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Mom is in the Wrong Relationship, What Can a Daughter Do? - Advice

Updated on March 26, 2011


I need your advice. My mother is dating a real dirtbag. Before this guy she was single for a long time. My parents got divorced when I was very little. I know it wasn’t easy for my mom but she did the best she could. She worked lots of jobs and raised us with no help. Me and my 2 sisters all love her very much. We appreciate all she sacrificed for us. She wasn’t ever really with any bf the whole time we were growing up. We are older now. My little sister is 18 I am 20 my older sister is 23. My mother is now with a bf she met a few months ago over Christmas at her job at a restaurant. Please don’t think we are jealous or anything. We want her to be happy. We would be fine with mom having a bf or getting married again. Since she is with this guy she has changed alot. She is not even overweight but she says her bf said she needs to lose weight so she starves herself. We used to be able to go over there any time – me and my older sister – and now my mom gets upset and tells us not to because her bf doesn’t like us there. She told my little sister she has to move out now because her bf doesn’t want her living there. She started dressing different too.  She wears what he tells her to wear. 

We didn’t like this all but we were trying to go along. Then we all had dinner for her birthday and he was horrible to us. He called my little sister a leech because she is still living there. she graduates high school in May. I don’t know where he thinks she should go before that. When my other sister was trying to tell my mom about her job he told her to shut up. It was just an awful time and mom just sat there and let him talk to us like that. And its nothing how he talks to her. She went to order something and he called her fatso and ordered her a salad instead. She said something about the meal and he called her stupid. and then SHE apologized to HIM. What is that? I asked him if he has any kids and he told me it was none of my damn business. Anytime we ask him anything about him self he has an answer like that. I know he’s hiding something.  My mother doesn’t even know anything about his family and he doesn’t even have a job. Yesterday my mother asked me if she could borrow some money. Of course I gave her money that’s fine. But she’s never asked for money before. I asked if everything was ok but she wouldn’t look at me. I asked her if her bf is sponging off her and she wont answer. He’s always complaining and criticizing her.  I don’t know if this will make sense but its like its always getting worse. It is worse now than it was last week or last month. Is it possible he’s getting meaner? How do I get my mom to realize this guy is a jerk?


Dear Amy,

Your mother’s life sounds like it’s been a little rough. Raising 3 children on her own, working hard long hours, having no help, it all has to add up. I could see how some might think she’d just had enough of the sacrificing and grew anxious to be more than a mother. Losing weight, wanting to reconnect with her more feminine side, taking an interest in her appearance, wanting to shed some responsibilities, anxious for the last child to leave the nest, wanting some privacy… these can all be a natural and understandable progressions following the years of being such a dedicated mother. 

Life can be made of many textures, many different fabrics that come together. Some of them aren't as easy to accept as others. I have to wonder if what you're seeing and feeling is actually what is occurring, or if you're too close and emotionally tied into this that you can't be more objective.

But if there’s truth in what you’re telling me, it's very sad.  I find it hard to imagine such a dedicated mother would allow her current male friend to talk to her daughters in such a harsh way. Telling one daughter she’s a leech because she lives at home while in high school, and telling another daughter to shut up when she was just sharing about her life are both indications that something is very wrong here. I know it happens, I just can't wrap my head around it.

Dressing differently and starving herself are things she could be doing because she is getting back into the feel of dating and seeing herself as a feminine or sexual presence again. If it’s true that this boyfriend has told her how to dress or that she needs to lose weight, then this is not good.

I mean no disrespect to your father, you didn’t tell me what happened there. But saying that your mother had to raise you alone without any help indicates that maybe your father wasn’t the best choice in supportive responsible men. Perhaps this is a pattern. Perhaps your mother doesn’t pick men well. Self esteem issues in a woman can be a magnet for controlling guys.

Maybe it isn’t a pattern. Maybe your mother’s just been so out of the dating game for so long that she’s feeling desperate or unattractive. Sadly, maybe she thinks this guy is the bet she can do so she accepts it.

The thing about accepting the crap that people do, is that they will keep doing it because you’ve accepted it. People will do exactly what you allow them to do. When he is mean to you girls, and your mother does nothing about it, she’s letting him know it’s OK. She’s proving to him that there are no consequences for his poor actions. He has no reason to stop. Had she put him in his place the first time he was out of line, maybe he would have straightened up. Or maybe he would have moved on realizing she has self-respect. The progression you described is probably not imagined.

I’m sorry Amy but the bottom line is there isn’t too much you can do in regards to other people’s choices. You can try to talk to her. Try it alone first. If it’s all of you girls at once it might feel like a gang-up. Eye contact is important so do it in person. Don’t accuse or raise your voice. To keep your thoughts ordered you could even write them down and bring the list with you. List actual events or things that were said. Things like, “When I asked if he had kids, he told me it was none of my damn business,” is much more effective than saying, “He won’t ever talk about himself, and I don’t like him.” See what I’m saying? Actual facts will be more persuasive than opinions and emotions.

The next step is to try to get her to see these facts you’ve written down in perspective. If things really occurred as you’re recalling them, this will be very effective. Ask her, what would she think if you had a boyfriend and she asked him about his family, and he told her it was none of her damn business. Ask her, how it would make her feel to see you starving yourself because your boyfriend said you were fat. Or called you stupid.

Tell her you love her and you want her to be happy. Let her know you would be thrilled to see her in a healthy relationship. But that this isn’t it.

Honestly I can’t completely tell if you’re exaggerating some harsh feelings or if this guy really is bad news. But I have to err on the side of caution here and offer you the best advice I can for the worst case scenario. If what you’re describing is all true, you need to watch for signs of physical abuse. It could escalate to that. Arm yourself with information. Google his name, gather as much as you can. If you’re right and he has something to hide, maybe finding it will help your mother see the situation more clearly.

I hope she’ll hear you. If she doesn’t, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to speak to a counselor or if you want to bring in other family members, do it. If this does escalate, if you ever feel scared or threatened you need to call 911. OK? Good luck Amy, I hope you’ll keep us posted.

Effigy - I Give In

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Submit a Comment

  • mojefballa profile image

    Ikeji Chinweuba 

    7 years ago from Nigeria

    Nice work,thanks for sharing.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from NY

    You're right, ikechiawazie. Thanks for commenting!

  • ikechiawazie profile image

    Ikechi Awazie 

    7 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

    Guys like this are terrible and give us a bad name. I advice amy to be careful when tackling the problem

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from NY

    Ranzi, it really is sad. I hope everyone can see each other in an honest light in this situation.

  • Ranzi profile image

    Cut The Bullshit 

    7 years ago from All Over

    It’s sad that this man has no regard or respect for this women’s daughters. He is mentally abusing the whole family. The mum will soon realize and hopefully it’s not too late. Great Hub!


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