I’ll preface with something all of you probably heard a million times: I love my mother and my family and I know she loves both me and my dad. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that despite this, there’s something wrong with our family dynamics. Call me ungrateful for such a family (I am grateful for it, btw), or what have you, but I can’t deny what I’m sensing.
I live at home, attend college and my parents covering what loans don’t (I've chipped in a couple times myself). We’re foreign but have lived here for a long time. I’m in my early 20’s and I perfectly understand that I might be missing something here simply because I’m on the younger side.
It appears to me that my mother has controlling tendencies (but this is the crux of my question: is she actually controlling or am I just over reacting?).
To give you an idea, she’ll say any of the following on a fairly regular basis despite the fact that I've expressed it on many occasions that I would like her to stop because I find it very irritating and somewhat offensive, especially when I'm heading out the door:
“Hmm, I really don’t like when you wear your hair up like that, I gave you such a nice haircut, why don’t you wear it down?”
“That looks cheap, a girl with your looks needs to wear certain clothing, otherwise you’re just ruining what mother nature gave you.”
“Are you plucking your eyebrows again? I wish you wouldn’t.”
“What a cute outfit … if only you wouldn’t wear those ugly jeans. Seriously, construction workers wear jeans like that. Why cant you wear the XYZ ones?”
They seem minor, but the level of anger and irritation they've begun to illicit from me the more time passes is beginning to strain our relationship even more. Don’t get me wrong, her and I can talk for hours. Unfortunately, when we get off of generic conversation topics and onto more personal things, we end up fighting very often. It usually has to do either with the fact that she constantly makes little negative remarks about what I’m wearing/buying/how I do my hair/what I'm doing with my life/what I'm not and because I've learned to care about her opinion (too) much, those little comments feel like huge rocks.
When it comes to friends, my mother’s opinion is that you’re better off alone instead of having crappy friends. And all of the (very few) friends that I have are to one degree or another ‘crappy’ according to her because they’re female and are either "deceiving me" in one way or another, are "jealous" of me or something other. Being friends with females is not really an option, according to her.
I’m getting to a place where I don’t really want to talk about guys with her because I’ve never heard her say one nice thing about any guy I’ve mentioned. I don’t even bother telling her what they look like or showing her a picture because the only response I’ve ever heard from her is “You think he’s cute? REALLY…?” I don’t date much, but during my one lasting relationship she managed to convince me that my boyfriend was “confused” when he said he loved me and that I essentially shouldn’t take him seriously because he's not that smart. True, the guy tended to be kind of flashy, but he was a good person on the inside (and I know this for sure) and now that I look back on it, I realize he might have been actually serious when he said it and I hurt him because I believed her. Long story short, we broke up (for the better, mind you, but I don’t like the way it happened at all). The idea of my having a boyfriend bothers her, I can tell. I try to stay off the subject because I often end up hearing something to the effect of “you really shouldn’t be worrying about that but instead worrying about school.” She is honest to god worried I will meet a guy, drop out of college and have a bunch of kids. She has flat out told me that she worries about me because I'm so young and it's so easy to get "carried away."
I suspect that one of the reasons I don’t bother with having friends my age is because people this age tend to want to do things like stay out late or go on trips. Neither of those things are allowed. I can stay out late every once in a while and I managed to push this when I was dating the guy I mentioned earlier, but otherwise she (and my father) will stay up until I come home or call me obsessively once it gets past 2AM. To some degree I understand this, but mostly, their boundaries have made it embarrassing for me to have to explain to my grown peers that I have to be home by XYZ time due to my mother. Trips with friends (and most certainly boyfriends) are entirely out of the question. It’s too dangerous, my friends are too irresponsible (and yes, she has on several occasions said that my judgement when it comes to people is spotty).
When it comes to school … I’m not even going to pretend, I’ve been lying about my grades the past few semesters because I’m kind of afraid of what she would do if she knew that I wasn't getting straight A's. I’m getting to the point where I’m afraid she’d either stop paying for college or kick me out of the house (or the equivalent of because she can’t stand the idea of me moving out). The grades and the extreme guilt about my lying (and the grades) has been really depressing me and I decided to see a counselor at the end of this semester to try to talk to someone before it gets worse.
On the subject of moving out. She sees any conversation about my moving out as emotional sabotage. She’s cried when I mentioned it before and she intermittently gets either genuinely upset or angry or just brushes it off, even though this has become an increasing dream of mine. She also jokes about how my future family and I better live down the street from her and I'm kind of half worried she's totally serious.
Thankfully, when it comes to careers, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with what I’ve chosen. But she has an opinion on what I should do within that career too, which within itself is just fine and perhaps I’m just completely unable to be objective when it comes to the things she says, but she’ll ask “so which areas in this field interest you?” I’ll list the ones I find interesting and then she’ll go “oh yeah or XYZ, now THAT sounds super interesting” and then go on about it for a little bit.
Whenever I’ve tried to approach her to talk about the fact that some of the things she says bother me she always gets very (sometimes VERY) defensive, sometimes upset and angry about it. Her favorite comeback is “well what am I supposed to do, praise you for everything?” or “it’s my opinion and as my mother and as the type of person I am, I have to make it known.” So talking to her about making a change is pretty much impossible. She’s convinced our relationship is fine and that nothing needs changing (she has said something to this effect).
She’s a very independent and strong headed woman and also very opinionated and notoriously hard to get along with (even she admits this). She fights with my father rather often (with the way she yells I'm honestly surprised they're still married). Family vacations consist of my dad and I doing our own thing and her doing her own thing because she doesn’t like to do anything we do (fair enough I guess), however this tremendously bothers my dad. At home she spends all her time after work watching movies or doing more work (also her choice, I understand) and gets incredibly angry if she perceives someone trying to tell her what to do with a minute of that time. Today she stormed into my room and told me that she was NOT getting up extra early tomorrow morning so that my dad could drop her off at work and me for my first official day at my new job (I don't own a car yet). I believe her words were “You don’t have a set schedule (boss specifically said I should be in at 9), who cares if your boss said you have to be there at 9? Tell her you’re coming at 10!”
Now I’m sure by now I’ve painted a very selective and biased picture of my mother, which I suppose isn’t very fair to her. She tells me she loves me (or something similar) often and that she's proud of me. She also insists on calling me “little girl” or “baby” though I’ve openly expressed irritation at this. She tells me that I’m pretty, which is nice but I’ve actually come to resent it because it’s almost like a reminder - you’re pretty, so dress like it, act like it.
My father tends to leave me alone for the most part and whenever he gets on my case it’s usually because she says things that wind him up or convince him to make her crusade his.
Finally, her fighting style is: because I am the way that I am, I’m allowed to scream and shout and use anything and everything I want against you in an argument, but you’re not allowed to yell back even though using a calm tone won’t get you heard. This is no matter whether she is right or wrong in the argument. When my father yells, she accuses him of being a woman and when I yell she gets even more enraged because I’m being disrespectful. I’m not a confrontational person, I don’t like fighting and I certainly don’t like yelling, and I wasn’t raised to be disrespectful (though objectively speaking, in recent years I’ve become more and more “insolent” as everything I described in this post has begun to wear down on me and I simply don’t know how to deal with it without ending up hating her guts. I’m essentially beginning to display the same patterns as her) but talking calmly to this woman is like asking a tornado to please stop tearing down your house. We have ineffective argumentative patterns at home, the only one that seems to resolve anything is her. Our family often ends up having the same arguments over and over and over, which indicates most of the time, they AREN’T resolved. In fact she’s told me before: if I don’t yell and scream and get it out of my system, I’ll wind up never talking to that person. I’ve come to enjoy times when she doesn’t talk to me, which is relatively rare because as she put it yesterday “you don’t even know how much I forgive you because I'm your mother.”
I’m beginning to feel more and more like an adult child (I can’t even imagine what it would be like to move out or to get married or to have kids, that level of independence is almost unfathomable at this point). I can’t go shopping without hearing her voice in my head rejecting this or that. In fact, her voice is in my hear almost as often as my own is. (No, I don’t have any mental conditions).
From what little of my family life I could describe, would any one care to answer my initial question: am I a horrible, presumptuous daughter or does she have controlling and overbearing behavior patterns? I just want to re-affirm my sanity, essentially - one day she seems normal and the next I'm this close to packing my bags in order to not say something that will give her a heart attack.
And PS, I was probably an easier child and teenager to deal with than many. I never hung out with bad crowds, never got in trouble, never drank or did drugs and never did anything illegal, never did anything much except come home like expected.
I would like to believe this has gotten better for you, but I doubt it has. My mother has much in common with yours, and it's still going on. I will be 59 this year. I wish I could say I know how to handle it. I have had to back out of my family to lower my stress level. I know at our ages there is a good chance that death without a reconciliation will occur. I have tried to make sure I understand this and believe I have done what I could do, to minimize feelings of guilt. I am at a loss about what else to do. I have seen this same interaction between various family members on my mother's side of the family played out for years. It's like some kind of repeating script. It doesn't change. Only the players do. Now people are beginning to die off. Still no change. I hope the next generation will do better.
She is like many other mothers but a lot more overbearing and somewhat manipulative. What you need to understand is that your mother and father are always going to toss their two cents into every aspect of your life even if you're fortunate enough to have them around when you're in your 50s. No, you are not horrible but attempt to understand that your mother is really looking out for you. She severely lacks any sort of tact and that is something that requires addressing and having read your extensive post, I can see you are frustrated because you have tried to open those lines of communication with no success. Keep trying.
Practice saying "ok,mom, I'll take it into consideration". when she makes a suggestion that you feel is outlandish and then do what YOU feel is best for YOU. If she doesn't like your jeans then say "I like them and I look great". I know it sounds silly but if you do this, her negative comments are then being responded to in a way that shows her that you hear what she is telling you. If she doesn't like that you didn't follow her direction, suggest to her that you're now an adult and would like to make your own decisions.
Lastly, you should not lie to your parents about your grades. If straight As is all they want from you, they have unrealistic expectations and don't be afraid of losing their monetary funding. You will find a way to pay for things yourself.
She sounds identical to my mom to a point. Im to afraid to tell my mom what bugs me so at least you have the guts to do that. I know my mom will get defensive and just yell. So not worth it. She is the same way when it comes to boyfriends and friends, judgmental. I don't tell her about the guy in my life that's making me so happy right now because he judgement will make me unhappy. I just don't need it. When it comes to friend she can always find something wrong. When it comes to school my mom never likes the career I choose she can always find a reason I wont be good at it. She always find a reason to hate my clothes so I found a way to meet her half way years ago. So I can feel cute and sexy when I want. I feel like you disrespected and when I try and talk not heard and when I yell told im disrespectful. So I get walked all over. I'm only telling you all this so you know your not alone. I've learned that my bedroom is my haven and I do yoga to keep my self centered and it makes it easier to live with her. She does let me go out and stay with people. I am lucky that way. Im gone once a week. But really try some yoga or kickboxing it helps relive stress. I hope you don't mind I posted my story in hopes you would not feel alone. Then some tips as you said we love them no matter what and they love us
I read your post and saw myself in some of your comments about your mom. It was very painful to read and to admit to myself that I had done the some of same things. I am estranged from my daughter and beating myself up with guilt and recrimination - she won't see me. There is no excuse for the behaviour - just habit, without consequence. I learned the very hard way - I loved her too much and controlled her too much - but in defense of your mom - she wants you to look nice, mostly because that makes the world an easier place for you - people are horrible and judge you - I would suggest acknowledging that you know that the jeans are "trendy" - but you're only young once and they're fun. I don't know if you have done this, but if you could try and tell her "how much you hate the yelling." Please let her know how important this is to you - that you just cannot deal with it. Please try, you sound so mature - try to find a time when she is not tired from working and hopefully will respond better, she will most likely yell...but try to give her time to amend, to change "old habits." Mothers want the best for their kids - and are very damaging in that pursuit. I feel my own daughter did not talk to me about so many things, as she was afraid I would yell - so consequently, unfortunately, I did not know how mature she was and how she felt about so many things. I messed really badly - so please, although it won't be easy, perhaps engage your father - it will take time to change, but as you respond in a rational, responsible way, she will come realize that you are more than capable of being treated like an adult.