I cannot respect my mother


#1

My mum stays up until 1-2am. Then will get up around 12pm, then spend ages in the bath and using expensive beauty products, or just lying in bed waiting for someone to bring her a coffee and breakfast and won’t come downstairs until 2-3pm. Then she will immediately make sure that everything is how she likes it. She will shout at me, dad and my sister to find out which chores we’ve done, and if she finds something we haven’t done she’ll shout until it is done. Yesterday, when she did this - she said “So you lot have all been lazy and done nothing this morning then!”

My dad works 6 days a week. My mum hasn’t left the house in months due to a fear of falling (she’s in her late 40s), so my dad also has to do all the shopping, christmas decs, walking the dogs, everything.

I know its a pretty serious sin, but I can’t respect my mother. My mum knows I’m at RCIA and she mocks me - “You know that Catholics are meant to respect their mother don’t you!? I know you don’t respect me!” - Well, no. I do still love my mum, but as soon as I come home I wish I could leave again because I just cannot stand how she is. How am I meant to handle this?


#2

I am sorry for your situation. We are commanded to honor and love our parents, but that doesn’t mean we have to like being around them, or look up to them, or see them as doing good or anything of the kind. Just the fact that you and your father are working around these problems without shouting back, or acting disrespectful is an indication that you are doing what Christ commanded us to do.

Remember, honoring your parents NEVER allows for the enabling of bad behavior, and it also does not mean we have to actually like our parents. Furthermore, there are two definitions of respect that are important to your situation. Respect can mean that you hold someone, or something in great esteem, and that you look up to the person or thing, but respect can also simply mean deference to someone’s authority, or place in life.

It sounds like you are doing the best you can. Don’t worry that you are committing sin because you feel disgusted with someone, or if you avoid them. This can be a good thing if it keeps you from imitating their bad behavior.

God bless!


#3

No, we are only commanded to HONOR our parents. Love is not commanded to them but to God. Honoring your mother, to me, means recognizing that she IS your mother, but you are not committing a sin by acknowledging that her actions are selfish and harmful to the family. Having a fear of falling when she is only mid-40’s? Is she being treated for mental illness?? I guess that’s a way of justifying her self-centered behavior…

I suppose by her snide comment, it means she and your father are not Catholic?


#4

Your mother sounds like she has several mental health issues.

When you look at your mother, try to see Jesus there. Jesus suffering from mental problems. Jesus needing you to serve him by being kind to your mother.

You are living on your own, and visiting her during holidays and such. Try to be nice during these short visits. Be kind. But, you do not have to be abused by her. You can establish boundaries as you continue to move towards complete independence as an adult.


#5

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:3, topic:223620"]
No, we are only commanded to HONOR our parents. Love is not commanded to them but to God. Honoring your mother, to me, means recognizing that she IS your mother, but you are not committing a sin by acknowledging that her actions are selfish and harmful to the family. Having a fear of falling when she is only mid-40's? Is she being treated for mental illness?? I guess that's a way of justifying her self-centered behavior...

I suppose by her snide comment, it means she and your father are not Catholic?

[/quote]

Neither of my parents are Catholic. It's that snide comment which made me want to request advice on this forum. She's not being treated for mental illness, but when I've seriously spoken to her about it she just laughs and won't take me seriously and thinks its almost funny.

And I am disrespectful to my mother at times. God has not gifted me with as much patience as my father so I get angry on his behalf when my mum verbally abuses him. Am I still honouring my mother if I argue with her all the time?


#6

In Luke, 12; 52-53 Jesus said:

'Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
For from now on, a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; father opposed to son, son to father, mother to daughter, daughter to mother, mother-in-law to daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law to mother-in-law.'

It seems Jesus anticipated that when you choose to follow him, it may cause friction in your life with everyone around you. Even those closest to you.

No, you are not expected to respect things that are not respectable. However, you are commanded to love even your enemies, how much more so your mother even if she is not living up to your expectations right now. Honor her for what she has done, the place she has in your life. Don't be rude to her. Love doesn't necessarily mean having gushy fond feelings about her. It can mean trying to get her the help she obviously needs and praying for her.

Is this recent behavior for her, or has she always been like this? If it's a change, she needs to see a psychologist.


#7

Uhm, there’s that great Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

As for the OP question - you attract more bees with honey. Love and respect your Mom.

My Mom suffered through years of physical pain that changed her personality and her relationship with other people. Sad thing, but a true thing.

Try to not take your Mom’s inventory. Settle back and work on adjusting, model after your Dad, he apparently isn’t bothered by your Mom’s - his wife’s - behavior.

Chores - if you’re living in the house, help out. They aren’t an abuse, they just need to be completed.


#8

With the chores - I don’t live at home, but when I am here on holidays I do tidy up after myself. My dad has to do the clothes washing and ironing, wash the dishes, cook half of the meals, do half of the cooking as well as work 6 days a week doing shifts. My mum cooks sometimes, does some of the cleaning. But the way I see it is, that dad shouldn’t do half of the housework (some, but not half) whereas my mum expects my dad to do MORE then half sometimes, even though she is unemployed. Says she gets fed up of being expected to do the cleaning. I’m sorry, but I think it is fair to be expected to do more than my dad. I got called sexist for suggesting it.

So basically, I’m not sinning by refusing to respect my mother based on her behaviour and treatment of my father, but I am sinning if I refuse to recognise her as my mother or to love her for it? I’m a bit confused about the difference.


#9

You don’t live at home, therefore “your way of seeing things” doesn’t apply there any more.

My advice, love and respect your Mom.

Fall back and adjust to the chore situation, model after your Dad. He’s a grown man and if he wishes for the situation to change, he’ll change it.


#10

I agree with others that honouring your parents is not necessarily agreeing with them. Try to forgive her for her faults. We all have sins. We also don’t know other people’s hearts.

here’s something from CS Lewis.

"the load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption as you now meet, if at all, only in nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. **And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner **- no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat - the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."


#11

:blush: Oh, well, if you’re going to be nit-picky…:smiley: J/K

Love is easier than trying to respect someone whose actions do not engender respect. His mother sounds self-centered at best and isn’t respecting him. I know, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, and forgive 70 x 7. I can love someone, treat them kindly, and hold compassion for him or her in my heart, but respect is different from that.

For example, I respected my father because he was an extremely hard worker who always paid his debts and never said anything bad about anyone. He also loved his family of origin very deeply, and he loved my mother deeply too, and my sister and me. He was totally honest and never stole anything, never slacked off. He did his share and then some. He tried to raise my sister and me after our mom died, although it wasn’t easy for a man who had lost his own mother at age 8. He never dated while my sister and I were still living at home. Even if he didn’t attend church, he was an honorable man in spite of that. He was a respectable, humble man who had worked hard all his life. He never wanted more than his share of anything, just enough to be comfortable. He wasn’t snobbish in the least. He also had a mischievous side which we rarely saw but heard a lot about from cousins and his 2nd wife after he had passed.

How do you respect someone who mistreats others around them? Is lazy? Dishonest? Abusive? You see, maybe I’m just not as good a Catholic because I can’t concoct respect for that sort of individual. I’m not saying the OP’s mother is abusive, because I don’t know anything but his side of things. But in general, respect is reserved for people who deserve it. Love, yes. Compassion, yes. Understanding, yes, even pity, but not respect.


#12

[quote="LemonAndLime, post:8, topic:223620"]
With the chores - I don't live at home, but when I am here on holidays I do tidy up after myself. My dad has to do the clothes washing and ironing, wash the dishes, cook half of the meals, do half of the cooking as well as work 6 days a week doing shifts. My mum cooks sometimes, does some of the cleaning. But the way I see it is, that dad shouldn't do half of the housework (some, but not half) whereas my mum expects my dad to do MORE then half sometimes, even though she is unemployed. Says she gets fed up of being expected to do the cleaning. I'm sorry, but I think it is fair to be expected to do more than my dad. I got called sexist for suggesting it.

So basically, I'm not sinning by refusing to respect my mother based on her behaviour and treatment of my father, but I am sinning if I refuse to recognise her as my mother or to love her for it? I'm a bit confused about the difference.

[/quote]

No, again- you can't be expected to respect the unrespectable. If my father were a murderer, I couldn't and shouldn't respect that. I would still honor the fact he was my father and whatever good he had done towards me, pray for him, try and help him to make his life right with Christ.

Again, Christ said to love one another, even our enemies. Love, to me, is a deep and abiding concern for another and treating them without malice. One can pray for one's enemies, be concerned for their souls and still not like them or what they are doing.

A note, your father and mother's relationship is theirs- not yours. While you may not understand it, it's between them and should stay there. Your Dad is an adult, it's up to him to establish and mantain his relationship with his wife. Stay out of it. He may consider the chores he does for her as a kind of gift to her. His life, his choice. Learn from it what kind of relationship you will want with a spouse in the future but don't take sides in their relationship. Later on, it will be wrong for your father and mother to get involved in your relationship with your spouse, to criticize your relationship as well.


#13

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:11, topic:223620"]
:blush: Oh, well, if you're going to be nit-picky....:D J/K

Love is easier than trying to respect someone whose actions do not engender respect. His mother sounds self-centered at best and isn't respecting him. I know, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, and forgive 70 x 7. I can love someone, treat them kindly, and hold compassion for him or her in my heart, but respect is different from that.

For example, I respected my father because he was an extremely hard worker who always paid his debts and never said anything bad about anyone. He also loved his family of origin very deeply, and he loved my mother deeply too, and my sister and me. He was totally honest and never stole anything, never slacked off. He did his share and then some. He tried to raise my sister and me after our mom died, although it wasn't easy for a man who had lost his own mother at age 8. He never dated while my sister and I were still living at home. Even if he didn't attend church, he was an honorable man in spite of that. He was a respectable, humble man who had worked hard all his life. He never wanted more than his share of anything, just enough to be comfortable. He wasn't snobbish in the least. He also had a mischievous side which we rarely saw but heard a lot about from cousins and his 2nd wife after he had passed.

How do you respect someone who mistreats others around them? Is lazy? Dishonest? Abusive? You see, maybe I'm just not as good a Catholic because I can't concoct respect for that sort of individual. I'm not saying the OP's mother is abusive, because I don't know anything but his side of things. But in general, respect is reserved for people who deserve it. Love, yes. Compassion, yes. Understanding, yes, even pity, but not respect.

[/quote]

I'm a she :p and yes, she was abusive in the past. Things came to a head and she kicked me out of the house repeatedly just before my end-of-year exams. The school got involved, but mum refused to take me back even though the school told her I would have to declare myself homeless. That never happened, I had to live with friends for a while though. I struggle now with mental health issues I attribute to my teenage years while I lived at home.

So ANYWAY, respecting my mum is out of the question. Loving my mother is difficult as it is - I do, and I do like to phone my mum when I'm away and talk to her. Forgiveness is something I'm struggling with too. Am I meant to forgive her for everything too?

So I don't have to respect my mother, so by loving her I have to recognise her as my mother and to honor her for raising me, etc etc. But surely respect comes into that as well?


#14

Sometimes as teenagers, a time away is the best learning experience.

For your mental health, I’d suggest that you continually approach forgiveness with your Mother and your Dad.

The fundamental part of the Our Father is, “forgive me my tresspasses as I forgive those who have trespassed against me”.

Forgiveness is made more perfect, the more often you use it.

Harbor no ill will, try to forgive instantly because…it’s what’s best for you.

Forgiveness is the quickest way to create an attitude adjustment that you’ll ever learn. That and accepting responsibility for your past behaviors (sins of omission and commission).


#15

[quote="LemonAndLime, post:13, topic:223620"]
I'm a she :p and yes, she was abusive in the past. Things came to a head and she kicked me out of the house repeatedly just before my end-of-year exams. The school got involved, but mum refused to take me back even though the school told her I would have to declare myself homeless. That never happened, I had to live with friends for a while though. I struggle now with mental health issues I attribute to my teenage years while I lived at home.

So ANYWAY, respecting my mum is out of the question. Loving my mother is difficult as it is - I do, and I do like to phone my mum when I'm away and talk to her. Forgiveness is something I'm struggling with too. Am I meant to forgive her for everything too?

So I don't have to respect my mother, so by loving her I have to recognise her as my mother and to honor her for raising me, etc etc. But surely respect comes into that as well?

[/quote]

Reading your OP and this thread I was very concerned for you and for your father, being stuck with an almost impossible situation. As the ex-husband of a domineering wife I can well understand how, little-by-little, he has allowed her to rule the house with temper and abuse, for he will have learnt that any resistance will only bring more abuse, and also more work for him, when he is already overloaded. Fortunately for me, my ex-wife had an affair, and then left me - and it was only then that my eyes were opened to the intolerable state that home life had become.

My concern for you is that you may suffer mental health issues from this for a long time, and it may undermine your education, self-esteem, and relationships. Because of losing your home, you may be vulnerable and insecure. So, I think that your number one concern right now is yourself - your mental health, your education, and your own start in life.

I give thanks that you are in RCIA! :thumbsup: The Catholic faith does not solve all of life's problems immediately, but it does give the best foundation for a happy, sane life.

Your mother mocking you for disrespecting her, while you are becoming a Catholic, is almost too much for you too bear - it's as if she has found your weakest spot, and torn it open. That is going to make it even harder to respect her than it was before.

You are not going to be able to solve these problems quickly, especially the particular one you raised (of respecting your mother), so my advice is that you find a way to live with them, while getting on with your own life. These issues are going to take time, prayer and counselling, so you need to allocate a space for this process, while ensuring that it does not take over. If you have hateful or vengeful thoughts, tell them to God, and then let go of them. Pray for your mother, rather than think about her, and keep talking to God about it. Also pray for your father - he needs it!

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken Psalm 55:22


#16

[quote="Barbkw, post:14, topic:223620"]
Sometimes as teenagers, a time away is the best learning experience.

For your mental health, I'd suggest that you continually approach forgiveness with your Mother and your Dad.

The fundamental part of the Our Father is, "forgive me my tresspasses as I forgive those who have trespassed against me".

Forgiveness is made more perfect, the more often you use it.

Harbor no ill will, try to forgive instantly because...it's what's best for you.

Forgiveness is the quickest way to create an attitude adjustment that you'll ever learn. That and accepting responsibility for your past behaviors (sins of omission and commission).

[/quote]

Resentment and unforgivingness, are most difficult for us sinners to deal with.

In most cases , I have learned over the years, that until you come to that place in your own heart and mind where you realize you are powerless and unable to forgive, and the resentment and misery is eating you up alive... the HOUND of HEAVEN breaks through with His ever loving actual grace, and gives us His power to surrender it all to Him, and praise him, IT IS GONE! WE ARE HEALED.
I believe when the surrender of resentment and unforgivingness happens for us, change happens all around to those involved. Then blessed peace will come!
We trust God will do it for Lemon and Lime this Christmas time!
Pax, Carlan


#17

I have a mother who is very difficult to deal with. When things are going the way she wants them to , she can be very pleasant and charming. Unfortunately, she has a problem with holding grudges and can become very stubborn when she feels she has been wronged.
She is also very irresponsible.

Her most recent grudge has something to do with her thinking that I wished her to die when she broke her hip. Nothing could be farther from the truth but I am paying the price for this grudge.
She has been very nasty to me and has tried to push me out of her life. She has tried to keep me from spending the holidays with her and my brother (who lives with her). So guess what I did? I invited myself for to her house for Christmas. I have also spent the past 2 weekends trying to help my brother fix the plumbing in her house. She has been kinder to me since I started doing this but I didn't do it with expectations of hoping she would let go of her grudge. I did it because I care about her.

I also have another brother who suffers from mental illness. For the past year, he has held a grudge against me because he says I don't do anything for him. I don't know what he wants from me but he is a grown man and has to do for himself and the family he has made. He made this family with a girl he didn't marry because they agree that their disability checks would be reduced if they married. I have tried to be supportive of their situation but they too are very irresponsible. The checks go to video games, movies(they must own every one ever made)and the like. Because of this they often don't have money for things they need. They also get many handouts from charity.(I don't begrudge any of this to them but I am sad with how they abuse it)They have become very hostile toward me because I have a nice home and do ok.
I still call them to see how they are doing(I get hung up on sometimes). I always send cards for birthdays and Christmas. And I try to see my niece(their daughter) whenever they allow.
Just last week, I offered to take my niece to luncht and the mall for a day out but they refused saying that she was only interested in going if I was taking her to New York(I didn't have the money to take her to NYC this year) but this is how I am threated by them. I will still send cards, gifts and offer outings because it is all I can do but I don't expect anything in the way of kindness or regard back.

I could go on about my sister, cousins and inlaws but you get the picture. (I do have a loving husband and children for which I am very grateful.

My recommendation to you is to treat your mother with kindness, do what you can,(don't do what you can't (unreasonable things).

And build a life for yourself with loving relationships ( maybe family of you own someday) and stay close to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother.

God bless you and Merry Christmas to you.


#18

Thank you everyone for your replies, I will reflect on them all and think about them.

One of the things that attracted me to the Catholic Church was the reverence to Our Lady. I view her as a mother figure, I pray to her often.


#19

that’s awesome! :slight_smile: Mary is indeed our Mother. Most people who convert to Catholicism initially have difficulty with her, that is great that for you it was the opposite!


#20

Nice comment, Monica, and thankyou LemonAndLime for your response!

Sorry to revisit my previous comment, but I keep thinking that the biggest issue in your life right now is possibly one you are not fully aware of - the impact of being forced out of home, while you are still a young person - even a student. I was forced out of home at 24, and I have seen other young adults in similar situations, and it seems to invariably place the person in a situation where they are not aware of just how much it has affected them. All sorts of dangers follow - emotional stress, rushed relationships, over dependence on friends, work instability, addictions. There is some sense of “freedom” and “relief” from making the move, but those feelings can mask the deeper stress and insecurity.

Please try to be aware of how vulnerable you are at the moment, and don’t try too hard to work through your problems with your mother. They are really a second-order issue, compared with getting your own life settled. Please try to find a counsellor, and/or a friend (of the same sex!) that you can really talk to. Just take it one-day-at-a-time, and be patient with the bigger picture.

I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.