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Growing up, I had a dysfunctional relationship with my mother. Her personality was timid and passive. When my alcoholic father’s violent side exploded, she did nothing to protect my siblings and me. Then, she would verbally belittle us or tell us we deserved what we got. Often, I uttered, “I hate my mom.”
In this post, I will help you sort out what’s happening and how you can make your relationship with your mom better.
Signs that you may hate your mother can point to other issues hidden within the dynamics of how your relationship functions or doesn’t. Hints that you may feel this way can include feeling that your mom is overly critical, emotionally unavailable, or dismissive of your feelings, thoughts or opinions.
There is a lot packed into how relationships work. So, when you say or think, “I hate my mom,” it’s a serious indicator of deeper problems.
Let's take a quick look at some indicators that there are serious problems in the relationship.
Signs You May Hate Your Mother
In case you are wondering what the signs are that you may hate your mother, here are a few to note:
While you should validate your feelings and not feel shame, it’s inevitable that you might. After all, you are human and guilt is entwined within our DNA. At least that was the case with me growing up.
But forgiving doesn’t necessarily have to translate to forgetting. You can find ways to heal yourself by attempting to heal the relationship with your mother… without dismissing your emotional state of mind and wellbeing.
By finding a way to move beyond hating your mother, you’ll grow as a person. You will no longer feel victim or trapped in a constant state of turmoil, which is often the case with hatred and anger. You’ll learn to accept it and adapt, and in doing so, you’ll come out the bigger person and find happiness in the life you’ve chosen to live.
The following list of 11 steps to a better relationship with your mother will help you gather insight, self-reflection and understanding. They will give you the tools to improve your connection with your mom.
But remember… it takes two to make a relationship work. I want to help you know in your heart that you’ve done all you can, and the rest is on the shoulders of your mom.
There is always healing, a path to peace, and most of all, hope.
11 Steps to a Better Relationship with Your Mother
One of the hardest things in life is to communicate effectively in a dysfunctional relationship. Positive interaction takes forethought, consideration, approach, and strategy.
Even if you’re the only one committed to it, you can still lead the conversation and show the other person how it’s done. After all, we are all learning until we die. It’s an ongoing process.
If you have no idea where to start or how to get through your attempt to communicate with your mom, be creative. Set the atmosphere to be tranquil and welcoming. Remove distractions so the focus is solely on this moment.
These are a few good ideas to consider when planning your interaction:
One more tip on communication is one I learned from experience. We’ve all done things to hurt other people, intentionally or not. Swallow your pride and say, “I’m sorry.” Immediately, these words will disarm a host of negative energies and emotions. It clears the table for positivity to take over.
When I decided to have a talk with my mom about things in the past that haunted me, I followed these suggestions. It worked. We both listened to each other and understood where we were coming from.
In the end, she lowered her head, began to cry, and sorrowfully apologized. And I apologized for the things I had done. Our connection grew immensely that day.
Here are some excellent ideas about how to communicate effectively.
2. Learn about your mom’s childhood.
Another critical element in communicating and mending relationships is to ensure the other person that they are seen.
Often, people feel that while they are talking or expressing their thoughts and feelings, it’s like the words just float off into space and disappear like bad gas. No one is listening, and no one cares.
However, something magical happens when you ask someone about who they are and where they came from and listen closely.
When I asked my mom for stories about her childhood, her eyes lit up and she remembered things in vivid detail. She never thought anyone cared to hear it. But I did. I wanted to understand what made her uniquely her.
Everyone wants to feel like they are seen and their existence matters. Part of that yearning is to express their childhood, whether it was the happiest time of their life or the worst.
By listening to your mom’s story, you help her release a ton of repressed emotions. That will lower the contentious temperature in your relationship and begin a journey of trust.
Reasons why talking about childhood is important:
Check out Forbes’ article on communication and the human spirit and why it is essential.
3. Reflect on what you have in common with your mom.
A super neat benefit of asking your mom about her childhood is that you begin to see things in her that are also in you. Maybe you’re not so far apart after all. When you reflect on what you have in common with her, several fascinating things happen.
It is a fact that when you connect to another person by recognizing shared traits, a greater sense of empathy arises. It doesn’t just help your mom. It helps you too.
Empathy is a solid positive energy force that provides emotional and physical healing to the person who gives it. Its power benefits everyone.
Point Loma Nazarene University explains how negative emotions cause our brains to release an overload of damaging cortisol into our bodies.
On the other hand, positive and powerful emotions like empathy improve the immune system, release pain-killing endorphins, and transform our moods on a cellular level.
Understanding and Appreciation Grows
Another gift in finding your similarities with your mom is gaining understanding and appreciating her life and all she has experienced. I assure you that you don’t know everything about your mom’s past or how she felt about it. Unless you’ve communicated in depth with her, you don’t know all her experiences, emotions, or triumphs.
When you do, and you notice your similarities, a spark of understanding, compassion, and appreciation will begin to grow. Then, you’ll want to know more, because it feels wonderful to connect with your mom, and it helps you to understand yourself better.
Identifying Problem Areas Within Yourself Takes Hold
When you say, “I hate my mom,” and then you spot the similarities you have with her, you may be pinpointing aspects of yourself that you don’t like. Think about it.
Often, you don’t even realize the connection, but when you do, it can be life-changing. It’s like looking at a picture of your mom and looking into a mirror at the same time.
Identifying problem areas within yourself is an opportunity to self-reflect, grow internally, and become a happier human being.
If you’re willing, it can guide you toward a higher self-awareness that will transform your life for the better. It won’t just strengthen your relationship with your mother, but it will also enhance all the connections in your life.
Visit The Guardian for in-depth information on how to communicate with your mother.
4. Don’t try to change your mom and remember she’s just a human being.
When you’re in the planning stages of your communication with your mom, make the deliberate choice to see her as another human being first. Too many times, we forget to do this in relationships.
We tend to hyperfocus on our direct bond and experience ahead of our basic humanity. That’s backward. In short, concentrate on seeing her as a flawed human being first (as we all are) … and then incorporate her relationship with you as a mother figure. This will help to sort out some root issues before you try to address the parenting issues.
Tolerance is the key to making positive changes. Everyone is going to have differing opinions on politics, religion, and so on. Everyone chooses their own life path through this experience we call “life.”
Most of us do the best we can with the information and tools we’ve been given. This is more than reason enough to offer respect and tolerance to your mom. Remember, she may be tolerating you too.
Finally, because we are all unique with incredibly complex experiences, appreciate your mom’s contrasts with you, and don’t try to change her. Let her be who she is and accept all that comes with her.
Valid differences to appreciate in your mom:
One more thing to note here is to consider that your mom once stood in your shoes. Disagreements, conflicts, and other things probably caused her to say at one time, “I hate my mom.” She is likely not unfamiliar with what you are feeling.
Find out here why it is so important to show every human being respect and tolerance.
5. Recognize and acknowledge the generation gap.
The length of the age gap between a mom and child can determine how much it affects their relationship. The bigger the gap, the more opportunity for problems. Society shifts constantly, but the more time that passes, the more significant the differences will be.
Of course, the first thing is to recognize it and acknowledge it exists. Then, you can begin listing ways it affects your relationship so you can work toward compromises together. A helpful way to begin is to discuss how time and age change people.
These are a few generation gap topics that have the potential to cause conflict in communication:
Be clear when you set the boundaries for the conversation to include talk of race, bias, or other conflicting or demeaning speech that you are unwilling to tolerate. Not that you won’t tolerate the person, your mom, but the topic itself. It's a different story if she is abusive.
Psychology Today offers great ideas on how to reduce the effect of generation gap issues.
6. Spend quality time getting to know your mom.
Go out and do fun things with your mom. Keep the atmosphere light. In the process, you will learn more about her than you ever dreamed.
Lan Nguyen Chaplin penned “What I Wish I Had Known About My Mother” in the Harvard Business Review (2022). In it, she confesses that the misperceptions she had about her mother were terribly off-track.
She learned that her pregnant mom had escaped Vietnam after being separated from her husband. She spoke no English but brought her children to America for a better life despite the challenges.
Quality time matters. Lan was able to correct her assumptions and respect and value her mother like she never had before. She stated, “I wish I had known that my mom was strong but equally vulnerable.”
For me, it took decades for my mom and I to be able to enjoy spending quality time together. Our differences were worlds apart, but we found our quaint similarities to be enough of a connection to nurture a pretty good friendship.
Take a look at how to become a good friend and what it means.
7. Don’t procrastinate.
Please don’t procrastinate in sending out that invitation to your mom. She may feel scared, embarrassed, frustrated, or even too humiliated to send you one. She may feel that you hate her or are just too busy to take the time.
Misunderstandings are the biggest obstacle to communication. It’s easy to clear it up by taking the first step and reaching out.
You’ve heard the saying, “No one is guaranteed another day.” It’s true. You may wake up one day with the intent of spending time with your mom, but she’s not there. Then, it will be hard to battle the regret you feel for the rest of your life. Don’t give it a chance to breathe air. Don’t procrastinate.
8. Get therapy and learn to forgive.
Sometimes, I laugh when I mention getting therapy and learning to forgive and the other person agrees that their mom sure needs it. You’d be surprised how often it happens.
Getting therapy for your mom is a great thing if she’s willing to do it without pressure or coercion. It would surely help mend your relationship. But my suggestion is that you get therapy and learn to forgive or do it together.
It doesn’t hurt to get professional insight to help improve your relationship. You will get good ideas too.
Reasons why therapy and forgiveness are a great path:
It’s best if both of you make the effort to make amends. Ultimately, you need to focus on your actions and responsibility to do all that you can and honestly forgive your mom so you can move on. Whatever choice your mom makes is hers to own. You merely do the best you can with the information you have, and rest, knowing you’ve done the work.
Health Canal lists some excellent options for mother-daughter counseling, but it works for mother-son situations too.
9. Step away when needed.
“Yikes! What did she just say?” is a line that most of us have blurted out about our mothers at some point. It’s usually followed up by, “I hate my mom!”
When you decide to sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation with your mother to smooth out your differences, know your triggers. Know when to quietly step away, gather your thoughts, and plan a calm, mature, reasonable reaction.
Don’t let her push your buttons or manipulate you. You can strip that power grab away from her and maintain control by changing your typical response.
This is where awareness and self-reflection will help you the most. If you’re connected to who you truly are and your place in the universe or with God, you can react calmly and reclaim your power. Know when to step away and take a breather, but don’t walk out. Finish the conversation.
10. Change your perspective to see the bigger picture.
Changing your overall perspective will naturally happen after you follow these steps to a better relationship with your mom. Of course, you can help it manifest by working on yourself daily.
Here are some ways to transform your mind:
When you focus on these things, you realize the important things that really matter in life. Conflict, unhappiness, and such are a waste of precious time. Eventually, you can begin to see a bigger picture.
Suddenly, all the little things you worry about, get mad about or complain about don’t matter anymore. Peace floods over you. I promise it will happen, and it will help lead to a better connection with your mom.
These affirmations of peace provide support and encouragement.
11. Express gratitude.
Expressing gratitude is the miracle key to everything good. It gives emotional, spiritual, and physical healing like nothing else.
Benefits of gratitude include:
From the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you rest in bed at night, find something to be grateful for and say it out loud with a smile. It will change your life and your relationship with your mom.
In this link, Happier Human shares the benefits of gratitude. It’s more powerful than you know!
These steps can help you break the cycle of dysfunction in your mother-child relations. It’s a choice you make with intent and real purpose. There are more benefits to trying than not.
If you have a child of your own, you are a role model for them. They will observe how you handle it all and follow your lead. Above all, be a positive influence in the world.
Final Thoughts on Steps to a Better Relationship with Your Mother
You are in control when you decide to take steps toward a better relationship with your mom. By communicating, listening, and learning with her… you will grow and become a much happier human being. So will she.
At least that was the case for my mom and me.
But don’t wait for her to make the first move. Reach out and get started on a beautiful journey together.
You know how to do this! Need a little more inspiration? Check out 63 Best Brené Brown Quotes on Vulnerability & Daring Greatly for support and motivating thoughts.
And if you're looking for more resources on parenting, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 13 Sad Signs Your Daughter Has Become A Toxic Person
- 11 Warning Signs You Have a Dysfunctional Family
- 7 Steps to Deal with Emotionally Unavailable Parents