A Submissive Mother


My mother’s role in life is to defend my father under any circumstances.

He is never wrong and she always puts his needs first.  In return he is self-centered, unkind and even cruel.  It would be different if they didn’t have any children but they do.  My older sister and I have put together a list of things our mother has repeatedly told us for over thirty years.

You should do what you father tells you.  He is your father after all.

Your father is far too kind to say something like that.

Your father loves you really, he doesn’t mean it.

We have this meal every weekend because your father likes it.

I cannot come and look after your children while you have flu because your father likes me to be home when he gets back from work.

You cannot come and visit because your father doesn’t like noisy children.

If one of us visit them we can’t wait to leave.  Our father is a stickler for timing and meals must be served on the dot.  He even goes ahead  if I’ve rung to say the traffic has been terrible and I’ll be a few minutes late.  As well as being unpleasant to us he always gloats at the power he wields over our mother.  We cringe with how compliant she is in return.  We can’t believe she loves him, but she won’t hear a word of criticism and is totally submissive.  It makes us feel that we just don’t count.  The good thing is that we have the same views about their relationship and how they behave with us and each other much needed support.

Can you explain what it is all about?

It’s very hard to understand the relationship between your parents when  your mother is so submissive and your father so controlling and harder to believe she can love him.  Your mother may be staying because he is such a bully, through a sense of duty,  or she feels she has no alternative.  It’s also no surprise you have a mass of strong feelings and it’s sad that your mother’s lack of emotional honesty towards you and your sister has left you feeling bereft. 

You may also be right that your parents would have been better without children, particularly as they haven’t seized he opportunity to change once they became grandparents.  It is their loss.

You are unlikely to alter the attitude of either parent but if you take a step back you could perhaps see that your mother is trapped and unable/unwilling to change because she doesn’t have the emotional or financial capacity to act differently.

Your parents don’t seem to want you to be close so we suggest you focus on your positive loving relationship with your sister and new families.  It will help you feel stronger and build your confidence.