3 Tips For Dealing With Mother’s Day Mayhem

Dr. Michelle Deering

Mother's Day_Mommy guilt

As Mother’s Day approaches, not every daughter looks forward to it. Sometimes the strain that exists between a mother and daughter can turn the day into a time of emotional and mental mayhem for both.

In a previous blog, Mommy Guilt Comes In 3 Forms, I mentioned there are three types of Mommy Guilt. The second of these, Parenting Pokes, is notorious for fanning the flames of friction into an all-out war of explosions or internal implosions.

Parenting Pokes

While the parenting pokes can come mostly from sources external to your family, a mother’s tongue, tone, and “telepathy” (messages she sends with her body language) can also be the source of mother-daughter tensions. When a mom pokes her daughter by

  • making comments that compare her daughter to others,
  • dismissing her daughter’s wishes or personal limitations, or
  • joking about a sensitive topic,

…this can contribute to her daughter feeling attacked, unappreciated, and unloved.

A daughter would have to be a “saint” to put her feelings aside and walk into such harm’s way.

3 Ways To Placate The Pokes

If you are a daughter whose mom “just can’t help herself” and who “is the way she is” because “that’s just the way she is,” then here are some suggestions to help you through this Mother’s Day time.

Suggestion #1.

You need to focus on the following fact— your mom is really fortunate to have you as her daughter. Her life would not be the same without you, whether or not she can either see or appreciate that fact.

Suggestion #2.

It will be important for you to start to find ways to establish healthy emotional, mental, and physical boundaries with her. This can come in the form of:

  • finding a positive healthy source of emotional safety (e.g. a supportive friend whom you trust and who can remind you about
  • having a pre-established “mantra”-like statement that is true, is counter your mom’s “poke” and that you repeat to yourself in response to her “poke”
  • pre-determining how much time you will spend in the non-optimal interaction and having an exit statement ready when that time expires (e.g. “Okay, it’s unfortunate you think that way, but I’m going to excuse myself now.”)

Suggestion #3.

Recognize and remind yourself that your attempt to honor your mom on Mother’s Day is commendable. As the old adage says, “Rome was not built in a day.” So, the steps you are taking to forge a meaningful connection with your mom is just part of the process in a bigger picture. That “bigger picture” involves a two-way street in which she takes ownership of her behavior and chooses to interact differently with you.

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