Relationships

The Day I Finally Stood Up To My Critical Mother

My mother and father are still together after 50 years of marriage. They are good, church going people who are very community minded. They show love by acts of service and are often kind and generous to other people. But the way my critical mother treats my largely passive father is toxic, and I recently took the opportunity to stand up to their behaviour in order to reverse the negative effects it has had on my own life. Here's how it panned out: [caption id="attachment_2396" align="alignright" width="300"]Standing Up To A Critical Mother Standing Up To A Critical Mother[/caption] Recently my parents and I all attended my maternal aunt's 90th birthday party, along with my maternal cousins, my two older sisters, and all their husbands/wives and families. We spent the weekend in a lovely guest house in the country and since it was a long drive for my aging parents, they asked me to give them a lift there and back. I am a little apprehensive because I know the way my parent's behaviour often triggers me, but I see it as an opportunity to connect with them and spend some additional quality time together. The two-hour drive to the guest house is relatively uneventful, with occasional friendly chatter and lunch at my parents' favourite cafè on-route. However, I am starting to notice the pattern in my parents relationship that often upsets me: my mother “corrects” everything my father says, in a way which sounds critical and belittling to me. His reaction is to withdraw and shut down in response to this criticism; a common trait I particularly dislike in myself. Initially, I just witness what is happening and my internal reaction. But over the course of the weekend as I notice more and more incidents where my father says something that my mother thinks is foolish, wrong or otherwise in need of correction, I become increasingly agitated. In my ideal world, all the years of therapy and emotional healing that I've had would insulate me from the effect of this and I'd be free to let them relate however they choose without me being triggered. But in the real world, I'm not that enlightened. Not yet, anyway. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Relationships

How to Resolve an Argument with Your Mother

I just got this question about resolving an argument with your mother in response to my article on How to Recover From a Controlling Mother. Steve asks:

I just got off the phone with my mother who was berating me because I had not responded in a timely fashion to an email, which made her ashamed and disappointed. I went to my computer and looked up "how to deal with a controlling mother". Your article looked interesting so I began to read it, and as I did my eyes opened up as if you were speaking directly to me! I would love to speak with her about these things, and also with my father, but her defense is locked down tight: she is a psychologist of many years, and would just discredit anything I had to say. She also insists that my father would not want to talk to me about anything on an emotional level (he really doesn't like to be dragged in between us), and therefore I shouldn't bother. I also run the risk of making her angry, which is VERY easy to do, and then I worry that I'm hurting her. Just writing this really exposes to myself the psychological mire I exist in...Continue reading…

By Graham Stoney, ago