An email: ‘What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom…’

Sharing an email from a-sad-daughter.

I am a 29 year old woman, married with a kid.
This is regarding my Mom.
I do really adore, love and respect her. She is a strong and confident lady who will never think twice about what she wants to say and that is the only thing which is making me loose my peace whenever I meet her.

A little about my Mom here. She comes from a big family and she got married at a young age of 18.
Her thirst for education made her finish her graduation after marriage; while she was also busy having kids.
My father ; though a good person; is not a very ideal husband (nobody is ofcourse). He never allowed my Mom to stay at her Mom’s place even when she delivered kids for more than 11 days.
My mom slogged and brought us up. She was never taken out on fun trips by my Dad.

Time flew and my Sister who was doing her Masters abroad fell in love and got married without the consent of the boy’s parents.
We didn’t get to attend her marriage.
Much more years passed and I graduated. My Mom started to have doubts that I would end up in love like my sister. She was not happy if I spoke to boys.
I didn’t go for MS in USA for the same reason.
Finally I agreed upon marriage at the age of 22 just for the sake of making her happy. (I do agree that I am happily married now but marriage was not on mind at that age)
She selected the boy and the wedding happened. I had to move to another city as my husband worked there.

So the issue is my Mom is always upset about her daughters.

Is it wrong for my sister to choose a person whom she loved? But I didn’t go my sister’s way and married according to my Mom’s choice.
Nevertheless she seems to have issues with both of us.
That we both do not love her. She says that accusing me that I never called her to my city and showed her places around.

I did call her and my dad multiple times; invited them. She says I didn’t book her flight tickets and insist that she board the flight and come.
Now this thought didn’t hit my stupid brain.
She did visit me thrice though. Once when she had to drop me when I was newly married; once when my husband was flying to USA and one more time. She accuses that I didn’t take her around and cared for her enough these three times. But the truth is I was not in a situation myself to take her around those three times.The timing was wrong.

She keeps comparing me with all my neighbors, cousins daughters who take their parents around.
Once said is enough. I even apologised to her.
But she keeps tormenting me with the same issue again and again; whenever I visit her.
She also accuses me saying that I only visit her when I NEED her.
I was recently at my Mom’s place for 7 months as I was pregnant and we moved to my mom’s city. (Also my in-laws are already in their 70’s and they cant help me).
She says she helped me with my 3 months pregnancy and 3 months daughter only because its her duty.
She says she doesn’t love me because I don’t love her.
She keeps digging the past and the small mistakes I made when I was a fresh graduate.

She keeps saying all these but still keeps thinking about us.
Also my mom has an orthopedic issue and she cant walk and run like others; that doesn’t mean she cant walk at all; she just needs help.

When I ask her on phone if she is doing well; she feels I am faking it and only asking because I need her to be healthy only to help me again.
All in all I am, according to her, a selfish bitch who does not care or love for her Mother.

Another sad thing is her hatred towards her daughters has increased her love towards my brother (younger one).
He recently started working and is single yet.
He is a Momma’s boy and hence he hates both his sisters thanks to my Mom.
She thinks he is the only one who loves and respects her.

All these accusations make me sad and I am scared to visit my Mom’s place.
It is a sad situation which no daughter should experience.

What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom and which would make her realize that I do love her.
Please do post this on your blog.
I would like to hear others’ perspective as well on this issue and try to learn from my mistakes.



65 thoughts on “An email: ‘What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom…’

  1. There isn’t much you can do. Have a chat with your older sister and see how she copes with it. I would advise you to back off a little, and stop asking her for favours, distance yourself a little. Learn to be more independent and don’t ask for any help from your mother. Nothing you say or do is going to change her, because she sounds like she has a grudge against the world. That is not something you can help her with. Spending your life trying to make someone happy is not worth it. Especially if that someone doesn’t want to be happy.


  2. Have you considered discussing this privately with your father?
    What is his position in this issue?
    Does he also feel the same way as your mom?
    An answer to this will help us determine if the problem lies in your mother’s mind or if there are errors of ommission at your end.


    • My Dad knows all this..and he says Mom is a need to ignore those accusations..
      He does not tell me what he thinks about that and when I ask him he only says “Leave it.Dont blow it out now.”


      • TheDaughter : I have a mother who is really similar to this except that her frustrations in life are different. But she has never ever been happy and neither will she join in our happiness. Nothing I can ever do or say will satisfy her and she has taunts all set and ready.

        I empathize with you my dear – all I can say is stop aching for her appreciation and making that a benchmark for your happiness – it will never happen. Try and build your own world of happiness that does not include your mom, I know that can be really difficult. In my case I don’t even have a great relationship with my sibling so noone to turn to – anyway so I hope your relationship with your sister is good so you guys can be there for each other. What does she feel?

        GV : Dads in such situations prefer to side with their wives just to keep peace in their own relationship with her. Or maybe they have just seen so much that they feel keeping quiet or changing the topic will miraculously make problems difficult – they live in denial, and it is tough to make them look objectively at the real problem.


      • That is sad. Your Dad is avoiding unpleasantness instead of facing it and helping to find a solution. What is encouraging is that your Dad did not blame you.
        If he too felt you were at fault he would have told you.

        I too value peace at home and would not like any friction between my daughter and my wife.
        I always intervene and help bring a rapproachment when they used to have their periodic clashes before she got married and moved away.
        No home is free from these occasional skirmishes. Two generations think differently on the same issue.
        If this behaviour is recent it could be due to biological/hormonal changes perhaps that temporarily affect some women of your mom’s age. These get alright after some months or a year or two.
        If she has always been like this, you need not feel guilty.
        Perhaps past experiences in life have made her bitter and she just can’t help herself.
        But whatever the truth is, it is a fact that she is in the end your MOTHER.
        Be nice to her even if she is nasty. Tolerate her. Forgive her.
        Don’t plan to get even. If she won’t change, leave her alone and stop feeling guilty.
        Something inside tells me she will mellow greatly and come back to you later in life after your brother gets married.
        I am afraid I am unable to think of anything else to say.


      • Mr GV,
        That is so sweet of you to wish that she’ll come around. But the truth is people do not change just because we want them to change. People change when they see their current behavior no longer serving them. The mom in question is riding on horse called self righteousness and martyrdom, she’ll keep riding it until “The Daughter” stops feeding this horse. “Yes, mom you are right you did so much for us, you sacrificed so much for us that is true but all parents do it and we accept it. Now can we move to next topic.”
        “Yes, we are thankless daughters, please don’t forget you raised us. Can we now move to next topic.”
        Once The MOM realizes it is not going anywhere and the daughter is not buying it anymore she’ll stop riding the dead horse.

        Father is part of the problem. He failed to meet his spouse’s emotional needs so she is harping on the kids. The son is youngest of all so he’ll bear it later.

        Selfish are those who portray a sorry picture of themselves in the name of doing favors. If an action we perform does not accord us a choice to back out then it is not a sacrifice it is a bonded labor (most desi women are in bonded labor in marriage and family). A parent has to change the dirty diaper because a child cannot but a parent cannot go around beating the kid all her life “I changed your diapers” (it is a favorite of desi mothers, “I slept in the wet and kept you dry”). A child did not have a choice to be born, as a parent you chose to have a child. Yes, you have a choice to mark an expiry date on parenting but you do not have a right to go around emotionally blackmailing your children.

        …there are mothers who discriminate and pamper male children without much thought for girl children because they believe for their care in old age they need to be in the good books of their sons. Depending on these approaches of parents towards raising daughters, brothers bond with sisters…

        Work on your marital bond and raise your family. Mom here is a sorry picture and that is how she’ll remain unless she chooses to change.
        Desi Girl


      • Replying to GVji.

        I respectfully disagree. Many Indian parents think it is ok to treat their progeny disrespectfully simply because they produced them.

        Children do not ask to be born. It is not fair to make them feel obligated just because parents gave them life.

        Once a child has been created, it is the parents’ duty to love, honor and respect that child.

        Is it fair that we expect children to love and respect parents unconditionally but do not expect the same from parents?

        I think the mother should take responsibility for her own emotional problems and not dump the blame on the daughter.


  3. Hey, the immediate lesson (to you & everyone else reading this post) – despite marrying to your Mom’s wish and everything, it din’t really help! So, might as well have lived your life the way you wanted and not much would have changed.

    I think your Mom needs attention and lots of it, and since you are giving in to it by trying so many thousands of ways to please her, the game is still on. The moment you start returning the balls back in the court, the game will stop.

    Without being disrespectful and judgmental about either you or your Mom, I would say, stop trying to please her or for that matter anyone in your life. Live your life the way you want and the way you don’t have any guilt feeling in your perspective of the world (Not about what someone else thinks). You have done your job and been a good daughter. Period. And that is all that is.

    Either over the time, things will change or atleast you won’t be pained that you are not being a nice daughter. As for your Mom’s world again – when you can’t be tickled and things silence out, she might slowly start seeing your point or maybe this is that soul’s lesson for this life. She might pick now or when time is right.

    You can only please some of the people at some of the time, never some people at all the times..

    Enjoy your life, and love yourself the fullest. That’s all is due to you.


  4. Of all the things I read one of the things that really irked me was reading “I was recently at my Mom’s place for 7 months as I was pregnant”.
    I don’t know the situation was in her situation that she had to go to her parents place, was her husband abroad or what, but I find it to be a f*^^&%$# annoying tradition of the woman having to deliver at her parents place!!
    The ‘burden’ of a pregnant woman is thrown on the shoulders of the parent yet the child carries forward the ‘legacy’ of the in-laws. If I was a mother who wasn’t allowed to traditionally stayover at my daughters place (not in this case but generally) I would be pissed.

    Yes the mother and daughter (both of them) need to sit and talk things out. The mother seems to pissed cause probably of the ‘log kya kahenge’ tradition as her elder daughter had a love marriage and that thing has manifested into a larger problem.


    • AN, this going to your parents and delivery your first baby (I think only the first 🙂 & after that you are probably more experienced) is probably more customary in southern India, isn’t that true?

      I don’t see it practised atleast in the “marwari’ communities, where here in Hyderabad almost all Telugu girls are in their Moms house at the DDay, if not during the period.. Well, ofcourse a lot of them – end up in USA for a different reason too .


      • Anil,
        This tradition is observed by most communities in Maharashtra and Karnataka too.

        Interesting to know that Marwaris do not practise it. I’m always learning new things about our “parampara”. 🙂


      • Not all marwaris, it is just Rajputs.
        It is rural in India that women go to their parents for childbirth. It is reasoned that a pregnant woman is shy and is more comfortable with her kith, kin and friends, it is a lame excuse. it is the social economy of patriarchy that controls such rituals. To escape the expenses of childbirth and care of new mother and baby in-laws prefer to send the woman to her parents. After birth on an auspecious day the father’s side of family visits and woman’s family again has to spend money on feast and gifts for them.

        In urban India woman’s parents come over to help her. Ultimately it becomes their job to get her through her confinement and her progeny.

        Many communities, especially Rajputs in Rajsthan do not send their DILs to their parents’ for childbirth, for them it is a matter of family honor. They reason we can afford to pay the expenses for the child birth and take care of our heir. Not all marwaris practice this.

        Desi Girl


    • I am sorry but I don’t understand why you don’t like the ‘tradition’. Given an option, I am sure most girls would prefer delivering in their parents home. You can never be as free with your in-laws as you can be with mom. And yes if that travel for the girl is cumbersome, moms do travel to the daughter’s place all the time (if the family is nuclear – 2 mothers in 1 house is a recipe for disaster – personal experience).
      In fact, I don’t think it is a tradition at all – many of my motherless friends had continued staying with their husbands.


      • I guess it’s the expectations on the parents of a pregnant woman that they would take her in however long she wants.

        Just because you are your parents’ child, you cannot expect them to drop everything and take care of you in your pregnancy. It’s great when/if they do. What I am saying is: it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Talk with them and find out if they are fine with it. They may not say it explicitly that you would be an inconvenience in their house for a long period of time. Log kya kahenge? How selfish the parents are. They can’t even take care of the pregnant daughter… blah… blah…

        Some of friends and cousins in the US had their parents/in-laws come and stay with them for a long periods of time to take care for them and the new infant after delivery. Some of these parents were glad to do it. But I found that many of them felt miserable confined to the four walls, working as a nanny for their grandchild(ren). They couldn’t wait to go back to India. But they didn’t want to look like selfish callous people who don’t love their grandchild(ren).


        • Change, when parents convince daughters to marry men of the parents’ choice, the biggest benefit the daughters are told is that they would have the parents’ support (i.e. daughter’s dependance) – taking care of the daughter during her pregnancy is a part of that deal.

          If they did not want to be ‘burdened’ by caring for her, they had the option of letting her study a little longer and marry a man of her choice.


    • AN,
      My husband got transferred to the city where my parents and in-laws live and I had no place to go immediately apart from my Mom; and she herself wanted that.
      FYI; in-laws are not willing to have me at their place as they are traditional and I dont really follow some of those traditions.
      Else I would have only wanted my Mom beside me after I had the baby.I dont see anything wrong with it; as me being a first time Mom would be too scared to handle a newborn all by myself.
      Also we have now moved to our house ;within 3 months of my delivery.


      • I am only commenting about the pratice of girl’s going over to their mom’s for their deliveries.
        generally any girl would prefer her mom to be by her side in the adventure she gets into – ie. motherhood and I think its a blessing that in south india girls are ‘allowed’ to be at their moms place for delivery… imagine the trauma she can be put through if she stays with in-laws during such a period when she needs a looot of peace and rest. In-laws could in many cases make the woman’s life hell for no reason during such a stage .


    • I delivered at my mothers place–my parents wanted me to come and to tell the truth why initially i was reluctant, it was the best thing i ever did–i managed to have some “alone” time with my parents(otherwise not really possible as we live in different cities–and all of us work) and my parents enjoyed their time with their grandchild. Yes when the financial burden of the delivery falls on the parents and they are reluctant to have their lives interrupted with then surely it is a problem for them. And why should we think that the child only carries forward the in-laws legacy— a grandchild loves and belongs to all the grandparents involved!


      • Agreed, but typically, the man’s parents feel that they have more rights over the grandchild since it bears their family name.

        Many paternal grandparents get offened if the maternal grandparents chide or discipline the child.


    • I don’t see why going to her parent’s place for the delivery and after is a problem unless it was forced on one of the parties. One does need help with a new baby and most women are most comfortable around their mothers and sometimes in their mother’s home, even if they live independently otherwise. As long as the parents are ok with it, why not? In this case, it appears her mother wasn’t ok with it, but I would wager that is rarely the case.

      I have just had a baby and my mum flew here to help me out and I am grateful every day for that and I tell her so. The fact is that it would have probably been more convenient to my mum if I went to India for the delivery and stayed with her as it is hard for her to arrange for someone to look after my old grandma, old dog and father when she’s away. But I needed to deliver here for various reasons and my mom was kind enough to come. I would have understood if she couldn’t make it and I told her so but she said that she wanted to do it.

      I know if the roles were reversed and my parents needed me to come there and look after them when they are ill, I would do the same. That is what families are. Caring for a newborn is insanely hard work and new mothers tend to be cranky and tired – I used to say that I don’t see myself being so unselfish as to do the same for my children when they have babies. But now I take back my words – I know that if my daughter or son needed my help, I would do it, just as my mom did for me. It’s not tradition, it’s love.

      As for parents being miserable in the US, I agree it’s hard. But they are there to do a job – help with the newborn and though they might struggle, I’m not sure they’re only doing it out of tradition. They are quite possibly doin it because they know their daughter needs the help. That is not to say one should take them for granted...


      • I have no issues with anyone going anywhere. I have an issue when it becomes a matter of tradition for the girl’s parents to take care of her and the child.
        The child is not just the responsibility of the woman but also the man. Thus, the onus lies on both the families.


    • Well, I think it is perfectly okay if a girl’s parents can come to her place and be with her during late pregnancy/delivery/some weeks following delivery, but I do have a problem with the girl’s parents being EXPECTED to invite their daughter to their home and host her through her pregnancy, delivery and beyond.

      It’s a huge emotional and financial burden. Emotional, because in the event of anything going wrong during delivery–medical emergencies and all–the inlaws often find it very convenient to heap all the blame on the parents–from not choosing a good enough doctor to failing to give the daughter adequate exercise so as to ‘facilitate’ a normal delivery. This scenario plays itself out fairly commonly. And then of course the parents are also expected to bear all expenses which add up to a substantial amount.

      I was at my parents’ for my first delivery and they wouldn’t even hear of letting me pay for anything–it made me feel very guilty. I thought this traditional reluctance to accept any reimbursement from the daughter/son-in-law was very unfair –a typical patriarchal tradition which, as always, suits the in-laws just fine.

      For my second delivery I got my parents to come stay with me. I didn’t allow them to spend a single penny on anything apart from gifts for me and the kids. Since it was my house, they could not insist beyond a point. It made me feel much better about the whole thing.


  5. All Girls are like your mom Only.. When you are at her age you feel the same with your daughter. You may say now “i wont be like my mom” But When your turn Comes, it will be like that only.. Your Brother is single thats the reason the affection Between your mom and brother still there. When he gets His own Family, Your mom will feel the same with your brother too.. We still love our parents along with our hubby andKid, which they cant Undersatnd..
    Its my opinion… more than 50% of Indian Mom are like your mom only. they hate and love us at same time. Accept her at her worst too… No worries..


    • I may be like my Mom but would definitely not say it every time I see my daughter.

      I am accepting her at all times it’s just that I dont have peace and my heart pains listening to her.


    • Whoa! All girls are definitely not like their moms. What a thing to say. And no, “when you are at her age” you do NOT “feel the same with your daughter.” It is just something people keep repeating, but, just not the truth. How you feel at any age depends on YOU and you only.


      • and it is important that you DONT BECOME LIKE YOUR MOM! Only then this victim of victim or this vicious cycle of DIL becoming MIL or daughter becoming mother and repeating the same mistakes stop!!

        Preethi, however may have a truth in her statement, but that is exactly the thing you have to make sure doesn’t happen!


    • Heh. I don’t think most Indian moms tell their daughters they don’t love them or are so needy. In fact, I’m amazed and how non-needy most moms I see are.

      I do notice that I seem to react a lot like my mom as I get older but one needs to be self-reflective and catch oneself out on the less desirable traits.


  6. Can I tell you first how much I empathize with you? I do.
    When i read your letter these were the thoughts which came to my mind.

    1. Please don’t apologize to your mother for anything anymore. If you apologize she will only think what she feels about you is right. After all you would not apologize if you were not wrong would you.
    2. Please assert yourself more. Ask her how she was with her mother. Did she spend all the time with her mother or her husband and kids? This is after all a circle of life. (This is what I did in a somewhat similar situation. It Worked)
    3. Looking at your age, I am assuming your mother’s age must be around 55-60. She must have crossed her menopause. Did she behave like this before also??? It may be because of menopause too that she is so irritable you know. Someone told me that she felt so bad during that time that she used to think she would die. You mother is so strong (According to what you said); maybe she feels extremely weak but is too ashamed to show it out. And this is how she shows it out.
    4. I have seen people who struggle a lot in their young age start resenting it in their old age. Maybe they feel their life; all they have done means nothing to their children for whom they have done so much. Maybe they feel there is nothing worthwhile left in the end. Have you praised her enough? Do not apologize, just praise her. Flatter her. Boost her ego a little. A lot. Tell her of course you need her. Who else could teach her about life and being so strong…..
    But without being a doormat.
    5. I guess that’ sit. I hope all works out well for you.


  7. Dear Sad-daughter,
    Mothers are always more open (and hostile perhaps) with their daughters than their sons. I have seen many families where the daughter are criticised for every action she takes and the boys aren’t. I guess it is because mothers have an ingrained habit to perfect their to-be-married daughters as much as possible to keep their pride intact.
    Now that you both have started your families and your brother is also working, she must be feeling lonely and left out. The illness must also not be very helpful to her mood. I don’t think there is anything you can do or undo, except maybe reducing your dependance on your mother. That may not make her see otherwise, but at least your brother may come around.
    Is there something she can get into – like yoga or some meditation classes?


    • Mothers are always more open (and hostile perhaps) with their daughters than their sons.

      How true. My mom constantly criticizes everything about me–physical appearance (what I wear, how I talk, what I talk, how loud I talk, how I wear my hair, etc.), career choices, lifestyle choices, wanting to be single. When I ask her why she criticizes/pushes me so much more than she does my brother, her answer is that I am smarter and I’m not living up to my full potential. But this doesn’t stop her from telling me to “compromise” and “settle” because everybody compromises in a marriage.


      • @ Change…
        did u just speak about my mom!!!!!!!! sounded eerily like her 😀 well i would say to the daughter 1) try reasonig with her 2)try doing things to make you happy and not your mom… dont have anything else to say… i just stopped pleasing mom n life is simpler


  8. In my opinion, it’s just not worth it to tolerate all this unnecessary drama in your life. You are happily married. You did her a favor by marrying according to her wish (which, btw, you shouldn’t have done because it’s YOUR life. But anyway, luckily, you are happy in your marriage). She is just playing your sister, brother and you against each other. My mom was just like this as well. Such women thrive by seeing conflict and drama in their family. This is their entertainment. Refuse to be a part of it.

    Just let her be. Don’t go home if you feel unwanted there. Cultivate your own friend circle and be happy. Radical, but remember, I have followed it. I will get married on my own as well. She won’t be invited. And I am damn relieved and happy.


    • so true smruti, the part about “Such women thrive by seeing conflict and drama in their family. This is their entertainment.”


  9. @TheDaughter

    I’m not sure if I have any advice for you. I am just glad that I don’t live in my hometown near my parents. If I did, our relationship would’ve gone downhill a long time ago.

    You could enforce some boundaries in your relationship with your mother. And it goes both ways. You shouldn’t take her for granted and similarly she you. And it’s up to you to decide where you draw the line.


  10. I feel in her heart she knows that you are the one who will be beside her when the need be more readily and willingly than any other sibling of yours or even your father for that matter.She seems to have that insecurity issue .she goes on talking that you don’t do enough because she feels that in this way you will always be trying to do more and more.She does not want to hurt you deliberately but this is repercussion of so many experiences in her life.
    The situation is like that of a drowning person who clings to the savior with such force that both are doomed .The person knows that savior is the one who can save him but his/her mind does not let him see the harm he is causing to both of them
    You have to maintain the distance ,dear.If you will go on giving in there is no hope of situation getting better and in the process you shall be causing harm to yourself.your own family life might be effected due to the pressure you are feeling.
    It might be difficult to initiate the level headed talk with her but you have to do that.If that also does not seem to work teach yourself not to be effected by her cribbing.
    Mothers in this situation usually do that.they praise one offspring be fore other and vice versa.They are not scheming and plotting but some where deep down they are insecure about the problems of advanced stage when they have to be dependent upon the kids.
    It’s a sad situation but deal we have to with it.
    Don’t be sad .you are one adorable daughter who is so concerned about her mother.



  11. Strange how some parents seem to blame their children (internally at least) for the troubles that they created in their own lives. Children had no choice in being brought into this world, and the least that any parent can do is to not punish children for what are adults’ mistakes. Otherwise don’t have children! Plain and simple! It is not the job of a young child to take care of a parent.

    Maybe your mother thought that her children could help alleviate some of the grief of her life, but surprise, surprise, children aren’t robots. They have a mind of their own and it’s their birthright. The fact that her children didn’t follow the plan she had set out in her mind for them is now causing bitterness and anger.

    PS: These are all ‘armchair critic’ comments. Please disregard them if I have not understood your situation correctly. The pain of not being loved unconditionally by parents is said to be a major factor in the lack of happiness of many adults.


  12. @TheDaughter,
    Your mom has spent a great deal of time exclusively parenting you and your siblings. Now that you are settled in your own life, she feels kinda left out or like a not-so-important-person. Your mom needs to see a psychiatrist or a therapist. (Now, I am not saying this in a derogative way. My mom was diagnosed with severe clinical depression last year; she took treatment and now she feels much better.) Your mom has something in her mind that bothers her. Help her get it all out. Her frustrations are not just hurting you but herself too. If possible, you both can should go together for counselling sessions. A third party opinion always helps. In India, it’s very hard for people to accept they have something called depression/hot flashes and then get help. People always say, “Please adjust” to others getting affected by a depressed person. It is considered “BAD” to question the condition of mind of that person. That needs to change. People need to know that depression does not equal insanity.


  13. Hello..

    I feel your beloved mother had suffered emotional stress in her past and it is haunting her even today. It has gone to the extent of reflecting in her present day thoughts and actions…Its not her fault…At the same time there is nothing wrong from your side that a mother can’t forgive either. Give her more love…If possible talk to her openly…She will change, though may be, very slowly…


    • Ritu : Well written post, I identified with every single point and am sure my mom has those problems most of which are self-created. Perfect post for a case like mine, and I have also learned it the hard way.


      • Hi Ritu,While I really liked your very informative post on NPD, I do not think that, this is what ails the mom. I think she is suffering from depression.

        Imagine, this is a strong confident woman, who came from a large family, 30 yrs ago, she managed to go back to school and finish her graduation and has raised 3 kids She wasn’t even allowed to spend 2 weeks at her maternal place even when she had given birth. She has slogged for more than 3 decades and now with an empty nest most likely finds that her life has also become empty.

        I have heard many people saying that they “slogged” though life and “did not take vacations” because they were busy raising their kids, but looking deeper into their life it always made me feel that it wasn’t the slogging and the missed vacations that were the culprits, but the lack of a supportive and like minded partner. This lack of emotional support from a partner makes life look like slogging.

        Many times women whose emotional needs are not met by the husbands, somehow expect their children to fill that void. They expect to be pampered and taken care of, by them when they grow up. They want to feel wanted and need to feel needed. It was easy tuning out the husband, but it hurts to know that they children, who they dedicated their lives to partly because of love and responsibility and partly due to the need to distract themselves from what is or isn’t happening in their life, do not need them anymore. This could explain the constant complaints to the daughter. Also while the mom is happy that her daughters are happy, she probably feels that she was denied a happy life for no fault of her’s. Attaching oneself to one kid, while having feuds with others is not uncommon too. Sometimes the kid who their favorite could change depending on the situation or issue.

        The dad is probably the last person who could be helpful, unless he has had a change of heart or realizes how his behavior towards his wife affected her.

        If she is going through menopause, it could be a really bad combination for her along with depression. I do not think that it’s right to shun her, rather its the time to help her, get her to do some activity on her own, like a hobby or volunteering. Talking to a medical professional could help too.


      • //”Many times women whose emotional needs are not met by the husbands, somehow expect their children to fill that void.”//

        Right. And this unhealthy practice is what is encouraged by our society.


  14. Keep loving and appreciating your mom in your heart.
    Don’t look for her approval/advice in matters of your life. Listen to her opinion not rants, register your protest in calm manner at least once when she is being unfair.
    Keep interaction to minimum in order to isolate yourself from excessive negativity. You don’t owe ’emotional abuse’ to anyone in this world including your mom.


  15. Don’t try to please your Mom. You can’t “make” her understand you love her. She has to open her mind and find that understanding herself. The more you try, the further will she be from knowing you love her. So just don’t try anymore. It will actually help her and you in the long run.


  16. I don’t think you can please your mother. Unfortunately she sounds like she is a bit of a control freak when it comes to you- and is emotionally manipulating you. Get out of this- mentally. You do not need to live your life to please another person- and no sane adult person would expect you to do so. This is a very destructive relationship- and you are the one getting harmed. Would you be the same way to your child? Would you try to find fault and constantly belittle them? Well, then wh should you take it always?


  17. I have a mom like this…well she was like this for most of my 37 years, until I stood up to her, grew into my own person, and stopped buying into her opinions and emotional abuse. The distance I’ve come and the amazingly better quality of my life, and the drastic reduction in my anger since I recognised what she’s been doing to me, testifies to the removal of her toxicity from my life…toxicity that is the result of my dad’s collapsing on her and burdening her. Unbelievably, having become a strong person in my own right, suddenly my mom is beginning to be there for me in a healthier way…we are cautiously rebuilding the bridges. Don’t cut off…but keep a formal distance, and make peace with her not being there for you in the way you need…hugs and good luck.


  18. I am all for trying to understand why a person behaves a certain way. But I do not think that as individuals who are in relationships with difficult people, it is our job to make allowances for their emotional and mental problems. Understanding is one thing, but soft stepping is enabling abuse. No one is perfect- but most folk do not take out their frustrations on others- and do not abuse folk close to them. Making excuses because they are “old and lonely” or “menopausal” or “too attached to their children” or “want the best” is not correct, because then the cycle of abuse is pushed further down. If a mother is controlling of her children, the children could use that behavior to justify their issues with their children and so on. So, I feel understanding the underlying issue is important, but moving ahead and insulating yourself from the abuse even more so.


  19. We (me & my husband) face the same kind of behavior from my Father-in-law.
    My husband yields all the time, and is taken advantage of financially, emotionally, since he is of the pleasing kind and would do anything to keep peace in the house. I have stopped responding as I realized this kind of behavior is intentional to keep a control on the son. Now, the situation is worse, I see him acting even more cranky with my husband since he is unable to directly control me.
    Like your mother is partial to her son, in our house my FIL is partial to his daughter, always praising her with us, or complaining about us to her.
    And no, there is no way to reason out with such people, I tried every possible way but gave up. My husband refuses to even talk, he has been conditioned to only please his parents. These people just want to control their children for their own self-interests and they know what works.
    I have rarely seen mothers being like this towards daughters, I approve of a lot of comments above, all you can do at this point is back off a little bit and let them reach out to you when in need. Do not try to please, it only strengthens their behavior and they refuse to listen to their conscience.


  20. One of the things I learned a few years ago that Pleasing is never a win-win situation. Usually in the long run, the person who is doing the pleasing loses. So I made a slogan and put it on a card and carried it around
    “I Please you, I lose. I dont please you, I win. Say NO to Losing”
    So I mostly try not to go overboard pleasing others even if they are my parents, family, relatives etc. I will respectfully say NO. At the end of the day, I like to enjoy a good sleep, and good sleep comes when my brain is not weighed down by the unecessary. Pleasing someone who cant be pleased after repeated attempts is definitely unnecessary.


  21. mothers are funny people… you would think a mother is the one person in the world supposed to love you unconditionally, if such a thing as unconditional love exists, but from their behaviour, you would wonder if they love you at all!

    having been through a similar situation with my own mother, i can empathize with you completely. my mother would constantly pick on me, belittle me, criticize me, nothing i did was ever good enough, and she deliberately took away opportunities that came my way because she said ‘i was bad.’ yet she was very happy to tell the world about all my achievements and act the proud mother. it was hard to believe she loved me. my sister had a similar growing up experience; my brother did not. i am hesitant to say it was because of a male child-female child bias, because i don’t think my mother has that much of a gender prejudice for it to have made such a difference.

    my mother too fought for her rights in her family, completed her education after marriage, ran a successful agriculture and diary business etc. i believe her problems came from not being allowed to study what she wanted, having older siblings dictate her life, a mother dote on the brother, neglecting the girl children, and a husband (my father) who really wasn’t a loving or supportive partner at all – he was indifferent to her needs or pleasures.

    her only way of feeling empowered or in control of anything in her life was to constantly criticize us girls, tell us of all the things we were doing wrong, how we could never be good enough… in fact it was only when something was going wrong with our lives, or when we needed help, that we got attention. maybe she didn’t feel needed otherwise, and maybe she ended up feeling used through it all. maybe there was some envy too.

    there are a lot of assumptions and presumptions here, even with my own mother, so how can i tell you exactly why your mother is the way she is, but i hope it helps you understand why she does the things she does, a bit better.

    this is how i worked things out. one day when she came up with one of her criticisms, i told her she was being very hurtful, and for once to try and find something good to say about me. she reacted with shocked silence. i told her i loved her, but i couldn’t deal with her constant and unfair criticism.
    i said if she could really not find anything good to say about me, to not say anything at all because i couldn’t deal with it any longer; that i was not going to try and please her any more, because it was obvious i couldn’t please her no matter what i did; that of course she could point our if i was wrong, but not demean me all the time; that this behaviour was not making me love her more, but only driving us apart; that it was making me question if she even cared about me at all.

    things were strained between us for a while. the confrontation left both of us feeling hurt. but with time things got better, and now, there is more distance between us, but we share a more peaceful and harmonious relationship.

    my sister was a huge emotional support through the years too.

    try talking to your mother about how her behaviour makes you feel. don’t being in any ‘i did this, you did this’ into the conversation. keep it about your feelings, and abut what the behaviour is doing to your relationship.

    be prepared for tears, anger, denial. be prepared for prolonged silence. accept that you have loved your mother and done your best. hope things will improve. swear you will not perpetuate this vicious cycle with your own children. you can’t do any more. make your peace with it.

    i wish you all the best.


  22. Hi Friend,

    Believe me, it’s not your fault that your mother is unhappy. It is basically her own emptiness in life which she is unable to cope with. Knowingly or unknowingly she is making you feel miserable for enjoying your life while she is unhappy. Sadly the root cause of her unhappiness is her own unfulfilled desires.

    Forgive her but do not forget that you can not be held responsible for her unhappiness. She needs to involve herself in something constructive or else she will keep clinging on to you for something or the other. A content person, rarely interferes in anyone’s life.

    Also, stop responding to her emotional outbursts in an emotional way. This gives her a sense of control over you. It’s time to start being practical with your mother. Love her but do not let her misuse your affection for her, to manipulate and emotionally drain you.

    Stop being Sad, you are not at fault.


  23. Just another case of a family where love marriage is a “tragedy” and love to children is far less important than “principles”. I feel sorry for the author of this email and I pity this yet another example of a family that will never work fine.

    I’m sure her sister (the one that dared to fall in love) is MUCH happier without all this drama. Sometimes (as it turnes out) cutting away from one’s family, not having them at the wedding and not responding to unreasonable behaviour CAN BE very liberating.

    Instead of this bashing, her sister should be set as an example.


  24. Dear SD,
    A lot pf people have given pretty good advice above.
    1. As rightly pointed out, the problem was the society and what your mother was forced to do as well as an unsupportive husband. Why don’t you encourage her to have a life of her own – make new friends and hang out, some new activities, join a new club without your dad?
    2. Maybe, it is time to have a frank discussion. Tell her, without accusing and try telling her how you feel hurt because of her behavior. Maybe, you could as her, why she is like that and if it is a mistake in your interpreting or communication? Hit on the issues directly and hear her out. It is so much easier to talk it out and have your issues in the open. At least you have a clear conscience. Say you love her but this behavior makes you want to distance yourself. Ask her, what bothers her. She is a woman independent of being your mother too.
    3. Just let it go after this. At least, you tried to solve it. After this, it is up to her.
    4.Every human is not perfect and bound to disappoint sooner or later, including your brother.


  25. Hey. You’re a fully grown woman, & your life is your own. Stop being sad NOW & just live. Your mum can say & think & whatever she wants – you’ll be too busy LIVING to care. 🙂


  26. My advice for you…
    Make peace with your situation, probably, that is the person she is..who never sees the daughters or the world in good light. Accept that.
    Do for her, what you think is your duty and is good enough (difficult to define ‘duty’) but something(s) that give you a sense of …having done your bit.
    Smile, everytime you hear bad things…let it pass. Breath. Realize that you are doing what you can.
    When people grow old…they get finicky, regretful etc…unless they are willing to accept help…you should let this pass.


  27. I have not gone through all the answers so I may be just repeating what others have said. There is nothing you can do to please her. That’s because the problem is not you, it is her. She has all these opinions about you based on either misunderstandings or simply a lack of understanding on her part. Maybe she is very bitter about her own unhappy marriage and is unable to see happiness in her daughter’s lives. There is no reason for a parent to be constantly complaining and belittling her adult children. Ideally she should be seeing a counsellor to figure out why she is so unhappy and resentful, and find ways to make herself happy. But I don’t know if that is even possible or even if anyone can even suggest such a thing to her. So in practical terms you can do very little other than try and understand that the situation is out of your hands and stop making yourself sad about it. Just be kind to her and keep ignoring all her bad attitude.


  28. This letter made me do a little bit of self introspection leading to bleeding of some old healed wounds. I can say only one thing please don’t let all this affect you and your life. From whatever I could gather from your letter you seem to have a decent marriage. Just build a shield around yourself and choose to stay unaffected by all this. She being your Mom deserves all the love and care; but you don’t deserve this in return for sure.

    Believe me no one in this world has the right to make you feel worthless!


  29. dear Sad Daughter – I hope you’ve found some consolation and help in the advice and stories shared with you. Among other things it might be a good idea to have your mother meet docs and undergo tests to check for depression/ early dementia and such like. Experiences, expectations and disappointments do shape the way a person meets life and the people around them. I am sure your mother must not be fully aware of just how hurtful she is being to you. Since it hurts so much, keeping some distance and just being a listening post for your mum does seem the best at this time. Find joy and comfort in the family you have made through marriage and friendships. Also it might be worth while to be more demanding of your father and push him into doing more for your mum – leading the way for the medical tests/ doctors visits etc – might address some of the issues that exist in that rel’ship. Take care.


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