My Mother is a Hypocrite!

My Mother is a Hypocrite!
Katherine Smith

Dear Kathy,

     I am the mother of a 1 year old boy and 3 year old girl. My children are my life, I literally live for them. I have been home with them since my daughter was born and it’s been a blessing.

     Recently, I was offered a position at an agency I worked at prior to going on maternity leave. It’s a great offer - flexible hours, good pay, and a clear promotion track. Although I love taking care of my kids, this offer is too good to pass up.

     My husband and I discussed it in depth and we are both comfortable with enrolling our children in an excellent nursery school in our area so that I can pursue this career opportunity. Two friends of mine have their children at the school and they are very pleased with both the staff and the curriculum.

     The only problem is my mother. She is dead-set against me “abandoning my children” (her words, not mine) so that I can “be selfish.” Meanwhile, she left my two little brothers in my care as a child so she could chase men and party. She is such a hypocrite - every time she makes one of her snide little comments, I just want to slap her silly!!

      I do love my mother and she has changed a lot over the years. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my children and I forgive her for the bad judgment calls she made as a mother that affected me as a child. She was 17 when she had me and she was very immature. I understand that and I have moved on.

     I just can’t swallow her current hypocrisy regarding this issue. Who does she think she is? Has she completely forgotten what a crummy parent she was to us? I am steaming mad and don’t even want to hear her voice at this point. How do I cope with her stink attitude?


Dear Corinne,

     There is an expression, “When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.” What that means is that when people emotionally overreact to a situation it is because something from their past is being triggered.

     In the scenario you are describing, it sounds as though your history of abandonment and neglect is being triggered by your mother’s opinions about your recent life choice. Have you considered that perhaps your mother’s guilt regarding this is triggering her to attempt to protect her grandchildren from a similar scenario?

     Although you are clearly a loving and responsible parent, your mother’s issues regarding her own parenting flaws are seemingly being unconsciously projected onto you. You stated that you have made the decision to forgive your mother and move on. That’s a mature and life-affirming decision, stick with it and give her a pass on this one.

     Once your mother can see for herself that her beloved grandchildren are happy and well-treated in the nursery school you have chosen for them, she will likely calm down. Consider including your mother in your children’s school-related activities so that she can see first-hand that they are in a positive environment.

     Even the most dedicated and loving parents make mistakes. You, too, will one day require forgiveness from your own children. Set a positive example by forgiving your own mother even as she makes exasperating comments regarding your parenting decision. Let “loving her well” be the rubric under which you operate and you will reap what you sow. This too shall pass, Corinne. Please keep me updated on your situation.

All my best,



is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a gifted divorce mediator in NYC. She is a former high school English teacher and college counselor with a passion for enhancing the lives of others. Additionally, Katherine has extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples, family systems, and group therapy. Readers can contact her at [email protected].
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