Sent: Sunday, May 16, 1999 10:56 PM
Subject: domineering parent
Dear Dr. Irene,
My name is Julie and I am 27 years old. I am a physical therapist and I live at home with
I want to tell you a story about the relationship between my mother and me. It is a
relationship which I feel needs a lot of healing. I am turning to you for feedback because
I am looking for some sort of understanding about my mom, me and us.
I really don't know where to start. I don't know if the situation starts from the present
or the past. My mother has always had a personality of being domineering. She has always
had a temper, being for tactless, to being extremely obstinate. She is a tough mother and
I know she did the best she could for my sister and me. However, her words and actions
have always hurt me.
As her child, I've tried my darndest to be ok but at the same time to be me. I don't mean
this statement as good or bad. This is coming from my heart because I am human. I've
always listened to her from day one. There were times where I agreed, disagreed, or just
plain listened. However, I would never tell this to my mom. It is a one-sided
relationship, her way. I feel I was never allowed the opportunity to speak up. All my life
I've felt I was always seen but not heard.
All my life, she has critiqued me. I can name many occasions where her words hurt me. She
would tell me "Sit up straight in public, Don't interrupt me, I'm always right,
I'm the only who cares about you nobody else, Do you think that if I died tomorrow your
dad would care about you?, etc."
There have been other comments such as, "When I'm dead and gone you'll miss me, You're
very dependent on your boyfriend, You're stubborn and you don't listen to me, Your friends
are changing you, do you think they care about you? Say thank you, did you say thank you?
SAY THANK YOU!!!"
I have told many people about this and they all think it's a phase. I have a hard time
believing it because I get treated like this 24/7. In front of her employees, she praises
me and they say, "Your mom is very proud of you." They tell me, "Your mom
says you're a good kid." But when she talks to me she says, "You don't love me
anymore." Then her mood changes to saying thank you for helping me and I love you.
It's like mixed messages.
I have helped her with the finances ever since I started working. She says that I have to
help out and I'm really willing. I don't want to make her upset. It has not been more than
a couple years and I've paid more than $25,000 in helping in the home. However, there was
one occasion when I just had a question about the mortgage. I was frustrated because I've
given money to pay for the mortgage and she wouldn't show me the statement. I was mad and
my mom & me had a disagreement. The next day my dad talked to me and he said that my
mom was telling him that I don't help out with the finances. I told him that what she said
was a lie.
I told him I've bought her all sorts of personal things as well as groceries. I've paid
for her a vacation, and I've helped pay for the household bills.
Another part of her that frustrates me is her being very nosy with my privacy. She goes
through my stuff and then she tests me to see if what she found out about me is true.
She'll ask me, "How much money do you have in your savings?" One time I told
her, "Why do you ask when you already know?" She got mad at me and she
said, "You should be lucky to have a mother who cares about you." And then she
would tell me things like you don't know how many kids would be lucky to have a mother
like me who cares. I'm the only other mother who cares about her kids.
She tells me to grow up and to stop acting like I'm in kindergarten. But then
every time I
try to grow up, she does all my responsibilities before I can even attempt to be
responsible. She'll make me lunch. One time I told her I don't want lunch and she yelled
at me and said, "TAKE IT!" She irons my clothes, tell me how to dress, how to do
my hair, etc. I'm not a provocative person. I don't expose myself in a way that would hurt
me. She's yelled at me when I've gone out and I wore jeans and a t-shirt.
She gives me dirty looks when I go out. She tells me don't stay out late, you're working
tomorrow, it's against my moral standard for you to go to your boyfriend's house, his
family will think differently about you, they might call you a slut, all you ever think
about is him (my boyfriend) and his family, etc. You don't love me anymore. One time I had
plans to go out and she got mad because she needed a ride to a party. But she never told
me about the party. She's always telling me about her plans at the last minute. I'm always
picking her up from work or bringing her to work, bringing her to places she wants to go
to and then I have to drop all my plans. If I want to do something, she'll say I've
sacrificed for you to raise you in this world.
There were also very hurtful times where she wouldn't talk to me, give me the silent
treatment. If say we had a fight, I would try to say hi or sorry and she wouldn't talk to
me. It would be for weeks or months.
She has no respect for me and she treats me like a child. I mean I'm 27 years old. I work
hard for a living. I don't do drugs, drink or smoke. I'm in a monogamous relationship and
my boyfriend loves me. He has finally realized and he stated that I'm being abused by my
mom. I have a hard time believing it because it is my mother. Would you call this abuse?
I read your verbal abuse section on the net and it really caught my attention.
There is so much more and I want help. People in my family have a hard time believing she
is hurting me because she is my mother. But I am human and she is hurting me. It's hard to
explain myself to her or to reason with her, let alone have a reasonable discussion with
She never admits that she can make mistakes too. Like she has pride. She blames many
people for her mistakes. She criticizes people in private. It's so unfair.
I don't know what to do? I hope you can provide some sort of hope. I feel like I can't
grow because of her controlling me. I feel trapped.
It is time to grow up and leave the nest; stop trying to get mom's approval. It will never
come, though I am sure she loves you very, very much.
You have many mom issues to work out... So you don't repeat them with a few husbands down
the road, or your own children. Get some professional help. Mom does mean well, and I'm
sure she's doing the best she can - but she's not doing a great job. You must be very,
very angry. At least you should be. Or have you stifled those feelings?
Don't spent any more money at home; save it up; move out. You don't owe mom any more. She
raised you, you turned out well, time to go. You do owe it to yourself and your Maker to
get your life underway - at least by the norms of this society. Unfortunately it doesn't
seem mom is ready to let you go, or ever will be.
Stop worrying so much about what people in your family think. Worry about what you think.
Don't let guilt keep you home; don't let striving for mom's approval keep you home. How
you wrote to me is significant. You have written clearly slanting your letter in a way
where a listener would be likely to advise you to get on with your life. So, if you want
support to move on,
you've got it.
So, young lady, think about it. But please get some counseling before your anger, guilt
and obligation crushes you.
My very best regards,