Three ways to Train your mother to accept your boundaries

Joanna Daniel
4 min readJun 23, 2021


If you have a toxic or narcissistic mother, you might believe she cannot change, and to some extent, you could be right. However, if you decide to maintain contact, it will be necessary for you to have safe boundaries. These limits will help protect you from the harm you would experience. Boundaries help to protect you from unsafe persons.

You might have spent your whole life acquiescing to her demands and doing things that are not aligned with your values and regretting it later. Nevertheless, it is possible to train your mother to accept your boundary whether she wants to or not.

Sometimes women are afraid to set boundaries with harmful mothers because of fear. Your mother anticipates this response and uses it to press her advantage. For example, some women do not like, overextend, stretch their resources, and get involved in schemes and functions only because they feel this will get them noticed and liked.

Some fear being ostracised by people in their families. The thought of that kind of rejection often scares some daughters into ignoring intuition, neglecting self and sometimes overlooking their families to keep their mother happy.

What if I told you that it is not possible to make her happy? You can’t. You do not have the power to make anyone happy or unhappy. Happiness is an emotional state that each person chooses. This action is an independent choice. Each individual has to take responsibility for their choices.

Remember, when you begin to set boundaries, your mother will choose her emotional response to your limit. You didn’t make her feel good or bad.

Now that we establish the limitations, you have to focus on the things you do have control over. You determine where your boundaries are and what they will be.

Chose your boundaries and defended them powerfully.

Guilt might try to convince you otherwise. However, every safe relationship has a boundary. If you are going to keep in contact with your mother, your boundaries will help keep you safe. They will help establish a guide for communications and set the limits on the things you will and won’t do.

Boundaries need clarity; at least you need to be clear in your mind what the limits will be and what’s negotiable, and what’s non-negotiable. People accustomed to getting their way are often unprepared when the access they once had is limited. The pushback could be determined and relentless, be prepared to defend your boundaries.

When the boundaries are relaxed, that’s a gateway to continue the abuse or gaslight and attack.

Identify the areas where you are most vulnerable and find ways to boundary those.

Time: If your time is being taken advantage of, setting a limit around that would be wise. Your mother might call on you at the last minute to do a task that takes up time. Or request you to drive here or there to run errands at the — last minute.

She might demand your time at short notice with guilt pile in if you refuse.

Boundary your time could be giving times when you are available. Know for yourself what you can and cannot do.

Can you afford to be called at short notice or? Would you prefer a warning?

Helping someone at the last minute is good, but it’s safe to assume the person has no regard for your time when this is a habit.

Resources: some mothers will feel entitled to not only your time but your resources. There might be hints of owing her for raising you or for paying for your education. These are powerful arguments that many daughters struggle to debate, and so they give in.

Parents have a responsibility to raise and educate their children. The cost of your education is not a loan you need to repay or a weapon to use to influence guilt. Whatever you give should be out of a decision, not out of guilt.

Communication: try not to get drawn into discussion or arguments. That is a trap to keep you in a toxic communication cycle that is exhausting and harmful. It’s a no-win situation for you. Your mother will win because you are in contact and she is very good at this level of communication. She is skilled at twisting your words and using them against you.

She also twists your words and uses them as evidence of your unwillingness to comply. She might also use your words to prove that you are a bad daughter. In communication with your mother, be careful; chose your words wisely.

Therefore whenever a disagreement arises, decide beforehand how you will respond. If it’s an issue between you two, a neutral third party with no ties to the family or the outcome is better than a family member.

Communicating your boundary

The way you communicate your boundary could help send a clear message and limit the pushback.

  • Be firm and decided.
  • Make clear statements
  • Do not phrase your boundary in the form of a question. E.g., would you mind if I miss the family dinner? If she says ‘yes, I want you here,’ that’s going to be a problem. A clear boundary would be, I am not coming to the family dinner Thursday.
  • Set clear boundaries that do not invite discussion or show any hint of fear.
  • Practice with someone so that you can become comfortable with what you intend to say.

Guilt is a part of the process. However, once you start setting boundaries and maintaining them, the peace that follows will help you see the benefits far outweigh the guilt.

Perhaps you prayed for her to change, and even now, you are hoping that boundaries will not be necessary. However, any relationship you have moving forward will need limits for it to thrive. There are many benefits to limitations, and though it might seem challenging initially, it becomes easier with time and practice.



Joanna Daniel

I write about trauma, healing and the Christian community.