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TWITTER CHAT: Your mother and you

Psychotherapist and Psychologies columnist, Philippa Perry, answered your questions about that sometimes tricky relationship

by Psychologies

The relationship we have with our mothers often shifts throughout our lives, it can be supportive or difficult, infused with joy or tinged with guilt. We took a closer look at the ever-changing relationship between mothers and daughters in our dossier in the current June issue. It included tips from psychotherapist Philippa Perry on how to handle jealousy, withdrawal and smothering within a mother-daughter relationship. To help Psychologies readers further Philippa Perry took to Twitter to answer and aid your mother-daughter questions and dilemmas…

Hi everyone, I am the @psychologiesmag live Tweeter today. Tweet your questions to @psychologies and I will be here to answer.

@stokeseyk asks: My 14-year-old girl and I are forever at war. It’s wearing me down. Now I find it hard to speak to her at all, she’s so moody. Spiralling into a dynamic of I’m right you’re wrong means that you will both lose. I recommend reading How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

@mydaysandways asks: Could an insecure infant attachment with my depressed mother have caused my own mental health problems? And how can I prevent this when I have children? An insecure attachment with a parent can lead to emotional and relationship problems. Becoming aware of harmful impulses so that you don’t act on them means that those mental health problems don’t need to be passed on.

My mother always put me down and didn’t appreciate me and now I only fall for men who do the same. What can I do? You’ll need to embody truth that your type is not your type. Feel the impulse to fall for the usual type, but don’t act on it. This takes practice.

My 15-year-old daughter says it is not cool to be seen with me. People say we look like sisters, not like mother and daughter. It is ok to respect your child’s opinion even when it is different from your own. It sounds like she may need space to separate from you to individuate.

@LadyNathalie asks: My mother doesn’t like me. She tries to hurt my feelings all the time. She may dislike herself and feel merged with you. Her criticism of you may be a form of self-criticism of herself. She may even be passing down the dynamic she experienced with her own mother. Try not to take it too personally.

My 15-year-old child’s dad gives her so much freedom, for example he lets her stay out until 2am, but I don’t. She is getting difficult to handle. You need to agree on boundaries with her Dad. This isn’t fair on her. Take her feelings seriously, put yourself in her shoes.

All me and my teenage daughter do is fight. She borrows my clothes yet I am not allowed into her wardrobe and she has lost a shirt of mine. What should I do? Part of growing up is learning that parents are not just to be used, but to be respected, yet we only learn to respect when we are shown it. It is not easy.

I hate my parents then feel guilty and try to make it up to them, and then I feel that I hate them even more, what’s wrong with me? It is not all your fault. It sounds like a situation co-created between all of you. Are you swinging from one extreme of rage to the extreme of guilt?

Mum is a serial over-sharer about inappropriate topics, which really grosses me out. I have asked her in a light-hearted way to stop, but it hasn’t done much good. My daughter has had this problem and she got serious to stop me. Light-hearted may not cut it. I admire and respect her for setting boundaries.

Why is it always me that calls my parents? Why don’t they call me? I have asked, and they do once or twice, and then it is just me again. Perhaps they don’t want to intrude on your life. It is perhaps how they habitually maintained contact with their parents. There are more questions that you need to ask them.

When I tell my mum one of my achievements she just counters with one of hers instead of saying ‘Well done’. This makes me so mad. Spell out to her what you need from her and what you don’t need from her. You could unpack together what achievement means to each of you.

I am so annoyed with myself that my mother’s ridiculous opinions get to me so much. Why do I make what she thinks matter so much? When we were small we were dependent on parents for life itself. It is no wonder we have a habit of taking them seriously – even if they are daft.

I miss my mum so much and spent too much time during her life locked in petty squabbles with her. I have regrets. She would not have wanted you to give yourself such a hard time over this. Really, she wouldn’t. I am sorry for your bereavement.

@C_Ashy asks: What effect can having a mother reject you (during your teens) for her new husband have on later adult life? It’s been over 5 years. I think you know the effect – devastating and I am sorry. You will know it is not your fault and it can take time to embody that.

I feel split in two by my mother. I don’t think of her when I am not with her, and when I am with her I am a different person compared to when I am not. Have you found a way to gain acceptance without losing who you are? I wonder how it would go if you dared to open up to her more. My mum is so unmotivated. She watches daytime TV all the time. I am worried I will end up like her. You might. What are you going to do to ensure this doesn’t happen? (If you don’t want it to that is).

My mother has taken over my wedding. You’d think it was her getting married, but I don’t want to fall out with her. I am getting quite a few questions about wanting to avoid confrontation. When we want to make a complaint we need not to make ‘You’ statements, make ‘I’ statements instead. Those ‘I’ statements should be about our feelings, for example ‘I appreciate you trying but when you do X, I feel Y’. Don’t give a complaint without giving a recommendation too, for example ‘Instead of doing X, you could do Z instead’. I talk more about how to make complaints in a respectful way in my new book How To Stay Sane.

@BasilCat123 asks: How do I cope with my mum who is in a lot of pain with arthritis but won’t take painkillers due to religious beliefs? I’d find that hard too. I would tell her it was hard for me to see what I saw as needless suffering.

Thanks for having me and do feel free to Tweet me any questions about anything to @Philippa_Perry