How to make friends with your mother

By admin
07 May 2015

Do you have a strained relationship with your mom? Here's help.

We're about to have our annual opportunity to honour our moms on Mother's Day.

But many of us have troubled relationships with the women who gave us life and shaped the people we've become. The reason is often because our parent-child bond hasn't grown into an adult relationship. If you're yearning to get closer to your mother it's just as important for you to treat her as a person in her own right as it is for her to stop seeing you as a child. Communication is the key. Here are 10 tips to help you improve your relationship with your mom.

1 Remember her age

If you and your mother can't see eye to eye remember she has different values to yours. Try to see things from her point of view. Of course this isn't always easy. Many experts believe today's mothers and daughters have less in common than ever, with women over 50 raised to be good moms while we've grown up wanting our independence and career too. Remembering this will help you understand her, says Alyce Faye Cleese, co-author of How to Manage Your Mother: 10 Steps to a Better Relationship. "Your mom's formative years were in a different environment," she points out. "Her values may seem oldfashioned but it's unreasonable to expect her to change totally from the way she was brought up." And try to keep a sense of humour. " It's okay to laugh about the things you don't like about your mother with siblings and friends," she says. "Laughter's a great healer." 2 Listen to what she's saying

You may not agree with her political views and her opinions about what you should be wearing - but if you keep an open mind you'l l encourage her to be more expressive about her feelings. "Show you understand her point of view without sharing it," advises Alyce. "Th is will help her feel closer to you." Growing into adulthood allows you to get a new perspective on your mother, says Cape Town clinical psychologist Janet Bytheway. "A new perspective may be positive or negative but can help you understand her better."

3 Don't act like a child

You've suddenly noticed your mom's still treating you like a child. If you think you deserve better treatment maybe it's time to take stock of how you behave when you're around her. "We often add to the problem," says Alyce. " If you revert to a childlike role and allow your mother to look after you it's not surprising if she treats you like a child." Once they've grown up many children feel guilty when they realise they don't actually enjoy spending time with their  mothers. "This stems from assuming you should find such occasions fun, " says Alyce. "But the main thing is you're spending time with her. Feel pleased you're able to do that rather than feeling obliged to also enjoy it."

4 Keep in touch

" It's your mother speaking, remember me?" If that's how cal ls begin and you feel guilty about how seldom you get around to phoning her you're not alone. Often all mothers want is for their children to be in touch more. Use the phone to make her feel she's part of your life. And instead of putting in one marathon phone call on Sunday night rather ring her up a few times during the week simply to say hello. Or if she's tech-savvy, pop her an email, a WhatsApp or a Facebook message -- but don't let this be the only way you touch base. You'll be amazed at what a good old-fashioned phone call can do.

5 Ask her how she is

Moms often put themselves last so it's easy to take them for granted. But just because she's never expressed her feelings doesn't mean she doesn't have any.

If your relationship with your mother is already at crisis point think whether she's always been like this or if it's a new thing. You may unwittingly have done something to cause this. If you don't feel able to talk to her, ask other family members if they've noticed your mother doesn't seem happy. "Mothers are accustomed to taking care of others," says Janet. "They may feel uncomfortable telling you about their problems. If you really are concerned, pointing this out to your mother may help her realise you' re no longer a child and she can share her problems with you." But she warns there are mothers who may want he lp with every tiny problem that arises. "Setting appropriate limits about what you can and can't do can be a good start here."

6 Encourage her to find other interests

A major guilt trap is the mother who never goes out and lives for your phone calls. It can be a huge pressure. Your mom may resent the opportunities you have. If she doesn't feel needed encourage her to pursue a new interest. If the problem is she has no confidence, remind her of the skills needed to raise a family such as listening, budgeting, nursing and organisation.

7 Find out her history

One of the best ways to get closer to your mother is to ask her about her life before you were born. The more you  understand about what her life has really been like, the better you'll be able to acknowledge her as a person in her own right.

Think about her childhood too. "If your mother's a martyr," says Alyce, "try to understand her vulnerability. The misery you suffered as a child may be because she was unhappy herself. You need to understand her motives before you can let go of resentment and blame. "Talk to her before it's too late," she adds. "People say, 'Why didn't I ask my mother that while she was alive? Now I'll never know what happened'."

8 Dealing with dependency

If your mother becomes ill it can be hard to take on the role of parent. But even if she rejects your offers of help, persevere. Your mother is used to doing things herself so she may push you away. But don't give up. Let her know you're there for her. Once again there are two extremes - some parents may depend excessively on their children while others resist all offers of help. "Your mother's experience of starting to lose her independence as she gets older may make her more determined to cope on her own and less willing to accept your help. Being sensitive to this instead of just frustrated can help you handle her feelings in a more constructive manner."

9 Oh no, I'm turning into my mother

It can be scary when you catch yourself uttering something just like what your mom would say. But what's so bad about that? You've turned out okay, so she did a pretty good job of raising you. We repeat things because they're valuable. Perhaps your mom knows what she's talking about. "We try not to repeat the mistakes of our mothers yet as adults we often find ourselves imitating their patterns," says Alyce. "Years of observing her as a role model can lead to your becoming like her. Understanding what you have in common, good and bad, can draw you closer to her."

10 Talk to an expert

Our relationships with our mothers are usually a complex combination of feelings. Dealing with mixed feelings can be hard. Many people are afraid of acknowledging negative feelings towards a parent.

"Should your relationship with your mother bother you or you feel unhappy about your communication with her,   professional counselling can develop insight into why you feel the way you do and put you in a better position to deal with the relationship," says Janet.

Alyce agrees confronting your bottled-up emotions and childhood demons - whether through counselling or simply by talking to your mother about your feelings - can help to resolve old conflicts.

"To be able to confront your mother means feeling confident and accepting yourself," she says. "Then you'll be able to accept her with all her flaws ."

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