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The Controlling/Manipulative Mother


A controlling, manipulative mother is quite a challenge at best.  She is conniving and hurtful, never offering unconditional love.  Her love always has strings attached- she will withdraw her affection from you or give you the silent treatment to punish you when you dare to disobey her.  She will cry to get what she wants.  She will use guilt or intimidation.  She even will turn others, including your father, against you if that will further her cause.  Leveling is one of her greatest tactics- she will act as if she is an authority figure, and verbally tear you down (thus building her up).  This is one mean mother!

If this describes your mother, you probably have examples for every statement made in the paragraph above.  Chances are also very good that you allow your mother to manipulate you, even when you do not want to.  It placates her, and you do not feel guilty.  The good news is you do not have to continue living this way!  You are a grown adult, with your own life to live.  You do NOT need to cater to your mother!  She does not have the right to force you to do anything as you are both adults.  You cannot change your mother, but your behavior can change, leading you to a happier, freer life.

Identify what her manipulation tactics are.  What does she say or do right before you give in?  Being aware helps you not to fall for the tactics any longer.

When speaking with your mother, always keep your tone even and calm.  Retorting with frustration or anger encourages her to play the victim, enabling her to use guilt to get her way.  If she does play the victim, challenge her accusations.  For example, she may say that you are mean and selfish.  Ask her, "Really Mom? I'm mean and selfish? Give me examples of this."  It will unsettle her.  When she cannot come up with examples, most likely she will become frustrated and change the subject.

Establish and maintain good boundaries.  That may include spending less time with your mother.  There is nothing wrong with that!  You are two separate adults, and you both need your own space.  You also have every right to protect yourself from her manipulative behavior!

Use phrases like, "You're entitled to your opinion, as am I," or, "I won't discuss this matter with you."  They let your mother know where you stand, while still being respectful.

Remember that your mother's behavior may become worse.  She may call you mean, uncaring, selfish, and more.  Do not fall for this!  Stand strong!  YOU CAN DO THIS!  Once she realizes she cannot control you anymore, it will be worth it!

On the road to recovery, I personally found my relationship with God to be my greatest help.  He helped me to heal, and to learn ways to deal with my dysfunctional mother.  Prayer and meditating on His word, the Bible, helped so much.  Learning who the Bible says I am as a child of God is not only inspiring and comforting, but helpful in the healing process.  If you do not have a personal relationship with God, please read the page Salvation Through Jesus Christ for more information.


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