My Mother Is Unbearable...
Posted by Eileen Lenson on Sep 11, 2012 - 5:26:25 PM
LOS ANGELES—Life coach Eileen Lenson provides advice and support to
readers who want to improve their lives. This issue addresses questions about
an overly controlling mother, parents who lose their home and more.
Q:My mother is
overly involved in my life.I used to
like it when I was young, because it made me feel special and more loved than
my siblings.But now, as an adult, I am
resentful of her interference in my life.She is critical of my friends, my boyfriend, my neighbors...pretty much
everyone in my life.I used to trust her
judgment about people, but am beginning to realize that she has successfully
sabotaged my relationships to keep me close to her.How do I break free?
parents sometimes target a specific child as an emotional crutch, expecting
that individual to take care of them, rather than vice versa.You are demonstrating good insight into how
unhealthy the relationship has become for both of you.As an adult, you are entitled to live your
life as you wish, without her approval.
I suggest you nicely,
and matter-of-factly, explain to your mother that she did a great job raising
you, and that you now realize it is important to make decisions as an adult,
even if she does not approve of them.Assure her that in no way does this mean you are abandoning her, but
that you want to live life fully, as you are sure she wants you to do.
Expect that she will
protest, and perhaps try to manipulate you to prevent these changes.Recognize that she may be coming from a position of fear of
abandonment.With the passage of time,
she will see you living a happier and less resentful life.Your shared time together will be less conflict
ridden.A byproduct of your personal
growth may be your mother learning to take care of herself better, developing
new friends, and discovering new activities to participate in.
Parents lose house; son loses their
Q:My elderly parents recently lost their
house.After 20+ years of living in
their home, it was foreclosed.As if
that wouldn't be bad enough, it seems that I've lost my mother and father as
parents.We used to have a nice,
friendly, and caring relationship. I've tried to help them as best as I
can.I've even gone to the bank with
them, hoping something could be worked out on their mortgage, but it didn't
help.I bring them meals from time to
time, and help with the electric bill.Now they both seem angry at everything, but especially at me.What can I do?I'm finding myself getting irritated and
short with them now.
A:It's likely that your parents are grieving
the loss of their home and everything it symbolized for them.At a time in their lives when they were
expecting stability, they are facing uncertainty.As if that wasn't enough, they are
experiencing a role reversal with their child.After years of providing support, encouragement and financial support to
you, they may be feeling the shame and humiliation of depending on you for
emotional and financial support.
Be patient with your
parents as they adjust to their losses and changes.If possible, try to identify other ways they
can make contributions in your life.If
they can participate in an activity such as babysitting grandchildren, or a
project such as helping organize your garden or your photo albums, they will be
reassured they still have value and meaning in your life.
Finally, attempt to have
an open discussion with your parents about your unconditional love for
them.They may be relieved to have the
opportunity to express their worries openly with you.Personal growth and increased closeness can
be the byproduct of misfortune, if you work to make it happen.
Finding oneself after divorce
Q:My husband divorced me last year.At first, I was shocked and upset.Then, I realized that my life had been in a
rut, and that I wasn't so happy being married to him. He was very controlling,
and insisted we always do what he wanted to do.Over the years, I seem to have forgotten who I am, and what makes me
happy.I have tried to change things by
being open to new opportunities that I might have previously overlooked.But now it seems that I am wasting a lot of
time and energy, exploring different paths. What do you recommend?
A:The process you are going through in moving
forward is exciting but understandably scary.As you go forward, realize that you are learning more about yourself as
you expose yourself to different experiences.With this newly acquired information, you will be able to make better
Over time, you will
learn how to better trust your inner voice.This will help you in making authentic decisions that will help you
calibrate the correct path you wish for your life.In the meantime, keep in mind that even an
experience that is not rewarding can enhance your personal growth.So long as you look for what you can learn
from an experience, there is no downside.
There is a saying,
"The life you are living is the life that you have created. If you don’t
like it change it. Nothing will change it for you." The significant
message here is that each of us has the power to make changes in our
lives.But all too often we view
ourselves as powerless and victims of external circumstances or other
people.I commend you for owning the
responsibility for changing the aspects of your life that are not making you
happy.Embrace the exploration process
Mother-in-law is a unbearable
Q:I really, really, really, do not like my mother-in-law.She never cut the apron strings with her son
- my husband.She tries to come between
us, and undermines my role as his wife.When I am home, she finds fault with everything; my cooking, my
appearance, and even how I discipline my dog. I can only take so much from
her.I thought that over time, she would
learn to accept me and become nicer. That didn't happen.Instead, I get stomachaches when I think of
her coming over my home, and resent her immensely.I find that raising my voice to her is the
only thing that gets her attention and interrupts her negativity towards
me.My husband wants me to have a civil
relationship with her, but I don't see any signs of her changing her behavior.
A:Your problem is experienced by many.Just because you love your spouse does not
ensure harmonious relationships with their family.The secret to transforming the out-laws into
in-laws involves re-examining your perception for how you view your
responsibility in this relationship.
It appears to me that
you are waiting for your mother-in-law to change.Under these circumstances, that is highly
unlikely to occur.
Your despair in not
being able to have a civil relationship reflects a feeling of
powerlessness.This is because you are
seeing her as responsible, and you as the victim.I am not saying that she is correct in how
she relates to you.But by blaming her,
and seeing her as unbearable, you become the victim. Victims are powerless and
remain stuck and unhappy in their relationships, and nothing changes.
I don't want that for
you!Recognize that while you have no
power to change your mother-in-law, how you relate to her will influence how
she responds to you.By assuming full responsibility
for the relationship - your conversations, behavior, and responses - you will
find her responding in a healthier manner to you.
The effort you put into
assuming responsibility for your communication and behavior when relating to
your mother-in-law will bring about more positive experiences than the
resentment and fighting that you are currently encountering.
Lenson, MSW, ACSW, Board Certified Coach, is a life coach in private
practice. Prior to becoming a life coach, she was a licensed clinical
social worker for 20 years. For further information, write to her at Eileen@LensonLifeCoaching.com,
or visit her website at www.LensonLifeCoaching.com.
have a question about something in your life you would like to learn, change or
solve? Submit your questions to Board Certified Life Coach Eileen Lenson.
Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.