How to Deal With a Possessive Mother

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A possessive mother can make life difficult for her children and her children's friends and spouses. Also called "overbearing" or " controlling," possessive mothers are still learning how to let go and trust their children's decision-making abilities. They are also learning how to accept their children's choices, which is difficult if those choices are different than the ones the mothers would make. Dealing with a possessive mother requires understanding where your mother or mother-in-law is coming from and learning how to be loving, yet firm in your own decisions.

Step 1

Learn all you can about your mother's childhood, family and life experiences. These factors influence how a person behaves as an adult. Use the information you gain to better understand where your mother's possessiveness or controlling attitude comes from. Realize that what she's been through shapes how she acts today but that she still has the power to choose how she treats others, including her children and in-laws.

Step 2

Recognize that you will not be able to meet all of your mother's demands or keep her happy all the time. Resist the urge to orient your life according to her wishes if you are a grown adult. Make choices that are in line with what you value and want in life.

Step 3

Tell your mother that you know she loves you deeply and that you are grateful for all she's given you and sacrificed for you. Explain that her desire to cling on to you only results in you feeling like you need to pull away; a heartfelt, caring conversation may open your mother's eyes to possessive behavior that she didn't realize she was displaying.

Step 4

Set boundaries with your mother and refuse to allow her to control your life. Decide how often you will let your mother interact with you and your family, such as one phone call each day or a set number of visits each week. Or you can safeguard times of the day or events such as vacations or dinner as time for just you and your family.

Step 5

Be discerning about how much information you share about your circumstances and decisions with your mother. Inform your mother after you have made your decision, rather than during the process, to avoid getting too much input from her. That also prevents the opportunity for to try to control the situation and manipulate you into making a choice that's best for her instead of best for you.

Step 6

Recognize that change takes time, both for you and your mother. Consider talking to a professional family counselor for advice and insight into how your mother's possessive behavior affects you. A counselor also can help you to develop strategies for dealing with her in a healthy way.