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How common is it to have a difficult relationship with your mother?

(67 Posts)
mermaid101 Tue 18-Nov-14 20:29:40

I've posted many times about my troubled relationship with my mother.

I've been given some great advice here and based on this, have done a lot of thinking and a bit of reading about this.

I am currently reading Toxic Families by Susan Forward and have found it useful. She suggests confronting your parents about the past, in the hope you can change how you feel/react. This is something I am considering.

However, I have discussed this with several of my friends and it would appear that the majority have fairly difficult relationships with our mothers. Collectively, we have struggled to think of many people who do have "good" or overwhelming positive relationships with our mothers.

It made me wonder if I'm maybe being a bit over sensitive and perhaps it is just the way of the world and that many/most (?) people have difficulties with their parents?

I'm not sure how you could quantify this really. I just wondered if this thought had ever occurred to anyone else?

makeitabetterplace Tue 18-Nov-14 20:46:47

I really dislike my mother intensely and no longer have any contact with her. I'm the only one of my friends in this position and all my friends have good relationships with their mother and wouldn't be without them. So I do think it's fairly unusual. Most would occasionally have a moan about their mum but that must be normal in any relationship I would have thought.

M00nUnit Tue 18-Nov-14 20:57:26

I've been getting on reasonably well with mine recently but mostly because I've been keeping her at a distance - i.e. not calling her as often or sharing much about my life with her. She's frequently been very nasty to me in the past - sending me emails and letters describing all my shortcomings as a person or ranting at me about how awful I am. I get upset and she thinks I'm being vindictive by not forgiving her for saying "silly things". But what I can't tell her is that I've never forgiven her for the violent temper she used to inflict on me as a child. It would make her ill (she's bi-polar) and I'd feel guilty for being so "cruel" as to mention it.

40somethingwonderful Tue 18-Nov-14 21:27:35

Mine is not malicious but drives me mad with her constant nit picking, we have a strained relationship and live 3 hours away from each other.

Out of my 5 close friends, 1 gets on really well with her mum, 2 get on okay (but they drive they nuts a lot) and 2 have no contact.

Lottapianos Tue 18-Nov-14 21:34:12

I am in minimal contact with both my parents. Its hard to know how common it is OP because there is still a huge cultural belief that mothers are all kind and loving etc, which makes it difficult to talk openly about having a strained or horrible relationship with yours.

Toxic Parents is a great book, I learned a lot from reading it. Don't feel under pressure to confront your parents if you don't want to though. I chose not to because I know there is no way in hell they would ever be able to hear me and all I would get from it is a broken heart. So do what works for you.

Pippin8 Tue 18-Nov-14 21:36:02

Mine is toxic & I only realised about 18 months ago. I often think of all the other little things that she did when I was a child and wonder if I'm nitpicking & everybody else's childhood was similar.

But, actually most of my friends have good relationships with their mums & can go for shopping trips, lunches, spa days etc. I could never do any of that as mine prioritised her smoking over spending time with me. And I know that's not normal.

coffeeslave Tue 18-Nov-14 21:48:46

My relationship with my mum is difficult. I'm baffled by friends who cuddle their mums, ask thrm advice, chat freely etc. I'm coming to the realisation that it's all very toxic but I'm not quite prepared to admit it in public yet :-(

Fuzzyfelt123 Tue 18-Nov-14 22:10:30

I have a difficult relationship with my DH, OP, but I don't know many others that do in RL. The Stately Homes thread is for people with difficult relationships with parents, there's loads of good advice on there.
I'd love to have a close relationship with her, but she doesn't know how to. I've tried over the years.
I vividly remember aged about 9 being with a friend and her mum and the mum putting an arm around each of us. I was shocked at the display of affection, it felt alien to me (tho Iiked it). My DM always commented on children looking needy and clingy if they were holding on to their mum sad
Having said that, I too often wonder if I'm being nit picky and oversensitive about my DM. But I also know I've been brought up to bury my needs in order to concentrate on hers.
Good luck OP, flowers

Hatespiders Tue 18-Nov-14 22:22:03

Our mother was horrendous, abusive, narcissistic and evil. My sister and I went NC many years ago thank goodness. She was never a 'mum' at all, and we hated her. I used to cry in bed at night thinking about other children I knew whose mums were lovely. My friends nowadays (sixty years later) seem to have had a good relationship with their mothers and were very close.
It scars you for life it really does, but I've come to terms with it and so has my sister.

Mrsgrumble Tue 18-Nov-14 22:24:51

I have a very difficult relationship with mine. I couldn't wait to else home. She is very attention seeking, domineering, critical. I am afraid to be myself with her.

Most people I know live their mums though.

squiggler Tue 18-Nov-14 22:29:08

Just out of curiosity, for those of you who have toxic mothers, how do you make sure that you're not making the same mistakes that your own mother did? Do you think it was down to their stubbornness and unwillingness to listen you and change? What could they have done to make it better?

makeitabetterplace Tue 18-Nov-14 22:29:57

Fuzzy - totally relate to that! I used to love being with my friend's mums that were 'mumsy.' One mum told my mum that she thought of me as a second daughter. I was never allowed to see that friend again and I was heartbroken. One mum wished me happy new year and I loved it as nothing like that had been said to me ever. My own mum had a mentally ill mother who died young, my own mum is mentally ill and has attempted suicide lots of times. If you were to trace the family tree of my mothers, most of the female relatives died of 'broken hearts' in asylums etc. I'm hoping to break the chain and be a good mum to my little one.

Are there any good books or resources to help you be a good mum if you didn't have one?

Acroyoga Tue 18-Nov-14 22:42:08

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Acroyoga Tue 18-Nov-14 22:42:42

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Fuzzyfelt123 Tue 18-Nov-14 23:23:57

Makeitabetterplace sorry about your mum. flowers I feel sorry for us as little girls. Have you managed to find someone else to fill the role for you?
I have 2 DDs and I bend over backwards every day to not parent them like I was. My rule if thumb is 'what would DM have done?' and then do the opposite!
Also I agree with acro our personalities are poles apart, so hopefully I won't make the same mistakes. Facing up to the last, gaining insight all help you do things differently smileflowers

RaRaSkirtsForever Tue 18-Nov-14 23:29:34

I have been NC with my mother for six months now, it has been the making of me.

I am not ready to talk about what she did yet, I just have not reached that stage yet. I am 45 years old and I have spent my life waiting for the moment where she either explained her behaviour or my siblings acknowledged it. It never happened and in the end I had to go NC.

I will post on the Stately Homes though soon, when I am ready.

Fuzzyfelt123 Wed 19-Nov-14 16:13:45

RaRa flowers

GoatsDoRoam Wed 19-Nov-14 16:24:38

I think it's very common.

Even in cases where there is no toxicity or abuse, I think that mothers and daughters can really rub each other the wrong way simply because of the weight of expectations, and also because a lot of identification must go on between people of the same gender and genetics (they were "like us" once when they were younger, we will grow up to be "like them" and take up the role of woman and mother...). And we can all be very intolerant of failings in those we identify with the most, and those we expect the most from.

pinkandpurplebottle Wed 19-Nov-14 16:25:20

I have always had a very difficult relationship with my mum. I went NC with both my parents a year ago and consider it the best thing I ever did. Wish I had done it earlier. Their behaviour was terrible when I was growing up and it never got any better when I got older (I am mid thirties now). It got to a point where I had to accept that they will never change.

My mum did a lot of very strange and abusive things to me when I was growing up. Out of my friends, most have difficult relationships with their mums. In fact I only know one friend who gets on well with theirs.

GoatsDoRoam Wed 19-Nov-14 16:33:24

A bit of a tangent, but this article in yesterday's Guardian seems to have sparked recognition with most readers/commenters:

"For much of my life, there was something about my mother I felt almost allergic to. Yet, as she approached death, for the first time I found I didn’t merely love her, I actually liked her"

bigTillyMint Wed 19-Nov-14 16:36:27

Mine is not malicious but drives me mad because we are so different. And she was never very motherly...

I think Goats is right. I hope I will continue to have a better relationship with my DC than I had/have with her.

dingit Wed 19-Nov-14 16:36:30

My mother used to hit me with a garden cane, and drag me along by my hair, and I've never really got over that. As a result I don't lay a finger on my Dc, ( I just have a loud screechy voice instead when crossblush)
My relationship with my mother is quite arms length, she is coming to dinner for her birthday, but I just recently caught her bad mouthing me behind my back, so clearly she is just as toxic, and will be lucky I don't put something equally toxic in her food.

bigTillyMint Wed 19-Nov-14 16:48:22

Goats, I read that article.
"There was something about my mother I felt almost allergic to" sums up exactly how I felt/feel. Although I do feel a bit sorry for her now she is old.

bigTillyMint Wed 19-Nov-14 16:48:53

So sorry for all of you who had abusive motherssad

Lottapianos Wed 19-Nov-14 17:56:28

Goats, that article is beautifully written but I find it utterly harrowing. I relate to a lot of the 'fake'stuff - doing something because you feel its what the stage directions would say if you were in a play! That sounds barking but I understand it completely. Her description of her mother as not really knowing who she was deep down - that's both my parents and I've often felt that way myself.
Its very sad - my parents are both so miserable and I wish it was different for them - but you have to protect yourself around people like this. I feel that facing up to how my parents are has made me intensely selfish - I always put myself first and if something doesn't feel right, I don't do it. I've had to become this way in order to protect myself. I hope I still balance it with the needs of others though, it just means that I don't martyr myself and hopefully avoid bringing the 'fake' stuff into my own life.

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