Dear Barb – The All Important Mother

Dear Barb:

I have been home from university for the summer and I can’t wait to get out of here. My mother is driving me nuts, I didn’t realize how annoying she was until I was away and then came back. We fought and argued for most of the summer. She is so self absorbed! Where ever we go she creates attention for herself. Not bad attention, she just gets everyone to pay attention to her by making jokes or whatever. It’s almost like she is jealous if someone talks to me. For example, we were at a family event and someone was asking me about university and how I like it, well my mom didn’t even give me a chance to answer. She just interjected a humorous answer that would bring the attention back to her. Usually what she says is witty so the other person will laugh and I never get to answer their question. It almost seems like she is threatened by me and at times she will bring up something about her work or what she has accomplished just to make herself look important. It is almost embarrassing at times. Whenever I try to tell her how annoying she is, she has a fit and says I am being mean to her and I don’t appreciate all that she does for me. She just doesn’t understand how anyone else feels. She does the same thing to my younger sister. I can see how Mom manipulates her but she doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to feel Mom’s wrath. Sometimes Mom will try to get me and my sister into a fight by comparing us. She builds me up, while tearing my sister down. I feel bad for my sister, but I don’t want to get Mom angry at me. Mom is only nice to people who aren’t close or her, therefore everyone thinks she is so wonderful. I really don’t know how to deal with her. I don’t want to argue with her, but if I’m around her too long that’s what happens. Do you have any suggestions for me and my sister? Thanks, Angela.

Hi Angela:

From your description it sounds like your mother has a lot of the characteristics of a narcissistic personality. You are probably finding this behaviour more difficult to deal with since you have been away from home and then returned. Distancing yourself is the most effective way of managing this behaviour; but this may be hard for your sister to do since she is still at home. You cannot change your mother, this is who she is. Most likely she doesn’t recognize any problems with her behaviour; but feels it is everyone around her who needs fixing. You and your sister have to try to ignore the negative things she tells you about yourself, as she does this to build herself up. I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t diagnose your mother, but here is a website where you can do a checklist to see if your mother falls into this category. Thanks for writing and good luck in the future.

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Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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