6 Signs You Were Raised by a Controlling Mother (And How to Deal with Her)

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It’s possible that 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, and 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 precariously 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.

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By |2018-06-27T22:37:20+00:00September 7th, 2017|Categories: Family & Parenting, Mental Health & Wellbeing|Tags: , , , , , |4 Comments


  1. Deanne May 14, 2018 at 1:06 am - Reply

    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.

    • Jennifer Grimes June 14, 2018 at 11:33 pm - Reply

      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 May 19, 2018 at 5:02 pm - Reply

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

  3. Feather October 25, 2018 at 12:00 am - Reply

    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.

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