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Is My Girlfriend’s Mother Normal?

From the U.S.: My girlfriend and her mom have a weird relationship. They aren’t the normal daughter and mother. But about a year and 6 months ago my girlfriend moved out because her and her mom were fighting to the point where it would get very heated, and even sometimes violent. Her mom can be very verbally abusive as well, calling my girlfriend a bitch. She moved into her grandparents house and has been there since. Her mother hates that and resents her for going there first.

Now her mom has done everything to push her away. She has developed an unhealthy habit of going to the casino, she has admitted to me that she feels she’s getting addicted in a non healthy way. Her mom doesn’t pay her rent or phone, because her father pays it for her. She works a well paying job, 40 hours a week and still says she has no money or that she is struggling. She tells my girlfriend that if she does anything stupid it’s because of her, and to only blame herself. Even to the point of saying she’d hurt herself.

She comes over to her parents house where my girlfriend now lives, and she yells at them. She blames them for not having a normal relationship with her daughter. And when my girlfriend tries to fix their relationship by taking small steps towards hanging out with her more or going over to spend time, she is either treated with hostility or is told that she should have thought of that before she moved out.

My girlfriend is no saint, she has attitude and doesn’t show very much respect when she feels either hurt or annoyed. But the way her mother acts just doesn’t seem normal. I think she needs a doctor but I’m not sure what to do. She has a bad anger issue and is violent at times. I’m not sure how to help.

I know my girlfriends mom loves her, but she doesn’t show it in a conventional way.

A: I don’t know if she is mentally ill, but she is certainly distressed and distressing to be around. You have not been invited by her to be helpful to her so chances are that any help you offer will be badly received. You’ve described a woman who doesn’t take responsibility for herself and who seems to think that whatever challenges she has to face are someone else’s fault. To her, you will be no different.

I think all you can do in the situation is support your girlfriend in her efforts to get on with her own life. She cannot reason with a mother who is being irrational. Trying to talk her mother out of her opinions is a futile effort.

Your girlfriend is not obligated to put up with abusive language or behavior from her mom. Her biggest challenge is learning how not to fall for the bait by fighting back. She’ll get further and will feel better if she simply says to her mother that she will leave the scene if her mother tries to engage her in a fight or calls her names. Then she has to do it. Leave.

It’s very difficult to give up on a parent. But sometimes it is only by giving up that things start to get better. Her mother has to realize for herself what she has lost by alienating her whole family. Only then will there be an opportunity for change.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie



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