“Should I Go No Contact with My Mother Or Something Less Drastic ?”- Read This First

Find out if you are a Good Daughter!

woman trying to decide if she should go no contact with her mother?


READ/WATCH/LISTEN to Should I go no contact with my mother or something less drastic?


There’s usually a last straw, a deal-breaker, the final insult you can’t ignore.  You might find yourself saying…,


  I have no other choice except to go no contact with my mother.


What’s more, I can’t find the words to tell her what she’s done wrong ( for a read about that, go here


That may indeed be the right choice, but you will be helped if you take a moment and think this through.


Table of Contents

First, realize you do have a choice-


Watch below to see what I mean.


Is this you?


Angry, resentful, and feeling betrayed, you’ve come away from a visit or a conversation that makes you feel like lashing out or caving into yourself in defeat.  Mom’s said the thing or done the thing that kills whatever hope you had for a good relationship with her.


At what point do you say ENOUGH?! Enough abuse, dysfunction, bullying, momma drama, intrusion, insults, and toxicity for one lifetime, you say.


You’ve reached the end of your rope, the last straw, and you can’t let her treat you this way.


Frankly, you don’t know what else to do.


Let me help you.


First of all…you are not alone.


Almost every daughter of a difficult mother I see in psychotherapy struggles with drawing the line and drawing a hard line with her mother.


(Furthermore, they don’t know when or how to let mom back in. ) 


Let’s start with real-life examples of clients that are fed up with Mom.


Real-life examples from real clients- considering no contact with Mom.  


woman on therapy coach askng should I go no contact with my mother?


Seated on my psychotherapy couch, Sarah is in agony.


” I can’t take one more discussion of my faults. Nothing is ever good enough for her. No matter what I do… she weighs in with criticism and judgment.  I get off the phone in tears feeling terrible about myself. Who needs that? I’d be better off never talking to her again.” 


In a later session, Emily says, “Mom’s a black hole.


“I constantly take care of her and have nothing left for myself. Her neediness is sucking the life out of me. Everything turns into drama, and whatever happens, it’s always my fault. When will this end?”


Still later, Susan says,” My mother is toxic.


She poisons everything she touches. She twists the truth and constantly manipulates to make herself look good instead of owning up to anything. I’ve had it with her lies and manipulations. After what she said to me yesterday, I am never speaking to that woman again!”


Angry, resentful, and feeling betrayed, you’ve come away from a visit or a conversation that makes you feel like lashing out or caving into yourself in defeat. 


Mom’s said the thing or done the thing that kills whatever hope you had for a good relationship with her.


There’s just no coming back from this one- you tell yourself.


woman wondering if she should go no contact with her mother?

 Should I go no contact with my mother? 


Maybe she’s criticized you for the last time or created so much unnecessary drama she has exhausted all the goodwill, second chances, or patience you’ve got in you. Or you’ve exhausted yourself trying to please her and find…nothing is ever good enough for her.


Either way, you are out of emotional gas.


In the course of a psychotherapy day, I hear more than one daughter trapped in the role of the “good daughter”  of a difficult mother struggle with this one agonizing question, “Should I go no contact with my mother or do something less drastic?”


When it makes sense to go no contact with your mother


Sometimes going no contact is the only acceptable option. Especially for daughters of mothers who fall on the antisocial, sociopathic end of the psychological spectrum, cutting off all contact can be the only way to save yourself.


Or if you have put up with abusive treatment and want to call it quits, you have it within your rights to decide to who you will give access- full stop.


Should you go no contact with your mother? Sometimes it is plain as day.


The short answer is probably “YES ” if your mother is one of those Moms.


Let me explain-



woman deciding she should go no contact with her mother?

How can you tell if your mother is one of those moms- (the antisocial, sociopathic, or extremely disturbed Moms)


 ask yourself-


  • Does Mom regularly break the law, lie, steal, or cheat without any show of remorse?
  • Is she intentionally cruel and seems to take pleasure in causing others misery?
  • Does she possess no capacity for empathy… no matter the circumstance?
  • Has she shown little or no capacity for self-reflection?
  • Do you need to get off the roller coaster with a mother who is making your life a living hell?

The sociopathic mother is, frankly, rare. She is, however, someone you need to protect yourself from. If you can be 100% sure she is incapable of acting with basic human emotions, you need to get away… and fast.


No contact is definitely in order.


If you are on the fence, I may have another option for you.


For most narcissistic, borderline, or personality-disordered moms (many of whom land somewhere on a spectrum), you have other options to exercise before you deploy the nuclear option- going no contact. ( and remember, you always have that option).


As angry and ready to take action as you are… thinking this one through will pay off in the long run, even if you ultimately decide to go no contact. Stick with me here and…


 ask yourself –


Is Mom controlling, manipulative, and self-centered when her back is up against the wall? But, when the heat is off, and she doesn’t feel threatened, can she show some empathy?


Does she follow the rules in some aspect of her life, even when it isn’t to her advantage?


* I want to be sure you know- if your answer is yes, that doesn’t make Mom’s behavior okay in my book… not by a long shot. It just means she has other, more human psychological tools in her toolbox. 


(You have to give her enough reason to use them- but more on that later.)

Here is where most daughters go wrong-


  1.  Insist Mom admit she is wrong and you are right.
  2. Insist Mom agrees to therapy and works on changing herself.

And if not, you will go NO CONTACT!


“What’s wrong with that, you say? Mom is wrong, and she needs to admit it before anything can change. She is the one that is messed up and needs help. Isn’t that obvious!”


If mom is wrong shouldn't she admit it


In a perfect world – YES!  But in my experience, this approach rarely goes well.


You see, Mom’s ways of thinking and doing things have been ingrained over years and years. She is very practiced at it and is unlikely to make a % 180-degree turn.


But, giving Mom this kind of ultimatum, you will likely get defensive push-back rather than the hoped-for concession.




“But why,” you ask. “I’m only asking for her to own her part in the dysfunction and agree to change her ways. Is that too much to ask?”


The answer isn’t so much about what is fair… as it is about what is possible.


And I want to set you up for success, not failure.


Here’s the unvarnished truth as I know it- 


A mother whose personality structure has been dependent on deflecting blame and criticism is virtually allergic to taking responsibility for her actions. She will hardly EVER admit to being wrong, think she needs therapy, or commit to acting differently- at least, not in this lifetime.


Think of it this way: Mom has been using her defense mechanisms for pretty much her entire life, certainly way before you came along. As such, she will have encountered resistance to her ways. If none of the consequences she has encountered thus far has been enough to make her reconsider and self-reflect, she is unlikely to give them up now.


In her mind, admitting she is wrong, messed up, or needs to change will dismantle her entire psychologically constructed house of cards. She will fight to the psychological death to give it up, even if it destroys all her relationships in the process.



Yes, if Mom is that difficult, she isn’t going to back down and admit she is the one with the problem.


Does that mean Mom is hopeless, and you have no other choice but to go no contact? I would argue- no, not right away, anyway.  But, the change that needs to happen is within you. You have to get clear on the fact that you matter.


Instead of demanding she change, you must realize your value and act accordingly.


I will show you how.


woman feeling confident

“Why is this so hard for me to do!”


Well, you see, the thing you need to do is the thing that is hardest for you to do.


This is because you have had virtually NO practice or support claiming your needs. Life as the Good Daughter has revolved around your mother’s needs, moods, and preferences. It’s like a muscle you’ve hardly ever used. So it has atrophied.


You don’t know that your needs, preferences, and opinions count TOO. Not yet, anyway. 


Ironically, demanding your mother change (and deep down knowing she won’t ) is just another version of making her the one that matters.


Put her on the defensive, and you will be dealt an onslaught of excuses, deflections, accusations, and well-worn arguments.  Either that or she will play the victim and crumble in a heap of tears designed to disarm you.


Most difficult mothers have black belts in launching an offense as the best defense or playing the victim, so you won’t hold her accountable.


She’s been in training for this one her whole life.


should I go no contact with my mother?

What’s more, Before you know it- IT’S. ALL. ABOUT. HER… AGAIN!


Here’s the other problem with deploying the “no contact” option right out of the gate.


After the anger subsides and the amnesia of time washes over you, you are in danger of succumbing to the biggest boundary-caving emotion of all GUILT!


Especially for the daughter, trapped in the “good” daughter’s role, guilt has her in a vise grip. When the guilt sets in, I usually hear some variation of, “But she’s my MOTHER. She did the best she could. She didn’t let me starve-I’ll give her that. Besides, what would she do without me?  I can’t cut my own mother off, can I?”


BUT- let me tell you, feeling guilty and being guilty are two different things. You may feel guilty that you are destroying her life but only be guilty of wanting a healthy boundaried relationship.


You have to prepare. 


Otherwise, she will knock you off your game at the first sign of resistance.


If you have some tenderness in your relationship with your Mom, guilt can swamp you and kill off your resolve as soon as you can say, ” Mother, May I?” Then, before you know it, you are back in the subservient position with Mom apologizing for upsetting her.


Keep in mind- if you go, no contact time will pass, and there will always be-


-A funeral

-A wedding-

-The birth of a baby-

 Will you stay away and miss out?


In some cases, staying away is necessary. Being in the same room with Mom isn’t worth your sanity.  But if you declare no contact, be prepared – from now on, the losses that come along will keep on adding up.


So is there a way, an approach that won’t box you in?


When you ask, should I go no contact with my mother?-


You have to face this central truth.


When you lay down any version of “this isn’t working for me,” it will cause some upset. Mom isn’t all of a sudden going to roll over and acquiesce. Nope, she will kick up a fuss of some kind- even if the fuss comes in the form of the silent treatment.


Is there another approach besides going no contact with your mother?




An alternative (which may or may not lead up to no contact depending on Mom’s response)  is to set a boundary around something important to you but isn’t the biggest issue you have with Mom.


*In my version, you will use the fact that she will give you pushback to your advantage. You actually count on the fact that she is going to overreact.


The key is- you have to set a boundary that is about something you can control.


5 examples of setting boundaries that are within your control.


Telling Mom-

  1. You aren’t ready/willing to share when she asks you something too personal.
  2. Returning Mom’s emails or phone calls on your schedule instead of hers.
  3.  Right or wrong, you need to make your own adult decisions despite how she may feel about them.
  4.  You are going to spend the holidays with your in-laws.
  5. You will have to agree to disagree on a political or religious issue.

That’s it!


When she pushes back, you keep your cool and stand your ground.


  You don’t threaten anything big. You simply refuse to give her the power to have control over you. This way, you make a small change and expect a BIG reaction. By stating a reasonable boundary and sticking to it, you let her have an UNREASONABLE  overreaction.


That’s right. You expect the outsized reaction, and you stand your ground and change the dynamic.


Repeat as necessary- with each intrusion, boundary-crossing, unwanted advice, and criticism; you assert your adult power.


No matter what Mom does, you can strengthen a muscle that has been weak up until now. You can score a personal win despite Mom’s reaction.  


What are the advantages of setting a boundary first – even if you ultimately go no contact down the road?

  • You can set a small (low emotional ) boundary and expect and prepare for some pushback. That way, you can build a self-reliance muscle one small rep at a time.
  • You come from a place of thoughtful intention instead of a defensive reaction.
  • Setting a boundary this way enhances your self-esteem and sense of sovereignty over your life.

*In this way, you are signaling to Mom that you are taking charge of your life.


You are the boss of you! Imagine that! 


woman making an empowered decision

Here’s a little-acknowledged secret- as powerless as you are used to feeling, you ultimately hold the power now that you are an adult.


(And that includes going no contact if that’s what you choose.)


What?????? That’s right. As an adult, you get to decide how much contact you have with your Mom. And here’s another little secret. Despite her actions, and sometimes because of them …deep down… she knows it too.


As a child, she had the power. As an adult, you hold the power. 


This is your first task. To realize and accept the full extent of your power. Her actions, no matter how misguided, are designed to keep you from knowing this essential truth. Because when you realize it… she loses her hold on you.


Yes, it’s that simple.


So with that in mind-


Now next time you ask yourself, should I go no contact with my mother? You have a whole new way of thinking about it.


You get to decide what is and is not okay with you, communicate it, and stick to your guns. 


If she asks what she can do differently- I’ve got a guide for you- to pick and choose from – go here.


That means knowing what you plan to do if Mom crosses a line or exhibits a behavior you have decided is off-limits. Setting the limit doesn’t involve controlling her but taking control of yourself. This is the key.



Again you aren’t asking her to do something you know she (probably) won’t do.  You are taking action.


What would this look like?


Walk away.

Stop talking.

End the conversation by saying…


” Mom, I’m going to hang up now,” ” Mom, I’m not willing to talk about x with you anymore” ” Mom, I’ll let you know if I change my mind about x, but for now, I’m going to do y. Mom, I hear your concern, but I need to figure this out on my own.”


In a word, DISENGAGE.


These are choices that are within your power. It’s that simple and that hard, but the effort is more internal than external.


Will Mom go along? I expect not!  When you set those expectations and communicate them, most daughters say, “My mother won’t go for that.”


To that, I say, of course, she won’t. If you were to wait for mom to realize the error of her ways, you might be waiting a lifetime.  Just because mom has always called the shots in your relationship, you assume that’s the way it will always be. WRONG! 


In this healthier scenario-


you aren’t asking her for permission; you decide for yourself the kind of adult relationship you want. 


Big difference. It’s time to take the reins of your own life. Having her in your life or not is your choice. You didn’t choose your mother, but you can choose how you relate (or if you relate) to the mother you have.



Will this be easy? Not on your life.


In fact, whether you get a minor tremor or a significant earthquake of resistance is directly proportional to the level of dysfunction in your relationship. A healthy, balanced relationship involves both parties who consider each other’s interests and compromise.


While the resistance is undeniably upsetting, it also holds incredibly valuable information. When your reasonable request touches off explosive resistance, you know you have unearthed a landmine of dysfunction. And you can’t deal with something you don’t know is there.


Then, depending on how mom responds- this is a great litmus test to see if Mom has defenses that will be problematic and unchangeable or if she can reverse course.


If you are clear and have internal resolve (admittedly a huge task), the rest will fall into place.


Not easily or smoothly, but developing internal resolve is essential for your own healing, whether your mother ever changes. By taking the upper hand, you have flipped the dynamics of the relationship. For the first part of your life, mom held the power.


Now it’s your turn.

So, in summary – when you ask, should I go no contact with my mother? remember –


Whether you go low contact, no contact, or “I’m taking a break for now” contact, if you have communicated your needs and limits, you can let her decide the level of contact by her actions and response. In effect, you are saying, ” Mom, here is where I stand; you decide how ( and if) you choose to show up in my life.” 


In this way, you take control of your life instead of hoping she will change.


*A Bonus-  you don’t have to shoulder all of the responsibility of deciding whether or not you and your mother have a relationship. With a wake-up call, mom may alter her approach or not. Then, making the call about how much contact you want is based on real-life data.


One thing is for certain, hoping mom will change is not a strategy. Whatever her response, by exercising your power in this way, you build your confidence and start living life on your own terms. If you need me to help you formulate a plan, you can reach me here.


And that is always a good place to start, no matter where you end up!


Yes, some daughters have no experience with differentiating from their mothers. Without knowing how they might tell their mothers that they want some space, they break off all contact.

A daughter may establish boundaries and see how her mother reacts to those boundaries first before cutting ties altogether. Then if Mom can’t or won’t respect the boundaries her daughter has set she can seriously consider using the no-contact option.

As time goes on, there are occasions that the daughter may not want to miss. She may miss out on weddings, funerals, or other family events if she is determined never to be in her mother’s presence again.

  1. Every interaction ends in hurt and pain.. 2) They can’t make the pain stop any other way. 3) Their mothers refuse to stop abusing them.

When a daughter says, “I’m taking a break for now,”  she can take control of the situation and give herself some breathing room so that she can get a break from a dynamic that doesn’t feel healthy. Then she can reflect on ( and eventually communicate- when she is ready) what she needs and will tolerate from her relationship with her  mother.

When her mother’s behavior is isolated to behavior that results from intergenerational wounding, is not all of the time and her mother is capable of reflection and empathy.

If her mother lies constantly, displays cruelty with no remorse exhibits criminal or psychopathic behavior, and is incapable of empathy in any circumstance.


If you’d rather listen



Where are you in this? Have you tried no contact or low contact? Let me know in the comments.





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  1. Mistie Taylor

    I live with my mother. She and my dad adopted my son at age 3 because I was headed down a shady past. It’s so hard on me I just feel like I’m trapped and that no one could ever understand. There is just so much to tell. I can’t leave here I have to stay in the home with her she is getting old. She is very healthy and able but expects me to do it all. We don’t communicate well if at all. It’s like I just don’t know how to speak. I’m afraid and I’m 46 years old! I don’t know what to do! Help me please!

    • Natasha

      Hi Mistie, I feel For you..
      Make contact with a local counselor/psycholgist, (you may be able to get a doctor’s recommandation) with a view to becoming emotionally stronger, finding your voice and ultimately changing your life for the better..
      Find or buy lots of Books on Narcissism (teaching you how to navigate difficult r/ships) and Personal Development. Read lots of online resources to empower you. Remember, nothing is impossible with knowledge, courage and action. You were born to live your own life, not your mother’s. You can begin to change your life- one step at a time. Please stay strong. The Universe loves you & has always loved you unconditionally. I send you lots of love and light.

    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Mistie,
      It sounds like you indeed feel trapped with no way out. You say, “I can’t leave here I have to stay in the home with her she is getting old. She is very healthy and able but expects me to do it all.” Do you see the contradiction here- you have to stay and take care of your mom, yet you acknowledge she is healthy. You are trapped by expectations.

      I would like to invite you to entertain the notion that you have been programmed to turn against yourself and to put her needs ahead of your own.

      If so, this is very common and is a result of very early programming. You feel that one of you will not survive it if you grow up and apart from your mother, yet you realize she is capable of taking care of herself.

      Could it be that you are adhering to a very old agreement to put your mother’s needs ahead of your own- an agreement your survival little girl self made that is no longer relevant?

      If so this agreement or contract is long overdue for an update.

      Yes, read self-help books on the subject, but also find someone outside your family and start to build bridges to the outer world. Find your voice through counseling, journaling or close friendships.
      At 46 you still have your whole life ahead of you.
      And living for your mother is no way to live.
      Best to you,

  2. Patti

    Hi Katherine,
    I don’t even know where to begin. I’m 61 & just feel most of my life has been a battle with my mom. As an adult I continue to love her & make excuses for her behavior & believed we are not to disobey our parents & we r to honor them. I’ve gotten to the point I can’t do it anymore. About 15+ yrs she disowned all her siblings with the exception of two, which her one brother passed. So it’s her & my Aunt & if you don’t agree, we’ll u know that story. I verbal lashing! For years she has put me in my place, dismissed my feelings & embarrassed me in front of friends & family.. But worse she dismisses my own memories stating I’m lying or wrong or clueless. I spent years questioning my memories & that they were wrong. How do you struggle w/memories so vivid yet be told it’s incorrect?. I had to follow her w/no contact w/all my aunts & uncle & cousins w/the exception of her one sister or there was hell to pay. I was intimidated by her. A couple yrs ago, nearing death from complications of COVID, these aunts, uncle & cousins reached out & realizing I had no part In this feud, relationships were rekindled. I’ve been so happy. I would ask their account in certain events throughout my life to only find my memory was not failing me! Without sharing any thg I quickly felt relief it wasn’t me! My memories of certain events were the same & hers was the one that changed. I never shared any of this w/her. But she became so upset I had a relationship w/any of them, that she took it as an act of betraying her. So much, that I want to share. What happened. During all this my step brother passed tragically & prior it was my dad & I had to fight for my brother to attend his own dads funeral becuz she didn’t want him there. I set Thursday evening 6-8 to be his time. Fri-sat other family. But at 6:05, she called demanding after 5 min that he be gone cuz she was coming up. He wasn’t the greatest son. But it’s a miracle I survived & he had two dysfunctional mothers! She hated me for standing my ground. She was furious & brings it up regularly how my eulogy was too long and the pastor, well he had so many thgs to share & couldn’t, she was more worried about him than her daughter & her wanting to say farewell. Then my brother died & she accused me of unthinkable thgs that I did not do. She text me a horrible text no daughter should ever receive, letting me know, her only child, that she removed me as her health executor, etc. & put my stepsister, only a few yrs younger than mom & who never Lived w/us but 1 yr., in chg. And said some very hurtful thgs in which I said I deserved an apology for but to this day not only denies it all but when I read her msgs to her, she sees nothing wrong. She never once has apologized at any point in her life. to me, family. From the abuse I encountered, to her controlling ways, from calling me a liar including in front of family, called her granddaughter trash becuz she died her hair blue, which was beautiful by the way. She has gone to my son and talked negatively about me & he has bipolar & it only fuels his issues! & how she has issues with me. Then to kick us out of her house, 5 hr drive, the first day becuz my husband & daughter are in their cell phones! Seriously! Then She accuses my faith & says stuff like u have never read the Bible all becuz I refuse to move thru life passing judgement on others. I don’t care what one’s sexual preferences are, etc. Becuz I will give you the same grace god has for me. It’s not my place to judge. I don’t have to agree w/one’s lifestyle, but as a Christian I must love a person. No matter what & offer each the same Grace. She always makes assumptions that aren’t even close. And her letter writing! Always full of condemnation & scriptures. Recently my uncle passed unexpectedly & I went w/my cousin to the funeral. It was there I first realized I wasn’t crazy. Hurt shared story after story on how they saw how she treated me & felt bad. I even remember how she mi Jed her sisters cuz she was so skinny. It’s no doubt she has an eating disorder, she eats once a day & very little at that. Food turns her off, so do people w/wgt. Out of the blue she goes off in me. Now she has turned ur all around telling people I’m mad at her & not talking to her. It’s so the other way around, except, I’m done apologizing. All I did last month was apologize for what she is doing. She wrote my aunt a letter but all in scripture based saying how family & friends will come against you in the final days & lies will be told. About 20 lines ending Shane in all of you. But what did they do? Nothing. They only answered ?’s I asked & since then respected me enough to not talk bad about her realizing she is my mom & I live her. She has silenced me two mths & like always, I was going to call & move passed it line every other time she shuts me out. The longest was 6 mths, after she found out her 31 yr old daughter was having a relationship w/her biological dad. She was furious! So I was thking if calling her knowing g she’d answer acting like nothing happened. But then my daughter called saying grandma called and wants me to intercept a letter she write & rip it up cuz I’d take it the wrong way. She didn’t feel right becuz it was my mail not hers. (What an amazing daughter I have!). Anyways throughout the letter she called me a liar 22 times and it was only 1 pg. one side. She accused me of spreading lies about her, made false assumptions believing I’m mad at her and taking everyone else’s side when in reality both sides were equally Wrong & that I owe her an apology but she’s sure she will never get. Even though I’ve been apologizing to her all my life. You know she has never apologized to me. Never apologized Re her close relationship to the man who assaulted her daughter at a young age and was irate becuz u didn’t want him at my wedding nor did I want to be fb friends w/him or hang out w/his family when visiting her. She continues to be close & I since learned I wasn’t the only minor he assaulted & he was never accountable & if he easily hit away w/what he did to us, which at times was ga g raping as his buddies would join in, I fear he is still like that! Another issue she has with me is I’m sick. I suffer w/a systemic autoimmune disease, which she calls tgat disease if yours, & repeatedly She let’s me, my husband & children know I didn’t get it from her side of the family! I mean who cares right! ButYet, my aunt has thyroid disease, my cousin has RA & another cousin has lupus & my eldest daughter has an unknown autoimmune condition! I mean what does it matter where I hit it, we all are suffering. She never came when I had my stroke at age 36. She was too busy. A year & 4 mths too busy! I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s like her last letter, She tells me to show this letter to your pastor, she blames me for other failed family relationships & on & on. I wonder what her pastor would think? That his precious church going lady was acting in this way? He talks about her like a saint!!! She has lost relationships w/siblings, some grandkids, a nieces & nephews along w/their kids, in fact only has a relationship w/one niece & her family but not the 9 + others & their kids but it’s all somehow my fault! ! She hurt so many people in two days w/just a few handwritten letters (& they wanted a relationship w/their sister becuz they loved her). The meters ruined any chance of healing & sadly her phone blew up w/text msgs relaying their disgust & holier than though attitude from cousins & aunts all tired of her behavior. So she is done with us all. I even broke silence to explain to her they had nothing yo do with her & me. That she really hurt me w/her words months ago and topped it all off when her & my stepsister obtained my Brother’s ashes and had a service w/o calling me or his 21 yr old son! We’d find out two weeks later. My nephew was devastated ! As was I. I know her childhood sucked, it’s pretty clear there & there is some dysfunction. But her control is crazy. She sees nothing wrong w/her behavior and always, always uses biblical words to justify her behavior and or actions. It’s just nuts. I will share one last thg about her. My step sister, who has forgiven her but still feels that loss & guilt. When her four month old daughter died, in her last moments my mom took her away from my sister & held her rocking her in the chair until she took her last breath! At the time she was devastated on those few precious moments that were stolen from her as a mother. Then my mom dressed a doll up, laying it on her bed, in her clothes & no one could touch it becuz she’d say it smelled like her! . I’ll never forget my young daughter of 8 saw it and jumped in her bed just to cradle this doll. My mom lost it. But that was her. I just wished my mom would treat me half as good as she treats her friends. I could go in for hrs on dealing w/her. But w/everythg she has done to me nothing compared to what she did when I turned 30. She bought me a case of slim fast! Week after my hysterectomy & 6 mths after the loss of my 4 th child which she encouraged us to aboard & when we didn’t, she expressed her relief when he died and we were better off! We later would adopt a child. A story for another time.
    With all I’ve shared, why am I left feeling guilty and feeling I need to move on from all her hurt and be the bigger one to call & move forward? I told her, “ you are nearing 80 mom, I’m in full heart failure at 61 becuz of Covid, life is short &, I don’t want our relationship to be this. I don’t want to leave this world w/unresolved issues. I make a point to never end a call like that or at end of a visit becuz life is so precious and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’ve tried my best, I hate always apologizing & apologizing for her, which my family say I do all the time & stop me. How do I find the strength to realize I will never be good enough for her & I need to stop apologizing. For once she needs to be accountable. Am I wrong? Is this the Christian way or can u put stipulations or guidelines on our relationship w/o going against Hus word?

    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Dear Patti,
      First of all, let me say I am so sorry for the lifetime of abuse you have suffered.
      Now let me address a couple of sentences that seem to illuminate a pattern you may be caught in ” How do I find the strength to realize I will never be good enough for her & I need to stop apologizing. For once she needs to be accountable.”

      From my reading, it appears you want mom to take ownership of her misdeeds. Of course, that is natural and normal.

      However, given everything you’ve written here, I’m afraid that is never going to happen. Sadly, wanting it can keep you tied to her in never-ending painful ways trying to be good enough and hoping for justice.

      What if, instead you neither apologized for yourself nor accused your mother of anything to anyone and left all the judgment up to God. What if instead you took up the mantle of adulthood and decided you were tired of battling and wanted to walk in love the rest of your days.

      I am of the opinion that you can honor a parent while you stop enabling their destructive ways.

      If walking in love means having a relationship with your other relatives, so be it. What if you told your mother you were no longer a soldier in her army of hate. What if you dropped the sword and let in love? There are only 24 hours a day and we only have a limited number of days. In the end, we decide how to spend them.
      Blessings to you,

  3. Sarah

    Hi Katherine,

    Thank you so much for all your help. I’ve read many articles on your blog, and I have just finished reading your book this morning.

    As I was feeling more empowered and self-confident than ever, I started writing an e-mail for my mother, to state what I want from now: contact only by (e-)mail. I’ve been considering “no contact”, but just in case, I am keeping one channel open.

    And then, as my e-mail was about ready to be sent, I started feeling scared; my mind got overflown with questions such as:

    When she said she didn’t know what I was talking about, was she gaslighting me or was she REALLY not aware of the problems I was experiencing with her and tried to express? Was I not clear?

    I shouldn’t over-explain (I read your article about that too), but is it perhaps a good idea to explain at least a little bit, so that she knows where I’m coming from (just in case she didn’t)?

    Although she shows absolutely no sign of self-reflection, is there really no point trying to wake her up with very clear in-your-face feedback?

    In your writings, you say that Mom is not “likely” to change… but “likely” implies that there is still a tiny chance that she does change… Is there really nothing I can do to help this tiny chance manifest itself?

    Is it a good idea to tell her “contact me only by e-mail for now” and, at the same time, something in the lines of “here are some hints for you to change (if you want to) […], and then I may reconsider talking to you/seeing you”?

    Is there any use sending Mom, for example, a link to a page or post about how to recognize personality disorders in yourself or, perhaps safer (but less to-the-point), about self-reflection?

    These questions may very well arise from the Good Daughter traps themselves, but I’m not sure… which is why I am asking them anyway. I’m not expecting you to answer all questions one by one. But I would definitely appreciate some insights on the things I can do or say, while sticking to my boundaries, to help Mom wake up, reflect and change if she ever wants to…


    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Sarah,
      You ask some very good questions.
      Here are some of my thoughts.
      Although it is tempting to try and address things with your mother after learning that your relationship is unbalanced- I would caution you to let all that you have learned take some time to sink in.

      The real growth here is the awareness you gain. Consider letting that be enough for now.

      It is part of the old “ good daughter” programming to want Mom to come with you on your journey, and chances are… she won’t be able to.

      You say she has no capacity for self-reflection. If that is true, and it may be… you want to be sure of it. Perhaps there are less “ high stake” ways to test this out – now that you are considering the possibility.

      You want to make measured- nonreactive moves right now.

      A way to give Mom a heads-up that you are not comfortable in the relationship is to say that the current one you have with her is not working for you.

      This will do two things. 1) You introduce the idea that a relationship has to work for both of you, which may be news to her.
      2) You can see how she reacts. Is she only defensive, or does she show an interest in learning about your experience?
      That will give you some data points to see if she is one of the moms who can change.

      If I were you I might say -I feel x, when you do y. I wouldn’t send her blog posts or lists of things she has done wrong. Keep the emphasis on your experience of her. That is more relational and less attacking.

      Another suggestion would be to agree to meet in person rather than by email.
      People tend to show up at their most defensive in email, and you can spend hours sending back-and-forth emails and get nowhere. Difficult mothers tend to be more reasonable in person. Sometimes, meeting for lunch in a public place is a good start.

      You will see here- I am giving your mother a chance to demonstrate that she is willing and able to change. That may be misplaced. But if she truly has no idea about what she is doing ( and some Mom’s don’t) you are giving her the chance to prove she can change.

      However, I think daughters who ultimately go no contact, are better able to stick with it when they feel they have given their mothers the benefit of the doubt.

      I don’t think you will regret that- even if she does her worst. You can always employ the no-contact option.

      I hope this is helpful and wish you luck.
      P.S I hope you will consider leaving The Good Daughter Syndrome a rating or review on Amazon if it was helpful to you.

      • Sarah

        Hi Katherine,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I tried to keep my message general, so that your advice can be helpful to many other good daughters.

        But for me personally (and others in my situation), I am realizing that certain things don’t apply because I did not provide enough background information:

        In the past, I tried to express myself several times about what was not working in our relationship. But she wouldn’t listen, she would get very defensive, or gaslight me. She would never show interest or empathy.

        And I continued listening to her draining monologues and giving her what she wanted for many years… until a year ago, when I let her know that we would have contact only by e-mail.

        Recently, we had an e-mail conversation in which I gave her a new chance to reflect and express herself about our relationship. And she did not show any self-reflection whatsoever. Apparently, she experienced past conflicts or problems as my fault, not hers. She says she doesn’t know what I’m talking about, although I had been quite clear. She says she just wants to go back to how it was before (yes, the relationship had been draining and frustrating for me, but perfect for her apparently – until I started standing up for myself). She’s now asking for explanations in a videocall, but knowing her, she will interrupt me, defend herself and gaslight me more. It looks very much like a trap to me.

        So now, I want to write to her that because she doesn’t self-reflect, there is no point discussing or debating. I really don’t feel like having a videocall with her, let stand driving hundreds of miles to go and see her). I want to state again that I only want contact by e-mail. And what keeps me from sending this e-mail right now, is the bunch of questions I wrote in my previous message…

        Knowing a little more history, is there anything you would like to add?

        Thank you,


        P.S.: I never leave reviews on Amazon for privacy reasons. But if I have any chance to recommend your book in another way, I will definitely do so. For now, for those who are reading this: I found this book soothing, reassuring, empowering and transformative.

        • Katherine Fabrizio

          Hi Sarah,

          Okay – Thanks for the clarification. As I understand it now- you aren’t at the beginning of your journey- but at the culmination of it after trying every reasonable avenue and getting nowhere with your mother.

          I get it.

          So here are my thoughts regarding your questions. I’ve put my answers in bold.

          As always, only take what applies to you and leave the rest.
          When she said she didn’t know what I was talking about, was she gaslighting me or was she REALLY not aware of the problems I was experiencing with her and tried to express? Was I not clear?

          While I can’t know for sure- my best guess is that her defenses will not let her self-reflect. She also could be consciously gaslighting or manipulating you or a combination of both . Either way it doesn’t look as if she is able to receive what you have to say and reflect on it.

          I shouldn’t over-explain (I read your article about that too), but is it perhaps a good idea to explain at least a little bit, so that she knows where I’m coming from (just in case she didn’t)?

          Your latest comment shows that you have explained yourself, and she cannot hear you.

          Although she shows absolutely no sign of self-reflection, is there really no point trying to wake her up with very clear in-your-face feedback?

          My guess is that she will just get more defensive. If your years of communicating with her have not resulted in a better understanding on her part, chances are that one more explanation won’t help.

          In your writings, you say that Mom is not “likely” to change… but “likely” implies that there is still a tiny chance that she does change… Is there really nothing I can do to help this tiny chance manifest itself?

          I do not know of anything you can do than what you haven’t already done.

          Is it a good idea to tell her “contact me only by e-mail for now” and, at the same time, something in the lines of “here are some hints for you to change (if you want to) […], and then I may reconsider talking to you/seeing you”?

          I would wait and see if she shows any interest in owning her part. She may do that once she knows you mean business- but I doubt it.

          Is there any use sending Mom, for example, a link to a page or post about how to recognize personality disorders in yourself or, perhaps safer (but less to-the-point), about self-reflection?

          If that is something that you want to do- go ahead. My guess is that it will give her more fodder for continued defensiveness.
          In the end, I’d encourage you to trust yourself. You haven’t slammed the door forever (from what you have said).

          I think you will know if she can and is willing to walk through that door.

          I wish you the best,
          P.S. Thank you for the book endorsement.

          • Sarah

            Thanks a lot for your detailed and thoughtful (and fast) reply. It basically confirms that there is not much more I can do and it is definitely helping me in the step I’m about to take.

          • Katherine Fabrizio

            Okay, super- sometimes it’s just time to take that next step.

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