You know moms... they can be quite the "smother," as they say. Still, no matter how close or distant you two are, there are certain variables that hold true regarding boundaries and triggers. Knowing which behaviors you shouldn't have to tolerate from your mother can help you realize that it's OK to discuss the sensitive area in order to establish a perfectly healthy, normal relationship (built on trust and communication, of course).
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling happy and safe within their relationships, especially the really intimate and emotional ones, such as those with a partner, sibling, or parent. Specifically, forming a tight relationship with a mother can be tricky, as both parties transition from the dynamic being one of a superior and subordinate (let's just admit that this is a thing growing up), to one being more about two equal adults, with similar life problems and needs. Sometimes, your mom might not know when to take a step back from the parenting and learn to be there in other healthy ways, without being too nosey or intrusive. And, as an adult, you have the power to stand up for yourself and not have to take childlike orders, anymore. Here are 9 types of behavioral patterns that can be common, but that you shouldn't feel burdened to oblige to.
1. She's Rude To You
Sure, it's never a good thing to be rude, but sometimes your mom might think she has the authority to speak her mind, no matter how off-putting it can appear. "Whether it's a backhanded compliment (It's so cute that you want to work) or a snide remark under her breath, these may be signs of jealousy," says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW to Bustle. "Don't make a rude comment back. Simply say, 'What is your intention in saying that?' as this statement either brings awareness to her that her comment was uncalled for or she will at least know that you are on to her," says Hershenson.
2. She's Uninterested In Your Life
Yes, mom's are usually quite the opposite: Being too intrusive and opinionated. Still, sometimes they become too distant. "If your mother isn't asking about your job, your family or what you have going on, she is showing lack of care," says Hershenson. Here's what to do: "You can just share about what is going on with you without being prompted. Also accepting that your mother may be jealous of your accomplishments may give you perspective," Hershenson suggests.
3. She Doesn't Think She's Ever Wrong
Parents can sometimes think they're never wrong in an argument, and no matter how many times you say you're upset or ask for an apology, you either get nada or an insincere one. "Even when you point out their emotionally abusive ways, they don't accept their behavior as a flaw. Instead, they convince themselves and try to convince you that they're doing all this only to help you become a better person," says Dr. Fran Walfish, leading couples relationship and family psychologist in Beverly Hills to Bustle.
4. She Leaves You Out Or Favors Another Sibling
Never pick favors, as it doesn't end well. Sometimes, "kids" can realize whom the favorite in the family is, and if it's not you, that can really suck. "Does your mother send birthday cards to other family members except you? Shopping trips or lunch dates with others and never invites you? If this bothers you, say something using 'I feel' statements, such as 'I feel upset when I'm left out. I'd love to attend your next brunch,'" says Hershenson.
5. She Doesn't Respect Boundaries
Mine, personally, tends to ask about the physical parts of my relationships. Super uncalled for. Moms can differ here, but the nosy behavior is never welcomed. Here's the issue: Sometimes they try to venture into either "friend mode" or "controller mode" too much; there's a happy medium. "If your mother asks intrusive questions, gives unwarranted advice or shows up unannounced to your home, these behaviors are unacceptable. You need to set boundaries with her and let her know that you will not tolerate this behavior," says Hershenson.
6. She Makes You Feel Ashamed Of Your Actions
Let's say mom finds out you're having a casual fling, or she see's you out and about in a short-cut dress and heels (looking super amazing, I'm sure). She might proceed to make you feel embarrassed by your appearance or behavior, which is definitely not acceptable. "You should never feel shame in a healthy relationship," says Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship coach to Bustle.
7. She Doesn't Appreciate All You Do For Her
Sometimes mom's think that what you do for them, especially as adults, is simply expected, as they raised you. Firstly, kudos to mom, as she did put up with a lot and deserves the respect and gratitude, but at the same time, she should appreciate your adult behaviors and reciprocation, as well. Bennett explains that showing appreciation in a relationship is the best way to maintain its happiness, long-term.
8. She Wants You All To Herself
"Do you ever have time alone or with friends? Do you have to do everything together? Do you have to account for your whereabouts? If you feel like you are being monitored or watched 24/7 this is a very unhealthy relationship," says relationship and online dating expert, Rachel Conlisk to Bustle. Make it clear to mom that you have other people to see, too, and can only give so much time.
9. She's Abusive
Abusive behavior, physical or emotional, should never be tolerated in a relationship. "If you are scared in your relationship, leave now. No healthy relationship will make you feel scared," says Conlisk. So, if she's likely to engage in fearful behaviors, like shouting, belittling, hurting you, taking advantage of you or doing things you are scared by," it's best to take separation and get some outside help.
None of these behavioral patterns are okay for any relationship, and when it's someone close to you, it can feel even more personal. Stay strong, and know when to set limits to keep yourself safe.