How To Mend A Broken Relationship With Your Mum
March 31st 2019 is when Mother’s Day will roll around again this year. For many people, it is a very easy holiday. A day to celebrate a healthy relationship with their mums and to say ‘thank you’ for their support and guidance throughout the years. However, when you have a broken, flawed relationship with your mum, Mother’s Day can instead induce feelings of hurt, anger and abandonment. It can be difficult to watch other people enjoy their natural mother-daughter and mother-son relationships, and we may wonder why for us, our relationship with our mum is so tricky.
For some people, their relationship with their parents has become toxic and rebuilding trust and communication is not something that will be beneficial to either side. Despite this, for the vast majority of us, there are elements of our relationship with our mum that may be worth trying to rebuild and repair. It can be incredibly difficult growing older and realising that your mum isn’t perfect. Perhaps you’ve compared her to other mums who seem to act selflessly for their children while your mum seems to only act in her own interests and has perhaps broken your trust or hurt you in the past. Maybe there have been other events in your life that have caused the breakdown of your relationship, leaving you feeling estranged and distant from each other.
Even though it is perfectly understandable to harbour feelings of anger towards your mum if she has caused you feelings of hurt, this will only have a negative impact on you ultimately. Carrying around feelings of anger is detrimental to you and your ability to move on.
The question of ‘Can a broken relationship ever be restored?’ is ultimately yes. If you are here reading this, the truth is you might be ready to take those small steps needed to start to fix your damaged relationship. If you do feel this way, then the steps below can be a solid starting point.
Start with a feeling of warmth and openness.
It might be difficult to do so, but it is important to make the first move. You may well feel that this isn’t fair – particularly if you don’t see it as your ‘fault’ that you have issues within your relationship with your mum. However, if things are going to change for the better, someone has to break the silence and speaking first does not mean showing weakness. Instead, it is a sign of strength and maturity that you are ready to take steps to rebuild your relationship.
Reaching out doesn’t just mean sweeping the past under the carpet. You don’t need to ignore the fact that your relationship has been complicated, but it is vital that you approach the conversation in an open, warm manner. You might start by acknowledging that you have problems but by explaining you don’t want to talk about those hurtful issues right away and instead would like to work on communicating again.
Show that you are reaching out to rebuild your damaged relationship. One way to do this is to try and be an active listener. This means working hard not to make any assumptions when she speaks. Try hard to really listen to her and respond with warmth and understanding.
Don’t start with issues that cause pain.
It can be tempting to bring up past arguments once communication has been made. You might be tempted to say, ‘I’m ready to fix things, once we’ve talked about X’. However, starting with sensitive issues can just lead to yet more arguments.
If you can cultivate fertile ground for the foundations of a positive relationship with your mum through focusing on the parts of your relationship that are good, then you will find you are both in a place where you will be more understanding of the other’s point of view.
Communication is an excellent thing for fixing a flawed relationship. You can, and should, speak about the problems that you need to work through eventually, but this doesn’t have to be straight away. In fact, you will probably find those conversations go much more smoothly when you aren’t feeling so hurt and angry.
Consider your part in the relationship.
Every single relationship goes two ways. Clearly, sometimes it is one party that is responsible for causing hurt but, although it is understandable that many people think the only way to improve a relationship is for the other person to change their ways – this isn’t necessarily always the case. As an adult, you are no longer forced to be linked to your mum’s bad choices, actions and decisions. You don’t have control of that, but you do have control of your actions and responses to her behaviour.
Try using statements rather than making assumptions or accusations when having conversations with your mum. Some useful ideas are starting sentences with phrases such as ‘I sometimes feel …’ ‘When X happens, it makes me feel …’ If you criticise a behaviour rather than your mum herself, it can be easier to make yourself heard without causing more friction.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist.
Seeking the help of a therapist to help you mend your broken relationship may seem like an extreme step to take. However, having a totally objective, third-party input can be invaluable in helping you both move forward. Therapy can create a safe space to voice concerns in a controlled, productive way rather than allowing those concerns to spiral into arguments and tension that end up causing even more problems.
Speaking with a therapist in group therapy with your mum isn’t just about having someone else to listen – it’s also about learning to look at your lives, experiences and relationship with new eyes. I offer a safe space for you to be open and share your troubles without judgement.
Therapy is not a quick fix. I’m not claiming to be able to help you feel secure in your relationship in time for Mother’s Day, but if you want to start to mend your relationship, then therapy can be a life-changing step towards achieving that goal. Please feel free to get in touch for an open conversation with me about what you are hoping to achieve and how I can help you.