Guest Dreamer: Val Boyko, Mother Whisperer

Readers of my Sunday blog, which focuses on surviving toxic moms, may include a few who wonder if their mothers are really that bad.

Adult daughters of toxic moms are struggling with boundaries, contact issues, grandchild access and other challenges that come with having a parent that just isn’t fit for the role.

But what if your mother just annoys the *%$# outta you?

What if your mother is a gloriously happy narcissist? What if she just relishes bullying her grown children? What if the world really does revolve around her? And what do you do when your mom comes from a long line of maternal manipulators and other than an occasional weird flair up; she’s fun to be with; someone you’d trust with your kids?

In that case, maybe you should meet Mother Whisperer, Val Boyko.

I had the good fortune to have a nice long conversation with the east coast-based Scottish-accented life coach whose specialty is helping women better understand and enrich their relationships with their moms. She helps her clients learn to focus on honest, authentic communication, to develop listening and empathy skills and if needed, establish necessary boundaries to nurture the mother/daughter bond.

Mother Whisperer, Val BoycoBoyko’s website is www.motherwhisperers.com and her mission is to “help daughters master their relationships with the mothers and find peace.”  I like that last bit: finding peace.

We chatted about interviewing each other for our blogs but after a long, interesting, copacetic and laughter-filled conversation we decided to mutually guest at each other’s websites next Sunday, April 3.

So next Sunday Val will be writing about what to do once you realize there is a serious problem with your mom on my site. I’ll be offering an overview of my life story and why I’ve become a voice for the taboo topic of dealing with toxic moms on her site.

Although we found agreed on a lot of overlapping points, one thing Val was very concerned about was the initial harsh tone of my topic. Toxic is such a tough word. But as a seasoned reporter I explained that I felt the best way to capture my readers was to put out two very different words that when linked are sort of irresistible: Toxic Moms.

listen to the whispers of your heartBecause Val’s readers love their moms so much they would study this topic and pay for personal coaching I’m going to be very careful how I introduce my area of expertise: how to navigate your choices about contact and boundaries when dealing with a toxic mom.

Not all of her readers will be intrigued by my slant and that’s fine. I’m pretty sure, though, that there will be a few that will put their hands over their mouths to capture a little gasp. Could there really be someone who gets how destructive a bad mother/daughter relationship can be?

And on the flip side, I’m really hoping some of my readers will realize that Val’s methods might work with their mother and try them out.

We’ve both got a lot of valuable, sane and practical information to share and we hope good things will happen with the website cross-pollination.  When you check in next Sunday and meet Val, please take a minute to click over to her website to read my weekly  column — and please leave comments. I want her to know that we appreciate what she’s doing to address creating healthy mother/daughter relationships.

Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

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  • Bev

    If you must separate from your parent(s), you might as well do it will support.

  • Lucy

    Just have to say that the word “toxic” is not overkill for some of us when describing our mothers. The word itself puts you on notice that there’s danger involved and you’d better be on your guard. By contrast, the word “mother” soothes you, draws you close — and like the song of the Lorelei, lures you onto the rocks if your mother is like mine. It’s a semantic difference that keeps you grounded when you’re tempted to fall back into little-girl thought patterns.

  • Nadine

    I think it is mostly sad so many things have to happen before we see that this is not a healthy relationship. Because we do not know any better. It’s when my mom went to see my ex-husband, then in the middle of a nasty divorce, to tell him I still loved him and I want to get together again, and that same week invited him in my house against my wishes (I was away), that I understood she would stop at nothing to control my life according to her wishes. But I still hoped for many years we could manage a good relationship. If knew then what I know now about toxic families, I would have dealt with it in a different way. And spared me years of aggravation.
    When you are a nice person like me, who wants to please people, it takes something nasty to shake you up. With my sisters it was the holier than thou attitude (->I have never been unemployed a day in my life!) and telling me she did not want to be associated with me when I applied for a job.
    This week again, I had an email from a friend who wrote she is sure I will make a success of my art & design work. And how rewarding that I can bring enjoyment to people. I get these comments ALL the time from my friends. And how I manage house renovations, two kids, studying, design work,… It so encourages me. As NEVER I have heard such words from my parents nor my sisters. NEVER. So thank you to my friends for believing in me again and again, Even when it is a struggle for me. My design project started 11 years ago, just before I split up with my ex. To have a dream, like these 8 women here, and to know that there are people telling you:’ oh gosh, good you are taking up your dream again! because you have talent’ that means a lot.

  • Nadine

    Hi Carole,

    I meant right and wrong in a different way. Not like you suggest the difference in how you deal with it between you and your sisters. I think it is wrong that parents don’t bring out the best in their children, belittle them constantly, teach their kids to steal or teach their kids people are bad on basis of their race or religion, make life decisions for you while you are already an adult and so on. These are the things we need to know. If we grow up only seeing this kind of behaviour, we think this is the norm. I truly had no idea before. I thought I came from a good family, because on first sight we are normal. It’s only when you dig deeper and especially when you start meeting families where it is different, where people support and encourage each other, where people communicate, show respect and affection, it’s only then you realize how wrong your family is and how it affected your life.
    That my sisters don’t want to stand up to my parents, fine, that is their choice. On the other hand, them belittling me because I’m unemployed and they aren’t, that is wrong. Our relationship is completely one-sided too. I support them and encourage them in all their projects. They have never given me any support on my functional art design project (I have had a stand at one of Europe’s biggest tradeshow in Paris, and have done many Xmas markets and so on). They exclude me of most of their activites. They eg travel together with their kids. My kids ask;: why do we never join them? I guess because they never asked. They organize a stand at a fleamarket for their kids together. Mine are not asked. And so on. I asked my youngest sis to join me and my friends on many outings when she divorced, as support to her. The favour was never returned. I have never done anything to deserve this treatment. In fact, when I lived on the French Riviera, they used to holiday at my house every summer (10 years).
    So yes, I do not feel wrong to want to take distance from them now. But I feel I can say (based on lots of events over the years) we did not have a normal healthy relationship.
    This is what I meant This is what I want to teach my kids. This is what I think everyone should learn.
    Stealing peaches in an orchard is pretty exciting when you are a kids. Is it right to teach your kids this? No. is it the norm to teach your kids to steal? No. Did I think it was? Yes! Not anymore…

    • Hi Nadine

      What you wrote makes total sense.
      Thank you for taking the time to explain.
      As we all know feelings and thoughts get lost in emails/posts/blogs.

      Carole

  • Hi Nadine

    Like you I am glad that Rayne and Val are writing about family relationships.
    I disagree with you about “right and wrong” and “normal, what is not” normal. But (in MY opinion) there is no right or wrong, normal or not normal. To me, finding peace is what works for ourself NOT what works for other people. At a very very young age I knew that once I left home neither of my parents would ever be part of my life. I did not invite them to my college graduation or to my wedding. I did not attend either of their funerals. Some of my siblings chose to do things differently. And even though they chose differently, I supported (as long as it did not mean being around my parents) them where I could. I was not right and them wrong. My way was not normal and their way not not normal. It is just what has worked for them. And what has worked for me.

    Carole

  • Val.

    I look forward to reading both Rayne and your blog on Sunday.

    Carole

  • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

    looking forward to next week’s post! what a fantastic idea! xox Rem

  • Hi Val,

    Although, I disagree with the word strategy in this case (there was no strategy on my part. Just common sense and sanity), you and I are really saying the same thing – what we all want is peace (and love) within ourselves. But before we can find peace within ourself we need to learn to love ourself no matter what kind of mother we had/did not have. For some that peace within is finding how to relate to their mother. For others that peace is to have our mother out of our life. I choose sanity, love, peace and happiness. To have those things meant not to have a toxic mother around me, my husband or my dog/s.

    Carole

    • Val Boyko

      Carole, so true. There is no right or wrong. Each of us is on our own journey. I love your words:
      “But before we can find peace within ourself we need to learn to love ourself no matter what kind of mother we had/did not have. For some that peace within is finding how to relate to their mother. For others that peace is to have our mother out of our life.”

  • Nadine

    I wish I could make peace with my mom and have that special mother-daughter relationship. I know however this will never happen. But I still have my daughter to cherish, and I will make sure this relationship succeeds!
    I think that just as we daughters of toxic moms know it can be different, that daughters of these great moms on Val’s website should also realize how lucky they are not have a toxic mom. I’m sure it will make their special relationship with their mother even more special.

    • Val Boyko

      Nadine,
      I am so glad that you are passing on a new legacy of love and support with your own daughter! If we can’t make it happen in our own mother relationship then we can definitely influence the future. Now that’s powerful for women every where. Thank you for being a part of that movement!

      • Nadine

        I’m just so glad that you and Rayne and so many other people are finally talking/writing about family relationships. And we can have an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. What is normal, what is not. That we are aware WE CAN make a difference for the next generation! Thank you!

        • Val Boyko

          Nadine, Thanks for the inspiring words! I’d like to add to Carole’s thoughts here. Listening to other women’s experience can be really helpful so we can determine what is right for US and what is wrong for US. We are all unique, and so what might be right for one person may not be right for an other.

  • Val Boyko

    Hi Rayne,

    My name is with a k … Just so you know and if folk are googling me!

    cheers

    Val

  • Tina C

    My parents are attempted to live a fantasy of what India is like while raising me in America. They expected me to live a repressed existence and get married right out of college to a boy from India. I am their great disappointment for not doing this. It is wonderful that you discuss such things.

  • I love this idea – love it.

    When we meet I was going to discuss the topic of collaborative websites and how websites make it to the top (it takes more than one website — top players navigate many websites, while Internet marketers will have as many as 1,000 websites working for them) but maybe I’ll write about this in my post too.

    It aligns with with the “build it and they will come” idea, which I touched on last week that has nothing to do with talent and ability — but has everything to do with being found on the web and a plan to make that happen — extending beyond Facebook fans, Twitter feeds and one website. You are definitely on the right plan to feel out your demographic and get that coveted feedback all of us need.

    Wonderful stuff and wonderful what you two are doing!

    I look forward to watching this collaborative effort!

    Cath

  • Carole

    YEAH Rayne.:))

  • Carole

    Sorry spelled my name wrong.

    • Rayne

      Carole,

      I love it that you’re worried about me being myself. Can I write any other way? Probably not! Fear not, I’ll tell my story and let the chips fall where they may. I always do.

  • Carolw

    Rayne, you wrote “because Val’s readers love their moms so much they would study this topic and pay for personal coaching I’m going to be very careful how I introduce my area of expertise: how to navigate your choices about contact and boundaries when dealing with a toxic mom.” I hope however you introduce this subject next week, that you stay true to yourself and your style of writing. It will not surprise me if some daughters who really want nothing to do with their mothers, yet feel they need to make peace with a toxic mom (because that is what they are told), find out that not all daughters feel they have to make peace. I bet some will respond to your blog with “I thought I was alone. Now I know I am not. THANK YOU.”

    Whereas, I will log on next week and read Val Boyco’s block and I respect that Val “helps daughter’s master their relationships and find peace” with their mothers, not all mothers are worthy of this.
    I feel one can find “peace” with their mothers, by NOT having them in their life.
    If I had children I would NOT trust my mother to be around them. I have a dog and (if my mother was alive) I would not let him around my mother even if my life depended on it.

    For many daughters, it is best to have their mothers completely out of their life.

    • Val

      Hi Carole, I hear you and understand your point of view. For many women having their mothers out of their lives is the only strategy left to them. I like your openness and directness. You sound powerful and at peace with your decision.

      One thing I’d like to get clear about. Finding peace is not always about finding peace with our mother. It’s about finding peace in how we relate to our mothers and even more importantly, finding peace within ourselves for our choices in that relationship.

      Isn’t that what we all want? Finding peace within ourselves?