Beliefnet
Make Your Relationship Work

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While some people have Mrs. Cleaver for a mother, others have mothers at the other end of the spectrum. If you’re grown and still have to dread hearing things like “Well I would have” and “Why didn’t you” and “You’re so…” it is time to change.

You can’t change your mother. She is decades older than you and simply is how she is. The biggest challenge is not to let her get a response out of you. You shouldn’t let her change you, but fighting with her will only make you unhappy.

Sometimes simple avoidance is the key. If your mother criticizes all your dates, don’t introduce her to anyone until you are at the point of marriage. At this point, warn your partner about your mother’s critical nature ahead of time, and have a conversation in private with your mother. Tell her you would appreciate it if she would keep any negative opinions about you or your partner until after your partner has left. Of course, if she took this advice you would have quit having problems with her along time ago. The point of telling your mother not to criticize your partner isn’t to change your mother. It is to give her the respect of at least telling her how you feel, and also making it clear that there will be consequences if she is rude. If you’ve politely made it clear that you don’t want any insults at the table, and your mother starts to criticize your date, you can excuse yourself and your partner and say that you already told her that you didn’t want her to insult your date. Since she insists on doing it anyways, you and your partner will go elsewhere for dinner.

Criticism faced daily isn’t something you can necessarily deal with by avoiding your mother. She will still call you. Family holiday visits will still come up. If you are living with your parents for any reason, you really can’t avoid the criticism. In that case, the first thing to remember is that you should never allow your critical parent get a rise out of you. Don’t yell at your parents, ever. Don’t insult your mother back. You’ll become just like her. Moreover, many critical, cantankerous people want you to react. It gives them a sense of power. So no matter what the cost, don’t give your critical mother a big response. Keep everything talking-voice level. Politely say that you don’t agree with her criticism and that the two of you will have to agree to disagree.

Doing this won’t change your parent. However, it will help you to avoid excess stress. Don’t raise your blood pressure responding to meanness. Ignoring your mother’s criticisms will still leave you needing to vent to a loved one or a therapist from time to time. It isn’t good to hold things in. However, not yelling back and simply walking away will lower your stress level by decreasing the number of fights you have to endure.

It will also prevent unnecessary damage to your self-esteem. Don’t listen to unhelpful criticism. You don’t have to be degraded by your mother or other critical family member. Let her words roll off of you. Don’t change who you are, don’t change what you do, and don’t change how you act.

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