Whether she's making a repetitious request or constantly criticizing you, incessant nagging from your mother can annoy you and cause you to resent her. These negative feelings might cause you to ignore her, which may frustrate her and cause her to nag even more, and your relationship with each other can be damaged. Stop the nagging cycle by understanding why she nags and changing the way that you communicate with her.
Why Mothers Nag
Nagging is a negative communication habit that your mother may have learned from her own parents, says clinical psychologist Paul W. Schenk in his article "Teens, Teach Your Parents to Stop Nagging." Your mother may believe she's being helpful by reminding you to complete tasks she feels are important. She may also believe that you are more likely to do what she wants if she repeats the request numerous times. This is a misconception, says clinical social worker Amy Morin in "Misconceptions About Nagging" on MarriageCounselingBlog.com. In fact, nagging usually does the opposite. Even knowing this, it can be hard for a mother to break the habit.
Show That You're Capable
Your mother may continue to nag you because she doesn't think you have the ability to deal with certain things on your own. Show her that there is no need to nag by proving that you have things under control. For example, before she gets another chance to ask if you have applied for a job, offer detailed answers about your future and backup plans. Make sure you include what you have done, what you plan to do and when you plan to do it. Tell her, "Today I fixed up my resume and did some research on a company and its CEO. I plan on submitting my application tomorrow. After that, I will brush up on my interviewing skills and continue to apply for other jobs." She will likely stop the constant questioning if you show her you have an organized plan, says Schenk.
Become a Broken Record
If your mother is nagging you about something that you don't want to do or aren't ready to do at the moment, such as having a child or moving to a particular city, and she's having trouble taking no for an answer, the broken record technique can be helpful. This technique requires you to consistently and assertively, but respectfully, respond with the same answer every time she brings up the topic, says clinical psychologist Patrick J. McGrath in response to a question on AboutKidsHealth. Repeating the same sentence will make the point that your decision is not up for discussion. For example, you might say "I love you, and it would be nice to live close by. However, that's not what we feel is best for our family right now." This will show her that you are not changing your mind and that bringing up the issue will lead the conversation nowhere.
Request a Change in Communication
Talk to your mom about her nagging and how it makes you feel. Use “I” statements for this conversation, so that she does not feel that you are criticizing her, suggest marriage and family therapists Sally R. Connolly and John E. Turner in “Nagging Does Not Work” on CounselingRelationshipsOnline.com. For example, “I understand that you want me to do this, but when you ask me over and over, I feel like you have no confidence in me. This discourages me from completing the task.” Also, take responsibility for any part that you may have in the nagging cycle. For example, “I know that I tend to ignore you when you tell me that something needs to be done. I will try to be more attentive when you make requests.”
Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".