My mother is trying to control my life and I don't know what to do

I am in my early 20s and I still live with my parents because I can't afford to live alone.

My mother says that if I live under her roof I have to follow her rules. She is trying to control my life. What should I do?

Elissa Gross
Elissa Gross
clinical psychologist

Hi!   I'm sorry you are having such a tough time with this situation.  I have worked with a number of young adults in their 20's who have had to move back home after college , or even stay at home through the college years.  Bottom line is that either way , it is so difficult when you are trying to discover who you are and what you want your life to be , to have to live at home.   I have even heard much older adults clients  say that when they visit their childhood home , they suddenly feel like a "kid" again .  The old dynamics between adults and their parents and siblings can pop right up as if they have gone back in time and are no longer adults !

I would suggest that you approach your mom and say something like "I am hoping we can talk about the best way for us to manage me living here.  I really appreciate that you are giving me a place to live until I get on my feet , and I want to be respectful of you and our home ; at the same time , though, I feel like it's important for me to have more independence than when I was younger because I am growing up and trying to learn more about myself and become more autonomous. Can we talk about what might be fair rules that we can  both live with ?" 

If she is receptive , maybe you can each write a separate list of what you think would be fair and reasonable and then compare lists and try to make compromises and come up with a list of "guidleines" that feel fair to you both .   If this is too hard to do alone , perhaps you and your mom can meet with a therapist a few times who can help you to come  up with some kind of "compromise contract."   This is not an easy situation , but if you can approach your mom in a calm and "mature" way and suggest a planned, structured discussion that doesn't take place in the heat of the moment , your mom may be impressed by your maturity and even more receptive to working out some rules that you can both live with.

Good luck !!

Elissa Gross

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Shawn Thomas Berthel, M.S., LMHC
Shawn Thomas Berthel, M.S., LMHC
Step into your new life path.
Hello. Even though legally you are an adult, it is a matter of courtesy to respect the homes of your parents. As long as you live there, you should be considerate of their needs. At the same time, there should be conversation about what each of you considers appropriate as it pertains to communication between a parent and an adult (even though you are still her offspring). This will require openness, honesty, and a willingness to give from both sides in a respectful way. Healthy boundaries can be established and honored when each is willing to do their part in this new relationship. Your mother knows you are an adult, but has not had as many years of treating you like one. So mentally and emotionally this will take some time for her to adapt. Share your concerns with her, and see if you can come up with a set of rules that you both can honor. It will be a great stepping stone for both of you as you move into this new chapter together as you begin relating a little differently.

Reach out for help to a counselor if needed. You don't have to sort this out on your own. And lastly, take good care of yourself in the process. You are moving through some exciting times in your life. The more you can have support as you explore new events, the better you might feel less stressed.

Warm regards.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sally High
Sally High
Make The Return Back To Self

Unfortunately you seem to have yourself in a double bind. By living with your mom she is not going to stop her attempts at what you perceive as "controlling". There is no use in trying to debate or get her to "see your point". As long as your there and you personalize her attempts at control, then you will find yourself frustrated and resentful. Try to find an extra job or a roommate so that you can do the natural process of moving on out.

www.lifecounselingorlando.com

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Unfortunately I think most of us have heard this, so you are not alone.  If you are still under her roof she has leverage as to what her expectations are while you are living there.  I would consider therapy for the both of you to see if there could be a middle ground that could be agreed upon.  Often times a 3rd party can help with conflict.  If there is no resolution then I would look to get creative in finding a place of your own. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dr. Theresa Moore
Dr. Theresa Moore
Educator, Clinician, Poet
Hello.
It sounds like you and your parents are not balanced in your communication and awareness of expectations. Your growth is not only reflected in your ability to understand and apply new knowledge and skills, it is also reflective of your parents acceptance of your understanding and application.

Have you tried talking with your parents to let them know your concerns?
This talking is best when face to face and during non active conflict ( can't begin stating rules during an argument, etc). Sometimes it is even helpful to write down ways you feel you can be supported by them and supportive to them. Maybe share this list or reflective piece with them to review, or use when communicating the expectations.
Unfortunately, until there are clear expectations stated and expressed, the scale will be uneven and frustrations will increase.
Dr. T
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kathy Hicks
Kathy Hicks
Counseling and Psychotherapy Services

That is a really tough situation that a lot of young people are experiencing right now. The first thing to under is that you can’t change who your parents are and cannot change their behavior. The thing to keep in mind is that you can control your responses and actions.  

You may need to keep living at home with them for the next few months or years and the best way to do this is to have a plan. The second thing is to keep in mind that their controlling behavior is most likely not about based your behavior. Controlling parents are often driven by their concept of what will keep their children safe and happy. Unfortunately this is not always accurate but keep in mind it is not a personal attack.  

There are ways you can deal with controlling parents – and most of them require creating a plan of action.

Examples of action plans:

Decide in advance how you’ll calmly and rationally respond to your parents when you feel they’re trying to control you

Arrange to phone a friend or trusted adult when you feel like you’re losing control

Talk in person to an adult you trust. There aren’t any quick tips on how to deal with parents who want to control you; you need to find strategies that are geared to your specific family situation.

Get specific coping tips from books about family dynamics, such as:

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward

Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide to Coming to Terms with Your Parents by Howard Halpern

A counselor can be a good resource and provide support and guidance about issues addressing normal growth and development during periods of transition.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

You're among many millennials who live with their parents due to financial reasons.

Does your mother mean rules pertaining to the way your family household organizes its daily or does she mean something else?

Every household needs rules as responsibilities to keep the house clean, who does the grocery shopping, the way costs are distributed for this and all the other carrying charges  and tasks of maintaining the house in decent order, as well as respecting the privacy and noise level requests of others who live in the home.

This set of responsibilities applies whenever more than one person lives with another person.

Have you tried simply telling your mom that you're willing to be a responsible household member and that you prefer to keep the details of the way you live the rest of your life, to yourself?

This would show respect to your mom and start the discussion as to the areas of your life you feel deserve privacy and how you would like to handle when your right to run your own life overlaps with any household duties.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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