My mum and I have a toxic relationship

Dr Annette Schonder, integrated psychotherapist
Filed on September 10, 2020 | Last updated on September 13, 2020 at 03.23 pm

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My mum and I have a very toxic relationship stemming from years of misunderstandings and having polar personalities. We can barely have a conversation without a heated argument. Even though I often feel like walking away for good, she's still my mum and I desperately want a normal relationship. Please help. - Prerna Singh

Deeply longing for a relationship with your mother and constantly experiencing toxicity and misunderstandings must weigh heavily on your heart. What you are expressing as "polar personalities" most likely reflects that you and your mother have very different views of the world. The term "generation gap" encapsulates the different attitudes and lack of understanding between older and younger generations. It can manifest as small arguments - about, say, clothing styles - or on a more profound level, disagreement about gender roles, education, or occupation.

An effective strategy to build a good connection would be to have a conversation with your mother about wishing to have a better relationship with her. Spend some time talking about what makes communication difficult between the two of you and introduce positive communication tools, such as good listening skills, paraphrasing to make sure there are no misunderstandings, showing respect, being polite, etc. The two of you can learn to "agree to disagree" when either one of you stands firm on a disparate viewpoint. It is also important for mother and daughter to have strong boundaries and show mutual respect for them.

Sometimes, it also helps to keep it light. Focus on commonalities like shared interests and hobbies. It is good to spend a lot of time in the here-and-now and not let the toxicity of the past poison the present. Understand that we all have limitations and that, sometimes, people cannot change fundamental beliefs they hold. Practising forgiveness sets us free.


 
 
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