How can I stop my mother’s constant criticism bringing me down?

Sometimes family patterns become so set that we no longer challenge them, says Annalisa Barbieri. I wonder if there might be a conversation to be had

I love my mother most of the time, but sometimes I hate her. She has always been critical of me; it’s as if she has to find fault (with my hair, my clothes, the way I do things). My brother is spared this criticism.

My mum is in her late 70s, and unlikely to change. It’s never worth arguing with herespecially now, as she is grieving and vulnerable following the death of my father last year. I suppress my anger, keep quiet and change the subject. I call and visit often, as I now have to help her with legal and financial affairs; my brother lives abroad and this isn’t his skill set. Mum lives in a different part of the country from me, and it’s not practical to go just for the day, so I am very much on her turf when I visit; if I don’t do things the way she wants, there is an explosion. She then seems to recognise that she has gone over the top and sends sweet emails a day or two later about how capable I am.

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