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Is it normal for a mother to patronize a grown "child" of 30 years old?


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Although I can see how this is just one of the many things that is bothersome in your relationship with your mom... I agree with la'isla's suggestion. Why not meet her in the middle? I know it's VERY important to be treated as an adult, but is making such an issue of your moms comments really being an adult about it? You could also decide to 'pick your battles' more carefully.


I remember in your earlier post that you described a lot of things that you felt were wrong in your youth. I think that some of those were really common. A big number of people come from not too rich families and have been dressed with old and/or inexpensive clothes. What stood out in THOSE posts what that you felt that you weren't nurtured in the past. Now put that next to feeling (s)mothered by your mom at 30...


I think it's really time for you to make sort of categories of all that bothers you. Out of the more serious pile, take the things that you can change yourself. You can't change the fact that your mom is ill. Part of her behavior will be related to her illness. Being treated as an adult is a 'passive' wish- not something that you can do yourself. The most you can do is BE the adult you want to be treated as.


It seems to me that you don't want to give your mom credit at all for how she has raised you- as if you are SO angry with her that you can't bring yourself to even give her the slightest impression that her care matters to you. I don't know if that is the most mature way to approach it- you are blaming her for not treating her as a grown up, on the other hand you seem resistant to acknowledge or appreciate the things that she did as a mother. This is a vicious cycle- you being annoyed by her will only make her want to do it more, etc. What is so bad about saying Ok, mom... like la'isla suggests?

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Actually, when I was a child my mom was very nurturing, I think she kind of overprotected me and that affected me negatively as well. I think I may have phrased it wrong. During my teenage years she didn't really know how to communicate with me effectively, due to her ignorance she didn't know when I was supposed to send in applications to college, she didn't ask me about college etc. This is what I meant, I don't know if that falls under "nurturing" or not, but I have to admit that during my teenage years I sort of hated my mom so I probably would have ignored her anyways if she even tried talking to me about those things. It's just sometimes I see people with perfect families etc (probably from watching too much tv, lol) and I envisioned that's what my teenage years should have been like. I guess what I mean is that she didn't "nurture" me when I was a teen, like 16, 17 etc During those years we barely talked at all. When I was a child I have to admit that she DID nurture me but she just did everything her way without ever asking for my input.


It bothers me to be treated like a child because my mom was treating me as a child even when I was a teenager and even when I turned 18. She was still opening my mail, peeking under the door (she seriously did this), eavesdropped on conversations, etc


So in a way I still feel like a teenager, like I never made the transition from teen to adult and now that I'm and adult she is treating me even more of a child than she did when I was a teen! Perhaps she is that way because I don't live with her anymore and therefore she worries a lot more about me... but when I was a teen and living under her roof she never said "Drink calcium, swallow if its too big", but now that I'm 30 (turning 31 soon) she talks to me like a toddler.


I think if I reconnect with my mother in person again that she should be lucky that I even want to talk to her and that she should see me as an equal, not someone she has any power or any authority over.


You are right, I am SO angry with her that I can't bring myself to even give her the slightest impression that her care matters to me and to be completely honest, her care for me doesn't really matter to me.


I would like us to to have a somewhat civil relationship now that I'm getting older and for the sake of the family. They have been asking for me for 10 years now to go visit her etc


I realize that I am immature and you are right, I should pick my battles. I just feel like I want to battle everything with her though, like everything is a battle.


Sometimes it also makes me wonder if I was a guy if my mom would still patronize me so much but there were quite a few guys who posted here that their moms also patronize them to eat well, take vitamins etc so I suppose it's not so much a gender issue.


I don't really know what's wrong with me, but I do tend to get irritated very easily, I'm sort of hot tempered and very impatient and I'm also a very fast-paced type-a personality type of person so when my mother tries to

patronize me it irritates me beyond belief and I feel like I can't hold it. I'm not a really easygoing person you could say.


I have read some people say that I can't control her actions but only my reaction to her, which is true. It's just so hard to control my reactions when she pushes my buttons.


I know I have to be an adult and try to deal with it though.

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Ok, mom... like la'isla suggests?


But if I say "ok mom" will she think that I'm actually doing the things she suggested or not? If I say "ok mom" I will still do whatever it is that I want to do and not follow her directions. Eventually the choices in my life are still my decision. If I don't want to take a vitamin I won't.


People always say that you have to follow your parents rule as long as you live under their roof. That's why I left as soon as it was legal for me to do. Now I only have to follow the government's law but not my mothers... lol

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It's hard to estimate how she will take it. I think the more relevant question is how the possibility of her taking it as some sort of acknowledgment will affect you. You could also say things like 'I will think about it' (if possible, you don't respond that to hints about vitamins, lol). The dr. Phil kind of reasoning: the way you're dealing with it now, is not making you happier either, so why not try something else? It may be surprisingly easy on you to just act as if you're fine with what she does. Maybe it will even trigger her less.


Then, do you think it's possible that behavior from your side trigger her smothering/patronizing? If you could pinpoint certain situations in which she does it and relate it to things you do, it may be easier to see patterns.


I hope I didn't come accross as harsh in my other post. I don't think you are immature- all I am thinking is to sort of make it more 'bearable' for yourself to handle your mom. This way it seems to be poisonous for your own happiness. Like most humans, even the smallest things become completely annoying and unacceptable if there is already something unstable/disturbed in the relationship. Likewise with couples: if a couple has a lot of so-called 'petty' fights, there is often a big underlying conflict that is not explicitly being addressed during those fights.

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You're right, I think the main thing is that the possibility of her taking it at as some type of acknowledgment is something that will affect ME and not her, lol It will affect me because I will think : "Darn, she thinks I actually listen to her and that she has power over me, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarggggg"...


I think the behavior that I exhibit which triggers her patronizing is me not having had any contact with her (except for a few e-mails and visits throughout the years). There were periods where I didn't talk to her for years and she didn't know if I was dead or alive and she probably imagined things (I'm sure her disease didn't help) that I was held captive underground or something. She could not fathom that I chose to not to see her. Perhaps it would hurt her too much to realize that her own daughter didn't want to see her so she imagined that "someone must be making/forcing my daughter not to visit me" etc. This is what family members told me. She thought I was being held against my will. I chose not to visit her because I just didn't like her and it was easier for me to ignore her. Just her thinking that was a bit patronizing too because she didn't think I was capable of choosing not to see her, someone had to "make" me.


A few years ago she had some clues as to where I lived and I think she combed the neighborhood for months, knocking on every single door and asking strangers if they saw me etc. She would actually walk into people's houses if the doors were unlocked! That's how crazy she was. I know because I was living with a roommate at the time and she just walked in the house like that without even knowing that I was there. It could have been anyone's house! If she walked into the wrong house she could have been shot if someone thought she was an intruder. After she found me I ended up moving to a new place just to get away from her.


One time she sent a letter to my P.O box. I have no idea how she even found it because it was private. She must have hired a private investigator, I'm not sure how she found it at all.


I heard that she used to drive around cities looking for my car etc


Family members have told me that they think it will help her stop smothering/patronizing/driving around looking for me if I visit her because then she can see with her own eyes that I'm alive and ok. Sometimes I will see some of my family members though and then they will tell her that they saw me and that I'm alive and well etc.


One of my family members told me that she feels that my mom is "desperate" and that she is afraid my mom might do something drastic. I would feel guilty if she hurt herself because of me so I suppose that's why I want to have a civil relationship.


My family also think my mom will calm down if she sees I'm ok.


So far the "mothering" has been through e-mail but after reading those I became so angry already that I was about to snap and that was only e-mail.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Because if my mother irritates me by nagging me to wear warm clothes it will make me feel like wearing a tank top in the cold just to spite her for irritating me. We have a stormy relationship and I think love is a strong word, I don't now if I even love her but I try to tolerate her.


I want to be treated as an adult, being talked to as a child makes me feel less powerful and helpless, it makes me feel like I am regressing towards childhood.


I completely understand where you are coming from because my grandma is similar (and I want to say 10 times worse but I don't know your mother).


Yes, other people act like this but unless you have to deal with this constantly and have had it all your life, you just don't understand and can not judge what it is like when someone is constantly nagging you in order to feel good about themselves.


My grandmother constantly tells me to "feed the cat" as I am already preparing his food and water. I tell her "Yes, I already am doing that" and she'll say "He needs water too, don't forget it, poor little cat"--then she'll tell someone how SHE made sure *I* fed the cat...as if she wants to get credit for telling me what to do when I was already doing it. Makes me want to rebel and not feed the cat just to spite her because I hate how she thinks I am so helpless that I don't even know how to feed a cat!


Just the other day we were having dinner with my mom and she brought the water pitcher to the table, stood there and told me to pour my mother some water. My mom rolled her eyes. Why would my grandmother NEED TO TELL ME TO POUR MY MOTHER SOME WATER? My mom said "Why are you telling her to do it when I'm sitting right here?" I seriously think this old witch wants to control me for her own ego's sake.


Some people are just helicopter parents/grandparents. No, it's not healthy despite what some people say. I feel like this behavior has taught me how to be co-dependent in relationships and not realize when boundaries are being inappropriately violated. Respect means honoring other people's independence, IMO. When you're constantly talking down to someone, telling them what to do, you foster dependence, rebellion, and eventually, spite. All bad, bad, things.

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My mom is like that sometimes. I'll be at her house, or we'll be out somewhere, and she'll ask me repeatedly 'do you need to use the restroom?' like I'm not potty-trained or something, and can't realize when i need to go to the bathroom on my own. It's SO annoying, but i just ignore it. One time we were at a family event, and i said I needed to go to the bathroom. She pointed out where it was, and I was like, ok. Then i got a phone call, so as i'm talking to my friend on the phone, my mom yells my name frantically, and points to the bathroom , like I was going to sit there and pee in my pants if she doesn't remind me. I'm a grown woman and I think its kind of weird, but i just let her do her thing.

Moms baby their grown children out of love. Don't let it bother you.

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With me, it's more of my dad who does this. Some days I think he gives me "advice" to hear himself speak.


He will tell me to put on my shoes before I go outside (who doesn't?) or 'remind' me to brush my teeth. And, he would say that he 'has' to remind me, even though I would have done them anyways. At times, he will even tell me to do something I've already done, getting upset because I'm 'talking back' when I tell him I've done it.


Recently, he's been asking on a daily basis if I have any homework, and if I need any "help" with it.

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  • 1 year later...

HI there,


I know this an old post but I just did a Google search for this very topic and voila, your question came up...


I know exactly how you feel. I am 38 years old but my Mother treats me like I am 10. She doesn't take me seriously at all, and is very patronizing and judgemental (but in a subtle way so it's hard to "catch" her at it.) It drives me crazy and has affected me severely as an adult. It's been hard to be taken seriously at my job or in relationships because of this feeling that I'm not an 'equal', that my viewpoints don't matter, that I don't have a right to an opinion, etc.


I've been trying to get out of that mentality, but when you've had it forever, it's not a quick fix. It's a process. I know people say I can "choose" to be treated this way or that way, but I don't know if I agree with that 100%.


I have tried to speak to my Mother (although not too often), usually by email, but occasionally in person (although I tend to stumble over my words--that's the effect she has one me--argh!!) but she quickly dismisses my feelings and turns it around so that I feel guilty, etc... It's highly frustrating. (You should have seen her at my wedding. She was completely miserable-looking and was not happy for me at all. She even went running to the bathroom at one point and later, when I called her out on this bad behaviour, she berated me for not following her to the bathroom....on my wedding day!!)


She is not the typical mother who is happy for her children and warm and inviting. She's the exact opposite: manipulative, narcissistic, jealous, etc... but you see, she is SUBTLE, so not something that's an easy fix. If she were more vocal and outwardly negative, I could call her out on it all, but it's not like that, and what's worse, I'm an only child so it's been difficult trying to deal with her all by myself over the years...


Anyways, all this to say I understand where you are coming from!


Has it improved at all?

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  • 10 years later...

I think it makes perfect sense why you would feel the way you do. It's disrespectful to be patronized and normal or not it's not healthy for parents to treat their adult children like children instead of an adult. My mom is patronizing to me and it really offends me. She treats me like a know-nothing. 

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And for all the people that said it was normal for moms to treat their adult children as children like it somehow validates it as right because it's normal? Are wrong. If you are being patronized and it doesn't bother you I think that is a red flag...a sign that you really haven't left the nest. It's natural and normal to feel irritated when boundaries are violated and putting up with it is not the answer unless you believe in "blessed are the doormats." Boundaries are the answer. Don't continue to engage in conversation when being patronized. This can be done in a mature, controlled and loving way. Always reassure that you do love her but if she continues to disrespectfully communicate with you are leaving and will only talk with her with a counselor or third person. 

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