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Q: My mother makes life miserable for our family. The two of us fight all the time, and she fights with everyone else most of the time. It becomes a battle of the wills most of the time. We both love each other, but we try each other’s patience, according to my dad. He says it’s because we’re too much like each other. I don’t WANT to be like my mother. She’s unreasonable most of the time, wanting things her way. When she doesn’t get her way, she pouts and makes life miserable for everyone around her. That lasts about two weeks, and then she cries because she says no one respects her. Then we feel sorry for her, brush it off, and we start all over again. She gets angry at the least little thing, and she treats my daddy so mean. For a long time, I thought I was doing something wrong. Now, I think it’s just her. All I know is that I don’t even like coming home anymore. And neither does my daddy. How can I help her to understand what she is doing to our family? ~E.D.
JOYCE: I don’t know if E.D. means “exasperated daughter” or not–and quite frankly, if this is even a daughter; you might be the son. But, my suspicions—and if I had to call it—would be definitely mom and daughter.
Also, I’m uncertain of your age, but I suspect you’re a teen/young adult, merely because of “I don’t like coming home anymore.” But, it’s speculation on the gender, as well as the age, therefore, I’ll answer with respect to any age or status in life.
1. Sounds like mom might need a hormone fix, number one. It could be something “as simple” as peri- or menopausal symptoms. Or, it could be neither of those.
2. Regardless, Mom is unhappy on a number of levels. I don’t know if your mom and dad are unhappy in their relationship, but I would think neither could be too broken-out over one another the way home life sounds. If you have a good relationship with your dad, you might get him off to yourself and ask if there’s a problem with their relationship. If he’s reluctant to say, encourage him to broach the problem with your mother so that home life could be better for everyone concerned, including her. Hopefully, you do have a tender-enough relationship with him that the two of you could talk about it on a gut level and simply express all your concerns. Be careful, however, that you don’t “team-up” against Mom. This should be a genuine concern on both of your parts, not something where your relationship strengthens leaving hers in your dust. (If you need further explanation, please ask. I’m happy to explain.)
3. You should approach your mother. I’ll give you some suggestions about how this might look from the parent-child standpoint.
· Number one: You commit this to prayer. Seek God’s wisdom regarding how to talk to your mom. Read Proverbs. There’s much wise counsel in that Book as to how we should address such issues in life.
· Next, encourage a night for the two of you to go out for dinner. Then with tenderness and concern, broach the subject of:
o Are you unhappy?
o I’m concerned about you.
o Are you and Dad having problems?
o Why don’t you like me? I know you love me, but why can’t we get along? I don’t want to fight with you all the time. What can we do to make our relationship better?
o Why are you so negative?
o Did you have a bad childhood, Mom? You always seem so angry.
o Do you think talking to our pastor might help? Should you see a counselor? Is there anyone you trust who might can help you work out some of your problems?
· Make sure you let your mom know how much you love her, how much you depend on her, how much you want the memories of home to be meaningful, rich, and pleasant when you reflect back on your childhood. Remind her that it won’t be long before you’ll be looking at rearing your own family, and you want to feel good about coming home with your children, not worrying if they’re going to be a burden on her.
· Let her know—again, tenderly—that you simply want her happy, you don’t want to feel like the family is a burden to her, and family life should be full of pleasant memories.
· Then, “How can I help to make your life easier, Mom? Is there anything I’m doing wrong that I should change? Is there anything that might help take away your anger, resentment, bitterness? Let me help you. I love you.”
· Express to your mother how it hurts you when she’s mean to your dad because, just like her, you love him. He may not be the best, you’re certain he does things wrong, but he’s your dad, and please don’t be mean to him in front of you and others.
· Again, remind her how much you love her, what she means to you, and then, encourage her to talk to someone–anyone that might help her with her problems. Let her know it worries you, and you don’t want home to ever be anything but a good memory.
After this heart-felt conversation, if your mother doesn’t change her attitude and/or seek help, you will have to develop a plan to work around her unpleasantness. You and I can work on what that looks like. Please have her reach out to me as a starting point. I have extensive experience in working through issues. My book, “Getting Past the Past: Stepping Out of Your Emotional Prison Forever,” could be a resource that might help her.
Thank you for reaching out to Just Ask Joyce. Life is too short to be miserable and not make meaningful memories. It’s unfortunate that you’re the child seeking solutions, but it tells me an awful lot about the strength of your character and the bright future you will have through seeking solutions to life’s problems. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to Just Ask Joyce! God bless!
Need help with a relationship? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help!