Dear Stavroula: A Daughter’s Difficult Relationship with Mom

Dear Stavroula,

I am 18 years old, a student, and live with my mother, my brother, and my sister. I am the eldest of my siblings. My father has been dead for eight years and my mother has raised us alone with a lot of sacrifice, which I feel deeply grateful for. But my relationship with her is not as I would like it to be. My mother is very strict and has the need to control everything. I know she loves me but I’m sure she does not trust me and that hurts me. She doesn’t want me to go out often and if I get home late, she gets angry and gives me attitude. When I’m out, she calls for some made up excuses, but I know she’s doing it to check up on me. Six months ago I had a relationship for the first time and she did not like it at all. She constantly complains about my relationship and puts down my boyfriend for no reason. I know that no one would be good enough for me according to my mom, because she does not want us to leave her. I love her but I feel she is smothering me. I’m thinking of finding a job and leaving home, but I’m afraid I would not be able to finish college. I do not know what to do…

Matina

 

Dear Matina,

Our relationship with our mother is one of the most important relationships in our lives. It is a strong relationship, the first relationship of love we experience and is decisive for our development.

The role of the mother is to create a safe environment in which her child will grow up with love, at the same time providing him with the necessary tools to become ready to open his wings and chase his dreams, making his own way in life.

But sometimes mothers are not ready for this change, and for many different reasons they may not treat their adult children as autonomous persons. Especially if they have been forced by circumstances to raise their children on their own, when they have the sole responsibility for them.

This seems to be the case with your own mother. Afraid that you are not yet ready to make decisions in your life, she feels the need to protect you. She does not have her husband to share with her the concerns and responsibility for your upbringing and that makes her overprotective and more strict than necessary. She has taken on the role of the father along with that of the mother. So, try to understand her behavior, though, of course, not accepting it.

Initially, talk to her openly and put your own limits on your relationship. Explain to her that it is time for you to make decisions for yourself and your life and that even if you make a mistake you want to be responsible for your decisions and choices. Let her know that you take her opinion seriously and respect her advice, but you do not want her to be angry or protest when you do not follow them, because that prevents communication between you, which is precious to you.

Do not talk to your mother like an angry child but as an adult who knows what she wants and seeks it in a calm and steady way. Tell her with reasonable arguments, justify your position without emotional excitement.

You do not write anything about your boyfriend and I cannot know whether she is right or wrong to dislike him. But surely the way she chose to show you is not right. You are at an age when you can decide if you want to have a relationship with whomever. Explain the reasons for your choice and point out that even if it is wrong, you want to experience it and take responsibility for your decision.

Your mother’s attitude towards you depends greatly on how you feel about yourself. If you rely on your strengths and operate with self-esteem and consequential words and deeds, your mother will understand that she is dealing with a mature young woman she can trust.

However, if none of the above has any effect, it might be good to visit a specialist with your mother.

Regarding leaving home and finding a job, I would advise against it, since you also understand that this will negatively affect your studies. I think education should be your top priority.