I Have An Overbearing Mother. What Do I Do? - IDEAS

I Have An Overbearing Mother. What Do I Do?

 If you have a controlling or overbearing mother, you may find your relationship challenging at times. Perhaps your mother intrudes on your private life, tries to control your decisions or path in life, or you feel constant criticism. For some individuals, an overbearing mother may exhibit toxic traits that can have adverse implications on their life and wellbeing. These can, but certainly don’t have to, include behaviors such as manipulation, gaslighting, heavy criticism, controlling behaviors, emotional outbursts when you try to input boundaries, and so forth.

Other cases of having an overbearing mother or parent can be much more mild; every situation is unique, but nonetheless this article can serve as a useful guide to helping you learn how to healthily navigate and cope with your relationship with a helicopter parent.

So, what should you do if you have an overbearing mother?

What Is An Overbearing Mother

The word “overbearing” may mean different things to different individuals. However, for many, an overbearing mother or parent is one who controls, or tries to control, many or most aspect of their child's life, continuously criticizes them, and may seem dissatisfied with anything their child or children do, particularly if it doesn’t adhere to what they (the parent) wants. This type of parenting is often referred to as "helicopter parenting.”

This may cause the child to feel angry, overwhelmed, or frustrated by the overbearing parent, causing them to rebel or push their domineering parent away. The effects from an overbearing mother or parent can last well into adulthood and affect an individual’s future relationships. They may have difficulties expressing their feelings, asserting themselves, recognizing and adhering to their own healthy boundaries, or making decisions on their own. Parents who tend to control everything their child does, including decision making, may make it more difficult for their children to make independent decisions as they get older.

Individuals with an overbearing parent may be more likely to experience anxiety and develop co-dependent relationships as adults than those children who were given more freedom by their parents. In more extreme cases, parent-child enmeshment can occur. While young children often rely on their parents for many things, including guidance, it’s important that as they grow, they learn to develop the ability to take on challenges by themselves.

Otherwise, children who are raised with overbearing parents may have difficulties regulating emotions, forming healthy relationships, recognizing and implementing healthy boundaries, and learning how to communicate effectively. Helicopter parenting, or overbearing parenting, can ultimately stunt an individual’s emotional growth and maturity.

What You Can Do If You Have An Overbearing Mother Or Parent

While having an overbearing mother can be challenging, there are ways to manage this parenting style and potentially improve your relationship.

Set Boundaries

If you have an overbearing mother or parent, it may be beneficial to set healthy boundaries with them and stick to them. This may make your relationship more agreeable in the future. It may be helpful to be clear about what you need from them, as well as what you don’t. You may want to try to be assertive while setting these boundaries. Sharing your appreciation for them and being positive may be helpful to keep things on a good note. By setting healthy boundaries you practice self-care and self-respect and make it clear what your limits are.

Open Communication

Having open communication with an overbearing parent can be a very effective way to manage your relationship with them and improve it. You may want to discuss how you feel and identify the behaviors that cross your boundaries. However, it’s important to not use accusatory language as this may potentially worsen things and instead, focus on how you feel.

For example, if your mother has a habit of offering alternatives when you try to discuss your goals and plans with her, you could try saying, “I care a great deal about these goals, and I could really use your support in reaching them. My mind will not change; this is what I want. I would like your support in getting there; if that’s not something you feel you can do, I understand and will no longer discuss them with you.” This could feel a bit harsh to some; certainly, alter the discussion based on your circumstances, relationship, and what you feel is most appropriate based on both.

If you can communicate openly, honestly, and with mutual respect, you may be able to overcome your concerns together. It's also important to practice active listening when communicating so you can try to understand them as well.

Some overbearing parents may not be receptive to communication that doesn’t go as they wish. In these cases, be sure to clearly identify and communicate your boundaries, and stick with them. This can be quite difficult depending on the parent-child relationship and the circumstances, but not identifying or sticking with these boundaries will only serve to enable the continuation of an unhealthy, overbearing relationship. In extreme situations, estrangement can occur. This isn’t necessarily bad and could be necessary for the adult child to foster their own independence and recognition of healthy boundaries. This is most often a last resort after attempting to repair the relationship in other ways.

Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Having healthy ways to cope from an overbearing parent may be extremely helpful at finding peace and emotional comfort when things get difficult. Every individual is different and may find certain coping mechanisms suit them better than others. Some healthy coping mechanisms to try to include:

  • Journaling - Journaling can be a great way to express your feelings, identify your emotions, and improve your mental health.
  • Exercising - Running, yoga, or simply going for a walk are effective ways to get the blood flowing and boost endorphins which improve your mood.
  • Talking to a friend - Having a healthy support system of people you trust that you can turn to or even relate is important. Sometimes an outside perspective may be helpful.

Seek Support

If you’re having a difficult time with an overbearing mother or parent, seeking outside support from a professional therapist may be very beneficial. You can choose to seek support individually or even attend sessions together. It may be challenging to convince them to visit a therapist with you, but the rewards can outweigh the risks. Encouraging them to go to counseling with you may be incredibly helpful, even if she only agrees to go to “help you out.” She may not initially want to talk about her parenting issues, but they may likely come up with the guidance of a trained therapist. Be prepared for the process to be potentially difficult for both of you.

However, with an online platform like ReGain, counseling for you and an overbearing parent has never been easier or more convenient. ReGain is an online therapy platform specializing in relationship and family issues that can offer professional therapy all from the comfort of your own home. A licensed therapist can provide you with tools and guidance to overcome any challenges you may be facing with an overbearing parent. They may be able to help you develop strategies to improve your communication and set healthy boundaries. Reach out today to begin your journey to a better relationship with your parent.

Online Therapy

Online therapy has been found to be overall just as effective for treating concerns such as anxiety, relationship issues, trauma, depression, PTSD, and many others. Another study conducted by the University of Zurich found that those dealing with anxiety and depression experience greater benefit from online therapy over the medium and long term than those utilizing in-person therapy.

Working with a therapist can help you to determine whether or not your relationship with your parent is one that is unhealthy or overbearing, and how to proceed either way. Continue reading below for reviews of some of ReGain’s therapists from people seeking help with similar issues with either improving their relationship with their parent(s), or being better parents themselves.

ReGain Therapist Reviews

“Tim is incredible. My mother and I completed several sessions with him. He was excellent at showing compassion, light humor, sharing insights, and helping us understand each other better. We communicated more productively with his assistance and were able to continue our relationship from a better place after being estranged for several months. I cannot thank you enough, Tim. You are a special person and anyone would be lucky to have you as a guide.”

“Hannah has helped my fianc√© and I in many ways. she show us how to understand each other’s needs/wants and how to achieve these things so that we are both happy. We continue to work with Hannah to help each other in all aspects of our life, including being better parents.”

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, it can be difficult to navigate parent-child relationships, particularly when both parties are adults and the “child” is working on finding their own independence and way in life. It can be tempting for parents to become overbearing, sometimes as a means of trying to protect their children but sometimes for less healthy or altruistic reasons. However, with proper communication, support, and, if needed, therapy, it is possible to achieve a healthy and balanced parent-child relationship.

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