Abusive Mom and an Accident that Left My Daughter Disabled

Reader’s Question

I am a 30-year-old single mother of two school-aged children. I am struggling to be the best mother I can be in a situation that is far from ideal. I try very hard to remain positive and focused on my children’s needs as well as my own, and I have hope for what the future may bring. But I’m dealing with a problem I don’t have an answer for and need some advice.

After my divorce in 2007, my children and I moved into my parents’ house. This is contrary to everything I have ever wanted in life. In fact, I vowed upon the birth of my first child to have limited contact with my mother because historically she has been controlling and verbally abusive and has been known to have rages and become physical at times. I have been in therapy to deal with these issues (low self-esteem, anger, etc.).

Two nights ago as I was putting my children to bed, we heard my mother complaining and cursing about something. She then came into my daughter’s room and stood there staring at us in the dark, badgering: “Why the hell can’t you turn a light off? Did you do the dishes like I told you?” My mother is morbidly obese and “chair ridden,” so I keep this house and the yard spotless. I am the only person who lifts a finger around here because my dad is always gone on business trips. My mother was also upset because I did not let my son sleep in her room. I see no reason why he should sleep anywhere but his own bed. The next morning, she wanted to take my children on an outing by herself. When I told her we already had plans for today, she insulted me in front of my children, telling them their mother was “too mean” to let them go to the pizza place with her.

As I mentioned before, I moved in with my parents after my divorce. They wanted to “help” by helping take care of my children while I went to school. Even so, I got telephone calls in class telling me what a horrible mother I was for abandoning my children. I drove two hours to and from my school just to attend, and I graduated. Shortly after, I landed a decent job with benefits, etc. Unfortunately, I was only able to keep that job for four months. I cannot help but think that if I had been able to keep that job, by now I would have been able to move my children into our own home.

My mother also took my children on a “vacation,” and they were hit by a drunk driver. I know that it was not my mom’s fault. The woman who struck her was at fault. I got the call at work and had no idea what to expect, and when I got there I found that my daughter was clinging to life and had undergone numerous surgeries. Subsequently, she spent a month in PICU, another on the floor and has been in recovery for a year. She just recently underwent another surgery. The accident left my daughter disabled, and I naturally I care for her full-time now. I know the accident was not my mother’s fault, but I distinctly remember begging my mother not to go on this trip with the kids, to which she replied: “Then I’ll drop them off at your work.” Is it really any wonder I don’t want my mom spending time alone with my kids? Interestingly, I have a brother who has never regarded my mother’s behavior as abusive. And my father has always tolerated her. What can I do to improve my quality of life while living with this woman and spare my children the pain and confusion of hearing verbal abuse?

Psychologist’s Reply

Try Online Counseling: Get Personally Matched
(Please read our important explanation below.)

Although you now have a child with special needs, you still have the responsibility to care for yourself and for your children. That means a job and a life of your own. Your issues with your mother are deep and longstanding. Some appear legitimate, while others appear overblown. And while you say you don’t blame her for the accident that injured your daughter, it seems your longstanding anger is clouding your judgment in that regard. Stay with your therapy and work through your issues. And make carving out a life for yourself and your children a priority. You accomplished the goal of finishing your education and making yourself marketable. Now it’s time for you to lead an independent and self-sustaining life.

Please read our Important Disclaimer.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by on and last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Ask the Psychologist provides direct access to qualified clinical psychologists ready to answer your questions. It is overseen by the same international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals — with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe — that delivers CounsellingResource.com, providing peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. CounsellingResource.com is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2022.