How To Improve Your Relationship With Your Mom At Any Age
Learn to love your mom as an adult
It’s never too late to improve your relationship with your mom. Even if you already get along well, there are steps to take to make your time together even better.
And for those who have been fighting with their mom since the teenage years hit, there’s still time to fix what went wrong and enjoy your mother and appreciate her wisdom.
Sarah Giblin, a blogger and entrepreneur in England, recounted her own story. “My mum was fantastic as I was growing up. Then I hit 16 and took a turn. We didn't communicate for 10 years. In that time I moved to Manchester, London, Paris and Berlin. Germany, funnily, is her home country.”
“How at age 26 did I manage to get it back on track? Simple. I started seeing her on my own and regularly. Spending time with her meant we had our own in jokes, we cooked and went food shopping together. I listened to her when she had problems just as I would with any of my friends,” Giblin said. “I started to realize that I could learn from her about how to be a grownup. I started cooking the meals she used to make, took on her wild health experiments and started bringing her little gifts.”
It worked. Giblin said that she and her mom now love seeing each other and have dinner once or twice a week. “She’s wild. Something of an urban witch!” Giblin said with a laugh. “She only eats homemade food, eats as much organic and raw food as possible and heals everything with food and vitamins. I now do many of the weird things she advocates: oil pulling with coconut oil, drinking diluted apple cider vinegar and eating no sugar. I'm healthier, happier and spend less money for it. It's taken me a while but it's worked out great for us.”
Giblin said that she and her mom now love seeing each other and have dinner once or twice a week.
Miro Gudelsky, a New York City-based relationship therapist and human sexuality professor, said, “There are so many issues between women and their mothers. The first massive piece in improving your relationship is understanding you are not responsible for her happiness. What she has decided to do in her life is her choice. Not yours. What she wants from you is simply what she wants and not what you must do. Separating that idea of distinct person-hoods can be key. Your mom's actions and thoughts are not a reflection of you.”
Gudelsky said, “This actually gets easier as you get older as you become more of your own woman. The other piece is learning to accept where you are as your life and not something tainted by your mother. No matter what your mother did (or did not do) as you were growing up needs to become part of your past that you work through and not held onto as the reason you are the way you are. If you maintain a space of blame, you will never be able to move on with your relationship.”
Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles, said that it’s definitely not too late, ever, to strengthen your bond with your mother.
“I believe that you can improve your relationship with your mother in early or later adulthood providing you have worked through the hurt and pain of not having a 'perfect' mother. I work with clients in their 20's, 30's, 40's and older who are still dealing with the fact that they felt neglected, unimportant or just unloved by their mother,” Raymond said.
Raymond said the secret of improving the relationship has several components:
- Mourn the loss of the ideal parent that you didn't get and will never get.
- Give up the anger that you hold towards her - that makes you keep hoping she will acknowledge your suffering, beg your forgiveness and make up for it.
- See your mother as human with flaws rather than someone who failed their duty and had evil intent.
- Begin the forgiveness process and make room for a new and improved relationship with your mother.
“It's been my experience, based on solid theoretical and evidence based work, that unless the mourning process begins there is no chance of an improved mother-child relationship at any age,” Raymond said.
And, as Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of "It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction Often", said, “The same quirks, reactions and behaviors that create problems between you and your mom wouldn't be a problem if she was someone else's mom. If your best friend's mom did the same thing, you'd probably let it go, gloss over it and focus on what you like about her. The same techniques will work with your own mom. Try pretending she's someone else's mom and see if that
puts things is perspective. Use the following guidelines to let go of small things that might get in the way of enjoying the day.”
Whatever your relationship is with your mom, let it go on Sunday and enjoy Mother’s Day with her. Treat her like the queen that she wants to be in your life, and appreciate her for who she is, flaws and all.
It's been my experience, based on solid theoretical and evidence based work, that unless the mourning process begins there is no chance of an improved mother-child relationship at any age.