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Communication Problems:
“I have never gotten along with my mom.”

Dear Annie,

I'm having troubles with my mom, not my dad... that's fine. I kind of feel a lot of anger towards my mom, and a bit of dislike, and I feel terrible for saying it but it's true. And I hope you don't just tell me to sit down and talk because she isn't reasonable, and she treats every little bit of advice as a personal attack on her. It's gotten to the point where I can't stand her voice. It gives me a headache. She thinks I am mean to her but I'm not, I just want to be left alone. I'm 16 and she still yells at me about my bed, where the papers from class go, my desk, and she always says she is going to leave me alone but she doesn't. She just keeps going at it. It's probably about control. She won't ever leave me alone about anything so at one point I get angry and then she says I am mean to her.

I don't know what to do. I don't like spending time with her. I don't like sitting next to her. I don't like eating at the same table.

She won't listen when I say I have a problem or grievance with her or our relationship. She says she "doesn't want to talk about it," or "not now." Also if I say she is yelling too much or she wont leave me alone, she always says something along the lines of how terrible she is, and how she is "the bad guy" but really I just want some peace and a normal relationship. I don't get how kids get along with their mothers. I never have gotten along with mine, even when I was little.

Enough

Dear Enough,

Reading your email reminded me of the relationship I had with my mom when I was 16. I felt a lot of the same things you're describing. I was really angry at her and felt like she was on my case about EVERYTHING. And like you, I had gotten to the point where I just wanted her to leave me alone. Unlike you, though, it was just me and my mom since my dad (who I got along with very well) had died when I was 15. So, I understand what you're going through and I know it's very hard.

What can you do? Well, if, as you say, she "doesn't want to talk about it" when you bring up a "problem or grievance with her" or want to talk about your relationship, that's a challenge. How can you negotiate a "peace treaty" with someone who won't sit down and openly and honestly discuss the problems?

And I'm sure if you were feeling very safe to say what's on your mind and in your heart you'd probably admit that there are things that YOU do that make the situation worse with your mom. I know in my case I just didn't know when (or how) to keep my mouth shut! LOL I'm laughing about it now, but I can sure see how I could have avoided a whole lot of arguments if had had chosen NOT to be sullen, sarcastic, and so angry with her. Not that I didn't feel the anger was justified, it's just that my responses didn't help things... They only led to more fighting. I'm not saying it was just me that was causing the problems between us... But it wasn't just her either. It was both of us.

Can you see any of the things you choose to do in relation to your mom that contribute to the problem?

Think on it. Also I'd strongly suggest that you talk privately and calmly with your dad about how you've been feeling. Perhaps he can help by acting as a "go between" and talking with your mom. Hopefully, with some more self-awareness on your part as to what you might be doing differently to ease the tensions and your dad's help you and your mom can work things out.

I hope so.

In friendship,

Annie

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