It’s possible that the strict disciplinary actions your parents used were not normal. Maybe you had a controlling mother? This is how you know.

If you were raised like I was, you weren’t allowed to do much on your own. Going on dates, even after the age of 16, was just not something I got to do, unlike most of the other kids. In fact, almost every move that I made was dictated and monitored as If I was in prison.

Many people see this as normal, tough-loving parental duties, but the truth is….it can be seen as something more.

In fact, I know now that when my mom refused to let me play with other kids, she was actually being a controlling mother. This is not a normal personality trait.

Was this your childhood?

Was it almost impossible to go to sports events, parties, or even town festivals? Did your mother remind you that a “good child” stays at home and does chores instead of running around town?

I bet you’ve heard these things before, and maybe it reminds you of the Stephen King movie, Carrie, where the teenage daughter was kept locked at home in fear of sin and damnation. Yes, it was a horror movie, but sometimes these true-life events can be even worse.

Were you raised by a controlling mother?

Although you may be an adult now, you remember all the little strange habits of your parents, and you especially remember their ways of discipline, I am sure.

Even now, your mother could still be exhibiting controlling actions, trying to rule over you as if you are still a child.

Here are the ways to tell if you were raised by a controlling mother:

1. Violations of privacy

I bet you never considered a violation of privacy to be controlling, now did you? I remember that my mother had a terrible problem with respecting my privacy. There was nothing that got past her roving eyes.

When a letter came in the mail addressed to me, she opened it, she went through my books and even my personal belongings anytime she wanted to, and she even checked up on my whereabouts when I was able to leave.

A huge sign of having a controlling mother is definitely the lack of privacy. There are just no boundaries that she will not cross.

2. Perfectionism and pressure

I remember when my mother bragged about how much she loved my cousin and wanted me to be like her. She told me that I should strive to do the things that my cousin did and to try and improve my grades to reflect more of the same intellect as my cousin.

I was so disgusted to hear my cousin’s name that after a while, I started to block her words entirely. A controlling mother will exhibit signs of pressured perfectionism. She will set standards that she observes from other people or places and push you to achieve what she thinks is mandatory for you to have a successful life.

She rarely ever approves of your hopes and dreams if they aren’t in line with what she wants.

3. She is never wrong

There are no mistakes and no room for being wrong when it comes to your controlling mother’s attitude. No matter how many good points you may try to bring up in a discussion, she will talk down to you. This even happens when you are an adult child as well.

You could be a 30-year-old woman or man, reading this right now, who still struggles with their controlling mother.

Unfortunately, many mothers with this issue will never admit their wrongs, and it’s a waste of time fighting from your standpoint. A controlling mother realizes that being wrong is relinquishing control, and she just can’t have that happening in any given situation.

4. Criticizes constantly

It really goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. A controlling mother will never be satisfied until you do things her way. If you remember being criticized for the clothes you wore or the way you talked, then your mother tried to control you.

Many older adults will insist that they just wanted the best for their children, when in fact, they were just trying to control every facet of their lives. It’s almost as if they are living vicariously through their children, which is creepy, to be honest.

4. Manipulation

It’s not just partners in relationships and friends who can manipulate you, oh no. Even mothers are quite adept at using manipulation strategies to always be on top. Now, this is a little different from being critical or always wanting to be right, this is more or less a pure form of control.

When mothers are manipulative, they will let you think that you are in control, when in effect they are playing the background, nudging you in the desired direction with deception and lies.

One word or one movement is all a controlling mother needs in order to get you to do what she wants. The guilt involved in these manipulation tactics is so complicated and precise that it takes a truly intelligent person to figure out what is going on.

If you think she’s happy about you pursuing your dreams after she previously hated it, think again. She’s probably got something up her sleeve that will make you give up the dream forever, so you better be strong enough to fight back.

5. Rules, limits, and discouragement

Have you ever met someone who told you how long you should grieve or be upset? Well, I have. This is one way to recognize controlling behavior, that when you experience something traumatic, you are told that you have “cried enough”.

Oh, what a crock of ….well, you get my drift. A controlling mother will want to control your emotions by setting limits on sadness, rules for grief, and even discourage you when you want to spend time alone.

She will be hell-bent on pushing her objectives and trying to make you mirror the way she responds to trauma and death. Many times, a controlling mother will rely heavily on tradition and how her mother before her perceived these things. The truth is, your grandmother may have also been a controlling mother.

How can you deal with all this?

If you are an adult now, you have the power to control yourself. You no longer have to listen to the dictatorship of your controlling mother. I know, this is easier said than done when you love someone. The truth is it will take some time to formulate an effective strategy for learning to live in these conditions.

The good news is, you are grown up now, and at least you have the choice of getting away from the behavior at some point. Here are a few quick tips to attempt your break from the controlling mother.

If your mother is willing to listen, try educating her on what she’s really been doing.

I know that when my son told me that I was controlling, I first got angry. Then, after thinking about it for a while, I considered that he could be right. I analyzed myself and have been trying to be fairer to him.

If she is unwilling to listen, you will have to put some distance between you two.

The reason for this is that her controlling behavior can ultimately damage you and cause problems if you have a family of your own now. Whether she is willing to understand or not, you sometimes have to make these hard decisions for your own well-being.

Ask for help from other family members, especially those who have reached the same conclusion about your mother.

Siblings are the best choice, in that they probably experienced much the same treatment while growing up. Maybe together, you can make a larger impact on your mother’s thinking.


If all else fails, then just make sure you are partaking in plenty of mindfulness. Although things may not be going as you wish, you must still seek out your own peace. Promoting good energies sometimes had miraculous effects.

Don’t give up!

Most of all, don’t give up. There is always the possibility of change. If you are able to get your point across and insist on change for your life, then you could see things take a turn for the better. Let’s hope so anyway.

Do you have a controlling mother?



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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Deanne

    And here I am on Mothers Day lol. Yes I am a mom to my kids and I try not to be like my mother. I’m here because she is controlling and narcissistic. She got me a “gift” supposedly from my child for mothers day, however no one believes that it’s just another control tactic; trust me it is. I’m so mad I want to break the thing but I don’t want to hurt my child’s feelings. There is no talking to her, like most narcissists she is never in the wrong. Ok rant over. Thanks.

    1. Jennifer Grimes

      My mother does the same thing for every holiday. Most of the time they dont even know about it. For fathers day are going to her house so she can make us her favorite dinner and she already told me she got my husband a box of chocolate and she gave me a package of socks to give my father. She has always been this way and I thought she was doing it to help out due to our financial issues. Now I can see it’s much more sinister.

  2. stef

    “precariously” i think the word is vicariously, controlling mother lives vicariously through their children

  3. Feather

    I could have written this myself. My parents, but especially my mother, were very controlling. I wasn’t allowed to do anything or have friends. Because I’m female they felt a need to be especially strict with me. There was physical abuse when I was small and as I started school it became more mental/emotional. It made for a really messed up childhood and devastating teenage years. I was basically an only child so I didn’t have anyone to share in the misery with. My two older siblings (brother and sister) were almost 20 years older than me. My sister had it easier because she had my brother as a buffer.

    This control was not out of a sense of love or concern. They showed their lack of that when they refused to help me with college. So I rebelled at 18 and left their house, only to be pursued with death threats and stalking for almost a year afterwards.

    I’m glad to see in this article that controlling behavior like that is not normal. I have no relationship with my family of origin because they all think that my mother’s behavior is defensible and I was in the wrong for standing up to her. One thing I disagree with in this article is that people like this can be reasoned with and change. I don’t believe that. I think if they were capable of that much self reflection, they wouldn’t be abusers to begin with.

    1. Tina

      @feather I agree with you. Controlling people like this cannot be reasoned with. And in my experience, you catch #@!% if you try.

      I was an only child, controlled to the point of being told from a young age that “people don’t like” me. My mom would say she doesn’t know what’s “wrong” with me, etc. I was always kept isolated because she told me not to trust anyone. That people are nice to my face but really don’t like me, talk about me behind my back. Would go through my things, clean my room, rearrange things. Read my diary. She would not let me do chores. I would want to because, as a young kid, it looked fun to run the vacuum or dust. Nope. she didn’t have time to teach me, she said.When I began dating my (now) husband, she would give me the silent treatment when I came home from dates. Crazy thing is, I didn’t realize this was so messed up. It was normal to me. So when I married at 24, I literally could not clean a toilet. Could not cook. Everything I learned from my new husband.

      Being raised like this really does a number on you. I have social anxiety. I get overwhelmed pretty easily. On the bright side, I positively do not raise my 3 kids this way. They have told me how I am so not like my mom. How they are happy with the way they were raised. So that’s a plus-hahaha.

      It really sucks being raised this way. I feel like I could have been so much more. *Cue negative self-talk.* But I’m working on quieting the negativity. I’m still a work in progress :/

    2. Brittany

      You are right. They can not change. I just told my mother I do not bow down to her and she told me I do when this is her house and she has paid all of the money she has for me. She has helped me with certain things, yes. I did not ask for some of it though. She just done it. She’s even doing the same thing to my only child now. She gives him money and then thinks she has the right to dictate him and control him. It is infuriating. My mother is also very controlling and she’s just like her. She has even said how she has to get away from her at times but she constantly lives in her shadow

  4. Dee

    I can only relate TOO much to this. Growing up, my mother broke my door so it could never close, would spring clean my room when I was gone and give away whatever she felt should go (even my teddy bear my best friend gave me when she left the country and a letter from my first ever crush), and used to take presents other people gave to me and used them herself. When i cried about my things because i was so upset, attached to them and felt like my privacy was violated she would tell people that I’m lying and didnt do that. When I went to university she refused to let me have a car (even if i bought one myself) and would leave me at the bus stop for 2 hours while she sat and had tea with her friends but i wasnt allowed to go have fun after varisty because she wasn’t prepared to fetch me so late… Now i’m 29, she has taken my spare set of house keys, tells me what to say to people (e.g. “Did you say hello to Helen?” In front of them). Continually tries to embarrass me in front of people and put me down and apologise to them for my (normal) behaviour, needs to fight with me every second she sees me and needs to win every fight-so she will back arguments up with lies. She’s even told me I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (which seriously affected me, only to find out it was a lie), she now diagnoses me with narcissim and antisocial personality disorder so she can “win” fights, compares me to everyone else, criticizes anything normal I do, goes to inspect inside my car to find something to fight with me about (like the fact that I have a used tissue there- dont forget im 29), comments on all my relationships to make it seem like my friends/parnters are unstable OR better than me and uses everything against me( For instance if we fight, she will bring up the fact that my ex broke up with me). She tells my father “what i really am”- overhearing her, she over exaggerates things, makes up complete lies and especially forgets to mention how the fight started or what she said to me. But the craziest thing of all, is that my father has never seen the true side of her and doesn’t believe my sister and I if we tell him.

    1. Brittany

      I was gone one time for a few months and my mother and her mother went though my room. They also washed my bed sheets and everything but I’m sure it was just a way to go in and snoop. My adult toys weren’t where I left them so that means they found them and threw them away..

  5. Letícia

    Thank you so much for this, having an abusive mother can be so isolating. Due to circumstance I’m force to live with her for now, so I can neither teach her, nor get away from it. It’s a constant struggle. I’m 28 and she still controls what I eat, where I go, when I wake up, what I do. No matter what kind of day I’m having, she always manages to ruin it and make me feel horrible. I grew up thinking that I was a horrible person because of her, and after 3 and a half years of therapy I still can’t shake that off when other people attack me, or when she does. I can hold it off for a while but eventually I just start feeling like trash again. She has made me not want to live since I was 11, and the abuse I suffered damaged me in infinite ways, it’s the very reason why I’m here with her now, really. I try to remind myself there will be an end one day but I just can’t find it yet, and it’s heartbreaking. I feel trapped and gagged most days and she reminds me every single day that I only live here on her merciful heart because she “owes me nothing”. She’s said that to me since I became a pre-teen, that she didn’t owe me anything. And now she tells me it’s not her obligation to ‘deal with me’. I feel so alone.

  6. Lionel Dennis

    My wife is a DEVOURING Mother.
    Every attempt at negating hir actions has failed. I come to see that hir level of manipulation and control is awe inspiring. She has systematically destroyed my life, and through the church has turned the community against me. Her own mother treats her with disgust and disdain, as she’s never reached hir mothers’ expectations. I have seen a reach out to her mother and mother wrenches in disgust and hate. Yet to her, her mother is a angel on earth. But all this is not my biggest concern! My biggest concern is the brother, in my wife’s mother’s eyes the brother can do nothing wrong. My Mother-in-law as manipulated my wife to be her brother’s keeper, since a very young age. My brother in law’s is a sadistic narcissist. My wife puts her brother’s needs ahead of her own family, as he demands this. My brother-in-law has been physically and mentally abusive to my children. And this has resulted in a number of physical confrontations, between him and myself. And yet my wife defends and protects him. My children are 12 in 14 now, and in spite of everything had become two remarkable children. This weekend my wife has served me divorce papers. I’ve suffered from depression, and I am mentally and physically drained. WHAT DO I DO NOW?

  7. Brittany

    My mother just told me she didn’t take me to get my license and start driving until I was 23 because I would have killed myself. She has always criticised my driving and she is just like her mother which is very controlling. She has always lived in her shadow. My dad even agreed with her on not letting me get my license until I was 23 even though it was a controlling thing. It doesn’t matter if she thought she was keeping me alive because I am not a good driver. It was basically keeping me a prisoner and from being able to try to get my own life going. The only reason I even got my license was because of my son’s father. It wasn’t from anything good on his part either. We have a son together and I had to get my license, a job and my GED so I could have 50/50 custody of my son and be primary. Somehow I have also ended up with a husband that has chosen drugs over us and now me and my son has been having to stay with my family again. I have tried to become financially stable but nothing seems to ever work out. Somehow I end up not being able to keep my job. I’m slow and I think I am just not a worker but I need money.. My family now has control over my son thanks to my husband’s choices. I’m not really getting to be his mother like I should be and of course his dad is still with his wife. It’s nothing but bad all around me and I’m in a lose/lose situation. So infuriating and I need a way out

  8. Brittany

    I guess I’m a little late to the party..

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