My Mother: Impact of Communication on Interpersonal Relationships

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Updated: Aug 02, 2023
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My Mother and the Challenges of Our Relationship

The relationship between my mother and I has always been a difficult one. Growing up with a complete lack of communication in my family has made it difficult for me to maintain successful relationships with my family members, especially with my mother. Due to this lack of communication, my mother and I have had a hard time seeing eye to eye, which often creates an atmosphere of frustration and anger. Our arguments often escalated into aggression.

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We argued a lot. We yelled a lot. We slammed doors in each other’s faces. And we cried too. The hard times that my family and I have endured together as a family are what led to a progressively more distant relationship with my mother. Only recently have I understood the importance of interpersonal communication, and I have taken courses to improve my family relationships. In this paper, I will discuss certain events in my past that led up to a negative interpersonal relationship with my mother. I will then talk about the relevance of improving interpersonal relationships and how I can personally take steps to make the one with my mother a more positive one.

Loss, Struggle, and Mother’s Strain

I was only seven years old when my family and I lost our house, business, and money during the 2000 market crash. My dad’s successful software company lost every penny in the repercussions of this crash. Immediately after this tragedy, my father became depressed and underwent a mid-life crisis where we barely saw him. It was up to my mom to hold the family down financially in one of the most privileged cities in the world, Palo Alto. She cooked for about 100 Stanford students every night from our own kitchen, and my siblings and I would deliver the food to their dorms. This hard work for so many years took a toll on my mom’s physical and mental being. As a result of this extreme stress, my mom soon became an unhappy, angry alcoholic. Since my mother started drinking heavily every day and my dad not being present in our lives, the relationship between my parents and I began to deteriorate.

The Long Road to Effective Communication

I was young at the time and could not emotionally understand why my mother was drinking all the time and why she would yell at me so often. I was emotionally naive and found it hard to cope with my family’s circumstances. Not only did my mom respond poorly to our situation, but I also reacted unwell to our family’s situation and to my mom’s alcoholism. Rather, I got angry with my mom when she was drunk by yelling at her in an aggressive manner. I also made poor choices at that time by staying out late most nights and often getting in trouble at school. When I came back home after midnight some nights, my mom would be up waiting for me. Although she was drunk by the time I got home and would yell at me, at the end of the day, she still cared and worried about me. These arguments lingered on for many years.

This continued for so many years because neither my mom nor I knew how to effectively and positively communicate with each other. We evidently cared and worried about each other, but instead of communicating just that, we responded with anger and resentment. In order to improve my relationship with my mother, I signed up for a Communication class at Foothill College to learn about interpersonal communication and how it plays an important role in maintaining successful relationships.

I learned in my Interpersonal Communications class that every relationship has its own communication climate. A communication climate can generally be described as the social tone of a relationship. This climate is how people interact with each other within their relationships. Communication climates can be positive or negative, and they can be changed or improved. That’s why it’s important to foremost understand what positive communication entails. A positive communication climate is one in which individuals feel a sense of value. In a positive communication climate, people perceive others as liking, appreciating, and respecting them – they feel valued. Messages say, ‘You exist,’ ‘You are important,’ and ‘You matter to me’. In contrast, a negative communication climate is one in which the participants do not feel a sense of value or appreciation. The messages here are called disconfirming messages, which get across as ‘I don’t care about you,’ ‘I don’t like you,’ ‘You’re not important to me,’ and ‘You don’t matter’. This is the type of communication climate that has formed between my mom and me.

Building a Positive Relationship with My Mother

For 22 years of my life, my mother and I have exhibited disconfirming communication, which has created a climate that was hostile and cold. The most destructive way my mother and I disagreed with each other was with aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is a means to inflict psychological pain by attacking another person’s self-image. The aim of aggressive behavior is to put down the other person’s worth, and it criticizes and sends messages of disdain. The quality of communication decrements, and interpersonal relationships are less efficacious in this negative communication climate. Overall, it is the messages we transmit in our day-to-day communications that build a relationship’s communication climate. According to Jacob, it is how we say what we say in the course of our day-to-day interactions.

These past six months, I have been focusing on relaying confirming messages to my mother. Confirming messages begin with endorsement, followed by acknowledgment, then recognition. Endorsement means all-out supporting my mom or communicating that I otherwise find her important. This is the fullest form of value and hence the most powerful type of confirming message. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to agree with everything my mom does or says, but rather that I can find something that I can endorse. An example might be, ‘I can understand why you are so angry.’ The next area on the spectrum is acknowledgment, a somewhat less strong confirming message. To acknowledge my mother, I have learned to listen to her as an indication of my interest. The last area on the scale is recognition, or the most fundamental tool of communication. Recognizing my mother’s thoughts and feelings is a powerful act in offering support when she has a problem.

The greatest technique I have learned and that has exhibited the most improvement in my relationship with my mother is nonviolent communication. Nonviolent communication is founded on the willingness to perceive issues or people in a non-judgmental way. This is important because if I want to change something that my mom is doing, I will create resistance. Rather, it is important for me to form a relationship with my mother that is built on openness, honesty, and trust. In order to accomplish a positive dynamic with my mom, we both have to listen to one another. I have to be willing to speak with her, listen carefully, ask questions, and offer feedback. It is vital for me to convey ideas and information accurately to my mom. Learning the importance of interpersonal communication has improved my relations with my family members, and I am grateful for that. Achieving a more positive communication climate at home has alleviated a lot of the tension in the house and has even made some of us happier.

To conclude, learning good communication skills is key to success in life and in your relationships. If a message does not have effective communication, it can likely result in error, misunderstanding, or frustration. Ineffective delivery of information can make or break your relationships. When you take the time to learn and practice good communication skills, you are more prone to improving and maintaining successful relationships in your life, just like the one with my mother and me. When we conquer the art of building healthy relationships, our lives become relatively easy to cope with, and we find a sense of true belonging in this world. In this paper, I discussed the circumstances that led up to ineffective communication and an unhealthy relationship with my mother. I then discussed the importance of achieving and maintaining positive interpersonal relationships with others and how I have improved the one with my mother.


  1. Jacob, E. (1979). Interpersonal Communication: Strategies and Skills. 
  2. (2018). Positive Communication Climates., Inc. 
  3. (2018). Disconfirming Messages: The Power of Hurtful Words., Inc.  
  4. Dr. Brian’s SmartaMarketing Blog Number 1. (2011). The Importance of Effective Communication in Business. 
  5. Rosenberg, M. B. (2002). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. PuddleDancer Press.
  6. Ohlin, L. (2018). How to Cultivate Non-Judgmental Awareness. Mindful. 
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My Mother: Impact of Communication on Interpersonal Relationships. (2023, Aug 02). Retrieved from