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How to Deal With Your Mother's Guilt Trips

by S.R. Becker, studioD

Although your mother might mean well, you might be tired of her guilt trips. Whether it's about your job, your relationships, your finances or your parenting, maternal advice isn't always constructive. As Terri Apter writes in her book ""Difficult Mothers: Understanding and Overcoming Their Power," your mom's excessive concern can make you feel like she doesn't trust you to handle your own life. Sometimes motherly guilt trips are more overt, however -- your mother might say you don't care about her if you don't do what she wants. In either case, it's important to protect and assert yourself.

Talk to your mother, whether one on one or with a counselor. Explain how her guilt trips affect you and ask her to stop. If you don't feel you can discuss the subject without yelling or crying, ask a family therapist to mediate.

Stand your ground. Just because your mother wants you to do something doesn't mean you have to do it. Remind yourself that she's a grown adult, as are you. If you have other responsibilities and your mother is in good health, she can take care of herself. If not, ask another family member or caregiver to attend to her.

Take a break from her presence. You don't have to tell her where you're going or what you're doing. You don't have to answer her calls or emails right away. Although the silent treatment isn't the best way of dealing with interpersonal conflict, sometimes it's necessary to protect yourself, at least temporarily.

Confide in a friend, partner or therapist, whether to seek advice or just vent. An impartial observer can help you make sense of a situation in which you're caught up. Others can give you perspective and reassurance when you can't give them to yourself.

Remind yourself frequently of what you like about yourself. If you have to write a list and hang it on your bathroom mirror, do it. If your mother accuses you of being uncaring, think of a time when you did something compassionate for someone else and write it on the list. Loving yourself is a shield against others who say hateful things.

About the Author

S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.

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