advice please.
I’m in my twenties and live in a shared house a few hours away from where my parents live.
My mum has always been protective of me and my siblings, and I feel that, although I’m an adult and I live independently from my family, she speaks to me and treats me as if I’m much younger. I’m close to both my mum and dad and we have a really good and supportive relationship, but this is definitely getting me down.
For example, when we see each other, she will tell me to do certain things (e.g. brush my teeth, brush my hair) and repeat them several times until I’ve done these things, or she’ll lay out my clothes for the day(!) I really think she means well, but it feels so stifling.
As she means well, it’s a tricky situation, and it’s made me upset, because I want to be independent and feel like I can make my choices but I feel like she doesn’t take my views into account.
I’ve dealt with this so far by saying to my mum either that I will do them and that I manage to do them well enough while living on my own or by saying to her that I don’t need a reminder and that I’m an adult.
Both of these responses sound quite defensive written down, but I try to say them in a light-hearted way, although it’s becoming harder the more often I get reminded about these things. (I think what’s making me particularly frustrated about this now is because I’ve just been on holiday for a week with my mum and dad where we’ve shared a hotel room and I’ve been reminded every day about these things).
I get very upset easily in these situations, because my mum will ignore my responses, essentially, and just go back to her normal routine of telling me what to do, which then makes me slip back into getting teary and frustrated rather than responding to her in a calm, relaxed way.
I also feel that my mum criticises me a lot for various things, and I find it very frustrating.
For example, my mum was asking me how much annual leave I’ve used up from my work for the holiday that I’ve just been on with her and my dad.
I mentioned that I still have some annual leave left over fron this year which I won’t be able to carry over to the next annual leave year, because it goes over the allowance of days I’m allowed to carry over (the next A/L year starts for me in a couple of days’ time).
She asked me why I hadn’t thought of any solutions to use up the annual leave that I can’t carry over, as I’ll lose out on it, and seemed very upset about it.
I explained to her that I didn’t mind and that I’d known I probably wouldn’t use up all my annual leave for this year, as I’d chosen not to take any holiday in the first six months of my current job due to being on probation.
Even though I’d said this, my mum kept on talking about it, and I had no idea how to respond as I felt that any response I gave wouldn’t be satisfactory.
Another example is that I’ve recently taken up some new hobbies (learning a new language and a musical instrument).
Both hobbies will cost money, as I’ve started having weekly lessons for both, and I told my mum about them as I was excited about starting them. She did seem enthusiastic, but then said that I should watch my spending as I was ‘living a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget’.
I think she says this because she finds it funny, but it wasn’t said in a light-hearted way. I felt quite hurt, as I felt like my personal choices and decisions were being criticised rather than being supported.
I also felt her response was unfair and a bit ridiculous, because I have budgeted for these lessons and earn a decent salary (I’m in a junior role at work and don’t earn bucketloads, but budget carefully every month to make sure I have enough money for different things that I spend money on).
I feel that things always have to be done as my mum wants them to be done. Obviously, I only notice this now when I visit her and my dad, every few months, as I don’t live with them.
I love my mum and I know she loves me and I’m sure she’s proud of me, but this is really getting me down. I don’t really tell her anything about my personal life now as I don’t want her to say anything that seems like a judgement or criticism.
I’m a bit confused and frustrated because I know my mum loves me but she doesn’t really show it, as it doesn’t show in how she speaks to me or how she treats me. I think my mum treats me as if I was much younger (a child), and doesn’t see that I need to be treated differently.
The other day, we were talking, and she was saying that she finds it strange to refer to me as a woman. I can see her point of view, as I still find it weird, and i feel her comment was meant to be light-hearted and inconsequential, but I feel like it reflects how she sees her and how she treats me (as a child, rather than an adult).
I feel like I can only post here as I have no idea about how to speak to about this but it’s getting me down. Every so often, I might speak about this with my dad, but he doesn’t really have any advice and my mum often speaks to him in a similar way, which I know he gets frustrated about. It also seems a bit rude if I talk to my dad about my mum, as if I’m going behind her back and being underhand and sneaky.
Any advice, please?
It sounds very frustrating but perhaps you’re giving your mum a bit too much “ammunition” to use against you? She doesn’t need to know about your annual leave entitlement or financial situation at all. As a grown woman living away from home that stuff really is non of her business. Perhaps you can avoid answering questions if she’s drilling for specifics or find a polite way to tell her to mind her own?
She does sound a bit much so maybe it’s time to detach yourself from them further. I stopped going on holiday with my parents when I was 14.
She is right using your annual leave.
How is she even getting access to your look? I don’t even choose my nearly 3 year old clothes. I think you need to laugh it off and say Mum I’m an adult so I will choose my own clothes thanks. Are you brushing your teeth ect? I just cant imagine a situation where anyone would need to tell a functioning adult to do this.
Sounds very similar to my mum. I'm sorry to say it doesn't get better even when they do see you as an adult. I'm in my late thirties and have two children. It's not about age it's about control. She will continue to try to control your actions and decisions because that's who she is and she will be angry and frustrated when you don't do as she says. Sorry I wish I had the answer, but as a pp said, don't give her any info that she can criticise you with (basically everything in my experience) and try to distance yourself emotionally. It's hard but you need a bit of space from her, good luck!
Pleather that’s a good point, thanks - I’ve never been good at thinking of a calm, neutral way to deflect the issue and politely tell my mum that it’s not really her business. Any ideas, please?
Pianobook that is an option, although both my parents are now elderly - in their early seventies - and I would like to make the most of my time with them before I have a family and while they are still healthy, especially as I do enjoy spending time with them and we have a very good relationship. I don’t want my relationship with them to suffer because I don’t know how to respond calmly and reasonably to things my mum tells me to do.
Jackshouse as I was on holiday with them, my suitcase was in the same room as my parents, as we were sharing a hotel room, so my mum has access to my clothes. In terms of brushing my teeth, I do brush my teeth but not necessarily when my mum tells me - she’ll tell me to do it and then keep on reminding me.
Thanks, fromnowhere! That’s really helpful, and I think you’re absolutely right. Sorry to hear that you’re in a similar position. Your advice about not giving much info and emotional distance is really helpful - do you have any other tips that have worked well in your own experience?
Your mum is overly enmeshed and controlling. I know people bandy the word narcissist around on here easily but there are a lot of people out there high on the narc spectrum even if they don’t have NPD.
She sounds a lot like my mum used to treat me. And my mum is very narcissistic.
Google the website daughters of narcissistic mothers and maybe buy the book
Also suggest reading the first few halters of Susan forwards toxic parents book, talking about family dynamiccs and overly emeshed/controlling mothers.
Some therapy would be good for you to put down boundaries.
Your responses are defensive of her because you are still seeking her approval. You’re still seeking her validation of you as an adult.
You need to free yourself in your head of giving her that power essentially.
You ARE an adults whether she sees it or not. It doesn’t matter.
Just live your life like an adult and make your choices and stop seeking her validation and she will sense the change
What do you say to her when she tells you to brush your teeth? Can you either joke out of it ‘Ha ha, mum, you’re hilarious, stop treating me like a 5 year old” or very seriously ‘Stop telling me that, mum, I’m not 5 and it’s really bloody annoying’. Are you the youngest/last to leave home?
Sharing a room with your parents on holiday? Seriously? Don’t do that again.
CherrySoup I say both sorts of responses. She’ll either reply that she’s only saying it because she cares about me or she’ll tell me to take better care of myself and to grow up, and that I took better care of myself when I was four and she didn’t have to remind me about anything.
I’ve got a twin, and we left home at the same time.
With the room-sharing, it was my only option - my parents were paying for the holiday, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted them to pay for another room for me (I think they would’ve felt hurt if I’d paid for another room for myself or asked them to pay for another room for me). I’m not sure what the alternative would be, as we were staying in a resort-type place a bus ride away from the nearest town, so I don’t see how I could have sorted out alternative accommodation for me.
That’s what I don’t tell my mum anything or just lie to save the head wreck of it for example oh yes I took my annual leave oh nice what did you do I stayed at home what that was a waste did you just stay at home doing nothing oh no I actually remember we went on a mini break down the country for 3 nights...
Its a good way of coping with the smothering and I have it perfected now just keep changing your answer they sit with their mouth open it’s funny
You think they would have felt hurt if you’d booked yourself a room? This is what I mean OP.
You are unhealthily emeshed as a family
You could have just said “no I will fee more comfortable with my own room and I’ll pay for it thanks”
OMG she sounds like a total control freak OP. My mum is slightly like this, she still wants to treat me like a child sometimes even though I’m over 40! I just take the mickey out of her and tell her I’m a big girl now. It probably doesn’t help if you get upset when you try and tackle her, it reinforces the parent-child thing. Read about transactional analysis and try to respond in Adult ego state.
Maybe a bit more humour? If she tells you to brush your teeth, you tell her to brush her hair? If she lays out your clothes for the next day, you lay out her clothes for her? All with a friendly laugh?
I was also going to say try responding with humour, as summerinsun has said as it seems you want to maintain a close relationship. When mum asks for any financial details just laugh and ask her if she’s working for HMRC etc or start “jokingly” asking to see copies of her pension statements etc. Getting upset and drawn in, justifying yourself just plays into the parent/child dynamic. She also might see how it feels to be asked intrusive questions and realise she doesn’t like it but if you can, keep it light. Good luck.
Thanks, everyone! Your replies are all helpful - I’ll start trying out your suggestions and see how it goes.
Most likely one of two things is happening here - either you are giving your mum ammunition against you to think that you're not capable (eg asking for lots of help, asking for money, coming to her with minor problems etc) or your mum is having a very hard time letting her "baby" go and wants to believe that you really need her this much. Sounds like it could possibly be a bit of both, but more of the latter than the former.
Fgs, reminding you to brush your teeth? You don't say exactly how old you are but if you're old enough to live away from your mum I'd say you're at the very least 15yrs too old for that conversation.
You don't need to go on a quest to prove to them that you're grown up, but I think maybe just being a bit more closed about personal things may help. She's sticking her nose in about your annual leave? Fine, now you know not to talk to her about how much annual leave you've taken. She thinks you're overstretching your budget? Fine, stop talking to her about your budget. If she asks for details just be vague. If she pushes you then you can either be direct and say that you don't feel comfortable disclosing the info because she is so overbearing, or perhaps just make a joke and say something like "well you first then, exactly how much do you earn after tax, mum?" And laugh it off.
I know it's annoying if you're close to them because you just want to chat to them about things in earnest, but I would say part of being an adult is keeping things like finances private. The only person who knows the ins and outs of my finances is my husband. I'm older than you and live on a different continent to my mum, so I accept that my situation is different, but if my mum insinuated that I was living outside of my means I would be quite taken aback and remind her that my finances are none of her business. My mum wouldn't do this anyway because she's not like that, but also she would have no reason to because other than knowing that we're basically fine she has no real clue how much money I do or don't have because I don't go into detail about that sort of thing unless there's a specific reason (eg can't fly back to visit you for Xmas as flights are outside of budget so we'll do it a month later instead. This kind of thing is ok because it's actually relevant to her).
Also, just a thought - perhaps your next holiday can be with friends or a partner instead of them. Might be a bit more relaxing for you if you're with people who aren't laying out your clothes and telling your off for starting music lessons lol.
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