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  1. #1
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    Default ISFJ/INFP mother/daughter relationships

    Hello everyone! This is my first post, and I'm looking for some help with a family issue. I'm an INFP in my late twenties, and my mom is an ISFJ. I'm married and live in the town next to hers. I know there have been other posts about ISFJ moms, but I am really trying to understand mine better because I really feel like we just don't "get" each other sometimes.

    One example: My mom is very generous, for instance she offers to pay for things and flat-out refuses to let me to pay her back (will not deposit checks, etc.). Unfortunately, she will guilt-trip me later about how she doesn't have enough money for __, and/or she will talk to relatives behind my back about how my now-husband and I "needed" the money. I've learned to stop accepting offers from her, in fact I don't talk about money at all, but she can be quite pushy about offers to the point where I feel guilty for not accepting. I almost feel like she thinks I am rejecting her love and support. I know this is a very privileged issue to have, (poor me, my mom tries to give me money and do me favors!) but it does affect our relationship quite a bit.

    The other major issue is the criticism, which I think is a very common mother-daughter issue. And again, not all of the criticism occurs to my face, a lot of it is behind my back. I am getting a lot better at responding to the small criticisms, and it's almost like she criticizes less when I take it in stride instead of getting upset and defensive. That seems very weird to me - does she like it when I am noticeably hurt by a comment? and then gets bored and gives up when I appear unaffected? If I try to express myself in a personal and honest way: "It makes me sad when you criticize my _____ because I ___," she might act like she gets it at that moment (usually not), but it's as if she forgets the next time I see her.

    She criticizes her friends to me, and gets irritated when I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the objects of her gossip. She tells me I am too sensitive, and while I don't mind hearing interesting details about people, sometimes it gets to be too much and too unkind.

    So after almost 3 decades I've found these workarounds to help our relationship go more smoothly - I don't accept a lot of help, I stay calm in the face of criticism, I keep private things private until I am ready to share them with both her and anyone else she talks to, etc. While these changes have helped cut down on arguments, our relationship is much more superficial now. Only in recent years have I begun to flat out lie to her about things that I am insecure about, and it doesn't feel good to lie, but it does feel good to avoid gossip and criticism.

    Are these typical issues within an ISFJ/INFP relationship? Does anyone else struggle with this type of mom/daughter conflict (regardless of type?) And finally, does anyone have any advice on how I can improve my relationship with her? I really think that she is very loving and caring, and I can tell that she wants "more" from our relationship. I believe that she wants me to need her advice and help, but at the same time she blames me if I do. It's very confusing to me. I'm sorry this is so long, thank you in advance for any thoughts.

  2. #2
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. You have two of these threads going, so they'll need to be merged into one.

    I have an ISFJ mother and although I don't have time to post now, will remind myself to come back and share some thoughts.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    Welcome to the forum. You have two of these threads going, so they'll need to be merged into one.

    I have an ISFJ mother and although I don't have time to post now, will remind myself to come back and share some thoughts.
    Thank you for the welcome! I tried to delete the first post but wasn't able to. I am interested to hear about your mother!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mvika's Avatar
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    My experience with Fe is that they don't see privacy and loyalty the way we Fi users do. They are very loyal to your interests in that they try to help you. But not sharing information, especially that portrays what wonderful people they are, is hard for them. It is not about you and please try not to take it personally. Fe puts a lot of stock in being seen as a good person/parent/householder/neighbor etc. so in a way they are just building their resume, in the same way we would at work. This is a priority to them. They don't mean to cause hurt from what I see. It is just their way to get some benefit for themselves by taking care of others.

    Three little things you could do to deal with your mom/ others like her are (if it is feasible in your particular case):
    (A) blow their trumpet and sing their praises so that they don't have to do it themselves. When your mom comes around, display the gift she gave you prominently and tell everyone how generous she is to you. They will blush and protest, but will be warmed all over and not feel the need to bring it up themselves.
    (B) don't tell them anything that you don't want their social circle to know. They deal with problems by sharing their feelings and it is really not fair to ask them not to do it. If you would rather not have her talk about your issues to others, just don't tell her.
    (C) Her complaining about her friends or others in her life to you may not be an indicator of disloyalty. We Fi users feel so. But from what I see, Fe feels okay to express their displeasure in a setting where it won't case negative consequences/confrontations and hence, while they don't assert themselves when something hurts them, they deal with it by whining about it elsewhere. This has nothing to do with "going behind someone's back." We Fi users see it that way because we would rather be confronted head on than have to worry about what we see as backbiting. Fe is fully aware that everyone talks about everyone else behind their backs and they would rather their friends do that to them rather than confront them directly. An ugly scene ( however, authentic or emotionally cathartic) is what they fear the most!

    Hope this helps!
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.


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    Likes 21%, Novella, Amber97 liked this post

  5. #5
    Member VeniVidiVertigo's Avatar
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    Mother/Daughter. Father/Son.

    Alot of this is (as you said) universal and not nessesarily Type spesific. But, in using MBTI / Jungian function theory as a language to deal with it:
    You can without much effort explain the situation in typological terms, and others with the same understandig of the language can just as quickly relate and share.

    I relate to you as my mom is similar (and also used to live in the next town) One example of what my mom is like: I had money trouble for a period. When my parents wanted to give me money in the past, i always turned it down and said: "thanks, but i'm good right now. But i tell you what. when the day comes and i need money, i will ask". Then, when the time came and i got myself to ask for help. I did not mention what i said about asking when the day comes. I just mentioned that i was a little short (thinking that would carry some weight, since i always refuse help). My mother understood me. A few days later, she had bought me a half wardrobe of clothes...
    So, i just swallowed up the "irrationality" and said thank you very much.

    I used to think she did this on purpose. She also has no problems with talking about me to her friends with no filter, or using her generosity against me. But i have eventually learned to take her as she is.

    One of the effects of this type of behavior is that you start to think about what you can share with them. This in turn can lead them to exaggerate their tendensies the times when you DO share. So when you behave more "unfiltered" they will behave most naturally. But when you decide to lie or not tell them what is going on in your life, the crumbs of information they do get their hands on will be used to a greater effect.

    What @Mvika said about "blowing the trumpet" i think is a good advise to let them know that you appreciate them. in addition, when you are proactive like this, you take control over what is "leaked" to to other people
    If your mom is on facebook f.ex. you could share what she has done for you. When you do this it will not be something you have to remember to to, you will probably do this gladly when you experience the effects on her.

    As for your mom criticizing her friends (although my mom usually does this in a fun way). I really have no interest in stuff about other people, and i don't talk to my mom about that. I would just tell her to go somewhere else. But if you are ok with that and take interest in gossip (up to a point): You will have to decide whether you want to listen to her gossip or not at all. If you do then you could try to challenge yourself with adding some gossip of your own. Maybe there is some anxiety with this, as once you do, you are "fair game" from that point? Any case. This for me, is either/or (kierkegaard (infp btw)) choose to be apart of it, or not at all.

    As i grew older (i'm reaching 30 now) i realised that my mom is just not a rational person. If she would give me something, i would accept and be happy (maybe tell someone about it). If she decides to use it against me, i would be firm in my Fi: when you give someone anything, you give it without conditions. any other motive is just not valid for me and has no effect. I share my feelings with her in my actions, never talking about them. I treat her almost like a girl now.
    I kid with with her alot, pranking her and suprising her. I realised that she is just another person landing on earth, using what she got to make sense of it.

    Welcome to the forum buddy.
    “The candle is not lit to give light, but to testify to the night.”

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  6. #6
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jane4 View Post

    Are these typical issues within an ISFJ/INFP relationship? Does anyone else struggle with this type of mom/daughter conflict (regardless of type?) And finally, does anyone have any advice on how I can improve my relationship with her? I really think that she is very loving and caring, and I can tell that she wants "more" from our relationship. I believe that she wants me to need her advice and help, but at the same time she blames me if I do. It's very confusing to me. I'm sorry this is so long, thank you in advance for any thoughts.
    There is conflict between these two types because they think so differently. I think the criticism is true and ISFJs tend not to always levy that directly because they don't like conflict. As to your workarounds - I don't know. One thing you might want to think about is how you are reacting and work on that part vs. implementing strategies that as you describe serve to distance yourself from her.

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  7. #7
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    Thank you everyone. We went on a family vacation last weekend, and things went very poorly. Her criticism of me was so constant that my brother even jumped in to say something about it. My mom denied it, called me sensitive, and was even worse for the rest of the weekend. She also laid a mountain of guilt on top of us for only visiting her every 2 weeks. I had a hard time dealing with it, and I made some comments that probably hurt her feelings and that ended up getting us nowhere in terms of improving our relationship. It is really very sad that we can't seem to get through to each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mvika View Post
    Fe puts a lot of stock in being seen as a good person/parent/householder/neighbor etc. so in a way they are just building their resume, in the same way we would at work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mvika View Post
    Her complaining about her friends or others in her life to you may not be an indicator of disloyalty.
    Thank you so much, Mivka! It really helped when you compared her need for appreciation to "building a resume." I am definitely going to try sing her praises more AND think about the gossip in a different way.

    Quote Originally Posted by VeniVidiVertigo View Post
    She also has no problems with talking about me to her friends with no filter, or using her generosity against me. But i have eventually learned to take her as she is.


    As i grew older (i'm reaching 30 now) i realised that my mom is just not a rational person. If she would give me something, i would accept and be happy (maybe tell someone about it). If she decides to use it against me, i would be firm in my Fi: when you give someone anything, you give it without conditions. any other motive is just not valid for me and has no effect.
    Thank you for the welcome! This sounds so much like my mom, who (jokingly?) says things like, "Let me buy dinner because you are going to let me live with you when I'm old." I am in total agreement with you about giving without conditions. That's why it surprises me so much to hear those comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    One thing you might want to think about is how you are reacting and work on that part vs. implementing strategies that as you describe serve to distance yourself from her.
    Yes, I totally agree that I need to work on how I react. Thank you!

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