Don’t get triggered by your mother

A difficult mother will criticise your efforts and choices and sees you as a possession or a reflection on her, writes Dr Terri Apter. So how do you respond calmly? Thea Anderson has some tips


Don't get triggered by your mother

1. Dealing with general criticism

Your mother says: ‘There’s a lot of dust in your house. I know you work, but your family needs a clean home.’

You say: ‘Mum, this is my house. I’m comfortable with my housekeeping. If there’s an issue, I’ll deal with it.’

2 Personal criticism

Your mother says: ‘I wish you wouldn’t wear your hair like that – it makes you look fat.’

You say (calmly): ‘Mum, it’s my hair and I’m happy with the way it looks. It’s hurtful to me that you say this.’

3. Over-neediness

Your mother says: ‘I need you to phone me every day. I could have a heart attack and you wouldn’t know. What would people think?’

You say: ‘If you’re really worried about this Mum, there’s an easy solution – we could buy you an emergency safety alarm to wear.’

4. Controlling behaviour

Your mother says: ‘You should tell your daughter to do her homework on a Friday.’

You say: ‘We work out her homework schedule together. You don’t need to be concerned about it.’

5. Manipulation

Your mother says: ‘What do you mean you’re not coming for Christmas? You know how hard I work cooking. We always have Christmas here. How could you do this to me?’

You say: ‘It’s important for us to spend time with the other side of the family, too. The holidays will be different from time to time.’

Photograph: Bernd Vogel/Corbis

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