How To Deal with a Domineering Mother

There is no such thing as Parent University. Each parent—mother and father—learns how to relate with his or her children by trial and error. Most of the time each parent succeeds. At other times, he or she doesn’t. Regardless of how they learn, parents always desire everything good for their children. Your mother, for example, has the innate character of protecting you, especially when you were still in your younger years. Your mother often makes decisions for you or instructs you on what to do or how to do things.

Sometimes, however, some mothers overdo it. Some overextend their control of their children even past the age when they already can—relatively speaking—decide for themselves or run their lives independently. Mothers do it all the time, believing that holding the reins even of adult children is a gesture of concern and affection. Undoubtedly, it is, yet it can also get to their children’s nerves. What do you do if your mother dominates your life even if you’ve already acquired autonomy and independence? In this article, you will learn how to deal with your domineering mother.

  1. Always remember that your mother loves you. She may express it in ways that you find hard to swallow—such as in her overcontrolling your life—but they are valid, although ignorant, expressions of love. You can believe that your mother loves you perfectly, but never fall into the trap of believing that she can express it perfectly, as well. Your mother is human, just like everyone else. She can make mistakes, of which over controlling or domineering is just one.
  2. Identify exactly how she over controls you or dominates over you. Does she always pry into and criticize every detail of every little thing that you do? Does she insist on her own opinion about how you do things and ignores your own opinions? Does she treat you as if you were ignorant and incapable of making your own decisions? If she does, your mother is most likely a domineering mother and you will have to let her know.
  3. Sort out your emotional responses to her domineering behavior. How does your mother’s over control affect you? Admit to yourself that you feel bad about her behavior. If you are angry about her behavior, admit it to yourself, as well.
  4. Let your mother know. Specifically, let her know two things: her controlling behavior and your feelings towards that behavior. Your mother and you will have a unique manner of communicating intimate thoughts such as these. Talk to your mother only when both of you are calm, sober, and relaxed. It is very likely that your mother still views you as a toddler or as a kindergarten-age child who still needs her instructions and advice. In a polite manner, tell your mother that you have grown up and have learned to make decisions on your own. Your mother might feel offended or rejected with this kind of discussion. It is a normal emotional response. Allow her to express it, though, without stoking the heat of your conversation or turning it into an argument. When you talk to your mother about her domineering behavior, do it as a heart-to-heart and honest dialogue instead of a finger-pointing, accusatory conversation.
  5. Reach a compromise. Most mothers will feel bad at first but eventually learn to accept. Thank your mother for her support and welcome it, yet also ask your mother to be more conscious of her supportive behavior, especially in scenarios when the supportive behavior can easily become domineering behavior.
  6. Assert your independence. You can do this without having to move out and live on your own, although doing so can be a loud cry of independence. Consider moving out only if your mother hasn’t done anything to lessen her over controlling behavior. Otherwise, you can assert your independence even if you still live with your parents. Remember, though, that moving out of your parents’ home does not mean cutting ties with them. When you do move out, do not do it in anger.
  7. Seek the help of a counselor. Sometimes, a family friend can help your mother and you sort it out. You can also seek the help of a professional counselor.

Your mother is an influential figure in your life. She is someone that you should not easily discard like yesterday’s trash. Her domineering behavior can be annoying and can be psychologically destructive to both her and you. Yet, if you view her as your mother and as a human being at the same time, both of you should be able to realize that loving sometimes means keeping distance and giving space so that the other can grow.


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