My counsellor helped me see that I couldn't manage everything on my own and it was OK to talk to my mum about how I felt.


Where they started

When Ruth made the decision to split from her partner, Gary, she also decided to move back in with her mum so that she could take a breather and get the support she needed to get back on her feet.

I was looking forward to moving back home with Mum, ending my relationship with Gary had been so stressful and upsetting I felt exhausted. I couldn't afford to get a place of my own and I thought being back home would help give the kids some normality.


However, things didn’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped.

Ruth’s mum disagreed with Ruth’s decision to leave her partner, saying that she felt it was a bad move. To makes things worse, Ruth felt undermined by her mum’s treatment of her children and the rules she had put in place around things like bedtimes. Ruth would often come home to find her daughter Kimberley upset after having nightmares and her son, Alex was playing up at school.

My mum kept suggesting I meet up with Gary to try and patch things up, I know she was only trying to help but she just didn't understand how bad things had got between us. It hurt that she didn't respect my decision to leave.


The relationship between Ruth and her mum began to deteriorate rapidly. It was clear that everybody in the family was starting to find this new arrangement exhausting and upsetting, not least her children who desperately missed their father. However, Ruth found it difficult to address the issue with her mum - how could she maintain her authority when her mum was putting a roof over their heads?

My mum and I kept clashing over the littlest of things, even small disagreements over allowing the kids to stay up late or eat sweets always led back to my relationship with Gary and what I'd 'thrown away'. It felt like I was either arguing with my mum or consoling the kids, I felt like I'd made a mess of everything.


Seeking help

Unsure of what to do next, Ruth decided to contact her local Relate Centre to ask about counselling. She'd heard about Family Counselling and thought it might help. 

Ruth attended her first session alone and talked to the counsellor about how she felt about her mum, her children and her ex. The counsellor helped Ruth to see that the solution to her problems lay in better communication with her mother and gave her ways to avoid falling into the same old arguments.

Ruth started to feel more confident about talking to her mum, she realised she'd not been open with her about her problems with her ex. Counselling also helped her to communicate with her children more openly about what was happening and how their father fitted into their lives.

I realised I'd been trying to protect everybody from what was happening by bottling things up and avoiding talking about it. The counsellor helped me see that I couldn't manage everything on my own and it was OK to talk to my mum about how I felt.


Where are they now

As a result of Relate Family Counselling, Alex has calmed down at school, Kimberley finds it easier to sleep through the night, the family have clear boundaries and Ruth is feeling much more confident about the future.

How we can help

If like Ruth you feel like you need a bit of support with your family relationships, there are lots of ways we can help. 

*This case study is loosely based on the kind of scenarios we work with, as opposed to a specific client. Relate never shares the stories of our clients without permission, even with names and details changed.