Moms do things for their kids every day for years, both daily, run-of-the-mill things and off-the-wall strange things. Once their kids are grown, it can sometimes be difficult to pull back and let them be adults. They are, after all, still
your kids. Some of the things that moms do throughout their relationship with their kids can toe the line (or cross it completely) with being a bit creepy. In most cases, your mom's intentions are good and in some cases, you might not have realized that what she's doing is weird, but these signs your mom is creepy can make you reflect not only on your relationship with your own mom, but also your relationships with your kids (because you're probably creepy too).
If you think about it, there are a lot of things that go along with being a mom that are strange and borderline creepy to the standard observer, from taking a whiff of a diaper to calling your partner Mommy or Daddy. While some people just consider these things part and parcel with being a parent, you have to admit that in just about any other context, these would be deemed creepy behaviors. Moms also can cross boundaries, humorously or seriously, with their adult children, which isn't good for the mom and also prevents their child from adjusting to functioning as a full-grown adult. But chances are, try as they might to avoid it, nearly all moms are creepy, at least sometimes.
She Gives You (Or Your Kids) Unwelcome Hugs
Unwanted signs of affection are tricky because some families might view giving each other hugs as obligatory, whether you want to or not, but it's a consent issue when hugs or kisses are given without a clear OK. "Even something [seemingly] simple like a hug, if unwanted, can be a boundary violation,"
Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed professional counselor, tells Romper via email. "It’s best to ask first. People also need to speak up if they are feeling uncomfortable about anything related to their personal boundaries."
She Comes Over Unannounced & Let's Herself In
Coming over unannounced and knocking on the door is one thing, but coming over unannounced and letting herself in without giving you any indication that she's coming in is another. While you might not mind it most of the time, it can freak you out a little bit if it's completely unexpected.
"I know of a mother who constantly lets herself into her adult child's house without warning,"
Jamie P. Del, MS, NCC, LPC, a psychotherapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "This has led to some awkward situations! The lack of privacy and helicopter parenting of adult children leads to unhealthy boundaries." Boundaries, Mom.
She Corrects Your Posture In Public
Correcting their kids is something moms tend to do because they want you to be the best you can be. The problem is, sometimes their best and your best are different and their "gentle reminders" can come off like real criticisms. But reminding you to stand up straight can be a more light-hearted comment, even if it can be embarrassing or appear creepy to a bystander.
"My family has a lot of very tall women (who tend to slouch), so one of the things that has been passed down from generation to generation has to do with standing up straight," McBain says. "This gets addressed by getting the person’s attention and then demonstrating how you should be standing (head high, back straight, chest out — every single time!). This usually takes place in the middle of a large group of people, which can be highly embarrassing."
She Still Does Your Laundry
Once you're an adult, she definitely shouldn't be doing your laundry anymore.
Stephanie Moir, LMHC, CRC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Romper via email that if your mom is still doing laundry for you as an adult, she's doing more for you than is necessary (at least, in most circumstances). Maybe that's what she does when she pops over unannounced and lets herself in.
She Comes Over And Cleans Your Home
Cleaning, like laundry, is something that an adult (and many kids too) should be able to take care of on their own. Again, that's more than she needs to be doing for you. She's treating you like you're still a child, not like you're a capable adult.
She Complained When You Were Fired
It's not OK for your mom to be so involved in your life that she complained to your former employer when you were fired or otherwise lost your job. "This can impact the adult's self-esteem and their ability to make decisions on their own," Moir says. "It is healthy to let children and adults make healthy decisions and choices on their own; this increases their self-esteem and eventually leads to them moving out and on their own."
She Hides In The Pantry & Sneaks Snacks
Wanting to get a minute alone from time to time is certainly understandable, but hiding in the pantry to sneak snacks away from the kids or grandkids might not be the best plan. "Hiding in the pantry shoveling handfuls of chocolate chips or kids snacks into your mouth to get some peace is also damaging, both to your body and to your self-esteem,"
Dr. Angela Grace, Ph.D., a registered psychologist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "True nourishment means taking care of your basic needs with good nutrition, enjoyable exercise, and paying attention to what truly restores your soul."
She Copies Your Style, Your Speech Patterns, Basically Everything About You
If your mom tries to take on your sense of style, the way you speak, your hobbies, and other parts of your personality, that can certainly verge on creepy. If it's just because you and your mom are very similar and genuinely like the same things or have the same mannerisms naturally, it might not be such a big deal, but if she's making an effort to be just like you, it's not only a little bit creepy, but there also might be something else going on.
She Sets You Up On Lots Of Blind Dates
This is a stereotypical mom move, at least on TV shows and in movies, but if your mom intentionally sets you up on blind dates, she might be a little too involved in your love life, Moir says. This also ties into the fact that adult kids need to be allowed to make their own decisions and choices. Your mom shouldn't be making your big decisions for you.
She's Full Of Unsolicited Opinions, Even On Topics That Might Seem Off-Limits
From your clothes, to your next career move, to your sex life, if your mom is brimming with unsolicited opinions, that can come off as a bit creepy. It's sweet that she cares, but you probably don't want to hear her opinion on absolutely everything, especially if she thinks that your own opinion on the subject doesn't matter as much as hers does.
She Finds Things Out About Your Life Before You Do
When your mom congratulates you on the new job or tells you something about your partner before you tell her or even know it yourself, that can definitely come across as creepy. Moms know all, though, so how surprised are you, really?
She Thinks She's Automatically Invited Along With You
If your mom thinks she's invited somewhere just because you were invited, she might be too overly involved in your life. While your mom will undoubtedly be invited to some of the same places and events as you are, when she starts to think of herself as your automatic plus one, things can get weird.
She Calls You Many Times Each Day
Del says that if your mom calls or texts you tons of times each day, she might be going a bit overboard. "Sometimes these moms become co-dependent on their adult children," she says. Neither you nor your mom want to be overly dependent on the other. You're both capable of doing your own thing.
She's Redecorated At Least Part Of Your Home
It's nice that she wants to help and everything, but when you come home to a fully refurnished or redecorated room, she's getting close to creepy. Regardless of whether you two share a design aesthetic or not, redecorating your home without asking you first is crossing a line.
She Wants To Know Your Daily Itinerary
Of course it's up to you if you want to share your regular daily schedule with your mom or talk about a special event that you have coming up, but if she needs a detailed rundown of your itinerary each day or pesters you about what, exactly, you're doing or where, exactly ,you're going, she might be a bit too involved.
She Calls You To Tell You About Her Ailments
People get aches and pains and develop illnesses or injuries from time to time — it's just part of life. That being said, if your mom or grandma calls you to tell you every single time something happens (even if it's not serious), you might need to set some more boundaries.
"For moms/grandmothers with adult children, calling your child and reporting all your aches and pains and the deaths of people you think your children should know (even if they have lived away from home for 10+ years) in an attempt to connect with them is morbid," Grace says. You don't have to make a special call to give them the news if it's not significant.
If you're your mom's best friend, she might be too dependent on you or too involved in your life.
"This can be found amongst parents and children who actually have great communication,"
Dr. Alicia Hodge, a psychotherapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "That is a helpful tool and skill that may be best exercised in terms of discussing their world, not yours. Developmentally, children are still establishing their own boundaries and understanding their role in the world. If we ascribe labels very early they may have difficulty navigating independence and forming a healthy identity."
She Gives You Dating Or Sex Advice
"Often moms and grandmothers mean well, but when they start to talk about sex with their adult children, this certainly becomes more complicated and makes their children quite uncomfortable,"
Saba Harouni Lurie, LMFT, ATR-BC, a licensed marriage and family therapist and board-certified art therapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "There's the additional layer of generational differences, and how the commentary or advice may have made sense in their own generation, but doesn't necessarily translate to their children's experiences or needs."
She Labeled Her Kids Early On
"Although we recognize that children are small humans, they are not tiny adults," Hodge says. "Sending messaging that a child is a flirt can be confusing, especially given their limited sexual expression at a young age." Labeling little kids as flirts can verge on creepy.
She Picks On You — A Lot
"Mothers or grandmothers who continually criticize or negatively comment on their children's choices (especially adult children) can alienate the people you love," Grace says. "Not accepting your children for who they are, and wanting them to be something else, is narcissistic and can be damaging both to your child's self-esteem and to your relationship." Letting your adult kids or grandkids dress the way the want to or otherwise be the person they are without criticizing them can make a difference.
She Started Talking About Negative Body Image Early
If your mom or grandma started making negative comments about their bodies or yours from when you were a little kid, that can border on creepy. "While the moms and grandmothers often mean well in these situations, comments about their sons and daughters weight gain or loss can definitely send messages that are less than helpful," Harouni Lurie says. "Often the mothers and grandmothers also speak about their own bodies in disparaging ways, and are totally unaware about how this impacts their adult (and small children) and the messages that these children receive and internalize."
She's Constantly Comparing You To Someone Else
Whether she's comparing you to your siblings, cousins, friends, or someone else, it's not exactly great. And it's probably not good for her to compare herself to other moms either. "Whether you are comparing yourself to another mom, or dare I say it, comparing your child to another child (a sibling or someone else’s), this bad habit will have you miss out on the wonderful things that make you and your child unique,"
Farah Harris, MA, LCPC, a counselor, tells Romper in an email exchange. It can get a little weird and there might not be much good that comes from it.
She Never Talked To You About Boundaries
Talking about boundaries can help you both establish what the boundaries are in your relationship. "Healthy boundaries are able to keep the good in and the bad out. Weak boundaries, or ones that are too rigid, either lets in too much of the bad, or not enough of the good," Harris says. "As a mother, having healthy boundaries is key to keeping your sanity and well-being. It’s also pertinent to the safety of your kids. Talking with your children about healthy boundaries lets them know what is okay and what isn’t."
She Always Prioritized The Kids
"This can take a toll on the other important relationships, like the one with their spouse or partner and even their own personal relationship with themselves," Harris says. "This can cause unnecessary tension between the woman and her partner. In certain cases, a woman can even have a loss of identity because she no longer knows who she is without the title of ‘mommy’." Plus, if you prioritize your kids over everything else, Harris says that you can place the burden on your children to be your whole identity or the source of your emotions, which isn't fair.
She's Friends With Your Friends
It's nice that your friends and your mom get along, especially if they're close friends of yours or you've been friends for a long time. That being said, it's a tiny bit creepy if your mom goes out of her way to establish her own friendships with your friends, calling them, texting them, asking their advice, and hanging out with them as friends would. You both needs your own friends and boundaries that keep some parts of your life just a little bit separate.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload , where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.