I have An Overbearing Mother, What Do I Do?

Updated May 05, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

If you have a controlling or overbearing mother, you may find her challenging to deal with at times. Perhaps your mother intrudes on your private life or tries to control your decisions in life. Some people with overbearing mothers find their mother’s behavior erratic. They may border on being a toxic mother who has adverse implications on your life and wellbeing. So, what should you do if you have an overbearing mother? What can you do?

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My Mother is Controlling, and I Want Her to Stop

Unfortunately, if you have a controlling mother, there is no way to get her to stop her impulses immediately. Her fears are controlling her and causing her to react in unhealthy or authoritarian ways. That is what she is and what she knows. It most likely stems from issues with her childhood or a bad marriage, where she had a lack of control over what happened to her. Therefore, she became overbearing and attempted to control all aspects of her life, including her children. If you have a life outside of her control, it might raise her anxiety and cause her to attempt to pull you back in. She may try to make you feel bad about leading a life without her. Even after you have a family of your own, your mother may try to control you. All holidays are to be spent at her house; she calls your children her “kids,” and she makes you feel bad for not calling or visiting enough. If any of these situations sound familiar, you may have an overbearing mother.

Growing up with a controlling and overbearing mother is hard. You most likely did not see your friends a lot outside of your house, and she most likely pressured you to spend time with her or include her in your activities. This is not typical mom behavior. It is the behavior of an overbearing mother that can eventually border on toxic.

A toxic mother hurts you as a way of controlling you. She may say things that make you feel bad about yourself. She may even do things that make you look bad to other people. A toxic mother can infiltrate your life and wreak havoc on all of your relationships.

Having a controlling mother in your youth may include:

  • Your mother rarely allowed you out of your house. If she did, she typically went with you.
  • You were not able to go to a friend’s house without your mom visiting too.
  • Your friends were sometimes allowed to come to your house, but you couldn’t go to theirs.
  • If you asked to go out for the night, she would convince you to stay home with her or say no.
  • Your mother violated your privacy and didn’t think she did anything wrong.

While it may seem at first that your mother cares about you, your mother may appear to be stricter compared to the lives of your friends. However, being a strict parent versus a controlling or overbearing mother is a fine line.

Your Mother Always Talks Down to You or Embarrasses You

Initially, it may seem that your mom’s parenting styles are harsher than others because she cares about your wellbeing. That may be what she tells you; however, overbearing behavior is more than just caring behavior. If your mother talks down to you or embarrasses you publically, you deal with an overbearing mother.

If your mother openly criticizes you and hurts you, this is not normal. She wants others to think that you have victimized her. The truth is that the only one victimized is you. In a healthy relationship, a parent usually will not speak ill of you to others. But if your mother suffers from insecurity, guilt, or fear, she may exhibit many unhealthy behaviors. She may become involved in your social media life and post negative comments about you or your relationships.

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Overbearing Mothers Don’t handle Criticism Well

An overbearing mother can be tough to communicate with. If she does something wrong, your mom might overreact and turn things around so that you are to blame.

Managing an overbearing mother can be extremely hard. It’s often difficult to have a conversation with her to let her know that she has crossed a line. Even though it's difficult, it is important for the future of your relationship. Remember, her fears are controlling her behavior. It’s not logical; it’s reactionary.

What Can I Do If I Have an Overbearing Mother?

While having an overbearing mother can be challenging, there are ways to deal with these parenting styles, If you have an overbearing mother, you need to set boundaries for yourself. You need to keep the conversation about the topic to a minimum and choose your words carefully. How you deal with your mother should be carefully thought out. You need to remain calm and think before you speak. The last thing you want to do is criticize her for behaving the way she does. Instead, you can take a proactive approach and highlight ways to show you love and prepare you for the world.

However, if you are tired of walking on eggshells with your mother, you always have the option of pulling away. It doesn’t have to be permanent or even altogether cut off. It can be a slow, steady process that shows her that you can live life on your own. Overbearing mothers typically have a hard time changing without in-person or online counseling. It could be challenging to convince her to visit a therapist with you, but the rewards outweigh the risks.

In cases with an extremely overbearing mother or parent, limiting exposure to her maybe your only option. Many times, encouraging her to go to counseling with you is the best option, even if she only agrees to go to “help you out.” She may not initially talk about her parenting issues, but they will come up with the guidance of a trained therapist. Be prepared for the process to be difficult for both of you.

Setting firm boundaries with your mother can also be challenging, but know that it is natural to shift the power within the relationship as you grow up. If you want to protect your children from dealing with an overbearing grandmother, it’s important to stand up for what’s right in your view.

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Does Keeping My Kids Away from My Overbearing Mother Make Me One too?

Your job as a mother is to protect your children. If your mom is hurtful, you are protecting your kids from her. While it is sad to think that a grandmother can be toxic, your mom could be a toxic grandmother if they were a toxic mother.

Dealing with an overbearing mother is hard, but you can do it. We often try to minimize the immediate pain of solving a problem to live with it for years to come. Both of you can have a much healthier relationship if you put some work into it. There is no easy way to manage to deal with an overbearing parent. However, if your mom is causing your mental health to suffer, something needs to change.

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