How to Tell if You Have a Controlling Mother

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Most young people feel that their parents are too controlling at some point, but there's a difference between a parent who sets boundaries and a parent who doesn't allow you the room to make your own decisions. As you focus on figuring out whether your mother is controlling, aim for better results in your relationship by calmly telling her how you really feel.

1 Pressure and Perfection

Most parents genuinely want what's best for their children, but some take it too far by pressuring their children to excel in everything from school to sports to volunteer work. If your mother is constantly encouraging you to sign up for more activities or seems disappointed by anything less than a perfect grade, the pressure can cause you to lose sight of your own goals and dreams. Ask yourself whether you feel you have to do too much to earn your mother's approval. If the answer is yes, have a talk with her about how the pressure to be perfect is making you feel.

2 Relationship Restrictions

If you started dating someone who was abusive, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or involved in criminal activities, you would probably want your mother to care enough about you to say something. However, you don't want her to have veto power over all your relationships, especially if she judges your dates based on criteria you consider unfair. Ask yourself if your mother generally lets you make your own dating decisions as long as you're responsible, or if she seems to be against everyone you are interested in, regardless of their personality traits. If you conclude that your mother exerts too much control over your love life for reasons other than to protect you from harm, talk to her about your need to make this type of decision for yourself.

3 Suppressed Emotions

People who have problems with anxiety sometimes try to control the emotions of those around them. According to David Schnarch, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and widely published author, in the "Psychology Today" article "People Who Can't Control Themselves Control The People Around Them," people who suffer from insecurity and anxiety may feel driven to control the people closest to them in order to keep their own negative feelings under control. If you're having a bad day and your mom says "Cheer up," that's not controlling. If she reacts in an extreme way when you express any thought or feeling she doesn't want to hear, then her own anxiety issues may be the reason. Ask her if there's a way you can talk about your feelings with her without making her upset.

4 On the Other Hand

Your mother might seem controlling to you if she has a habit of saying things you don't want to hear. If your mother thinks your best friend is a bad influence or you've been making self-destructive decisions, ask yourself if she might be right. It might be irritating to you when your mother gets involved in your life this way, but you wouldn't want her to say nothing if you were really in trouble. Don't jump to the conclusion that your mother is controlling unless no other explanation makes sense. Whether she's controlling or not, better communication between the two of you can only help.

Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.