My Mom Is Mean: How To Deal With An Angry Parent
By: Robert Porter
Updated February 24, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Chupein
If you struggle with your relationship with your parent or guardian, then know that you're not alone. It's incredibly common for children and parents to go against each other, especially during the teenage years. Sometimes, these problems even carry over into adulthood. If you often think, "My mom is mean," this article will provide you with tools to deal with that relationship more effectively.
Most people think their parent or guardian is “mean” at some point during adolescence. Often, it is due to a child's struggle for independence while still living under parental authority; the parent is trying to keep their child safe while the child bristles against the rules (and consequences). However, there could be more going on. Sometimes parents experience mental health disorders, wrestle with dysfunction from their own formative years, or live under significant physical, emotional, or financial stress. Responses to these stimuli can often present as anger or authoritarianism within the parent-child relationship, making interactions more challenging.
If you find yourself struggling for independence when your parent does what they consider necessary to keep you safe, you may feel frustrated or angry. Those feelings are understandable, common, and valid. Even though parents’ behavior can feel controlling, uncaring, or unnecessary, their intent is often much simpler: to protect the child they love. You may find it helpful to start by sitting down with your parent at a time when things are calm and having a conversation about how to balance your desire for greater independence with their desire to protect you. A conversation that doesn’t start in the middle of a conflict may allow you to see each other’s intentions more clearly.
Understand That Problems With Parents Are Common
Whether you're still a teenager or a grown adult, parent-child relationships are very complex, and they're often problematic. It helps to keep in mind that relationship struggles between parents and children are nothing new; in fact, your parents probably experienced similar feelings in their earlier years.
Also, try to bear in mind that your parent isn't perfect—they are going to make mistakes. If your parent snaps at you, nags you about an obligation, or lacks interest in something that is important to you, you might feel disappointed or angry. Words can hurt.Sometimes, people are rude, dismissive, or even hurtful when they're going through a stressful time. It’s important to remember that parents are human.
Many individuals find that talking with a therapist about their family relationships can provide clarity and support. The licensed mental health professionals at BetterHelp can provide private online therapy according to your schedule. They have helped many users work on communicating with their family members in healthier ways, and if you are seeking healthier communication, online therapy might be a good fit for you, too.
How To Deal With An Angry Parent
If you want to improve your relationship with your parent, talk to them at a time that is not emotionally charged. Trying to get your point across while in the middle of a fight drastically limits your chances of success. Instead, talk to your parent calmly. Say something like, "We seem to argue a lot, and I think we'd both like to improve our relationship. Can we talk about that for a little bit?"
Then, as you describe the ways you feel, use "I" statements. Instead of saying, "You yell at me all the time for the silliest things," it might be more effective to say, "I feel like I can't do anything right in your eyes. I really value your approval, and I want us to have a better relationship, but I'm not sure how to do that." Try your best to listen to your parent’s statements, too.
Evaluate your own behavior and expectations. While your parent may seem angry, evaluate whether you have any part in the negative cycle of your relationship. Do you regularly disrespect them? Do you make choices that go against their personal values? You have a right to autonomy, but it may not be realistic to expect approval if you are living contrary to your parent’s rules.
Set boundaries. No two people are going to agree on everything, and sometimes larger issues will prevent a relationship from ever being healthy. To preserve your own sanity, you'll need to set personal boundaries with your parent. If you're living at home, but you're old enough to move out, you may want to start working on a plan to get your own living space where you can be more independent.
Is Your Parent Going Through A Difficult Time?
Sometimes, what appears to be anger on the surface is merely a mask for something else. Persistent anger or mood changes may spring from stressful situations like unemployment, financial troubles, times of personal tragedy or loss, or underlying mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. If you are aware of stressors in your parent’s life, one of the best things you can do is to show them that you care—by helping out around the home, offering encouraging words, or offering to listen to how they are feeling. Even parents and guardians need support in times of struggle. Supporting your parent through a difficult period could even strengthen your relationship in the long run. However, it is important to note that you are not responsible for your parent’s mental health or wellbeing. If a parent’s behaviors, even in response to hardship, turn abusive, then you should seek help and safety immediately. If you are unable to leave your home, try these tips for dealing with an abusive parent instead.
Do You Feel Safe?
In most cases, angry parents are not a threat or danger to their children. However, if you feel unsafe when you're around your parent, then that might be indicative of a bigger issue. Is your parent violent, verbally abusive, or dangerous when they are angry? Are you ever subjected to any forms of abuse, psychological manipulation, neglect, or mistreatment? Hopefully, the answers to the above questions are "no," but if you answered "yes" to even one question, then you need to seek outside help. No matter how angry your parent might be, you should never feel unsafe or endure abuse. Your parent is responsible for taking care of you and providing you with a safe home until you are a legal adult. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, then resources are available to help you.
Consider Professional Help
If you need help figuring out how to set appropriate boundaries with your parent, consider working with a mental health professional. You may also want to go to counseling with your parent to improve the relationship. Seeking outside help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, and countless relationships have been improved through individual or family therapy.
If you would like to attend counseling with your parent, you may want to speak with them about it in a way that is nonconfrontational and not accusatory. Seeking family therapy does not mean that anyone has done anything wrong; it simply means that you would like professional help to improve your relationship so that it will be better and healthier in the long term. When talking about attending counseling, focus on the ways it can help you and your parent grow closer.
BetterHelp Can Make a Difference In Your Life
Getting professional help does not have to be difficult or inconvenient. You can turn to the online therapists at BetterHelpfor assistance right away. Case studies have shown that an “effective therapeutic alliance” can be developed through online parent-child therapy sessions, and pursuing professional support for your relationship together may bring you and your parent closer together. If you find yourself struggling with boundaries toward your parent, individual therapy might also help you find a stronger path forward. Either way, BetterHelp offers the resources you need to get started.
Furthermore, the accessibility and privacy of online therapy make it a better fit than in-person therapy for younger people seeking help with family relationships. If you’re interested in one-on-one counseling, you don’t need to worry about asking your parent for rides or feeling compelled to share everything that you discuss in your confidential sessions. Help is available, and you don't even have to leave home. BetterHelp counselors have helped many people in similar situations, as these user reviews demonstrate.
"Charles has helped me navigate a difficult situation. He gave me tools and support to help myself and my family find a way to communicate. Speaking to someone with his knowledge and action advice was incredibly valuable."
"Tammi has made such a difference in my life. Had I not had her help, I'm pretty sure I would've lost all contact with my 19-year-old daughter who chose to live with her father. She understands teenagers and moms of teenagers! So kind, wise, experienced, compassionate, and level-headed, I can't say enough good about her!!"
Your relationship with your mother can improve over time. Don't hesitate to contact professionals who can help you. The anger that once defined your relationship with your mom can subside, and it can give way to love, or healthy independence. Take the first step today.
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