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My mother will judge me all the time. She screams at me saying something like "You are so old already; you should know by now that one has to do this thing in this way and not in that way".

To give a recent example: I went to a new city and bought a set of ten tickets for the subway. I used them and and then a subway staff member came and controlled my tickets. It turned out that I used them incorrectly. Then I got fined. I told my mother about it and she had absolutely no consideration for my feelings and just condemned my wrong way of using those tickets. I don't care about the fine. I just want my mother to accept my thinking, even if I get fined for it by some random subway staff member.

This is only one random example out of so many. My father also gets judged by my mother all the time. Once I made a very long trip to another country and then came back. My father told me that I should describe everything that I experienced in that country and write it all down. And he said, "You can write it down in English, if you don't want your mother to read it". Basically, everyone in my family is trying to avoid her judgement.

I already tried very hard to improve the situation in two ways:

  1. I didn't have contact with my mother for three months. Didn't speak with her at all and didn't call her and didn't accept her calls. That didn't work. Once I stopped not having contact and told her something about what I've done, she started judging my thoughts once again. And saying that she's just "trying to help" and I should "listen to her and learn".

  2. I have gone to a church and been baptized. This was just a few months ago. Since then I'm trying to forgive my mother for judging me. One of the ways I was trying to forgive my mother for judging me, was by telling her that I forgive her right in the middle of her judgement speech. I did it in that recent ticket situation: While she was telling me how stupud I am not to know how to use a ticket, I told her that "I forgave her for saying that". I didn't really feel any forgiveness towards her, but I thought, maybe saying it is better than not saying it. She just ignored it.

Sometimes I'd like my mother to accept my thinking and say something like "Even though you think seemingly wrong things, I believe that your way of thinking will pay off in the long term"

Question: How can I get my mother to express less negative judgement?

I don't expect quick-to-do solutions. This is my life-long challenge. So if you only have one or two hints at how to approach the problem, I would be more than grateful. Thank you :)

Additional info: I am a 26 year old male living in Germany. I and my whole family are originally from Kazakhstan. My mother and I communicate in Russian. My mother doesn't speak English.

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    Hello there, please follow this link to merge your user accounts. – CaldeiraG Sep 9 at 14:38
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In Nonviolent Communication (or Compassionate Communication, or NVC), personal judgement is commonly described as verbal violence, or more specifically in that framework, jackal speak.

While we all from time to time express ourselves in that terms there is nothing really productive about it and it can be quite hurtful especially when addressed directly to another person. Yelling, deliberate occupation of speech are also part of communication boundary violations. NVC is dedicated to reduce or eliminate verbal violence, by providing other tools to express the same feelings and needs.

In your case, since you are in the victim position, there are two things the NVC would advocate you to do : first, protect yourself from undesirable communication, and second, what I've been heard described as putting on your giraffe ears, and is a specific way of listening.

Few words about boundaries

No matter how patient or guilty you feel, always remember you have no obligation to listen or even hear things that only purpose is to make you feel uncomfortable. As being 26 you are a fully functioning adult that have no use for teaching by punishment.

Maybe your mother abuses the fact you are colocating at a place she owns, or use the parental link, to induce an hierarchical relationship, but if anything I would label that as being unhealthy. If you identify this, and speaking from experience here, I cannot advise strong enough to set sail.

More practically, when it feels your mother is going in a unpleasant speech, you can go your room, interrupt by saying you no longer listen, or make your best to ignore. Liberty to stop a conversation is very core to NVC.

Giraffe ears about judgement

We saw that judgement is toxic and there is nothing wrong with fleeing it.

That being said, in many judgements there are something to salvage: the needs, the feelings, the criticism. If your mother carry her meaning through judgement all the time then it should be from time to time possible to listen to what she means by putting judgement aside, otherwise all communication will be impossible.

It's possible when your mother condemned your way of using tickets, is her specific way to say "I'm angry you got fined and lost money because I care about your well being". Here, you can at least salvage the information she is angry. Acknowledging that fact by saying "I understand you're angry." sometimes have good results in de-escalating conflict.

Sometimes, a judgement can convey a useful piece of improving criticism

You're an imbecile, no ticket insert white face up !

Could contain a useful information about how to put tickets. You could acknowledge having received the information, although the judgement is inappropriate "I won't do that from now on."

Last, some judgement are harder to interpret, because they stem from an unsatisfied need:

You're never able to do anything on your own !

You can dig the worry "Why are you worried about this ?" and that may lead you to learn your mother might be worried by finance, or chores, or your future, things among which you may act on or may have reassuring statements.

This is called putting giraffe ears because in NVC, giraffe are nonviolent (in the NVC sense), so what is proposed in essence is to interpret possibly hurting speech as being ill-expressed normal communication.

Responding without striking back

Whenever you feel the need for it, you can express regret your mother did not think the way you do, that she got angry, that she expressed something the way she did.

For better effect, focus on expressing your own feelings, observations, on expressing positive requests, not your moral interpretation or judgement. Be careful that, for example, expressing forgiveness is an implicit moral judgement that fault have been done !

By showing her an alternative way to express yourself she might answer you on the same basis on a future time.

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When you're being treated a certain way by someone, especially someone who is trying to manipulate you or is mean to you, try to figure out what drives them. Then you can avoid giving them what they want.

Try to stay one step ahead of your mother by planning for what she is going to say ahead of time. It does seem like you're already doing this due to the vast amount of experience you have with this. When you know that you're going to get a negative response from her, you can stop to make plans for how to play emotional games with her.

For example, if you have problems with others making fun of you for something, you can quickly put an end to it my making fun of yourself first. If you have something that they expect you to try to hide so they can then find out about it and make fun of you for it, instead you can just show everybody your fault and make a big deal about how bad it is, and encourage people to make fun of you for it. Now the purpose of making fun of you doesn't work anymore and they lose interest. You have to be brave but it works.

Your mother seems to be someone who dwells on negative things about others, likely at least to try to make herself feel important or needed. She also likely gets curious and wants to know what's going on in everyone else's life.

To start playing games with her you can tell her that something bad happened, and exaggerate how bad it is and tell her that you're afraid to tell her what it was because it's so bad. She'll get all worked up about it and come up with all kinds of ideas for disasters that might have happened. Later on after holding her in suspense for a while, you can say that it was some really minor thing. Instead of being happy to hear about some bad news, you'll have flipped it around so that now she'll be disappointed when she hears the news. She was actually more happy before you told her what really happened, which is the opposite of how it was in the past.

edit: I've done the exaggerate and dramatize the negative thing before to some of my family members who like to dwell on negative things, and sometimes I delay telling specifically what it is. It does work as far as changing how they react to the bad news when I eventually tell them. Sometimes people don't realize what they're doing or how it affects others. They also don't take the time to think about how they're going to respond. By telling them that something bad happened and that you don't want to give the details about what it is because you're afraid that the person will be too negative toward you, it forces the person to realize what they're doing and it forces them to have time to think about how to respond. With me it's usually something like I forgot to buy something at the store, but I make a big deal about how I forgot something but I don't say what it is because it's too upsetting. It forces the other person to think of all the important things that it could be and then it makes the thing I did forget not seem so important.

Originally paragraph 6: You can also make up fake stories about bad things that never happened, and listen to her advice and scolding. When she finds out some things never happened and confronts you about it, you can act all apologetic like you really know she likes to talk about things that happened to you and give you advice (don't mention that it's all negative) so you just wanted to give her an opportunity to have something to talk about. If she keeps believing them you can make the stories more and more outlandish. Eventually it will get to the point where she no longer knows if any of the bad things that you tell her are true or not, and it will drive her nuts. The whole point of her hearing about something bad that you did is that it is true. Once she thinks it might be a fake story it loses all its value. I don't really recommend doing this because you have to lie and it may be more mean to her than you want it to be, but I think it would work. She may also get really mad, since you've taken her one favorite thing away from her. But it is quite a bad thing that she does, so I think it's justified. edit: It's up to you regarding what you ultimately do. If it's a situation where everything has failed and you decide to not talk to your mother anymore, which is probably the worst thing that could happen, then using a rather harsh way of forcing her to change is probably worth it. Also, the object here is not to have her believe your fake stories when you lie, it's to get her to not believe it as soon as possible. You can even say that you were joking at the end of your conversations.

Don't mention that the things that she is doing are negative. It's her job to figure that out. You're just manipulating things so that when she does try to say something negative to you, or when you tell her something negative, the purpose of doing it is defeated.

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    to me, 5th and 6th paragraphs look like playing russian roulette with a 6-bullets-loaded gun. "I don't really recommend doing [...] but I think it would work" and "I think it's justified" really need clarification IMO. It seems like you're just throwing ideas in the middle, and ask OP to pick one, but your advice can lead to terrible outcome. – OldPadawan Sep 7 at 14:26
  • Whether the outcome of the 6th paragraph is good or bad is really up to the person. Maybe they're tired of this and are considering ending the relationship with their mother entirely, which would be the worst. At least there is a chance of making the mother change. There is nothing really wrong with the 5th paragraph. People dramatize things all the time. How does dramatizing become wrong now? Anyway most of the higher rated answers involve just letting the abusive person do what they do. Is that really right? – Alex Cannon Sep 8 at 2:38
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    Hey there! We require answers here to be backed up by personal experience or external sources. So, could you edit to tell us about a similar situation you were in the past? Who was involved, what did you say and how did the other person react? – Ael Sep 8 at 9:41
  • Faking up stuff and dramatizing may be able to make or prove a point but they have a negative effect on reciprocity and trust building. If you have a feeling someone is going to be negative on something you forgot at the store, you could instead make that point directly. Playing mind games could be acceptable coming from a teen or a child but OP is 26 and striving to be considered as a real adult. – Arthur Hv Sep 8 at 18:32
  • @Arthur Hv 7, The mind games aren't because the OP acting like child or having bad behavior, it's because the mother is. Yes the faking stuff could create a trust issue, but that's why it's a last resort. Saying that I don't want to say what I forgot at the store because I'll get excessive negative response is communicating exactly that, in a more action than verbal way. Quite likely attempts to tell the mother that she has a problem with being negative have already failed. – Alex Cannon Sep 9 at 1:59

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