Letting Go of Trying to Make Mom Happy

By Val Boyko • March 24th, 2011

I want my mother to be happy. I used to believe that I could make her happy. When I was little I learned that if I was good and pleased her, mom was happy and I got her approval and love.

mother daughter photo from the 50'sIt’s what children believe….. and it’s often a belief that we daughters continue to hold onto as grown up women. Do you believe that you can make your mother happy through pleasing her?

I’ve found that most of us still have this within us. We may have intellectually accepted the fact that we don’t have responsibility for other people’s feelings, but still close to our heart is the hope and yearning that we can make her happy and when she’s happy we will get her love and approval.

We Pleasers think of ourselves as “angels” and “good”, rather than seeing the small child within us who still yearns for approval and loving attention.  Have you noticed that we also tend to be like this with our spouses, friends, teachers, and bosses too? (Which has it’s own consequences for us too!).

Why is it hard to let go of trying to make Mom happy? Because we are looking for something in return. It isn’t the act of pleasing. It’s the hope that we will get more love in return that is hard to let go of.

Think of a time when your mother wasn’t happy and you weren’t able to lighten her mood. Did you feel let down or somehow lacking? Did you wish that you could try harder and find the magic button that will make her smile and be loving and caring towards you?

Me too!

It’s hard to accept that we can’t make our mothers feel better so that we feel better ourselves. You see, it isn’t really about her, it’s about us.

In trying to make Mom happy we were trying to feel better about ourselves. When we see that the two are not connected, then we can work on loving ourselves more and accepting our mother for the way she is.

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By Sweet L.K.C on August 17th, 2011 at 12:58 am

I am a math teacher and my brother is a doctor. Both of us always behaved well at school and at home. I had been cooking and cleaning for my family since I was 8. When I started working I bought my mom a washer, a dryer and a brand new hybrid car. However, I never really feel that she is happy with me or my brother. She is always mean to us calling us fat and yelling at us for not keeping her house the way is supposed to be. She always focuses in the negative. I wish I lcould make her happy at lest once. Is there a way?

You are such a good and loving daughter and my heart goes out to you. It is so hard to accept the way our mothers are and let go of our need of approval and love.
A couple of things come to my mind that may be helpful.
When a mother doesn’t fulfill her role as mother – nurturing, protecting, providing, supporting and loving – there is usually something going on within her. When someone cannot give love to others its often a symptom of not accepting themselves. This can have a devastating affect on her children – especially daughters, who depend on their mothers for love and approval.
There may be several reasons for a woman to be like this – depression, being abused herself, alcohol or drug addiction, narcissism or being wounded in some way. John Welwood talks about how grievance can distort how we see the world. You’ll find posts about John’s work on Mother Whisperers by searching his name.
I also love Dorothy’s story who came to new realization after many years of trying to make her mother happy http://motherwhisperers.com/its-not-about-my-mother-its-all-about-me/
Giving up our hope for love and approval from someone who is incapable of giving it, is so hard – but know that it will bring you closer to inner peace.


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