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What to Do When Your Mother Is Jealous of You

by Jae Kemp

While nothing beats feeling proud of yourself for hard-won accomplishments, you might find that your victories feel tainted when they're met with jealousy from your mother. Whether her reactions constitute a new turn of events or a pattern you have dealt with for years, you can take steps to help you both feel you're on the same team. With your mother's cooperation and insights, you can work toward a positive relationship in which you cheer for each other's triumphs.

Open Discussion

Sometimes even close family members can enter a tense situation rife with miscommunication simply because one or both are unaware of how their behavior translates. Explain that you perceive certain words or actions of your mother's as jealous, and express how you feel in response. Whether you feel hurt, rejected or angry, lay your feelings bare in straightforward wording and a calm tone. Then prepare yourself to consider anything your mother has to say, even if she suggests that you contribute to the problem. For instance, you may be inadvertently speaking of your accomplishments in a boastful way, suggests psychiatrist Gail Salz in her Today Health post, "Help, My Mother Is Jealous of Me!"

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Your mother may feel jealous if she thinks her contribution to your success has gone unappreciated. To help her feel duly acknowledged, thank her for gestures she has made throughout the years and point out how, specifically, these efforts have helped you. Perhaps she aided you by providing financial assistance through college, instilling in you the values of self-discipline and hard work, or always remaining your number-one cheerleader. Acknowledging the positive impact her assistance had on your success -- be it school-, career- or family-related -- might help her let go of resentments and celebrate your victories with you.

Helping Dreams Come True

Many mothers are willing to put aside previous dreams and pinch pennies to benefit their children. While seeing a grown child happy can prove reward enough for the concessions of motherhood, it could be that your mom sacrificed a pursuit that was meaningful to her and now feels it is too late to fulfill her dreams. If she senses she is thwarted from finding her own happiness, she may inadvertently begrudge you yours. Determine if there's an unfulfilled wish you can help come true for your mom. If she talked about wanting to write a book one day, for instance, consider offering to pay for a creative writing class.

When to Create Distance

Know when it's time to limit contact with a jealous mother. A narcissistic mother may act in punishing, petty ways if her child draws attention away from her, according to psychologist Karyl McBride. If this is the case with your mother, trying to make her happy could mean feeling guilty for your own accomplishments and even sabotaging yourself. If she is unwilling to admit her complicity in the tension between you or make an effort to change, you may need to limit your time with her in order to nurture your self-esteem.

About the Author

Jae Kemp has been writing and editing professionally since 2010. In addition to reviewing novels, memoirs and psychology/self-help books for major review services, Kemp has served as a copywriter, commercial and creative editor, and staff article writer.

Photo Credits

  • Barry Austin Photography/Digital Vision/Getty Images