A needy mother could be your mother who is maybe through no fault of her own in a difficult situation where she is dependent on you. Or she could be a needy mom because she chooses to only have you as her source of support. In both circumstances, she could depend on you for her emotional as well as physical needs.
Whatever the reason, your needy mother is exhausting and it is often difficult to understand and work out what to do about it. This article will help you answer some of these questions by answering:
Why is a needy mother exhausting?
A Needy mother is a mother who demands a lot of care and attention. She could be your own mother or your mother-in-law by marriage and long-term relationship.
Either way, her needs, and demands are a strain because she could be difficult to deal with.
There could be genuine reasons why she needs you but the strain would be exacerbated if she behaves like the whole world evolves around her and doesn’t allow you to maintain the balance in your own life.
Or she may need constant reassurance from you if she has no confidence in herself because of her own traumatic history or she could be struggling with an addiction.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter what the reasons are for her behavior but a needy mother is exhausting and can wear you down. Especially if you struggle with not knowing how to deal with her, setting boundaries, or putting up with her difficult behavior.
So what are the signs of a needy mother and how could they impact you? I have listed 10 below:
10 Signs of a Needy Mother
1. She sabotages your relationship with others
You may find that she constantly criticises most of your partners even your friends. Here she would find any reason to dislike them only because they have “taken you away from her” and she may even feel jealous.
Your mother’s dislike of your partner can be passive-aggressive, subtle or she could be very overt in her behavior saying what she thinks without a filter. Her need to keep you all to herself can wreak havoc on your relationships.
2. She has an expectation that you would take care of her physically, emotionally, or financially - unequivocally
If your mother is struggling. If she is unwell physically and mentally, she may need your support and there is nothing wrong with her asking for it. That doesn’t make her toxic because in many cultures, this is normal where multi-generations would live in one house and mom would be taken care of.
The way this could be an issue is how it comes across more than anything. If she is blunt and uncaring about what she needs from you. It is almost demanded where alongside asking for what she wants she is brutal with her words and harsh with her expectations of you.
Those demands alongside some of these other signs would make the expectation that you would look after her very difficult where you feel you don’t have a choice in the matter.
3. You find that she Manipulates you to get what she wants
Here she would never be direct in asking to get her emotional needs met by you. I’m not talking about if she struggles to communicate but always has a roundabout way of asking for things.
Her manipulation could manifest itself with her questioning how much you care about her by saying things like, if you really cared about me, you would do this.
She may also guilt trip, shame you or make threats to harm herself.
4. She is Emotionally Unstable
She may literally act like a two-year-old having a tantrum. Her moods can switch to crying, depression, or even giving you the silent treatment.
With this emotional instability, she would be exhausting to be around because you may feel that you need to be so careful around her not to trigger her mood swings.
5. She is very Self-deprecating
It is clear here that her self-esteem is really low and she has got some issues. If it’s constant and you are constantly hearing about her trauma, her difficulties, and how things are bad for her, it would be a drain on you as her adult child.
The reason is, what could you do with that information? You would always feel helpless as her child, especially if she doesn’t get the help she needs and she relies on you as her “therapist”.
This is especially made worse if she doesn’t have many boundaries in terms of contact and would telephone at difficult times, on the phone for hours, needing you to build her up.
6. The only way you will get some attention is if you are really ill
Some of you may find that the only way you get some attention from your mom when she is not constantly thinking about herself and her needs, is when you are ill.
Unfortunately, this is short-lived as it is clear that mom wants you well again so you could start taking care of her.
7. She makes it clear to you that her life is a lot harder than yours
Here you never hear the end of how hard life is like, or how hard life was like for her.
She makes it clear how difficult it is for her to the extent that you feel guilty and somehow need to make it up to her. Somehow you feel that you owe her.
8. She doesn't appear to take responsibility and always needs help
This is especially difficult as maybe in some ways, you could see that your mom could make life easier for herself. Maybe, she could help with her addiction or have some counselling etc but she chooses not to.
Somehow she would only accept help from you which leaves you with a heavy burden.
9. Doesn't give much in return
This is where what she needs from you could leave you exhausted. If you are not getting much in return: not much of a thank you or if she thanks you, it is loaded with negativity, she never acknowledges how much you are trying to help her, or if she is completely entitled and demands that you help her so giving you anything back would never happen.
10. Whatever you do is never good enough
This could also leave you feeling that your needy mother is exhausting that in addition to the above where you are never thanked.
You may also get constant criticism or backhanded compliments. She may even not even smile or look happy in response to the things you do.
How do you deal with your needy mother?
Read my previous blog on How to Start to Heal from your Emotionally Abusive Parents
Learning how to deal with your needy mother starts with you knowing how you feel about yourself and your mother. Just be honest with yourself about how you really feel and about what is happening to you.
This would help to give you the fuel to continue because the truth is could you continue feeling like this for the next five or ten years or more?
Your mother more than likely may never change. She would continue to make demands and have those expectations of you but you can learn to decide how you need to respond. Even if you feel like you haven’t got much control, you do.
Sometimes you can lose yourself when you are taking care of someone that is needy. Finding what you really need and who you really are is a start to helping you to set boundaries because you would know where those boundaries need to be.
Even if you are not able to do completely what you want, if you are almost there, it would still make a massive difference in your life and an improvement on where you are now. Making some changes would go a long way.
Working out some of the practicalities such as how much time can you spend with your mom, what sort of things do you want and need to do with your own time, and can you delegate some tasks (even if your mom doesn’t like it) What you want to do with your own time and your own life
An important thing to consider is, what would your life be like if you carried on like this?
If she lived for another 10, 20 or 30 years etc and you had to live with what you are living now with her a lot older. How would you cope? What effect this would have on your life?
What to do next
Feel free to share with someone else that you believe needs therapy. You never know that this may help them to make their minds up!