Dealing with an overbearing mother can be a long, hard road - particularly for a parent and adult child who live under the same roof. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to survive the difficulty of dealing with an overbearing or borderline mother or parent beyond just wishing she had done more introspection about how to be a better mother while you were growing up. Here are a few tips:
The term "overbearing" can mean different things to different people, but a general consensus acknowledges that an overbearing parent, or specifically controlling mother, is likely to be one who exerts control over her children or child’s life so they feel powerless, regularly criticizes her children to make them feel guilty, and appears unsatisfied with anything her children do. Narcissistic mothers, who seem to only care about how their child makes them look, may also be overbearing. Overbearing mothers are often dubbed "helicopter" parents, as they also tend to hover over their children - eager to offer their two cents and jump in at a moment's notice. An online therapist can help you work through these challenges.
An overbearing mother or parent can demonstrate these traits and parenting styles from the time their children are extremely young, or they can develop these traits as their children age, including infantilizing their adult child. Regardless of the exact timeline, though, this can impact a child’s developmental psychology and children can often feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the presence of an overbearing mother or narcissistic mother, and they may wish to get away from their parents altogether, in order to find some peace, even if doing so makes them feel guilt . This article will offer solutions to you and anyone dealing with an overbearing mother or overbearing parent.
If you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, or annoyed by your mother's behavior, you are not alone; psychologists have actually determined that overbearing parenting is detrimental to a child's health, and the negative effects can follow children well into adulthood. One of the most common problems associated with helicopter parenting is anxiety; children who have over-involved parents are far more likely to develop an anxiety disorder than peers whose parents give them more freedom.
Helicopter parenting can also lessen a child's ability to make their own choices, which can result in a co-dependent relationship between parent and child. While children are codependent from a young age - relying on their parents for literally everything they need to survive as they grow - they should learn how to make independent decisions, and they should begin operating separately from their parents during adolescence. People with overbearing mothers or an overbearing parent may be more likely to struggle making decisions, suffer from anxiety, have low self-esteem, and feel uncomfortable in leadership positions. All of these can negatively impact a child's quality of life, and all of these can carry over into adulthood.
Helicopter parenting can also wreak havoc on your ability to properly regulate your emotions, form social bonds, and communicate effectively with others. These are all fundamental skills that children must acquire in order to operate independently in virtually all settings - ranging from school, to the workplace, to friendships. Helicopter parenting does far more than simply irritate or frustrate children; being a controlling mother can actually stunt emotional growth. It can be difficult for parental figures to respect boundaries once they're engaging in helicopter parenting. However, speaking with a licensed therapist can help parents respect healthy boundaries.
There are certain steps you can take to mitigate the effects of having an overbearing mother, parent, or even overbearing mother-in-law and these steps can be taken at any time in your life - whether in adolescence or adulthood. Although you cannot change your controlling mother, you can change your own reactions to your mother's behavior and tendencies, and you can make your own decisions, like making sure that you are seeking out mental health help as soon as you are able, in order to take control of your own life.
Communicate. Although effectively communicating your frustration with your controlling mother or controlling parents will not necessarily solve all of the issues you are struggling with, it doesn't hurt to try the simplest solution first. Communicate with your mother - highlighting how you feel and identifying any behaviors that you feel cross a line. When speaking, make sure you use "I feel" language, rather than accusatory language, such as "Well, you always…" or similar verbiage. Communicating honestly, openly, and respectfully can open a dialogue into why the two of you are struggling in your relationship, and it can pave the way to healing.
Set Boundaries. Even if your mother or controlling parents do not respond perfectly to your attempts to communicate, you can set boundaries to make your relationship more agreeable and foster a healthy relationship. Setting boundaries will vary from family to family, but one of the simplest boundaries you can set involves the amount of input your mother has on your decisions on your own life. If you are still under the age of 18, and you still live with your mother, your ability to make your own decisions apart from hers may be limited. If you are an adult, however, you can kindly - but firmly - let your mother know that decisions will be made based on what you feel is best - rather than being made according to your mother's desires.
Cultivate Your Own Interests. If your mother is heavily involved in your life, via your hobbies, friends, and interests, work on cultivating interests, friends, and hobbies apart from your mother. This might mean trying out a new pottery class with your best friend, going rock climbing, or attending a new gym to spend time getting in shape. You might try visiting another church or reaching out to an old friend your mother is not familiar with. Whatever the exact route you take in living your own life separate from your mother’s, be sure to engage in these ventures on your own, without your mother's involvement or opinion. This isn’t self centered behavior, and you don’t need to feel guilty. Taking these steps are likely necessary for the betterment of your own mental health.
Develop Coping Mechanisms. When your mother or parent behave in a way that is overbearing or controlling, what do you turn to? Some people might turn to various substances to numb their pain or frustration, or they might find themselves reacting in anger and exploding at their toxic mother or other loved ones. None of these reactions are healthy and they can all have a negative impact on your life. You should seek out coping mechanisms that can help mitigate the symptoms of anxiety, low self-esteem, or other mental health concerns that often accompany controlling mothers and their negative parenting style. Exercise, meditation, and even keeping your hands busy through knitting or something similar can help you deal with anger and frustration when your mother exhibits controlling behavior.
Seek Outside Help. Family therapy is a type of professional help designed to help improve family dynamics for the entire family and aid in communication. If your mother will not listen to the points you have put forth and continues to exhibit controlling behavior as part of her parenting style, you might want to bring a professional into the mix in order to mediate and resolve conflict. The relationship between a child and a mother is a complex one, and some of the conflicts that arise can be difficult to navigate alone. A therapist can help the two of you reach a resolution that is agreeable to both parties and develop strategies for repairing your parent child relationship.
Dealing with an overbearing mother can be trying and overwhelming at any age, and from any perspective. Although it might be tempting to cut ties altogether - and it may have to come to that, in extreme circumstances - there are some steps you can take to bring about stronger, healthier habits in your maternal relationship.
Therapy can be one of the most effective ways to improve the dynamic you have with your overbearing mother. Because mothers often struggle to let go or see their children as the same little children whose diapers they changed, overbearing behavior can be difficult for them to acknowledge. As you age, there are certain boundaries and limits that should be placed between parents and children in order to foster healthy emotional range, independence, and confidence. In order to achieve these boundaries, you may need to seek the two cents and help of a professional therapist.
Some mothers will not be willing to engage in therapy with their children, as they might not see their behavior as problematic. That's okay! Even on your own, you can glean some aid from therapy sessions with aprofessional counselor, as they can help you develop tools to create stronger boundaries, communication habits, and even help you improve your confidence and ward off anxiety - despite parental interference or feeling shame about the relationship. Therapy is a wonderful tool that can help in many different ways, regardless of whether or not your mother actually attends sessions alongside you.
One way to connect with counselors is by visiting BetterHelp - an online hub that connects you with counselors and licensed therapists who specialize in your areas of need. Our counselors are available wherever and whenever you need - without you having to drive to their office. Below, some BetterHelp users detail their positive experiences.
"Amy has been very insightful, offering the right series of skills to help me take control of my own thinking and emotions. She is supportive and always responds from a place of reflection and non-judgment, which gives me greater insight into how to solve my own problems better, rather than stress further. Highly recommend her to anyone, especially if you're feeling "stuck" in life's patterns."
"I cannot recommend BetterHelp enough. This has been the hardest but most rewarding journey of my life. I have just completed my counselling with Kevin and I cannot thank him enough for his help and guidance in finding my path again. I was able to open up and work through my thoughts and feelings in a way I never have before. I felt lost and confused, now I feel strong and determined, and that's thanks to the skills I've learned from Kevin. I would have no hesitation in recommending Kevin to anyone. His knowledge base is thorough and diverse and he is a kind, patient and genuine man."
Although dealing with an overbearing mother, or atleast attempting to deal with an overbearing mother, can be overwhelming, there is hope: many parents, upon realizing what they are doing, are able to learn new habits and new ways of being in a relationship with their children. Even without your mother being on board, you can enlist your own series of techniques to help the relationship you have with your mother, and move toward a healthier, happier family dynamic. Take the first step.
Commonly Asked Questions About This Topic
What are the signs of an overbearing mother?
What happens to children with overbearing mothers?
How do you deal with an overbearing mom?
What does an overbearing parent mean?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Deal With An Overbearing Mother Or Controlling Parents?
If you have an overbearing or controlling mother, it can leave you feeling conflicted. Developing a healthy relationship with a controlling mother or overbearing parent can sometimes feel like a daunting task. However, it is possible to learn ways of starting a new, more healthy relationship. A few tips on how to deal with an overbearing mother include:
What Are The Signs Of A Narcissistic Mother Or Narcissistic Parents?
If you are wondering if your mother or parents are narcissistic or if someone else is a narcissistic mother, the following signs could indicate a strong probability.
What Is Maternal Narcissism?
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several personality disorders that is characterized by a person having an inflated sense of self-worth, self-centered behavior and a lack of regard for others. Maternal narcissism occurs when a mother or maternal figure suffers from narcissism. It is characterized by an inability to recognize the feelings and needs of others, which is considered a quality of most mothers. Women with maternal narcissism require constant admiration and may be envious of any attention that is given to others unless it has a positive reflection on them personally. Their behaviors can have a significantly negative impact on their child’s life.
What Is A Lighthouse Parent?
Most parents and parental figures want to know what is best for their children but aren’t sure where to begin. There are many resources on parenting and differing opinions. Lighthouse parenting is a term that was used by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg in his book, “Raising Kids to Thrive.” In the book, Dr. Ginsburg suggests that parents should be lighthouses for their children. He says they should be visible from the shoreline of their children’s lives much like a stable light from a lighthouse or a beacon. The two main principles of lighthouse parenting which recommends allowing children to “ride the waves while providing a light to see the rocks,” include giving unconditional love and allowing children to fail. Loving children without condition gives them a sense of security that is necessary to have confidence to get through life’s difficulties. By letting them fail, they get a chance to experience life lessons firsthand. According to Ginsburg, these two practices allow children to grow and learn morals, develop strong character and practice resilience. A lighthouse parent can be considered to have an opposite parenting style compared to an overbearing parent.
What Does It Mean To Be An Overbearing Mother Or Overbearing Parent?
You may have heard the term "overbearing mother," or "overbearing parent," but not know what it means. There are many types of parenting styles, and sometimes maternal figures can be controlling. An overbearing mother or overbearing parent is someone who wants control over their kids. They may have their best interests at heart, but it comes across as "too much." Nevertheless, as a child, living with an overbearing mother or overbearing parent can be detrimental to a person's mental health, and as an adult, trying to manage life with an overbearing parent can be exhausting. There are some things you can do to cope with this relationship, and it involves setting boundaries.
What Is A Controlling Mother?
Having overbearing parents or controlling parents can cause a whirlwind of emotions, especially as children grow and begin to develop new relationships or go to school. A controlling mother is someone who tries to manage their kid's every move. In reality, you can't monitor every action that a person takes. Even if you're with your child every second of the day, there are things that they do and say that you cannot control. It can also make them feel powerless, and like they have no voice. When a mother is controlling, it doesn't feel good to the child. However, it may come from a place of love, but it can make a child feel like they're not competent or like they can't handle their own life choices. Controlling parents want to shield their parents at times from the outside world, but there are certain things you can't control, and it's essential to recognize that as a parent or guardian. Overbearing parents can damage their kids psychologically, even if they don't intend to do so. A mom is controlling when she sees something she thinks could help her child or perhaps, she's trying to maintain control because of her issues. Some controlling parents have psychological problems. A controlling mother or overbearing parent might struggle with narcissism or NPD. If her behavior is due to a mental health condition, an overbearing mother might not be aware of what she's doing. While it can be out of love, it could also be coming from a malicious case in some instances, which is essential to be aware of in a parent/child dynamic.
Why Is My Mother So Controlling?
That's a good question, and it's something that you might be able to ask her if she's aware of it and capable of providing insight into her emotions. A mom is controlling for a multitude of reasons. It could be from a positive place of trying to help you, or it could be that she's coping with her own psychological or emotional problems. In that case, she needs to work on those issues in therapy. Whether it's empty nest syndrome or an actual mental health diagnosis, seeing a mental health provider will likely be helpful for her. Whatever the case may be, you can't change your overbearing mom or overbearing parent. Overbearing parenting is something that the person engaging in needs to work on in their own therapeutic process, and like anything, they must be willing to change. You're not responsible for your parents or their issues. If your mom is controlling, you may or may not ever get confirmation as to why, but what you can do is acknowledge how your parents affected you and work on yourself. It will likely be difficult for a controlling, overbearing parent to change. However, it is possible with therapy.
How Does An Overbearing Mother Or Overbearing Parent Affect A Child?
Unfortunately, an overbearing and controlling mother or overbearing parent can have a significant impact on a child’s life. Children of controlling parents, especially controlling mothers, often have a hard time adjusting to new relationships and developing healthy attachments with others, such as finding a best friend. If these behaviors are not changed, it can cause issues that follow children for their entire life.
Children are often made to feel guilty for wanting a life outside of their home. Going to high school, having a best friend, or simply not want to stay at home all the time can be taken as an offensive act by an overbearing, controlling mother or overbearing parents. An overbearing mother can affect their child because they may not allow them to individuate, which can stunt their psychological growth. It depends on the child and what they take away from the situation. It's important to note that once the child is grown, it is entirely possible to learn to form healthy attachments and fulfilling relationships with others. With therapy, you can unlearn what your overbearing parent taught you in the past.
What Is A Smother Mother?
A smother mother is, well, smothering. Overbearing parents (like smother mothers) need to oversee their child in every aspect of their life. The mom or overbearing parent wants to know what their kid is doing at all times. It's not helpful for the child or the parent. The overbearing parent or smother mother might frequently overstep in ways that are not appropriate to the child's age. When a mother treats their adult child like they are much younger, it's called infantilization. A person who is infantilized can feel powerless. However, they have more autonomy than they think. Independence comes from setting boundaries with your overbearing parent. It's possible to do that, and an excellent place to learn it is in therapy.
How Do You Live With A Toxic Mother?
Setting boundaries is the most important thing to do here. If you're an adult, you don't need to have constant contact with your parents. It's important to remember that you are separate from your parents and that you don't need to report to them. The most important thing to do is to take care of yourself and work on setting boundaries, establishing your sense of self, and learning to use self-compassion in counseling. Sometimes, when your parents are toxic, you're left with a lot of overwhelming feelings. These emotions are difficult to cope with, and therapy or counseling can be beneficial for those in this situation.
How Do You Deal With An Uncooperative Parent?
It's hard to deal with an uncooperative parent, especially an overbearing parent. You may feel frustrated when they refuse to respect your boundaries. The best you can do is be clear with that overbearing parent and ask for what you want. When you voice your wants and needs, you are taking your power back. It's crucial to note that you can't decide what your overbearing parent does, but you can process your emotions with a therapist and start to learn how to cope with this issue so that you don't feel as out of control. You are responsible for you, and your overbearing parent is responsible for themselves and their own mental health, so make sure to seek the support that you need in therapy. Whether the overbearing parent is willing to work on themselves or not, don't let it stop you from making healthy choices for yourself.