My mother drives me mad

With Mother's Day this month, you may be reflecting on the relationship you have with your mother. Do you avoid your mum? Do you groan when the phone rings and it's her or feel guilty that you don't make time for her? No matter how much or how little love and affection you feel for your mother there is a good chance that you find her irritating or hard work at times. All relationships but particularly close, familial ones have their ups and downs. Spending time with anyone requires some degree of tolerance; it is a natural part of the give and take of relationships. Many people find though that their tolerance is pushed to its limits by their mother's company, to the extent that time together is dreaded, rather than celebrated.

As children mature into adults they become aware of maternal shortcomings; she is fallible and has her own struggles just like everybody else. In short, mum becomes a real person! It's possible to enjoy a new, mature and mutually satisfying friendship now, where common interests can be shared and both parties can gain support. For some people though, their mother is overwhelmingly experienced negatively, as for example, selfish, boring and needy. Perhaps there was always a difficulty underlying the relationship but something in adult life triggered the feelings more strongly, such as the father dying or grandchildren arriving. These feelings of wanting to distance or withdraw from the relationship are not usually clear cut. They are in fact extremely complex and usually characterised by a confusing 'push/pull' - craving love and affection from a warm maternal source but desperate to protect oneself from the disappointing reality.

The shape and feel of the maternal relationship is quite unique to each individual mother and child. When that relationship feels uncomfortable or intolerable to the adult child, it is likely to have its origins in the past, where the attachment was formed. This makes it all the more difficult to manage or understand and makes the feelings more powerful as they come partly from a younger self.

Acknowledging a dislike, or disinterest in one's own mother is quite taboo in our culture, so it can feel quite a lonely place to be, especially on Mother's Day. Try to find someone to talk to, you'll probably find you're not the only one. It is often possible to improve your relationship with your mum, either by speaking openly to her, or perhaps with therapy, through careful exploration of the dynamics at play.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Katie Leatham Individual and Couples Counsellor/ Supervisor BACP Accred, UKRCP

My name is Katie Leatham and I am an accredited, registered BACP counsellor working in Sussex. I work with all people including children and young people, couples and individuals, helping with a range of issues. I specialise in counselling for parents and especially mothers with postnatal depression and anxiety, or other family relationship issues.… Read more

Written by Katie Leatham Individual and Couples Counsellor/ Supervisor BACP Accred, UKRCP

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