How to Tell if You Have a Controlling Mother

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

A mother who is a perfectionist may come across as anxious, fearful or controlling, which can have a negative effect on her children, such as creating a tendency to be hypercritical of themselves. It can also lead them to feel inadequate or judged, according to the article "The Five Mother Types" in "Psychologies" magazine. Controlling people tend to display certain traits and types of behaviors. For example, a controlling mother may make judgmental statements or try to shift the power balance back in her favor in your relationship.

She Disapproves of Everything

A controlling mother may be constantly disapproving. Your boyfriend, your choice of career, how you raise your children…whatever you do, she makes you doubt yourself. She may be subtle in her disapproval, says psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker in the article "Understanding and Managing Your Controlling Mother," for "Psych Central, expressing concern over your perceived bad choices. For example, she may turn her disapproval of your taste in clothes into a suggestion that she give you a makeover, or tell you it's such a shame you never took advantage of your natural talent for mathematics.

She Thrives on a Power Struggle

A controlling mother may turn every minor disagreement into a power struggle. She doesn't listen to what you have to say, and gets angry or defensive if you don't agree with her or let her have everything her way. She may criticize you, or become emotionally abusive. This can stem from deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and failure on your mother's part, explains psychiatrist Judith Orloff in the article "How to Deal With a Control Freak" for "Psychology Today." If she is secretly scared of falling apart, she may cover this up by taking control of everything in her life -- even you.

She Plays Favorites

Another sign of a controlling mother is that she plays favorites with you and your siblings. Your mother may have a new favorite on a weekly basis or speak negatively about you to your siblings behind your back (and vice versa), which can lead to tension between the family at large. However, your mother may genuinely believe that she is in the right. Controlling people don't usually see themselves as controlling, says Orloff.

She Makes You Feel Suffocated

Regardless of how successful, popular and apparently fulfilled a controlling mother is, she may act like a demanding child in your presence. She may fake or exaggerate illness to get your attention and make you feel guilty for having other commitments in your life, suggests Hartwell-Walker. She may expect you to spend a significant portion of your free time with her, or to change your plans to accommodate her requests. Controlling mothers often do not respect their children's boundaries, instead insisting that they must focus on the mother and her needs.