What do I do about my mom setting her expectations too high?

81

14

I recently turned 13, I'm in 8th grade, and my life is going pretty well. I'm getting straight A's in school, along with possibly getting a paper published in a legitimate mathematics journal. I also have a pretty active social life, but not the kind where I go to parties all the time.

My mom, however, seems to find everything wrong with me. For example, whenever she catches me on my computer doing a programming project (sometimes things I actually earn money for, so I'm not just "wasting time") or something that I find really fun, she starts yelling* at me for spending too much time at the computer and saying I should be doing homework, even though I work the free time into my schedule after all my homework is done.

She also gets mad at me for even the tiniest slip up at school. For example, I recently got a 91 on a spanish quiz. It's my lowest spanish grade so far and didn't really affect my grade at all, but I got yelled at for almost 30 minutes for it and she always brings it up whenever I come home with a 100 on a test.

It's the littlest things. I have a pair of socks on the floor, it triggers a rant. My backpack is heavy, it triggers a rant. I don't understand why, but I've learned that arguing just makes it worse so I just kind of let it happen. She's an awesome mom otherwise, it's just that I think she has unreasonably high expectations for me in every facet of my life. My dad is pretty chill and gets mad at her when he sees her yelling at me for something small, so that just kind of snowballs and creates more stress.

What can I do to get her a bit off my back and make some mistakes without her intervening constantly?


*Well, not really yelling. You know that "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed" catch phrase? It's like that, but she is visibly mad.

TreFox

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 468

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– Rory Alsop – 2016-09-20T08:52:17.183

13Important: You say your mother actually goes on ranting/yelling/mad quite often for no legitimate reason. It's definitely not as simple as having a rational conversation with her, otherwise you wouldn't have come and ask this question. Consider the possibility that she might have an actual psychiatric disorder, such as Borderline or other. Most of what current answers here suggests won't apply in that case. – Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T12:37:17.627

5(continuation) My comment was really meant to be an answer, but I just don't have enough rep. And of course I'm not qualified to assert anything here and now; I'm just pointing out this possibility because it was the case with my legal guardian when I was a teen, but she wasn't diagnosed back then, and living together was really hell on earth. I urge you to do everything on your reach, including learning what you can about these, and getting help if necessary (most likely), while your situation is still salvageable. Best wishes. – Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T12:43:14.560

@Marc.2377 Blaming someone's nastiness on hollow concepts like "psychiatric disorder" won't get you anywhere. – Jop V. – 2016-09-21T14:01:55.093

5@JopV. I'm making an "important note", which is broader scope than blaming things. And calling psychiatric disorders "hollow concepts" just goes to show that mental illnesses are still largely disregarded, most often due to lack of knowledge. How unfortunate. – Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T15:11:45.863

@Marc.2377 I'm making an "important note", which is broader scope than blaming things. I don't see how that's different, but that doesn't matter of course. And calling psychiatric disorders "hollow concepts" just goes to show that mental illnesses are still largely disregarded, most often due to lack of knowledge. A lot of "psychatric disorders" are just labels for certain types of behavior with no evidence that they are caused by a brain defect, which is what actual mental illness is. Correct me if I'm wrong. – Jop V. – 2016-09-21T15:37:26.380

4

@JopV. You are probably wrong, or maybe we aren't talking about the same thing. Psychiatric disorders are, most often than not (and specially in the context I employed it) the result of physiological shortcomings in the Central Nervous System. They are studied and defined rigorously by scientists, and they are - at least ideally - diagnosed by doctors: psychiatrists, neurologists and sometimes even endocrinologists and other health professionals. If you want to discuss this to a greater extent, ping me up on the chat room (link on top)

– Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T18:01:33.903

2It's possible that she's venting at you over something unrelated, which she feels like she can't discuss with you, possibly even your father. It may help if you try to find out what's going on in her life. If this is the case it's unjustified behavior on her part, especially as a mother, but most parents (humans) are a far shot from good, let alone perfect. – SBoss – 2016-09-22T07:21:49.703

1I feel your pain. My mother is no different. Things only got easier when I left home. – T. Sar – 2016-11-10T18:23:08.153

Same here; except my situation's a bit worse, and I'm emancipating in a few years. – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:28:13.953

You know, something I've noticed about Parenting SE... almost all the youth (including myself) who use this site are programmers. Huh. – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:30:06.627

1@MDXF I agree that is a bit odd. I don't know about you but I was introduced to this site through stackoverflow, which could perhaps explain it. I hope your situation gets better though! There are, thankfully, a bunch of answers right below that can help you out :D – TreFox – 2016-12-14T02:31:36.343

@TreFox Yeah, that's how I found it too. I've asked a good few questions myself (usually not on this account, since I'm a high-rep SO user who preferred/prefers anonymity). – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:32:18.177

It's also fairly good to know that I'm not the only young teen who's a paid freelancer :D – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:39:59.513

@TreFox has the situation been resolved in any way? If yes, how? Can you add an edit with some details about it? Thanks. – Radu Murzea – 2017-04-07T14:46:56.807

Answers

73

You have lots of options. Here's one:

At dinner one evening, you can say you have a serious announcement. Then tell your mom and dad that you're pregnant. You're really sorry you slipped up, but it will all be OK, not to worry, because you're in love and you plan to marry the father. Unfortunately, you can't bring the father over to meet them because he's wearing an ankle monitor and can't leave his house for a few more months.

After the screaming and the tears die down, let them know it's all a fabrication, but that is what some girls' lives are really like, and that's a real cause for disappointment, not a 91 on a Spanish test in a class in which you're getting an A, or a lot of other things your mom is disappointed about.

This would take a lot of courage and fortitude to withstand the aftermath, but it might get your point across.

Or, you can go to your school counselor and start meeting weekly with them to discuss the situation at home. What your mom is doing is unhealthy in a lot of ways, especially for you. When your counselor feels they have a good grip on the situation, they can meet with your parents.

Another option is to appeal to your dad - who seems to understand that your mom has unrealistic expectations - to start family therapy. A specialist might be needed here to get to the root(s) of the problem and effect some change.

You can try to have some very adult and honest conversations with your mom. Ask her what her childhood and teens were like, what she's happiest about and what her biggest regrets are. That might get her to thinking about how she's trying to work through her own past (just a guess) by controlling your life.

You seem to know this is your mom's problem, and what you're suffering is its side effects, so that's great for you. The point is, it is a problem, and it's not really about you. Your mom needs help, and likely it will involve a professional, as she most likely will not/cannot give due weight/consideration to anything you say to her in an attempt to get her to change.

Of course, you can just recognize this is not really about you and suffer her comments, but this will get worse - a lot worse - before it gets better, because your teens involve distancing yourself from your parents (expressing differing opinions from theirs) in anticipation of healthy independence, and if she doesn't change, the "disappointment" will get worse. So I wouldn't recommend this as an option.

It's a difficult situation and I hope you find a solution that effects a positive change.

anongoodnurse

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 48 167

104As a boy, I'm sure the pregnancy would scare them quite badly :) But in all seriousness, thank you for the very detailed answer. I think talking to my school counselor may be my best bet here - I don't want to be too dramatic about this whole thing. – TreFox – 2016-09-17T16:42:13.127

20@TreFox - Oh my word, I'm so sorry for assuming! (That must have been a case of my identifying too much with you!) You sound like a great kid; I think you'll come out of this well. Good luck! – anongoodnurse – 2016-09-17T18:17:36.453

2@anongoodnurse Maybe you can edit the answer and replace the pregnancy part with some equivalent for a boy? – Revetahw – 2016-09-17T19:53:14.823

3@Fiksdal - I will leave this to everyone's imagination. ;) – anongoodnurse – 2016-09-17T20:28:55.047

@anongoodnurse Alright, fair enough. – Revetahw – 2016-09-17T20:30:00.903

6@TreFox Frankly, I think you could do well with the 'I'm pregnant.' bit. Not 'I impregnated a girl.', but 'I'm pregnant.' But yes, communication. – Williham Totland – 2016-09-17T21:05:18.017

54@Fiksdal 1) Having gotten a girl pregnant. 2) Converting to a sect or a highly controversial faith. 3) Having to go to jail. 4) Need their help with hiding a body. Or my personal favorite, 5) all of the above. – Peter – 2016-09-17T21:56:15.570

19@Peter All of the above FTW. – Revetahw – 2016-09-17T21:59:01.817

6"Ask her what her childhood and teens were like, what she's happiest about and what her biggest regrets are." That sounds really dangerous. I don't think mom is ready to be (what she would most likely consider being) condescend to from her eighth grader. – Mazura – 2016-09-18T03:06:11.560

2

Related: http://www.snopes.com/college/pranks/letter.asp

– user3143 – 2016-09-18T13:21:04.417

13I'm male. I cannot find anything, anything in the OP that suggests the author's gender, but by the time I finished reading OP for the first time I was also sure that the author was a girl. I did not have a second thought - same as you. Now I'm mighty curious, why that is. – Andrew Savinykh – 2016-09-20T01:31:09.407

6I'm really not sure how escalating the situation and intentionally causing tempers to fly will help anything here. You later say yourself that the OP's mother probably needs professional help and will be unreceptive to the OP; how on Earth do you expect making her angry will make her more receptive? I would gladly -1 for that suggestion if I had the rep. – jpmc26 – 2016-09-20T03:35:04.083

5@jpmc26: It is a fake escalation, the goal is to scare them to show them what the real world look like, and give them a perspective on OP's mom's behavior about it. "Look, I know you want to protect me, but I am doing fine, I am not <pregnant/in a sect...>, and am doing pretty well for my age, please review your expectation" – DrakaSAN – 2016-09-20T09:33:07.393

8@user7327 The fear, frustration, and anger the parents will feel is not fake. It might work if the parents are introspective people. It definitely sounds like the mother is not, though, so she's far more likely to focus on what the OP has just done wrong than to be receptive to the point. I'm rather appalled that this answer has gotten so many upvotes; it is incredibly inappropriate advice for the OP's situation. I guess people just think "amusing to me" is a good reason to upvote. – jpmc26 – 2016-09-20T15:41:43.797

1@jpmc26: Sure, it will shake the mother, but it is the point, to force the mother to put things into perspective. Also, even if it is the first option proposed, anongoodnurse did raise the point of the aftermath, and that he should do it only if he is confident he can pull this off. And the other options are really good too. – DrakaSAN – 2016-09-20T15:48:00.653

@TreFox: I identified as female from the writing style; but that's so hazy I wouldn't have written something so assuming as that one from it. – Joshua – 2016-09-20T15:53:18.650

9If using the fake escalation, I think you should inform your father of this plan first, so he can intervene if it escalates too much and beyond your control. But I don't think this a fake escalation is a good idea at all, outside cutesy stories like the one on Snopes that was linked to. – SQB – 2016-09-20T16:28:09.650

3"Ask her what her childhood and teens were like, what she's happiest about and what her biggest regrets are." That is an interesting strategy, speaking to emotion rather than reason. If it works, it could lead to a breakthrough in mutual understanding. – 200_success – 2016-09-20T17:11:58.513

@zespri That's probably because the writing style is generally associated with females; plug the OP in here: http://www.hackerfactor.com/GenderGuesser.php

– called2voyage – 2016-09-20T18:41:27.257

@called2voyage I gave the program the first few paragraphs of my PhD dissertation, and it thinks I'm male. The results may be more driven by subject matter, and words related to that subject matter, than by actual gender. The OP was describing an emotional issue. I was describing a computer science problem. – Patricia Shanahan – 2016-09-21T02:12:54.137

1Dropping that kind of a fake bomb as an object lesson would seriously damage trust and communication going forward. If a serous issue arose, the parents might have doubts about whether it's real or not. Their responses to any issue would be questionable as to whether they thought they were being tested or not. That is too much of a "nuclear option," IMO. Clearly, I'm more on board with the second half of the answer. – PoloHoleSet – 2016-09-22T18:19:54.210

This is truly amazing. – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:28:40.117

I'm really really really tempted to give you all my reputation through a bounty. – MD XF – 2016-12-14T02:35:20.850

1@MD XF - lol!!! – anongoodnurse – 2016-12-14T03:14:17.237

@MD XF - Oh my word. I am very touched. Thank you! :) – anongoodnurse – 2016-12-14T03:26:29.860

23

How about, one day when things aren't frantic, you initiate a discussion about rules and expectations. Some guidelines that are there 'in the background' so that you aren't being picked on for arbitrary things. It could give you a chance to put some 'basis in fact' into the standards you're expected to be meeting. You could make points like:

  • Your homework, when you time-manage it well, only takes (say) 1 hour 30 mins on average. You'd prefer she held you to time managing the homework well, rather than encouraging you to spread it out.

  • Almost all valuable knowledge-based activities (academic, business, whatever) are done on a computer, so using a computer is not 'messing around'.

  • There's often an 'S-curve' relationship between effort and results. 80-90% is often about the mark that a good student should be getting. Students who get 100% are often wasting a lot of time going for those last few marks (when they could be spending that time doing other valuable things).

  • you understand you need to tidy up socks, but sometimes it's more efficient to do a tidying 'sweep' now and again than to always be tidying up at the earliest opportunity.

(This idea is based on some 'guidelines' that a young relative made with her parents where she agreed to let them know where she was at a certain level of granularity, and they would dial back their attempts to locate her all the time. It was stuck on the wall - near the phone!)

You sound like someone that wants to be really good at a whole bunch of things rather than be 'perfect' at a few things. In the long run, that's very likely to be the higher-achieving approach. Perhaps get your dad on board with helping to get your mum on board. Good luck!


Edit in response to a couple of comments below: I do agree that if your mum 'has a real problem' in some sense, the above probably isn't directly applicable. On the other hand, if she is trying to be constructive and just getting it a bit wrong, hopefully you are getting to the age where she may deign to have an 'adult' conversation with you.

user24450

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation:

Rules; written down, yes! - "Your mom needs help, and likely it will involve a professional, as she most likely will not/cannot give due weight/consideration to anything you say to her in an attempt to get her to change." - An extra plus one for your last line; involve the only other person on Earth that can affect the situation: .... "DAD!!!!" – Mazura – 2016-09-19T21:31:51.427

1@Mazura I think at least the first half of your comment may be directed at anongoodnurse's answer? – None – 2016-09-19T21:43:03.013

2Nope. That is, IMO, the only valuable information in that other answer; most of it's noise about a fantasy conversation. Step one is getting dad on board because [that quote]. – Mazura – 2016-09-19T21:49:54.823

@Mazura Aha. Fair enough! – None – 2016-09-19T21:52:46.763

3This is a tough conversation to have successfully. It's not going to be a friendly chat with a rational peer. You need to be in command throughout, with a fully prepared agenda, and with a stated expectation that she can respond after you're all done talking. Otherwise, you'll get bogged down in defense of the first point, get accused of being disrespectful, etc. etc., and it could backfire badly. Enlisting dad as a moderator would help a lot. Good luck! – 200_success – 2016-09-20T17:06:41.660

Controlling people are not exactly well known for receiving this sorts of conversation well. Your answer doesn't really address this fact nor give the OP any advice on how to make it go over better. – enderland – 2016-09-22T13:07:41.807

14

Ouch OP, you're in a tough situation. My mother did the same stuff, and the only thing I could do was move out as soon as I could. Unfortunately she had a legitimate personality disorder, and the older I grew the more I realised that she wasn't as awesome a mom as I thought she was as a kid.

There are a lot of good replies here: appealing to your father, trying to have an honest conversation with your mother, and talking to a counsellor are all things you should do first. Most likely your mom is just cranky about something (like not having enough free time of her own), or is setting her expectations impossibly high. But if that doesn't work out, there's a technique that could make the situation more bearable for you and maybe get her off your back a bit:

When she starts picking on you, don't encourage her. Don't give her any kind of feedback that would "reward" her: this means doing your best to not show signs of being upset by her nagging. When she's angry at you for not having a spotless room or not performing perfectly on an exam, just stay relaxed and respond to her calmly and sensibly. When she's screaming about your grades, just respond calmly (but not hushed) that you did good on those tests. If she's yelling that you're on your computer too much, all you need to tell her is that you're working- if she keeps at it, then keep repeating that yes, you're on your computer because you're working. If she rants that your backpack is heavy - "Yes, it's heavy because I have textbooks in it." If she's berating you because there's a sock on the floor - "Yes, that's a sock. You're right. I'll put it away next time I'm getting dressed." If all she's after is a fight or an outlet for problems she's facing, eventually she'll realise that she's not going to get it from you.

Best of luck OP, I hope things look up soon.

technokrat

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 248

1This is an excellent answer, and I think the most important fact that TreFox really needs to understand is: this is not your fault. This is a problem with your mother, not a problem with you. So techniques described here by @technokrat are all to get you through a lecture that you already know you don't deserve. – BradC – 2016-09-22T14:12:40.117

A very different perspective on the possible genesis of her mother's behavior. Thanks for that. – PoloHoleSet – 2016-09-22T18:23:06.323

5

I am posting this answer as I have been in your shoes. I can't possibly know if the situation is the same, but it is a possibility. The reason my mother was doing that was because she thought I should be the best, perfect, etc, i.e. she had high expectations and thought I am able to meet up to them. She was not doing it on purpose or to diminish what I have accomplished. She was doing it because she genuinely thought I am that great.

So whenever I did not meet the high expectation - like bringing home a not perfect grade, I was always met with the question: "Why?"

Her behavior had both negative and positive effects on my life. Negative, because now every little drawback and not perfect outcome I take as personal failure and feel really bad. Positive, because I became very ambitious and I am always striving to improve - both my life and myself. Although, even this could sometimes be negative - sometimes I don't know when to stop.

What I am trying to say is that you can start interpreting her behavior differently so that you are not negatively affected by it. Every time she scolds you for not being perfect, just take it as a compliment that you are so great, she thinks you should be perfect. And accept the fact that nobody is perfect so you are as close to perfect as you could possibly be.

Maria

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 51

There are two kinds of people. Ones that grow into strond and ambitious people. and ones that realize that "almost success = fail, no succes at all = fail, so why do I bother?" Because there is always something one can improve. You got 100%? Why didn't you get it faster? You speak fluently English, French, Spanish, German, Hungarian and Finnish. Why you don't speak Italian? – Crowley – 2016-09-21T00:05:23.053

3

First of all, this is not a problem that you should have to solve. You are 13, which means you're not an adult, still living at home, and in all aspects still very much under your parents' control. You need others to help you solve this problem.
Involve your father, tell him how much it bothers you. He should act on your behalf and for your benefit. Another option would be to talk to a school counsellor, if your school has one.

A good outcome of such a conversation would be seeing a therapist with the entire family — you, your mother, your father. A therapist should be a neutral third party, who can help mediate between the three of you. Also, if your mother needs to hear some unpleasant truths, she needs to hear them from someone who's not a part of the relation. That way, she has no reason to get mad at you for what is said, and your father does not have to pick sides.


For the shorter term, a technique you could employ is "reflective listening", to defuse her anger.

What you do, basically, is first listening to her, then summarising what she has said fairly (however unfair you may think it is), and only then offering a counter point.

An example:

"Okay mom, so you're saying I should not be wasting my time on the computer; I should do homework instead, is that correct?"
"Here's my agenda, this is the homework for the coming days. I've done this, this, and that. I still need input from my teacher for this, so I can't do that yet. So I have no more homework to do at the moment."
"Also, if I complete this computer program, I will earn $X with it, since mr. Doe will pay me for it. Is it okay if I complete it?"

SQB

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 1 315

Don't ask if it's okay to complete it. Just finish the thing! – L.B. – 2016-09-21T20:00:10.957

Probably this type of riposte will trigger the opposite effect, infuriate his mother even more. The imaginary monologue coming from a 13 year old sounds condescending, teetering on arrogance, however mature the child may be. This is probably what will happen in three or fours down the road, if the mother continues to vent her frustrations. – Mari-Lou A – 2016-09-28T16:39:10.433

C'est le ton qui fait la musique. It's difficult to convey tone in written (well, typed) text, but what I meant was to be genuinely humble and reflecting. Cooperative. First, reflecting back what she has just said, to get her to agree, Then letting her find out that you've already met the conditions she's imposing. But always polite and humble, agreeing as much as possible, instead of denying or going against her. Instead of "no, I've already done my homework!", "yes, and I've already done my homework." But to be honest, from the description, I feel that anything might trigger a rage. – SQB – 2016-09-28T17:26:14.917

2

You need to start pulling back from your mother and engage her less with the day to day details of your life.

It sounds like you're coping well with your studies, have your own interests and you're self motivated so I don't think you need your mother to be involved in every single aspect of your life any more.

Over time you can involve her less and less. You don't need to tell her about every single assignment or exam, you don't have to tell her about every piece of homework, you don't have to tell her about every grade (good or bad). You don't have to tell her every single person you're hanging out with on the weekends, or where you're going, or what side projects you're working on, or what you did in class today.

I'm not saying you should be dishonest, or hide things from her. If she asks about something in particular then answer her honestly (although you don't have to go into more detail than necessary). Of course she'll have insights into your life from other sources (report cards, from your friends parents, etc.), and in those cases give her honest information, but not more than you have to.

It won't totally eliminate her interference, but over time there will be less and less for her to react to.

  • She can't criticise you for working on a side project if she can't tell a side project from homework
  • She can't criticise your performance on a particular exam if she didn't know you had it and she only sees your aggregated result on our report card
  • She can't criticise you for having a heavy backpack if you lift it from the car yourself and she never has an opportunity to touch it

She can still criticise you for leaving socks on the floor, but you can learn to deal with that.

Over time she'll hopefully get used to a lower degree of involvement in your life, and hopefully she'll also develop trust in your ability to manage your life as things continue to go on fine without her knowing about every single aspect.

SomeoneWithAMom

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 31

3It does not seem like your advice would help a lot. His mom does not seem to need good reasons for what she does. And how is he realistically going to keep his mom from knowing about him without effectively having to say: "mind your own business"? Yet you don't say anything about that. – hkBst – 2016-09-19T06:57:48.913

2

She is most likely worried that you end up as a messy computer geek instead of what she wants for you, and none what she has done so far helped (enough) so she has raised her voice more and more until we have the current situation. You sound quite mature so my question is if you could imagine actually talking to the bottom of the underlying issue with her - I think you need an explicit agreement that you do what she expects within reason and when that is done you have time off you can spend as you wish.

I would consider it very important to get to a point where you can get a "Yes/No" answer to "Have I done everything we agreed to, to your satisfaction?". She might need time to think over what she wants you to do. She might also want you to attend sports or similar to counterweight the computer things.

You mentioned that you earn money from your computer activities. Is this enough that it could be considered an actual job earning you your own money? If so, it needs a different status in your relationship with your mother.

Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 121

I disagree with what's suggested in the last paragraph. Ideally, I think his Mother's only amusement should come from the kid spending his time with the sole purpose of learning, and not earning any money at all. At the age of 13 it's arguably a bit too early for that, as it migh get in "education"s way (learning, that is). – Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T13:10:13.347

@Marc.2377 I do not understand "Mothers only amusement". I consider this a very important part in making OP's mother change her point of view. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen – 2016-09-21T13:35:09.860

I invite you for a chat room so we can clarify on this.

– Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T13:46:21.583

2

There's a tough choice being a parent (I have two teenage kids, who are VERY different) - on the one hand there's 'tough love' - you can see the child you love making what you consider to be poor choices and getting into some bad habits and you can be ruthless and risk making yourself their enemy by forcing them to do what you want, setting very high standards and holding back on the praise until it's really deserved - giving it more value: or on the other hand, you can praise them profusely, devaluing it and you can treat them like adults, let them make their own mistakes and hopefully learning from them will be a better lesson.

As I say, we have two very different kids and the elder one reacts badly to any kind of direction from us, he'll do the opposite just to assert his independence, even if it ends up worse for him. The younger one is very sensible and we can explain our reasoning behind what we'd prefer her to do or stop doing and she'll understand. We often let her choose between what she wants to do and what we'd prefer without too much direction and she'll choose the sensible option unprompted.

We went through a huge period of frustration with the eldest, he's very strong-willed and things often escalated to the point of us screaming at each other and both sides saying things they later regretted. We hate ourselves when this happens, but we are usually acting out of the best of motives. He's convinced he knows what's best for him, but well, we've been teenagers too, and we know for certain we made some very bad choices which our adults selves regret. That hindsight is what drives us to try to persuade him to choose more wisely and it's very frustrating when he won't even listen.

Having said all this in defense of your mother, there are parents who are very controlling and have a very narrow plan in their heads for their offspring and get frustrated when the child shows disregard for it.

From your portrayal of her, (as a parent, I must say that our own, and I think, most kids, do tend to exaggerate and tell one side of a story. Actually, that's not fair, I think a lot of adults do that too) this sounds like it could be her problem to some extent. Parents often do know best in a whole range of things and feel it's their job to protect their children, but eventually they have to let go and let you make your own choices, if they don't they risk alienating their kids or (like in our case) having them rebel to everything they say on principle.

Chris Smith

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 21

This is not really an answer but rather an extended comment. – SQB – 2016-09-20T16:22:13.433

2

As a 13-year-old, it's reasonable to ask for some element of personal responsibility. It's also reasonable for parents to only give you as much personal responsibility as they think you can handle. So ask for it - not as your right, but as something you earn.

You want to spend your free time on software/football/chess/pokerwork/juggling? Great - it happens after homework, and homework has to be up to scratch. Is your homework done? Yep. Are you still getting A grades? Yep. Then what you do in the remaining time is your call. If your grades dip, then mom can legitimately ask whether you're cutting homework to spend time on a hobby. If your grades stay high, you have earned free time to spend on what you choose.

Clothes on the floor? It's your room - show that you can keep it in reasonable condition. If it becomes a total mess, mom can legitimately tell you you're not managing and get stricter. One sock on the floor does not qualify as a mess though.

If you can demonstrate that you can handle these kind of adult decisions, then you can reasonably ask to be treated in a more adult way. And if mom does nag you, then you've got the facts on your side.

As far as complaining about spending time programming goes though, as a 40-year-old software engineer with 20 years of professional experience behind me, I can testify that every good engineer started doing this kind of thing as a hobby when they were still at school. She really should not be stifling a lucrative future career in software!

Graham

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 649

0

This is some basic game theory going on - she has high expectations and you're a great kid (honestly). I see that you're a boy and you have to realize how rare you are. I work in a sales shop where I meet mothers all the time and their sons do nothing at all, except video games and entertainment. You work at a young age, hang out with friends and invest in yourself - way ahead of your group. But game theory is game theory - people will continue to do what they're rewarded for and your mom in a sense is being rewarded by pressuring you. This is just a reality from her perspective.

You do need to realize that your mom probably gets that you're ahead of your peers and sees her pressure as part of why, along with you constantly trying to impress her. In other words, from her perspective, what she is doing is working. She gets a reward for this and continues to pressure you more.

If she continues to annoy you, rather than fight it - especially since you know it's not true - go to the opposite extreme and she'll start to back off. For example:

Mom: are you going to sit around all day on your computer? You need to hang out with friends!

You: yeah mom, I'm never going to talk to another person as long as I'm alive. Computers are so much more interesting than humans.

It's one thing if you were lazy like this, but since you're not, she'll take the hint that she's annoying you. As long as you're performing, she'll get what this means. If this was true, however, it wouldn't work with her.

Finally, be thankful you have a mom with high expectations. Kids who have parents with high expectations do more in life than kids who don't. That's just a reality; we live up to what others expect in us. What would suck more is if a parent told you, "Oh wow, you got an A+. I never saw that coming." Think about it.

wpquestionz

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 41

Not sure why this has been downvoted. It's potentially the best answer here. Not only could it actually work, but the OP seems fully able to grasp how it could be made to work. – user2338816 – 2016-09-21T00:46:32.877

1@user2338816 Thanks; you have to learn that people on this site are really emotional about answers and let that stand in the way of how they vote. For instance, even when I disagree, I don't downvote. My answer compliments both the OP and his mom and I remind him that he's lucky to have a parent with high expectations. I do think sometimes parents need to be reminded that a good kid is a good kid and they are also lucky to have a good kid like the OP. Still, as bizarre as it sounds, this reality will actually anger people! – wpquestionz – 2016-09-21T12:48:41.700

I upvoted for the first part of this answer, which I find excellent. Understanding what's on Mom's mind is the key. I recall at least one book on the subject: The Drama of the Gifted Child#The_Drama_of_the_GiftedChild.28Das_Drama_des_begabten_Kindes.2C_1979.29). I don't find this particular book awesome, but it's something - its title gives a hint. The second part, however, might or might not work - this is specially true if dealing with people with some psychiatric disorder.

– Marc Ranolfi – 2016-09-21T13:16:51.233

1I have to start laughing at this one... I have said almost the exact thing to my mom (about liking computers better than humans). It drives her nuts but she has learned to live with it since I do software testing for a living now. – L.B. – 2016-09-21T20:02:16.800

0

tl;dr;

I think that best course of action is to talk with another family member or maybe even better a psychologist (there should be such people at school or some local organization) that can help you understand better the situation and possibly talk with your parents. If your dad can see that your mother's reactions are inappropriate, probably better to ask him if you together can get professional consulting about the whole situation. That would be ideal because it's more about between two them than between your mother and you.

-- boring nonsense below --

Hate and anger won't help as you have already observed. You must be smarter than most kids to have such observations on the situation and trying to find help in such a way.

There are some good points in Mazura's answer. It is truly sad but there are no perfect parents on earth. And unfortunately children are picking not only the good but also the bad things. What is good in your life is mostly because of your parents and what is not good, also mostly because of your parents. So try to keep a balanced view of the whole situation. "Honor our Father and Mother" I think means honor them for what they are good and understand they might have lived in far worse situation, probably they are much better parents than their parents and pray for yourself to be an even better parent one day.

Now IMO it's ok to search for a solution to problems you have. But honestly, I don't think with your 13 years and without special education, you can understand why your mother behaves like that. Even less likely it is for a child to correct their parents.

P.S. I know it sounds stupid to you, it wouldn't make sense to me at that age either. But now I can tell you that there is a big difference how one perceives things when 10yo, 20yo or 30yo (with and without own children). It is not based on being smarter or something, it's more about personal experience and observation of other people.

akostadinov

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 146

-1

Just do as we (parents) do with annoying kids: get your mother a derivative. Maybe a cat or a dog would help? Or complain that you cannot concentrate on your homework because of the neigbourghs. Best would be to get her other kids but I bet this is not an option? (I'm joking here obviously, but...)

Guillaume

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 1 166

-1

Make some more mistakes.

Seriously, you need to lower the bar of expectations. Here are some ideas:

  • Come home (seemingly or really) drunk some time, stumble and break something.

  • Bang up the car (hint: tail lights are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, paint not so).

  • Bring a boyfriend over. Yes, boyfriend, and make it look like you're into each other whether you are gay or not.

  • Start preaching to your parents about some controversial higher cause as if you've become a fanatic. Vegetarianism is a good one, Islam is another. Keep it up for at least a week.

  • Come home with a bloody nose and a black eye. Tell them "uh, I fell".

In the best case, the bar of expectations has been lowered and you'll no longer have to excuse your every action. In the worst case, you will learn a bit more about your parents' attitudes regarding sex, violence, religion, and personal responsibilities.

dotancohen

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 1 172

2No, this is a really bad advice, this will just grow more tension, and may burn deeply the relationship. Faking it, then immediately back out of it to show what could happen is a good idea. Blindly throwing himself in harm's way is immature, irresponsible, and will push the mother to be even more worried. It could be understood as a last, desperate measure when everything else have failed, and you are ready to move out. – DrakaSAN – 2016-09-20T09:27:12.880

@user7327: As I stated, increasing the tension is the goal. The mother is comparing her son to the worst that she knows. Therefore, show her worse. – dotancohen – 2016-09-20T09:40:57.547

2Showing her worse, sure, I m all for it, but not by consciously being worse, breaking things, or getting hurt, that would indeed scare her, but she would have the right to act on it. Faking worse, and showing you are conscious it is worse, and remark you are not doing that, and are at the opposite end will leave her scared, but with nothing else to do but listen. – DrakaSAN – 2016-09-20T10:05:08.627

-4

Your mom wants you to follow a more standard path through life, completing your education before getting a professional job, etc. She thinks you're at a time in your life when it's better to invest in your future, primarily through education, than to get sidetracked into things which are not academic learning.

This raises a question: how interested are you in academic learning yourself? If you are interested, don't just finish your homework; get textbooks for the next grade and start learning that material. Tell your mom that you feel that school is not challenging you, and you'd really like to skip a grade, or another grade if you've already skipped one; maybe she'll fight for you to do so. Learn calculus and physics if you haven't, or relativity and quantum theory. Calculus and other forms of advanced math, at least, will be useful for advanced software engineering.

If you're prefer just to coast in school and spend the time doing other things that you enjoy, then you could try to head things off by showing appreciation. For example, if you've already finished all your homework when she complains about how you should do that first, tell her, "I've already finished my homework, mom, thanks for teaching me good working habits when I was little!" and give her a big hug. There's at least a chance that will work.

Warren Dew

Posted 2016-09-17T11:46:34.123

Reputation: 2 337

6Your assumptions seem off and you seem to be answering a different question from what was asked. – hkBst – 2016-09-19T06:48:45.010

@hkBst He asked what he can do. I answered, with explanation. As for assumptions, I suspect it's yours that are off. – Warren Dew – 2016-09-19T07:41:00.127

Well... Following a standard path has never been good for anyone on this planet. So she still has a bit of a flawed view of things there. And to clarify, following a standard path doesn't necessarily hurt but it has never truly helped anyone. – L.B. – 2016-09-21T20:05:09.403

Following a standard path is a solid, risk averse approach. As a software engineer, I will say that starting work in the field as a teen is not the best path: if you're capable of that, your career path will be better if you instead spend the effort working toward a computer science PhD - which in this case means working on advanced high school math first. – Warren Dew – 2016-09-23T06:48:46.340

@WarrenDew :) I work in software engineering and I'm 19. – L.B. – 2016-11-09T15:54:38.660