Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

My Mother Has No Boundaries

My mother doesn't respect me.

Dear Dr.G.,

I just read one of your articles and thought that you might be able to help me. I live in an apartment with one bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, my office (since I am in high school) and one bedroom with 3 little sisters and a mother that to me has issues. So, let me just describe my morning.

I woke up, washed, got dressed, the normal stuff.
When I was dressing I heard my sister ask something from my mom and I looked over and it was some of the bath salts that I got as a present with some other hygiene products. And my mom said "yeah, you can use it", I said "but that's mine. Mom, you can't just decide for me". Because then, they'll just go to you to ask if they can use something that is mine knowing you'll say yes." and then it started, " Well ___ I thought you would be nice enough to say yes, so I decided for you.". But that wasn't my point, obviously. But I tried to explain it to her again and she started talking over me and I tried to tell her to stop, although it didn't work. So the atmosphere stayed negative.

Later, I walked into my "office" and my mother's papers were still on my table from last night. So I was a little upset and said "mom, why are your papers STILL on my table, put them away! I could have used this place yesterday...". She was doing something there the night before with my little sisters, while I was trying to study on the couch, which meant I couldn't really go in there. And then it started... "What do you mean you could have used it?! You told me you didn't have any homework!". I did say that. But later, I checked and started doing it. She saw, when I wanted to show her my work and grade. But then I sat on the couch and started trying to practice what I needed to. And they somehow moved back in there and started to study. My mom like always started shouting at one of my sisters because she wouldn't get something she was supposed to know.
Me:"Yeah, but then I checked and you saw me doing it." Mom:"YOU COULD JUST PUT THE PAPERS HERE" slamming them on to the shelf. She was right. I did mess up there. And I realized it during the conversation.
Then she just started to keep on shouting at me and I tried to say something but she would over shout me and at one point, (like she would do often) she got on her knees in front of me, kneeling up and down, and sarcastically started to say "oh sorry dear goddess " or something, which made me feel absolutely horrible and disgusted. I couldn't say much to express how disgusted and bad I felt. She left to the kitchen while I was speaking my mind in the nicest possible way. She then snaps "shut your mouth".

All I did was pack, dress up and when I was closing the door I said "What a nightmare".

This type of stuff happens pretty often. She overreacts way too much. And it causes problems. I just don't want to talk to her anymore. I don't know what to do. She doesn't care about how I feel.

A Distraught Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Thank you for writing to me. Yes, it does feel like there are issues between you and your mother but it seems that this is due to a number of factors including stress, boundary issues and perhaps crowding and the problems that arise from living in such tight quarters.

I am not sure why you refer to the office as your office. Why is this not a shared space since there are 4 other members of your family living in your house? You didn't mention another parent living in the home so I am assuming that it is the 5 of you in a small apartment. I am also concerned about the nature of your relationship with your mother. Why does she have to check with you about the use of the office? Wouldn't it make more sense if you agreed to set up a schedule for the use of this office? I believe that there are some boundary issues operating here but I am not sure who has the boundary issues. Is it possible that you are acting like a mother to your own mother? I ask this because there are some indications that this may be the case. I do agree that it would make sense for your sister to ask you to use your items. Yes, it was a good idea to share your feelings about this with your mother.

You and your mother seem to react very emotionally to each other. Is it possible for the 2 of you to get some more space from each other? I am concerned that in crowded conditions families get more stressed and frustrated with each other. It does seem that your mother can speak in a very harsh manner. You also seem to lose your patience with your mother. Perhaps you can find some peace by studying and doing your school work outside of the home.

Also, I am not sure how the sleeping arrangements work in your house since there are 5 people and one bedroom. Maybe you and your mother can discuss this. Your mother might consider converting the office into an additional bedroom so that there is more privacy and there are more physical boundaries for the family. If you want to address this with your mother please suggest it gently. You certainly don't want to come across as demanding and/or telling your mother what to do.

I wish you the best of luck. Please get back to me and let me know how things unfold. Stress is not good for the heart or soul.


To see more articles like this see my website: