13

I'm 21 years-old and still live at my parents' house. Like my dad, I'm pretty introverted. And we mainly like to do our own thing throughout the day. For me, that's playing video games, writing code, etc.

However, my mom never really understood that. Her personality is totally opposite to me. She keeps insisting I should go outside and enjoy life. Something I occasionally do, but prefer not to every day.

When I was younger, we had a lot of arguments about it. To the point where she called me socially disturbed, and where she threw a plate onto me in my room. Now this never happened again, but she still regularly throws comments towards me. I personally know I have no social issues.

For example, Friday night I went out with friends to have a drink, played poker, and went to the pub. The next day I wake up at 12 PM. And all I want to do is relax in my room, until 9 PM when I leave the house to friends again.

It happened to be a warm day. So at around 4 PM I went outside in the garden. My mother was there with a friend of hers, and started by saying I'm white and that I could use some sunlight.

At that point I'm instantly annoyed, but I remain calm and don't respond. I prefer not to speak to her anyways. So I escape back to my room.

How do I handle such a situation?

However, this is not the only thing she has to say about me. But is an example.

I have a lot of other issues with my mom, that I would like to work out. But I have no idea how to. We never have a normal conversation. I feel like everything I tell her is going to be used against me at some later point.

I'm at the point where I 'hate' my mother, and prefer not to see her ever again after moving out of the house. But I still know she loves me, and she tries to 'help' me. So I don't want that to be the outcome.

  • 6
    Does she make comments like this towards her husband as well? – TheRealLester Jul 10 '18 at 14:42
  • 2
    @TheRealLester I'm not certain for my dad, I think so. But she does so to my brother for sure. She likes to mention everything she doesn't like about our decisions. For example all of us 3 smoke, then she will call it out regularly. Edit: She also says stuff about my girlfriend that she doesn't like. – anon Jul 10 '18 at 14:51
  • 1
    @Daan So she wants you to socialize, but when you socialize (be with your girlfriend) she's still not happy? There's no pleasing some people. – Mast Jul 10 '18 at 19:05
  • 10
    "Introverted" and "preferring to stay at home all day" are not the same thing (although introverts are probably more likely to enjoy that sort of lifestyle). Is her concern that you don't spend enough time interacting with other people or that you spend too much time locked in your room? For example, if you went for a walk by yourself, would she be happy with that? If she found out you spent a lot of your time at home socializing (through the phone or internet maybe), would that make her happier? Also did you really wake up at 12 am (midnight) or do you mean 12 pm (noon)? – Kat Jul 10 '18 at 21:21
  • 2
    @Daan Do you pay rent or do chores? And do you live under their rules? – mbomb007 Jul 10 '18 at 21:31
14

It's often a bumpy road when the relationship changes from parent->child to two equals. A road that often needs a catalyst like a move-out to even partly function.

l'm writing here as someone who is on the same path, just a few years ahead of you.

You are probably both somewhat set in your ways with each other. You also want to get along and wish each other only the best, so that's a good foundation to work upon.

Seek a time for some private conversation with her and tell her how her actions make you feel. In the example you gave, for instance:

When I got out to the garden earlier, you greeted me by stating that I am so white and need some sunlight. You are right, and I know that you only mean the best, but this did not make me feel very good. First, I felt exposed before your friend, making me want to hide back inside. Secondly, it feels as if you want to tell me how to live my life - which instinctively makes me want to do the opposite.

I bet you'll discover that this is not what your Mother intended. Try to reach an agreement: When she worries about you, you are available for a direct grown-up talk about her worries. Other than that, she'll have to accept that it's your life and your model of happiness looks different than hers. When you get out of the house next time, you'd rather be greeted with "Hi there!" than "Boy you are so white". Whenever you feel she is criticizing you through those comments, you'll tell her.

Don't expect miracles though - she is still your mother and she'll always worry. The occasional comment will slip out. You know how it's meant!

  • 7
    I would heartily recommend this, with a minor addendum: Say you're going to tell her, in the moment, when she does it again. Of course, that's genuinely not to be mean; it's a psychological fact that immediate reinforcement is more effective than delayed. A quick smile and a "You're doing it again, Mom," would probably help significantly more than waiting until you're in private every time, even if it's a little embarrassing in the moment. If you're nice about it, it can even be something to chuckle over -- my dad and I do that sometimes. – Nic Hartley Jul 10 '18 at 17:32
  • 1
    It's a good general advice but it seems like the assumptions it makes are contradicted by details of the question. – DVK Jul 10 '18 at 21:07
  • 1
    An overbearing mother will remain that way for the rest of her life because that's how she was treated as a child. No amount of talk will help. OP needs to stay independently for a few years, visiting occassionally. Reminds me of this: youtube.com/watch?v=eMJPm9iK7aI – Nav Jul 11 '18 at 9:19
  • 1
    @Nav: Mine has developed significantly, but that took some years. I agree that moving out is one essential part of growing up though! – user6109 Jul 11 '18 at 9:24
12

It sounds like she is worried about you but doesn't know how to express that in a supportive way. Her worries are probably not all strictly rational. She may worry that you are missing out on life. She may feel frustrated that you are still living at home instead of moving to your own place. I don't know if these are what she's feeling, and neither do you. But you can find out.

I'd suggest a direct approach. Tell her you would like to talk together about your living situation (I'd suggest planning it a few hours out so she has some time to think). Let her talk, and try to listen without being too defensive on your first reaction. You don't have to agree with her; you just want to know what she's thinking. You can acknowledge her feelings without acquiescing. After you feel like you understand what's bothering her, ask her to listen to you in a similar way (now is a good time to mention that violence/throwing things is not okay). Eventually, you may need to come to some sort of compromise, but it's probably best to delay coming up with solutions until you both understand each other's concerns. Hopefully, approaching your differences from a serious, methodical standpoint will get her to stop lashing out or trying to correct you at every opportunity.

7

I know this situation well (my mom does Crossfit and I am a slightly chubby indoor person) and I'll share my solution that me and my mother agreed to.

Background

My mom was concerned that I wasn't getting enough exercise and staying in my room most of the day, which is a fair point that I have considered myself. My mom would comment about this every time I would go downstairs to get myself something to eat. It would get to the point where I would avoid leaving my room if she was in the house, further proving her point and increasing the frequency of her comments.

My Solution

I managed to get my mother off my back by compromising with her demands. My mom wanted me to be more active outside, so we made an agreement that I would go on an hour long walk on days that I have the time to. I was perfectly willing to go out for this long as we both felt it was fair. I think this would help you because it gets you outside (stopping your mom from commenting about needing sunlight).

Talk to her one day and really hash out what she expects you to do, and talk about your side of the story and why you want her to stop making these comments. Try to work out a compromise between what she expects and what you want, and if you can do this, let her know that you want her comments about you to stop.

2

Your mother is simply the common type which has not managed to cut the ties to her offspring. As you write yourself, she does it for all of you, and for any of your decisions. She still sees you as her baby, and probably identifies very strongly with you and your sibling(s), to the extent that she cannot stomach you getting hurt, you feeling pain, or whatever negative things may happen to you. She also seems to project her own feelings/opinions strongly onto you, and your experiences back to her.

I know such a mother myself, and my first piece of advice would be to not expect her to change, no matter what you do and no matter how old you get. You are 21 now, and probably your puberty is behind you, so you will not change that much - why should she?

So, my second advice would be to move out of your parents house as soon as you can; live your own life, and be strong when you meet her every once in a while, and when (not if) she does it over and over again.

Onto the IPS advice: first and foremost, be calm and relaxed. You are asking "How can I get my mom to accept me being X". This is, generally speaking, not possible, and the wrong mindset. Try to reframe your question like "How can I stay calm and relaxed when my mom treats me like Y". Concrete examples:

saying I'm white and that I could use some sunlight

How about

laugh good-heartedly

"You're absolutely right, I feel like a vampire already... I better go back into the house immediately before I burn up!"

or

just ignore the sentence

"Hi mom"

"Hello friend-of-hers, how are you... I'm feeling awful, my last beer in the pub yesterday must have been off. Friday evenings are hard..."

I fully appreciate that it is hard to come up with such things on the spot, especially if your "shields were down" and your mother's comment hit the mark. You write that you stayed calm, but obviously you were not, inside, or you would not have posted here.

Staying calm does not mean that you force all external reactions away, but that you really, inside your mind, understand and accept that your mother simply does what she must do. She certainly does not do it just to annoy you. She is neither bad, or mad. Many of us are on auto-pilot in everyday situations, and many also are not especially emphatic about what their words mean for other people. This is normal, will happen all your life, and the earlier you get used to it, the better.

A general advice is to think about why someone says such semi-offending things. Understanding the other person often helps to be more relaxed about it.

Best of luck to you.

  • Hello, thanks for the answer. I truly remain very calm, I just find it pathetic and rather not be in such a situation with her. It's not like it insults me. But I know what she means by it: To decide what I should do. That's why I rather leave. But the rest of your answer makes sense and will help me :) – anon Jul 11 '18 at 6:36
2

I'm glad to hear that you know that your mother loves you and that you want to remain in a good relationship with her, that's a great start.

What I suspect is happening here is that both you and your mother:

  1. are overconfident about the best way for you to live,
  2. have given up attempting to persuade the other of the merits of your position (not least because you are overconfident in your own position) and have resorted to lobbing suggestions and/or complaints at each other.

To explain, your mother has great confidence that if you live the way she lives, your life will be better (which is what she wants for you - to have a better life) and she cannot believe that your current life choices could be better than the ones she has made.

You, however, have great confidence that you have already optimised your life and have no need of change so you're not interested in hearing what she has to say - you can't believe that her suggestions are worth trying.

What you both need, I suspect, is the humility to question whether the other person might be right or, at least, might be partly right.

You can't force your mother to do this, but you can certainly do it for yourself. If you accepted some or all of your mother's advice, would your life be better? Could, for instance, your health be improved if you exercised more, saw more sunshine or spent more time with people in person rather than through a screen? Is it worth trying her suggestions (e.g. exercising for an hour a day, say) for a period of time to see whether you enjoy them and benefit from them? i.e. do you have the humilty to respect your mother's greater life experience and at least try what she's suggesting for you?

If after doing this you remain confident of some or all of your current life choices, could you possibly spend more effort explaining to her how your current life choices are not as bad as she believes them to be (and provides benefits that she cannot see), rather than angrily rejecting her advice (and ultimately rejecting her)?

Another way of saying all of this is that instead of trying to 'manage' your mother (by finding ways to ignore her advice and ultimately her), I suggest that you try to love your mother by actually relating properly to her. Part of this would be to spend more time with her (which she would love) if you can find a way to do this that both of you would enjoy.

Family is for life - use this as an opportunity to get closer rather than to move further apart.

  • Thanks for answering. A few years ago, I went to the gym daily for 3 years. The situation wasn't any different. I also have friends, a girlfriend, etc. So my social life isn't ruined by me preferring to stay inside. I have no friends through the screen at all. I have done a lot of social activities, and I really enjoy them. But it exhausts me, and sometimes I just can't be arsed. Because I rather stay inside. I really appreciate the last few sentences, I will definitely give that a try. Thank you :) – anon Jul 11 '18 at 6:44
2

I would suggest that you either negotiate to pay rent, or that you move out. When it comes to authority, your parents are the masters of the house, and you are living their by their good will. The living situation you are in encourages your parents to treat you like a child, because that is how you used to live, and in a way it's still how you live. You specified in the comments that you have a full-time job, so you can afford to pay rent or move out.

This change is important for your relationship, because it will make your independence clear. At the moment, you are living like a dependent, which encourages your mom to treat you as such. I think she could still be doing it out of love for you, but at this stage in your life, you need to set boundaries and act like an adult. If you want autonomy, you need to take responsibility for your living situation.

  • Thank you for the advice, I am already looking to move out of the house. Currently it's very expensive in my country though. For example with rent I have to pay €800 ($940 USD) for something small. I will make an appointment with the bank to see what I can lend as a mortgage though. – anon Jul 11 '18 at 15:04
  • @Daan If you can find a two bedroom apt, you could get a roommate and split the rent and utilities. This would cut your monthly cost roughly in half. – mbomb007 Jul 11 '18 at 16:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy