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"My mother has a terrible habit of making fun of me when i have trouble doing things that she considers to be simple. Usually this ends with me getting frustrated and quitting, which leads to her yelling about how helpless and lazy I am. I’ve tried bringing this up with her and asking her to stop, but she generally just turns that into another opportunity for laughing about how I’m the one with the inability to do "simple tasks". Do you have any advice on how to deal with her?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Hi. This is me, looking at you, telling you I was raised by a similar woman. I spent a lot of my high school time crying because I have terrible reading comprehension and because of this, I am no good at history. I would try, I would really really try, re-read things 12 times and try to make hints for myself and my mom just didn’t get it. Sometimes she would help me, but a lot of times she would say my name in (what i didn’t realize at the time) a very condescending tone and just repeat whatever it was that was troubling me. It was hard. High school was hard.

That one thing in our relationship created a divide that I never figured out how to overcome. I somehow learned how to communicate in a different way with my mother. I wouldn’t involve her as much in my school work or writing. It took me years to recognize that I was an okay writer (I still struggle pretty often tbh). This also hindered my ability and willingness to ask for help from others. I encourage you to practice this now. Getting help from others will put you in a position where you don’t have to ask for help from your mom, since it seems she doesn’t help you in a way that ACTUALLY helps you. We all learn differently. There are plenty of people who respond REALLY well to the making-fun-of route, I don’t, you don’t, tons of us just don’t.

If you have tried talking to your mom and you feel at a loss, try out my suggestions. However, there is power in asking again. Maybe tell her exactly what you told us. Her comments and jokes at your expense actually make things worse, but you WANT her to be someone who helps you out. Perhaps that will change things on her end? Please know there are a lot of us who experience what you are experiencing and it is very difficult and your mom is not in the right simply because she’s your mom. Your feeling are completely valid.

Kristin Says:

I echo everything that Dannielle said – and want to add to this that, at some point in all of our lives, we realize that our parents are fallible and scarred, and that they sometimes cannot do for us what we need, or what we want to do for others around us.

Your mom is not able to be supportive to you in areas where she feels you aren’t “doing well enough,” and this is a glaring sign of someone who was also told, many times, that they were not good enough. It is likely that your mom feels very insecure about her own abilities, even though she presents a front that says she knows all, and knows better. It’s a defense… and it hurts, horribly.

The fact of the matter is that it is very, very hard to get through to someone who is battling with such big demons. Your focus, for the time being, needs to be on two things: First – your mom is the one who is misspeaking and her own struggles are causing her to say untrue and hurtful things. They are untrue. You are strong, you are capable, you are powerful, and you can accomplish the things that you want to accomplish in your own way. Second – surround yourself with people who are able to support and love you, and ask them (like Dannielle already said) for help when you need it.

You may need to put some distance between you and your mom for now.
Perhaps, when you are feeling stronger, you can revisit the conversation. It’s possible that she will hear you in time and begin to work on the things that are hurting her so deeply, and slowly heal some of those wounds.

I’m so sorry that you have to face this — you are certainly not alone in your experience. I believe in you. Dannielle believes in you. So many of us out here believe in you. And, deep down, your mother absolutely believes in you, too… she just can’t access that support over the clanging noises of her own insecurities.



One thought on “Dealing with a Hurtful Parent

  1. i recently came out to my conservative parents and they took it really badly, my dad kept saying we were a mental disease, a life style, and that we should die off. my mom was no protection because although shes better than my dad she just added on how uncomfortable it made her and that i hadn’t “found the right guy yet”. i left for a few days for them to calm down and now to live here in decent shape is to abide by the rules of: no new girls come over, no mentioning gay things, don’t tell their friends or my extended family, no dating, and i move out at 18. i just feel really trapped because i want to date someone but its a little hard with my parents, i still want to feel connected to them but after so many things said and how many times we’ve screamed at each other i don’t think they’ll come around, i just don’t know what do do.

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