Dear Shanita: I’m 30 and Mom Still Gets Upset When I Go Out

Dear Shanita

Authored by certified transformational life coach Shanita Liu, the “Dear Shanita” advice column fields your questions and struggles related to self-care and offers compassionate, keep-it-real advice so that you can ditch your depleted state and move into excellence.

Have a question for Shanita? Write in to “Dear Shanita” to possibly have your question answered in a future column.

Dear Shanita,

I’m almost 30 years old. And every time I go out to see a friend my mother still gets angry. I was a good kid, I have a good job, and I never give her any real problems. How do I prevent myself from really getting angry and lashing out?

– Almost 30 Years Old

Dear Almost 30 Years Old,

Thank you for sharing your personal frustration. Rest assured that you are not alone! So many brown girls have experienced this — myself included.

Let’s first address your anger, which by the way, is totally understandable. To move that energy out of your system, take three deep cleansing breaths, inhaling fresh oxygen and exhaling the negative feelings out of your body.

Once your body and mind feels clear, let’s move onto this exercise:

Have you ever considered why Mom gives you grief? Have you thought about what her underlying reasons could be for giving you such a tough time? 

[Read Related: Dear Shanita Answers ‘Putting me First’: When you Should hit the Brakes]

While getting these answers directly from the source would be ideal, I don’t get the sense that Mom is one to communicate her true feelings. Thus, I’d encourage you to put yourself in her shoes to see what could be making it hard for her to embrace your freedom, despite your good-girl track record. 

Here are a few of my guesses about why Mom is acting this way:

  • She doesn’t know the difference between parenting a child and parenting an adult, so she’s trying to do it the only way she knows — through the way she was taught.  
  • She’s upset because she can no longer “control” you.
  • She’s frustrated because when you leave, she feels lonely. 
  • She’s scared because your friends, who she probably hasn’t built trust with, could influence you to do things outside of “tradition” (and you know that this can send moms into straight-up panic mode). 
  • She’s uncomfortable with you engaging in new relationships because whenever she tried to do that, she was either put into a dangerous situation or interacted with unkind people. She may also get triggered to jump to crazy conclusions about what you’re really doing.
  • She’s jealous because you’re exercising your freedom to go out, but she has either never had that freedom or has lacked the full courage to be in community with others. 

Let’s be real: Mom comes from an old-school generation, and it’s a major source of annoyance. In no way am I justifying her reactions, but when you pause to think about all of the “whys” behind Mom’s behaviors, it leaves room for compassion to rise and could even help you diffuse some of your irritability.

To stop yourself from lashing out, start with calming breaths and either:

  1. try talking to Mom about how she really feels, or 
  2. bypass the conversation altogether and lean into the notion that Mom might never get you in the way you need. 

[Read Related: Dear Shanita: ‘Friend Everyone Always Comes to’ Asks how to Seek Help]

One important thought that I’ll conclude with is that, whatever option you choose, be the bigger person and acknowledge her feelings. If you don’t, she’ll keep throwing shade.

Try this formula:

Acknowledge Mom’s feelings —> share your reasons for hanging out (so she knows you’re not trying to intentionally hurt her or commit crimes) —>provide assurance. 

Here’s an example of what you can say the next time this happens:

“Mom, I understand that you feel upset about me going out, but spending time with my friends helps me relieve some of the stress weighing me down at work. I’ll be back by 8 p.m. and will text you when I’m on the way home.”

Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your twenties before your friends starting making babies and become too busy to hang out as they too try to hold tight to their precious kids!

– Shanita

By Shanita Liu

Shanita Liu, MPA, CPC teaches women to beat to burnout. As a certified transformational life coach, workshop facilitator, speaker, and … Read more ›