Not being appreciated by her children, what should a mother do? – Presence Harmonious Family Series

Speaker: Dr. Agnes Ip

Transcription & editing: editorial team

Why do children tend to project their anger on their mother? It could be because the mother always carries the role of a caregiver, and she tends to be forgiving all the time. Yet that does not mean mothers would not feel hurt when children are angry with them or rude to them. The following 3 tips may be helpful for mothers to deal with kids’ lack of appreciation and negative emotions

1. Self value and self care

Every woman needs to know how to value and care for herself. Family and their opinions are very important. Yet, mothers should not place all their focus and concentration solely on their children. This might actually create stress and a heavy burden for children. Without finding opportunities to develop herself, a mother may easily feel outdated and inferior, which may greatly affect her self image. Sometimes, even casual negative comments from the children can be very hurtful to the mother, while it does not necessarily mean that her children actually do not like her. Therefore, self value and self care is of utmost importance to a mother. Other than caring for her children, a mother needs to be good to herself and make her life worth living.

2. Healthy boundaries in the parent-child relationship

Mothers are so used to caring for their children. Sometimes they may forget that their kids have already grown up, and continue to attend to their needs big or small. When children are gradually growing up, their knowledge or experiences can be very different from their parents’. Most mothers may not totally understand what’s in their child’s mind. If a mother keeps giving advice, while the children consider the advice irrelevant, what can a mother do?

I suggest defining situations by 3 different categories of boundary:

(1) Something that must be participated in or handled by parents.

(2) Something that may be participated in or handled by parents.

(3) Something that does not need to be participated in or handled by parents (scope that totally belongs to children)

A lot of times, parents do not think the third category even exists. This mentality gives children a lot of pressure, making children think that they are never trusted by their parents. Therefore, they have very little motivation to communicate, thinking that the more they say, the more their parents would want to control. Mothers can set clear boundaries with their children to define what needs to be discussed and where children can have more freedom. With clear boundaries and the purpose well explained, it will be easier for children to appreciate and respect their parents.

Parents should also refrain from revealing too many private matters to children, especially those related to marital and interpersonal problems. Children cannot handle complicated relational issues or emotions, and tend to avoid and be distant from the parents. When parents do want to share, be personal but not so private. Try not to create an unbearable burden for children by dumping negative emotions on them. 

3. Listen, respect and express love

When children are growing up, they tend to have their own ideas and opinions. It does not mean that they do not love mom any more. Differences in thinking can result in conflicts and hurtful communications. If a mother insists on what she thinks, children will not feel accepted. Tensions will be intensified. Regardless of whether a mother’s opinion is accepted by her children, she needs to know that her value is not tied to the response of her children. 

When a child is rude and crosses the boundary, parents need to stay calm and point out that his or her gesture hurts the relationship, while also requesting the child to stop. Parents should set a time with the child to go back to the issue. However, it would be important for parents to understand their children can have painful and negative emotions, sometimes resulting from what parents do and how they act. If parents can express their unfailing love to children and show acknowledgment of their own negative emotions, children will feel more respected and be more eager to talk. 

When it is necessary to direct children to see their own problems, avoid criticism and finger pointing. Always use questions to stimulate reflection. If a mother can give more credit to her children’s effort and learn to appreciate them more (regardless of their performance), the children will definitely be more ready to talk and find it easier to respect and appreciate your input.

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