How to Handle a Mother Who Doesn't Like You

Whether she's criticizing your weight once again or telling you that she prefers one of your siblings, dealing with a mother who doesn't appear to like you can be an emotionally trying ordeal, especially when you have to explain to your own children why Grandma is so critical. However, no matter how old you become, your mother will still be your mother and she will not likely change her behavior. You can change the dynamic between the two of you by changing how you react to her.

Set boundaries. Psychologist and daytime talk show host Dr. Phil suggests that you create fences regarding when and how you will have your mother in your life. If spending time with your mother is emotionally draining, limit it. Your children pick up on any tension from you, so limiting time with your own mother is necessary if it adds to your own children's quality of life.

Ask for advice. According to Malia Mason, Ph.D., professor of management at Columbia University, mothers sometimes need validation that they are still relevant in their children's life. By asking her advice, you can show her and your children that you respect Grandma and appreciate her input.

Express yourself. Terri Apter, psychologist and author of the book "What Do You Want from Me? Learning to Get Along with In-Laws" says that some individuals make the mistake of acquiescing to mother figures to win a difficult mother's approval but that this strategy often backfires because they later have a hard time standing up for themselves. If your mom makes a negative comment about your weight, child-rearing or anything else of significance, let her know how you feel about it. If your children see you being bullied, they may accept the same treatment from others in their own lives.

Work on your self-esteem. Terri Apter says in her article "Difficult Mothers" in Psychology Today that difficult mothers threaten their children with ridicule, disapproval or rejection 1. She advises individuals to identify when their "shadow voices" are telling them that they do not measure up to expectations. Your emotional state directly affects your children. When you are thinking negative thoughts, realize these voices are the legacy of having a difficult mother and ignore them.

Find a surrogate mother. Therapist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker suggests that people in this situation expand their idea of what a family is so that they can get the support, advice and love that they need but are not getting from their mothers. Surround yourself and your children with positive people that make you feel better. Accepting that your relationship with your mother will be complicated is easier when you do not depend on her for much.

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