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How to Deal With an Overbearing Mother

by Rosenya Faith

Conflict is normal in any parent-child relationship, but if your mom is hovering like a helicopter, it's time to create some boundaries so you can find your path back to sanity. An overbearing mother can interfere with autonomous behavior, according to an article published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Instead of acquiescing to her every request and bending to her will, tell her how her hovering makes you feel to try to repair the relationship.

What Lies Beneath

Your mother will always be your mother, and it might be difficult for her to let go of the parenting mentality that she had when you were younger. You needed her constant guidance back then and she might be having a difficult time accepting that you don’t need it quite as much now. So, when she’s full of advice about everything, from your career and spouse choices to your youngest child’s nighttime wakings and your limitations on candy before dinner, remember that what she’s doing is filled with good intentions. Nevertheless, you don’t have to follow her every suggestion; let her know that, while she did a wonderful job raising you, it’s time for you to show it off by living your life and raising your family according to your own values and beliefs -- those that she helped to develop.

United Front

You don’t have to face this battle alone -- at least not without a little guidance and support from a partner or close friend. Talk to your spouse about the issues you’re having with your mother so he knows how you’re feeling, and ask about his own feelings on the subject, too. If you’re single, talk over the problem with a trusted friend. It can help you work through your feelings and figure out what options are available to you. Consider the changes you would like in your relationship to create the ideal situation with your mother, and then think about where you are willing to compromise to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Date Time

Make arrangements with your mother to get together for lunch, tea or a casual dinner. You can talk to your mom over the phone if necessary, but it is better to discuss the problem face to face whenever possible. It’s important to be clear and straightforward about the issue, but be as kindly as you can. Use "I" statements instead of "you" accusations to avoid making your mother feel like you're verbally attacking her. For example, instead of saying, "You spend too much time at my house," try something less accusatory, like "I'm not getting as much one-on-one time with Stephen and the kids as I need, but I would love it we could get together for dinner every weekend.”

Follow Through

Call them rules, restrictions, guidelines or the path to lucidity and reason -- whichever term you prefer to use, you’ll have to stand firm by them now. If your mother begins to act out in her previous, overbearing manner, remind her gently of the discussion you had together. Let her know how it feels when she interferes with your decision-making and other ways she could be helpful instead. If she persists, learn to move past your negative response. Instead of bending to her will, simply thank her for the advice and continue in your course of action.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

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