14 Sneaky Tactics Controlling Mothers and Mother-in-Laws Will Use & What You Can Do About It

Mothers have a lot of power over their children. The adult children who are quick to argue, “My mother has no control or influence over me” are usually the ones who are being controlled without knowing it. You see, the sneakiest way to control someone, is to do it without them suspecting that you are doing it. Take for instance, your mother wants you to come over to her home for a family event and you tell her that you won’t be able to attend. If she has asked you early enough in advance of the event date, she will use the time leading up to the family gathering wisely. During that time she will come up with all sorts of reasons why you should attend and may even use other family members to try to convince you why it’s a good idea. She may try any or all of the following strategies to ultimately get what she wants! She will also use the following tactics in time of need, personal crisis, when she isn’t getting along with others, attention, feeling jealous and more.

One. She will be very critical of your decision making even when you are doing well for yourself.

This strategy is a popular one used by controlling mothers when they see their child is no longer their little baby and has become a man or woman looking to distance themselves from mom. She may also use this strategy to control her son or daughter’s friends too! Here’s what she may do. First, she thinks that you don’t know how to solve your own dilemmas because her mind takes her back to those days of childhood when you made mistakes. Rather than allow you to make your own decisions, she makes them for you or finds so much fault with what you’re saying that you walk away from her not trusting yourself. Second, she knows that if you don’t trust yourself, you will think about what she has said and most likely you will run it by your friends who she is hoping will say, “Listen to your mother.”

The only way out of this strategy is to stand up for yourself at the moment that you suspect she is trying to influence your decision or alter your plans. Depending on the kind of mother you have, you will either have to present yourself confident, like a tough cookie hard to crack or like a very polite manager in a store resolving a customer’s concern. Whatever face you put forward, just be sure it’s one that clearly states that you will be making XYZ decision. Remind yourself not to ask her for her input or bring up a topic in the future that you know you will feel compelled to defend.

Two. She will try to make you feel guilty about not visiting her enough.

A mother has moments in her day when she thinks about what her children are doing. She may reach out to her children or she may wait for you to reach out to her. If you don’t act in a timely fashion according to her watch, she may tell you how good or bad of a son or daughter you are for not visiting your mother. She may compare you to other siblings and people who she knows or has seen on TV.

Three. She will act forgetful.

Some mothers aren’t satisfied with a simple visit from her children. Sometimes they feel like the visit isn’t complete without giving them something to do. Maybe there is nothing that needs to be done in her home and she just wants you to stay awhile longer. Some mothers will resort to the old tactic of forgetting where they placed something. Now there are those mothers that with age do become increasingly more absentminded, but if you see your mother often forgetting things just when you are ready to pack up the grandchildren and get ready to leave, then you know your mother is looking for a reason to control your time with her. She wasn’t ready to see you go and now she has to figure out a way to keep you a little while longer.

Other things she may do is drag out a story, create a sudden emergency (like fake an illness), convince the grandchildren to stay even when they don’t want to, and offer plenty of food and desserts while stressing you should stay a little while longer.
A good way to shorten the visit is to sit back and let the children get a little out of control. A mother who is especially particular about her environment will be more than happy to see you go she may even open the door for you. Another way to shorten the visit is to have someone waiting for you in the car or have another engagement to go to after visiting her. If she is the kind of mother that likes to gossip or be critical of others, you can easily shorten your visit with her by mentioning that you don’t agree with her comments or would like to change the subject. A controlling mother doesn’t like the idea that her child is correcting her and rather than deal with the quiet tension that is left after you have told her how you feel, she will be at peace when you get ready to leave.

Four. She will exaggerate the details of small issues to play on one’s sympathies and to get them to act on her needs.

If your mother has been ill one too many times in a week let alone a day, and you haven’t bothered to visit her in the past, then prepare yourself for her stories of having to crawl around the house and struggle to bathe herself. You may learn later that she just had a simple cold and was seen out and about the same day walking around. Of course there are some mothers, who don’t cry “wolf,” but there are some who never saw a wolf but they will make up a story so that you can come over to visit or do something for them. What better way to get you to do as she says, by playing on your emotions? The best way to determine if there really is a “wolf” of a problem is to talk to her on the phone as if you never heard her say that she wasn’t feeling well. Start a discussion about something funny the children said, mention something you saw on television, and other similar things. Before long, she won’t be keeping her act up, she will be laughing and then you will notice that her situation wasn’t important enough for you to drop everything. Another way you can avoid “the drop and run act” is to tell her that you won’t be over and that she should call 911. It may sound cold, but if she has to get someone else involved and doesn’t want to, how serious was her issue in the first place?

Five. She will create division between siblings by showing favoritism.

What better way to get you to do something is to make you jealous? So she will throw a party for your brother, buy your sister’s children the best toys, and accept an invite to an event with another relative that you originally invited her to, don’t fear there are plenty of holidays and events that you can always schedule to be busy, out of town, or simply at home relaxing in front of your TV. It will only be a matter of time that she will notice you aren’t affected by her schemes, even if you are you won’t show it. You may even want to spend more time with these people than she does and you might learn a thing or two from them.

Six. She will treat friends and strangers better than certain family members while talking badly about her family to these same people.

When you don’t do what your mother says, she knows that she can’t punish you the way she did when you were a child, so one of the most hurtful things she will do is treat the people you know better than you. She will invite them up to her home, make dinner for them, ride in their car, attend events together, and may say things like, “This is my adopted son. She was always like a daughter to me.” All of these tactics are used to get you to feel jealous and do more for your mother.
You can avoid feeling hurt by these tactics by accepting the fact that she isn’t a very nice person despite the fact that she is your mother. You can distance yourself from her by establishing healthy associations that she knows nothing about. You can crowd her out by keeping busy with your personal and professional goals. She may notice your behavior has changed toward her and come back around, but if she doesn’t, keep your distance and lose the friend who is naively falling for her act even after you have warned him or her.

Seven. She will lie, belittle or abuse you.

Some people forget that just because someone is a mother it doesn’t mean that she will lie, belittle or abuse you. This type of negative behavior coming from a mother is deadly! She may blatantly lie about forgetting where she has placed something to get you to come see about her. She may call you names or become easily irritated with you when you remind her that you have a partner and children. She may purposely cut you off of any material wealth so that you will dance by her drum. If you don’t want to be subjected to these tactics, expose her when she does them. Don’t sit quietly and ignore her when you know she is in the wrong. Try to avoid the temptation to pay her back that will only make you look like the bad guy or gal and give her something to talk about to the rest of the family.

She may say things that you or someone else didn’t say to get attention. Like a child, it doesn’t matter what kind of attention they want from their parents just so long as they can get you to look, your mother may be doing the same thing. Stories of robbery, conflicts with relatives and neighbors, and other similar “front page” news dramas fall quickly from her lips when she doesn’t want you to find out a truth about her. You see, if you know the truth, she fears you might not want to come around anymore, so sometimes to get negative attention off of her while gaining a positive image, she will try to get you to focus on someone else while she comes up with yet another scheme to control you.

The best way to counter against this tactic is to provide proof when she lies and remind her that you will not talk or come around her if she feels she has to disrespect you to get you to do what she wants.

Eight. She will argue or threaten.

Sometimes she may not have the energy to orchestrate a plan to get you to do what she wants so she will just yell at you. She may even call you a few names or threaten to do something to you if you don’t listen. You can avoid her future outburst by giving her a long time out and if she said or did some really bad things to you and your family, put your foot down and cut her off. Mothers like to talk about the biblical scriptures that say “Honor thy mother…” Exodus 20:12 but what they fail to do is find the scripture that talks about “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," Ephesians 6:1-4.” There are some mothers who act in the role of fathers and do just that!

Nine. She will use others to influence you when she can’t get you to do what she wants (ie. partner, siblings, childhood friends, etc.)

She has enough time on her hands to converse with those that know you and she will tell them things like, “He never wants to be a part of the family. We use to be so close! His wife is causing him not to come around us anymore. Why don’t you call your brother and check up on him? Tell her I’m sick and need for her to come over and help me.” What you can do is tell these people she has used to get you to act on her command to stop sending you her messages. Don’t open the doors to any debate with them about your actions, what your mother has been known to do, or anything else that could potentially cause a rift in your relationship. Rather, allow them to see your mother’s manipulative strategies on their own. However, with your partner you may want to be more specific about some of the things she does so that he or she isn’t blindsided.

Ten. She will cry.

Tears will bring a giant to his knees depending on how well they are used. She may get on her soapbox and put on her best act to get you to come over and cry with her until she breaks you down enough to get you to do what she wants. If you fall for it, then she wins and you lose. You can get her to dry those tears up even faster than saying yes, try saying no while walking away. Watch how her sad face becomes angry almost monster like.

Eleven. She will talk negatively behind your back to the biggest mouth in the family hoping he or she will spread your personal issues to everyone.

This tactic was mentioned earlier when it comes to siblings and strangers, but some mothers will use this when they know you are a private person. She thinks she can really get you to do as you’re told if she starts sharing your life with others. If she chooses to do this, you can tell her that you are aware of what she is doing and you would like for her to stop. She may continue to run her mouth, you have a choice either you keep giving her something to talk about or you cut the lines of communication off not only with her but those you know will go back and talk with her about you.

Twelve. She will offer small tokens of appreciation or give you money.

Sometimes being kind and expressing words of flattery is the best way for a mother to get what she wants from her son or daughter. So she suddenly becomes real nice and she wants to do a lot of wonderful things for you of course you have every right to question it. You may want to find out if she is doing anything to help her become a better person. If not, find out what she is hoping you will do for her in the coming days, weeks or months. What are her needs? Chances are she is getting you to commit to something by using sweet tactics without you knowing what that “something” is.

Thirteen. She will provide a little information to get you to open up and talk then later use the information you gave her to work to her advantage.

How can anyone turn down an opportunity to sit down and talk with his or her mother? It sounds innocent enough and you may go along with it. You are feeling comfortable and then gradually you start opening up to her about personal and professional issues. You walk away from that pleasant moment feeling great until the following week you hear that she was talking badly about you to others. She even mentioned how much food you ate and how you didn’t even bother to leave any money for her. Not only that, you find out that she has retold your conversation to a few choice family member \s you simply don’t like. Could it be that this was her sneaky way to pay you back for putting your foot down a couple weeks back about something she said or did that offended you? It just might be. If so, you will definitely need to think twice about taking her up on offers to sit and dine with her.

Fourteen. She will turn your father against you.

Fathers are just as important as mothers, if not more, especially in father and son relationships. A son wants to know that his father is proud of him. But a mother who is looking to get some things done around the house on her time schedule or has some other needs that she isn’t receiving from her husband, will purposely say things to the father about the son or daughter that he or she knows will make him angry. Just when the father is becoming close to his daughter or son, here she comes reminding him of the time their child did “this” or did “that.” In the mother’s mind, she feels that if she can keep the child close to her, she will be able to get the things done that she wants he or she to do; therefore, having her own personal servant.

In closing, there are good and bad mothers in this world and either one or the other is talked about in many books, talk shows and other places. But there is also the sneaky mother also known as controlling, manipulative, wicked, and other words that describe negative practices she uses to get what she wants. These are the mothers that can kill, steal, and destroy what makes you happy. Oftentimes these mothers aren’t happy themselves just claim to be. They usually don’t have much going in their lives other than talking on the phone about other people, they have very few true friends, and it seems just about every week they are in conflict with someone. What brings them joy in life is seeking the attention from their children in whatever way they can get it by any means necessary. When you know you have a mother such as this, try your best to always stand up for what you believe in, not what she believes. Also, try very hard not to rely on her for anything and if you can, move far away from her, and visit her when you want to, not because she says that you should. If you follow these tips you can lessen the burden on your heart and mind concerning your mother and give your partner’s and friend’s ears a break from your “my mother” stories!

Written by Nicholl McGuire, check out book, Tell Me Mother You're Sorry


Nicholl said...

Check out my book: Tell Me Mother You're Sorry by Nicholl McGuire -- a lot has happened since I created this post. Blessings to you all and thanks for sharing!

Ridin' Boots said...

I can relate to most of this and thank you.

Ridin' Boots said...

I can relate to most of this and thank you.

Unknown said...


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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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