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Good evening, Doctor Saltzman.

I have a problem with my mom. We never had a good relationship with each other. I personally think it's because I am very scared of her. In fact when I think of the worst moments of my life, I always remember her being part of those memories. Like for example, when I was in a bad mood after she humiliated me in front of her friends, she scolded me and told me I cannot be moody at my age and I should talk to her more often because we have a "communication gap," blaming it all on me. She could be caring at times but the problem is she easily gets angered and she easily loses her mind. Right now, she has developed a hate-hate relationship with her mom. They have not talked for so many years and their conflict is getting worse everyday as each of them tells people bad things about each other.

Because of this, I want to ask you a few questions Doctor Saltzman. 1. Why is this problem very common and almost natural between mothers and their children?

2. If both parties are willing to compromise, how do you think could it be resolved?

3. At my young age, how could I prevent me and my mom's relationship from being like that of her and my grandmother's?

Thank you Doctor Robert Saltzman for your time and consideration. I really appreciate it. I hope you continue to help people with these problems.

May God bless you,


Hi, Aimee--

So that I can better address your question, please say your age. Also, your name sounds like a Chinese name. If that is correct, and if you think it is relevant to this issue, you might like to tell me something about your relationship--as well as your mother's and grandmother's--to Chinese culture.


Dear Dr. Saltzman, I am 16 years old. Yes you got it right, we're Chinese. Well, I believe my mother's and my grandmother's relationship is very much because of the Chinese culture where mothers usually love their son the most.

The cause of the gap between me and my mom is different. I grew up very scared to talk and communicate with her because I have this perception that she can explode anytime. She is very unreasonable every time she scolds me and my siblings. For example, my brother one time asked her if he could teach in a university to practice what he had studied from another country. She got so mad that she insulted my brother, telling him he cannot live without her and he's not as "good" as he think he is. I guess it's okay to tell your child what he shouldn't do but to have a reaction such as hers is too much for a child. She gets angry over simple things. I always wish that I were someone else's daughter because I can't bear living with her anymore and neither can my brothers and sister.

Thank you for listening Doctor Robert Saltzman.

Dear Aimee--

Judging from what you have written, your mother is a troubled and unhappy person who deals with her disappointment in life by taking it out on her children. While it is true that a certain amount of conflict between parents and children is inevitable, I do not agree with you that "this kind of thing is almost natural between mothers and their children," as you wrote. If your mother's behavior towards you and towards your siblings is as you say it is, your mother's attitude is not at all natural. In fact, it is pathological, and cries out for treatment. If she were not your mother, I think this would be obvious to you. After all, why should a child have to live in fear of her own mother, or be humiliated by her? This is not at all natural, and is certainly unhealthy.

Because she has found a way to blame others for her own problems, I do not imagine that your mother will be motivated to seek the kind of treatment that could help with her conflicted view of life, but some kind of counseling usually is the only possibility for improvement in a case like this. Unless and until your mother sees that her way of treating you and her other children is wrong, and is willing to sit down with an experienced counselor to get help with her distorted ideas, I am sorry to say that I do not see a way for you to "resolve" this relationship. I do not imagine that you and your mother alone could get to the bottom of it since no matter how you might approach it she would want to blame you for what really is her problem.

It seems to me that the best course is for you to deal with this unfortunate situation in a way that will reduce the stress on you as much as possible. This probably would be simply to stop considering your mother and her attitudes until you are able to get away from her. In other words, it seems to me that you should not even try to "resolve" things, as you put it, but rather just try to let your mother do and say whatever she needs to do and say while minimizing your own reactions. I know that this is easier said than done. But if you will try to remember that none of this is your fault, and that your home life certainly is not "natural," then perhaps you will be able to resist taking her words personally--after all, her words are not about you, they are about her and her unhappiness.

I do understand that being only sixteen, the time between now and when you are out of the house and free of your mother's domination might seem endlessly long, but really it is not . In a couple of years you will be out of high school and ready to begin a more adult life, so I suggest that for now you humor your mother as best you can (the way that sick or confused people need to be humored), while you plan a way of getting away from this troubled person, away from her power over you, and away from a continuation of her family history as soon as you can.

For example, if you are planning on continuing your studies beyond high school, you might begin to think of going away somewhere to college--somewhere far from home. Start investigating scholarships and student loans, so that you can become as independent as possible as soon as possible.

This same advice should help also in preventing this relationship from becoming like the one between your grandmother and your mother. If you don't fight back, there will be much less conflict--it really does take two to tango. When you feel hurt or angry, just tell yourself that your mother has serious personality problems, and that it is not worth engaging her in any kind of serious discussion.

From your letter you sound like a good kid. I hope this will help.

Be well.

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