Dear Mary Jo,
My mom is very negative and manipulative and says horrible things behind my back. How do I address this with her or is this a relationship I just need to let go?
Your mother has several signs of being a toxic parent such as:
- Frequently tells you what’s wrong with you.
- Talks down to you.
- Intimidates you with insults or yelling.
- Discourages you from going after your goals or aspirations.
Talking to her is important unless she has a pattern of getting defensive and projecting the blame back on to you. Don’t be her victim. No one has the right to verbally abuse another and that includes your mom. For you it may work best if you focus on caring for yourself, and making very strong boundaries between interactions with her. Here are effective tips you can do if you want her in your life but don’t want the toxicity that comes with her.
- Make yourself less available, and no matter what her crisis, do not enable her by listening or acting concerned.
- Stand up for yourself, and don’t allow her to blame you or others.
- Tell her when she is being manipulative exactly what you are feeling without backing down.
- Don’t let your guilt influence taking her calls and pleas for help. She is using you, and will cling to you because toxic people use up their resources quickly.
If her toxicity becomes insurmountable, and you no longer have the energy to enforce your boundaries, it may be wiser to cut her out of your life. However, before you decide to do this, I highly recommend you talk to a trained professional counselor for guidance.
Dear Mary Jo,
My mom was just diagnosed with lung cancer. What are some ways to make her feel loved and supported through her treatment?
I am sorry your mom is ill, but so grateful she has a daughter like you. The best way you can show her your support is by doing little things each day to remind her. Treatment is long, so it’s important to pace yourself a little bit each day being careful to care for yourself as well as her. Here are a few tips to remember:
- Become a team (you can make shirts for the family or just the two of you). When people face serious illness with a “team spirit” attitude they’re able to feel stronger.
- Bring her little things each day. This will help encourage her without overwhelming her.
- Hug her as much as you can.
- Encourage her but don’t push her. The treatment affects different people different ways. Some days will be high energy, others will be stay in bed days. Accept where she’s at.
- Watch funny videos with her.
- Go to treatments whenever you can with her. Some of the treatments are scary and being alone worsens the fear.
- Accept help from neighbors and friends. People want to help…and allowing them to helps everyone.
- Tell her as much as you can that you love her and are with her.
- Offer to pray with her and begin a prayer line of support.
- Take her fears seriously and address them with a health care professional. Sometimes patients are concerned with challenging their medical team or asking questions. Be your mom’s advocate with her doctor and address her concerns.
The best thing you can do overall is to accept her journey as part of yours and walk together through it!