In honor of Mother’s Day, Dr. Jenn Mann (formerly Dr. Jenn Berman) brings you her five ways to have a more peaceful relationship with your mother. Ask her more burning relationship, love and sex questions every weeknight on SiriusXM Stars (Ch. 109) at 10pm ET!
The mother-daughter/mother-son relationship is a complicated one. As a friend of mine used to say, “she knows how to push my buttons, after all, she installed them.” Whether or not we like our mother as a person, we all naturally are wired to want her love and approval.
Whether your mother is a wonderful loving woman or an abusive shrew or anything in between, you are better off finding a way to get along peacefully. Here are a few tips:
Appreciate her strengths. We are all flawed, even your mother. She may not be the mother you dreamed of, but she probably has something to offer you. Do your best to enjoy her strengths and appreciate her gifts.
Don’t be enmeshed. Enmeshed relationships lack boundaries and the rolls are flipped and unhealthy. It is not uncommon for me to get a call on The Dr. Jenn Show where an adult child is making choices- like who they date, what career they pursue, what clothes they wear- because they still want to please their mother. Part of adulthood is to individuate from your parents and make life choices based on your own preferences, even if mom doesn’t approve.
Keep it superficial. If you have an unhealthy parent you have chosen to keep in your life, keep it superficial. Don’t go for long dinners and hang out at the house. Instead see a movie together so you don’t have to do a lot of talking. If she is a makeup maven, take a trip to Sephora and let her teach you about lipstick shades. Keep it light and don’t get into heavy conversations without a therapist in the room.
Mourn the loss of the mom you hoped to have. Holding on to the image of the mother you wished she was prevents you from moving forward. If you have a mom who can’t meet your needs you may want to take the advice I gave Farrah Abraham in a session with her mom, Debra, on Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn. You have to mourn the loss of the mother you hoped to have.
Don’t have a relationship. If you have a mother who abused you and continues to disrespect and hurt you, you should not have a relationship. To do that invites abuse. As a child you did not have a choice, but as an adult you get to pick who is in your life. Too often callers tell me that other family members or friends have told them they “should” have a relationship with an abusive parent. “But she is your mother!” they tell the caller. DNA does not give someone the right to abuse you and you always have the option to step away of someone does not own their hurtful behavior, make amends and work to develop new insight and behavior.
Dr. Jenn Mann (formerly Dr. Jenn Berman) is the host of The Dr. Jenn Show, a call in advice therapy show, on SiriusXM Stars Monday through Friday 10pm-Midnight ET. She is also the host and lead therapist on VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, which will be going in to its sixth season this spring. She is the author of three bestselling books: SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years, The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids and Rockin’ Babies and has a new book about relationships that will be published by Sterling Publishing in 2016. Dr. Mann also created the popular weight loss app No More Diets application, which is currently available on iPhone & iPad.