Should I talk to my mom?

Here’s the situation:

Last night, my family came over for dinner to my husband’s and my apartment. We had a wonderful time, and we are close with my family, seeing them usually at least twice a month (we live about an hour away). Anyway, my dad brought in a movie for one of my brothers to watch, since he didn’t want to play poker with the rest of the siblings. The movie was rented by my dad without my mom’s knowledge, which wasn’t really the issue, since he does that often enough. However, once the movie was put on, it had a lot of cussing in it (done primarily by the bad guys) and violence, which is also not unusual for my brothers and dad. They make sure it doesn’t contain any sexuality, but violence is generally not even counted in decision-making. I don’t agree with that necessarily, but then again I’m a woman and I’m also their child so I am not going to try to “correct” their decision-making. Well, my mom practically blew up at my dad, critisizing him to no end. She basically asked him how he could pick out a movie like that, accusing him of not checking out the movie first (which he HAD done), insinuating that he had bad decision-making skills and no brain. All this was done in front of my siblings.

The background:

My parents have really been struggling with discipline in the past. I have 3 teenage brothers. The oldest thought he might be bi-sexual and in his counseling talked about how he wanted my dad to have more of a relationship with him. I have a sister who’s out of the house now, mentally-ill, who took 95% of my parents’ (esp. my dad’s) attention growing up, so my dad’s relationship with all of us has been weak, as he is a one-person-at-a-time kind of person. It didn’t affect me so much b/c I’m a girl and I had a strong relationship with my mom, and when I got into college, really strengthened my relationship with him. However, he doesn’t discipline. And my mom complains to me about it all the time. Since I’ve gotten married, I’ve realized many things about my parents’ marriage - one of them being that my mom really puts my dad down a lot. She critisizes him often and his primary love language is words of affirmation (I had them take the test in the book when I was reading it). So, no wonder my dad doesn’t take initiative - my mom tells him to do it and then tells him that he is doing it wrong. She belittled him in front of my brothers, which chips away at the respect they hold for him. How are they going to listen to him when he’s trying to discipline if my mom basically has no respect for him and doesn’t trust him in the first place and they all see it?

I was so upset by this that when they left, I just burst into tears. My husband suggested writing an email to her, telling her in a loving way, my observation. I’m not sure if I should. I’m not as upset about it now, but it still bothers me. And I think if she was more aware of this, maybe she would stop. She’s always open to change - she’s gone to therapy off and on for the past 30 yrs, so I know she’ll at least possibly listen.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

whats the problem with telling her about it if she is open to change as you said?? :confused: :confused:

she probably doesnt realise it but tell me this - does your father say those “words of affirmation” to her which is his primary language of love…???

many a times i have noticed that the spouse starts that behaviour becos she is getting it from her husband…

I had to have an adult heart to heart with my mom a few years ago, though we did it through email because she lived in another state. She can tend to be very controlling and overbearing, telling people that they are making the wrong decisions in their lives (simply because it’s not what SHE would do), and making comments that are very judging and nasty. She had no idea she was doing this until I pointed it out to her. I told her that just because someone has chosen to make xyz decision in their life, just because it’s not what she personally would have done, does not make it automatically wrong, and to tell people they are basically stupid (in so many words) and don’t know how to run their own lives, is to push them totally away and alienate those she cares about.

So - long story short, she listened to me, I didn’t cut any corners and told it straight to her, and she is so much easier to live with now. This was about 4+ years ago. Sometimes I have to give her a little reminder, especially about how she crabs about her best friend to me, but then she realizes she’s doing it again and she is mindful of how she treats people.

I would say talk to your mom, tell her exactly what you see as an outsider (no longer living at home) and how you think it impacts your dad. I’m sure she loves him and would not want to do anything to hurt him intentionally.

It really is interesting though, the insight being married gives you into your own parent’s marriage once you are removed from it and see it from a different perspective!


Maybe you should. Sometimes people behave like that until they have the opportunity to look at themselves from the side. Maybe if you catch her in a calm mood and talk it over calmly as well? Sometimes people take a lot from spouses for fear of getting dumped. Sometimes they believe all they are told when they are being belittled because it’s easier to fault yourself than to believe your loved one is berating you without reason just like that. Then if you accept the berating, the other one is reinforced in the feeling that what he or she says is true. It only leads to more berating and so the circle closes. I wanted to say I would take such behaviour from my wife if I had any, but then I realised I’ve taken things like that, on the same principle - didn’t want to be dumped. However, suffering it quietly only really feeds the feeling of being mistreated, while talking about it could simply cut it.

Especially since you think she is open to it, I think it would be a good idea to talk to her. I think your husband’s idea about writing it down is a good one. One thing I’ve been learning lately is that dealing with people in a way that is honest and polite is what is best. So often it seems easier to avoid conflict by pretending that everything is alright when it really isn’t. This never actually helps. It only causes things to snowball. It’s much better to be honest and deal with things.

Some points your mom might want to think about, if she wants your dad to be there to back her up when she needs it, she completely ruins his credibility and effectivess every time she criticizes him in front of others. I’m sure she’d much rather have him be her partner and even have him lead the way when it comes to the family. What she is doing is probably ultimately not making her a satisfied person.

Also, she needs to consider that she is setting the tone for who your brothers marry. If their mom is bossy and domineering, guess what kind of women they are likely to marry? I’m sure she really doesn’t want bossy and domineering daughters in law, so really it would be in her best interest to just knock it off and learn to hold her tongue.

Since your brothers are already teenagers, she is going to need to get really proactive in building your dad up. Maybe you can help with that.

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