Are you an over-bearing mom, overly involved and a little too critical? According to a new study, it could be negatively affecting your daughter's self-esteem. The study, published in the National Communication Association's journal Communication Monographs, links an over-bearing mom's behavior to her daughter's poor social skills and disordered eating attitudes.
Characteristics of an over-bearing mother, or a control freak mom, include perfectionism, rigid-thinking, the use of intimidation and force, and an unrealistic fear regarding specific situations. "It appears that this corrosive form of family communication is particularly damaging to individuals' sense of self and well-being, as it seems to promote a struggle for control and self-enhancement," said the study's lead author, Analisa Arroyo, Ph.D.
In my case, my mother's controlling ways made me act out in manners I wish I wouldn't have. Eventually, I was kicked out of the house at 16 to live with my father, because my mother could no longer control a daughter who had become as strong-willed as she was. Although I was naturally skinny and never developed an eating disorder, I became sexually promiscuous and unconcerned about my future. I became disrespectful and distrustful of most people. Today, I'm healthy with a good self-esteem, but that only happened after years of messiness. I wish I had gotten to where I am today differently.
If you're an over-bearing mom, chances are you know it. But there are ways you can work to be less of one:
Stop to explain your reasoning
If you can't explain your reasoning to your daughter, you're probably not making sense. "Because I said so" is not the way to gain respect from your child. You'll want her respect, especially when your daughter gets older and starts to think for herself.
These days the term "bullying" is thrown around a lot, but you may, in fact, be a bully. One good example of bullying is when a mother intimidates and pressures her daughter's teachers. Your daughter knows she's not perfect, so why do you expect her to be? Furthermore, your bullying might result in your daughter adopting the same behavior.
Stop living vicariously through your daughter
Sometimes an over-bearing mother can pressure her daughter to be what she wants her to be and not what the daughter truly desires. When I left law school, my mother was livid. She had bragged to all her friends that her daughter would be a lawyer. Because I didn't fulfill her expectation, it was an embarrassment to her.
Although I'm not a follower of Adrian Warnock, I like what he wrote: "It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children. However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of us, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance. When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship."
Be honest with yourself if you think you're an over-bearing mom. Focus on stepping back to create a healthier relationship between you and your daughter.