Start Being Assertive with Mother

Article excerpt

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm hurt and angry about my mother. When she retired we helped her move to the town where my brother, his wife and their four young children live, so she could help with the kids. I'm married, 40, no kids. My mom seems to have no interest in me. When I visit, my mom directs all her conversation to my sister-in-law and her kids. She will sometimes snap at me and make sarcastic comments. I finally snapped back in a store and she turned bright red and tried to make a joke of it. She also compares me to the grandchild she doesn't get along with, saying: "She's just like you." I feel embarrassed about my hurt feelings and have been cold and distant of late. Am I being immature and oversensitive? -- Left Out, Winnipeg

Dear Left Out: Feelings are a barometer which tell your internal truth -- you are hurting. Since distancing yourself isn't working, but calling your mom out on behaviour gets her attention, start being assertive -- someone she can't quietly hurt. You're not popular right now anyway, so stir the pot with honesty and questions. Start by saying quite frankly, when you're alone, "Why do you behave as if you don't like me?" She will deny that immediately. Then give short examples. "You ignore me when I visit and talk to others. You never ask about my life, You were sarcastic with me, and in public at the store. What annoys you about me?" Then be prepared to hear what she has to say, and ask for clarification. You may remind her of someone (your dad, her sister, her mom) and she is actually reacting to that person when she sees you. Or, she may be jealous of your "carefree" no-child lifestyle and relate better to a woman like your sister-in-law because of that. …