The signs of a controlling mother discussed in this article are those of a parent who is excessively controlling to the point of being destructive and abusive. We are not talking about a mother who is very strict or a parent who has particular personal rules that need to be followed. Rather, a controlling parent in this case is one who has profound effects on every aspect of the developing child, including limiting their free will, keeping them dependent, carefully controlling the ideas, beliefs and thinking of the child and also forcing the child to live the life that the parent wants for the child.
It would seem that it should be easy to determine if a mother is simply strict or pathologically controlling. However, for the child themselves, this can be incredibly difficult or practically impossible. The reason is that the child is brought up in a controlling and abusive environment and has nothing to compare this with. The things that occur in the house seem normal to the child because they happen all the time. This means that the abuse and the control are normalised for the child. The child does not realize how abnormal such behaviour is. That does not mean that the child accepts everything. Many children, even as young as three or four, often realize that something is not quite right in their home. However, they don't have the life experience or the vocabulary to be able to understand or express what the problem is.
It's often only when the child is an adult and has children of their own that they begin to realize how abnormal their upbringing was. They may have decided earlier that they are not going to raise their children the way they were raised themselves. Or, when they are dealing with their own children they realize they couldn't treat their own children the way they were treated themselves because it would make them feel bad. Then they begin to question their own upbringing. Some adults are in their 40s or 50s before they begin to realize how abusive their own upbringing was. This is no reflection on them but rather an indication of the nature of mind control and psychological abuse. The fact is that it can be very difficult for the victim to recognize that they are being controlled.
So what are the signs of a controlling mother that you need to watch out for that indicate your relationship is unhealthy, manipulative and abusive?
Have you had, for a long time, a suspicion that there was something not right about your relationship with your mother or the family dynamics?
Are you afraid of this woman?
Do you spend a lot of time trying to please her and making sure you don't upset her?
Even when she's not present, do you find yourself checking mentally whether she will be okay with what you're going to do?
As a child, did you ever think of running away from home? Or did you actually do it?
From an early age did you plan to leave home when you were 16 or 18, or as soon as you possibly could?
Did you see your mother being friendly and kind to people outside the house while behind closed doors she seemed like a different person? Was she very demanding, critical and never satisfied when she was alone with you?
Was she always making you feel bad personally? By that I mean, instead of criticizing your behaviour, she criticized you for having that behaviour. For example, if you spill something instead of making a remark about you having an accident she will call you clumsy. If you don't know something, instead of telling you or helping you find out, she calls you useless. She won't tell you that what you did was wrong, she tells you you are wrong for doing it.
Does she call you derogatory names? Does she swear at you frequently?
Is she one of these mothers for whom nothing is ever good enough? It doesn't matter how hard you try, how which time you put into something for the amount of money you spend, it's never enough. She finds something to complain about.
Where you are allowed to say "I want…" and to have it? Or did she give you reasons why you couldn't have it? Or worse, did she decide for you what you wanted and needed?
Does she still try and do that to this day?
Does she insist on knowing everything about your life?
Does she give you her opinions on everything in your life? When she talks about these things, are her comments less like opinions and more like instructions?
As a child, did she not allow you to have any privacy? Did she insist on reading your journals, walking into your bedroom any time she liked, talk about your personal issues to lots of other people in front of you, and so on?
Did she make you feel that you would never measure up to her, that you would never be as good as her?
Did she make you believe that the outside world is a dangerous place and that you would only be safe as long as you're with her and the family?
Was she always right? And you always wrong?
Have you noticed that she lies to you? A lot?
Does she criticize you every time you make your own decisions?
Does she criticize your clothes your cooking, your friends, your hobbies, your work, your kids, how you raise your kids and basically everything else?
When she sees you happy, enjoying yourself, successful at something, does she make hurtful remarks that ruins the moment for you?
Are you expected to put her wants and needs before your own?
Do you consider that she stops you from maturing and becoming independent?
Do you still need her approval for doing most things?
Does she ridicule you?
Do you ever feel that she wishes you had never been born? Has she said as much?
Does she put you in double binds? These are situations where you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you make a decision this is criticized. If you don't make a decision, you're criticized for not being able to make a decision. If you don't tidy up, you are criticized for not doing it. If you do tidy up, you are asked why you didn't do something else instead. These double binds can be so pervasive in abusive families that the children don't recognise them. They just think that that's the way the world is.
Are there times that you hate this woman?
Do you sometimes think that you don't love her, but you feel you should because society says you should?
Have you thought of never speaking to her again? But you are afraid of what she might do?
Does she make you feel guilty a lot?
Does she make you feel that you owe her?
Does she put ideas in your head about how you have to help her when she gets old?
Does she get involved in your personal relationships?
Does she talk to your partner about you behind your back? Do you ever feel that she is trying to build a special relationship with your partner independent of you?
Did she ever gang up with your partner against you?
Does she ever compare you to others, your cousins or your friends? And the comparison is not a good one, it's usually "why are you not as good as them?"
Does she lend you money and then expect more control over your life because of it?
Do you feel like she competes with you?
Did you ever think your mother was cold and cruel?
Did you ever wonder how a mother could do such horrible things to her child?
Even if you tell her that something she says or does upsets you, does she continue to do it?
Does she often distort events? For example, she does something horrible to you and then claims it's because she wants to take care of you?
Does she criticize your father a lot to you? And then expect you to take her side?
Do you ever feel she's jealous of your relationship with your father? Does she do things to sabotage that relationship?
Have you noticed that she gets your father to punish you so it seems like he's the strict one?
Have you ever believed that her behavior in public might be because she was socially awkward? But then later you realize her bad behavior was actually intentional?
When you have friends around, does she make it very unpleasant for them? Does she argue with them or make them embarrassed so they feel uncomfortable? Uncomfortable enough that they don’t want to come around again?
Have you stopped calling her 'Mom' and you use her first name or some other name for her?
If you see many of these signs of a controlling mother in your own situation, then you are being very heavily controlled. You need to actively do something about this, because your mother is not going to change. If you don't do something about it, she will continue to control and dominate your life.
You need information. You need to learn about mind control. You need to learn about psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. This may sound a bit extreme because your idea of what a psychopath is does not match up with how you think of your mother. However, if your mother does fit the profile of a psychopath or a narcissist, you really need to know about it. The rules in dealing with these people are different. They do not play by society's rules. If you continue to play by society's rules, they will continue to walk all over you.
You can read more details about some of these ideas in this article on controlling mothers, more about the effects of abusive mothers, as well as ideas on toxic families, dealing with toxic families and recovery from a psychopathic relationship.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?