"My Mom Mortifies Me!"
Do you know someone who is constantly speaking their mind and making a scene wherever they go? What would you do if that person were your own mother?! Jessica, 24, knows all too well how that feels. "My mother embarrasses me all the time!" she cries, adding that she doesn't even bring her friends over to the house for fear of what her mom Jo might say. "There are no filters ... sometimes I do wish that she could just close her mouth."
Jo, 48, who once even mooned people in front of her daughter, admits that she may be a little loud and obnoxious at times, but makes no apologies. "If I gotta say it, I'm gonna say it," she states. "I’m very comfortable in my skin. Other people don’t have to like me, but I like who I am. I’m comfortable and I’m not gonna change."
Dr. Judith Sills, a consulting psychologist, says that true honesty is a rare thing, but that there is a slope that goes between authentic integrity on one end and rude, embarrassing, or hurtful comments on the other. "I think that Jessica is feeling that her mom gets into that [hurtful] area, not intentionally, and that it hurts her without her mom meaning it to."
Dr. Sills says that there are three times when you always can be honest no matter how your daughter or anybody else feels:
1. If she asks you her opinion. "If your daughter says, 'What do you think of my boyfriend?', she’s going to get the truth from you and that’s very valuable because we don’t always get that from people."
2. If you’re in a group sharing your opinion. "If everybody is saying their political opinion or commenting about a movie, you’re free to say what you want, when you feel like it."
3. If it’s important. "If your daughter had a health issue, if she had a serious emotional issue - even when not asked, because as a mother you need to step up to the plate and say, 'I’m worried about this' or 'I see this.'"
"Outside of those three areas," Dr. Sills adds, "if you are the mother of an adult daughter who’s sensitive or who feels anxious, you are smartest to basically wear beige and shut up. That will, if it relates to her, make her feel safe around you."
Dr. Sills says there are things both Jo and Jessica can do to lessen the embarrassment Jessica feels: "Jo, if you had an interest in moderating your impulses - not because they’re wrong, not because they’re bad, but just because you have a daughter that it bothers - you could, for example, make a decision to say, 'I’m in the car, I scream, I curse, I mutter when any of my girlfriends are around, but when my daughter is in that seat, I zip my lip, I put a rubber band around my wrist and every time I want to curse I snap it! And that reminds me, I love my daughter and I am restraining myself out of love.'"
To Jessica, Dr. Sills says, "She may or may not decide to moderate [her behavior], but if she does even a little, reward, reinforce, and say positive things. It’s been hard for her to control her impulses when she's been letting it all hang out so when she contains herself let her know that you appreciated it. And, you could really set a few limits; if this is your mom and she wants to be how she is, I wouldn’t be bringing a new boyfriend around so quick. I would be a little restrained with my friends, and say, 'Mom, I love you, I love to be with you, but I’m not comfortable hearing these [embarrassing] stories, so we’re not going to be having lunch so much.'"
Dr. Sills says there's one important thing to keep in mind if you have mom who maybe mouths off a little. "Remind yourself, 'She’s not me. This doesn’t have to do with me.' Make a separation. Anything that doesn’t have to do with you, you smile and laugh about and tolerate because these are the things you’re going to treasure someday, thinking about the time she mooned you and your friends!"
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