Why do so many mothers emotionally blackmail their grown children with fear, obligation, and guilt?

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I have noticed many stories on this site carry the theme of an emotionally blackmailing mothers. The physical and mental health, the social/marital life, and financial stability of their caregivers, mainly daughters, are being destroyed by such verbal and emotional abuse. Is this a generational problem or unique situations that drive so many to this site looking for help and validation plus a safe place to vent?

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Great question, cmagnum!

I believe it can be any one or a combination of the above. Sometimes, it's because the mother never had much of a life outside of her children. Sometimes, it stems from fear because of failing physical and/or mental health. Sometimes it's a personality issue. Whatever the reason, the only way out the caregiver has is to not fall victim to the blackmail. Detaching from this type of treatment can be extremely difficult, and sometimes counseling is necessary. However, if the caregiver can't detach to some degree, there's no way to break the cycle. That being said, we are our parents' children and it's difficult to completely detach from the way they treat us.

Take care,
Carol
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CountryMouse it starts when you're a child and powerless. You HAVE to pay attention to your parent, because they wield the power of food and shelter and love and acceptance. I think as some children grow up, they don't understand that the power shifts, and they now have an equal amount of power as their parent - and in most cases, more than the parent, because the parent now needs their help. Mentally they're still five years old, in need of love and support from that manipulative parent. It's really sad. Some threads on here are heartbreaking, because adult children are miserable and don't understand they have the power to change things. And sometimes money is the cudgel used by parents to manipulate their grown children.
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What continues to baffle me is how come it often works so well! - why do people get shoved around by little old ladies who can't even chase after them, let alone hurt them?

But as I've been told several times now, if you're lucky enough not to know what it's like to have that kind of mother you can't really understand how much power emotional blackmailers can wield. Clearly, it's less painful for the blackmailee to give in to the blackmailer's demands than to tell her where to go, and I suppose it's a lifelong, self-feeding habit. It's also a form of bullying and wants stamping on firmly wherever possible - but that's just my two penn'orth.
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Carol, your first point is interesting. I guess that if the mother never had much of a life outside of her children then she might feel some resentment that they left home to have a life of their own, if they ever had that chance because some don't, and also possibly means she did not navigate the empty nest syndrome well either in which too often a couple discovers that they lost each other while raising the children. I guess these moms never reached an adult to adult level of relationship with their adult children. Thanks for your answer.
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Because there are decent people who happen to have monsters parents. Parents that have always cared only for themselves and their old age makes it more difficult for their adult children. Short of disowning them, you are stuck with with these monsters until they die. Horrible way to acknowledge a parent, but sometimes it is what it is.
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I see my mother in all these stories. Someone commented that you'll never be free until they die and it was that way for me. My mother, in a NH the past 3 years, passed away a few weeks ago. In accordance with her wishes I scattered her ashes and felt absolutely nothing. I'm finally free.
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My mother died June 2 and I can honestly say I don't miss her. She disliked me for at least the past ten years because I called her out on a really cruel lie. She never forgave me and just kept after me in every negative way until she died. I grew to not love her and knew she was abusive to me. I don't think she loved anyone except herself. She made my brother beneficiary of all her money (700,00.00) but he halved it with me, refused to treat me as she did.

I am now getting rid of every single thing I have of hers, her rings, knick knacks, whatever I came home with. I decided to purge my life of her and my father. I need to heal for the rest of the life I have left.

These types are not real parents, they are mentally disturbed narcissists who only think about one thing, themselves.
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Your mom is trying to emotionally blackmail you; I'm sorry you have to deal with that. I'm blessed with a mother who, at 95 encourages me to get out and be active. You need to maintain your relationship with your guy AND keep your job. Like cmagnum says, mom sounds like she's doing fine - she just doesn't appear to want you to have a life of your own, which is NOT how loving moms should behave. So you need to set and maintain strong boundaries with her. Good luck and keep us posted.
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palmtrees - I understand as my mother has BPD and I agree you need to heal and do whatever you need to do for that to happen. My mum is still alive but I am disposing of much and will keep little. Some things have such strong negative emotions attached to them. I doubt that one can totally heal from a life time of abuse but QOL can be improved. Your brother is a gem. My sib, unfortunately, is like my mother and wants all the inheritance.

@terry - BPD does not refer to Bi polar but to Borderline Personality Disorder, It s not a matter of hate but of hurt, and healing from the hurt and abuse as well as possible. A college text book does not provide many answers of how to handle them. Counsellors don't know how to handle people with personality disorders or how to help them much. My mother was diagnosed later in life and I was told that there was no treatment . I do agree with getting away from them - not living under the same roof.

Misslauri - there is a huge difference between "dealing with frustrating parents and inlaws" and dealing with family members with mental illnesses. I tend to be a optimist too and look for the silver living. It is very hard to find in some situations.
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I think in my mom's case she was mistreated when she was younger and it's a "culture" for physical and verbal discipline in the old days. It was considered normal, though that idea leaves that nasty churn in my stomach at the suffering many had in that respect. She had it from her parents, and then from children in the neighborhood "friends". I remember her saying she doesn't mind being alone, however her actions have always said a different story. I remember when she shared she wanted me to start having a family and having children so I won't be alone. I felt a deep sickness when she said this to me for various reasons. She has always wanted me to be the "little girl" she always wanted, and when I grew a little more realized I didn't meet those expectation and made things difficult. It was like walking on very thin eggshells. I'm only able to say it better now, because it took me a long time to even realize I'm not the crazy one. Now I'm taking care of both of my parents. Mom is "undercover" as long as you "play the game". I always wonder if dad is the biggest factor behind it, regardless of her own faults. I mean the magnification of that nasty side. I hope those who haven't had help (including myself currently) will get that strength to find it. We deserve it. I deserve it.
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