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Confessions: I think I am a bad mother, how can I change?

Living
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 I don't want to end up like my mother (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

I’ve suddenly realised that I’m growing to be more and more like my mother! And that’s really bad news because she and I have never got along. And still don’t.

And I don’t want to end up the same with my kids.

Can I change?

Bad Mom

Chris says,

Hi Bad Mom!

In a perfect world, every mother’s influence would be entirely positive. So that their children grow up to become confident and self-assured adults. And some mothers do get everything right!

Emotionally balanced, their children become independent and secure adults, who are able to form strong and loving relationships. But mothers are only human, so lots of us have emotional baggage from the way our mother treated us as a child.

Like mums who are controlling and anxious perfectionists. Or unpredictable, anxious, angry and emotional. Or the self-absorbed and insecure me-first mum, whose children only exist to make her look good. Or mothers who try to be their children’s best friend, so their children are effectively motherless.

Recognise any of this from your childhood? But whatever happened, it will only be a problem if you ignore it. It’s also important to think about your mother without resentment. That’s quite a hard trick to pull off, but its well worth the effort. Because as you gradually develop insight into how you and your mother interacted, your life will stop being patterned on the past.

Your mother’s influence is clearest whenever you find yourself in some sort of conflict. So think back to a recent argument. How did you feel, and what did you say? Did anything remind you of how your mother used to speak to you as a child? Were your feelings similar to how you felt when you had a row with her? Think hard about these feelings, because once you understand them, they will start to change.

And gradually, your relationship with your mother now will also improve. From one centred on your childhood experiences, to one which is more mature, empathetic and forgiving. And from then on, your life’s your own!

All the best,

Chris

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