Need help breaking free from addiction?
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

Co-Dependent Mother


My mother has been in an out of abusive realationships since I was 11 or so. It all started when she had an affair and left my dad. She has no desire to be single and claims she doesn’t know how. I have tried giving her numbers and pamphlets on places to get help. But, to my dismay, she never does!

I am a newly-wed, mother of one, and I recently found that I am expecting.  I cannot handle her silly ideas of “love” anymore. I have tried breaking communications and ties, giving her a choice to get healthy or not have us in her life. All she does is send pictures and harrassing messages to my husband saying he took me away.

Last night she went to a new low, going on a date, while she is also in a unhealthy realationship, with a guy who supposedly has been trying to get her attention online for four years! I am afraid they are going to find my mother in a ditch raped and murdered one day. But she will not admit she has a problem.

Should I just back out of her life all together or try and get a referral for an intense co-dependency and depression program? I do know my family, the whole family, has been trying to get thru to her for years! I have to get this stress out of my life!

Please help me figure this out.  Thank you!

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

The fact that your mother is sending pictures and harassing Emails to your husband is a very serious breach of the boundaries surrounding your new marriage. The fact that she blames your husband for taking you away from her is really outrageous. It is no wonder that you want to sever all contact with her.

Getting her to accept help for herself is not or should not be the main priority. Before anything else, she must be told that she can no longer send these Emails to your husband and that she can no longer harass him. If she cannot agree to that then you have every right to sever all ties with her. Your obligation is to your new marriage and to your child and unborn baby. You, your husband and your child, including the one that is unborn, form a new family unit that must be protected. No one has a right to interfere with that.

As to your mother’s problems with dating, relationships and unhealth patterns of behavior, all of that is her business. You and your family have done all that you can do to get her to accept help. There is nothing that can be done for an adult that refuses help and does not even see any need for help. I know it must be frustrating that there is nothing that you can do but that is reality.

Over the years I have worked with a few patients whose mother’s were so very destructive to themselves and their adult relationships that they were left with no choice but to cut all ties. While that is always hard to do, the patients I am referring to felt relieved after having done this. By the way, this type of thing is always the idea of the patient  and never the therapist. You have to know in your heart and mind that you want to end all contact. No one can or should make that decision for you.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

Want to get help, but not ready to talk? Find Out More