I Love My Parents, but I Can't Stand Them

Written by
Michael Wells

I Love My Parents, but I Can't Stand Them

Written by
Michael Wells

I Love My Parents, but I Can't Stand Them

Written by
Michael Wells
QUESTION
“I love my mother, but I don't like her as a person. What is wrong with me?”

Absolutely nothing is wrong with you.

Think of your brain as having three separate minds-

  1. Reptile mind- all about survival and reproduction.
  2. Mammal mind- all about social connection & family.
  3. Human mind- all about creativity, future planning, understanding, abstract thought, imagination, and more.

These 3 minds can all have different things going on, at the same time. They have different goals and perceptions. They even have different emotions.

Your reptile mind really doesn’t have any capacity for relationships, so we don’t need to explore that.

Your mammal mind is designed for social relationships, romantic relationships, and parent-child relationships. In this mind, you love your mother, because she’s your mother. She’s protected you, provided for you, and nurtured you, ever since you were born. Therefore, you have an oxytocin bond with her, and feel love for her, even if her maternal contributions to your life were lacking.

Your human mind feels differently. Perhaps you disagree with your mother’s values- maybe she’s very religious, and you’re not. Or she’s very judgmental, racist, or sexist and that bothers you. Perhaps her personality simply rubs you wrong. Whatever it is, your human mind wouldn’t pick here as the person you want to spend time with every day.

It’s important to understand that these conflicts are natural, and don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, or with your relationship.

It’s easiest to think of these as two separate relationships you have with your mom. You can love her and show her appreciation for being your mom. And the separately, you can look for ways to improve your “rational” relationship. Find things in common. Learn to communicate together better, as equals, with respect and appreciation. Explore interests that you share, together.

If you look, and you’re both willing, you can almost certainly find things that will be meaningful and connecting for both of you.

First published on 
October 13, 2020
. Last updated on 
October 13, 2020

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Addendum