Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Difficult Moms and Mother's Day

When we’re young, it’s mom who gratifies our needs and takes care of our hurts. But she is also the first one to impose control and set limits. As we grow, memories of this primary and most powerful relationship are imprinted deep in our psyche.

It’s through attachments that we eventually learn who we are and what we feel. Some moms don’t acknowledge their kids as independent and set up coercive relationships with conditions on love and approval. In all stages of life, children with difficult mothers struggle with self doubt and worry others will disapprove of them.

Even though the media leads us to believe that all mothers deserve flowers on Mother’s Day, not all moms are lovable. So how can you protect yourself from rejection and keep your self respect while trying to regulate closeness and distance? Here are some ideas that can help you take better care of yourself on Mother's Day and throughout the year:

Let go of the dream of having a loving mother. It's hard to face the fact that you don’t have a 'good enough' mother. Once and for all, step back and stand up for you. Now is the time to shift the focus away from her and begin to protect and nurture yourself.

Be clear about what you're willing to do. Does your mother still have unreasonable expectations? Instead of her valuing what you do, perhaps she criticizes or argues in return. Make a list of what you’ll tolerate and try to keep firm boundaries. And don’t assume that you have to do it all alone. Talk honestly about how you feel and encourage family members to do their share. Some adult children have to work it out by walking away.

Refuse to respond to unrealistic demands. You may have other commitments or not feel like it. You’ll see that you create more balance by setting limits. You don't have to continue identifying with the role of the victim. Think about seeing a therapist - learning how to soothe yourself and manage your moods will put you more in control of your life.

Log on Wednesday to learn more about how to shift the focus to you, beginning on Mother’s Day.

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