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I am a 19-year-old autistic male that currently works as a Software Engineering apprentice. I live in a small village in the middle of Bavaria.

Even though I got officially diagnosed - secretly - as I turned 18 years old, I don't want my parents to know - therefore I didn't tell them. However, I don't want to focus on this too much, since I think the issue I describe here would be a problem for me even if I was neurotypical.

My mom and I have a really bad relationship. The general situation is pretty muddled... We get along "okay-ish" most of the time, but sometimes really small things lead to massive fights between us. There is a lot of built-up hatred between us that built up over the years. I don't want to get into the specifics of what happened too much - But let's just say we both did some pretty shitty things.

There is no tolerance, no easing, no healthy culture in general between us anymore. I understand that she is my mother but in those fight situations, she uses that card to justify right about everything. I can't make even just the most general suggestion without her taking it personally, getting defensive, and leaving a passive-aggressive comment.

That comment usually includes something along the lines of "You live in my house" - most of the time she says that in a really self-righteous way. This kind of authoritarian thinking is what leads to me getting really rallied-up in response, and then one thing leads to another.

Other classics include:

  • "I am your mom"
  • "You can't decide that"
  • Some random thing I did wrong ages ago
  • Something other that is totally not related
  • If I make a suggestion: "But you don't even do X all of the time yourself!"

Don't get me wrong. I understand that she has some authority over me, she is my mom after all and I do live in her house. But I am 19 years old have my own job and have some determination over my own life. She just draws the line way too close to her in my opinion.

To give you an example of how this usually goes, I present to you the latest situation: I wanted to buy a new desk - which is quite a lot bigger than my current one. So I started to discuss with her where to put it in my room. I wanted to move some furniture and place the new desk in between my door and windows. She for some reason did not like that idea and basically just said "no" without any justification. If she raised some valid concern I would have understood, but she didn't raise any. So I asked her why we would not be able to do it that way, to which she just responded "This is my house and I decide" - Even though it's about my room. I hope you get the issue I have.

I realize that the easy solution to this would be to move out - and I would love to. But I cannot afford the rent for even the smallest flats in my area, since I only make "apprentice"-level money and want to get further education thereafter. I also understand that as long as I live in her house I gotta follow her "rules" to some degree, but most of the things I do/ask for are not that much. I already isolated myself as much as I could from my mom.

This whole mess stems from our bad past experiences and fights most likely. None of us is willing to give up any ground in this battle over nothing. My issue is that I feel like I can't do the first step because my tolerance for dealing with her is pretty low overall, and the way she acts in these fights I have a feeling that if I give in she would just walk-off and do nothing at all while preaching to me that I admitted I was - at least partially - wrong in all future conflicts. If she would not be so authoritarian and self-righteous I would have a way easier time going the distance.

I have tried lots of things over the years. From just shrugging it off to debating about it for hours most of the time the big fights settle within a few days and we somewhat get along again, but this just keeps happening so regularly. It's the same situation every two weeks and I don't know how to stop it. We can't even talk normally anymore.

So basically my question is: What can I do in these situations when she is not willing to have any compromise and uses her total authority over me, to try and reach a compromise?

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    Why do you live in her house? Can you change that?
    – guest
    Nov 8 '20 at 15:52
  • Yes I do live in a house with her, I cannot change that. Therefore I depend on her, which she uses
    – anon
    Nov 8 '20 at 16:29
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    I know that you said that moving out is not an option, but you may still find a previous answer I wrote at least partially relevant: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/15491/3626
    – Johndt
    Nov 20 '20 at 21:09
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This is going to sound off, but it's true: the only way to get your mother not to just use "because I said so" and "as long as you live in my house" is for some of her other techniques to work some times. For you to go along with what she wants just because "that sounds reasonable" or "that makes sense" or "that's a good idea." Not for everything. As parents we often tell each other "pick your battles" and I'll say the same to you here. Do you need to fight her on everything? Are you sometimes just doing it out of habit and reflex? Can you decide to agree on some minor things and not because of her role and authority, but because she is saying sensible and reasonable things?

(Pick your battles is a parenting saying (and also a marriage saying) where sometimes even though you're right, you choose not to fight over it. You let your child do something mild because you feel the arguing to try to force them to follow a rule would be worse than the consequences of them skipping a meal or not getting dressed or whatever. In the same way, if your mother and you disagree on something relatively minor, even though you're right, you may choose not to argue about it. This is a strategy. For things that are a big deal, you pick this battle to fight and you don't back down. So you might take a coat on a nice day because she says it might rain later, and you might tidy something up right now even though waiting and doing it in an hour would be fine, and you might stop doing something that isn't really bothering anyone. And ideally you would do these things not because she said so, but for an actual logical reason that you can agree with. Good Point, mother. Yes, you're right it might, mother. Etc. And then once in a while, you can say This Far And No Farther and take a stand.)

The more you agree when your mother is being reasonable, the more normal your relationship can become. And if at the same time you try to avoid "you can't make me", or "but it's my room" or "but I'm the one wearing it", you give her space to say to you, "that sounds reasonable" or "that makes sense" or "that's a good idea."

You're at an age where you start to separate from your parents. Where moving out into a place of your own starts to appeal to you and also to your parents. These conflicts are part of that. You're starting to make your own decisions and they probably want that for you in the long term. The history of your relationship is keeping that from happening now. But the history doesn't have to be the future. You're going to become an adult and you're going to move out. You may cut them out of your life when you do, or you may switch to a more adult and equitable relationship. If you plan for the latter, start living that relationship now.

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  • Thanks for your answer. I agree with you on most points. Just a few things that I want to clear up: I dont disagree with my mom on everything. Most things I can just shrug off because they dont affect me so much. There are some things though that do have an impact. For example, I am picky about where I want my desk because, example: I dont want sunlight to shine on my Screen. When I propose the Position and she just says "no" with no explaination I get the feeling that there actually is none. "Pick your own battles" is a pretty loaded. Since it implies a no possiblity of me being right.
    – anon
    Nov 10 '20 at 22:08
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    nope, edited to clarify that Nov 10 '20 at 22:49
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I remember being in my 15s and being in a similar situation about poisoned relationship with my mother. Back then, I lacked the communication tools I now have to handle these problematic situations.

First, the desk incident. You plan for things that would require her approval. She refuses, and she refuses giving reasons. The primary reason things escalate there is that there is a disconnection in empathy for the other, in both sides. Your mother doesn't trust you enough to communicate you the real reason, and you don't trust her enough to imagine her reasons are valid. Basically, what's infuriating there is that she leaves you to imagine she did that for the only reason to piss you off.

This conclusion is most likely false. It's the result of the poisoned relationship you both had that leave no room for mutual empathy. You can't argue or reach compromise if you don't empathically connect in the first place, because you are in an dependency position as she likes to recall you from time to time. So my answer might be a bit tough but I see no solution to your fights outside solving the problems in the relationship.

So how would you do that ? Well, I think it's important to repair conflict after conflict. In your example, I've seen NVC trainers show how to do that through guessing. Imagining a different dialogue here:

Can I have a new desk please?

No

Could you tell me why?

I decide, it's no

Is it because you don't want the trouble of moving the furniture?

No

Are you afraid I take it badly if you tell me?

I have no guarantee this works but at least in this stance you show a lot more empathy by trying to figure out what are the real reasons for your interlocutor to decide. This is a lot more inviting to conflict resolution.

Trying to apply similar situations the same recipe, and try to figure out in other situation what would be the way to understand her need, then you could have a way to negotiate with her.

There are also a few more things I would like to comment:

If you believe there is any chance that your diagnosis is linked to current situation, trust my experience being a bipolar teen, letting your parents know the diagnosis could ease a lot of situations, because they would understand better your problems and handle better some situations you could have problems with.

You also said something odd: you said none of you is willing to give up any ground in this battle over nothing. Why wouldn't you? If you have your mom to empathize with you you can call to her feelings and gain flexibility. It's also way nicer to live with someone you understand. You don't have anything to gain out of confrontation.

There is no harm done in admitting regret, apologizes and excuses, that doesn't mean being wrong, that just mean regretting having done things the way you did. Make the distinction clear to you and if you feel necessary to your mother. Again, no guarantee this would work, but if you have things she uses over and over, and you never used an apology for it, it could be a good way to counter the argument and to show (again) you are willing to empathize with her.

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