"Well-meaning" jokes and criticism


This is in reference to family members who do this. i wish i could post this in several different palces at once, Spirituality and Prayer intentions, but i guess it fits here better.

Right now I am so angry and hurt and feeling as if i have sinned because of it. I have said a few choice things (putting it kindly) in my anger to MYSELF, not my mother. I am over 40, and my mom who is 80, loves to ask me “kindly” have you gotten a diet yet?? I am over-weight, but not by alot—I look normal. She said to me tonight, “I bet your husband wishes you were thin again…(laughing)” I responded the way I always do, like an idiot, laughing too—I said “He has told me that he loves me just the way I am.” she responded back to me: (laughing harder) "I bet he is lieing."
For most of my life this has been her way with me----using humor to disguise her criticism of me. “Are you sure you like that hair-color???” and catching me off gaurd with various other comments. In short I can’t help but feel a self-loathing well-up inside of me . I can’t even discuss this with her, because i have and she cries and says “She’s so sorry she was only trying to be helpful…” and then she gets resentful. Or She also conveniently forgets her wrong-doing,"What ? Who Me?? " and she turns into a lawyer needing notarized documentation of time and exact words said, were there any witnesses,…okay I am beginning to see the humor in it to a certain degree. :smiley: :frowning:

. Please don’t tell me she means well, and is concerned about my my health—she may be to a certain extent, but she is so critical of other people’s weight and general appearance that I KNOW it comes from a vain part of her—my daughter should look like she did when she was 18, or like so-and-so on Bold and the Beautiful, or the Spanish soaps she watches with all those gorgeous women (because she is always telling me about how I should fix myself up like them:mad: ).

This really hurts me deeply. It makes me very angry, and it destroys my peace—I need prayer. I need to get past this.


Next time, don’t play along. You said that you laugh when you make your response. Next time, keep your face grave and say quietly, “That hurts my feelings” and then change the subject or leave the room. If having a big discussion about it leads to tears or denial or whatever, then don’t have a discussion. Just say, “That hurts my feelings” and change the subject. If she wants to drag it out, say, “I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s change the subject.”

Now, you may say, “Well, I laugh when I respond because that’s the way I always have… it’s a habit/reflex.” In which case, you should be able to appreciate how hard it is to break old habits. It will be very hard for her.

By not playing along, you can help retrain her way of talking to you.

EVERY time she does this, just say, “That hurts my feelings.” then insist on changing the subject. You can say, “I would rather you not talk about my weight ever again.” Then, stick to that rule… never, ever let her talk about your weight, again. There should be one or two canned responses - “That hurts my feelings” or “I don’t want to talk about my weight.” Changing the subject quickly will keep the drama to a minimum.

Keep your cool, don’t go off on tangeants or get drawn into debate, and be consistent.


Keep your cool, don’t go off on tangeants or get drawn into debate, and be consistent.

God Bless you. I couldn’t sleep. These words are a comfort—I have never been honest out of fear of her responses. If i just keep it simple, and simply point out that it hurts me and change the subject, then she does not have the benifit of time (if I wait until a week later) to claim “what do you mean???” Immediate response.

I think some famliy members bring out the worst in us, I think, and to a certain degree are a “spiritual enemy” (I know— strong word, but for want of a better description, I use this term). I wonder how many people feel this applies to them.

Some topics, even within families, should remain “off-topic” if it offends one person enough to do so.

Thanks again for you kind response.


You are right on target here and you do not need a better description than “spiritual enemy” because it is exactly what this is.

Remember though, that your mother is not your spiritual enemy but that she is being used by the devil who IS your spiritual enemy!

Satan likes nothing better than to tear families apart! What better method then to get a mother to tear-up her own daughter! My poor husband has this situation with his mother. She says awful things to him and then denies them later. She even brings in “wittnesses” like you mentioned. She will say “I never said that! I was standing right next to so-and-so you can ask them! Plus that was the day I was feeling ill and I would have never said that…etc…etc…” She has said things to me plain as day to my face and then flat-out denied them. She does not have alzheimers or anything, my husband said she was like this when he was a child too.

Try and remember that arguing with people is just what the devil wants. He wants you to resent your mother. He wants you to argue with her. He wants her to hurt you.

Most importantly pray for your mother. She has bad influences impacting her soul and she needs prayers and lots of them. Your mother needs your sympathy. Not earthly sympathy but spiritual sympathy. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on how to handle her when you encounter her and he will help you. Perhaps the best way is like someone else suggested is just to say something simple to her. No matter what you decide to say, the most important thing to do is to change the way you look at her, that will help the most I think. Try and see her as a lost soul and pray for her and see what happens. This is so hard I know, I will pray for you and for her too. Hope this helps. Hang in there.


Thank you for your advice too. I will remember this in dealing with my own mother. i won’t allow the devil his hey-day and argue with her----it always turns out to be a battle between “memories” instead of about the real problem. I also found it helpful to know that I am not the only one with this kind of problem!:slight_smile:


Your mother is 80, so she’s not likely to change her ways. But by changing your response and refusing to engage her in these conversations, hopefully she will let it drop when you don’t rise to her bait. What Hopeful suggested is a good idea, and you’re giving an “I-message” – “It hurts me” works better than “You hurt my feelings” because they can’t argue as much with that.

My grandmother was the same way, saying things and then twisting it around if you confronted her about it. My hair and my weight were her favorite targets. I remember visiting her in the hospital shortly before she died. She was lying there with a couple of IV’s, a tube in her nose, on oxygen…but she was still strong enough to make a comment about my hair color! :doh2: The sarcastic “whatever” statement wasn’t around yet, or I would have used it! What worked best with her was to agree with what she said, even if you really didn’t. “Yeah, Gram, it came out too dark this time.” But I did tell her that she must not be that sick, to be commenting on my hair from her hospital bed. :rolleyes: But the truth is, she had her own issues or she wouldn’t have been so critical.


She’s mean on purpose. You let her hurt you because you don’t stop her.

Next time she says something hurtful, say “that was mean and rude and I am hanging up now/leaving now/please leave now. That behavior will not be tolerated.”

If she says she was “just trying to help” tell her “no, you weren’t. You were being hateful on purpose, and I will not be subjected to it any longer.”

Trust me, she knows exactly what she is doing. She has no right to do these things to you, and you have not obligation to put up with it.


Yeah I get that she won’t change—she is not very good at listening either, as she interupts and gets real high strung to over-whelm your (what she calls) reproach. But she has never been good at listening—she has always since I can remember been fearful of blame. If I use the I statement, that will work. Make her feel less put on the spot.

Sounds like my dad sort of:D He would be coughing up blood, but still manage to gurgle a put-down:rotfl:
My mom is very sensitive about herself though, so the best thing to do is just agree like you say.:wink:

Thanks for you response:)


Yes I have gotten this sense at times that she conveniently forgets her words. It is too ingrained in her way for me to even expect a change.



Get this book by Catholic author and counselor Gregory Popcak. It will help you deal with your mom.


Wonderful advice, you’re absolutely right. Except in reality this doesn’t always work. Seems like Lisa’s and my mother came from the same mold. The not reasonable kind.:rolleyes:

Let see mom would turn it around on me and say I’m always making a big deal out of nothing or I’m trying to start a fight or I’m too sensitive. She would continue with “like when blah blah happened and you blah blah blah…” “Mom, you mean when I was in the 6th grade?”:wink:

When I was younger and living at home my mom would berate me until I cried -then she usually stopped. She got her way, she felt powerful, she succeeded. I learned to put on headphones with really loud music and tune her out. She would bananas but I just let it roll off my back.

As an adult I learned to do this (not with actual headphones and music) more and more. Mom insults I simply ignore, she searches her memory for just the right thing to push my buttons -ignore, ignore, ignore -well most of the time it’s successful. Sometimes she gets me.:blush:

I make up a reason I need get off the phone or have leave -unemotionally as possible. If I tell she’s hurt me she’s already hooked. She is looking for that *fix, *that “gotcha” fix, the pay off that makes her feel bigger, more powerful, more in control.

Lisa your mom has a problem and it’s not your problem. Your weight or hair color is not the problem. She’s looking for a payoff, she knows she gets under your skin with these remarks, if she gets you irratated, hurt, upset etc., she’s got her payoff.

You have to put a wall between her remarks and your feelings. What she says means nothing, it’s not about you -she is the one with defect, the issues, the problems. It’s a very sad state to be in to feel so low about yourself you have to attack others to build yourself up. She loves you but the way she expresses it is contorted because of her own problems.

You have grown up, moved on -don’t let her make you feel like that kid again. Make her powerless to effect your happiness. Her world is so small she lives through soaps stars. My mom has a thing for the “beautiful people” as well.

I really can empathize Lisa, we have a lot in common.


Thank you, everyone, for what you’ve posted here … my 66-year-old mother lives with me and I have a similar problem with the put-downs and insults… and I, too, find it very difficult to know how to react, other than to just be very hurt.

Your help has been invaluable - thank you! :grouphug:

Lisa Annette, bless you for posting this, and do know that you’re not alone. I know how hard it is to say anything as a rebuttal, or even just to point out ‘that hurt my feelings’ (the response to that in my house is ‘then stop being so ****ing over-sensitive’!), but I think you’re well on your way - you’ll do fine. :hug1:

And we’re all cheering you on! :slight_smile:


These steps work for me when dealing with a friend who is being obnoxious or critical.

  1. Ignore what the person says.

  2. Do not respond to what the person says.


I like that one for dealing with friends, but I find it difficult to apply to my mother. She’s trying to provoke a response, and if she’s really determined to, she’ll invent one if she has to. My silence will be answered with “WHAT?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“I can HEAR you muttering under your breath! Stop being so miserable!”

Etc. :wink:

That’s the joy of families - other people wouldn’t dream of going down that road, no matter how obnoxious they might be!


I had to laugh but I’m sure not it’s not funny at the time. My advice -ignore that comment too -or laugh.


chortling Actually, you’re right - it IS pretty funny. My first reaction would be to laugh, if it were coming from ANYONE who wasn’t a family member I live with! :rotfl:

Thanks for adding a bit of perspective, Rayne - and you’re right, ignoring it or laughing probably will work quite well!



All of you have had good advice, and God bless you for living with your mom, Deb!! :slight_smile:

You don’t know the trouble I went through today for having prayed to the Holy Spirit( Sorry God, I will learn to see it Your way in time)
But I prayed so hard to know how to tell her the right way that I don’t want(i.e., dislike) to be reminded (i.e., hassled) about my appearance. I tried the delicate approach, and it still went bad…she turned it into a conversation about what a bad daughter I am, and gave me numerous examples of better “children”, scolded me for not visiting often enough, shaming me by saying that others agree with her…
What a headache, literally. I have been sick all day long with a headache that I am just getting over. Crying doesn’t help the matter.:frowning:

Okey-doke—i am just going to ignore the comments, as Chris Jacobsen advised—there is no winning with her, or getting her on my side. I expect, like a little girl, for her to be concerned about my feelings, and say “I want to do anything I can to help you—I am sorry” and not get so defensive about herself. But those words will never come. I am not a child, so I need to stop looking for her approval, Lord Jesus, give me peace with this.



I could have wrote what you wrote -exactly what you wrote. I’m the terrible daughter -my cousin does this, neighbor’s daughter does that, friend’s daughter does such and such -they’re all better than me, more devoted, more appreciative etc. My mom’s favorite when I was teen was comparing me to my sister who had died when I was 13. She was the perfect one and I was the black sheep.

My mother is “alone”, “she could be dead I wouldn’t know for days”, “she tries not to bother me because she knows I’m so busy”.

Then theres the “everybody agree with her”, “everybody says…”

“Who’s everybody ma?”
“Can you name one?”
“Ok give me an example.”
“You say everybody but you can’t name one person?”
"Mrs.xxx said…"
and she goes on to say something that doesn’t even sound like something Mrs. xxx would say -in fact it sounds remarkably like how my mother speaks.:rolleyes:
This is when I’m not ignoring my mother and it usually doesn’t go well.

I went to counseling as an adult. I learned that had to accept that my mother and I will never have that warm, fuzzy relationship that it’s seems mothers and daughters should have. I will never hear “I was wrong” coming from her, I will never hear “I’m sorry”. She will never “get it”, I will never come up with just the right words that make that light bulb go on in her head so that things can change. I had to grieve that dream and then let it go. Once I accepted that it was amazingly freeing. I didn’t need her approval in order to feel good about myself.

She still gets to me sometimes. If I’m pms-ing, or extra tired or having a rough day, she’ll find a weak spot and get to me. So I bawl on my hubby’s shoulder and then move on.

I know it’s hard and I know it’s painful. I will keep you in my prayers.


Lisa Annette;

You need to know that God does not approve of your mother’s behavior towards you, even one little bit. You were created in His image and likeness to reflect an aspect and a truth about Him that the world needs to see - you are His icon, and He created you exactly as you are because He thinks that’s the most beautiful Lisa Annette there is in this world - no other will do than that which you are, just as He created you to be.

I also think next time your mother criticizes your hair or your weight, you should say, “Mom, you are much too short. When are you going to do something about your height? And I notice your eyes are brown - when are you going to get them to a nice, proper shade of blue? I really can’t discuss anything serious with you, if you are going to insist on being brown-eyed and too short!”

Maybe then she’ll get the point. :shrug:


PMS’ing here—I couldn’t ignore her:( It made things so unbearably hard to put up with today. Oh Gosh, I will just highlight in red exactly what is my mom, and I want you to know how much you helped me by telling me your situation.

First highlight: I’m sorry to hear about your sister, but even sorrier that she doesn’t realize that this might be so painful to you.
Actually my sister is alive and mom fluctuates in who is her favorite according to how we “please her”—she has talked to me about sis which aggravates me because I know she turns around and does the same about me----she needs to rally “support” for her “offenses” against herself.

Second highlight: My mom is ALWAYS saying this to me. And looking so wounded about it. it drives a small dagger at me.

Third highlight:Everybody agrees with her, which insinuates that she has been discussing me. This gives me such anxiety

I need to STOP as you have. I have received counseling for this for years, but it is an on-going battle with myself to let go and let God

Thank you for the huggy smilies—I really needed that.:console:

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