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How to Deal with a Clingy Overbearing Mother


A question on Quora asked,

“How can one deal with an overbearing, overly clingy mother without hurting her feelings or compromising one’s boundaries? I am my mother’s only child. I love her to death and I am her whole world. I’m also 30 years old and I’ve lived in different states for years, have a great career and a great life. I call my mother every day (she goes ballistic if I don’t and starts calling the police and local hospitals because she worries something may have happened to me). She also very persistently pushes her points of view on many of the things I share with her, even if I’ve told her that I disagree and that her ongoing pushiness is causing me stress… So, over the years, I began to share less and less with her, especially on the subjects that I knew from experience would cause ongoing, negative reactions from her. She has recently begun to realize that we’re no longer as “close” and that I’ve established boundaries, so she is now persistently trying to break them. I’ve tried talking to her and explaining that if only she reacted differently, we could have a better relationship, but this was to no avail. She continues to act the same way and now also to be evermore intrusive and demanding of my time and of the personal things that lie beyond the boundaries I have drawn for her.”

Your story sounds similar to the stories that are posted in the “comment” section of an article I’d written about emotional manipulation and guilt.

Let me go through some parts of your question that stood out for me:

“I love her to death and I am her whole world.”

There is a difference between loving a parent because of the life experiences and the child-parent bond that has developed over your 3 decades of life, versus a mutually parasitic dependency that will, actually, suffocate and kill any prospect of growth for both you *and* your mother.

This is not true love, but your mutual way of manipulating each others’ emotions. You aren’t in love. You’re at war, and emotional manipulation is the weapon you’ve both learned how to use. But this is understandable because this is the only way you’ve both thus far learned to identify as “love”.

It sounds like at this point you’re recognizing that something doesn’t feel quite right and you’re looking for a different way of relating with each other, a different way to love that can be supportive – not suffocating – of both of you.

I call my mother every day (she goes ballistic if I don’t and starts calling the police and local hospitals because she worries something may have happened to me).

Your mother has projected herself wholly onto you such that she may have regressed to the emotional dependency of toddler: very young children genuinely believe that if their parents are out of sight, their parents have completely disappeared forever. Even younger children assume that their mother is an organic part of them, and they will panic and scream when their mother has moved a distance beyond what the children have acclimated to.

Thus, your mother may have grown her life and self identity into you for so many years that she really is in a panic when you don’t “check in” predictably.

You now have a choice to make: you can be like a parent who does not want her child to panic and cry and conform yourself to the comfort zone of this child at the expense of the child’s learning independence and your own life — or you can be a parent who helps her child learn that the parent who is out of sight *will* come back.

Should you choose to make the latter decision, you can begin by telling your mother that you are going to call her much later than she was used to. If I had my way I’d say, “Mom, instead of calling you tomorrow, I’m going to call you the day after tomorrow, at 9am.”

But if she has grown so used to this pattern because you have trained her to expect your clocking-in, then you may need to take baby steps.

“Mom, instead of calling you tomorrow at 9am, I’m going to call you at 8pm, and if you call me during the day I am not going to be able to answer you. From the hours of 9am to 8pm, I am going to be fine, and you’ll be fine too. In fact, let’s talk about what you can do during those hours until we talk and you can tell me about what you did.”

You do this for a few days or a week then you draw out the time between calls to the frequency you feel works for you. Maybe it’s once a week or every other week.

She has recently begun to realize that we’re no longer as “close” and that I’ve established boundaries, so she is now persistently trying to break them.
This is because your mother is smart, as young children who no longer get what they want are smart. I don’t fault her for pulling out all the tricks. I’ve seen them all from my 3 year old when I’m putting him in a new situation that forces him to acclimate.

I know you may find this hard to believe, but I know that when I make my child find his own inner resources, I am giving him the kind of “love” that will help him grow and learn to believe that he has what it takes to be a whole human being without my constant physical presence. I have sat in the parking lot hiding in my car crying because of the pain I feel when I see my boy screaming and crying because he knows I’m going to be leaving him even for a few minutes.

But I do it, because this is not about how I feel, it’s about how he grows. I know you love your mom, and you understand what I’m talking about. This is going to be as painful for you as it will be for her, and this means you have to put your “great love” for her above any excuses your pain will tell you.

It’s going to be hard as hell. But you will get through it. So will she.

I’ve tried talking to her and explaining that if only she reacted differently, we could have a better relationship, but this was to no avail.
This is because she has not yet come to the same level of awareness that you may have at this point. There is no use in trying to explain to her using the same abstract ideas if she cannot understand it fully. You’ll only frustrate the both of you.

Instead of telling her what you don’t want to talk about, tell her what you do want to talk about, or find something new to talk about. You can also set some ground rules of how you will go about “talking”. If rules are violated, there are reminders, then warnings, then the termination of the discussion. Do not ever deviate from the ground rules. Eventually you will be able to have a conversation where you hang up feeling like you’ve had a good talk rather than screaming at each other or you seething in passive aggressive silence.

I hope this is helpful and I wish you strength and courage to change this course of love between you and your mom.

Written by Jane Chin

July 12th, 2011 at 11:27 am

  • Shelby Thorn

    My mother meddles, condemns, and belittles me. I come from a very religious background and 4 years ago I made it clear I would not be a part of this religion. Of course this was a devastating blow to her and caused a chain reaction of things to happen. Our relationship changed almost over night. She began to anaylize my life and chastise my social drinking, parenting and marriage to my husband. In essence, she has always done this, but it became almost explosive when I left the religion. She is contstantly causing family arguments between me, my husband, and my children because she interfears with our affairs. Her approach is that of accusations rather than loving concern. I have tried to set up boundaries that she needs to adhere to, only to have them violated when she feels closer to me again. I am tired of feeling controlled and manipulated and want to cut ties completely…..I am 40 years old and completely exhausted by this relationship.

    • krina

      i know how you feel! i go through the same things at home! i feel your pain of being sick and tired of dealing with a relationship like that and always having to live in fear. Each day it gets harder and harder and you cant just ban your mother because she is your mother. The best thing to do is to hold back from feeling guilty over what she says, because this is your life and no one should tell you how to run it. Secondly always strive for your own acceptance of yourself and your choices, not your mother’s. Do what you feel like doing and not worry about it. Talk to your husband about what your mother does. Build a extremely strong trust bond and honest bond with your husband, to where your mother cannot break it.
      I know you want to break ties, I do to. Sometimes threatning can help or it can backfire. Tell her the more she meddles, the more you resent her. It is tough, believe me. But always hold your head high, your stronger than this, you can do it, and you have your husband. Confide in him. Mothers are hard, but remember they only want the best for you even though you may not think so. BE strong, you only need approval of yourself from you not anyone else!

      • Katie Peters

        This is sad. At some point you have to realize, for your own sanity, that you are a human being with your own life. I use to give into my mother all the time, but at 27 I had to realize that she will always be like this and it will eventually ruin my future relationships and my own emotional growth, You just have to be strong-do what you have to, turn off the phone! If they call the police, the police will just set them straight, no harm done. After turning off my phone and creating boundaries, mom had to eventually give in and realize she was acting too much. Yes you love your mom, but she needs to love you too and respect you as a grown adult. How would she feel if you (or even her own mother) were constantly “checking up” on her, telling her what to do, etc. and freaking out if she didn’t answer? Remind her that you love and respect her, but that you need your space and you will create that space.

      • georgine

        I’m 34 years old 2 daughters of my ow n ages 12 and 8 . My moth er is an onl y child both parents are deceased. My twin sister lives in Florida with her son. Even before all this I’d say about the last 13 years my mom is very demanding of me. She takes everything personal especially if I don’t talk to her everyday. My mom has been married to my dad for 35 Years. She is very very jealous of my relationship with anyone else if she doesnt get her way she goes ballistic and she will call me names lime a piece of shit or I’m no good. After an altercation I haven’t talked to her in 3 weeks I’m going to send a letter and make it known that without therapy I don’t see how we can fix this. She throws and breaks things doesn’t understand me at all and makes me feel like I can do no right and my father never sticks up for me

    • AP

      My mother is exactly the same. I could totally relate to your first sentence, as well as the part you wrote “I have tried to set up boundaries that she needs to adhere to, only to have them violated when she feels closer to me again”…I hate when this happens. It’s like we’re starting from the top…for the NTH TIME!! I am so fed up with her and her criticisms! Oh, and your sentence “Her approach is that of accusations rather than loving concern” is totally my mother. She really thinks my sister and I are stupid that we can’t tell she’s just slowly trying to build up the conversation in order to ACCUSE and not to show concern. SHe just wants to run our lives for us. I am 30 and going to get married soon (my mother has begun the marriage meddling…a few weeks ago she had the gall to advise me to tell my fiance to change jobs to a better paying one; no matter if he does not enjoy what he does, what matters is the pay. the gall for her to talk such trash!) Oh, if only I could cut ties from her completely…that would be the most wondrous day created. My mother has no redeeming qualities. She is selfish, pretends to be selfless and true to her religion (but she is the ultimate hypocrite and a terrible example of Catholicism), looks down on the poor and does not consider them her equals, and loves to project the vision of us being one happy family to the world. She thrives on that vision, and no matter if we are all quiet (save for her accusations and sermons) and morose during “sunday family meals”, it’s something she can brag about to her friends and our other relatives. She is so superficial and dishonest about most things; she lies about the status of our relationships to her own siblings just to show them up! Who is she kidding though…those nearest (and not even) her know her true colors, and I know that generally, she is not “liked” as a person. She may look kind on the outside, but appearances do lie. She is dirty and hollow and evil inside. My worst nightmare is that my dad passes before her…and being part of a Filipino culture that expects one to take parents in, I, being the eldest of two, have that horror…i mean HONOR. (egad, Lord save me…let ME die first!!!)

  • gina

    I am 40+ years old and have lately come to realize that my mother is being very manipulative. I’m unmarried but have been in a committed relationship for over 20 years. I go home (they live in a different state) twice a year. I’ m starting to dread visiting them at their home because I’d rather be in my own space. I think going for a week at a time is too long but I’m afraid to say anything because I know how she’ll react (pout & “cry”). She’s insistent on getting my vacation time and it’s getting to a point where I’d rather just only see her once or twice a year for a few days. I need some guidance. Or some strength.

    • Hi Gina, I’m sorry to hear this — sometimes our parents become more like our children than parents. How would you help a very clingy child become more independent of you if you were a parent?

  • Sarah

    I am 25 years old. I gave birth to my only child at 20 and have been a single mother since the day she was born and had my parents become involved because I was young, in college, working part time and wanted my daughter to have stability. I now have finished college, I have a job with a bank I go to everyday and do my best to provide for my child even though my income is not that great. I love my daughter she is my world but my mother and I were suppose to be partners in raising her not her being the sole controller. My mother will not allow me to take my child out (just me and my daughter without her or my father present)….she makes comments to my daughter about me creating confusion for her because she feels she has to pick sides. I am frustrated because I love her she just has no confidence in my ability to make decisions. How do I handle this when I am living with her trying to get to a place where I can afford everything financially on my own…any advice would be appreciated.

  • Josh

    I recently found out that my mother is and has been manipulating me all her life in order to change every situation to suit her own (emotional) needs. It become apparent to me after failing at a task she assigned me, I wasn’t skilled enough yet she expected me to do a flawless job. When I told her I couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t stop yelling and crying until I gave in and told her I’d try again. Oddly enough, I never noticed this behaviour before. I have lived with it all my life but I always thought it was a very normal relationship until someone pointed out that it was completely unhealthy and absurd.

    She does not respect my opinion, there’s no debating anything, she does not respect my right to privacy and she will get involved in everything I do if given the chance despite the choices she has made for me in my life having been horrible ones. At the age of 26 I still live with her in no small part due to her overbearing nature and the only way I have been able to carve out territory of my own is by simply ignoring her and being very brief in the answers I provide. I also make certain that whenever I speak to her, I keep my distance. I do not make jokes, I do not provide her with information about what I do unless absolutely necessary and I avoid eye contact. I also avoid raising my voice or adding any emotion to my voice whenever possible. This often results in dreary conversation but it works.

    I hate doing this but it is the only way I can build a life and financial situation that is stable enough to get me out of my parent’s house. After reading this article, I wonder what will happen should I finally find a place of my own. At least I’ll have the luxury of telling her off when I find something unpleasant and not having to worry about living with someone who will emotionally blackmail me for several weeks to come until I give in and apologize for -my- “outburst”.

    It’s weird how someone can control your life without you ever realizing it.

    • AP

      ditto to everything you said. Unfortunately, I have been aware of my mother’s manipulative nature since I was a teen, and have adjusted (or trying to) since then. I do everything you do…I don’t joke, share stories unless absolutely necessary (in my own words, I like to “filter” everything that comes out of my mouth lest I say something she can use against me in the near future), and try to avoid spending any time alone with her. She tries to emotionally blackmail me until I say “sorry”, but I’ve travelled that road too many times in the past to allow her to continue doing that to me. Now, the only time I apologize is if I know I have to interact with her in a few days or so. I never do it out of pure unselfish reasons. Well, in a way, I am following her advice. Growing up, my sister and I were always expected to apologize, even for the littlest things, even if we weren’t regretful. Until now, it’s just an obligation. But I refuse to apologize for something that was NOT my fault. So now, if I don’t need her at any point in the near future, I stand my ground and enjoy seeing her so pissed off, banging things unnecessarily because she feels I did something wrong; let her stress out. It depletes years off their lives. LOL. Continue what you are currently doing, and try to get out of your house, and FAST! Cut ties if you can after. I feel like it’s the only way to get them permanently out of our hair. Goodluck to us.

  • Karina

    I’m my mother’s only child. My parents divorced when I was a child due to my dad being physically abusive towards my mother (which I witnessed). I’m now in my early 30’s and currently single, despite having been in 2 long consecutive relationships all throughout my 20’s. I left my first bf of 7 years who I still love dearly, partly because my mother disapproved of him and would condemn me if I had started a family with him, but that being said, it was really because I was looking for someone better and ended up leaving him for someone else who actually turned out to be 10 times worse.

    My mother has been in a relationship with a man for just over 20 years now. She lives in another state from me. Now that I’m living on my own, she comes up often, around every 2 months and stays with me for periods of 2 weeks, sometimes 1 month! I’m a very independent person and love to be on my own. She treats me as if I’m a teenager, not like an adult. I can’t be myself when she’s around. She buys me EVERYTHING from toiletries to underwear. She tells me what job I can’t do. She won’t allow me to work in a supermarket or anything like that, it has to be an office job or some kind of job that I won’t be looked down upon.

    I feel sooooooooooooo suffocated from her immense love for me. I believe that she’d go mental if she were to lose me. On occasions when I can’t take it anymore, I’ll tell her that I need to be on my own and please don’t come to visit me so often. I feel stressed. To be honest, I’d be happy if she visited me only twice a year. Not every few weeks or so. It’s just way too much. I feel like I’m living my life for her, not for myself. I feel trapped. Unhappy because I’m not free, although I live by myself. What can I do?

  • Anne

    You can, and will, get through this and so will she. But it will be hard.

    My husband and I had to learn to set firm boundaries with his mother. If we didn’t, she would still expect us to take her to the movies every time we go, take her out to eat when we go out, take her grocery shopping and other errands.

    Keep in mind, she is perfectly healthy, has a job, can drive a car and does not live with us!

    We endured sulks, pouts, temper tantrums in the most public and inappropriate places. As a child, one only wants to please Mom and Dad, so one learns how to behave to keep them happy. That’s what my husband learned as a small boy, not realizing that the behavior he was enabling was unhealthy. Who could blame him? He was a child, after all!

    It wasn’t until adulthood that he realized how well-meaning adults wishing to avoid conflict had placated this anxiety-ridden woman for decades which allowed her to develop bad habits nearly impossible for her to break at this point in her life.

    We decided it would have to stop…at least, with us. We read a book called, “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend. This is a Christian-based book, but is useful for anyone who needs to learn that it’s okay to say, “No”. In fact, sometimes, it’s the kindest and healthiest thing you can do for a person.

    Do we sometimes still get sulking and pouting? Sure. Do we sometimes have to censor what information is shared with her? Absolutely. But at least she’s learned not to call us the next time she burns a microwave pizza enough that it causes the smoke alarm to go off!

  • Karen Franks

    My mother is suffocating me. She is always looking at other people and judging them. She tells me how to wear my hair and that I need to lose weight. When I was young and living at home she searched and found my diary under my mattress. She read it and punished me for the things I said. As a child she threatened me that when my father came home she would have him hit me with the belt. When he came home he did just that. If I would let her in my house now by herself, she would go through my house nosing around. I cannot trust her and at times I hate her. She yells at my father who is in a nursing home. She will not let me live my own life. She is 89 years old and is still driving and giving orders to me. I am sick of it and I have to take a nerve pill prescribed by my doctor to help me deal with her. She still lives at home and refuses to leave. It is hard on my sister and I to keep up the place since we have houses of our own. I cannot stand her anymore. I feel like I’m going to break !!!

  • Anne

    Then, step back. If your mother is a toxic personality, you need to keep your distance. Does it mean that you shouldn’t help during a legitimate need? Of course not, but make sure that you define legitimate need within healthy boundaries.

    If that means making Mom pay for someone to mow her yard, so be it.

  • Anthony

    Wow. Everything the article says and the comments posted really hit home with me. I’m a 25 year old man and my mom has really made my life a nightmare. She’s driven away friends, micromanages everything.. if I don’t take her calls or respond to texts she’ll call up my work and ask them if I’m in and to transfer to me (even though I don’t have a work phone since I’m a temp). I’ve given up job opportunities because she would tear me apart about them not being good enough money-wise and am literally forced to live at home as a child. Its a really bizarre balance.. I go out to work and the world sees me as this adult man and expects so much.. then I go home and I feel like I’m 8 again. She uses guilt and tries to humiliate me to convince me I can’t leave or function on my own. I’m horrified to think of what psychotic stalking she would do if I were to move out and embarrass me to neighbors and things. I’m just seeing my life go nowhere because she needs to maintain control over it and its tearing me away from the world and progress.

  • Anne

    It sounds like you still live at home. I would move away as quickly as you are able, even if it means splitting rent with a roommate. While you still live at home, she has a great deal of control over you. She’ll still try to exert it when you move out, but you’ll be in a better position to set boundaries.

    Try to set some now, if you can. You may try letting the switchboard operator at work know that your mother tries to distract you from work and ask that she not comply with transfer requests.

  • Woman with a Crazy Mother

    I moved away from home to go to University. I think it was somewhat of an excuse to leave home. Why should I need an excuse? Because my Mother is controlling and emotionally blackmails me into getting her own way. I had to lie to her that they did not do my course at any of the nearby University’s so I could move to another town – to escape! But she would phone me every day, shout at me if I didn’t answer even if the reason was I was at work or in a lecture, and guilt trip me; tell me everything I was doing was wrong and didn’t I just want to come home? NO! I was DANCING the day she said goodbye and drove away. But now I was crying bitterly every day because of the horrible things she said to me.

    Eventually I stopped answering my phone. She drove over with my Father and I did not answer the door. So they tried to kick it in. My housemates came to see what the commotion was about and got them to stop. Eventually they left. But they came back and did it again! I’m hiding, terrified. I have depression now, she’s got me into this circle of negative thinking.

    My housemates called the landlord and they persuade him to let them into my room. I suppose he didn’t want any more damage to his property. I am in my room but I don’t want to face her so I hide under the bed. I’d arranged it with boxes all around the edge so even if they peer under they can’t see me. And they do look under. They look through everything. She takes out all my possessions and reads everything I’ve written and I can hear every horrible thing she says. I am under the bed for six hours. With cramp for most of that. So uncomfortable and painful but it is better than facing her. When they leave my room I climb out the window.

    My landlord evicted me. He didn’t want the trouble – all this coming around shouting and trying to lick doors down. I didn’t have anywhere to go so I stayed with a friend and arranged viewings for a new place. At least they didn’t know where I was any more. Only my Mother had the phone numbers for some of my friends and had been ringing them day and night to find out where I was. GET IT INTO YOUR HEAD I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU!

    So they turned up at the house where I was staying. This time she caught me. Shouting and pleading and crying she made me get into the car and go home with her. I just kept saying ‘No.’ I was nausious on the journey so I was let out of the car. Next to they motorway. After I’d finished being sick I looked across at all the cars and wanted to step into them.

    She took me home, phoned up the University and told them I wouldn’t be coming back. I phoned them up and set up a meeting to discuss my re-admission and she cancelled it. I was in the middle of a course! I was working hard and achieving something and she’d just ended it! I was in the depth of depression. I decided I’d just do whatever she said until I found a way to die. Fortunately my friends cared and they said don’t be silly and they’d come and get me. I made an excuse about posting a letter then I got in the car and left.

    I phoned my Mother and said ‘I’m leaving; I’m going back to University.’ Then I rang the University and asked them who was paying for the course? Me! So why had they accepted my Mother’s authority to cancel anything? They hastily rescheduled my appointment.

    The balance of power between my Mother and I shifted that day. She realised that I was an adult and she couldn’t push me around any more, and I realised too. Not that that’d stop her trying anyway, but it was different now. I had taken control.

    The Students Union gave me a councillor. He explained to me that my Mother was passive-aggressive, and also that she treated me the way she did partly because I was ALLOWING her to. So now when she behaves badly I have to tell her off. “BAD Mother! What you just said upset me. Please don’t say it again.”

    So we have a better relationship, though she still tries to emotionally blackmail me and really I’d like to have nothing more to do with her. But I know she’ll go crazy if I cut her off again. So I have to try and teach her to behave better. It is a lot of hard work. At least I’ve got the visits down to two or three times a year, tops. And the phone calls down to once a week.

  • Not independent

    I am suffering from both anxiety and depression. I have had great many happy moments in my life. But lately I am feeling very down, because I’ve realized what I’ve become. I was never an independent person to begin with. All my life my mom told me what to do and what not to do. She never allowed me to make my own decisions in life. I always asked her opinion before making a decision. She would listen to me and she would ultimately reign on her decisions. Now I find myself strangled, because I can’t even make my own life’s decisions! I blame her for ruining my adulthood by always telling me what to do. But now I am even depressed, because I feel weak… I sometimes find myself in unnecessary dangers! OMG… Please help. I at least want to learn to drive, but my anxiety takes control of me each time I try. I have a husband who really cares and listens. I have a job that requires constant decision-making and all… and I just want to dead… I can’t live this pathetic life anymore. I am so weak!!! I hate it… I tried to be a strong person for too long. And LOOK what it did to me???

  • Abbey

    i’m 20 years old and my mom’s 43. Even when i was younger, I’ve noticed how my mom can be so overbearing. She isn’t as overbearing when it comes to little matters like going out with friends and getting material things. But when it comes to serious matters like college and career, she tries to take full authority. she has managed to succeed with college and now that i’ve graduated, she’s the one planning where i should apply. Every time i tell her how she suffocates me, she starts this guilt trip where she’d tell me of all her hard work for me. then asks how did she become manipulative when i have gotten all the material things i want. what’s bothering too, is her habit of making up stories. i don’t know if those are to convince us or to convince herself but she does that ALL the time. even when the truth is right there on her face, she really holds on to what she made up.
    now that i’ve only TRIED to decide on my own, she starts ignoring me and tells other people i’ve become an ungrateful little rebel. i tried explaining to her but she suddenly berserk while accusing me of disrespect for “talking back” she even tried to hurt me with her own hands. Imagine my surprise, “I’m 20 and i was hit by mommy for speaking up.” So crushing right?

    i’ve read about cases like this and im really worried how my mom will never be over this. i often think she has superiority complex and narcissism. i’m not a psychology major but living with her for 20 years, i’m sure of my amateur diagnosis.

  • Not independent

    Hi Abbey! I can totally relate with you. I love my mom greatly and we’re living apart for a long time. But whenever I’m in a doubtful situation, I hear her voices. But now I am trying to live a fulfilling life. I’ve told her I’ve been going through and she initially understood. However, I am not sure, what made her to change her mind. All of a sudden, she told me how stupid I am to put myself in stupid situation! She blamed me for all the things I’ve done so far. She told me “YOU”RE on your own”… You have a life and so do I . So let’s be separated on that note. Now I am not sure what to make myself of. I don’t know why, but I am starting to see all the pictures clearly. I know I’ve been so arrogant, but now I feel so alone!

  • Imprisoned

    I’m having such a hard time with my mother too. I am an only child as well and my mother has always been over-protective, over-bearing and smothering. I love that she wants to be with me, but it’s not sometimes it’s everyday.

    I’ve never had freedom of any kind. For example, I knew at a young age that I’d never be able to go away to college because she wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’m now 33 with 3 kids and pregnant with #4. She lives literally 5 minutes away and it’s still too far for her. I recently put my house up for sale and am moving just over the state line, another 5 minutes away. She is now talking about selling her house and buy land next to mine. When I told her we may have to live in another town while our home is being built she says it’s too far.

    She’s on disability because she went through ovarian cancer 3 years ago and ended up with severe hernias from her surgeries, thus leaving her not being able to do the job she once did. So she’s home all the time. Scratch that, she’s with me all the time. And when she goes home she calls me 10 minutes later! I love her and I’m thankful that she’s survived 2 boughts of cancer and overcome so much but I sometimes feel like I have an extra child when she with us and she’s harder then my kids! On top of the fact that I home school and always have my kids with me… She doesn’t really have any friends and says she doesn’t want any and I’m her only family within 800 miles besides her husband.

    I feel so guilty and want to tell her how I feel but she’s super sensitive and then on the other hand guilt trips me and gets mad. Feel like I’m going to explode!

    • Saffy

      although I am only 18 years old, I empathize with you.

  • Anne

    She guilt trips you because it works, Imprisoned. It has to stop working. That’s going to be hard and she’s not going to like it.

    When my husband and I moved 8 miles away, his mother acted like it was 80 miles. She had to learn that we were not a street away from her anymore and she couldn’t just knock on our door to get us to go dumpster diving for a warranty she threw away by accident. 🙂

    Build your house where you want and live your life without guilt. Set boundaries now so that, if she follows through on her threat to move next to you (which I think is just a bluff), you can continue to enforce them. It is not required that you provide her with socialization while teaching your children.

  • Christine


    This article hit me pretty hard too. My mother lives in Ontario (on the other side of the country); I moved to BC when I was a teenager to live with my Father, and when he moved back to Ontario himself, I chose to stay. So I’ve been in BC without my parents for 12 years now.

    My relationship with my mother was never good. She cries when I disagree with her, and I can’t tell her when I have any problems. She’s overemotional and posts sappy comments all over my facebook wall. Last time she visited, she declared that I had ‘abandoned her’; I moved to this side of the country because her boyfriend at the time had molested me, and she refused to believe it.

    There’s a constant stream of guilt from her. I never visit, I abandoned her, I live in a neighborhood she doesn’t like, etc etc. When I try to talk about my life, she doesn’t listen to a word I say. I too steer clear of topics I know we’ll disagree on. I don’t know how much more I can take. I love my mother, but I also hate her. It’s at the point where I wish she’d just leave me alone.

  • Allison

    I can relate to all the above comments. My mother is a very manipulative and oveebearing peraon. She lives right next door. I knew buying this house was a mistake. She offered to keep our children while we worked, midnight shift. Worked out great too, until I began to notive how she wud remind me that she watches our baby for free. I saw the trouble coming but chose to ignore tje problem. She has streesed me ro the point of exhauation I cringe when I see coming.She is very opininated and controlling over my life. If I find joy in sethimh, she will attempt to put doubt in my mind just to bring me down. She never says anythimg nice. I am critisized for eberything i do……….what to do?

  • Anne

    Find someone else to watch your children, Allison.

    That may be hard, but it eliminates one of her holds on you. Limit what you tell her, set boundaries on how often you see her and accept that you have the right to find joy in something regardless of how she feels.

  • M

    I am going through so much of the same with my own Mother. I’m 28 and had to move back home after losing my job. It was ok at first because she was relieved to have me back (so she could start nosing into everything I do again), but a few months down the line and I’m so utterly depressed with the situation, I’ve had to take time off from my new job as I’ve become a nervous wreck.
    Her boyfriend is very abusive and threatened to kill me and my partner and kicked the front door down and stratched my Mums car to pieces because he was drunk and 2 days later my Mum took him back. The whole family railled round to help my Mother to put the front door back on and fix new locks etc but after she took her abusive boyfriend back, Mum started going on about how her family were interferring. I broke down in tears, explaining that she needed to treat herself better by getting rid of him – I poured my heart out to her but after tears and hugs, it all went back to normal.
    Every Christmas my Mother gets angry because her boyfriend always causes a drama to get out of spending Xmas day with her and she always takes it out on me by becoming verbally and physically violent. This Xmas, I am staying in a hotel and not celebrating at all – I’m too exhausted. I told Mum this and she literally jumped for joy at the thought of her boyfriend just being there Xmas day.
    We are both adults and both need our space (I am potentially moving soon, I can’t afford it but I can’t stay here any longer), but she makes me feel terrible when I say I’m leaving to live alone. She begs me to stay and flicks from crying to telling me I won’t be able to cope and that I obviously hate her and screaming “what have I done!?” Then if I do stay, she smirks and becomes insulting, because she has got her own way.
    She phones my work place to find out when I’m coming home and if we are in different rooms at home, she keeps coming in, at least 8 times a night, to keep asking if I’m ok. If she is too tired to come in, she will text me every half hour with “are you ok?” Its scary stuff. I can’t feel like an adult for 5 minutes.
    She looks me up and down, she tries to tell me what to wear, she tells all her friends my business, she has read my diaries and left me letters on why she dissapproves of what I have written in them. She outed me to the family when I confided in her that I was gay (she totally betrayed my trust and took away my right to come out in my own way).
    I could go on but its got to the point where my mental health is suffering. I actually hate her and I feel terrible about it. I’ve tried to make it work and I’ve tried to be the adult but I cannot do it anymore. She calls me crazy and all the four letter words you can think of when I try to tell her that I don’t want to live with her.
    I don’t actually think I can take much more. When I leave, ill be taking everything I own and putting it in storage so she can’t destroy it (which she has done before) and ill be cutting her off for a while. (The last time I did this, she rang me and said she had contacted a medium who said I was possessed by a demon and she sent me graveyard dirt and instructed me to put it around my bed while I slept or it would get me and hurt me – all because I cut her off).
    Its very hard some days. But reading these posts, its a comfort to know I am not the only one.

    • Anne

      M, you need to get out of there for your own physical safety and mental health. Your mother doesn’t sound like she is all there and her choices are having a horrible impact on you.

  • Jeff

    I honestly relate to all of you, but my mother is one of a kind. She is manipulative, overbearing, stressful, a contradicting Hippocratic, and she doesn’t take time to hear me out. I’m 30 years old and I’m being treated as a child still! My whole life she’s been this way. When I was a teenager I remember everyday being a because I had the constant feeling of committing suicide, and it was horrible. I spent all my life wondering about her. As a teen my mother pressured me into living the life she wanted. She wanted me to do everything she didn’t. I never understood why considering she never went to school as a child. She nagged on everything in life and she was the exact opposite! I never understood who she was. I always thought of her as a punishment from Satan. I never enjoyed her presence, and I never will. At this point in my life I could honestly look my mom in the face and say “I don’t like you, I hate you.” and feel no remorse. She made my life a living hell and destroyed my childhood. I have a family now and my kids have only seen their grandmother once. I don’t want her to corrupt my kids, my future just because I was a burden to her my whole life.

    • Dear Jeff, you have the right to live the life you make for yourself, as author and director of your life. This was your right when you were born and this remains your right, here and now. You were not her burden, she was your burden and you’ve earned your freedom. Live free and live in peace my friend.

  • Sharon

    Oh boy, how do i summarize a lifetime of emotional abuse into a few paragraphs? I am 36 year old very happily married woman with two kids and am pregnant with #3. I am also an only child and chinese (win-win situation, right?). I was pretty much set up for failure as soon as i was a fetus growing inside my mother’s womb. The second my mother found out i was a girl she pretty much had my life set up: Get me married to a really rich guy so that I could have the life that my mother never did. My mother grew up very poor with 6 siblings and two half siblings and she married my father who himself is an idiot and she didn’t marry for love or money. I think that every day she regrets being married to my dad.

    Growing up was very lonely and i remember tons of screaming at home. For me that was normal, and i stupidly thought that every household communicated this way. I was never allowed to voice my opinion, if i was going to do something that my mom would disapprove of she would yell at me until i would change my mind. I was made to play the piano for over 13 years and hated every second of it (only to find out later that my mom’s dream was to play the piano, yet another thing that my mom tried (and succeeded) to push on me. My mom couldn’t wait till i went to university so that i could meet a rich guy and get married. She even told me to go to law school and ‘just meet a lawyer, and then you can drop out’.

    Fast forward 10 years later, I married a white guy who loves me so much and we are doing very well financially. Growing up as an only child was hell so i knew that i would like to have my own big family one day and give my children the emotional support that i never had. Of course my mom has to tell me that i should only have one child. So when i told her recently that i am pregnant with number 3 she flipped out and told me how i did not marry a millionaire and that we are going to be poor. Whenever she is with my husband she puts on a very fake, happy face but any chance she gets to talk to me alone she just lays it in me how poor i’m going to be and how i’m going to screw my older kids up by making them share a room. She keeps telling me how much she hated growing up in a big family and that she’s always wanted to her own room. She also says that i’m not going to be a good mom to three kids. Because of her non-support and i am going through some prenatal depression and need to see a chinese counsellor to deal with my mother.

    To top it off my mother hates my in-laws, always saying that they have no money and that they never do anything for us (which, is far from the truth) She also hates the relationship that i have with my mother inlaw as it’s a good relationship and my mother had a horrible relationship with her mother in law. I had to listen to my mom one day at work yell at me for over and hour about how much she hated my mother in law. Luckily i had my own office so no one saw me crying and having to tell my mother over and over again ‘but i don’t love my mother in law more then you’. So pitiful.

    I have really come to the conclusion that my mother is uncultured and uneducated (although, she does like to remind me that she had the chance to to go university but didn’t). The anger and hate that i had towards my mother is now pity and sadness. My mother was hardly loved by her own family, my father doesn’t give a crap about her (and neither did his family), and here I am about to have 3 wonderful loving kids and a husband who always has my back and loves me so much. It’s really sad when your own mother has to depend on you to live out her dreams. I have to learn to seperate myself from her and to let go.

    Unfortunately at this point i feel like my mother will let go when she dies. And i have to say that I won’t be all that disappointed when she goes. 36 years of abuse is a long time, hopefully she’ll be happier in another lifetime.

    Thank you so much for reading.

  • Katie

    The advice is this article is very helpful, but only to a point for me. It’s a lot easier to establish those boundaries and have conversations of that nature when you’re not still living with the person…

    I’m 27, an only child, still live at home, and am dealing with the fallout from when my father left when I was 18. I think my mother “substituted” me for somewhat of a life partner, and I have no freedoms whatsoever. She was emotionally crippled by my father’s leaving, and has never made any attempts to improve her life circumstances.

    She has made moving out a non-option, as she has a part-time, minimum wage paying job and will not strive for anything better. I pay half the mortgage (which is equivalent to a whole paycheck for me). She does not have a social support system and expects us to be together all the time. I can’t leave the house without her coming with me, even if it’s a quick trip to the store to grab some milk. She even follows me around the house, and the having “alone time” is something I haven’t experienced since I was a teenager (if I’m sitting alone in my bedroom, she’ll come in and sit with me. If I decide to cook something in the kitchen, she’ll roll up her sleeves and dive in make something herself.) She pouts and gives me the silent treatment if I go out with friends without telling her. I’ve never even had a boyfriend because I’ve had to shut down my social life to accommodate her. When I’ve dated men, she’s not very supportive because I think she feels like he’d take me away from her.

    I know largely this is my fault because I have enabled her for so long. But I’m tired of being responsible for my mother’s happiness and well-being. I have missed out on almost a decade of my life (and the one that’s supposed to be the most fun, no less) so she won’t be left alone. I missed out on many life experiences because I was expected to stay home with her. If I cut her off or try to move out, she’ll be devastated, and, though never diagnosed, I do think she does have a form of clinical depression and I worry about that. She has good days and bad, but I’m tired of being feeling responsible for the bad ones (which are usually on days when I’m not around). I’m 27, never had a boyfriend, and yet I feel like I’ve been married too long…

    I just haven’t had the courage to have a conversation with her about this because I know it’ll break her heart. She’ll feel like I’m leaving her just like my dad did. I just wish she would understand that I’m her daughter, not her spouse, and that breaking free and embarking on a life of my own is what I’m supposed do as a young person.

    After reading other comments here, I am thankful that my mother was never abusive or domineering. My situation is still a burden and something I need to change, but I never had to experience a lot of the pain others on here have experienced. While I certainly don’t want anyone else to be miserable, it’s nice to know there are LOTS of other people who are dealing with their own form of clingy parents. Even if we all have to deal with our own unique situations, it’s nice to know we’re not dealing alone.

    • Your mother has been emotionally abusive. She has kept you prisoner. She uses her shame from her partner leaving as the chains that bind you, the child, whom she will never allow to grow into an independent person.

      Yes she has never physically abused you. Easier to keep you bound to her. You can’t use the reason of being beaten as why you should leave.

      You have indeed been married to your mother, it was a forced marriage not of your own choosing. You have missed much of your 20s not having done much of what your peers have done, denied of the experiences that they have already experienced – because your mother kept you for herself.

      However, at this point she is more like your child than your parent. This means now is the time to start parenting her. This means you plan for life yourself, but you need to modify some conditions so that you are able to live within your means while buying your freedom.

      Maybe it’s time to get rid of the mortgage and get into a rental.

      Maybe it’s time to look for a babysitter for your mother (I’m not joking).

      Maybe it’s time to set some ground rules the way a parent needs to give a child boundaries.

      I feel very sad for all that you have missed as a prisoner, but I also know that you have strength within that can see yourself through this transition. This transition will be difficult, but your emotional freedom and independence as a human being depends on it.

  • Nel

    I hate my Mother! She makes trouble for the hole Family they have too drink too much alccahole becouse of her. I think she needs too go in to a home very soon . Nel

  • Nel

    My Mother treats me like im a baby ! I’m old snuff to take care of myself & my own needs. She looks at my impoten mail ! It’s none of her dam bussness. Nel

  • Lauren

    Can somebody help me please.

    It’s a long story cut short, but basically my boyfriend and I had to move closer to my mother’s house because of his job. It was a great opportunity for him to progress into a well paid career. We moved into my brother’s house (he lives elsewhere with his wife) and to get us back on our feet while I am looking for employment he says we don’t have to pay much rent.
    This is all great and a massive help, and of course we appreciate it all.

    But then there’s the problem of my interfering, over-bearing controlling mother.
    Since we moved here she rings me all the time, it started out every other day but now it’s more than once a day. She is always using excuses to come round to the house when my boyfriend is at work, she’s started buying us food which was appreciated at first but now it’s out of control, for example, this past week she’s been round EVERY single day with food. She says I need to put weight on, she pokes her nose into my business, she talks to me like I don’t know what I’m doing, she snoops through all my stuff, she does not respect my privacy at all. She says extremley innappropriate things to me about sex and tries to get me to discuss things about my personal life with her.
    She bought some ornaments for the house without even asking me or boyfriend first, of course it doesn’t matter what we want, she bought it because she doesn’t like the way the house is decorated. When I asked her about this she said “This is still my house, I will have it the way I want it.” It is NOT her house when my brother is the one who’s paying the mortgage, but she doesn’t listen to anyone else. She constantly puts me down and is always pointing out things that need cleaning but I DO clean the house.
    I know it doesn’t sound that bad but I can’t take it and I’m finding it hard to put down in words how bad she is. She’s mentally ill and was sectioned, and is always talking about how fed up she is and how she wants to kill herself. And yes I grew up in a hell house where she abused my dad and myself mentally and physically. Today I am getting REALLY FED UP with her butting into our lives. She started ringing me today so I took my boyfriends advice and ignored the calls, so she decided to turn up at the house with yet more food, I said you don’t have to keep buying us stuff but she just said “yes I do”. Of course because my boyfriend was there she put a total angellic act on, and when he’s not there she’s very different. But my boyfriend knows all about what she’s like and he supports me but we’re totally trapped here because we can’t afford to move yet but we want to move.
    She’s really getting out of control the amount of times she comes round to our house, how can I get her to back off? I don’t want to see her nearly everyday and I don’t want to speak to her on the phone all the time but if I don’t answer she comes round! She has no respect for my privacy or the fact I am 30 years old. She’s cruel to animals and is always saying how she wants to kill our pet cat. She brags about how my father is terrified of her. She says things like “I can’t wait until you get old and ugly. I’m going to make you fat.” I know I’m not doing a great job of explaining how horrid this woman is but I just needed some advice what can I do? I feel ill. I need to get out. It’s really getting out of hand now how much she interferes. I DON’T WANT TO SEE HER ALL THE TIME BUT I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE BECAUSE SHE KNOWS I’M IN BECAUSE I’M UNEMPLOYED AND THERE’S NOWHERE I CAN GO!!! SHE THINKS SHE VERY MUCH HAS THE RIGHT TO COME ROUND WHENEVER SHE WANTS WHETHER I LIKE IT OR NOT AND NOW SHE DOESN’T EVEN TELL ME WHEN SHE’S COMING ROUND! I CAN NEVER RELAX. I’m so stuck I feel hopeless and I’m scared of her I admit so I don’t have the courage to tell her to back off and I just don’t know what to do. I would really be grateful if anyone could help me.

    • DMAGOO

      I can totally sympathise with you Lauren…when we stayed closer..my Mum was coming round everyday, and I am unemployed like you, so apart from taking yourself out of the house for the whole day, you really do feel like a sitting duck. Yup mine also expects me to phone her all the time. The whole thing is stressful and in my case its causing me health issues. I know exactly what you mean about her picking on things like cleaning etc, mine does the exact same thing. Mine is also adamant that her viewpoint is correct. I have had the time to think about the relationship with my Mum and ask myself what do I get from it?…to be honest, very little. Ask yourself that…take aside the guilt and the parent/child relationship and ask yourself ..would you let anyone else treat you the way she treats you? The answer would probably be no. That is the stage I am at. I have started doing some voluntary work, perhaps you could do something like that to help get you out of the house?
      Hope I have helped a little, and happy to discuss further if you need to chat. take care x

  • Cheri

    I can so relate to all of your comments. My mom was 18 when she has me and in my 37 years has been married 4 times. i went to 4 different elementry schools, 2 different middle schools and 2 different high schools. I have always had to do things my moms way or the highway. At age 31 a year after my second son was born i left a very emotional and physically abusive marraige. Moved back home with my mom and her 4th husband. I was very depressed and began to drink heavily. After 4years of self destruction i decided to get my life back and started going to AA. I am now 2 1/2 years sober. Shortly after i moved in my stepfather started to fall ill. A year ago i met a wonderful man who i have fallen deeply in love with. i stayed at home to help take care of the best man my mom had in her life as he was dying. my boyfriend stayed with us the last few months to help my mom move him because he was bed ridden. He also paid my mom weekly to stay there. on the 1st of the this year my step father passed away. it was a terrible thing to watch and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. As soon as he passed my mom became 50 times worse and told me that my boyfriend could not stay any longer. I accepted that because honestly we did not want ot have our lives at her home. she seemed to push me away immediatly. We made the arrangements to get our own home and start our life together. The problem is my mom is telling everyone that i left when she needed me the most. One minute its about money the next its about my boyfriend. She constantly is telling people that she is done with me and asking me if i get it!! NO i don’t. i can not understand why she is doing this to me. She has always made me feel guilty and tries to undermine my parenting. I love my mother more then the world but I can not allow my years of emotional healing to be bring back there in two min. A day does not go by that i do not cry at work and at home. it breaks my heart. IF my mother had asked me to stay the good lord knows i would have. She posts crazy remarks on Facebook and tells me that i forgot whos arms pulled me above water. she is grieving and angry but seems to be taking it out on me. I am afraid that what she is saying and doing is going to cause long term damage to an already unhealthy relationship, I just can’t get over the guilt i feel. i am totally lost in my thoughts and i have the biggest hole in my heart and i don’t know how to fix it. No matter how i try to talk to her she will always say “remember who you are talking to little girl” i am a grown woman and i think i deserve to be happy finally!!! i am sorry that her life did not turn out the way she wanted and invisioned it. She texts me crazy things and emails me at work. Family is worried for her erratic behavior and as much as everyone tells me I did nothing wrong i still can’t get past the guilt that i feel.

  • Saffy

    Dear Dr Chin,
    I just wanted to say how useful this article and indeed this website has been to me.
    I have a very similar situation to the woman in the article.
    My mother is a single mother and I am her only child.
    She has fused her identity so much onto me, that she no longer has any boundaries. She is unstable and has never been able to provide me with emotional support, although I have provided her with it since my early childhood. As a young child, she told me things and confided in me- things about life i should have been protected from, not exposed to at that age. I comforted her, watched her cry, again and again. I was her emotional support and consequently I had none.
    I thought this was normal because I knew no different.
    Now I am in college and this begun to cause issues for my mother. She expects me to speak to her several times a day. This is unsustainable, as I simply don’t have enough time to do that, with my studies and trying to have a life of me. If I text her instead, she will get upset and claim that I am rejecting her and that of course I have better things to do, because she is so worthless.I recognise now that is emotionally blackmailing and guilt tripping(even though she is not doing it intentionally). There are also no boundaries in my personal life- she wants me to tell her everything and if i try to have privacy she says again that I am rejecting her. When I came home for thanksgiving, she accused of me not spending enough time with her because I wasn’t glued to her side every minute. She also made comments about me gaining the ‘freshman fifteen’ and didn’t understand why I felt hurt from her remarks. She proceeded to guilt trip me into apologising for getting upset.
    I recognise that her smothering is not about protecting me, its about protecting herself- exactly like she is a toddler and I am the parent. Not that my mother doesn’t love me, she does deeply but our dynamic has never been ordinary.
    She tells me that I am the only thing ‘keeping her alive’ and that i am her everything. She has issues with depression and has commented before that she would kill herself were it not for me and that she struggles with pain everyday for me. She seemingly has no goals, hopes, dreams or objectives outside of me, whereas I have many that don’t involve her. She wallows in self pity a lot and this makes me feel guilty. I feel tremendous amounts of guilt and yet I have an underlying resentment about the fact that i have never had anyone to support ME.
    This is just like a tennis game – back and forth – and I have decided I do not want to play any more.

    I have decided to follow the tips in your article because I want to work this as I know it will only get worse with age, if I don’t.
    My mother is focused on me getting my dream career, she keeps telling me how much is sacrificing and how much she has sacrificed to give me what she can in life.
    However, my dream career involves a lot of travel and long hours- how will i possibly manage this with all the smothering?

    One day I would love to have a serious relationship, one that is mutually supportive and stable( like I said I have never really had significant emotional support or stability in my life) but I wonder how the hell this will happen with all the smothering?

    This is quite a long comment Dr Chin, but to summarize-

    I will follow the steps in this article and also on the page on dealing with manipulation .

    You would not believe how helpful it is read this website.


  • Suzanne

    My mother constantly puts me down and treats me like i am an idiot. My whole family degrades my emotions and acts as though because i dont outwardly share how i am feeling i am lesser than they are and that they all can pick and make me feel badly about myself. I am their last child left in their house, nearly 30 I have finally found the one i am happiest with and she tries at every turn to snipe and make rude comments about my relationship with him. She behaves as though i should spend every waking moment i am home with her and i am exhausted at it. I cannot do it anymore. I have spent my entire life trying to please these unpleasable people and i cannot do it anymore. She accused me of having an eating disorder and staged an intervention because I worked 2 jobs and of course running around like crazy it makes you smaller. That was the last straw. I want to move out and move on with my life, I plan on moving to where my boyfriend is from and getting out of this destructive environment but i have to have the cash to do so and she always tries to get me to go shopping with her to spend money i dont have when she knows i dont have it and makes me feel like i should purchase things i cant afford. I am tired of it and i am the only one who sees that she is emotionally and psychologically manipulative of me. My siblings and my father are on her side and she can do no wrong and I am sick and tired of doing what others want me to do. Its my turn to live and if they dont like my life path that is on them because its MY LIFE. My boyfriend understands and supports me and i need more people like him in my life who listen and offer kind guidance and advice not harsh words and put downs.

  • Cut her off

    Wow, I had no idea there were so many mothers like mine. My mother kept me in a physically and sexually abusive house until I was 14 because “He could be so nice”. And yet at the same time she forced me to be her friend, confidante and therapist, actually hit me if I did not hug her properly after they had had an argument, shockingly expected me to give her sympathy because her childhood was ruined as her father preferred her sister (!), followed me around the house constantly demanding all the details of being molested- not even letting me use the bathroom in peace, “heroically” came up with a code word for me to use if I did not feel safe staying at home when she was about to leave-which she immediately dismissed the only time I used it, saying that I would be fine as she walked out the door. Then she demanded that I call her every day after I moved out or hell would break loose. Luckily for me she got remarried 2 years after I moved out & I didn’t hear from her for weeks, which made me realize she didn’t need to hear from me, she just needed to hear from someone. She was also very jealous of me & told anyone who had given me a compliment that I wasn’t such a good kid, and would even make up lies to prove her point-all this in front of me. She also threatened to go to ToughLove the first time I stood up to her as a teenager. I had spent my childhood trying to please her to the point that she had never heard me say No. Now at 43, I have finally cut her off, and the inner guilt-trip was worth it. Phew. To all of you who think your abusive mothers love you, I hope you realize in time that they are just using you. Love isn’t abusive or manipulative, and there is no excuse for their toxic behavior.

    • Marina

      I (sarcastically) love her code word deal, which is really just an excuse for her to keep thinking she´s a good mother – but when it came down to you finally actually asserting that you felt unsafe (which must have been incredibly courageous considering that you were raised to have no needs) she was nowhere to be found. They only need the story internally. My mother also failed to protect me from outside abuse (and abused me herself, as did yours, though mine nowhere near as severely as in your case) and has a plethora of stories to this day to present herself as the hero of the tale… because she of course, sacrificed herself and her happiness for me… ahem, wait a sec… I too refuse to feel sorry for that nonsense and to consider that love. Amen to you, sister!

      Spot on about the narc supply, how she just needs to hear from someone. That was a sad one to figure out. OH and the making up lies about you even in front of you, classic. I always wondered if she did that in front of me, how much worse were the things she was saying behind my back. Ditto.

  • Cut her off

    I forgot to mention that she forbade me from telling my grandfather what was happening to me because then my grandpa would kill my father and go to prison, and that would be my fault.

    She is an alcoholic, and yet, “She could be so nice”… When it suited her or she could tell I was pulling away.

    In all reality I could have played her game and pretended to be from a happy family if she would have stopped demanding sympathy for her ridiculously perfect childhood. What I would have paid to have my biggest complaint be that my father preferred my sister.

    I finally moved to Europe to get some space. Now I use an alias on twitter, pinterest, etc, and stopped using facebook so she can’t find me anymore because I got sick of her cyber-stalking. Good bye pretend best mommy in the world. I am just thankful I grew up before the age of cell phones, can’t imagine how much worse that would have made my childhood.

    I’m so sorry there are so many other people with awful moms, but at the same time it is really comforting to know that I’m not alone. Thank you so much for making this website.

  • onlychildhell

    I can’t even describe how I’m feeling after reading this article!! My mother, as I have always thought, was a HEADCASE!!

    • I’m sorry to hear this, onlychild 🙁

    • Dau of Chinese Traditional mom

      What article is this? Thanks.

  • onlychildhell

    This article has saved a life, thank you.

  • Sarah Lund

    I understand the lot of you ;). In the end, we all die, so what difference would it make about which decisions we make? There will be no crime made. What do YOU want for your life? It seems so ridiculous and petty, when someone who is over the age of eighteen, has a mother who thinks she can manipulate her “child” into doing whatever. Sorry people, but most of you ARE over eighteen, so the law says you have a right to choose how you live for the rest of your life. Your mother does not own you anymore. Only YOU do. What I’m sick of, are these stupid airs and graces (fake smiles and faking being okay) that we feel we have to put on, infront of our families at christmas, birthdays, or any other family event. Look at how old you are. Do you think it’s actually really all that sane that you have a parent who treats you like this? Well it isn’t. They don’t (apparantely) know this, but they are abusing you, in the lightest sense. I think we know better though, than to keep open communication with them.

    • Marina

      Sarah, agreed. This last year I finally said screw it to the guilt factor. I refuse to feel shamed or guilted into a relationship with any toxic person anymore, even if that person is my mother. I will do the minimum duty so that I can remain close with the rest of the family, but that is all – i.e., like a monthly email and Christmas visits. You did not choose to be the child of this person but they chose to have you. You do not owe them anything, especially if they can´t respect you. Respect is a minimum, my fellow burdened adult children of overbearing parent/s. Finally coming to terms with this behavior as abusive will also help you separate yourself from them, though it is very very painful to see the truth, it is worth it to find your voice again.

      I know now when I have done something wrong and should actually make amends (as opposed to feeling like I was inherently wrong and could never do right) because I understand what my actual values are, which are not my mother´s ever-changing, shallowly understood, unequally imposed and impossible standards. Guilt is only internally useful when it is a means to be a better person based on a set of your own standards that come from your own personal experience of the world. Period, end of story. But get away, dear GOD, get away (even if it´s just out with your friends or sports or something – and move out as soon as possible for younger people), because if you don´t, it will be very very hard for you to develop your own sense of yourself.

      I´ve let go of the dream that she will ever improve. It´s scary to see her in such a clear light, but it´s opened up my world to all the healthy love that´s out there and I can´t tell you the level of freedom I felt once the guilt was gone. Poor mother is scrambling for a hold though, which is quite scary and is resulting in pretty narcy levels of attempts to shame me or make me out as the perpetrator. The difference between my younger years and now, however, is that I am so secure, I am fine with her seeing me however she wishes. It´s her choice.

  • Sarah Lund

    And, btw, one of my ex’s ended up suicidal because he thought she would never let me live with him. You wouldn’t want this kind of thing happening to yourself. You feel responsible. Not nice. So think about how your parents controlling ways could affect your lover. I felt so guilty. I almost lost him all because my mother wanted me to stay a little girl. Don’t let it get to that, and if necessary, get a restraining order, and keep on getting them for however long they try to control your personal life. It reminds me of Britney Spears manager. He drugged her to control her. She escaped. So should you.

  • Anne

    Saffy and Suzanne. When you are finally able to live independent lives, you will feel so much better. Don’t expect your mothers to make the transition easy on you, though. You will have to set firm boundaries regarding what you are and are not willing to do and stick to those boundaries.

    I wish you the best.


    wow! can’t beleive there are others out their experiencing the same problem!
    I am 40 now, and the constant need to be phoned every day has been pissing me off for years now, however having recently moved back closer to where parents stay, things have gotten much worse. At one point she was popping in to visit us every day…very very annoying…it felt that everytime I turned round she was standing in my livingroom! As well as daily visits, we also still had daily phonecalls!!! We have since moved again…just a little further away…so daily pop in visits are not quite so handy!…(which works!) but she still phones everyday…or expects me to phone. I deliberately hold off phoning now…why should I feel guilty about not phoning?…I never said I would phone everyday..it is something that she has started to fulfil her needs..not mine. Some days she will phone several times…which is really taking the piss…nothing is that important, that it cannot wait! My husband and I have settled well in the new area and made some friends. And guess what? yup..we are having a dinner with our new friends..and the first thing said was..”am I not invited?”…you know..I am so jealous of others out there that have a normal relationship, that is what I want. One where parents are happy that you have settled, have a group of friends and enjoy being with them. Instead I have a parent who want to be involved in everything I do and has very little insight into whether it suits me. Well, I am now at the point of having enough. Things are going to be said, and they are not going to be nice, but hey…I am sick of tip-toeing around her needs, and being miserable in myself! Wish me luck!

  • Anne

    Dmagoo, Mom needs to learn right now that you and your husband are allowed to do things without her. We had the same problem with my mother-in-law. It was painful for awhile, but, once she learned that the sulky, pouty attitude didn’t work anymore, she stopped doing it.

  • Dusty

    I can so relate to most all of you here. While I don’t “hate” my mother, it’s definitely not a good mother/daughter bond we have…AT ALL. I need to vent, I see others have too, so glad I found this. So my mother…She’s a manipulative, controlling B*tch. To put it simply. My father died when I was 13, and then it was her and I. I miss my dad like CRAZY. I’m an only child. I moved out when I was 19. Got my own job and my own life. I have a fiance, we’ve been together since I was 18. I’m now 33. We own our own home and have our own life together, yet every time we go to do something together, I get the “ohhh I wish I could __________”.
    For Valentines this year, my fiance and I went to a popular local Italian restaurant together. Afterwards I got the “I wish you’d have thought to bring me something. You two went out and I was home alone”. I was pissed and didn’t respond. That’s her choice to not go somewhere. She’s VERY good at the victim game. And she’s good at finding ways around my boundaries. No matter what I tell her, she conveniently “forgets”. She’s 63 and acts like a spoiled 2 year old if I don’t do something with or for her. Lately she’s been too lazy to even go to get her own groceries and stuff. I’ve started ignoring her texts and calls just so I can have some space. This past summer I was on my way to my Taekwondo (TKD) class and she texted me something, I forget now what it was. I responded that I had class and would get a hold of her after. I got “Screw your life” in return, one time I got a text back “F*#& your life”. She has no respect for me or my fiance, worse so if she doesn’t get her way or I don’t jump for her. One time during a heated argument I get “Well your dad and I had you so I’d have someone after he died”. Um what? So you didn’t think I’d grow up and have my own interests and my own life? Selfish much??? Quite frankly though, I think that was just something to play a guilt trip on me. She’s good at trying that too.
    In July 2012, I decided to go for a solo long distance hike. So far the longest hike I’d ever done. Main reason was I had a LOT on my plate, let’s just say old job and I have a lawyer to fight these crooks…So I wanted to get away and hiking is my way to forget the world and see nature in all its glory. My 3rd day out…I sent her a pic from the most BEAUTIFUL spot on this section of trail. Such a pretty overlook where you could see for MILES. Well she conveniently brings up the very damn thing I was trying to forget. She knew that’s the reason I went out on this hike. I told her to stop talking about it then got “Oh sorry…I forgot”. My foot. Deliberate. Sure as HELL it ruined my day much as I tried to force my brain to forget. Nothing I did worked. I called a motel I knew of in a nearby town when I hit the main road in the area, 6 miles away. He had a room and sent his guy to come get me. (It’s a trail town, so they get LOTS of hikers, very hiker friendly). I stayed overnight and called home to be picked up. Mind you lack of water (every stream was bone dry, no snow over the winter to build the water table and no rain all spring) with a serious medical condition that causes me to need at least twice as much water as a “normal” person or risk severe dehydration, also weighed heavily on my decision, but I was so angry I couldn’t even enjoy the rest of the hike.
    This past summer I spent 3 days out of state at a TKD camp with my Grandmaster and many Masters from schools I’m associated with. I came home on Sunday evening. She was here at my house waiting for me. Then got PISSED because I wouldn’t go with her to the store to get MILK. I mean screaming pissed. Um hello. I just drove over 400 miles. In the previous 2 days I threw probably close to 2000+ kicks and 1000+ punches, plus drills, sparring, running and other activities. It wasn’t a damn vacation. I could barely even pick my legs up I was so damn sore. I could barely go up the 3 steps to get to my front door. Yet she was so selfish, she was blind and uncaring to see I could barely walk….and got pissed off.
    Just the other day she texted me right before I was to teach my kids TKD class to see if a local restaurant took checks and that she wanted something. I told her I had a class coming in and couldn’t do anything for her. I get “never fails” as a response. After the crap I do for her….and have done, especially since she spent from Sept 2011 to Jan 2012 in 3 different hospitals, I’m sick of her attitude and selfish crap. She was flooded by Hurricane Lee and I dealt with FEMA, Insurance, banks and every other stupid thing to get her the max help available. I paid all of her bills while trying to remember mine, and for that matter sometimes getting behind on my own because I remembered paying a company, forgetting it was her bill and not mine, all while she was in the hospital. Busted my a$$ and was working full time 30 miles away.
    I have a VERY VERY important TKD belt test coming up in 13 days now and I’m about ready to tell her to stay the hell home for it. I’m sure she’d start something as we all go for Black Belt dinner after a test like this one. I’m taking my fiance. I’m sure she’d be whining about wanting to go. Tough. Go home. Hell for that matter…STAY HOME. Don’t even friggen show up. I have a feeling she’s already forgotten the date. I feel like conveniently “forgetting” to remind her when this test is.
    It’s a rough road but little by little I’m trying to cut her down a peg or 2. I didn’t say a word to her about 3 or 4 days ago. No texts, no phone, no Facebook…nothing. I stopped over to drop off something two nights ago (she still occasionally gets mail here as she was staying with us after the flood in 2011 and after she got out of the hospital, with a temp feeding tube and such that I helped her with). I hear “You know, it’d be nice if you don’t hear from me by the afternoon or whatever, maybe to check in and make sure I’m not dead”. Um what? I don’t NEED to talk to you every damn day woman! I’ve told her this a zillion times. And I said to her “I know you’re ok because you post crap on Facebook. I look just to make sure. I know you’re fine.”. She had no comeback and just said “ugh whatever….just forget it” in her ugly bitchy annoyed tone. I’ve tried the “scheduled” days kinda thing…What a fail with her. I can’t win sometimes I feel.
    I appreciate that she raised me after dad died. I appreciate the roof over my head and all the stuff parents do for their kids. While she did smack me sometimes, there were times I deserved something (one instance I called her a bitch under my breath and caught a smack upside the head…some might say abuse now-a-days…but hell that was really something that at 14 I shouldn’t have done, I admit that now). But beginning a few years after dad died, she turned into a psycho. Once she and I were in a huge fight. I think I was about 18, still living home but it was after I had found my now fiance. She rammed my head into a wall that I was standing next to. Probably scared and using the “he’s taking you away from me” excuse to start a massive fight. I got to the point when I was still living home for that year after I met my fiance, that I used to call him when fights broke out and leave the phone on in my pocket so he could hear and be a witness if something happened.
    What is it with parents who won’t let their children grow up and live their own lives? My mother refuses to talk to anyone. No therapists…nothing. I’ve suggested she go places to meet people. We have a really cool meals program here in my city. She went once. She uses the excuse “Well I’m not like you. I can’t just meet people easily”. Um how do you know if you haven’t TRIED. I can’t help it that I’m outgoing and like to talk to people. I love meeting new people. I’ve invited her to a group I was going to for a little while, a quasi Bible group. AWESOME people…she refused and said she didn’t want to go as she’d feel out of place. I feel, not being a doctor I know, but I sense a tinge of social anxiety and narcissistic personality disorder with her. Short of the things I’m doing to cut her off so I have my life back, and to get her to think on her own, I dunno what the hell to do with her. I fear she’s just going to wallow in her own depressed state. As much as she’s my mom, I have my own life. It’s not my job to be her best closest buddy and be with her 24/7. Ahh End vent. Thanks for listening guys and gals. SOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooo glad I’m not alone with a wacked out mother!

    • niki

      wow, this I have been coping with a mothers who is so simular to yours Anne. It has been years but about year and half ago it all errupted and I have had little to no contact with her. I did inviter her to easter and and after she said she would come (leaving me a message) she hadn’t showed up a half hour after she was supposed to and I a called and she said she wasn’t coming because I hadn’t called her back, she was depressed and din’t want to come now. She didn’t say to call back in her message. I instantly felt like my emmotions wer back to were they were 18 months prior, too much to even list now. It has been a lifetiem of the little things that just get more dedemanding the more I move toward my own life. I never meant to leave her behind but when you are invited and turn it down over and over you can’t come crying to me that we don’t include you. She has pushed every friend, husband and family member away, which left… ME (the only child). I am not spoiled never have and like you appriciate everything she did for me but I do not need to drop my entire life for her when she doesn’t appreciate any of it. My husband and I even have rental property and rented to her (giving her a break on the rent), she managed to loose her job, which was inhome care who helped pay for the rent, didn’t do any thing we asked to help “make-up” for the rent berak we had given her so she cold have the “nice place/lifestyle” she was used to. She thinks she is above it all and she isn’t…NONE of are and that is ONE (there are many) of the biggest differences between her and I.

      Not sure if this is all rambling but it did feel good to rant for bit (so much more has surfaced again, with just one 3-5 minute phone call yesterday on Easter). I wish I wouldn’t have even invited her now, but I guess, in her eyes, I am the bad guy either way.

  • chelsea

    Where to even begin? My mother never wanted to be anything
    but a good mom to my brother and me. I remember feeling as a child
    that she was the best mom in the world. I know she loves us
    unconditionally. I know I am lucky in that respect. However…. She
    has been married four times, twice to abusive alcoholics. She was a
    single mom through most of my teenage years and used me as a
    counsellor. She has always freaked out and had a martyr complex
    over every mistake I made so I learned not to confide in her. There
    were times when I let mistakes grow into mountains to avoid talking
    with her about it. Big, life changing mountains. I lived with her
    until i was 27 because i felt as though i couldn’t abandon her.
    When I met my wonderful and supportive husband I think she thought
    he was there to take me away from her. She has always treated him
    with disdain and criticizes everything he does. I don’t need her
    input. Recently my husband bought for her and installed a water
    heater which we could not afford to do! He never asks for anything
    from her but gives plenty. The breaking point for me was 3 years
    ago when both of my beautiful children were diagnosed with a rare
    incurable disease known as Fanconi Anemia, which caused my son to
    have a bone marrow transplant. She promptly got on antidepressants
    because it was too hard for HER to deal with. She likes to remind
    me that it’s just as hard for her as it is for my husband and me
    anytime I try to express my feelings about it. So I don’t any more.
    I want to slap her in the face when she says those things. How dare
    she? She will never know what it’s like because her children are
    healthy. We spent 8 months in NYC getting treatment for my son and
    she BEGGED us to come stay with her after to rebuild our lives. It
    was a nightmare. We now have our own place and are finally settling
    back into a normal life for the moment but I am about to have to
    find a babysitter for the kids because they are too much for her
    she says. We have aleeady worked our schedules out so that it’s
    maybe once a week she has to have them. Part of her reason for
    wanting us here was so that she could keep the kids and alleviate
    the pressure of daycare for us. She never comes to visit even
    though I live five minutes away and she would much rather stay in
    her bed wallowing in her pity party. I have no more respect for
    her. I’m tired of being hurt. I wish sometimes I could cut her out
    but I do love her. She’s not always bad…

    • Kat

      Poor you. Unbelievable. Instead of supporting you emotionally with what you are going through relating your children’s illness, she’s managed to make it all about her. Wow.

    • SW

      Wow… we must be doppelgangers or something. My sons were diagnosed
      with a genetic deficiency, too, and my mother is exactly the same. I’m
      glad to know you found a great fella who demonstrates patience and
      kindness, instead of making you feel guilty for not “controlling” your
      mother. Gives me hope! I’ve come to the conclusion that my mom will
      always lean on my strength and not the other way around – and that’s
      just the way it is. I’ve come to realize that I don’t really feel
      guilty (underneath that knee-jerk guilty impulse I manufacture for her
      benefit) for the mistakes I make. I deal with the consequences
      responsibly, understand why I made my choices, and correct my future
      behaviors – what more can I do, really? I haven’t decided whether to be
      a resentful-but-dutiful daughter or a bitchy fair-weather friend, but I
      know what I am not qualified to be… I’m not 15years old, I’m not her
      spouse, or her doctor, preacher, shrink, handyman, dietician, personal
      trainer, shopper, or financial consultant. I am not Google; she is
      fully capable of doing an internet search. I am not perfect; while it
      would be a feather in her cap to be the second mother in the universe to
      raise a perfect child, she’s not “that” good – and I never blamed her
      for it. I am NOT responsible for causing or treating her untreated
      depression, pain or diabetes. She was a nurse for twenty years and is fully cognizant of the signs, symptoms, side-effects and risks of her illnesses.
      She knows where the doctor’s office, pharmacy, mental health clinic,
      health department, and hospital are. She has a car. She has friends
      who are willing to go with her for moral support and who drag her out of
      the house for social functions all the time (she has a more active
      social life in a month than I have time for in a year.) I think she
      must believe that if she gets healthy I won’t ever feel obligated to
      check in with her on a regular basis. That’s so sad, because while her
      high blood sugar makes her unbearably emotional and extremely
      unpredictable, I actually enjoy her company when she’s healthy.

  • chelsea

    I forgot to add that she always accuses me of never sticking up for her when I’ve always been the only one who ALWAYS did. Truth is, I know she’s sick and I feel badly for her. I know what a fun and loving person she can be. I also see that she continues to get worse as the years go by…

  • GCL

    I know my mom isn’t as bad as most of the moms being complained about on this page but I still need help with her. I am 14 and I have one younger brother I know my mom loves me but she is overly clingy. If my boyfriend ever acted like that I would dump him on the spot. When I’m over at friends houses less then 2 houses over she calls them hysterically demanding to talk to me and telling me I have soccer practice and need to leave at 5:40 when it 2:30. It is ridiculous she managed to talk the AD of my high school to let her be the jv soccer coach even though she knows next to nothing about soccer. Soccer used to be my only escape but then she invaded that part of my life too. My team comes to me and tells me to tell her that we are 9th and 10 th graders not 1st and 2nd graders so they need to treat us maturely. I told her once that the drills she was giving us were Mimsy drills and all she does is blame the assistant coach even though they were clearly her idea she yells and screams at me for the dumbest reasons like when she thinks I have a test in some class and I tell her that the test was last week or a stupid thing like that. She doesn’t recognize that I’m more organized than she is and that I manage my time wisely and in turn get straight a’s. she gets mad if she thinks I don’t have enough homework. My friends refuse to come over and they all hate her. She is clingy beyond belief. When my friends are over she asks me to do the most trivial things that don’t even need doing like reorganizing the kitchen drawers that were rearranged last week. I have to live with her because I’m too young to get a job and I don’t have a drivers license and I still need her to pay for college and soccer that hopefully will get me into college. I left one night because I couldn’t take it anymore she heard music playing at a party across the street and thought it was me getting attacked and started screaming at me then she took it out on my friend for being nice to me and offering me a place to stay the night. It was terrible my friend didn’t deserve it at all. She always drags me around and threatens me with taking away soccer (I can’t live without soccer). I have a friend who is cutting and I was going to meet her at Starbucks but she only had a few minutes so 1st she ended practice late then I told her nicely to pick me up at the front of the school in 3 minutes so I wouldn’t be late then she picked me up 15 min later and my friend was waiting for me at Starbucks for a long time so we only had a few min to talk. But before that when I was in the car she almost refused to drive me because she said I was disrespectful but I hadn’t done anything to deserve her not driving to meet my friend who needed help. I don’t know what I’ve don’t to get her as mom in my opinion she doesn’t even deserve the title mom.

    • Anne

      Are there relatives you can speak to about this, GCL? A counselor at school, maybe? Your mother does sound inordinately clingy. Your letter is a sad reminder that children are 100% dependent on their parents which makes their options limited.

      My best advice, if there is no one to help you, is to work as hard as you can to get scholarships for college so you won’t be financially dependent on her when it’s time to leave.

      When that time comes, be strong against any pressure put on you to stay dependent on her. I wish you the best. When you are an independent adult, you will find that things do get better. I promise.

  • Kimberlee

    I’m 55 years old and not ”allowed” to leave home and get my first apartment, furniture, etc. My mother thinks she owns me and my life. She makes it her job to keep me ”in control” as she puts it. Basically, it’s my social security that she wants I’ve been paying half her rent for 23 years. ( I’ve been disabled since early adulthood with Crohn’s disease.) There’s no reason medically that I cannot live on my own. She has made sure I can’t drive or have my own transportation because it keeps me dependent on her. How can I search for a place to live or move with no transportation except for her? At times, it seems like such a hopeless situation. I attend college online and I’m an A student, honor society, graduating in the upper 10% of my class and she is royally ticked off about that. The snotty insults aimed at me because I’m trying to better my life honestý make me want to slap her. “You might be book smart but you are too damn stupid to ever live apart from me. What the hell would you do without me?” If I had a weapon I would probably use it. I honestly believe she is insane. My niece is too afraid of crossing her to help me move. I don’t know how to get out of this situation.

    • Anne

      You’re not stupid. She’ s tried to condition you to believe that so that she can have a hold on you. Why does your niece fear her displeasure so much? Are there any other family members, friends, churchgoers, etc, who can help you move? Does your city provide some type of public transportation that would allow you some mobility if you move to an area on the route?

    • Kat

      Book a taxi to view the apartments.

    • Mark Hasbeen

      Kimberlee, you are 55 and need to live your life the way you want to before you waste all your years – they are YOUR years and you’ll never get them back. I understand you have a disability, but many disabled people live independently. You probably have developed a dependence on her without realising it; including a cheaper home and help with transportation.

      Rent a flat locally, hire a local “man with a van” to move your stuff (find him/her online), embrace the joy and pain of living alone, get to know yourself. You can still see her, but not all the time. Unhealthy family relationships never allow us to become ourselves, you’ll waste all your life energy in a cycle of conflict if you don’t go NOW.

  • only child guilt

    Help doctor. I’m 41, No husband & my father say’s “I’ll be at your house sunday morning at 8:00. to get the trash we will go to the dump. then the next weekend is I need you to help me this sunday…..Then there is always dinner to be had EVERY SUNDAY….I say dad “what if I have plan’s & he say’s “What else do you have to do?” I say it bother’s me to my mom & she say’s “Every weekend I hear the same thing I get it you don’t want to be with us” I say ma “you just said it, EVERY WEEKEND……I’m here EVERY WEEKEND” She say’s Fine just leave…. Now I feel like my parent’s are going to die & I was a bad child. Ive decided Not to go back at 5:00 for dinner tonight but the gulit is driving me crazy!!!! Is there a book i can read? Thank’s

    • Michael Pue

      The guilt they are putting on you is a tool of manipulation. In other words, they can’t successfully control you with words, so they’ve turned to the feeling of guilt to get the behavior from you their words could not. They are also employing deception in a way by making you believe they are not capable of average human intelligence. The average human knows that someone choosing to do their own thing separate from you once in awhile is NOT an indication that that person doesn’t want “to be with you.” The average human with average human intelligence would know it simply means that person has a life outside of your needs, and claiming to think you just don’t love them means one of two things: either they have below normal human intelligence, OR they know perfectly GD well and good that you still love them and you simply have other things you’d like to do every now and then. What I’m saying is do not feel guilty, they actually do not believe what they’re accusing you of and they know you love them, so therefore there is no real reason to feel guilt and certainly no reason to give in to their immature manipulation. That behavior seriously is what toddlers learn to do and often employ to get their parents to give them what they want, there is no excuse for grown adults to behave that way. Sit down with them and explain in a soothing baby comforting voice that you still love them but that you wish to do your own thing sometimes. Not every time, but sometimes.

      • Marina

        Agreed with Michael. They use guilt because it works. It used to work on me like a charm every time – until I realized my Mom knew what she was doing. They´re trained you to have an overactive conscience and they take advantage of it to keep you in line. As the article suggests, this is a battle for them. You do not need to feel guilt. Put yourself first!

        Please read In Sheep´s Clothing, but Dr. George Simon. Opened my eyes!!

  • Anne

    Only Child Guilt: Read “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. You are allowed to spend the weekend by yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your parents.

  • Angela

    Wow, I’m an only child and made the mistake of letting my mother move in with me after her divorce. She is not mean, but very needy and childlike. She doesn’t try to date or make friends because she wants to be my best friend. I want her to be happy and live her own life and stop smothering me.

    • trixietimez

      Wow… I know that situation very well. I’m sorry you’re going through that.

  • Lisa

    After reading several posts here I am so glad I’m not the only one with a clingy, overbearing, narcisisstic mother. I am 44 years old and I think hell will be a piece of cake after a lifetime of her abuse.
    I have lived with my mom for all but 6 years of my life and she’s made it her goal to keep me chained to her ankle until one of us dies.
    I moved back home after my brief marriage. That was almost 11 years ago. I strongly believe that my mother never wants me to have a life of my own.
    Mom treats me like a child, she critisizes me constantly, won’t give me any space or alone time at all. She is very smothering and is always hovering over me.
    I have a daughter who I only see on weekends and my mother has to be involved and present in every single thing my daughter and I are doing.
    The ironic thing is she didn’t want her mom around much when I was growing up.
    I think our relationship is a toxic one and I know my mental health is suffering. Lots of anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
    I wish I could up and leave the situation but at the moment I am unemployed. I guess I am carrying a lot of guilt because mom tells me I owe her for all she has done for me.
    Why can’t she be a normal parent who wants their child to be independent?

    • Kat

      Try to find a job and get away from her as soon as you can! Don’t succumb to the guilt trips. She is your mother and so it is her job to raise you and help you in your time of need. So sorry for your situation. Get out and away from her as soon as you can!

  • liviacurtis

    My mother is very clingy,narcissistic,multiplicative,and etc. I have set boundary rules after boundarys rules. I am 33 years old I had to move back in cause of the divorce and I told her my love/sex life was my business not hers,not the families,nor any one else’s but mine. Well she gets mad if I am like I am going out this night or this night. Then she starts in on me cause I talked to the guy online and etc I am thinking excuse me you are breaking boundary rules. She is 67 years old but has the captivity of a 2 year old. She still works but is partly retired but I think its early signs of Alzheimer every day its something else. Constantly asking me questions one right after another I am getting aggravated so much. I can’t tell her anything anymore if I do its boom negative things come out. If I change the subject on her she gets mad. She complains about people she works with,my great nephew’s adoptive father,my nephew(my great nephew’s real father) who is rehab,my nephews gf(my great nephew’s real mom),money,and etc. Well I try to help her around the house I told her she needs to treat me like a guest not a child who has to do chores. I have to constantly every day do something I know she can do herself. She will not give me space or any alone time. I gotta always be there right beside her hold her hand like a 2 year old girl and mommy do. I have done everything and she can’t stand I am so independent now and I don’t need her anymore. Sad thing is she doesn’t do this to my brother who is older and it pisses me off. I can’t stand the hovering and smothering of me just like last night I was suppose to had this date with a guy I had been talking to for a few weeks. Well I had to cancel that date all cause she didn’t want me to go she was afraid he would hit me in the head or kill me. I am still mad about this cause the guy is really nice and friendly I can’t move on from my previous relationship that ended in divorce she won’t let me. She wants me to always be or go with my ex husband its funny thing is she hated the guy so much for doing what he did to me. Which was walk out on me. I apologized to the guy I was talking to and I don’t care anymore. I had to all last year tell her I was going out with friends bye I keep doing that now but it’s like she is getting pissed. Why can’t my mother just leave well enough alone?

  • Some Dude

    I’m 16 and feel like I’m under too much academic stress. I know my mom wants what’s best for me, but I feel as though at this point in my life, I should be allowed to decide what classes I take, and what my daily routine is. Something else that bothered me is that she also tried to change my mind about my girlfriend when we first started going out. I do everything she asks and am a great kid (except for occasional minor procrastination). She forced me to sign up for a Latin class over the summer, but doing her favors take up so much time, it’s hard to do the work. Latin isn’t even ever going to be useful to me. She also forced me to take AP World History, which basically made my whole semester hell, and resulted in a “B”, which of course made her mad. We fight all of the time. Actually, she fights, and I listen, like a punching bag. She doesn’t realize I’m not a bad kid. I have 3 siblings, and I’m her bad child, because I procrastinate. How do I confront her without the response that I have no respect for her (and the family and everything she does for me “I never do anything for myself, you know” (which she does))?

    • Andra Thomas Hough

      Hi Some Dude. I have teenage kids and I hear this kind of stuff from their friends now and then and it makes me sad. They are all great, smart, hard working kids and don’t deserve to be treated as if they’re always doing or about to do something naughty. The only thing i can tell you put your nose to the grindstone and get through it, then go to college far, far away and start practicing drawing you lines in the sand. It’s a good thing you are savvy about these issues now, or else it could bleed into your entire life. You’re smart to be mindful about it. When you get the chance to start working on your boundaries it may hurt but stick with it or it could be really bad forever. You have to be a strong and loving son, not cruel, but not a doormat either. Wishing you the best.

      • Some Dude

        Thank you very much. I’ll keep that in mind when I go to college. My stress and anxiety have adversely affected my academic performance but I am slowly regaining part of what I lost there. But glad to here the help

  • someone

    Im 37, and have spent the last 3 weeks of my vacation with my parents, cause they phone, knock on my door, phone some more, and just pushes themself on to me so much, that I just surrender and said ‘-Fine, do that’ to all there requests. Im single cause they always done this, my whole life, I have no confidence and no outlooks for any relationships. I have canceled dates, cause I know I would have to explain for them, what I will be doing that weekend. Im 37 with fulltime work, and I need to explain for them what Im gonna do every day when Im free from work. To the story comes that they divorsed when I was 14, and they never talk to eachother, so I have to explain twise every free day of my life. Im broken down, and I just say ‘-Fine, do that’. They want to come and water the plants, that they put outside my house, ‘-Fine, do that’. They wounder why I dont go out anymore and want to sleep away my vacation. Can’t they connect the dots, I tried everything during the years, explain to them, cut them out of my life, nothing has worked. When it comes to relationships, noone I could ever find would be good enough for my mom. I think she wants either to move in with me or (both) want me to be 6 years old. They say that they are sorry for not letting me have a childhood, and still they continue like this. I’m a broken man.

    • Kat

      In your place I would move. As far away from them as possible.

      If you can’t move to another city, at least move to a different address and change your phone number.
      Also start telling them ‘NO!’.Take control of your life. It’s YOUR life. Good luck!

      • Abnaxus

        Yep, what KAT says! If they’re like 60-70 and still doing this…they probably couldn’t change if they tried. Don’t wait til you’re 60 and they’re dead to start being happy. Do everything that makes you happy NOW. Only YOU will be able to change this if they can’t. Bbogi, what do you love? Movies, comics, pets, hiking, fixing things….you need to know this so you have a target to move towards.

        I have a huge family that settled in one area. I felt suffocated by their religion and requests to be social. I moved a few miles down the road and I was able to breathe. But I needed a bigger home, and the best one was back in my parents’ sub. I had time away from this and I can now set boundaries. And as soon as I’m financially able, I will probably move to a place where houses aren’t right next to each other. I hate subdivisions. I prefer nature. Even well meaning parents can’t resist driving by your house, then calling later to ask about the car in your driveway! Parents can stalk as much as exes. I tell my son, I don’t care what he does as long as he doesn’t grow up and become a jerk to people! I want him to have lots of quality friends/relationships in his life at every stage of life. I want this because when I die, I don’t want to be the only person he got to be close to. Get me?

        So don’t vanish away. Remember back to the one thing you loved doing to the point you were unaware of time passing. Find your passion. Set boundaries. Support groups and counselors MAY help. But nothing works like taking action and tweaking your plan. Some kundalini yoga wouldn’t hurt either. Getting outside away from the lying television is good too. Most people are stuck in behavior ruts and resist change. Just change some part of your routine. Don’t let your age number fool you. The best part of your life happens when you get past the immature stage of teens and early 20s. The best part happens when you get your wisdom and your courage… that often happens for people at 40 or 50….younger if you’re fortunate. I’ve been through stuff I don’t even like to burden people with…….and I can still say there’s a lot of fun things about being single. Know yourself fully before committing to one person. You can do this, bbogi. Peace

    • bbogi

      Someone, how much I can relate to what you write! I am forty and I have to explain everything to my Mother, call her for hours every day no matter how tired I am or in the unlikely event if I want to go out she demands I call her when I get back ‘no matter how late’ and she is wondering why, if I’m supposedly a good-looking professional woman yet I am still not married yet noone is ever good for her. She also wishes we spend all holidays together as she is alone since my father died 17 years ago. Whenever I explain that I would like to live my life and finally do what I really would like to be doing, or suggest that we talk a bit less, let’s say about half an hour every day she says it is perfectly fine as she anyhow hates long phone-calls…then talks and asks etc. etc. so that the calls go on and on forever. And this has always been going on since I was 14 and was sent away to boarding school. I feel it has killed my joy of life and I am vanishing away. I know my sadness is no consolation to you but maybe you can find consolation in the fact that you are not alone. Good luck to you and my very best wishes!

    • Alex Domanovic

      you’re lucky you got a “sorry”. i don’t think ill ever even receive that. im 36 unemployed and at currently with parents. i dread every moment.

  • Broken

    My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. We have faced many challenges together and have gotten through them stronger than ever. My boyfriend is 29, and I am 24, recently divorced. Ever since his parents found out that we stay together occasionally, have been bound and determined to break us up.
    My boyfriend has been through this experience before with another woman. His mother despised her because she didn’t have a college education and worked at a bar as a waitress. She refused to call her by her name and referred to her as miss. Wherever. He was 25 when he moved out of his parents house, because of this other person, and shortly after she broke up with him because of the disrespect his parents had for her.
    About a year or so after this had happen, we had met. It was amazing, we both were so happy we had found someone that had all the qualities we were looking for in someone else. We only has one issue, I was still going through a very bad divorce. When I had told my boyfriend about the situation, he thought about his options and decided to be with me through the whole thing. And I couldn’t of asked for a better person.
    So after the situation was taken care of he planned a meeting with his mother. I was terrified, based on what his closest friends had said about this woman, if she didn’t like me, we weren’t going to last long because of what happened before. So naturally I was freaking out, and to what I thought went well, turned out for the worst. She refused to call me his girlfriend for the longest time. She would introduce me as his friend, but who am I to correct her. It should of been her son. So after every gathering I would say, babe why won’t your mom call me your girlfriend? And he would always say I Don’t Know. This was my 1st really big red flag, I found out what it was, and it was because she didn’t know. She really claimed that she didn’t know. But we as women aren’t dumb or nieve.
    So as our relationship progressed, I started really picking up on other tell tell signs. Every Monday he would go to their house and she would do his laundry, as well as make him a casserole to take home for the week. I confronted him about it and he said it was because he didn’t have a washer/dryer because he lived in apt. And it was his time to spend with them. So I didn’t necessarily let it go, but I but my tounge when it needed to be bitten. I was constantly saying in jokes and when his friends were around must be nice to have your parents do your laundry. Maybe you should think about getting your own washer/dryer so you can start doing your own stuff. And he constantly agreed with me but never did so. About 6 months into our relationship he decided he wanted to buy a house, and I thought wow he really is wanting to move on with his life that’s awesome. And the journey began. Keep in mind we weren’t living together. He would constantly ask my opinion of houses and eventually he found one that he loved and I liked it too. Well his parents gave him as a gift 30,000 to help put a down payment. This shot up another red flag to me. I asked him are you sure you can’t do it on your own? And he said it was a gift, and that they aren’t going to try and control his house. So here comes the s*** storm. My third red flag, after buying the house and moving in, his dad would come over once a week to do yard work and other things around the house to fix them up, and I would be asked to not spend the previous night there. This would cause huge arguments between us, because I felt like he was hiding our relationship from them because he was ashamed of me. Mind you, I have a bachelors degree in pre medicine, 2 associates one in piano theory and another in general studies, I have a really good job. And they didn’t know anything else about me. So we finally agreed that I would stay the night and see what happens.
    So after getting ready for work and walking out the front door, of ourse his dad was there. I went and said hello and left to go to work. This was the ultimate beginning of the full outbreak.
    His parents became furious. They said how dare I have a key to their home and be living there mooching off their son, and manipulating him into splitting their family up.
    I have never been so disrespected in my life. Especially from people that pride themselves on being good Lutherans.
    This caused huge rifts in our relationship. They demanded that I give the key back or they were going to involve law enforcement. Which they cannot do since it’s in their sons name, they are constantly telling their son that he is breaking up their family.

    • Michael Pue

      Dear “Broken,”
      as a 33 year old married man that has a wife whose mom and step-dad consistently treat the both of us as though we are not adults and treat us like they have a right to our private marital business, i.e. every time we are a little behind on a bill they somehow know about it and demand to come over and discuss whatever horrible deceptive act I’ve done behind my wife’s back to cause this minor temporary financial problem, I felt a strong urge to reply to you, even though our dilemmas are not really similar. But that’s not entirely accurate. The details are different, but what it comes down to is that both of our situations involve our significant others’ parents refusing to treat us and respect us as adults. In your case, you have the additional issue of your significant other seemingly hiding the relationship from his parents. He needs to stand up for you! In my marriage there have been times when I heard my own dear sweet and usually kind mother insulting my wife to me when my wife left the room. She made an offensive comment concerning the woman I cherish, love, and married. I responded by defending my wife, saying “Mom I love you but you will NOT speak about my wife that way ever again, I don’t care what the argument is.” By doing this I established to my mom that while I still love her, my loyalties are with the woman I married and I will always be on her side till the day I die. If your relationship is serious enough that you are living together, and his home is YOUR home, it is entirely wrong and inappropriate for him to ask you to hide from them. You MUST present a united front to his parents, and he must be on board with you 100%, his parents have no say over the actions under YOUR roof, whether they contributed 30,000 or 1 million, it was given as a gift and as a tool for manipulating his life or your lives together. If this home is in his name then it is impossible, and frankly laughable, that they think they can get law enforcement to do something. The police would laugh in their faces and say, “Your child is a grown man, we cannot go to a house that doesn’t belong to you (his parents) and make him kick out his girlfriend. However, him and his girlfriend CAN file harassment charges against you if you choose to keep hounding them.” That brings me back to my situation. My wife’s mother keeps insisting that I’m wrong for thinking our finances and our marital issues are our own private things to be handled between husband and wife, she insists that being family magically gives her the right to such information. This goes COMPLETELY against what my wife and I were taught in pre-marital counseling and what we’ve been taught AGAIN in current counseling, both times by college degreed experienced counselors being professionally paid to give us this advice, and what they said was it is vital that these issues be handled between the two of us without outside influence or interfering from any family members etc, because doing so can lead to us having a wedge put between us. They confirmed my belief and demand that any marital issue that my wife and I do not seek advice on from her mother is NOT her place to comment on, or pretty much speak to us about at all whatsoever unless one of us gives her the right to that info by asking her to open her dang face on the subject. (After many polite and respectful requests from both my wife and myself to stay out of our marital business she wouldn’t stop, so I became more assertive, MUCH more assertive, and told her to but out as told or we’ve agreed to cut off all communications and family visits, and if we’re still not respected as adults we’re moving out of state at the end of our current lease) Anyway, I repeat, your boyfriend needs to be loyal to you, especially since moving in together puts you more in the roles of husband and wife than bf and girlf, he needs to aggressively defend you and demand your relationship be respected as an adult relationship. If he doesn’t, you may want to ask him if he’s really ready to commit.

      • Jane C

        In a relationship that is heading toward life partnership, each person in that relationship at some point may need to remind their parents that being parents does not mean you can be a tyrant or dictator or accuse adult children of certain things.

        I agree that at this stage it is critical to see whether the partners can stand up for each other, when the situation warrants. This is part of asserting one’s own independence and right to live one’s own life with a chosen partner, without undue negativity or blatant sabotage.

        The reality is that if one of the partners is not able or willing to do the standing-up right now, it does not get better once there is a commitment: it gets worse.

  • Jenna

    It’s a slight relief to see how many others are in similar situations! Many much worse than mine. But I still feel trapped.. I’m not an only child, I’m a happy newlywed at 22 with a 27 year old sister (So in a sense I lived as an only child at home for 5 years). My dad is a sweet, quiet man that honestly ends up enabling mom’s crippling behaviors. For my whole life, she has used every detail that I’ve given her and found a way to eventually use it against me. I try to tell her less and less about my life, but somehow I end up feeling a sense of guilt somewhere and feel the need to include her in the details of my life. It could be anything, from telling her we don’t know if we’re going to move closer to my job in a few months, because we might be looking into moving to a graduate school a few months after that. The discussion sharply turns into a lecture on how a graduate degree can be a waste of money, and explains in detail how long it takes to pay off a loan, also mentioning that if we move further North we aren’t going to have the right kind of jackets to wear, etc. etc. Any small detail that is released from my mouth turns into a big deal that I obviously haven’t thought through and must be doing something wrong. It’s exhausting. She calls almost every day, sometimes a few days apart, but also sends texts and facebook messages. If I don’t answer every call, and every message, she leaves messages like “Well of course I can’t get in touch with you” or “since you aren’t answering your phone, I’m going to have to type out everything I want to tell you. It would be so much easier if you’d just answer the phone.” It’s so hard, because she always wants to buy me things and offer her help, and I feel bad denying her, but it comes with a lot of extra baggage, every time. I started calling her and saying “I’ll have to go in 20 or 30 minutes because (insert reason here),” but she started responding “well you’re the one who called me, it’d be nice if you’d actually make time to talk to me.” I’ve tried to cut a conversation at 45 minutes before, and she snapped that I didn’t care about her. She’s even caused me to go over my phone bill for the month. She lives alone at the house 5 days a week (my dad travels for work), and she is going through some health issues, which also concerns me. It doesn’t help that my sister is also clingy in the same way, and enjoys calling to talk to my mom for hours every day. So mom expects us to be the same. This drives my (new) husband up the wall, and me too, but I don’t know how to change our routine! I’m very busy trying to start a new job, and it’s really cutting into my productivity, not to mention the stress. She complains to me that we live closer to his family than to her – she is only 2 hours away! One of the worst parts of our relationship is that she has no respect for any of my other relationships. She has always picked at my friends flaws and complained that I like them more. She goes through MINUTE details of other people’s lives, pulling them apart and trying to magnify their errors. If I ever tell her about something that I’ve decided to do, she consults anyone else who will listen and gets back to me about how I could be wrong. I know for a fact that she doesn’t know she’s this way or clingy, because she gossips to me about other of her ‘friends’ being clingy parents, and it’s the exact same kind of things she does to me. I read a book once about having manipulative parents, and it helped me cope for a few months, but I’m right back to feeling the full stress. I thought she might understand leaving me alone more after getting married, but it is the same old deal. I really feel like I’m drowning some days. I hate to say it, but it is RARE that I am glad to talk to my mom.

    • Nadia

      Sorry to see that you have had these problems Jenna with your daughter. It sounds as though she is being controlled by her boyfriend, if it is out of the ordinary for her to cease contact all together or is this something that has happened before. What concerns me, is if you have not heard from her then you have no idea how she is, where she lives and her contact details. I understand she is a grown woman, but she is also your daughter and you have a right to know if she is okay. Would contacting the police help at all as you could say you are worried for her safety and locate her, even if its just to know that she is okay. Do you know of any of her friends or relatives that would know her contact details so you are able to either contact her yourself or ask them to relay a message telling her that you love her and that you have some things going on and would really appreciate her getting in touch. Its a ‘treading’ carefully situation as if she is being controlled, the worst thing in the world you can do, is directly ask her if she is being controlled by this man, as she will most probably, leap in to defend the ‘boyfriend’. Once you get in touch, explain how you was really worried for her and just wanted to know she was safe and okay. Arrange another time to call and so on and gradually open up the communication to the point where she trusts you wont put any pressure on her in terms of her boyfriend, but at the same time, she realises that you are pleased to hear from her and always there for her. I hope this helps and try to look after yourself. You are bound to be concerned for your daughter, but your daughter should also be concerned about you x

    • A road travelled

      Jenna, your situation has pulled me to respond. I am at the tail end of care and obligation to my mother. She has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I have had a lifetime of guilt and feeling smothered and now I am pulled in to even greater responsibilities with her. Fortunately, I have done a lot of work in my 55 years so this journey is actually healing for both of us. I’m surprised to be saying that, but glad it is so.
      As I read your account, I see my younger self. I hope in the 2 years since you have posted, your burdens have lightened.
      I will offer a view from an outsider who understands…
      You are being too nice. You need to forget about explaining to your mother. As Jane stated in the article, that will only frustrate both of you as she clearly doesn’t empathize with you. She will swallow you if you give her too much. She is not acting kindly towards you or respecting you. I know my saying this probably makes you feel guilty for saying ‘bad’ things about your mother. It seems that you own too much.
      One of my biggest guilts was not being the daughter that my mother wanted me to be. I didn’t like to chitchat. I didn’t want to talk on the phone. We were very different. It took years for me to see that she wasn’t the mother that I wanted either. For some reason, I didn’t see that side of the equation. All I saw was how I had disappointed her.
      I know you are trying to compromise by phoning her and saying ‘I’ll have to go in 20 or 30 minutes.’ But it won’t work. She will swallow you. You need to be OK with disappointing her. And you need to be OK showing her who you really are. Don’t explain. Just act. Practice just saying you have to go 20 minutes into your conversation rather than stating it at the beginning. If she reacts, treat her like a toddler who is not getting her way. Reassure her that you’ll talk to her again soon but right now you have to go. It will take some time for her to adjust to the new confident you who is in charge of your life. But SHE WILL!
      Your mother is taking your life energy. She doesn’t see you for who you are. Take the control away from her. It will be hard – very hard – but you need to do it to stop suppressing yourself.
      The challenge for you is dealing with the fear of losing her even though you don’t want her. Ironic isn’t it?
      I wish you the best Jenna.

      • Aidin

        Thank you so much for your post…..I am also a younger you. Just reading your lines…has lifted so much guilt atleast for now. I am sorry that you are going through the care giving portion of life, I am a hospice cna. It is very hard and I empathize with you. I will keep you in my prayers and once again, thank you for your input, it helps more than you know for those going through the same thing.

        • A road travelled

          I’m so glad I could help Aidin. It is a journey and the guilt comes and goes. It’s hard. But keep practicing acting the way you want to be. It’s far too easy to lose yourself if not – and then you find yourself being swallowed up in other relationships too.
          Thank you for your kind words regarding care giving. You are right, it is a challenge but also an amazing opportunity for me to finally deal with those tangles that are still there. I didn’t do enough practicing at your age unfortunately.
          It seems that the bottom line is that we are nice girls. We have been taught to acquiesce to the wants of others. Changing the rules makes us feel guilty and we look to social and spiritual cues to agree with that guilt. But we are just feeding the programming that has been installed. It’s not only OK to put up boundaries – it is essential if someone is swallowing you – knowingly or not. I have no doubt that you are an amazing person Aidin. The only way the world gets to see you shine is if you are being wholly you. You can only do that when all of the puppet strings are gone. And I also have no doubt that you will still be a kind person!
          I am very kind to my mother but I have hired help and have boundaries in place so I can breathe and enjoy my life. She has changed so much with me that my guilt now comes from her being so understanding. I know she would rather have me with her all the time, but I need to remind myself that it’s not my job to live her life – never was. She has her own lessons to learn even now and I can’t protect her from them.
          Those nudges of guilt are just from the programming that she installed many years ago saying that I was responsible for her.
          Sending you hugs and blessings Aidin…

  • Kara

    I have a situation where my 25 year old daughter lives 200 miles away,
    and I am concerned about the fact that if something happened to her, I
    wouldn’t know it. I never speak to her unless I contact her. I’ve not
    texted her for nearly a month, and never heard from her within that time
    span. I have asked her to please just text a note just to let her
    father and I know she was all right. She now has a boyfriend, whom we
    know nothing about. I asked her to give her boyfriend our number, and
    she give us his, in case of an emergency. She has refused to do so.
    Now, she and her boyfriend have moved in together, and she will not tell
    us her new address. This makes me worry more about her safety. To be
    honest, I am afraid the boyfriend may be controlling her. I grew up in a
    home where my parents and I called each other if we were going out of
    town, etc., for safety reasons. My daughter has never been one to share
    anything about her life with me. I’ve always found it difficult to
    talk to her, because everything is off limits. I’ve even asked her to
    tell me what I could talk to her about. I am not doing well health
    wise; and, the stress with not knowing where my daughter is living is
    not helping. I don’t know what I have done for her to act in such a
    way. I have asked her to tell me what I have done so I could understand why she is the way she is to no avail.
    If someone out there has a similar situation, please help me. I don’t
    want to cut my daughter off entirely, but I don’t want to further damage
    my health with the stress either. I love my daughter unconditionally.
    I constantly tell her that. I am not the type of mother that is
    controlling. She knows that, although sometimes I might play devil’s
    advocate, and I do not always agree with her decision (no parent does), I
    will support whatever decision she makes. I’m in a lot of pain right now.

    • Kyle

      When you say “My daughter has never been one to shareanything about her life with me”, can you think about any reasons for it? I ask this because I’m very closed to share anything with my parents too, and they are to blame. When I was younger (now I’m 25), I would share problems and trivial stuff with my parents, and they would tell everyone about it: family members, friends, etc…and it could be about anything: bad grades, a girl I was fond of, troubles, life decisions. This made me not want to share anything else with them, and now they play the guilt card to make me do it again, but I won’t.

      • Marina

        Amen to that Kyle. I wondered for a second if, Kara, you are my Mom, ha, though of course you are not – but even your sentence structure and word choices are eerily similar. I must say it´s worth considering Kyle´s perspective.

        Your daughter is an adult and she has reasons for her actions. All relationships are a two way street, so I would consider looking into any ways in which you may have crossed her boundaries in the past. I do not tell my mother personal information in spite of her “worries” because she does not really listen, then exaggerates the little she remembers to use as fodder for stories to tell her friends. The frightening thing is the worse my situation, the happier she is to make use of it. Her “concern” is very rarely (very close to if ever) directed towards helping me to solve problems or to protect me.

        Truth be told, one of the main reasons many women end up with controlling partners is because they grew up being controlled by one or both of their parents and that is familiar to them. Whether or not this is the case with your daughter seems unclear to you and to us readers as well, since she apparently, “never” tells you anything. I hope you will consider that this may be the case. If you are truly concerned of abuse, it is best to contact a professional or someone your daughter may be more comfortable speaking with. I do not support triangulation methods of communication, but if this is a case where there may be violence involved, and you think she may be better able to hear another person than yourself, contact that outside party for professional assistance and I MUST stress, not for a pity party for yourself – only if this is to actually help your daughter. If not, let her be and respect her choices.

        And another point I´d like to mention: you use a significant amount of “always” and “never” statement, which, just from an outsider´s perspective rings false and I´m very sorry to say it, but manipulative towards your readers. Has you daughter really “always” been this way? Has she really “never” been one to share? Most children are happy to share their lives with their parents – it´s built into our DNA, so more than likely there has been some kind of boundary violation (or, I would guess repeated violation) that has cause her to react as she does. Consider whether you are really being truthful or if this is more about looking for audience sympathy.

        Alarm bells are ringing in my head when I read your story. Oh – another thing, please read about the Karpman triangle. It´s set up very clearly in your story. And, okay, one really final point: you say that you love your daughter unconditionally, ok, fine, but then you provide what appears to be proof of this, which is that this is a thing you tell her all the time. A: Words do not equal truth, even if you are speaking them to yourself. B: Are you sure you do not tell her this to make her feel guilty for not complying to how you wish for her to behave as well as to manipulate us into thinking you are a perfect Mom and she is a bad daughter? Again, relationships take two.

    • Kat

      Just because things were a certain way with your parents does not mean that’s the best way or that everyone (including your daughter) has to abide by that. People and situations are different. So please stop putting these expectations on you daughter.
      The thing is, even if you knew her address etc, it would hardly help her in an emergency and it would not help her avoid any emergency or bad situation. So you would stress just the same if you knew her address and all the phone numbers, if what you are stressing about is indeed her safety. Most other parents are not stressing. So the problem is with YOU. Perhaps you should talk to a psychologist about your stress and hopefully they can help you resolve it.

      Don’t stress. Just trust God. How would your knowing where she is help or protect her from anything. She is 25, not 5. Then you say you want to cut her off completely? That makes no sense, cuz if you are truly stressing because you are worried for her safety, how would cutting her off help you stop worrying about her safety? My guess is you are stressing not primarily cuz you are worried for her but cuz you want to control her. And yes, you definitely sound like a controlling mother, though you do not seem to realize that you are. You should respect your daughter’s boundaries and privacy. She is not a child anymore. You should respect her. And also respect her right not to tell you everything you want to know.

      I would like to add that I agree with the other person who commented that it seems there is a reason she does not want to give you her address or tell you anything. For example she may be worried you will come over uninvited and try to control her and stress her out. She is over 21. She is certainly an adult. May I suggest, stop causing all this stress TO HER and let her live her life in peace. This control and guilt trips are not good for HER health. As a mother her health should concern you. Just call her once a month like you do. What’s wrong with that? She responds, doesn’t she? Perhaps one day that will change and she will call you more, but for now that is how things are. And if you truly love her, you will treat her with respect and will not even consider cutting her off for a reason like that. I do not understand how a good mother can even consider cutting off her daughter cuz the latter will not do or tell her exactly what she wants.

      • Monica G

        It sounds like you are hurt that your daughter doesnt want to be your BFF like perhaps you and your Mom. She does not want that closeness and it hurts. Maybe she think you are noisy or controlling. If I were you I would just let back off and be happy she can take care of herself and has someone to love her. You should see a professional if this is causing you a lot of stress.

  • Natasha Quinonez

    This sounds very similar to my mother, but it’s worse because I have a 4-year-old. She basically makes it seem like I OWE her visits with my daughter because she raised me for 18+ years. It has gotten to the point that my husband refuses to allow ANY visits at all – day, overnight, or otherwise. I just want to know what I can do to get my mother to back off and notice that SHE is being the problem, not me.

  • Pam

    well I have sorta similar situation. I can’t afford real therapy so I surf the internet lol My mom has never really liked me,no really for reasons I think I know,but not sure you know. She is a bigot for one thing,my father is hispanic,yeah I know,weird. So…she has always favored my younger brother ,partially because hes the bay and partially because he has much more white genes then I do for sure ,he’ all white and stuff.My kids are grown now,I am 50 years old,I have battled my whole entire life with her,she has always had my dad who always took care of her,he was a sailor,I however wasn’t so blessed I have been married three times,all not so caring men,so I raised my kids on my own,all by myself.My first divorce she and my dad were moving from the state where they lived,she told me ( I was 26) she would take my kids from me if I didn’t move with them,so I got scared and I did. She has been trying to have me locked up in a looney place since I was 16,I fought that hard every time,thank goodness for good judges. Ok,so making a much longer story,shorter. My third marriage was absolutely fairytale,very happy,however after 13 years he told me he is gay. So I kinda lost it a bit,ran away from home if ou will,my kids were then grown too. THEN she suddenly and out of nowhere decided (I was 45) to be my friend,she gave me money,a shoulder to cry on,all the things I kinda needed when I was 16.( she was 16 when she had me) and then I came into myself after a long journey with yet another bad man. And now that I won’t retire with her and I choose to do whatever the hell I want she won’t talk to me almost at ll if she does she is degrading,depressing,negative,mean. Anyway,,,any insight would be great AND also to let y’all you are not alone and I personally think its ok to live your own life!!!!

  • Skip Beyer

    I am a 62 year old male and I am a mental health counselor. I do well with clients and enjoy my job but my 89 year old mother continues to be demanding of my time and I can identify with the article ; “how to deal with a clingy overbearing mother”. I am one of five siblings but mom wants me to be her counselor and tends to touch inappropriately, complains all the time about life in general and does not want to spend her money on herself and has become a sort of miser. She has more money than most. We don’t want the money. We want to see her happy. No amount of suggestions seems to apply to her. She wants to advise us on everything, critiques our bodies ie clothing and weight. She is critical of everyone in our family. If any of you have a suggestion or two as to how I can handle this better I would be most appreciative. She can be delightful company, and a good conversationalist, but tends to pit me against her so she can fight verbally. Sincerely, Fr. Skip S. Beyer

    • Chris

      Uh…..she is 89. Dude just stop seeing her. Get a new phone #. She probably does not drive and she will croak any day. Unless she is a gazillionaire and you are afraid she will leave you out of her will what’s the point? Problem solved. Sheesh.

      • Rema Tanner

        Please go away. You clearly have no business offering advise or carry any understanding of the fragile nature in which people who have been beaten down by the one’s who are supposed to love them unconditionally. My mother is a powerhouse of emotional distress in my life, but I don’t relish the thoughts of her dying. Good luck to your parents, you impish troll. Hahaha! Good luck to you when you’re 89 too. You’re as sick as the demented minds that fuck up our lives from birth.

        • Alex Domanovic

          what else does he have? i can see why he said what he said and i dont blame him at all.

    • Monica G

      That’s awful advice. Dude just bear with her crap she’s so old she makes old broads look young. Make sure you inherit everything since the other 4 do not have to deal with her BS.

    • Offering Cherub

      Sometimes all you can do is simply love her unconditionally, honor her while protecting your own heart. It sounds like you have a clear grasp on the situation. It’s tough, but how sweet and precious it is that your mother is still living and though it sounds like a tough situation, you see the good and haven’t grown bitter

    • Mark Hasbeen

      Ah, I know how you feel and it is a complex situation. Advice such as “cut her off” really isn’t helpful, if you did you’d also be hurting yourself in ways you do not deserve.

      I am 41 and my mother is 73. I don’t look bad for my age at all, I am in pretty good shape and have few wrinkles. But my mother is constantly telling me I need to lose weight (I’m 14 pounds over my ideal) and saying how old I look. She has a picture on the wall of me when I was 20, which was pretty flattering at the time. The other week she was holding it up next to me: smiling at the photo and sneering at me, as if she couldn’t believe the state of me now. The irony is she looks her age, is going bald herself and has always been very overweight.

  • Robin

    Wow! The devil IS a liar. Reading these posts gives me a sense of relief that I’m not overreacting, but simply reacting normally to an abnormal amount of excessive emotional abuse. My mom died years ago when I was 22. But my father has always been disturbed, inappropriate, stupid and a stalker. According to him, I’m suppose to take my mother’s place; that is cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. He’s never come out and said that I’m suppose to step into my mother’s shoes, but it’s that action speaks louder than words mentality. I’m my own person and not at all his expectations.

    Now that he’s old, he’s an old disturbed, inappropriate, stupid stalker.

    I’m 55 (count ’em 55 years old). After my divorce, I put up a hard and long 7 year fight to keep my home. However, I had to end up selling the home in a short sale and move back home with my father. It was either move back home or live on the street, and the street is starting to look pretty good now.

    It angers me that I’ve always have to be conscious of what I wear. He stares at my breast, (he did this before I had to move back home) drops things on the floor on purpose so I’ll bend down to pick “it” up. I learned to let whatever “it” is stay on the floor from a looong time ago (he’s a pig). What’s the saying? ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.’

    He stalks me throughout the house. If I get a phone call, he’ll stand outside my closed door and listen to my conversation. He hides in different places throughout the house, so when I walk out of my room to go to work, the gym, a date or just anywhere, he’ll spring out like the stalker he is, so he’ll know when I’m leaving.

    If by chance I happen to leave without his knowledge, he’ll wait in the middle of the street (I live on a cul de sac) until I get home. He’s made me hate him. He feels entitled to my life and as if I owe him something.

    Showering is hell. When I first moved in, I was cleaning the spare bathroom. When I came out (fully clothed, mind you) that freak was standing outside the bathroom door. I’ve to take everything into the bathroom with me; and go in and come out fully clothed. Should I forget an article of clothing i.e., underwear, I’ll have to fully dress, go in my room and retrieve the article, then go back into the bathroom (making sure at ALL TIMES the door is locked and curtains are drawn) disrobe and come out again fully dressed.

    This can’t go on, and I’m saving money to get away from him. It’s so sad because we could have had a great relationship at this point in our lives. But he’s made that impossible.

    Really, I’m no rose and I don’t think any of us on this page are making that claim. However, I’m quite aware of my shortcomings and try to be thoughtful of others, unlike my father who is unwilling and probably not capable of examining his own behavior.

    • Sarah Klas

      Honestly, it sounds like it’s time to bring in some professionals to see if dementia is partly a factor, because you don’t deserve this. No one does.

  • Megan

    I am 20 years old and have lived away from my parents for the majority of the last 7 years however my mother still acts as if I am 13. She has complete access to my bank account and is constantly checking it. At one point she thought i was an alcoholic cause I spent $150 at a bottle shop before a party. She also invites herself to my house and then goes through everything whilst ‘cleaning’. Like a lot of others, whenever I try to talk to her she then begins to act like a child and make me feel so ashamed for feeling angry and frustrated with her. I almost want to just leave cause I really don’t know what else to do. I have just been diagnosed with Depression and a lot of the issues related are to do with my mum and what she has done in the past and is continuing to do.

    • The_Professional

      I had to threaten to call the cops bro. If your name is on the lease/deed, brook no violations of your home

    • Mark Hasbeen

      How on earth does she have access to your bank account?! Call the bank & stop it now!

      However, if it is because she is financially supporting you, then you are part of the problem.

  • Anonymous

    Moms are annoying as hell. At least Dads know when to give their adult kids space.

    Also one thing I hate about overbearing moms is that if your the child of her ex, she will hate every part of you. I can’t stand single moms, & I’m the product of one

  • DES

    I admire everyone posting…expressing your feelings, current difficulties, and hurtful pasts is so emotionally exhausting and I really appreciate the time people took to type out their rants & stories. They’ve allowed me to not feel alone. I myself have infinite rants regarding my mother.

    I am an only child to my single (by choice) mother. I am 25 years old. Through my entire life my mother has never had a significant other/romantic partner. She never once had a boyfriend or girlfriend (she is VERY openly bisexual) that I knew about or was introduced to, and has basically spent her entire life following my birth single. Unfortunately I am her whole world; the goldenchild, the support system/therapist, her only supply of long-term attention & emotional validation. It’s extremely exhausting on so many levels.

    My mother essentially kept me from my father my entire childhood, and constantly slandered him whenever I asked about him or wanted to see him. She “allowed” him to see me during major holidays like christmas and my birthday. My Gma (her mother), who was practically an angel sent from heaven, would call my father when my mother was at work and tell him when/where my school events were and arrange secret outings for us. Unfortunately my Gma passed away when I was in 3rd grade (I miss her everyday), and my father no longer had an ‘insider’ to my life. I never blame my father for not ‘trying hard enough’ to be in my life, as he already had two daughters with a separated wife and did not have the resources or time to fight for any custody. My mother very clearly exploited him for a child, and I have reason to believe she either sabotaged or lied about birth control. She never intended to have any serious relationship with him, and (as I mentioned earlier) slanders him openly and “just can’t stand him”. On top of all that, she complains to anyone who will listen about “how he was never around for her”, “never gave any child support”, “was never a real father to her”. Yet, she never allowed him to do so and never once asked him for money. Every time I got a chance to be with him he would give me money directly, because he knew giving the money to her would just allow her more chances to control me. Clearly she is incredibly selfish and manipulative, I can understand that he didn’t want to deal with her if he didn’t have to.

    I’m very happy to say that I have a great relationship with my father & his family, now that I have control over my own life and can spend time with them whenever I want. But this is bittersweet, because anytime my mom finds out about us hanging out, a huge guilt trip ensues. She goes directly for the “I raised you your entire life and you’d rather give your time to HIM” (literally her exact words, said on multiple occasions). When I tell her that her obvious guilt trip is unacceptable, she immediately begins to cry and enters a fit of denial and deflection, saying “it’s not a guilt trip at all, that’s how I genuinely feel”. This doesn’t just apply to him, she reacts this way concerning any contact I have with any of my family from his side, and even sometimes when I go out with my friends. When I express happiness regarding my half siblings (who I didn’t meet until I was 19) she is blatantly disinterested and perturbed. It’s a mess of a pity party…and as a result she’s forced me to lie to her about anything pertaining to me being around them.

    Actually, I feel I need to lie to her about many things now, simply to avoid or postpone her imminent drama. She fabricates situations of her life almost regularly…usually to defend herself, force herself into a conversation/group, or get all the focus/attention on her. Unfortunately, she has basically taught me how to effectively lie to her.

    After much reflection of her intense traits and reading/research, I’ve come to believe that she suffers from histrionic personality disorder, or at the very least exhibits hpd tendencies. Obviously I cannot diagnose her in any way, and she would never agree with such a notion. If I even mentioned this concept to her there would most likely be an extreme emotional ordeal of “how dare you”s and “how could you even”s. It’s draining just thinking about it.

    While she was a great mother to me as a child (feeding me well, buying me things I wanted, traveling with me, etc.), I can see very clearly now that she was pretty controlling throughout it all. And now that I’m an adult, she cannot let go of the codependency that existed when I was her child (her own, her precious). I am constantly reminding her that I am no longer her child, but now simply a daughter, who is a completely independent adult. This never sticks, if she ever actually grasps it (I have to assume she doesn’t). My long-term boyfriend encourages me to go low contact, basically give her consequences to her manipulative behavior. I really want to do this (and sometimes even entertain the idea of no contact), but I know she wouldn’t reflect on the actual reality of situation, and instead deflect everything to how horrible a daughter I am to ignore her existence. I wish I could find a resolution, where my mother could ease into realizations of her behavior and calmly understand & accept how they negatively effect her daughter (and other family members, who actively avoid her). Part of me accepts that this may never happen, she’s been that way her whole life with practically no consequence and has no catalyst or reason to think she needs to change. And if I create/voice such a need, that starts a whole dramatic chapter that I don’t think I have the emotional capacity for, as I’m just beginning my career, attending graduate school, and wanting to start a family soon.

    If anyone has a similar story or mother, what have you done to cope with all of it? Have you ever confronted her about it? Do you also feel it’s a lost cause? How do you plan for the future in terms of where your mother fits in? If you have kids do you let grandma spend a lot of time with them?
    I hope everyone can stay strong and knows that they are loved and important, regardless of how unstable their mother (and their relationship with her) is!

    • Aidin

      You sound so similar to me….though I did have a father in my life (he died when I was 15), she would get jealous of him as well. My mom demands my time daily even though I am married and moved away now…usually with a bombardment of messages (text or the like). I’ve told her I am not a sitting on the phone type…even with friends. So she’ll text me how she feels with 20 separate messages…Now she is moving to the state I moved into away from her, which I cannot control. My husband does get irritated with her co-dependency..but he has a large family so they don’t communicate nearly as much. My mom is all I have left when it comes to blood, so I get major guilt trips thinking when she’s gone I have no one that was in my life before my husband. I am always saddened that I even “need” to get away from her, she’s my mom! But I know most of that is the manipulation she has done with me as a kid…I’m your mom and no one is before me. I am so sorry that you feel the way you do, and I am sorry I understand where you come from. This article is a good step though, you have to lay boundaries, that fit YOU. Not what will help but is the least dramatic for her. If it were up to my mom…she would never have me married and would just live with her forever. You have to stand up for what you want as well, and yes, drama will follow. But you need to fight for what you need in your life, and if that’s space, then so be it. I hope you find some comfort in your life, and don’t let the guilt trips shape your own path…because you will never find peace if you live for her. Also….here is another thing that proves how strongly I needed to be free. I was pregnant and never told her, and lost the baby. I didn’t tell her for a year. When I did she was shocked I could “hide” from her like that. I told her because of her reactions, and how much she stresses me out, I was better off doing it alone. It hurt her but she did realize she needed to back off. She is yet to be a bit more “normal” but she has eased slightly, at least not calling me every hour as before. Sometimes…they need to see that they are not in control of your life anymore, and that you will not allow it. Otherwise, they always will be.

  • nic

    Reading these have made me glad that I’m not the only with these issues. I am 23 years old and sick and tired of feeling like my life decisions should revolve around the opinion of my mother. We don’t live together but are really close but if I tell her something (especially about my romantic life) that she doesn’t like, she basically berates me and tries to convince me to go about things her way. Over the past few years I have stopped telling her a lot but whenever something slips it sends our relationship into turmoil that affects me greatly. The sad part is that her opinion can guilt me so bad that I don’t even want to go through with my original plans. I have tried to tell her multiple times that if she wants to voice her opinion to me then she needs to go about it in a less demeaning way. Her response from me is that she is my mother and she can say whatever she wants. I have an older brother who lives about an hour away and keeps to himself and doesn’t let her know much about his life and I’m starting to think that is something that I need to work harder to do for my own sanity.

  • Mark Hasbeen

    I am 41 and my Mother (73) has always been domineering over me, only giving me some space when I was in a serious relationship for 4.5 years. The rest of the time she is constantly calling me, always wanting my attention, to know everything I do. It’s not like we even get on very well, always arguments. I guess I am partly to blame, as she has had to help me out financially on a number of occasions and “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

    A few years ago I went for a 90 minute snooze, woke to find 3 missed calls, 3 voicemails, a text message, an email and my sister calling me to verify I was ok as my mum had called her. That has been a fairly typical MO and she does it so that you answer the phone to her – rather than face the onslaught of communications – no matter how inconvenient it is.

    In 2014 I had a bad car accident and my mother & her partner took me in to look after me for a year, no one else could. It was very good of them, but hard for us all. I’ve now moved out, but it has given her new motivation to call me constantly and want to run every aspect of my life. My mistakes are telling her anything personal, as it always gets used against me when an argument kicks off. The relationship is complex, as she can be lovely, then suddenly say something horrible out of nowhere.

    I am just about coping financially and politely refuse any money from her, she even puts it into my account online, but I return it. She is very controlling and actually changes my flat around when ever she’s there.

    It’s got to the point now where I am considering changing my phone number or blocking her on my mobile. I have today deactivated my voicemail, just sick of so many messages. I want to have a relationship with my mother, just one where she respects what I say and how I feel. She always talks over me, never listens to my opinion, evens tells me how I feel. Very critical of me in general.

    Oh, I could go on forever, but you get the jist. I know she could die soon and I’d feel terrible. But she could also live another 15 years and get even worse…

  • Tami Wolf

    I am 47. I moved away from home in my 20s because mother became way emotionally overbearing. In 2006 she decided to up and leave her husband because he wouldn’t bow to her every command so she started acting disabled and moved in with my brother. I was so happy to only call her when I felt like it. Then after my brother wouldn’t bow to her every whim, she decides to move in with my sister. My sister has always wanted me to live with her but I refuse to until mom moves back with brother. I can’t be around my mother. I get depressed and have extreme anger and constantly feel manipulated by her. My mother moved back with my brother 5 years ago so I took the opportunity to move in with my sister and everything has been wonderful until last month. See I’ve told my sister repeatedly that if my mother attempts to move back here I will move out. My sister had assured me she wouldn’t let mom move back in. Over the last 5 years mom has always complained about living with my brother, but then she complains about whomever she lives with lol. Anyway, she managed to convince us how unhappy she was at my brothers and that if we let her come here she would have to get her own place within time. Now she is here, I am hating every minute of it, can’t stand her. She acts like a hypochondriac, tells everyone she doesn’t eat much but weights over 300 and is constantly eating. All she does is sit in her chair 24/7 unless she wants food. I stay in my room a lot to avoid her and have thoughts about wishing she would die and all kinds of things.