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Family Relations/Advice mother/daughter relationship


Thank you for taking the time to help me out.

I'm 24, married, have a 2 year old and am currently pregnant. I am also a stay at home mom. 2 weeks ago my Mother decided (she never really asked if it was ok) to move 1000 miles away from my grandmother (who she lived with) to come move in with myself, toddler and Husband. I knew this would be difficult, but I didn't object because, well, she's my Mother and needs a roof.

She has *always* had a way of making snide remarks, taking "jabs" at people, throwing insults while sometimes trying to hide that's what she's doing. She is driving me, and my Husband, nuts. She has implied she has implied she plans to live with us for a long time and doesn't intend to get a job. She will say things like, "When this lease is up next year maybe we can find a better place to live." How can I even begin to tell my own mother I don't want her to live with us forever? Ideally without hurting her feelings.

Since she got here all she's done is complain and insult. Examples:
We were talking about the recycling days-"you can put cans in there. Not like it matters, you just throw em on your floor." Note- we don't drink canned soda.

I forgot to take a prenatal one day-"it's so sad you just don't care at all about that baby."

My husband works 100+ hrs every 2 weeks, on his days off he sometimes plays video games-"you'd think you'd want to spend time with your family" "your daughter never says "daddy" because you ignore her."

She changed my daughter, asked me for a diaper, i didnt hear her so I get "you're a failure as a mother right now"  

The day she got here she burst into tears because I had dirty dishes in the sink and I had not vacuumed. The house was "filthy"- not even close. "Well i bet CPS would have something to say aboit it!" I interpret this as an insult.

These comments happen all day, every day. I do not know how my Husband and I can deal with this. What can I do when she does/says things like this to me? Normally I do/say nothing but I fear one day I will explode and ruin our relationship. I'm miserable- please help! I just don't know how to handle her.

Hi, Lauren, thanks for your question.

Well, if you are going to have her around (and I assume that the choice you have made, since you didn't kick her out), then you have to find different ways to respond to what she says/does.

Think / plan ahead about some alternative ways you can respond. It's going to take some effort / creativity. It's not easy, because you and your mother have developed this habitual way of treating each other. You have to 'go outside the box' in order to get out.

Some possible options:
- use humor, get each of you to laugh at each other. It can be seen as funny, how the both of you have trapped yourselves into this small way of relating. Find the humor in it!

- use distraction, like you would a little kid. Get her to talk about something else

- she's obviously not responding on an adult level ... see if you can think of her as being a child, and see if you can figure out what age she is being

- mimic her. do the same things she is doing. exaggerate the heck out of it. If she says you are a failure, call all your friends, tell the neighbors, put an ad in the paper, announce it to the world "I'M A FAILURE!!!!!" It will be obvious that she "didn't mean it like THAT"

- say or do something that it totally unexpected / unrelated to what she does. Instead of 'trying to ignore it' (that's what everyone does), see if you can respond in surprising ways, totally out of context - makes it hard for her to continue down that path...

There proobably lots of other options, but perhaps you get the drift - YOU have to find alternative ways of responding, in order to break the pattern. You are part of the pattern, you just don't see it. As they say "it takes 2 to argue". So, if you are no longer doing the things you always do, it's hard for the other person to continue

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.


questions framed similarly to 'what are some ways to respond when someone does/says X' are best. Questions posed in the form of 'why does my father do/say Y', or 'how would you diagnose my mother when she does/says Z' are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. I will probably reframe your question to fit the first question (what do I do). Nay question regarding any family member is fair game. Some of the most difficult are in the area of step-parenting and divorcing families.


I've been a licensed psychologist in Florida since 1994. I've evaluated and/or treated thousands of patients.

American Psychological Association Florida Psychological association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology


Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993 M.CS., U. of Dayton, 1984 B.A., Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978

Awards and Honors
Award for Years of Dedicated Service, Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, 1999

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